Friday, March 30, 2029

I don’t think a platonic date is how you’d describe tonight.

Maybe it was the fact that we got the first date over with and now it was "official" that our relationship had changed, but whatever it was there was no hesitation.

We were like two teens. Awkward but with an urgency.

Luckily I had to leave when the babysitter arrived with Sally. If it ended in a “sleepover” how would I explain I don’t sleep anymore?

Date Number Two: Success!

Friday, March 23, 2029

Dinner with Janice

At last! Maybe it was the giddy excitement of knowing Rasa was gone (done?) and that I could get back to the Alpha project, or just fear of her staying angry with me, but I suddenly had the courage to ask her out. And I even said, “umm… you know, as a date.” And she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Whooo Hooo!

Alas it was a platonic date to be sure, but after all these years of friendship I think a kiss (or anything else) on the first “date” would have been a bit too much.

It was a great dinner. Luckily there are a lot of great restaurants to choose from in the green zone around campus so we didn’t go into town (which I haven’t done in years). We chatted about Sally, Alpha, and even Greystle.

Something amazing is happening in Alpha, evolution is progressing quickly there are insects, plants, and an abundance of animals in the seas and lands of Alpha. But there aren’t any vertebrates yet. If this was the history of Earth we’d already have a variety of vertebrates walking and swimming about. But nothing yet on Alpha. The whole biology department is giddy over the puzzle this presents, but just in case Janice is having Adit look over some of the biology related algorithms and routines. It’d be awful if we discovered our bug filled Alpha was due to a bug and not just the way life happened to have evolved on Alpha.

Personally I hope we do get some vertebrates on our little world soon. Perhaps it’s my “fanboy” side but I’d love to see sentience and eventually intelligence and culture. Basically I’d love to see cool alien cities on Alpha. And I just don’t see invertebrates delivering that – does that make me a speciest? Or a backbone bigot?

I had thought Janice’s hate for Greystle was based in politics. And while there is that, there is a more personal side. She blames them for the destruction of her uncle’s dream. Janice’s uncle was the inventor of the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor.

I remember the late night ads from when I was a kid (have I always had a problem with sleeping?). The gas monitor clipped into you car and tracked that amount of fuel going out of your fuel pump and showed you the cost of what you were consuming in real time. When you got gas the system reset to the new price. So while idling at a stoplight or when leaving the car on while talking to friends on the road the drivers could see the nickels flip by. Pass someone on a hill and you could see the quarters flip by. With people seeing immediately the cost of their driving they would actually change their driving habits. When people realized it cost $7.50 just to go to the store they started being more diligent with making shopping lists.

Janice’s uncle wanted his invention to give a tangible incentive to customers to cut back on driving and poor driving habits. He wanted less fossil fuel to be burned, but he knew the easiest way to get people to do the right thing is to show them the immediate benefit to themselves. And saving money always works.

His product was changing driving habits. A consumer study proved that his product was having a dramatic effect on the amount of gas people purchased within 6 weeks of buying the “Real Cost” Gas Monitor. He was doing a good business but he always knew that if he had more money he could make more of them, make them better, make them cheaper and market them to a wider audience. Then some San Hill Road venture capital guy showed up at his office with an incredible opportunity. Her uncle sold his company for partial ownership in larger multinational venture. His product would be taken to the world.

Well needless to say it wasn’t. The company was shut down and her uncle lost the rights to sell his own product. The patent holders were this new company and this new company wouldn’t sell his product. He was devastated. As was his family, and as a young girl Janice saw her proud, big, and fun Uncle became the quiet, withdrawn, and sad man that she knew until he died a few years later.

When Janice got older she did do some research on the venture firm and found out it was owned by a division of Greystle. All the other investments of that division were in oil and gas processing and distribution. They had purchased her uncle’s company with the sole goal of destroying his product. I guess leaving him financially ruined as well was just their idea of fun.

That put a damper on the conversation for a while, but talk of Sally and her growing interest in science got as back on a more joyful track.
Date Number One: Success!

Monday, March 19, 2029

Kaitlin the Synesthesic

Besides learning more about neurology then I ever thought I would, I also learned some fun things while in the lab: Kaitlin is synesthesic.

Specifically she has some sort of grapheme-color synesthesia. But she doesn’t see numbers or letters in colors. Well not really. She says she sees “specs” in numbers. As she scans the specifications of hardware, its emf frequency, fcc rating, input requirements, etc; it becomes colored.

Adit and I would quiz her on the fcc rating of a equipment and she’d look up at the spec sheet and give the right answer instantly. It seems the darker the blue the higher the rating. Who knew? Well, okay Kaitlin – but no one else, because we can’t see the colors.

It was wild looking at Kaitlin stand back from the spec sheets and have us rearrange them as if she’s matching color swatches. But it works, so I don’t mess with it. She could tell what was compatible with what by seeing if the colors flowed well together or if they clashed. Hardware configuration as interior design.

Adit is hardware and software conflict free.

Sunday, March 18, 2029

Grass

Walking back to the lab with lunch I suddenly stopped and realized Spring was already at its peak. All the leaves were out, dark green and full sized. It seemed like the trees were all still grey when Rasa, Kaitlin and I first “moved” into the lab.

I put down the bags and took off my shoes. I swear I heard my toes sigh as they dug into the grass. I needed a break, just a short break, and sat down on the hill in front of our building.

I heard my name and turned to see Sally.

I must say Sally made me happier than I’ve been in weeks when she let me know that Janice missed me. Sally said she missed me too and then she made me feel like dirt: I had missed her birthday earlier this week.

She accepted my lame excuse about work and stuff, and I think I finally got back on her good side by rolling down the hill with her over and over again.

I think there is a biological milestone just after puberty that makes getting dizzy something that induces nausea instead of giddiness.

Nothing like walking into a lab with cold food, grass in your hair, and mud on your pants to stop the conversation. If I didn’t know it was impossible I’d say that Adit lost his train of thought.

Saturday, March 17, 2029

Jack and the Analytical Engine

I finally was able to get a hold of Jack; it was weird hearing from him after so much has happened.

Kaitlin has basically taken Jack’s earlier work and quickly made it her own. In fact she’s updated Adit’s system so that all of the wiring can be external of the skull. Now all Adit really would need is a cap but for aesthetic reasons they’ve been grafting the inputs below the scalp. Not only can the sensors on top of the skull record the firing of each neuron to record the memories - senses, and emotions, but the sensors can record the unique frequency of each neuron’s firing so the “playback” doesn’t actually have to be from “shocking” the effected area as before but actually by shocking the skull at the neuron’s frequency. The brain then thinks that neuron fired. This makes Adit’s new system exponentially more precise than the one Adit and Jack came up with years back. Rasa is now Adit 2.0 (God he’d kill me if he heard me say that). Its good to have Adit back. Rasa is almost completely gone now. Adit even slept last night and woke up knowing who we were, and what we were doing; basically knowing who he is.

All of the old hardware in the brain is no longer needed which is why we needed to get a hold of Jack. Occasionally the “playback” hits a frequency close to what the old hardware was tuned to – and when that happens we get instant seizures. Adit’s got a big ass bruise on his head from when the first one hit. With the new method for “playback” seizures are no longer supposed to be an issue.

When Rasa first came to me I was trying everything to get a hold of Jack, but truth is once I found out Kaitlin was on top of things and Ned had most of the specs, it didn’t become as necessary for me to find Jack – and I was kind of relived. Now we needed him. We can’t remove the old hardware without at least doing an itty bit of damage so what we need to do is map out all of the frequencies of the old hardware so that when Adit is experiencing a memory “play back” we skip anything that would conflict with the old hardware. Sure there might be itty bits of memory gaps here and there, but at most we’re talking about a blink. I forget more in ten minutes then Adit probably will over his lifetime.

Ned didn’t have that kind of detail on the hardware Jack used, so we hoped Jack did. And he did. Jack had the details in a secure area of one of his grid corners – we got the info instantly. But Jack really wanted from me was help with his new idea.

Jack wants to make and market desktop versions of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Yes you too can have an analog computer the size of a small room and made of iron and brass miniaturized to the size of a knick-knack for your desk. While I agree not many people have a fully functional metal analog computer of gears, rods, and levers as a paperweight, I’m not sure many would want one. Jack went on to explain that at first he was going to make Babbage’s Difference Engine because there were complete plans, but he thought everyone would just think of it as a cool Victorian calculator, but with the Analytical Engine each purchase would come with a stack of punch cards with programs ready to go. “Though no one would actually use it – it would be much more obvious to them and the friends they are showing it off to that it is indeed a computer.”

Jack needs to get out of state. He made a grid contact that can work on mass-producing the prototype Jack made after he finalized Babbage’s specs. But there are some design issues his “contact” has encountered and Jack needs to get into New Jersey to help with it. I really don’t want to get into this and I pushed him off to Ned – politely of course.

He’s not even allowed into Jersey now. Damn, I don’t think he realized how much of his freedom Maple Sap was going to cost him. Who would?

Wednesday, March 14, 2029

On Land

Almost spilled some of the miso soup on some neurologists who were leaving the lab when I brought in lunch. They were brought into the lab to help Kaitlin and Rasa on some things. Yep, Kaitlin and I have started calling Adit “Rasa;” we want to make sure we don’t use his real name with any of the folks that come in to help now and then - when we get into something that’s out of our areas of expertise (well that’s almost on everything for me).

Got a call earlier for Janice that some Alphans made land! I wish I was there. I was going to use that event as an excuse to ask Janice out. A milestone of the project celebrated by just the two us – some place nice. Alone. Instead I’m basically living in a lab with Kaitlin and Rasa. Actually using the name Rasa has another advantage – this isn’t Adit. Not yet, not until he’s “fixed.” He is different. I miss Adit, and I’m sure Rasa does too.

Anyway the Alphans that made land don’t have lungs yet. Janice says they have an amazing filtration system in their “skin” that basically plucks the oxygen right out of the air. I think Kaitlin was half proud and impressed at her “Alphans” progress but also just as pissed that we again handed Greystle a patent bonanza. You just know that there will be ten new products coming out next year that filter air in heavily polluted areas and none of them will mention Dulles, Alpha, or the cute little slime blobs that made it happen.

I think Janice is pissed at Adit, Kaitlin, and I too. She doesn’t know what we are up to. Ned has told everyone that we have to prototype a new simulation process for Greystle so we can get a new round of funding from them. I know he choose that excuse because it was the most plausible, but it just pushes Janice’s buttons. She hates those guys.

Sunday, March 11, 2029

Oh.

It wasn’t until I was 17 that I finally had a girlfriend. And it was serious, it way going to be forever. But even a 17 year old deep down knows that isn’t true, and when coming home from a movie in my parent’s ancient hybrid I blurted out that I was going to leave town and go to Dulles Tech. I didn’t let Anna speak I kept going on about how this was best for me, and how we can still have a relationship even though I’m gone, and though I didn’t plan it I started babbling about my parents getting a divorce and before I knew it I was crying. Finally I was silent and Anna said “Oh.”

Adit's story is mentioned in dozens of studies. His case is the case study on countless white papers and thesis papers and journal articles – etc. Luckily as soon as he came to Dulles as a child he was known only as Rasa. I always assumed that was in reference to Tabula rasa, that and it sounds Indian. Rasa is famous in many diciplines of study - taking brain-computer interface (BCI or wetware) technology to a whole new level. Rasa was a source of pride at Dulles. Only Jack, Ned and I knew that Adit and Rasa were one in the same, until I told Kaitlin.

As soon as I heard Kaitlin say “hello” I leaped into listing resources we might need, how I’ll get Ned’s permission to secure a lab, and that budget was not an issue. Finally I paused, “what’s this about?” Kaitlin finally was able to ask. I let her know that Adit was Rasa and he was broken. Whatever Adit and Jack had done wasn’t working. I paused again. Silence, and then Kaitlin said “Oh.”

Now Kaitlin and Adit are making my stockpile of Orexinal disappear as we’ve locked ourselves into a lab right above the Greystle guys. If they only knew the patent potentials happening in this room.

Kaitlin is like a kid in a candy store looking at Jack’s specs on Rasa that Ned had locked away and working with Adit on possible reasons for the malfunction and ways to improve the system. I have to say Adit has taken to Kaitlin. He never had before – when he had memories of her from before his last night of sleep. He is starting to look like he is secure. I think he finally feels safe. Good. I can’t imagine what it really is like when everyone is a stranger.

I’m trying to help out, but I am so out of my league. Honestly the only help I can give them is time and privacy. Oh, and I seem to be getting the drinks and food too.

I am the go to intern on this project. I’m fine with that.

Thursday, March 8, 2029

Knowing no one's name

Adit is sleeping on my office cot. Freaking out must be exhausting.

I’m not sure what the diagnosis is – or if there is a term for what Adit has – or is; but he was lumped into the “autistic” bucket even when he was a baby. Because they didn’t know else to call him.

Adit is unable to make any connections, to parents, siblings, the family dog. I’m bad with names, but Adit doesn’t recognize names, faces, voices – nothing. His family signed him over to a hospital and just walked away from his life. Without the human connections his learning was stunted and slow. As a toddler he was no smarter than an infant. A Dulles human behaviorism psychologist noticed him in a tour of the hospital. Here was this toddler who seemed to be learning who everyone was every morning but still seemed to understand symbols and mathematical concepts way beyond his years.

Adit is like an isolated mesh network. Once you are on the network everything is connected and working seamlessly. But the network stands alone; it has no connections to the wider grid. Adit is an island.

By the time Adit was five he was living at Dulles full time. His childhood was split between working with the math and later computer science departments on new ways to solve problems and taking social interaction classes where the psychology students tried to help Adit function in society. In the end labeled photos that he kept in his pocket was the big break through for him back then. It was a natural jump from that to keeping Adit wired to a face recognition program and having his lens project biographical information for him for everyone he saw. It always would freak out strangers that Adit knew their names.

As a teen Adit met Jack and worked with him on skipping the lens projection and fire the information right into his brain. When Jack and Adit first zapped his brain with a face and a name they watched the scan live as his while brain lit up. A cascading effect had been triggered and hundreds/thousands of memories about that person surfaced.

They discovered that Adit was not only storing memories of people and the events that occurred with the people, he was (with zapping) able to recall all of the memories in minute detail.

Adit held on to and utilized those resurfaced memories all day, but when he woke the next day they were all gone. Just as it had been all his life. The resurfacing wasn’t permanent.

Jack and Adit worked on multiple methods to consistently recreate the memory cascade. Despite the occasional seizures induced by a zap too many they made quick progress. Adit refined the program and the hardware specs. In the end Jack had wired up Adit’s brain like a Christmas tree.

In real time the system records all of the electrical traffic in the brain created by all the new experiences being generated and stores the last 5 seconds or so of every interpersonal interaction. Simultaneously it triggers a replay of the last recorded interaction with a person when he meets that person again each day.

Today it didn’t work.

Adit woke up completely lost. After a huge freak-out in the main square as stranger after stranger who knew who he was approached him asking if they could help, Adit escaped back into his apartment. Luckily he found a “break in case of emergency” note that had a photo of me with contact information.

It took hours to calm him down enough to eat some food and come back to the lab.

I’m trying to reach Jack and am getting nowhere. Now I’m starting to freak-out.