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Latest update: June 2019

Lizzy, by Hana Aianhanma, June 2019.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This story is made up. Any and all resemblances to real people or animals are truly coincidental. Please do not experiment on pets.

Lizzy

“The idea is rather simple, and it has been explored to death by philosophers.”

Henriette and Henry were having drinks at the bar. Several overhead TV’s were displaying the latest news. Some emergency meeting at the UN.

Henry snorted, “Philosophers.”

Henriette nipped at her whiskey. “Don’t knock them too much. They occasionally stumble on something interesting.”

Henry lifted his cocktail while Henriette continued her lecture, “The question comes up when you give people prosthetics. Do you change someone fundamentally when you replace, for example, a leg?”

“Obviously. The leg is different.”

“If you lose your leg in an accident, you’re still you, right?”

“Well, yes, but I’d be me minus one leg.”

“You’d still want to be treated like you were before you lost it. With modern prosthetics, people would hardly notice the difference.”

I would.”

“So we go for something smaller. What if we give you a new tip on one of your toenails?”

“Is this going to be about the old and tired noise from trees falling in the forest?”

“Don’t be obtuse. Your body constantly replaces cells and even grows new parts with you remaining you. Why would that be any different here?”

“Okay. I follow so far.”

Henriette sipped at her drink. “Suppose we simulate a single brain cell. Add it to an unsuspecting brain, and the individual in question would hardly notice any difference.”

“What!”

She went on, “You see where this is going? Add new cells over the course of a few months and you’d enhance a brain but conserve the subject’s identity.”

Henry was awestruck by the audacity of the idea. He took over, “Continue with the process, and by the time the brain died off, the complete being is transferred into the computer!”

Henriette nodded, “In theory. Of course, there always is the snag of real world limitations, so it joined the list of cute ideas that don’t work.”

“No immortality for us mere mortals,” Henry joked.

“In this case, the problem was twofold. We just don’t have the required computing power and the precision required at the brain interface, up to recently, required bulky detectors.”

“Another lovely idea down the drain,” said Henry. “Coffee?”

“Yes, please.” She glanced at the news. “Not quite down the drain. Measurements were easiest to solve. The latest generation of general purpose probes can be easily implanted. It’s just a question of programming them for brain signals.”

“How would you power them?”

“Blood sugars. That’s why you need the latest generation. They are the only ones where the power consumption is low enough. The other problem was a bit harder until the solution was thrown in my lap. It involves a new quantum algorithm.”

“Come on. We’ve been waiting for quantum computers for decades. They’re about as much of a joke as nuclear fusion by now.”

“I happen to have a friend working for a black project,” Henriette said modestly. “He let it slip that there’s a good reason for the lack of official progress. With the apparent impossibility of the venture, most people saw no reason to buy into quantum cryptography, or even the quantum resistant ones. Governments like being able to read messages without you knowing.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. My friend did regret being such a blabbermouth. I blackmailed him into giving me some computing time.” Henriette was very pleased with herself. “We set up a channel between my house and the computer at the agency.”

“Did you connect yourself?”

“Are you crazy? Since you conveniently had me take care of her during your research trip, I volunteered Lizzy.”

“WHAT! You used my cat as a test subject?”

“Only fair after what you did to my dog. Don’t worry, she is fine.”

“Hypocrite.”

“She was able to express herself quite well within a few weeks. She thinks quite lowly of you.” Henriette smiled. “She also managed to get into the agency’s computers and, through them, hack into the digital infrastructure of all the worlds’ governments.” Henriette laughed at his expression. “Don’t worry, she’s been quite discreet.”

“You mean to tell me that my cat has human intelligence now?”

“Don’t be insulting. She’s progressed far beyond that, and it’s feline intelligence.”

She looked up at the TV again. “Though I may have been too optimistic about her being unobtrusive.”

Henry turned around to watch the image. A grey and white cat sat on a luxurious pillow made from purple velvet. She was adorned with a simple circlet made out of red wool. On either side of her there stood a magnificent scratching post and a dish of cream. The reason for his cat being displayed so prominently ran across the bottom of the screen.

“BREAKING: Threat of nuclear war averted. All governments agree to accede to demands. Cat declared ruler of the world.”

He remained wide-eyed when a new item joined the list, “Her Divine Highness Lizzy, Eternal Empress of Earth, demands the presence of her personal servant.”

“I suggest,” Henriette told a stunned Henry, as men in dark suits entered the bar, “that you hurry up and get there post haste.”

*****

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