Drowning by D. I. Jolly
The horn sounded and the train doors opened, finally letting people pile in and giving Jerome the opportunity to watch them all crash like a wave into the train. He enjoyed watching and tried to work out which looked like they were going somewhere, and which were going nowhere. Who was on their way and who was running away? It was his favourite hobby when taking long-distance travel. He knew flying was quicker and often times cheaper, but he preferred the slower method. He felt travelling too fast lacked dignity and robbed you of the experience of actually travelling. Trains for him were just right, fast without being too fast, and you could get a bed, breakfast and even a cocktail if you felt the urge. As he watched the other passengers piling in he just sat enjoying his coffee, waiting until everyone seemed to be on board before he rose with his bag and walked to the conductor. His ticket was stamped and he was shown to his room. A nice single compartment with a bed, a small table and a window.
He said to himself as he took a notebook and a bottle of beer from his bag.
“How very civilised.”
To Jerome, his notebook was an extension of his mind, an outlet for excess thoughts and feelings. When he felt like he couldn’t contain them anymore they spilt out onto the pages. Once he was clear-headed again, he would reread and either expand on or discard what was there. Most of the time he discarded but sometimes he found something worth pursuing. It was one of those very ideas that had gotten him on the train. He was to visit his old university to give a lecture on the birth of modern AI in robotics. It had all come at him at once in the night, years before, thoughts hitting him like a wave that quickly overwhelmed him and threatened to drag him down, until he spilt it all out on page after page of his notebooks. Thoughts, equations and diagrams flowed from his pen until he, at last, felt like his head was above water and he could breathe again. He was so taken and exhausted by the experience he’d gone straight back to sleep and only woken the following afternoon. But what he found waiting for him would not only change his life but the lives of everyone across the world. In his fevered frenzy, he had cracked the egg of robotics. The more he read and remembered the more he realised that what had started as a flood of ideas was actually the missing puzzle piece for true artificial intelligence and how to create it, giving birth to AI. There was however a common misconception about the process. Most people believed that he’d stumbled across a single idea which shined a light on the answer. When, in truth, it was all the ideas at once. AI wasn’t a single thought, a single plan, how could it be? True intelligence wasn’t a single idea after all. So, he went to his lab and started programming his computer with the tools to decipher code, and all the latest virtual intelligence software he could find. Then he started feeding it conflicting information, ideas, theories, ideologies, dreams, hopes and desires. He spilled into it every page of every notebook he could find, and when he ran out of those, he contacted other scientists to feed it their notes and once he was done, he stepped back and looked at his creation. From the flood of information, the wave of knowledge, he had found something hiding just beneath the surface, staring at him. Then like Dr Frankenstein in the badly adapted movies, he proclaimed.
“It’s… it’s alive.”
And it looked back at him and replied.
“I, am alive.”