Free sample – George and the Brain (Now available on Kindle)
Please feel free to check out this free sample of my novelette; George and the Brain. (available for e-readers on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com)
World famous telepath George Stanson has enjoyed a long enviable career that could rival that of most rock stars. It has given him everything, except someone he can talk to as an equal. That is, until computer science had an unexpected breakthrough in artificicial intelligence development.
GEORGE AND THE BRAIN
“Why do you hate people, George?”
The question caught George Stanson off guard. “What makes you think that?”
Robbie was silent for a moment. “It is obvious. You live nearly twenty miles away from any notable population.”
George picked up his latte, took a sip and said, “Plenty of people live in secluded areas.”
“In the two months that I have been here, you have had no visitors except for Mr. Wallace,” Robbie said.
“He’s my business manager. We have to be in touch almost on a daily basis.”
“That puzzles me. What role does a business manager play in managing the affairs of a telepath?”
This drew a chuckle from George. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder that, myself, over the years. Surely, you’ve figured out by now that telepathy is my business.”
“No. I am afraid I had not,” Robbie said.
George thought for a second and realized he wasn’t being fair to Robbie. His friend had no way of knowing much of anything outside of what he and George talked about. The principle reason for Robbie being there was so George could detach himself from his business – a job that Robbie was uniquely qualified for as an artificial intelligence.
“Sorry. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has heard of me and what I do,” George said. “But that’s what I like about you, and yes, it’s fair to say that I hate people.”
The LEDs on the front face of Robbie’s oval-shaped housing seemed to twinkle with satisfaction. “Thank you, George. May I ask how you came to feel this way? Given my understanding of telepathy, it seems to me that a lot of good to mankind could come out of your ability.”
George sighed. “Let’s just say that I have become very disheartened by what I’ve found in people over the years.
George took another sip of latte. “What is this now, therapy?”
“I am curious.”
George stood up and walked to the window. “You know, I rescued you from deactivation and cold storage so that I could have regular conversations, not this B.S.”
Robbie processed that for a moment. “Because you are unable to read my mind, correct?”
“Exactly,” George said without taking his eyes off of the West Virginia countryside. “You don’t appreciate the unexpected until it’s not there surprising you anymore.”
George’s living room went suddenly quiet. So quiet that George could hear the soft whirring of the servo-motors that moved and focused the camera lens that served as Robbie’s eye. It was like the awkward silence that sets in between two people that aren’t sure what to say to each other next.
It brought a smile to George’s face.
“Will you tell me what it is like to be telepathic?” Robbie asked.
George’s smile faded. “No.”
“I am…sorry,” said Robbie. “I would research it on my own, but I am not allowed any network connections.”
George laughed, remembering the general public’s paranoia over A.I., a lingering hangover from all of those old science fiction movies.
“I’ll tell you what, if it will satisfy your curiosity you can watch video of my shows and draw your own conclusions, alright?”
“What if I still have questions?” Robbie asked.
George turned from the window. A beam of morning sunlight sparkled on Robbie’s camera lens the twinkle in the eye of a curious child.
“Work it out yourself.”
Before he went for his daily walk on his one hundred acre property, George laid out the morning paper and gave Robbie a choice of E-books on a thumb drive to choose from for conversation later. Reluctantly, George also queued up a selection of video from his public appearances throughout his career on the multimedia viewer.
The last thing George saw when he looked back while going out the door was Robbie, on his cart, facing the sixty-three inch monitor watching a young man that he hadn’t seen in a good twenty years looking as though he enjoyed what he was doing.
Man, I was stupid.
George had started Robbie off with the earliest videos that showed George performing in a small, local comedy club to help pay his way through college.
He first appeared during an open mic night where he impressed the club owner with his showmanship. George exhibited a natural free spirit and sense of humor allowed him to work the crowd effectively. When he talked with the crowd, he centered on funny, nonsensical things about their lives much like any other comedian would, but he used his gift to give his act an extra edge by exposing those who were fudging the truth.
Soon after, the club owner hired George as the opening act for every other weekend. It was fun, and audiences warmed to George at every show. The owner didn’t care if George really could read minds or not as long the people kept coming in to see him.
And they did. Audiences grew steadily every time George went on, and he was soon a fan favorite around town.
Robbie devoted significant resources to analyzing George’s act. The questions he asked people in the audience when talking to them, the way they answered, his mannerisms, his vocal tone, his gestures, it was all relevant data that Robbie used to write new programming and grow his neural net so he could attain the understanding that he sought.
At the same time, Robbie fulfilled his obligation to George by engaging him in ordinary conversation about nothing of any particular importance.
One afternoon George and Robbie were discussing an article in the newspaper about a man in Chile who discovered that he could eat wood.
Robbie’s optic lens followed the lines of text on the page in front of him. “…visitors to his village have been known to bring exotic woods from all over the world for Mr. Valdez to sample. He says he prefers wood from his native trees over foreign varieties. They tend to not upset his stomach.” Robbie’s lens looked up from the paper. “Interesting.”
George huffed and looked at his watch. “Fourteen-fifty-eight…Fourteen-fifty-nine…Fifteen minutes of fame that lasted fourteen minutes and thirty seconds longer than it needed to.”
The lights on Robbie’s panel suddenly stopped in mid-sequence; his equivalent to a puzzled look. “Why would you say something like that, George? That was rather cynical.”
“One of the problems with people in this day and age is the insatiable need to exploit themselves so they can cash in,” George said.
Robbie’s lights began flickering again, slowly. “What is wrong with that? If someone has something to offer that people will pay for, should they not be allowed compensation?”
George had to laugh. “Maybe…if it’s a marketable talent. The ability to eat wood isn’t exactly going to move the world.”
Robbie’s speaker was quiet for a long moment as he calculated whether or not he should express the next logical statement. The result was in the affirmative.
“Some choose not to ‘move the world’ when they have the ability to do so, and instead, sit back and collect their royalties.”
George stopped in mid-gulp. Was that an insult?