The Demo

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Celtic-Scribe63

As a particularly explicit vignette unfolds the therapist switches off the display. “Thank you,” he whispers in the patient’s ear, “that was very helpful.” [600 words, author picture].

“So I can give you a little demonstration?” says the therapist,  “Mr Smith here was a police officer and his life-changing injuries were incurred in the line of duty. For privacy reasons we can’t elaborate, unfortunately. Now, let me try an innocuous query. The AI is always online but I need to switch on the screen .. now .. there ..  and you’ll see what he’s thinking about as if it were actually real, right in front of you.”

The therapist turns to the comatose ‘Mr Smith’ and leans down to whisper in his ear. Gabrielle notes that there is a grid pattern in the helmet Smith is wearing which allows sounds to percolate through.

“This is your therapist, Mr Smith. We're doing a demo here for a visitor, a charming young lady. Could you please think about a really nice day, a pleasant experience you remember having? And thank you for cooperating.”

The patient doesn’t move, doesn’t show any sign of acknowledging the request or even having heard it. The therapist directs the security consultant, Gabrielle Réjane, to focus on the screen.

The large screen shows Smith getting off his police motorcycle. It’s a vision of sleek, chrome power. The AI is not analog, it’s not capturing the wavy, dreamlike feel of real imaginings, it’s correlating reality-based images with what it’s picking up from the subject’s brain.

“The process is nonlinear,” says the therapist, “the scenes jump discontinuously as the mind switches context. We had to experiment with how to portray that. Jagged, juddering cuts are really hard to watch. We fade the imagery instead - it seems to work better.”

Gabrielle Réjane watches Smith walk through the gate of a modest suburban bungalow, approaching the door. The system compensates for juddering, the image evolves smoothly, the point of view gliding up the path. His hand appears and presses the doorbell. The door opens immediately to show a middle-aged woman wearing a dressing gown. She smiles like he’s expected.

The two observers stare as the screen morphs into a collage of soft-porn. They fondle on the couch, make love in the bedroom, canoodle in the kitchen while she makes after-action tea. That dressing gown didn’t stay on for long.

As a further more explicit vignette begins to unfold the therapist switches off the display.

“Thank you,” he whispers in the patient’s ear, “that was most helpful.”

He walks Gabrielle into the corridor.

“Don’t think for a moment that wasn’t malicious,” he says, “The patient is not a stupid man. He understands what we’re doing with the technology and it’s a sign of his robust mental health that he takes such delight in subverting us.”

Gabrielle smiles. The whole thing is turning out quietly hilarious. Assignments aren’t normally such fun. But she has one more option to review.

“I understand you can run the process in reverse, inject your own realities into a patient’s brain, use the AI to control a magnetic stimulation system?” she says.

“Ah, yes. We’ve got that working too. Extremely useful in pain relief. For example, in childbirth we can make a woman believe she is actually lying in the surf on a sunny Caribbean beach. In that induced-reality there is no pain at all - we simply switch the pain-centres off. Eventually with AI-driven TMS anaesthesia will be a thing of the past.”

Yes. Artificial realities which are indistinguishable from the real thing. Her client is pretty interested in that, too.

---


Submitted: January 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 AdamCarlton. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Celtic-Scribe63

I sometimes wonder if my life is a virtual reality! You know, when you have a sudden unsettling feeling that you are being watched with invisible eyes from something bigger than yourself. You become self-aware of your own existence and feel uncomfortable in your own skin and think, Who am I? why am I here? what is my purpose in all of this?
Or perhaps it is just me?
As always, your writing challenges the norm! It makes us think about our lives and our purpose. Are we just programmed simulacrums or are we actually real life, living-breathing entities, and if so, what is the purpose of all of this?
Keep up the great work, Adam, keep us on our toes and keep us thinking outside of the box.
Regards
CS63.

Sun, January 3rd, 2021 7:36pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for such an appreciative comment! I think what you describe is common to creative people; I also note something called 'depersonalisation disorder'! :(

Mon, January 4th, 2021 1:27am

88 fingers

Very good story that can be a reality...if its not already. Few years ago, I read an article where sleep researchers at Leeds University were trying to develop a computer program to see what a person is dreaming of.

Sun, January 3rd, 2021 10:36pm

Author
Reply

Yes, absolutely. Coming to a police station near you soon enough.

Mon, January 4th, 2021 1:20am

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