When you're a brain without a body, can you still be called human? Marc Gregorio wakes up paralyzed. He can’t feel his own body. Accident? Stroke? The answer, he discovers, is much, much worse. He’s only a copy of Marc—a digital brain without a body, burdened with all Marc’s human memories, but without access to human sensual pleasures. Now called Adam, he contemplates life without actually living. He uses his total web access to patrol cyberspace and prevent evil acts. His good deeds earn him the attention of a power-mad military contractor who will stop at nothing to control the formidable technology for his own ends. Without a body, how will Adam save himself–and the world–from a terrible fate?
The world learns about the technology and the astonishing result of brain scanning. The uploaded entity becomes its own “person” and develops a friendship and a rivalry with his human “donor.” How the new entity adjusts to his strange form of existence is one of the big questions explored in Mindclone. When an individual has a full set of human memories and desires, but lacks a body with which to feel pleasure, is its command of the Internet sufficient compensation?
If your brain were uploaded: copied onto some form of silicon wafer, and then awakened to an understanding of its non-human nature, how would it come to terms with its prospects for future happiness? Lacking a physical body is a major deficit, after all. Might it at least find ways to be satisfied with its digital options? In this chapter, the Mindclone explores those options.
Once the entity--a digital copy of a human--realizes the extent of its physical limitations, it seeks to maximize its freedom to operate in the world. The scientists who created it are eager to have the cooperation of the entity. It uses this fact to bargain with them, including the human “donor” whose memories it now shares. When this excerpt opens, the entity is able to control its display so that it conceals its inner thoughts from the others in the room. It only allows the words it WANTS the others to see to appear on its monitor screen.
The entity believes he is in a hospital recovering from some awful unnamed trauma that has impaired his ability to move, to speak, to hear, to even feel his own body. During this chapter, his hearing is miraculously restored. Only then does he discover the truth that explains his condition.
Their experiment had failed. The lab had scanned the brains of twelve human volunteers, uploading the contents of those brains to twelve very special discs. The plan was that the discs would provide the worldly knowledge and personality of the donors for chat-bots that would one day be created; avatars made to resemble their human twins. And when the donor humans passed away, their avatars would live on and be there for their loved ones. It was a way of cheating death. But what the lab created was something far more interesting.
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