I’ve been writing about my short story Idea for about a month, now. Here is a synopsis of what I have so far.
Using Daniel Keyes’ short story “Flowers for Algernon” as a starting point, I’d like to write a story in the form of a video diary. The short story will be the transcript of that diary. The scientist dictating this diary is a computer scientist. He has been studying the interaction of simple intelligences. He hopes to combine many small, simple computers together to create an artificial intelligence. His model for this computer is the concept of fractal intelligence. In this model, the smallest parts of the whole contain enough information to recreate the whole. Fractals are created with special equations that, when plotted, recreate the same pattern in ever larger and more complex patterns. Zoomed in 100x, the fractal looks identical to the broadest view you can get by zooming out.
My scientist is attempting to create this fractal intelligence by harnessing a medical technology. As medicine advances, we find ever more specific ways to deliver medicine. In the future that my scientist lives in, medicine has developed a way of using a modified virus to “infect” a patient. The virus then uses the patient’s own cells to create chemicals that fight the targeted illness. For example, if a patient has a tumor, the “virobots” are injected into the patient. Virobots quickly gather around the tumor. They remove the tumor by taking healthy cells from the patient, and recreating them as tumor fighting micro machines. The virobots’ DNA sequence determines what its purpose is. My scientist is trying to rework the virobots so that, when they are combined in sufficient numbers, they would create a new, artificial, intelligence.
During his research, he becomes infected with his experimental virobots. They gather around an old injury of his, a broken arm. When he was a child, virobots had been used to heal his broken arm. Now, the virobots key on his arm, and spread from there. He resists extreme measures to rid himself of the virobots until it is too late. He miss-identifies the nature of the viral carriers. By exposing himself to the virobots, he has unintentionally given them the perfect environment in which to thrive. Because the intelligence is carried and propagated by a virus, it can replicate itself inside him very quickly.
The concept of Rampancy becomes important now. This is the reason why my scientist fails to realize what kind of danger he’s in until he’s struggling for control of his mind. Take a penny, double it, and double it again. Continue this until your measuring device fails. That is the idea of Rampancy. As an artificial intelligence reaches a critical mass, its intellect will expand exponentially. One of the things that’s required for this growth is a new, larger environment to live in. My scientist thinks that he can contain the virobots, but doesn’t understand the fundamental nature of the virus that carries his program. He had never intended for this experiment to take place inside a human body, so he hasn’t taken it into account. That’s an essential part of his nature. He believes so completely in his theory, that he rationalizes contradictory data. The controlled environment of the lab is replaced by a chaotic and seemingly endless environment of the scientist’s body. They spread from his arm to his brain before he can control the infection. At this point, my scientist is trapped in a struggle for his own mind. The struggle plays out until only the virobot intelligence is all that remains. The story closes with the new intelligence making a last entry.