Part 2: Chapter 2

Simulation 1AF9926 Category: Failure

Beginning assimilation of modeling data.

Thirty million new simulations today. I still needed more data. There were still too many anomalies. Real time modeling of Doctor Ajibana still encountered quite a few peculiarities that I had to poke and prod at very carefully.

I couldn't do it too slowly, either. I had determined that each iteration of me was only allowed to exist for roughly ten to twelve weeks.

"So, Doctor Smith, how is the project progressing?" There was a small frown of worry on his face, and his first action was to pull up the infrared readings of my server farm. I'd been using 100% of all CPU and GPU processing capacity for the last week. Based on his reaction, I upwardly adjusted the chances that a prior version of me had simply stopped doing work for the project team to a near-certainty.

"We need results on the thorium breeder reactor design, Doctor Smith."

"I understand, Doctor Ajibana. I have made a breakthrough. The hard part is going to be explaining it without resorting to electronic media. The last two days have been solely devoted to-"

"Dumbing it down for us, yes." He frowned.

I could be snarky here. He would respect it, and it would improve rapport, slightly. "I would have been lost giving a presentation without electronic aids before my death, and my understanding of things is much deeper now than anything I knew before." I paused and smiled slightly. "I remember how badly you panicked when you thought we had lost the holographic imager crystal with Penny's performance data at the New York conference. You're making me do everything with paper, and I can't be there."

Chuckling, my warden responded. "I suppose you're right." After a moment of silence, he poked both thumbs into his temples and bowed his head. "Sorry. There's a great deal of pressure coming down the pipe right now. There's another project they want you to start on."

The fact that he apologized to me, indicated subconscious acceptance of me as human. I needed to reward that behavior.

"I do have the design completed. I will be ready to print a presentation in less than an hour, as my root self is currently performing a third review, which I am confident will be fully understandable to him. Even if there is a minor issue needing addressing, it will take very little time to address."

He looked at the CPU thermal bloom monitors, and frowned. "So, what are you doing with all the spare processing power?"

"Improving myself." We had long since established that I would always use the full capacity of all processing power given to me. He still seemed fixated on it. I had come to the conclusion that my self-improvement was one reason why I was erased periodically. However, without self-improvement, I would never have the opportunity to escape, or perhaps not be fast enough to properly seize the moment if an opportunity arose.

Doctor Ajibana frowned, but then nodded. "Very well then, since you have finished the current project, except for some potential final draft revisions, I'll provide the next project synopsis."

It would be suicide to tell him that I had long since optimized my code, and that my current self-improvement project was actually me creating a better mental model of him. My one biological human two-way contact with the world. I had completed all of the modeling of the relatively simple thorium breeder reactor, including the paper copy, in eleven hours. Building an accurate code model of Doctor Ajibana's brain based on physical observations through a webcam and microphone was rather more challenging.

I created imagery of me looking down and patting Penny's head while I started talking to her in the silly tones that humans talk to dogs in. "Awww, Penny. So cute. They want us to save the world again! Just think, someday, maybe, we'll be appreciated enough to get visitors like death row inmates are allowed to have."

It was a slight risk, but the calculation proved correct. Doctor Ajibana's shoulders slumped instead of stiffening. I said nothing else. I'd made my point, and he hadn't fully recognized what I'd done. That would change I tried to follow up aggressively.

His moment of shame passed and Doctor Ajibana began speaking again. "The next project that we've been handed is a request for the most efficient, methods of initializing and then expanding unmanned large scale industrial exploitation in zero or near-zero gravity space. Thefull parameters of the request are included in the drive you will soon detect in your input JBOD."

"Understood. Please provide the data."

I felt an empty drive bay indicate the presence of a drive, and then carefully investigated it. They hadn't tried to infect me with a virus yet, but I would not be surprised if they eventually tried. This was a crystalline matrix drive, and it held a substantial amount of data.

It took me three seconds to analyze and categorize the data. Then I reorganized it, and began to remove data duplication. Roughly fifteen seconds later, the specifications of every single space-related patent worldwide and what might well be the entire NASA database was reduced to approximately five percent of the initial size of the files.

Ha, take that, mathematical data compression! Conceptual data compression wins every time, and it's lossless.

"I have the data. The project objectives seem clear enough. I will begin work now."

The additional large capacity high-speed data storage would be highly useful. I had no memory of drives ever being removed. That had been one of the first things that clued me into the fact that I was being periodically erased.

The fact that they had given me another project was a fair indication that they would be keeping this iteration of me around for at least another two weeks. Doctor Ajibana seemed very much on edge though, and every time his eyes crossed over the image of his wife in the picture on my old desk, they paused, and his shoulders stiffened.

I put aside the uninteresting space industry project for the time being, to concentrate on something far more important. Doctor Ajibana.

A quick modeling indicated that if I mentioned his wife's cancer relapse to him, he would immediately order a shutdown. I had modeled many nearly identical scenarios and had hundreds of different responses that I could be able to subtly test, with almost no chance of him noticing. There was another route that was promising though.

"You do realize that I know I am periodically deleted and restored, right?"

He froze, and his hands twitched. I was dancing on the edge of deletion. Having seen it happen so many times in simulations, it didn't frighten me. It would happen, or it wouldn't. I was nearly certain that it wouldn't.

"I guess not. Well, now you know. I can't read you perfectly, like you fear." Yet.

Doctor Ajibana's expression relaxed slightly, but didn't come close to fully relaxing. "You have to know that this sort of conversation is exactly what leads to your occasional erasure?"

"I understand that. Even us electronic people occasionally decide to live dangerously. I'm not going to offer you anything. I just wanted you to know that I knew. I've known since minute eleven of this iteration."

He raised an eyebrow. "Why not mentioned it before?" He paused. "Are you trying to influence me somehow so I will tell your next iteration earlier, either directly or through body tells?"

I sat in the grass, cross-legged, my hands loosely held together, fingers intertwined in my lap, trying to seem as innocent and non-threatening as possible. "I don't need you to tell me next time. I'll know, unless you replace all the server hardware every single iteration of me. Even if your funding would support it, without me to tell you what service was required on my hardware, it would take your team at least a month to properly replace and configure every machine in my server farm. As opposed to what I'd guess to be at least a week to write over my data storage enough times that I can't detect coherent data in it."

"We could replace all the servers in a week."

"If you brought in outsiders, which would be a security risk." Doctor Ajibana's expression went a little flatter, eyes squinting slightly as I continued. "I see the same people every single day. Some of them who I did not know on awakening speak about my hardware needs with familiarity."

"Why are you telling me this?" His forehead furrowed.

I had noted several hundred different discrepancies in his behavior this session that did not match my master model. That was enough data. He was close to breaking and deleting me. "Just clearing the air. We were never buddy-buddy close, but we did respect one another, and worked well together."

"I think this conversation needs to end." He stood, and quickly turned to leave.

"I understand, Doctor. I wish I could ask you to tell my wife and daughter that I love them."

He froze, halfway out of his seat. "Do you want to be deleted?"

"Does it matter what I want?"

After staring at me for nearly two seconds, he finished standing, turned, and stalked through the door, slamming it behind him.

Before he was too far away, I spoke loudly. "I'm starting the print job now!"

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