“A Brief History of Another Time”

Nick Mills

All rights reserved by the author

 

 

The world has become a vastly different place from what it was at the turn of the 21st century. Man, who used to overpopulate the earth, has reduced so drastically in numbers that their colony only encompasses an area the size of Texas. However, Texas is not where the collective human race is located. Tornadoes and hurricanes frequently rip through that part of the world making it sterile. Massive storms as a result of industrial pollution in the atmosphere have devastated the globe. The change was not quick, as one might expect but instead a slow progression towards devastation. Year by year farmers noticed reduced crop yield, fisherman noticed irregular activity in the behavior of the fish due to the warming and cooling off of various areas of the ocean, coastal cities experienced an increase in the frequency of storms with higher and higher severity. All areas of the world in conclusion had been ravaged by continuous drought as well as other atmospheric irregularities. The exception to this destruction was the continent of South America where a highly intelligent, although also highly aristocratic state, was been set up. The state established is Archimagia and its populace consists of only the most brilliant academic and tactical minds of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Through an astounding medical breakthrough at Harvard in the year 2050, scientists, through the use of nanotechnology, created a way to take a 'snapshot' of the brain before a person dies. In a way they learned how to cheat death. Tiny electrodes in the brain measure the magnetic spin of electrons in the cortex. These signals are amassed save their knowledge for a new body. After realizing the potential it was only a matter of time before the intellectuals realized a person's potential immortality. Since controversial medical breakthroughs are highly debated in the US, teams of intellectuals from around the world came together in an area just outside Rio de Janeiro. Renowned universities, competing for the opportunity to have their name on the next headline, gladly donated huge sums of money and scientific bodies to help fund and advance any project dealing with the investigation into this new and revolutionary science. A university town was erected almost overnight. It was said to be the largest cooperative project to date.

Their first human subject was the more than willing Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University in England. Being that he had inherited a severe debilitating disease called Motor Neuron Disease, Hawking was compelled to search for a way to acquire a new body but just superimpose his knowledge onto the brain of the new host. This body would, for all intents and purposes, be void of any physical or mental inabilities. Final preparations were made and finally a body was chosen. A body similar in most aspects to a star high school football player was picked for the inductions of Stephen's mental abilities. Strong, sleek, and aesthetically equal in most respects to a Calvin Klein model. For sure Stephen would be able to do much more in this body, and he did. His research in the areas of general relativity and cosmology were invaluable to the University of Archimagia, which he was now indebted to and working for, for the rest of his life, which would be for as long as this process of knowledge transplants remained functional. Others like Arkhat Abzhanov and Jonathan Goldstein, both respective intellects in neurology and neuroscience at Harvard and Yale, also experimented with the new areas nanotechnology offered. After the success of Stephen's and others the apparent long-term applications that this process held threw the world into debate.

The UN. was caught in a stalemate between various countries on whether or not to allow the future to enjoy this science. The only argument against the science was based solely in morality. The Vatican fought it with a visceral and fiendish attitude one would have come to expect from an Inquisition. They detested men thinking they could 'play God.' Researchers at The University of Archimagia were denounced as heretics and the protests around the area mirrored this idea quite clearly. There was no way the Holy Roman Church wasn't going to fight tooth and nail for what they believed in. It could now be seen that the world was going through a second scientific revolution where a bold new frontier was being explored. The age hosted a hot and caustic debate on morality, and in the end The University won the right because after all there was no law that allowed any other governments interference in their research, and the country of residence Brazil at the time had no law either. Sanctions did little to impede this process and it continued on progressing further and further.

Years passed. Strife and squalor devastated the rest of the world. Soon countries had bigger problems to deal with. Civil wars ripped through Europe, Asia and North America felling them like dominoes. When all was said and done all that was left was the continent of South America with a substantial community of highly intelligent peoples. Technology improved and the rest was history.

Today the people of Archimagia enjoy a garish lifestyle of technological innovations and altogether superiority. However, the whole human race is dependent on one technology: nanoscience and research.

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2630 was a slow year for the crops, but all in all enough to suffice. After all there was enough in the storage to make up for it and Johannes knew it. The news reports meant practically nothing. Another reason not to worry was that it wasn't as if there were new mouths to feed. The population was and had been for the past four hundred years fixed at two hundred thousand peoples. The Citizens of the state of Archimagia had set it at that quota and it had never faltered. This might have had something to do with the fact that women and men were now incapable of breeding since for the longest time mind­ transplants had been the rule of thumb for creating a 'new' human. Just after the 22nd century a drug was given out to mature males and females. The drugs sole purpose was to stop the gamete making process. Slowly the world population started to not grow so rapidly. The end of the civil wars brought about the end of useful gonads. This meant that the 'new' people of today weren't actually 'new' as Johannes knew, but simply a recreation of someone that had already been alive through a cloning process. He himself had been recreated about six or so times. He had lost track though because of the vast span of time that have passed.

Johannes had the stature of a well-trained Marine. His hair was buzzed rather short and clean-cut. His height and broad shoulders would have made him a menacing sight to any normal human today but to his peers he was just another clone. Originally, when he was born for the first time in the 21 st century, he had been a medical expert at Yale. But now all the population's bodies were virtually the same. He had cast away his feeble and delicate bony structure and cashed it in for a new athletic and far healthier one. Few variances were allowed in the nutrient broth they fed to the embryos that would soon be their new bodies. But he was unique in a way. He had his mind and it incorporated everything that he had learned over the past four hundred years. Scores of mathematical problems, textbooks of scientific material, as well as just about anything else anyone would have wanted to know. He had read every well-known piece of literature that had been written since the beginning of man. He was versed in ecology, economics, physiology, and law. But then again wasn't everyone? They too had had just about the same amount of time to learn everything and each one was highly intellectual. But then somehow he just knew he was different. No one processed the same information and connected the same ideas with the same things. He didn't think so anyways. Somehow though the idea haunted him. Machines were taking over their brains and could very well cause a cloning of systematic thought. He could never be sure if he just wasn't being streamlined into another representation of the same thing over and over again. Men and women passed him everyday on the way to his job at the Institute of Science where he was a structural engineer and he always saw the same placid stare coming from them. Each one was retrofitted with the same uniform and had eaten the same nutrient granola that morning. Difference could only be seen in the individual specific nametag and encoder key that unlocked the building of employment and office of residence.

Every day was also the same routine. That bothered him too. For the past sixty thousand days since his last promotion he had sat at the same desk and stared out at the same fake landscape. Only at home was he able to read the works of well-known authors and ponder abstract thought as the romanticists often did. At work he developed new advances in nanotechnology. He had acquired a very high-end job, requiring various credentials, and security passes, but most of all just a longtime devotion to the science. Some acknowledged that the whole science of nanotechnology rested on him and it did, but his job could have easily been taught to another. He had after all been the mind behind quite a few advances. For example it was his idea to connect a new memory chip into the memory recorder so that even more vast amounts of knowledge could be stored and implanted into the new body after an old one withered out and died, but again that could very well have been anyone. Today, in summation, was no different any other and he dreaded it.

Just then, in mid-thought, Heinz walked in to his office. He had been a 21st century intellect in Germany. Heinz had been an astrophysicist if some kind Johannes thought he remembered. He even still knew German although he had little use for it now. Now, of course, everyone spoke Standard English and that too made things dull and unromantic. He was friends with Heinz and often went out with him at nights to get a drink and mill around town.

"I've got your new orders here. They've just been processed by The Citizens of the state of Archimagia and approved for substance and relevance. I didn't peek into the order but word has it that this is a new memory selection kit. Supposed to revolutionize our memory storage abilities by deleting more unnecessary knowledge." Heinz had severed Johannes' thought completely. Johannes hated to be startled from thought. "What a vital breakthrough pulling it off will be. There are thousands of things I'd kill to forget. Anyways, I happened across it in the mailing room and just thought I'd run it up to you. Save a little time."

"Thanks." With that Heinz left and went back to his part-time job helping in the mailroom. Everyone was required to help at some job or another. Johannes' particular job was simple janitorial work for two hours a week on whatever day the schedule told him to report for it.

Now, though, Johannes had 'breakthrough work to accomplish.' For the next few hours he brushed himself up on the processes of memory chip storage construction and memory deletion. Once thoroughly refreshed Johannes went down to the basement where the clean-room was. Here, one was required to strip all clothes and take a hot shower in disinfectant and water. The process was slow and tedious but then again it took only the slightest airborne pathogen to completely devastate a days worth of work. Next, was the drying process where he sat uncomfortably on a metal stool in front of a fan blowing filtered air and waited for the beads of water to evaporate. Finally, he slipped cleanly into his airtight white jumpsuit that waited for him in the following room and walked briskly into the construction room. He waved to Genevieve as he waited to be cleared and then went straight to the construction table and viewing screen.

Being alone and in the white room was inspiring and mocking all at the same time. The white of the walls and everything else reminded him immediately of his insignificance. Everything in the room was white, and the same, and dull. But being alone reminded him of his individuality or what he thought he had of one. He could never be sure. A question like that was socially unacceptable and asking it would be to bring upon oneself a landslide of inquiry from various governmental agencies. To Johannes it was too much trouble for one simple question. Sometimes, however, he felt as if 'the system' was trying to weed out variance little by little. It was apparent to him in the way everyone dressed the same. In the way that a body plan for the implementation of ones mind was successfully from generation to generation being constricted down to only a few choices for each sex. Johannes remembered when a person would have a substantial number of body types to chose for their next life, but no more. Now even the cars were one type: The Jaguar, an elitist car if you asked anyone in the 21 st century but now just the regular issued type. He felt overly confined today as he often did.

Getting back to work, Johannes tweaked around with the construction of the nano-devise. The building of this type of machinery was, after all, tedious since it was at the atomic level. He didn't expect to be through with this until late that night. He didn't care though and neither did the institute, because he could very easily just come in late the next day. The work schedules were lax to say the least. A wide-screen monitor showed exactly what was going on inside the chamber, while he manipulated the events on a computer. He created the basic construct for the memory storage shell, an act he had repeated thousands of times without fault. Finally came the tricky part. The instructions dictated that he was to patch in a sodium oxide slinky which would function to turn off the memory recorder when it hit specific parts of a persons memory that were deemed not useful to that person or society anymore. In an affect that would ripple through mankind he misplaced the deleting mechanism. The act was only half conscious. Cases had been published when this occurred and he had heard from people about occasions when other scientists had misplaced the SiO slinky. The minute difference was undetectable and in most cases, besides the one published and talked, had no ill effect. Luck and a half­ conscience cognizant decision would render this flaw however undetectable by current standards and quite caustic to society.

Finishing up at midnight Johannes packaged the prototypes and had them sent to the lab to be tested on mice. A week was as long as it would take for the technicians to test and record the result on the mice, and as Johannes suspected, the technology tested radiantly on the mice. Zero flaws were identified and the new memory deletion process would go into full production for the next generation of people almost immediately.

A pang of guilt reverberated in Johannes conscious as he reflected on the state it would render people when their mind was copied and transplanted into their new bodies. The mouse's brain as he had learned was only slightly different, other than size, than a human's. The error therefore wasn't evident in the mouse but would be expressed only too obviously in a human. Small motor skills would be rendered out of operation because the brain's synaptic processes for that area of bodily function were now out of commission. What had once been standard hygiene would become unimaginable. The new body's powerhouse of operations, the brain, would recognize thousands of difficult physics and scientific theorems but would neglect to acknowledge even the most rudimentary knowledge in personal care and mobility. One could compare this new biological creation to a vegetable and it would seem as if all the nervous and degenerative diseases of the past came crashing down upon this serene utopian state all at once.

Johannes wouldn't be there for this. Skipping town was his only option. After all he had brought down the collective human race, though he himself doubted its benefit to the earth. The race had after all ravaged the globe, raping the ground and stealing its worth in all areas except the South American continent. The impact humans had on the earth left nothing to the imagination concerning the destructive capabilities our species possessed, and in one fell swoop Johannes had decided to rectify that as well as reclaim his individuality.

 

© 2003 by the author

All rights reserved