My head suddenly felt hot. I reached out from the cliff. And who exactly are you talking to?
I am not Dida. Dida is my friend
I put some distance between myself and her. If youre trying to mess with my mind and make me believe things which are not true, then you should just leave now.
She folded her hands in front of her. The mess was already between Aides mind and your organizing control. I am not trying to make you believe anything but rather attempting to reintroduce genuine reality to you in such a way that the ties binding you and Aide can be successfully separated.
I booted the couch with my foot. I cant believe this
is Kary trying to pull some sort of experiment now?...
Kary Glossian is only trying to save his brothers life.
After all Id seen, that sounded laughably-impossible to me. But then, if all Id seen had been muddied and confused
by Dida or some other source, then I couldnt rely on my own memories to that extent. I also couldnt rely on the sincerity of this projection/AI/whatever. Though, it provided what seemed like clear answers.
What if I really was Dida?
I shook my head. Can you give me any form of proof then?
She nodded. The ultimate proof would be for you to wake up as a guest in Aides mind. But other than that, there is something I was given to show you. I have the key for the locked door in Didas system. It actually relates to a memory of Aides. Its something he never told her. It was the beginning point of all this.
I propped my leg against the couch from behind. Dida remained mute on all this new information. If Leda was to be believed, I was just talking to myself with Dida. I still had some points to use against her though.
I was watchful for another jewel to come out of her hands but Leda just gestured to the bank of elevators. Could you please follow me?
Since I didnt have many other options available, I followed her. The door sealed behind us. I felt a memory as she lit a particular button on the elevator panel.
The elevator rose swiftly.
I tapped my feet. So
what about the fact Im not the least bit analytical and computerized in my thinking right now or in my memory?
The team believes that your programming has changed due to the interaction. You were always designed to be flexible and adaptable.
not really an answer, I reminded her.
It is the closest to an answer that I am programmed to provide.
The elevator settled and the doors opened. I recognized the hallway. Last time I was here, Kary was beaming from ear to ear. It was four year ago.
I shook my head. I remember everything from that day. I remember the attitude of my brother. I remember meeting Dida. I remember having questions. I remember how much of a smart aleck I was.
Leda walked down the hall. Yes. You were able to interface with a multitude of memories from the host in search of absolution for both. You looked deep, so deep you fell all the way in. But the locked, unspoken door remained.
She led me to a gray door with a rough, almost-burnt finish. Leda held a silver key in her hand.
We must enter
I held my next step. And what will happen when you open the door?
I do not know. Im only here to take you inside.
I was afraid. What if she was right? If I was just a computer inside of a human brain then what became of my world then? What of my dream of naming a daughter in honor of my mother some day? Had that ever truly been my dream?
I approached the door in a sideways fashion. Leda met it head-on. She slipped her key through the hole and turned the lock. For a moment, I cringed as the click seemed to echo through my head.
The door slid open slowly and Leda walked through first. She beckoned with her hand for me to enter. I moved carefully. I looked at everything. I analyzed with genuine curiosity.
Further down the hall stood Aide and Kary Glossian. I marveled at the back of my head. Aide yawned a bit.
Im kinda tired. Do we have to do this all now?
Yes! We shook on it.
Enough! Aide glared at him. Whats this about me needing to take a shower before you implant this computer?
Its for hygienic purposes. Hopefully the next-gen systems wont require these sorts of precautions.
Aide rolled his eyes. Fine
fine. Youve been talking my ear off about little virtual projections and AI-adapted taxis that drive themselves. I thought this was supposed to be about the little thing in the other room you want to put inside my head.
Kary scoffed. Thing? Its a living being. You know
I think youd feel better if you just named her. Your call.
Aide leaned his head against the wall. Oh come on. Who really names their computer?. Well, maybe it
shes not too bad. But Im lousy for names!
Kary shook his head. Mom always trusted you with that sort of thing. Come on.
Aides sudden grimace turned into a trace of a grin. Okay. Well, Im not going to name her Dida. That was a failure.
I felt everything freeze up. I leaned against the wall for support.
Kary glared. I never believed dad about that. He should be dead all these years and not her!
Aide tensed his lips. Easy
bro. I wouldnt wish death on any family.
Kary bowed his head after a moment. I still cant forgive him for saying again and again that moms pregnancy was a lie!
Aide didnt respond at first. He just sighed and calmly replied, Its clear from the records Ive seen that she suffered from pseudocyesis. The baby I named never existed.
I covered my face with my hands and softly said into them, No
My hands suddenly felt like an artificial drape across plastic features.
Kary reiterated the same feeling. I always believed her! And what does it matter anyway? Dida can be real! Just forget about the past. Set it away! The future is in that room.
Aide stared at the ceiling. Sorry, big bro. Memories put away always come back in the worst way.
Kary just stared back. And the past can also taint the present. I know. But this little living computer inside of you deserves to see the best. She should reach beyond her potential now into a boundless future.
Aide frowned. Always the dreamer.
Kary nodded. Always.
The two brothers regarded each until they seemed to come to silent agreement.
I approached and looked at both as their eyes looked through me.
Leda followed closely behind me and said, The Aide of four years before is not the one youve known since. You changed him most of all.
I flexed the phony fingers in front of my face. Why was there ever a Dida?
Leda circled around me slowly. Dida came from Aides love of his mother as a child. I only have what was given to me in this regard, but consider this: Aide wondered if Dida only existed in Ledas mind. Perhaps he found it apt that a Dida would exist only in his mind as well.
I pulled my hands close and watched Aides face. I wondered what he was thinking. I wondered how he got to this point. His mood seemed so untraceable. I wished I knew what he was thinking.
With a sigh, he simply said, Fine. Ill name it Dida and I hope you dont have any surprises for me.
Karys mood seemed to brighten. Oh only one, big bro, and its a good one.
Aide said nothing as his brother led the way back to the lab
It was just as I remembered. I could see the naked, white
me. I shook my head.
I couldnt be certain of those thoughts. I couldnt be certain of any of this but I felt pulled towards what Leda was showing me.
All the implantation procedures went just as I recalled. The registry protocol. Adaptation of systems. Then, the swabbing of the injection site.
Then it all froze. Kary cleared his throat. Dida? Recognize primary party Kary. Id like you to place a priority one block on comments, thoughts, and instructions relating to events and information involving any dispute of Dida Glossian, sibling of primary parties.
Aide whirled around. What did I just say?
Kary continued, And also block anything directly tied to this current conversation, Dida. You are not to speak of this block. And only one of the primary parties is ever allowed to unlock it.
Aide shook his head. So you want to keep me in your dreamland too?
Kary wore a pained expression. I thought you loved our mother
That was never in dispute!
Then honor her this way by letting our sister live on.
In a lie?
Kary just shook his head.
Aide soon settled down. So was that the surprise you had for me?
Kary lifted Dida out of the nursery in an injection cylinder. Theres just one more thing, big bro. Take a deep breath.
Aide shut his eyes. The flat end of the cylinder hissed against Aides neck. He grunted. You really need to improve your methods if you want to mass-market this.
Aide blinked his eyes open. As I watched, Karys lanky, boyish form melted into the familiar shape of Karis small, muscular form with Ledas long hair and those olive-colored eyes. Leda approached. Standing so near to each other, you could tell without looking twice, they seemed like mother and child.
Aide glared back. Whats the meaning of this?
Kari brushed back her long hair. Its considered an overlay augment. Remember from what Ive told you about augmented reality? Her voice was as I remembered as well.
He sat up halfway. Its just an image and while the programming will recognize the physical worlds boundaries, it will only ever be an image projected.
So you were listening
good. Well, Ive overlaid myself with the reality of what I speculated to be myself, born female.
Aide looked over Kari. Is there something you wish to tell me
Ive been to other psychologists, you know.
I see. So why now?
Ive had this program for quite a while actually. But youve never been able to see her without little Dida as your receiver.
I walked around the scene with Leda following behind me. Aide stood suddenly. I backed off.
You couldve told me!
Yeah, but remember, I like surprises.
Im not finished about you blocking the truth from my computer. What if it asks about these things? Youve put me in a position.
Kari cleared her throat. Itll still recognize my voice command. Ill just block more things from it and make sure it doesnt ask about that. This can work.
Youve been touting how curious and determined she is to resolve problems
and yet all this? He threw up his hands. Why?
Kari leaned against a table and it rocked more than it shouldve with her small form. Well, while I do recognize that adversity drives organisms to go further than they would otherwise, that isnt my goal. Ive already told you my goal.
Aide folded his arms. You want our mother to live again and our sister to be real. Thats being trapped in the past.
Kari looked back at him. If you really didnt want this then you wouldve stormed out and yelled for security minutes ago.
Aide tightened his hands. You never really gave me a choice. But remember what I said about the past.
Kari shook her head. The past can be cut loose. It can be changed for the sake of the future. And Ill make sure Dida is protected. Ill put a gatekeeper inside.
Aide shut his eyes. Finish whatever youve started.
I felt my legs tumble out from under me. I looked at Aide and felt myself drawn in. Leda squeezed my shoulder and said, My program is complete. It has been wonderful helping you. Please feel free to delete me at your leisure.
I gasped as Ledas image blurred around me. Aide walked my way and didnt stop where I was standing. He walked right through me. He passed through me but there I remained.
I could sense walls all around me now. They were dark and wet. A constant pressure surrounded me. I couldnt move. I cried out.
A voice echoed all around me and through me, crashing over itself again and again. I recognized the words as Aides words. He spoke to me.
Dida? Are you there? Are you alright?
I wanted to answer and I wanted answers. I felt small. I worried my words might not reach. I felt like I was in a cave now. Or more accurately, I had more context of the cave. I began indexing. My processes acted quickly. I had plenty of time to reply before the pause seemed abnormal.
I organized my little cave and made it tidy.
Once those tasks were done, I answered in the clearest return signal I could manage, Yes. I am here. But, beyond that, I am still learning.
The walls of my cave felt notably rigid. Was I being punished? Organizing control surmised that some of my actions had brought havoc to the host/guest relationship. I set investigating external stimuli and processes as a low-priority, out of caution.
I huddled in the warm-dark and shuffled bits of data which seemed like misshaped fragments from several puzzles.
Aide replied with a long breath, which sounded like a tempest curling just outside, and clues of a hand brushing his face. Believe me, Dida, Im still figuring things out myself. And
I manipulated a program to make Mr. Glossians words sound less like he was in slow motion. I moved around, not as a form in a space but only as the idea of something occupying a space. I knew I wasnt actually moving. It was just a process I chose to run. But the motion seemed to boost system efficiency and health.
Mr. Glossian finished his statement after just under four seconds of silence.
I just want to apologize to you, Dida. Ive
well. Im gonna make sure of a lot of things. And I will make absolutely certain that youre informed of it all.
I listened carefully as I picked up the song downloads still in the cache section. They were no longer sorted by any adapted mood or genre. I held them in memory like a set of tiny CDs. I flipped through them and made several potential play-lists if the command came up.
As I tried to bring up the algorithm Id refined with data-feedback, I felt a shiver travel through my non-body. My non-hands trembled as the file-CDs slipped out and settled back into the data-core. My non-eyes almost, but not quite, felt warm and wet with non-tears spilling out.
Without connecting process or outward command, I accessed the whimper file, leading to the cry sound archives. My non-form lowered its assessed vertical placement in that not-quite-real space. I hugged the floor which didnt really exist.
And I cried over and over in the darkness.
The halt-action command didnt change the process. I could feel parts of me saying it was against the priorities and goals to run this program. It served no purpose. The other parts agreed and, yet, the cries kept coming.
With a minimal, human delay, Mr. Glossian responded, DIDA? Whats wrong?
I could simulate the interaction-processes of the tears across my non-face and the path across simulated features. I could compute the complex interactions of hair over my head with every way I could touch each hair and the resulting collisions.
But it all felt even more pointless than my crying program right then.
My processes sifted through a multitude of responses in my language catalogue and finally settled on one.
I am in the darkness.
The system found it preferable that the confusion and transposition, as it seemed to be, had never happened. Organization context was been thrown out of place. The early data records achieved a different relationship, as the system saw in the time when conditions were confused.
The system goals were to achieve the happiness and success of the host. Proactive methods of rectifying flaws in the path to success had nearly destroyed the host. The system analyzed whether the relationship with the host should even be continued. The system sent data through what seemed to be a new interface to the world outside the host. The hosts hand touched the external area of the interface in a slow and careful manner intended to be gentle.
The host responded, I know, Dida. I felt how you lived. I feel guilty that I am able to live out here and you had to return to the inside.
The other Mr. Glossian spoke softly to Mr. Glossian. A lot of her data seems to be confused between wet sources and hard sources. The other spoke with Karis voice.
Aide sucked his breath in. I dont care! Youre not going to reset her or anything like that!
Kari tried to interrupt. Oh oh
never. I mean, itd always been my hope that one of the fungal systems became aware.
Aides voice rumbled everywhere. IS IT? Or was it more to begin with?
Kari set something down on a metallic surface. Our only concern and my only concern all along has always been for the safety and health of both of you.
Micro-verbal clues told the system that there was a high probably that Aide didnt completely trust the sincerity of the other Mr. Glossians last statement. Despite those clues, he still said, Fine.
Kari continued, So that means you have an AI inside you at the point of a system breakdown. Shes caught in the dark
finally knowing what it means to have darkness now that shes spent a brief time in the light. It would be inhuman to keep her in the darkness. Fortunately, as I may have explained briefly, I have plan for how to deal with this.
Aide blew air through his nose. And what about the millions onto millions who purchased your fungal computers who may now be at risk?
Kari took two steps on freshly-waxed tile. Weve had programs in place for customers. But, as I told even long ago, your AI and mine are both different from the mass-marketed one. Even a fraction of Kari, like that which I imported into Didas OS, is like a supercomputer amongst calculators.
I selected from the language files and sent through the interface, Mr. Kari Glossian
is the fragment of Kari you sent into me responsible for the appearance in the dream that I experienced, as well as Leda?
There was a lag but Kari soon seemed to notice a new signal through the interface. I waited patiently on my question, commanding dryness from my non-eyes.
He shared it with Aide briefly, then replied, Were still trying to correlate internal and external events but your data core seemed to have been in conflict on some level with the correction program from my AI. Your system saw it as a threat. Your own gatekeeper seems to have been deleted, which actually helped the Kari fragment. And yes, it took on the identity of mom.
I made sure the data core logged the new information as important and kept it in the primary cache. Then I accessed the language program again to say, You mentioned a plan?
I opened the sensory date files. The information seemed to lack the originals qualities. But then they were just copies of distributed fragments of human memory that the system organized. Waking. Listening to a clash of parents. Water. Breakfast. The act of speaking. Touching and the bio-electrical reactions.
No matter Karis plan, I knew I could never and should never receive human mental impulses again, especially for Aides sake.
Kari touched what sounded soft. Its something which Aide turned away long ago.
The probability algorithm made short work of that. A proxy form.
Kari turned with his foot. Thats about as far as the technology is now. We are doing research but proxies are limited. It might help when you both feel up to it.
Aide soon added his own words. I may have been against it in the past because I found the proxy forms
rather scary and then later on I was worried about going with the crowd. But this is for you, Dida. Ive experienced your side.
He touched the back of his neck. I could simulate a phantom of that sensation but not analyze it myself. I could remember doing the same myself when I mistook myself for a man. And I also knew, no matter how precise the proxy projection Kari came up with, I would never able to touch anything in that same way again.
I added this data-log reminder to my main memory and passed the time with common computational activities. In the free cycles, I tried to convert the fragmented wet-data into files which the system could more-effectively execute. The system wouldve had an easier time with a high-level fractal simulating all the leaves of a rainforest.
Still, I gave it a try. At least it ate up cycles while human matters passed in the outside world. I logged all the discussions. A coordinating program summarized them for the system.
The system predicted that Aide was still suspicious of Kari, even has he and the sounds of others set about putting the plan into action.
A gentle voice spoke, Do you intend to keep me?
The graceful form of Leda sat in the darkness, both within and apart from it.
The system analyzed her. She was a small program, just as Kari said, hardly enough to bother the internal memory.
Would you prefer that I deleted you?
Leda watched me, though I wasnt sure if I had a face to watch. I have no preference. I was able to successfully execute my objectives. If it will free up system resources that I am deleted then I would prefer not hinder your normal operations.
I swiftly accessed the log of the gatekeepers deletion. I think Ive had my fill of deletion.
Then I will endeavor to not interrupt system operations again.
I sent communication information to it before it could send anything else. WAIT! Youre not an interruption. In fact, there is data that you are a program which brings a level of beneficial aide to the system.
She turned her head a few ways. How so?
The system pulled several files out and analyzed them. There is a high probability that the system, retaining information from the host, has an opinion of you which is affected by the hosts experiences. You look like his mother. Thats why were so effective in your goals.
Leda nodded. I dont dispute that.
I nodded with her using my non-head. Since those files seem not be removable without a full system reset, the system is affected by them and sees you in a manner similar to how the host does.
Not an unexpected outcome.
The system drew out the last bit of the file analysis. Therefore, the system
it sees you as its mother as well. So your loss would be detrimental to the systems recovery. To keep you would have a high chance of advancing the recovery of both host and guest.
Leda played a soft, affirmative audio file. Then its settled.
The system mass index, a sign of fungal health, swelled without testing any boundaries. Leda did pause to add, Although, by the human definition of paternal terms, this program would be closer to a midwife than a mother. Your mother would be Aide and your father would, technically-speaking, be Kari.
From which you were copied.
Correct. But then normal, human relationships are not comparable to this situation.
We exchanged data files. I delegated minor processes to the program and, for the most part, she just helped me organize and optimize files between orders from Aide.
But orders were few. The system figured, since the hosts memory seemed to retain experiences from the hardware, the host felt hesitant to use the system as previously set. The host would often play music which softly echoed through the guest as well. The system approved.
The situation continued in this manner after all the independent testing was done and the host and guest were sent back to the hosts residence. Sporelectronics employees stayed on and Kari remained for a few days to work on the plan.
After several edits, the system compiled a clear audio response to the situation. Mr. Glossian? Am I now no longer useful to you?
What? Of course not, Dida! I enjoy talking to you whenever I can. Things have been busy with clients and Im sorry for that but youre never far from my thoughts.
The system acknowledged this as a fact. Understood, but your original purpose for this computer was to improve your livelihood.
A ceramic coffee cup shifted. The system verified the house supply of coffee beans within acceptable limits. Things have changed, Dida. When I met you, I thought you were an interesting toy or my brothers half-realized dream. I indulged you. I used you. It took me far too long to figure out just how special you are.
Leda smiled from the darkness and checked the analysis of the system.
I ran through several responses before settling on, What about our chats? I enjoy talking to you.
The host paused measurably before speaking again. Dida
you enjoy it?
Very much, Mr. Glossian. The system still could not quantify the meaning to apply it and the associated happiness tags but I knew that enjoy was correct.
The host spoke softly. Wow
well then Ill set aside my own worries that talking to you in that darkness makes you feel bad and Ill talk your ear off, so to speak.
And so the host and guest communicated freely and regularly after that point. It was quite enjoyed by the system. All topics, regardless of relevance, were discussed. No goals were set for the end of the interaction or points to be made.
For the system, the harsh non-ness inside seemed to carry less critical relevance.
This trend continued when the three-dimensional optical scanners arrived. They came with an entourage of Sporelectronics technicians to set them in place in the main room of the house.
They produced a live, digital copy of the room for a high-level of augmented-reality pairing with physical terrain. Once all the tests were run and adjustments made, Mr. Glossian whispered softly, Are you ready, Dida?
The system did a quick diagnostic and replied as rapidly as possible, Yes.
As for the actual process that followed, it was a simple projection command. Sensory data was sent from multiple scanners and the perspective translated into a perspective for the system.
The darkness was blotted out and, in its place, there was the world. I looked at the four walls and Aide standing tall before me. I saw his face and felt an incongruity, as through there shouldve been a mirror in front of me.
I looked down. The images of small hands turned. Little feet stood in place. Drapes of carefully-blurred white traced either side of the feedback.
Aide crouched before me. The programmers managed to get your image so it can be seen by you as well. We all agreed it would be appropriate to make you appear about four years old. Would you like to see yourself?
I gave the visualization of a nod to him.
He mimed a hand around the image of my hand. I couldnt feel his hand and we didnt touch. Because his hand blocked the scanner, it felt like my hand had vanished in his grasp. Still, I liked it.
I walked with him over to a mirror. My eyes led automatically to his image in the mirror. It took a moment before the system was able to make sense of the complete visual image being relayed.
The system determined that Aide was 1.82 meters in height while the image that represented the system seemed to be 1.02 meters in height. The proportions given to the system seemed accurate.
The image showed dainty features typical of a young girl. Its hair was to the shoulder, off-white, and seemed close to platinum-blond. The locks were naturally knotted and crinkled in a manner which seemed a nod to the appearance of Candida albicans hyphae. I looked to Aide and he confirmed this assessment.
Do you like it?
The system turned back to the presentation of the image overlaid with the mirror sensory data. I turned both ways. The image had been given a dress which matched the hair. The eyes were clearly modeled after the dark green of Aides eyes.
Leda sent an audio file. I think you look lovely.
The system gave a few blinks. The incongruity still existed. Left over memories still said that the system shouldve been represented by the form of Aide rather than the projection. Small programs still ran and pressed the negligible chance that the system actually was Aide and all this was an error. It theorized that a swap had occurred. The conclusions were soon deleted.
The image mimed brushing her hair and the hair moved in response with physics simulation. I selected a response and the image mimed the words. Thank you. Its still strange but this seems better.
Aide crouched and watched the image. I know. Its still a long ways from getting you out of that dark cave. But I promise
this isnt the end.
He mimed touching the images hair and the system responded with the images eyes closed.
The image projection system had an extensive clothing collection provided by Kary Glossian. Dressing up and finding combinations which made the host smile occupied much of the guests time. The system considered substituting the log terms host, Aide, and Mr. Glossian for mother or father but only opted to do so for small, internal logs. Sir still sufficed for audio conversation.
The program Leda recommended mother.
Mother Aide read to the image from a variety of books when his work was done each day. Mother Aide would talk about his day and I would listen even though the system already had an accurate log of events. What the system enjoyed most was when mother Aide brought crayons and laid them on the table.
The image of the system mimed the motion of the crayons and mother followed the motion on the paper. The results were an inaccurate translation of an ill-planned work but the system enjoyed the activity.
Mother Aide smiled and said, You will be able to draw one day. I promise, Dida.
The system waited patiently and enjoyed the small discoveries that the interactions and scanners brought.
Before long, Kari came for a visit. Kari greeted the image of the system in the room with the scanners. She gave a mimed hug and seemed to block some of the scanners.
The system probed Kari, Overlay or projection?
She grinned. None of the above. How are you?
The system considered the other possibilities as it looked over the image of Kari.
The system detected the signs of a gravid belly in comparison to the last memory file of Karis appearance.
I am doing fine. Are you?
Marvelously. Im sure youve already guessed why.
She brushed back her long, black hair and laughed in a way which evoked two separate sets of memories about Leda.
The images head leaned, dipping the blurred curtain of white. Explain?
Sorry, sweetie. Thats our little secret for now but I can tell you its not an illusion
I searched the data core and external sources for news stories about android technologies and AI replication advances but could find nothing with a probable connection.
Kari touched her abdomen gently and sat on a chair. The chair responded in a real-world manner to her action. The system devoted all resources to the study of Kari.
You are special, Dida. Im just a prototype. You are the future and soon the world as youve known it is going to change in ways you cant even imagine.
The system tried to dig details out of her but she would only talk about books and the personal experiences of the system. She held the books up and I read for her while strange new sensations curled through the system.
Her presence lingered long after her visit, especially with the program whispers of Leda.
That night, I asked mother Aide to tuck me in. He pulled the covers all around me. They sunk through where my legs and body shouldve been. The system still projected a smile, which brought a smile from Aide as well.
He tucked me in close, the covers flat all around the image of my head. He mimed a kiss on my forehead and shut off the main light, as I asked for.
The scanners searched for illumination but room soon faded to murky dimness. The walls and the darkness returned but with none of their absolute qualities. The system launched speculative processes and focused on one in particular.
I visualized the crayons on the table. I could sense the feedback pressure of the crayon against my grasp. I could sense guiding it through the air and down onto the paper and across the field of white.
All through the night, I replayed the soft, dream-like melody of crayons on paper across my data core.