Author: John McLaughlin
Trevor waited in the Jump Box. Grey electrodes threaded from his scalp and bobbed like Medusa’s curls as he amped himself up on electronica. I really need this A, he thought. The Lander sat at the stage’s opposite end, in an identical translucent chamber. It was a new model: a titanium bipedal with two 600-megapixel eyepieces, audio feed, full tactile sensors across the limbs and face, and a chemical odorant detector. It lay slumped like a limp marionette against its wireframe hanger.
His AI professor, Dr. Sakar, awkwardly cleared his throat over the lapel microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you may know, the Institute has previously achieved brief consciousness duplications – on the order of a few seconds. Tonight’s show will be more ambitious.”
Sakar lifted his water bottle from the podium and drew a shaky sip.
“In the early days of mind uploading, we began with a simple question. If we can take something like a book – a piece of information – and represent it in any format with ease, will the same hold true for the human mind?”
Sakar was gaining confidence. He flashed a wink at a brunette near the stage and flourished his arm toward the humanoid stack of metal.
“This device – called the Lander – is designed with our own sensory apparatus in mind. It can see, hear, touch, and smell just as well, or better than, its human partner.”
Trevor waved from the opposite box, evoking some weak laughter from the audience.
“Its brain is wired just like ours: the visual, auditory, and tactile modules are networked the same as a human’s. My student can jump his mind in seamlessly: simple duplication. From Trevor 2.0’s perspective, nothing will have changed except his physical location and the fact that his body is a bit shinier. He will enjoy a rich sensorium, as if he were in his original body.”
Trevor recognized his cue: he rose from the seat, mounted a small treadmill in the corner of the box, and eased into a slow walk. He threw a thumbs up to the crowd.
On the overhead display, a clock sat at 0:00.
“The mind must be in a state of hyperactivity in order to jump effectively. Our cloud computing device will record a high-resolution time lapse of Trevor’s brain states leading up to transfer, and then re-instantiate them in the Lander moments later. All thanks to our high-speed encrypted network.”
Trevor now reached peak exertion. Sweat dripped onto the treadmill as he huffed into his respirator mask. The computer transmitted a signal to the device in Sakar’s hand: the subject was ready for mental duplication.
He cut his speech short and pointed up to the clock display.
“Guests, please ready yourselves for the Jump Count.”
One spectator in particular, the portly Professor Driven in seat J75, was carrying in his pocket a digital hard drive with the same port configurations as the Institute’s network.
When the clock hit 0:03 the show ended with a whimper. Trevor glanced up to see the Lander still slumped in its dock. So much for that A, he thought. A failed jump, but there would be another try in a few weeks.
Driven arrived home and set his drive down on the table.
“Try to plagiarize in my class? I know you little shits think the Humanities are pointless.”
Suspended in a prism of wire and plastic, Trevor’s shouts echoed through endless miles of empty dark.
“Welcome to my collection.”