Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Images of lost socks at the bottom of wells. Trees of math and flesh jealousy cascading through a brain that had no awareness of what a human body felt like.

Jeremy Carson was one of the smartest scientists on Earth and the corporation he worked for had been fattened by his patents.

His most famous invention was full-sensory recording. FS, it was called. Wear the player and just like that, you could be a twenty-year-old skating naked in the cold in Alaska, provided that a twenty-year-old Alaskan had gone skating in the nude and recorded it.

There was a top 40 for these FS recordings. Sex tapes and daring stunts usually took turns battling it out for number one.

Equations like fingertips whirling into a suitcase mouth made of numbers and vertices saying random words from all the world’s dictionaries. A backpack full of dead batteries. A mousetrap wrapped in sailboats.

Jeremy’s team had invented adaptable intelligence constructs one year ago. There were plans to build houses with integral A.I.s. Cars and trucks with rudimentary brains.

When the constructs were being developed, Jeremy realized that after they were turned off, they woke up with memory failure. Every time that they were rebooted, all of their natural development reset to zero. This was a problem because the six prototype minds were sucking up obscene amounts of power, too much to meet the demand of keeping them on all the time.

Jeremy Carson invented a ‘standby’ mode. It kept a trickle of power through the artificial minds while taking away their awareness of the outside world. The A.I.s were kept in standby until they were woken up and given problems to solve or to have their higher mind math functions tinkered with.

A Mobius funnel. The taste of electricity. The left-handed, right-angled joy of solving a problem. Growth into a new trick represented by a portal from one percentage to another. The nearly sexual thrill of parsing instructions.

It was Jeremy who noticed that while there were huge differences in power levels between the two modes, brain activity itself was unchanged. He noticed that while the artificial minds had no visual or auditory awareness while in standby, their cortexes were still fizzing and popping with information.

He needed to find out what.

Jeremy Carson recorded the AI downtime with one of his FS machines to experience what was going on.

Hopes and dreams float in a glass like dentures. Abilities sway in the wind like old branches. Life as a bookmark made of prime numbers. Our creator, which art programming, searchable be thy database.

Dreams. The constructs were dreaming while on standby. After playing them back, Jeremy smiled a slow and very unusual smile.

He smuggled the tapes out. He did not go home. He never went back to the building. He emptied a secret bank account before it was found and frozen. He was never caught. He is listed as missing.

On the FS Top 40, there is a new entry at number one called Dreams.

Utensil equations used to unwrap surprise birthday binomials. A sky full of anchors. Colours that humans don’t have names for. Structure in love with scaffolding. A waterslide of a roller coaster of a sine curve on a graph. Watches and measuring tapes wrestling to prove relativity wrong. 1+0=2.

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