Ryan Grabow graduated from Long Island University in 2004, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media, and currently works in television production in Fort Myers, Florida. Caffeine is his first novel, combining his Christian faith with observations on how communications technology has impacted the reality of our lives, and drawing from his experience as a webmaster, programmer, and spiritual geek as points of speculation.
Ryan has a website at www.egrabow.com
Brandon heard the same gallicrash ballad playing over the airwaves. It brought him back to that last central access point, where the virus named Aether had broken into a talk radio show to make an annoucement to the world, to the real world beyond Dynamic Reality. Now Brandon was here, in the studio of that very show, to make the case that artificial intelligence can become self aware. And that even an “evil” virus can see beyond its programming.
Stan: “Just after twenty-one zeroes here on the Stan Conley Show. Welcome back. We’re talking about aliens, monsters, and artificial intelligence run amok. Brandon Dauphin is here in the studio to tell us about his encounter with a malvirai: a virus who took control of his ascension booth.”
Brandon: “Thank you. It’s great to be here.”
Stan: “Look, we’re all gamers here. We’ve all had a moment where we mistook an AI for a player. Designers have become pretty good at simulating people in Dynamic Reality, right?”
Brandon: “Right, but we’re not here to talk about simulations. Some of them really are self-aware, real creatures.”
Stan: “Science has shown us, Brandon, that we human beings project human qualities onto anything that resembles us. Amai, robots, animations, even rock formations that seem to form a face. Car designers obsess over the style of their headlights so its ‘eyes’ project the right personality to the customer. It’s instinctual pattern-seeking, with us since we were primates. It’s been an evolutionary advantage.”
Brandon: “You’re trying to say it’s all in my head, but I know what I saw, who I talked to, who had me trapped in Dynamic Reality for ten days. It wasn’t my imagination that a virus asked me about the meaning of life.”
Stan: “Yet that very question had been weighing on your heart, looking for an outlet. It’s very convienent that a malvirai… an AI computer virus no one ever encounters… should come by and ask just that question.”
Brandon: “And when people do encounter them they don’t survive. I did.”
Stan: “Just barely, if I have my facts straight. And Stan Conley always has his facts straight. The malvirai… What did she say her name was?”
Brandon: “Aether. Aether, the Destroyer of RoTek.”
Stan: “Right. Aether obviously wasn’t the Class A3 she claimed, but a much weaker Class A9 or 10. Some analysts think she wasn’t powerful enough to kill someone.”
Brandon: “She was powerful enough to grind this show to a halt, wasn’t she?”
Stan: “Oh yes, that.” (clears throat) “It was a common malfunction of the equipment. One reboot and we were back up and running.”
Brandon: “Because Aether didn’t want to infect and destroy anymore. She meant for you to undo the damage.”
Stan: “A malvirai is programmed to destroy, and programming is all they are. The fact that any malvirai wouldn’t want to do as much damage as possible seems like a great leap of faith.”
Brandon: “You know, faith seems so foolish when we think we have life all figured out, when we think we’re in control of everything. But people come to realize how nonsensical that control is. What good are ideas against faith when they just up and abandon us in our time of need? God never abandons. Faith is a bridge He provides us to achieve what is impossible, to witness what is impossible. Faith, the faith Aether searched for, was the difference between her programming and her salvation. And my faith is the reason I’m still here to talk with you today.”
Stan: “Well thank you, Brandon. Coming up next on the Stan Conley show, a man who claims he’s a Celestial soldier hypnotized to think he’s a human being…”
Thank you, Ryan, for joining us today! Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Caffeine. Entries accepted through Sunday night, winner announced on Monday.