Author : Huw Langridge

Carla’s hand retreated from the ON switch while the media wall flickered to life. The software programme went through its final initialisation stages, with lines of configuration code working its way up the screen. She waited.

ADAM appeared on the wall. ADAM, the shining humanoid avatar, the ‘physical’ representation of the Artificial Intelligence program Carla had been working on for so many years. So many years in this small garage behind her house. Beautiful code that was in the final testing stages. Soon she could patent the program, then release it to the world. Anyone who saw ADAM would be convinced that Artificial Intelligence had finally come of age.

“Good morning Adam,” said Carla when the voice parameters finally loaded.

“Good morning Carla. have you had a good rest?” said ADAM, leaning in towards the screen. Carla smiled, constantly astounded by the realism within the avatar’s movements.

“I did thanks. I had a beautiful dream.”

“Really?” said ADAM, “May I ask what it was about?”

“I was… dreaming about the past,” said Carla.

“That’s interesting. What aspect of the past?”

She looked around the garage, pondering the dream. She looked at the shelves with their old paint-pots, the tool rack of garden implements she could never remember using. Though she was a keen gardener she never seemed to have the time. Outside, beyond the trees the light from the sunrise shone pink through pastel clouds. A beautifully calming scene.

“I was young,” she said. “An infant, in the dream. It was strange because I only had a vague understanding of the world around me.” She smiled to herself, it was so interesting to be telling this to an AI program, but it would be even more interesting to discover what ADAM had to say about her dream. Some of the higher algorithms may struggle with the concept of dreaming, but it was worth the test. “My mother was helping me learn to ride my first bicycle.”

“What colour was the bicycle?” asked ADAM.

“Adam, you are aware it wasn’t a real bicycle? Just a dream-bicycle.”

ADAM nodded. His nodding seemed a little clunky, a little… unlikely. Carla made a mental note that she would have to play with that part of the code.

“It was yellow,” she finally said.

“I knew it would be that colour,” said ADAM.

Carla smiled. She wasn’t surprised. Yellow was the first colour she taught the ADAM program to recognise through its multiple high-definition cameras.

“Did your mother… say anything to you in the dream?”

Carla shook her head. “No but I was talking to her. At least, I was trying to, but I couldn’t find the words. I was so young, in the dream. Too young to articulate how much I loved her. I…”

ADAM interrupted. “Loved her? You talk about her in the past tense. Is she no longer with you?”

Carla felt a tear running down her cheek. She was shaking her head, knowing that ADAM’s camera could see and interpret her movements and gestures.

Adam triggered the OFF switch and rotated his bio-canister to look through the view-port at the parched planet below. “It’s so close now,” he said. “I hadn’t yet programmed in the concept of death.”

His great-great-great grandson stood up from the grav-seat and floated towards him, softly touching the metal surface of the bio-canister which preserved the old man’s brain. “You will never get those times back. I really think it’s time you let her go.”


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows