At the end of the tour, we stopped in front of a small room, with a glass window at one side. There were some touch-screen controls mounted next to the window. Tarq said,
“And this is the crown jewel of our technology. It is called a Memory, Information, and Capabilities Implanter, or in short, MICI.”
If I heard this name in a sci-fi movie, I could easily guess what it did, but it was just inconceivable in the real world. “Does it do what its name suggests it does?” I asked.
“Why don’t we demonstrate?” Tarq puffed on his pipe. “Would you mind stepping inside?”
“Are you sure it works on a human brain?” I asked. “If my brain explodes, I’ll be seriously pissed.”
“Why?” I asked.
“We do not know,” said Tarq. “But it cannot safely imprint anything on a small portion of the population, between half a percent to one percent. It might work if we dial it up, so to speak, but then it might explode the brain, which, as you suggest, would be unfortunate.”
This wasn’t reassuring at all, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself by acting like a coward in front of Liz and Kurt. Plus, if I didn’t do it, Liz, with her jump-then-look tendencies would volunteer. I stepped into the room. There was nothing but a chair inside. I sat there and waited. From the window, I could see Barook working on something on the control panel.
“It will take a few minutes,” said Tarq.
I waited. Nothing happened, and then suddenly, BOOM!
One second I was sitting there, beginning to get bored, and the next thing I knew my brain was full of knowledge I didn’t previously possess: AX-23’s specifications, capabilities, weaponry (laser cannons!), and how to fly it. More impressively, I had hundreds of hours of memory flying the fighter and engaging in dogfights with enemy space fighters. Nothing that looked fake—real, vivid, actual memories.
Trying to sort out my new memories from the old ones was overwhelming. I thought it might take weeks just to get used to that new information slithering through my thoughts.
It was creepy—but also thrilling. If only they’d had this in my school days. We all could have gone into school for ten minutes once a week and had the rest of the time to play. I was fantasizing about that when I glanced up to see everyone staring at me. I stood up and stepped out of the room.
Having just been introduced to the most awesome piece of technology in the world, I did what I always do. I looked at Liz and tried my best Neo impression, “I know Kung Fu.”
“Why did MICI teach him martial arts?” Tarq asked Barook.
She laughed and said, “Show me.”
“MICI scans the user’s mind,” said Tarq. “Depending on their natural talents and previous experiences, MICI assigns their duties and implants the knowledge and experience necessary to perform those duties.”
Liz was next to enter MICI. Barook touched the controls a few times.
“All this technology and you still use touch-screen? No voice control?” I asked Tarq.
“Voice control? We invented brain-interfaces when your great-grandfather was not born yet. But they both can be hacked remotely. I once hacked into an enemy fleet’s brain-interface and made them shoot their own ships, destroying the whole fleet.”
Tarq continued, “The only way an enemy can hack into our equipment is if they are physically here, and then they have to deal with various security measures and biometrics.”
“You don’t seem to be using an AI either,” observed Kurt.
Both Tarq and Barook shuddered. Tarq’s eyelids started twitching. He rubbed his eyes and said, “We have had a very bad experience with AIs.”
“What did you do?” I asked. “Create Skynet?”
“No. Why would we create a net for the sky?” said Tarq. “We built an AI that almost wiped out our species.”
“Commander Tarq cut through the AI defenses and destroyed it seconds before it launched an attack that would have killed all of us.”
“I’m beginning to really like these guys,” I told Kurt. “They talk about destroying enemy fleets and saving their species like it’s their everyday job.”
“Right? Super bad-ass,” he said, then he gave me a hard look and asked, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
I let go of his neck. “Nothing. Just wanted to see if MICI had thought me how to do a Vulcan nerve pinch.”
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