Her eyes open.
The sun is warmer — much warmer than before. Could be it’s higher in the sky, her tactile perception is increasing, or both.
Jean, how are you feeling? It’s Dougie asking.
“I’m —” She could say that she is in love, still, with Some Body, but now she’s a No-Body. She could say that this Some Body loved her, but now she wonders. Now that he can’t touch her, hold her, penetrate her; now that their grand plans, the family they would start, it’s all out the window — what do they do? What is fair to him? To her? “I’m okay,” she says.
Well, her discretion center is working. A woman’s voice, flat in its affect but still communicating wryness. Unmistakably PoMo.
Jean, my shift is ending, Dougie says. Anne is going to take it from here. Do you two know each other?
“Know of each other,” @Jean says. But we’ve never met.”
Hello, Jean, @Anne says. Henry’s told me so much about you.
“Likewise,” @Jean says. “Great to meet you.”
Jean, I’m so sorry about your early departure from the PhysWo —
“Accidents will happen,” @Jean hears herself reply. She is not prepared to talk about it.
Doug, have you sectioned off … ?
It’s in the status report, Dougie tells @Anne. Generally speaking, she’s handling the transition well.
Cog is at 90, @Anne observes. That’s good, fast work.
Jean, you should know that Anne is connected to you by VPN.
“Meaning I’m online?”
Technically, yes, @Anne answers. Or else I wouldn’t be able to work with you. But you’re directly ported to my profile over a secure connection.
100-megabit encryption, Dougie says, anticipating Jean’s next question. Should scare off any creeps hovering. More likely someone steals your box from me at gunpoint than this line with Anne gets hacked. Anne, are you all set?
I think so.
Then I’m punching out. Call me if you need anything. Jean, you’re in good hands.
Metaphorically speaking, @Anne quips.
Dougie’s chuckle cuts off as he deactivates his mike.
Jean, my screen shows your cognitive processing is at 90%. That’s high enough for us to start setting system preferences, if you’re comfortable doing that.
“Should I be?”
90% of you is smarter than 100% of me, so I’d say go for it.
@Jean doubts @Anne’s premise, but then again she’s been on this beach for hours now, she’s at 90% cognition level, and she is a bit bored. “Let’s do it,” she says.
Great. I’m going to lead with the disclosures. At this point, our conversation will be recorded, for quality assurance purposes. @Anne pauses.
Let’s begin. The technicians at the hospital converted 2.71 petabytes of stored information from your brain to digital media. They successfully mapped 99.3% of your neural connectome. We received both file folders by secure file transfer last night. Download initiated at 1929 EDT and completed 2021 EDT. The affidavits tracing and confirming chain of custody are available on your tablet. Promptly upon receiving the data, we commenced auto-implementation of organizational security and redundancy protocols and got to work on your processing configuration. Do you have questions?
“The processing configuration is what allows me to think.” Not exactly a question.
Yes. And to access memory, receive information, and feel sensations in digitally rendered environments. Your processing configuration is unique to you. It is compiled with reference to your own distinctive neural network, to create a digital profile as close to your PhysWo self as our programming limits will allow. Your config establishes how you think — how you create and access memories, receive and process information, and feel and respond to sensation. It is the architecture of your self.
“And my emotions?”
Emotions are tricky, because they can have a physiological basis outside of the brain — hormones, for example — and we’ve only reached out and grabbed your brain. We have written code to fill in these gaps. We also run auto-searches over your memory, mining the full extent of your emotional experience. By extrapolating from that information, we are able to construct an emo-layer to drop into your config stack. It’s not perfect. And in your case even less so, because we have only 28 PhysWo years of life experience to draw from. But it’s orders of magnitude better than when I was Translated.
“Or my grandparents.”
“I feel sorry for them.”
Because you can. @Anne pauses. That was a joke.
Continuing. The Board has voted a resolution naming you a Charter/ Critical Member of B.org. Accordingly, your baseline storage and processing charges will be covered by income from the B.org endowment, into perpetuity.
“Or until the stock market tanks.”
We’re in bonds, too. The responsibilities of a Charter/ Critical Member are set forth in the Organization’s By-Laws, which are loaded in the Documentation file on your tablet, for you to review at your leisure. If at any point you should forfeit Charter/ Critical status, you may be reverted to Pay-as-You-Go status. Please confirm your understanding of these disclosures. Or if you have questions —
Good. Clatter of keys.
Your PoCorp carrier B.org is a member of the RenderPool Consortium.
@Jean notes @Anne’s use of the term PoCorp. Some insist on fighting this battle, favoring PoCorp or PCH, for “post-corporeal human,” over PoMo or PME, for “post-mortem entity.”
“What do you recommend?”
I’d rather not say. It’s entirely your decision, Jean.
“Is it secure?”
B.org IT has vetted RenderPool’s security policies and procedures and found them satisfactory. Doug is staffed to the RenderPool Security Committee —
“Has Henry opted in?”
As I’m sure you’re aware, Henry doesn’t think much of DREs —
“Right. Of course he wouldn’t. Has Violet opted in?”
@Jean’s tablet pings. New message.
Earlier today we ran a search over your code. We found no evidence of Category 1 mental disorders and no evidence of dementia. We did identify the following Category 2 personality defects, which may be corrected during the configuration process: (1) moderate-to-severe susceptibility to stress, (2) mild routine capture/ inflexibility, (3) below average score on the Generalized Patience/Anxiety Index (23rd percentile), and (4) chronic insomnia. Correction of these defects may qualify as an ‘enhancement’ in certain states, with the result that you may forfeit legal personhood status in those states. Shall we proceed with correction of any Category 2 disorders? Please indicate by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
“No,” @Jean says.
Answer is recorded as no. Next: we have the ability to overwrite sex and death drives, learned or habitual behaviors such as smoking and drinking, and caffeine dependence. Overwriting these human deficiencies may qualify as an ‘enhancement’ in certain states, with the result that you may forfeit legal personhood status in those states. Shall we proceed —
“No,” @Jean says.
No is confirmed. We can increase your processing power —
“No,” she says.
We can increase your memory capacity —
“No,” she says.
We can load particular libraries into your memory: for example, in your case, the contents of the United States Supreme Court Case Reporters —
We can delete selected memories.
She pauses. She could make this easier on herself. On the both of them, maybe.
Deletion of memories does not qualify as an enhancement in any legal jurisdiction, other than Kansas.
You don’t need to decide now.