Suicide no. 62: Riding on Remnants of The Challenger Rocket
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
“This life!” The tall, gaunt giant screamed—pulpit-pounding in front of his eager, but frightened and confused, audience of college believers. “It’s nothing. This. Is. Squalor!” The wood buckled under his angry fist, as he paused to eye the cringed eyebrows of a sea of onlookers.
“The sum…of everything you want out of life…by the time it is all finished…will be a paltry one at best!” He went on—leading into what made him a figurehead worth speaking at the university in the first place, “I just hit the lottery, and won ninety-eight-million dollars.”
He laughed, “And, do you know what?” His southern drawl came out, “It ain’t shit. Do you know how long I’ve spent, debating on what to do with all this worthless, fucking money? Over a year! Haven’t spent anything! And the conclusion that I have…diligently…arrived at, after all this time…is this: the money is worthless if I spend it the way most people would.”
He took off his spectacles to clean them with a handkerchief, “I came here today because I believe in this project. I believe in what it can…what it will…do!”
Which is the part where some of the crowd cheered.
“OpenMinding is going to set the curve for our existence. And, in this book,” he pulled out a Gideon’s-placed Bible, “we find what we’re really after.” He began reading passages that described heaven, eternal life—skipping back and forth. “’New bodies.’ Christ wanted to hand out new bodies in some make-believe utopia. And that is what OpenMinding is going to do.” More cheering ensued. “But…not Christ. Not God, but humanity!”
The rest of his speech went on to cover the rest of the OpenMinding computational bioengineering miracle—the one that he came to preach before he funded into ignition. With enough starter capital, the race would begin to map the human brain much like the genome was—only, with enough crowd-driven popularity, David Parsons would get the job done before he died of natural causes.
And then, the software would be written to encode—to reverse engineer—the human brain onto a computer.
Parsons finished his speech to the sound and display monitor playing a song written by Muse: Feeling Good.
And during those moments, David Parsons did feel good. He would have a new life—one in which the “old world,” as he so often called it, ended, and the new one began.
Years of speeches and technological progress passed, and Parsons finally met with the day he’d been waiting on—the brain scan. A combination effort of cryogenic freeze-slicing and nanoparticle mapping would make it possible to recreate Parsons’s memories, motor capacity, vision, and “exterior” functions of the brain—what OpenMinding called a person’s “shell.” The so-called “self,” or the part of the brain associated with being able to tell the difference between one’s “self” and their surroundings—OpenMinding’s “core”—was theorized by OpenMinding techs to be located within a series of 5-HT1A neuron receptor sites in the frontal section of the temporal lobe of the brain, and would need to be directly engaged with by a series of injections and nanometer-sized anode/cathode pin charges in order to properly transfer that core into the shell.
The process had already been tested on chimps—which, in the minds of many, was still a leap from a person; that leap would mean the difference between mind transference and mind copying.
“Alright, I’m ready” is all David Parsons had to say, despite all objections from friends and family to keep him from being the first human to undergo the process.
And then, the scan began.
And slowly, David Parsons awoke in a stainless steel room with no doors and windows—one that he helped design. “Success,” he thought. Then, he looked for the monitor—his only communication device between himself, and the outside world. Eventually, they’d program a bigger environment. For now, the initial phase had to be completed—which didn’t include spacious virtual skies and trees.
He spotted the monitor—sleek and wireless and completely virtual.
“David,” he heard a voice say.
“Yes?” His voice didn’t sound like his own, but one echoing through a tin can.
The engineer had no bedside manner—he wasn’t a doctor, after all: “We gave it everything we had, but it wasn’t enough. We had the 5-HT1A mapping wrong….”
“But…I remember everything! I know who I am!” he insisted.
“No, you remember who ‘David’ was. You weren’t transferred.” The engineer sighed, “David, you’re just a copy of the other David….”