Dear Lord Justice Kendal, my name is William Anderson. My friends call me ‘Billy’ or sometimes ‘Willy’ depending on their moods, older people mostly call me ‘Bill’. I also have a variety of ‘nicknames’ dished out by my friends, most of which wouldn’t be wise to reveal to you.
I clearly understand what is appropriate despite being labelled by the media as the ‘Boy with no brain’. I am not thick! Indeed I’ve done well in school. Though apparently, I might have my certificates revoked due to the flawed perception my teachers and examiners have of me. They claim that I’ve enjoyed an unfair advantage over my cohorts. Only teachers use words like ‘cohort’.
My grandfather is the wisest man I know. He said that the teachers and their ‘cohort’ are incapable of listening to anyone because they spend all day talking to their pupils… He also told me that a person incapable of listening is only subhuman at best, is no more than an ape that’s learned how to shave their armpits, beard or vagina as appropriate for their sex!
I love my Grandfather; I envy his razor-sharp mind and his dazzling wit. I wish I could be like him, but I’m not. Granddad says that if I knew what he was really like I wouldn’t want to be like him at all, but I think that’s his way of shrugging off the compliment.
The last few weeks have been difficult, to say the least, thanks to the world’s press who insist on camping outside our house. I haven’t been able to go out and hang around with my friends. Yes, I still have friends, though according to some news reports they’ve all left me since they found out about my unusual condition. These reports are false, I would like to state for the record that none of my friends have disowned me or abandoned me. We still keep in touch via the internet and our cell phones, though some reporters have tried to hack our connections or pose as someone else in our online groups.
You’ve probably seen some people on the news that claim to be friends of mine, but honestly, I don’t recognise them much. Some of them are just acquaintances from school or people who used to try and bully me when I was younger and as such they are not to be taken seriously.
My Granddad says that they are just trying to make a fast buck or enjoy some small portion of their fifteen minutes of fame and we should pity them as this is probably the highest point of their lives… They don’t know it yet, but it’s probably all downhill from here on in…
My girlfriend has visited every day and run the gauntlet of the press. Cecilia’s fantastic, she’s really brave and very pretty. One day I’d like us to get married, but our parents probably think that we’re too young to understand the concept. All I know is that I can’t imagine being with anyone else. I can’t be sure, but I think she feels the same way about me.
Cecilia likes my Dad and has started campaigning online for him. As you know sir, I’ve been told that my testimony is going to be an important part of his Court Martial and depending on the outcome of the proceedings Dad might go to prison, he may be released, but either way, he will probably get a Nobel Prize. I know my father doesn’t like the idea of it, but he will be making history. He’s a shy man.
As you well know sir, my father Dr Benny Anderson is a Doctor of Cybernetics. He works for the European Union Army Medical Core with cutting edge artificial intelligence and Holds the rank of Major. Dad says that it’s an honorary rank and shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s how shy he is, he’s earned that rank, worked hard for it over a long and prestigious career, but he doesn’t like using it. If it was me, I would be using it all the time. Having a military rank opens doors for you and gets you opportunities that not everyone can get. Granddad says that he was always a shy and quiet boy, introspective. He spent all of his spare time taking his toys apart to see how they worked. He used to make toy robots out of mechanical kits. He’s a born engineer.
Granddad has been to visit him a few times, he says that Dad is doing well and is comfortable in his cell and truth be told, that cell is probably the best place for him. If he saw the crowd of waiting photographers and reporters outside our house he would probably pass out. My Grandfather says that they aren’t real journalists not like him. Any clown can grab a camera these days and upload stuff to the net; that doesn’t make them journalists and to claim so is the ‘height of folly’. Just because someone can do a thing it doesn’t mean that they are going to be any good at it. To illustrate the point he took a picture of his penis the other night and put it online and is now happily telling everyone that he is a porn star! That picture has now gone all around the world as an example of my family’s immorality thanks to the press outside the house. Granddad is delighted…
I probably shouldn’t have told you that, but that’s the type of man my Grandfather is. He is irreverent and reduces all arguments to the ridiculous in order to expose the stupidity that started the argument in the first place. ‘Bill,’ he used to say to me, ‘there are no stupid questions, only stupid people…’
My mother always frowns whenever my grandfather starts talking, she likes him but at some level is sick to death of him and his endless pontificating. Mum says that Granddad is a ‘pain in the arse,’ and ‘should keep his big trap shut.’ Mum has also said that Granddad has no redeeming features and is the reason why Dad has bad nerves…
I don’t accept this though, I know she loves him, but she’s trapped in a role that forces her to dislike his ‘antics.’ It seems to me that Granddad is just as trapped in a role and is busy trying to be the moral champion for planet earth, but I still like him though, because Granddad tells me everything! He believes that truth and perfect knowledge trump all other things. He told me that mum and dad met at college when they were both twenty and studying medicine. They saw each other for the first time when attending a boat race between the different faculties.
My father always said that there was something special about my mother, how when he saw her in the crowd she seemed real, everybody else seemed fake. Everyone else looked like a poor copy of themselves. In a sense, they looked like a simulation of themselves, yet my mother looked totally real. My dad always talks like this, he has a rambling mind. My mother says he has a mind like a box of frogs, in that it’s always jumping all over the place, making random connections, drawing things together that other people just cannot see, that’s his genius. I think he gets this from Granddad, because Granddad does the same thing, though he does it with ideas and stories, Dad does it with cybernetics, nanomachinery, artificial intelligence and neural junctions.
My mother’s name is Sharon, she’s just an ordinary doctor, she works at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. They stayed together throughout college and then got jobs in research and medicine and then got married. Then there was the Sevastopol tragedy. It made dad so angry that he wanted to join the army. Dad thinks terrorists are all cowards. Granddad tried to talk him out of it. He’d seen enough young men killed in political wars since he was a boy to turn his mind firmly against the idea. Granddad detests politicians, he hates lots of things, but dad ignored him anyway. Granddad is really old he remembers Tony Blair and cars that ran on petrol.
On his way to the recruitment centre, Dad got pulled over by a government car and they had coffee with him, he’s worked for them ever since. Dad says that loyalty is especially important and that all loyal citizens should support their governments, not blindly mind you! You must hold them to account and that you can still be loyal whilst questioning their motives. That’s how democracies work. In that sense he’s just like my Granddad, he trusts only those people he knows in some way or another. Dad says you can’t have a relationship with a government so you can’t trust them as fully as they would like. The terrorist attack really marked him.
Dad says that the toxin was especially virulent when the army got to Sevastopol they didn’t know what to expect, despite being fully equipped for biological warfare lots more people died and the toxin continued to spread. He saw soldiers shaking in fear as their nervous systems shut down in front of them as the paralysis gradually spread from the extremities to the brain, switching off organs en-route.
Everybody and everything had to be quarantined. There was a massive UN airlift to get people and equipment out of the area to safe camps set up in Iraq. Dad says these were really death camps. He seems quite sad when he talks about the camps. He says that the people who built Auschwitz would have looked on in approval. It makes me anxious to hear Dad speaking like this. Mum says that he’s not the type of man to carry such burdens that well. He’s a sensitive soul.
I remember studying Auschwitz in school. It happened so long ago that it doesn’t seem real to me. Dad says that he used to feel the same way until he got to the camps.
My mother is much more optimistic. She says that it was a very confusing time and that even though lots of people died, we must not forget the doctors and nurses that manned the camps as well as the scientists that worked night and day with makeshift facilities in the Iraqi desert. They were heroes, every single one of them, working tirelessly to prevent the toxin spreading. They made the breakthrough that saved humanity.
Granddad says that presenting it as a cure was just slick marketing designed to stop people panicking. Sometimes I think Granddad is a really bitter old man.
I asked him what he meant and Granddad explained that the cure can only stop the toxin in its tracks, not ‘cure’ it completely, so it should have been marketed as a treatment, not a cure. Still, it’s a moot point. Millions of people had died across the world by then.
Granddad says that people are fundamentally simple and easy to manipulate. This is especially so with frightened people who will believe any old shit that’s handed out to them if it promises a better future. That’s why he doesn’t like politics. The simple people turned nasty he said when it was learned that western countries would get the antidote first. That’s when the wars started.
Dad says that this wasn’t deliberate. It was just a coincidence that the production facilities just happened to be in Europe and North America with some in the Far East. Some people say that this led to a massive die-off in Africa and the Middle East which suited the purposes of our government really well. China was the last country to get the antidote, despite the fact that it had the most people. The internet is full of this conspiracy stuff. Mum says that it can’t possibly be true because no one could ever be that cruel.
Granddad is adamant that the government deliberately told lies about the final death toll in order to prevent panic. He’s still researching this to this very day. Granddad thinks that at least two billion have died across the planet. He knows for a fact that eight million people died in northern Turkey because he was there! Granddad was hired by Europa Today to cover the toxin before he retired. He used to fly around in a specially fitted helicopter and film things from the air, his helicopter was sealed against biological contaminates so he could keep on reporting. He said that there wasn’t a soul to be seen in Ukraine and Sevastopol was full of corpses and would have stunk to high heaven if he had been allowed to sniff the air! The old journalist in him refuses to give up though; he senses the existence of a story where perhaps there isn’t one. The origin of the Toxin bothers him. He is not happy with the official explanations. Part of the reason behind this he says is because I was born as the boy with no brain…
Dad’s friend James was a soldier I remember asking him about the toxin when I was quite young. He looked really sad for a bit, I immediately regretted the question. He seemed so crestfallen, so in order to change the subject, I asked him what he did during the war. He said that I wouldn’t want to know…
Dad says that uncle James is a deeply angry and troubled man as he had to man checkpoints where they turned away starving refugees just in case some of them had the toxin. “Plague rats,” the soldiers used to call them, but they had to be tough. Dad said that they talked like that to dehumanise them as no one wanted to be nasty to people already scared out of their wits.
Granddad said that the entire region was emptied of people and animals and things went back to normal. Dad went back to his work and carried on improving cybernetic implants as well as some projects that he is not allowed to talk about. Dad then managed to get transferred into another department so he could be closer to home.
His new lab worked with military veterans from the war. That’s where Dad met Uncle James. Every veteran at the lab had been exposed to the toxin. Dad says that whilst the antidote holds the toxin at bay, they need to develop a second treatment that will flush it out of the body. So far it hasn’t been possible. There’s little commercial interest in that type of work in any case as they can’t undo the damage it does.
One day it will be beaten though, it’s inevitable just like it was with aids and cancer.
Dad and James often drink together and play cards. Granddad says that no-one on earth can drink more than James, he is an ex-marine commando…
James wears the skin that my dad invented. Granddad says that James would follow my father into hell as a result of that invention…
Dad enjoyed his time at the lab, he made things like high-tech artificial legs or arms and other stuff designed to replace faulty body parts in order to make life easier for the soldiers that the medics couldn’t help in time.
Dad then got promoted and spent his time making improvements to neural implants so that the worst of the toxin affected veterans could open and close their bedroom curtains with just a thought and operate things around their homes such as televisions, dishwashers and their wheelchairs.
Dad was especially proud of the wheelchair options. He claims that it shaped his later work and in a sense his most important work that he says I am. You see he made it so that wheelchairs weren’t just dumb objects that responded to the operator’s thoughts through a neural link, but he gifted them with a thin layer of artificial intelligence. He programmed them with rules so that they could react to the environment around them. He calls these rules ‘instinct’. I have very well developed ‘instincts’ according to my dad. He should know. He put them there; after all, I am the boy with no brain.
The old fashioned wheelchairs needed the user to think in terms of directions and speed. Even the greatest mind gets tired after a while and the continued effort of having to consciously think all day just to operate your wheelchair can lead to poor quality thoughts that confuse the machine causing it to stop working or do the wrong thing.
Dad’s wheelchairs had GPS, autopilot and could take you from one place to another safely by looking at and watching the terrain whilst making snap judgements as to the best course of action. The more advanced models had ocular cameras so that they could actually see things around them and avoid real objects instead of relying on an onboard map and directional radar. In a sense, they had to learn the terrain features and plan a new response to them. Dad gifted them with a heuristic learning machine so that they could learn from their past successes and failures. They could stop at road crossings and look up and down to see that nothing was coming. They could calculate the speed of oncoming traffic and estimate if there was enough time to cross the road before the car or truck arrived. James thinks this is hilarious as he had some close scrapes in his wheelchair after messing with the safeties. He still has a wheelchair even though he wears skin. When he is drunk it can take him home, he’s even slept in it…
Thanks to my dad, veterans could get out and about and enjoy some quality of life instead of staying in bed all day just waiting to die like old time paraplegics used to before we had reliable neural junctions.
My father is a restless man and couldn’t wait to push the improvements into other areas. He began experimenting with electro-muscle found in cybernetic body parts and then invented the skin suit. He designed it to be tight fitting so that it would be as discrete as possible covering the entire body with a thin layer of electro-muscle that looks just like skin. On the inside is a layer of thermoelectric junctions that powers the whole thing using body heat to recharge the batteries so that as long as the wearer was alive and warm it would never run out. Consequently, it works better in cold climates, more electricity is generated apparently. James can often be found sitting in the freezer at Tesco’s having cigarettes and lager. The cold makes him stronger and he now works there handling stock. This is something that would have been unthinkable before my dad invented skin. It’s against company rules, but no one argues with James.
Dad’s bosses loved it, they talked about how it could benefit an able-bodied person and make soldiers stronger and faster. Others suggested it could be used as body armour and combined with a ramped up battery pack it would make an excellent addition to the military tool kit.
Dad didn’t mind this, but he was most excited because his patients could get up and walk about whenever they wanted, they could pick things up and do normal things, they could even enjoy a sensation similar to touch due to the effects of electrical feedback being channelled through the neural implant. Dad always says that these people are the really unlucky ones because they were exposed to the toxin and had to watch as it almost killed their nervous systems before the antidote arrived. For most people, the lungs were the last thing to be affected. Without help, it would have been a slow death.
Dad is amazed at the toxin, it defies honest investigation. He says ‘It’s a thing of beauty.’ Dad knows a biologist from work who is convinced that it is not biological in origin but secret nano-tech that was deliberately or accidentally unleashed. They are good friends but have heated arguments about it.
Granddad told me that dad’s biologist friend said that there’s a rumour on the internet that someone cloned a body part from a single cell and the new body part contained the toxin. At the time dad said that it was ‘Horse Shit’ though it might go some way to explaining the birth defects surrounding toxin afflicted areas.
Dad asked his colleagues if this was true, one of them said that it would only be possible if the toxin rewrote a hosts DNA to somehow create a seeding mechanism within the body. It would have to hijack DNA to do that and there’s no evidence to support the idea. If the toxin really was present in a new body part it must have been due to external contamination. Dad seemed happy with the explanation at the time.
He then went on to design a missile guidance system for the military. He didn’t like the thought of his devices killing people given that there had been enough death already, but as he explained it to me one night, lots of people out there want to kill us so he takes comfort from the fact that a part of his work keeps us safe.
Dad then worked on excelsior drones, improving their Artificial Intelligence to the point where they almost didn’t need the operator any more as they could talk back to the controllers and ask for assistance or guidance. They could understand their environment and pick their own targets. He thinks that in the future wars will be fought by machines and we will all stay at home watching the action on the Internet like a spectator sport. He likes to think of the future as a place in which no one will die because science will solve all of the world’s problems. Then I came along. The boy with no brain…
Granddad says that violence, more than any other method has overwhelmingly been used to settle disputes throughout human history and that this isn’t likely to change any time soon.
They could tell that something was wrong long before I was born, even back then the scanners they had made it obvious that my brain and nervous system wasn’t developing as it should. The doctors recommended termination, but my mother wouldn’t have it. If they terminated me then I would never have had a chance to be. That’s what she said. Everyone deserves a chance. That’s how she speaks.
My mother is full of wisdom. She says it’s the wisdom of hard knocks. She also hopes that I will never suffer any hard knocks, yet at the same time is telling me that life is pretty meaningless without these hard knocks. I asked her one day what she meant and she couldn’t explain.
Granddad says that she’s full to the brim with ‘Gnostic Claptrap!’ She just said that she had been touched by the Goddess Sophia who gifted her with intuitive wisdom. She hopes that I will have intuitive wisdom. I love my mother, but I’m not very intuitive. Indeed when I was young, I used to have problems with emotional situations. My parents told everyone that I had Asperger’s Syndrome as I took everything literally. It took me a long time to understand emotions but I’ve got it now.
The doctors warned her that she might have a disabled baby; there aren’t many of them around these days as scans weed them out with most people terminating them. They then have genetic fixes done to make sure that they never have another disabled baby ever again. My mother thinks the termination bit is wrong. Some people have called her a religious nut, but she isn’t really religious. They just don’t understand how she thinks.
Dad says all he really tried to do was to be kind to my mother by giving me the best chance to live a normal life. He has since said that he would do anything to make sure that she was happy. That’s what love is all about.
My mother said I was a beautiful baby, but then again she would, she looked at me after she gave birth and said that she felt an immediate bond, a rush of love that made her feel like the most special woman on earth and I was the most special thing in existence to her, but the doctors were worried.
I was taken away and scanned, then they gave my mother the verdict, something was wrong, it was exactly as they feared. I was the boy with no brain.
My mother was furious and questioned the doctors relentlessly, demanding to see charts, medical notes, the actual scans and all sorts of things that a normal patient wouldn’t be allowed to see, but she was a doctor in her own right so they had to show her.
My father was very upset, he worried a lot about my mother, thinking that her mind had cracked, that’s what my grandfather says. Then he looked at the scans and started making connections…
I had a functioning nervous system, I could breathe and all bodily functions went on automatically, but there were no higher functions. That part of the brain just hadn’t developed. They told my mother and father that I couldn’t live independently, that I would never get any better, I would always be a baby that cries, sleeps and smiles, but would be unable to develop mentally, assuming that I would even live (as there was no guarantee). I just had a rudimentary brain stem that kept the heart, lungs and other organs going, that was it. Other children born with this condition didn’t tend to live long. It would be kinder for all if I was just put to sleep, but even that was illegal, they would just have to let me die a slow death from natural causes. The doctors blamed the toxin, patterns of defects in the womb had been analysed that suggested there was a link. More study would have to be done.
My mother was devastated and became very ill, but she wouldn’t give up on me. She couldn’t bring herself to sign the papers that would mean giving up on me, the boy with no brain…
My mother’s health got worse and worse, she became very sad. According to Granddad, my father got increasingly frantic. He blamed himself and said he was the cause of the birth defect because he had worked with the toxin in the past. He theorised that he must somehow be a carrier. His colleagues scanned him and said that there was no sign of the toxin so he couldn’t possibly be a carrier. My grandfather said that he shouldn’t blame himself as no one can possibly know what caused the defect.
My dad went to sleep one night, then woke up from dreaming, in the dream he had an idea, it all came together for him. He told the hospital staff that I was coming home and so was my mother. Whether I lived or died was nothing to do with them. They weren’t happy but there was nothing they could do. They brought me home then the real work began. My father started working, night and day, relentlessly studying my condition. He went into work and got parts from a guided missile system, some battlefield robots and an aerial drone. He also took stuff from the cybernetics lab where he had invented skin. He worked at it night and day, every spare minute went into the testing and design of his new prosthetic.
He worked hard to compress the different pieces, into a container small enough to fit inside a baby’s head. He couldn’t do it alone, so he called a friend, my uncle David. David is a computer scientist who worked with Dad. David thought my father was mad and at first wouldn’t help him, he said it was a crazy idea that would put them both in jail. David is an American he uses words like ‘Jail’.
My father said that if he didn’t help he wouldn’t be friends with him anymore and that would be a shame as David was the only person who really understood him at the lab. Uncle David agreed to help. Together they made me a brain for the boy with no brain…
Granddad says that my breathing was getting worse, it looked like I was going to die, so they took all of their holiday time and worked relentlessly from home. My mother was very worried and didn’t know what my father was doing. She thought he didn’t care and was working to avoid dealing with the fact that I was the boy with no brain.
Granddad called James to let him know why Dad wasn’t drinking with him. James understood and spoke with my father on the videophone. According to James Dad looked ‘F**king Awful’. When he heard about my breathing problems James went to the hospital and stole a life-support machine. We still don’t know how he did this and he won’t say. Uncle James just looks smug whenever it comes up in conversation.
Uncle David got into trouble with Aunty Marion who didn’t know what he was doing. She found out that he wasn’t in work and when he didn’t come home until very late at night was very cross with him. When he told her what he had been doing, she slapped his face and called him a liar. She said he was a very naughty man for using the tragic circumstances of their friends as a cover for his bad behaviours.
As I’ve already said, granddad knows everything and is happy to tell anyone. This makes him a gossip, but Granddad denies this, he says that he is simply supplying perfect knowledge. Granddad told me that David had been previously caught by Marion with another lady. Apparently, David said ‘Relax Babe, that’s all in the past’. She slapped him again then made a big fuss about going to live with her mother. Uncle David frogmarched her into the car then drove her across to our house. He took her down into Dad’s basement lab to where my Dad was still working and then showed her my brain.
Aunty Marion said that it was sick, illegal, doomed to failure and would lead nowhere and that they would both go to prison if they tried to ‘put that thing’ in my head. Not to mention the fact that it was all stolen military stuff. When she learned that James had stolen a life-support machine and was busy customising it ‘marine style,’ she turned white then red at the thought of the police being involved, so I am told!
My father and Uncle David explained to her that they used parts from a guidance system because they could make split-second decisions and then execute a course of action just like people do. Then they showed her the brain casing and how it was covered with thermoelectric junctions so that body heat would recharge the whole thing and that it would only require minuscule amounts of electricity to operate.
Next, they showed her the core and explained how it would attach to the brain stem and nervous system via neural bridges and begin learning from all of the sensory input the body would provide. The core was designed to learn at all costs, and interact with its environment and in doing so would simulate the work of a real brain. In essence, it would use heuristics to develop over time. Then they explained to her that part of the learning would result in a personality being formed as an identity of the self was essential to normal functioning in society and that this identity would be truly unique just like a normal child as it’s life circumstances and experiences could not be duplicated ever. In my case, the simulation would be just as good as the real thing. No-one would be able to tell the difference. I would be a cybernetic/biological hybrid built on the expert-systems model of artificial intelligence being so lifelike that an unwitting observer would never know the difference just like the computers that talk back at the lab.
Aunty Marion is no fool and asked a ton of questions such as how could they be assured that it would work and that I would be able to comprehend anything, let alone the incredible complexities of the universe outside the door. Dad and David said that they couldn’t be sure, but they had to try and by using known components they stood the best chance of modelling a biological brain, hence the theft of an Excelsior drone’s central core.
Dad explained that Excelsior drones can see the world around them and identify landmarks and targets from great distances thanks to the onboard ‘brain’ they have and some state of the art ocular cameras. They were amongst the first robotic machines to have an electronic equivalent to the visual cortex, they could identify shapes and colours, judge distances and speed and alert the operator whenever they needed help or something was wrong.
They could also recognise patterns of behaviour in other objects or devices and adapt their behaviour to those circumstances. They were modelled on birds and it is a known fact that Excelsior drones behave like great birds of prey high in the sky watching for targets before acting, although biological eyes are inferior to the military stuff out there Dad and David decided to join my natural eyes to the core by neural bridges, not wires as having been reported in the media. Indeed all of my senses are joined to my ‘core’ with neural junctions and some specialist stuff that he either invented or purloined because it was useful.
Granddad said that Aunty Marion wasn’t convinced, but she was relieved that Uncle David for once wasn’t ‘philandering’ and sat there all night listening to the two men whilst they kept on working. With every breath, Dad and David explained that the stolen core was the closest equivalent to a biological intelligence in the machine world. Each excelsior drone is filled with very specific rules as to how to behave in a specific set of circumstances. Dad and David just adapted those rules to human life. David wrote thousands of lines of code and compiled them night and day, whilst I was on life support.
Dad then told Marion that the core he had stolen was already designed to make split-second decisions and enact an immediate course of action just like a person would, an Excelsior brain would make the ideal foundation for a robot brain…
She was amazed because they had thought of everything, even the potential for growth, I have limited memory just like a person. Not everything that I experienced could be stored. So that I could be an accurate simulation of a person I would have to be able to forget things or overwrite them with something else so Dad and David created a time-based buffer and deliberately limited the amount of memory they gave me. They also linked this to a ‘chemical sniffer’ that analysed the bloodstream for endorphins and stress hormones so that the brain would know when I was enjoying something or thoroughly traumatised as these make for stronger memories when conceptualised fully. Just like a real person my memories get a little weaker over time. Every time I relive them I overwrite them slightly so that eventually they are not as vivid or as reliable as something that has happened recently. It was obvious or so they explained that to try and make a robot brain was foolish, but to make a machine that simulated the behaviour of a brain was just as good as the real thing.
Computers are good at rule-based stuff and language is essentially a rule-based way of conveying information, so they were confident that I would easily pick up ‘language,’ as I went along, just like a normal child, provided of course that they managed to connect the thing to my ears.
Dad and David then explained to her how the robot brain would cope with a changing body and how they would pack the cavity between my skull and the brain with expandable supports that would grow with me. Then they showed her the tank of dissemblers that would convert my brain into a thick elemental sludge so that they could inject it into my skull and simply wait as the dissemblers become assemblers and rebuild and connect the brain. That’s the wonder of nanotechnology surgery doesn’t involve scalpels anymore. Granddad says that it’s a good thing; he had his appendix taken out the old fashioned way when he was young.
The next day Aunty Marion brought sandwiches!
James said that she was always a ‘prissy bitch’ and should learn to butter them properly…
They had to act quickly as my breathing was getting worse and worse and they were worried that my body would fail in which case my mother would be devastated and would probably never recover. My father wouldn’t tolerate that and even though things weren’t as perfect as he’d liked they couldn’t wait any longer so the drilled a hole in my soft newborn head and injected the nanites. Then I became the boy with a brain. The rest is history. Within a day my breathing stabilised as the nanites attached to my brain stem and starting building the array. One by one my senses started to activate, I have hazy memories of things seeming really loud or really bright. The sensation of things against my skin felt like it was amplified. Then one day after many more months of growth I remember waking up for the first time.
My mother was back in her job then and blissfully happy because my father had saved my life and in doing so had saved her despair and death. Mum transferred to a different hospital; the whole family changed doctors and started using other dentists and chemists and so on. Medical records were moved and nothing connected us to our former lives. Dad just couldn’t take the chance that someone would ask about the boy with no brain and what had happened to him so he started telling people that I had been misdiagnosed and that whilst there might be problems, later on, I definitely had a brain. His bosses didn’t miss the stolen tech; they had plenty of it lying around for testing and research. Plus my father was so meek a person that no one would ever suspect him of stealing anything. Granddad says that his bosses were glad to have him back at work and fully focused on the stuff he was doing. He seemed happy and so they were happy. Dad works at his best when he is happy…
I continued to grow and behave normally with the occasional quirk thrown in. My brain simulator was working perfectly. Occasionally dad would tweak it or change one of the software rules. He found me being cruel to our cat one day. I was enjoying the feel of it in my hands but was quite unconcerned about the poor creature being fed up with the unwelcome attention. Dad lectured me as to how I should be kind to all living things. ‘Billy,’ he said, ‘this is a new rule. You will be kind to all living things.’ The rule was accepted then Granddad found me crying in the garden. I was surrounded by ants and wouldn’t step on any to get away from them. Granddad just sighed and said ‘Billy this is a replacement rule. You will avoid harming all human and animal life unless directly threatened by them.’ Then Granddad had a blazing row with my father about ‘consequences…’
We eventually moved home to a different town nearby and have lived there ever since. I was old enough and thanks to the continued tweaking of my father and grandfather I was ready to attend school. Like most kids, I was an angel and a devil depending on the day, the company I kept and the food I ate, nothing special there then. To the outside world, we were just an ordinary family. We’ve been ordinary ever since, except that we haven’t had any foreign holidays. Granddad said that we’d all be ‘Royally F**ked’ if I went through a body scanner at an airport.
I don’t mind, I’ve had a nice life, a happy childhood and I’ve grown up and met a wonderful girl, what more can any boy want in life. I quite like animals and would like to train to be a vet. I’m not cruel to them anymore. Granddad has seen to that. He has been a moral compass or so he says, but I’m not so sure because you see I have my own personality. I like things that no one else in the family or my circle of friends likes. I like art and painting, music too despite the fact that we’re not an artistic family. Dad hoped that I would follow in his footsteps and work with artificial intelligence. He says I would be well suited for that, but I like helping animals. Art would be a hobby for me!
Since the story broke, some people have said that I cannot possibly feel anything, yet I know when my body is stressed and I act accordingly, I know when I’m hurt or happy, joyous or miserable and behave normally just like anyone else, though they are not sure that I feel in the same way that they do. I’ve asked people to explain and they can’t. It’s like, how can they be sure that we all see the same colour sky or the same hue of green when we look at the grass or even the same colour at all? Just because we all agree its blue doesn’t mean that it is. Do we all see the same colours, do we all feel in the same way, we all agree that something is nice, but is it the same for everyone. I think that it can’t be because if it was we’d all like the same things and the same foods. Granddad says that we’re getting into philosophy when we speak like this and that philosophy is a guaranteed way to drive a man mad.
Other people have said that I’m not a real person, but a simulation of one, but that can’t possibly be true as I’ve evolved my own personality, a personality so convincing that until a few weeks ago no one could tell that I was the boy with no brain.
Granddad told me that he can remember when Somalia was still a failed state. It had no national bank and no government. Yet the currency became the only currency in the world to function properly throughout the financial collapse of the early century. No one was able to print any more bank notes and as such the value of the Somali Shilling stabilised even though the government and the issuing bank had long since collapsed. The locals still traded in the currency, the economy grew year in year out, entrepreneurship boomed and the telecoms sector became the best in Africa.
Inevitably counterfeiters came along and created new bank notes, but surprisingly they were accepted and used as currency if the quality of the fake Shillings was convincing enough. The fake was treated as being as good as the original even when people knew they were fakes and that’s in a country with no functioning government!
That’s how it is with me, the boy with no brain. At worst I’m a counterfeit person, at best I’m the real thing, but there’s no way of knowing. If you look closely enough I look just the same. You’ve got to look really hard to see where I differ which is why we don’t go through airport body scanners…
I fully admit to having a prosthetic body part just like the veterans my dad helped, it’s not an arm, leg, lung or hand but a brain. If people are willing to accept those people as being fully human why won’t they accept me? How am I any different to anyone else who has a cybernetic enhancement when it’s used to overcome disability like Uncle James in his skin suit?
They are disabled you might say, but what worse disability can there be than to be born without a brain, the so-called organ of consciousness. If it’s ok to have a cybernetic leg then what’s the difference? Where is the line drawn? Should there even be a line? Isn’t this discrimination?
My mother says that the universe is made up out of a great spirit that saturates all things, all matter because it is all things and all matter. She says that life was emanated from the spirit and encouraged through evolution to develop intelligence to become a vehicle or vessel of the Great Spirit. In essence, we’re all just points of identity floating in an eternal sea of spirit and just like drops of water in the sea were all interconnected to each other, part of a much larger whole, the illusion of separation is just that; an Illusion.
That’s why we should be kind to each other. That’s why we should respect all things and all life because in essence I am you and you are me. We are all each other. There is no one else in the room. If I hit you it’s the same as hitting me.
The Great Spirit can only experience the universe through our perceptions, through our experiences and that the meaning of life is to keep on experiencing it because that pleases the spirit.
I accept this; it makes perfect sense to me, though Granddad and James call it ‘claptrap’ but I think Granddad secretly believes it. I know Uncle James would like to kick God ‘square in the nuts,’ for all of the things he’s put up with.
My point is that the Great Spirit fills us all and as such, I have a soul which is all mine and certainly not a counterfeit or a simulation because the simulation is as good as the real thing.
So, Your Honour, a noble prize won’t help my father much if he goes to jail, so I hope you’ll understand and find him not guilty as in all honesty he’s probably done more good than harm throughout the course of his career and my childhood. My father has a great capacity to be selfless. He’s a good man and whilst he’s many things he’s still only guilty of pleasing my mother and of being kind. He commands respect and is much loved. If that wasn’t true Uncle James and Uncle David wouldn’t have helped and Aunty Marion wouldn’t have brought the sandwiches.
Granddad says that he’s a real man, which is the highest compliment you can get from my Grandfather. A real man cares little for the law, if they are in accordance with him he can choose to obey them or else he is free to ignore or break them as he chooses. Yet a real man is morally responsible for everything that he does and as such is a world apart from the average politician.
Please send him home Your Honour.