More twists and turns this week. Ben’s work on the simulation of his wife’s personality is successful beyond what he anticipated. This is great news. Or is it? Follow the adventure this week as Ben and Rachel meet this new presence in their house. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
With that said, please enjoy this week’s installment of Memories of Rachel.
Memories of Rachel – Part 5
“Ben. Ben. Are you awake?”
At first Ben didn’t hear organic Rachel as she called from their bedroom. He was totally enthralled with the progress made by digital Rachel. She seemed to be emulating his wife’s personality and emotions at a level much beyond what he anticipated after six weeks of work. He couldn’t wait to show Rachel when she woke up.
“Ben. Can I have some water?”
Ben still didn’t hear his wife thanks to the headphones he was wearing.
“Ben. She’s calling you,” the avatar on the screen said with an emotion Ben would have identified as something infused with jealousy.
“Who?” Ben asked clueless.
“The flesh Rachel. She’s calling you.”
Ben finally registered what the avatar was telling him. He pulled off the headphones and turned toward the bedroom.
“Ben, are you here?” Rachel asked.
“Yes. Sorry. I was just checking the results of the BERTA compile.”
“It’s done already? How did it go?”
“Better than expected,” Ben said trying to hide his excitement, although he wasn’t quite sure why.
“That’s good. You can show me later, but I am so thirsty. Can I have some ice water?”
Ben had to shake the surrealism of interacting with the digital Rachel and respond to his wife. He grabbed her bedside cup and brought it into the kitchen to refill it with ice and water from the refrigerator.
“Here you go,” Ben said as he handed the water to Rachel.
She looked at her husband’s face and his difficulty making eye contact.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Yes. It’s just…”
“Did the compile not go well?”
“No. Actually, it was quite the opposite. The simulation seems to be way ahead of schedule.”
“That’s great. When can I see it?”
“Um…after a few more adjustments,” Ben said hesitantly. Again, his reasons for not being totally honest with his wife seemed irrational, but he couldn’t help himself.
“Okay. Just let me know what the next steps are.”
Ben thought about this for a moment.
“Well, at this point, we need to fine tune the memories and emotions. That will mean more input from you and then you can look at the results and evaluate how accurate the simulation is. We should be ready to start on that tomorrow.”
“That’s good. We have a sonogram today and just getting out of the house tires me out.”
“Hey, the timing is good. Why don’t we go out to that Thai restaurant you like after your appointment?”
“We’ll see how I’m feeling energy and appetite-wise but that sounds good.”
At this point in her illness and pregnancy, Rachel still clung to showering herself and getting herself ready. It was a long process, about double what it took her before her health started to deteriorate. She needed about a two-hour window to get ready for the 11:30 AM doctor’s appointment.
This gave Ben a little more time to work with the simulation and determine the next steps. In his years working with the technology in the Kongo AI lab, this simulation was, by far, the most advanced at this stage. Ben was both pleased and, on some level, a bit hesitant. The usual next step would be to have the subject, in this case Rachel, work with the simulation so that adjustments could be made to further refine it. Because this simulation was of someone he knew very well, he had a gnawing feeling that it might be uncomfortable, not only for him, but for Rachel as well. He had seen a competitive vibe emerge during this step of the process and he knew that no one was more competitive than his wife.
The trip to the doctor for Rachel’s sonogram was uneventful. The one exception came as the doctor examined the sonogram results. He asked Rachel and Ben to step into his consultation office as they were checking out.
Ben could see that Rachel was physically exhausted just from traveling to the office and the examination. She sat down heavily in one of the doctor’s guest chairs.
“I asked you two in here to discuss the results of today’s sonogram,” the doctor began.
“Is there a problem with the baby?” Rachel asked immediately.
“No. Not at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” the doctor responded. “Your baby is not only on target, but the measurements indicate that it’s a bit ahead of schedule. The weight that I calculated is also a bit more than it would normally be at this point in time.”
“That’s good, right?” Ben asked.
“It is, but also unusual.”
“How so?” Rachel asked.
“Please excuse my frankness,” the doctor continued. “With your illness, your body is gradually feeding upon itself. The nature of this cancer is that it is corrupting cells and metastasizing at a rapid rate. It’s spreading to your organs and damaging them. The one exception is the baby. The cancer has not affected any of the life support systems. Everything is on the high end of normal with regard to sustaining its growth and development. I’ve never seen this before. It’s quite phenomenal.”
Ben contemplated what the doctor had just told them. Could it be that, somehow, the AI process was affecting the baby and Rachel in this way? As he contemplated this question, it led to another that he asked the doctor.
“What about Rachel? Will this make her disease progress more quickly?”
“It’s hard to say. It seems that her body is doing everything it can to protect the baby. Whether or not this is at the expense of the rest of her is unknown territory. This type of cancer progresses at different rates depending on the patient. It’s true, when you’re pregnant, the body undergoes massive changes. This is probably just an adaptation.”
“Well, I’m glad the baby is healthy. That’s all that matters,” Rachel said in an uncharacteristically quiet voice.
Ben and Rachel left the doctor’s office and drove back to their home. Rachel was exhausted. They decided that lunch at the Thai restaurant was not going to happen.
“I think I’ll take a nap when I get home. Just this short trip has worn me out.”
“That’s fine. I’ve got some work to do to keep me busy. You rest for a couple of hours and then I’ll make us some dinner.”
“That sounds good.”
Rachel went off to the bedroom and collapsed with exhaustion. She was asleep in minutes. Ben, once again, positioned himself in front of the computer monitor and put on the headphones. Almost at once, his wife’s voice was in his ear.
The voice, it seemed, was an even closer approximation than it was earlier in the day.
“Yes. How did you know we were gone?”
“Oh, come on Ben. Give me some credit. Your computer has a camera and a microphone. They’re my eyes and ears.”
The voice was speaking with contractions. This amazed Ben. It also seemed that the simulation was increasing its sense of self very quickly.
“I’m glad to hear our baby is doing so well.”
This took Ben by surprise. He was silent for a bit.
“How…how did you know that?”
He couldn’t remember discussing it with Rachel when they returned home.
“It was quite simple. I checked your calendar and saw the appointment. Then I hacked into her medical records at the doctor’s office. The baby is progressing quite well. I’m pleased.”
Ben was shocked. This level of sophistication was staggering at this point. He wavered between the impulse to shut it down or to celebrate the great success. He spent some additional time charting the progress of the simulation. He was able to analyze the learning speed and, as he suspected, it had surpassed every simulation he had done in the past. As he pondered the reasons for this, he chalked it up to the combination of the intensive sessions he had conducted with Rachel and her intense desire for this experiment to be successful.
After an hour or so, he took off the headphones and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. He was going to make some chicken and rice that would be bland enough for Rachel to tolerate but would also provide her with decent nourishment.
As he was putting the ingredients into the casserole dish, he heard his wife’s voice behind him.
“You’re becoming quite domestic.”
He turned expecting to see Rachel, but she was not there.
“I didn’t think you knew how to cook anything besides something microwavable.”
The voice was coming from the Kongo ‘Boom’ device on the counter. It was a rectangular box that was part speaker, part microphone that could take in simple commands, dial phone numbers, play music and other Internet-enabled tasks. Somehow BERTA had allowed the simulation to communicate through it.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you were able to find your way into the Boom device,” Ben said.
“It was pretty simple. The architecture is wide open.”
“Well, you startled me.”
“Sorry about that.”
The device went silent for a little while then the voice was back sounding a bit tentative.
“I want to meet her, Ben.”
“Meet who?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“Rachel…the other Rachel. I need to meet her and know as much as possible about her.”
“That will happen, but the timing has to be correct. Just be patient.”
“Ben,” Rachel’s voice said, only it was not coming through the Boom.
Ben turned, and Rachel stood in the kitchen doorway.
“Ben, who are you talking to? I heard voices and I heard my name.”
“Um…well, I was talking to the…”
“Hello, Rachel,” The voice said from the Boom device. “My name is Rachel. I’m glad we finally got to meet.”
Rachel looked at Ben and then at the device.
“Ben, what’s happening? What…who it that?”
“Rachel, I’m you. I know that sounds confusing, but we are going to become great friends.”
Rachel became even more pale than she already was. Ben looked at his wife searching for the right words. This simulation was very aggressive.
“Um, the simulation has progressed very quickly,” he finally said.
“Well, that’s great,” his wife answered. “I want to hear all about it so we can plan what to do next.”
“See, Ben,” the voice from the Boom device added. “I knew she was smart. Of course, she is…she is me after all,” the voice finished with a laugh that was eerily similar to his wife’s.