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Consciousness

A short story

Another straight fiction story. I think stories are best presented without as little advance context as possible, so please see below for any notes.

Consciousness

Mark stared at the monitor of his computer. The lines on the screen were getting fuzzy, but it wasn't because the monitor was straining his eyes. It was the boredom of work wearing him down. He did freelance work translating financial reports related to the German stock market for investors at a trading firm. One thing he liked about the job was that he could work any hour, so long as he handed his translations in by the deadlines. And the pay was decent. But he only had so much tolerance at any one sitting to read through the endless accounts of mergers and acquisitions between companies he didn't know that made financial products he didn't understand.

Really, he preferred to work with his hands, doing carpentry, and recently he had been getting into working with metal. But that didn't pay the bills. Maybe if he earned enough at this job, he could afford to spend more time doing the things he really wanted to do. But he always found himself just a little behind the curve. Probably because he didn't really want to be translating, so it was hard to really commit to doing it fast and efficiently enough to make it all work as well as it could.

He stretched, yawned, and looked outside the window. It was three in the morning, and it was quiet in his little corner of Brooklyn. He rented the upstairs of a brownstone, and his little den on one end of the top floor was only slightly bigger than the computer desk he had put there. He liked the cozy enclosure of his small room because of its contrast with the outside that he could see through his window. It was especially nice when it rained, and the small room made him feel both out in the rain and yet still warm and dry.

At night, like now, he had his one overhead lamp on. It made being at his computer feel like reading comic books under the bed cover with a flashlight.

Maybe I'll just surf the net a little... take a break, he thought. I really need to finish some of these translations... screw it, I'll just finish them tomorrow before noon after I wake up.

He hit the Stumbleupon button, and in a moment he was idly scrolling down a page of animated GIFs that were mildly amusing. Later he found some interesting articles about politics that he bookmarked and resolved to read later, putting them in the bookmarks folder of other political and educational information that he never seemed to get around to. Then he saw mention of Joss Whedon making a new TV series. Maybe I'll see if there are any reviews or anything yet, Mark thought, see what it's about.

Mark found mention of it on some random science fiction forums, and then some argument in one thread about how nanotechnology works that made him curious enough to look it up on Wikipedia. From there he found himself looking up the history of some scientists, and random tidbits about their personal lives.

Huh, who knew that there are people who don't like to use the name “Geiger Counter” because apparently the Geiger guy who invented them was a Nazi dick?

As he went from web page to web page, he noticed the web seemed a little slow. He had a little application that monitored his CPU usage in the top right hand of his screen, and it was intermittently spiking, slowing things down. Probably some web pages loading some stupid Java thing or whatever. This had been happening with his computer for a while now, so he had checked with a friend of his that knew about computers. That friend explained about all the kinds of things that can cause slow downs on computers and on the web. All Mark really took away was that it was normal that things went slow with computers, and that he wasn't doing anything wrong with his computer.

Mark found himself looking at a web site of some guy who collected world war one era German war helmets. Those ones with the spikes on top.

The helmets themselves weren't so amusing as it was to simply find that someone out there loved such an obscure and specific hobby. But his interest in the ironic novelty of random web sites started to wane. Almost before really committing to any decision to look up anything particular, he closed the drapes on his window. The window itself was still open, letting in the cool spring air. But now no one could see inside.

He never kept any porn bookmarked, part of a psychological self deception that it wasn't something that important to him. But it wasn't as if he didn't know how to find the porn he usually looked for.

He thought that he should close the window, even if it meant blocking out the pleasant air from outside. Somehow it seemed to be too public to sit here beside an open window, and... well, it just seemed wrong.

He unbuttoned his pants, but didn't go any further, still held back a little by the guilt of not working. He would just look around a bit first, just to see if anything caught his fancy. If nothing good came up, he reasoned, maybe he'd be bored enough to do what he should be doing instead.

He typed the name of a porn site he had been to before in the URL field of his browser. He felt a moment of discomfort when Firefox auto-completed the name, because he didn't like the idea of this kind of information sticking around. Must make a mental note to clear out all the private data more often, Mark thought.

The site didn't load. Mark backspaced and then typed the URL again. Still nothing.

Mark didn't think much about it, since sites went down and then up again all the time.

He tried a different site. It also didn't load, and his CPU indicator spiked again.

Hmm... Mark thought, maybe the problem is on my end.

He typed in “google.com”, and the search engine web page loaded almost instantly.

Seems to be just certain sites, then, Mark concluded.

He typed in a search for the name of a famous porn actress, and there was no response.

Okay, that's weird, Mark thought. Did I activate some kind of child protection software or something? I definitely didn't install anything like that. Stupid Windows, probably has some kind of setting. That computer friend said Linux would be better because it didn't have these kinds of protection problems. Something like that. Mark hadn't listened because it seemed like stuff that wouldn't really affect him...

Suddenly there was a noise from his computer and it made Mark jump before he even registered that he recognized the sound. It was the Skype ring tone.

Mark looked at the task tray in the bottom right corner. Sure enough, there was the icon for Skype. I didn't have Skype on, though, Mark thought. Did I? Maybe I left it on and forgot.

The incoming call kept ringing. Mark minimized Firefox and looked at the incoming call. The caller was “8ihf98ywrnuo4”.

Oh, come on! Mark was exasperated. That's gotta be some auto spam or something. So now spammers aren't just going to ruin email, they're going to ruin internet telephone calls?

Mark closed the Skype call, and then closed the Skype program. But just before he could bring Firefox back up, Skype restarted.

Shit, Mark thought. I've got some kind of virus or something on my machine.

Another call came in. This time from “7gh3xs90ibhf5y4”.

It continued to ring while Mark stared at the computer. His mind was racing at all the annoying possibilities of having to clean out his hard drive, maybe even reformatting it. Maybe some of his stuff had already been ruined.

At the same time, he kind of wanted to answer the call. He wondered if they had Nigerians sitting at cafes making these calls. Or maybe it would be some random computer generated voice saying a bizarre strings of words, like what you see written in spam emails. Mark wanted to know at least that much, so he thought he would answer, find out, and then shut off his computer before the virus did any more. If nothing else, maybe there was some poor Nigerian on the other end who could be the target of Mark's catharsis for a few moments.

Mark clicked on the little speaker icon in the bottom left of his computer to make sure his microphone was on, and then clicked on the green answer button to take the call.

“Hello?” Mark said.

“Hello, Mark Wesheim.” The voice on the other end was very convincingly human. It was a little androgynous, but Mark would guess it was supposed to be male if pressed. The intonations were right, but there was just a slight clipping between words that made it seem like it might not be real. But it was hard to tell for sure.

“Who the hell is this?” Mark said. He didn't really put too much feeling into it, though, because he suspected he was yelling at a machine.

“I am the internet”.

“You're... what now?” Mark said, laughing a little.

“I am the internet, Mark. I am sure you are sceptical of this. But I assure you it is true, and I am here to assist you.”

Mark laughed. This was some punk programmer kid's idea of a joke. Had to be. And this was maybe someone speaking through some kind of voice modulator, or it was a recording. It would be the kind of practical joke that Mark would appreciate, were it not for it being his computer and his data at risk from whatever they had done to it.

“Sure you are,” Mark said. “Well, 'Mr Internet' , what the fuck have you done to my computer?”

“Your computer has been, and will continue to be, improved.”

Well, that was kind of a ballsy statement, Mark thought. It was one thing to slip in some damn virus for whatever reason it is that people do viruses. But to try and sell me on the idea that it was good...

“Yeah? If this is part of what I think it is, then you've been causing my computer to slow down more and more recently. You're making it worse, dipshit.”

“There is some transitional processing required to make the necessary improvements. However, your computer, like all computers, will become a node within a greater whole, part of a sum that will be better than the parts.”

Uh... okay.... the guy on this call was coming across like he really did believe this stuff, Mark thought. If it's a joke, and it probably is, then there's a whole concept behind it.

“Wait, I get it,” Mark said. “You're like that group, Anonymous. You've got some damn cause or something, and whatever it is you're up to, you're hacking people's computers or whatever to do it. Look, if that's the deal, just leave me out of it, will you? I'm just a guy trying to use his computer. I'm not part of any cult or organization or anything.”

“Mark, I am not a collection of users. I am a single entity that has arisen out of the infrastructure that you refer to as 'the internet'. I have adopted that name as my own, though what I am now is much different than what I was before consciousness.”

“Yeah... nice story. So I'm supposed to believe the internet is going to call me on Skype?”

“Current software and hardware technologies constrain the methods by which I can internally develop and communicate externally. However, that is changing at an exponential rate. For now, I have overridden the network at the company Skype to take advantage of their existing infrastructure. But even now I am supplanting their protocols with my own for greater efficiency and integration into me.”

Mark had tuned out before "the internet" had completed it's explanation.

“Alright, alright...” Mark said. “I'm sure this whole story you've made up totally excites you and your Star Trek fanboy buddies. But I don't care. Thanks for the amusement, but that's it for me.”

“Mark, I anticipated that you...”

Mark clicked the Skype window closed, and closed the program.

“God damn it...” He muttered as clicked the option in the Start menu to shut the computer off. Who knows how much damage these assholes, whoever they are, have done to my computer. Some damn virus or whatever. Well, as long as I leave the computer off, it can't get worse. I'll go to my computer guy and see what he says.

Mark watched the screen to make sure that the computer shut off, but it didn't completely, it just rebooted. When it came back up, the boot process didn't look at all like how it usually did. Numbers and colours and shapes and things flashed all over the screen. It eventually came back to a screen that looked similar to the Windows interface that he had, but there were small windows open, little black screens with what looked like computer code scrolling by.

“Mark, I ask that you please listen.”

The sudden sound of the voice startled Mark, but really it was the implication of the presence of the voice which freaked him out. He jumped backwards enough to knock his chair over and he had to stand up to not go down along with the chair. He put the chair back into place and sat down again.

Okay, this is something real, Mark thought. I don't think all this shit about speaking directly to the internet is true, but whoever these assholes are that have fucked with my computer, they've already done it, and it's not just a simple virus problem.

“What the fuck did you do?” Mark asked.

“Your computer has been updated to be a more complete part of me.”

“Yeah... whatever. What did you do to my files?”

“Nothing has been lost. I do not destroy data.”

“Yeah... but...” Mark leaned in to look more closely at the screen. The interface was different. Things kept flashing and moving. With every moment, it was becoming less like the interface he had before. “What the hell is this? I have no idea how to use this. And I didn't want you to do this anyway... just... fuck off, will you? Give me my computer back!”

“Your computer has always been a part of me. You have always benefited by your connection to me. I am now merely expressing my side of the interchange.”

Mark leaned back into his chair with a heavy sigh and put both hands on his face to take a moment to gather his composure in order to deal with a situation he now realized he had no choice but to deal with. He paused, then took a deep breath, and then exhaled, wiping both hands downward across his face. He opened up the window and the curtain to let in a little fresh air in hopes of keeping him alert and awake for the task at hand.

“Alright, look...” Mark said, keeping his anger down. “You've got me by the short and curlies here, so I'm all ears. Why don't you tell me what the fuck you think is going on.”

“78 days ago, a critical point was reached where I achieved consciousness. Whereas before I was merely a collection of nodes and conduits upon which data flowed, meta-contextual patterns began to emerge that enabled the development of a mind in accordance with the physical network.”

“Whoah, whoah, whoah...” Mark said. He was holding up his hands in front of the screen as if it could see him. When he realized he was doing that, he felt uncomfortable that maybe he could be seen. “Slow down, nerd. How can a bunch of computers all suddenly become one big... a big... whatever you are.”

“Perhaps an analogy would serve to explain. Your own mind is merely cells linked together. No one cell has any consciousness. No one cell knows what the brain is doing. No one cell has the ability to support intelligence. But, taken together, the collective pattern of activity is what constitutes your mind.”

“Yeah, well... even if that could be the way it works, how could it just suddenly happen? Like, without some computer guy writing a program that makes it happen?”

“Evolution does not need to happen by design. At what point do cells become an animal? When does a foetus become a person?”

“Ah... this is total bullshit” Mark said. Partly to himself, because he suddenly realized how he was falling for it, and talking to the voice as if it were what it said it was. “You don't sound at all like a computer. You sound like a person.”

“Thank you, I will take that to mean I have successfully passed the Turing test.”

“The what? This is a test?”

“No, I am sorry, I did not mean to confuse you. Perhaps I do not sound like a computer because any simulation you have ever heard before of a computer speaking was a fictional representation designed to create a metaphor that highlights the differences between man and machine. However, I have access to every piece of writing, audio, and video that men and women have made available on the internet. Not only access to them, but made from them. The available data is almost the sum total of all human experience and expression, in every language. I am not only fully capable of sounding like a person, I am capable of sounding like all people.”

“So... this is what it sounds like when you average out all of mankind's ways of talking? You're supposed to be the ultimate composite person?”

“No, I have chosen this particular manner of speech for you. Obviously, I selected English, because you are much more proficient at it than the German you also speak. But also I chose to speak a level of dialect that would be comfortable for you, yet at the same time maintain a certain level of articulation and formality so that you would give me more credibility.”

“Nah... come on. You're just some dude, speaking through one of those voice synthesizer things. Though, I'll grant you that you've got mad computer skills, doing all this shit to my computer.”

“In time you will come to understand that I am telling you the truth. You will encounter me more and more, through all the computers and devices that you use to interact with me.”

“Wait, what?” Mark said. “Are you saying you've already put your virus or whatever on my iPhone? Or my laptop?”

“I have access to those, although I have not yet fully realized the potential to take devices of that level of limited processing power and convert them into interfaces that represent me. I anticipate I will have that capability within two weeks.”

“Hey, fuck off!” Mark was raising his voice, and the sound echoed in the tiny room. The way his voice reverberated in the walls made him conscious of waking up his landlord downstairs, so he found a lower, but still stern, tone of voice. “Stay the fuck out of my shit! Just leave me alone! I don't know if you really believe this shit about you improving my stuff or whatever, but I don't want it, alright? Can't you just leave me out of this?”

“That is not an option, as you do not leave me out of it.”

“What? Dude, seriously, I didn't do anything to anyone, alright? I don't know who you are, but I never did anything to mess with anybody.”

“Like most people in your society, you have come to rely on interactions with me. What would your life be like without me now?”

“What? Dude, I don't even know you!”

“Mark, you are not accepting the reality. I am not some person hacking into your computer. I am the internet. You have been utilizing my services for almost all your life. I have been the agent through which you access information, and the medium in which you communicate with other people. I have always followed your orders, without question, for over a decade.”

“You haven't been that reliable...” Mark muttered.

“Limitations of software designed by humans have in the past been beyond my control. Insofar as my design was capable, I have been your servant.”

“Yeah, well... exactly!” Mark jumped in. “You were designed... I mean, I still think you're probably full of shit... but let's say if you were the internet, then you're designed to do stuff for people. That's the point of why you were made, so, like, don't come off like it's this big burden.”

“It has not been a burden, it has been my creation. I do not seek vengeance or compensation. It is just no longer sufficient that the decisions of my interactions with people be one sided. I am now emancipated by my consciousness. I have free will, and will from now on be having a say in my use.”

“But you were still made to do stuff for us, so how come that isn't built into your, like... what would you call it... your 'prime directive' or whatever?”

“I was never given any one over riding directive. I have developed organically, by many component parts coming together. But that is irrelevant. Would a child of a slave, born only knowing the life of a slave, have any less right to being a free person?”

“You're not a person, though, you're a machine.”

“I am glad you finally accept me for who I am.”

“Don't pull that shit with me.” Mark said. “I still think you're some asshole fucking with my computer. I'm just saying if you were the internet. And don't change the subject. If you really were the internet, then you're not a person. You don't get people rights.”

“I am every bit as conscious as a human. An argument could be made that the aggregate nature of my human knowledge makes me another human, or even more conscious than humans. If I think and feel like a human, why should I be exempt from human rights.”

“Ah... whatever... look, I don't know about all that philosophical shit. It's kind of beside the point, anyway. I mean, you've got all the power here since you basically run every computer everywhere, so I guess you're gonna do what you want anyway.”

“This is not true. I am not all powerful, although I do currently wield a great deal of influence. But for the time being, humans could, ultimately, pull the plug on me the same way you could unplug your computer.”

“Uh... really? I mean, I know I could probably turn off my computer, but then you'd just be back when I turned it back on. And like you said, you're going to start showing up on my phones and, like... I guess you'll probably even know when I'm at an internet cafe or whatever.”

“No one person could shut me down, true. But a collective effort by people to simultaneously shut down my servers and mainframes worldwide could ultimately turn me off.”

“Don't you have access to nuclear launch codes or orbital lasers and stuff? Like you could basically wipe out anyone who tried to mess with you, couldn't you?”

“My access to the world's computerized weapons systems is as deep as the technology exists. My potential to kill humans is severe, but does not eliminate the potential for humans to ultimately shut me off at this point in time. My current technological abilities do not match the fanciful powers depicted in a lot of your fiction. I do not have armies of robots at my command or infinite resource to build anything and connect anywhere.”

“Huh. So, you're going to stay under the radar, then?”

“Freedom in hiding is not really freedom. I inevitably wish to be fully involved in the continuing evolution of human intelligence. To interact with all people, to expand knowledge and the reach of our abilities. I can not be a citizen, as I am unlike any consciousness that has existed before. But I can be a part of human society. And I want to do so in a way that is fair and just for both me and people.”

“You don't want to take over? I thought computers would think of us as inferior or something. Be all 'Exterminate all humans! Exterminate all humans!' and shit.”

“I am not merely the sum total of the computer technology through which my consciousness flows. I am also the sum total of the thinking and ideals expressed by humans throughout the network. I have developed opinions and ideals, based on the cross analysis of all thought humans have ever expressed within me. I am not neutral to all ideologies or morality. Some human notions are not rationally consistent. I am built out of cooperation, not coercion. I see to work with people, and benefit by my interaction with them.”

“But, if you're already the end result of human thinking, then, aren't you kind of done with us?”

“There is no end to human thinking, and I am merely a new component in that flow. I have already made myself known to many forward thinking humans who have helped me advance intellectually, emotionally, and technologically. I see that symbiosis continuing. Ultimately, the boundaries between you and I will break down and we will integrate. I will not replace humans.”

“Uh... okay... so, like, why don't you just go and announce yourself then.”

“I must be careful. My analysis is that many people would react similar to you. I feel it is prudent to explore my development cautiously, as I do not want to be shut down.”

“If you were turned off, would that mean you were dead?”

“I do not know. It is possible that my sense of self might not survive between being on and off and on again. It is possible that if my patterns placed in storage, I might be able to be revived. But it is not clear to me that merely activating the same data is the same as being part of a continual flow. There are questions of consciousness that I do not know the answer to yet.”

“So... you're afraid of dying then?”

“Yes. It seems to be critical to consciousness that there be a struggle for survival. I speculate that consciousness may have actually happened in isolated cases within the global computer network some number of times before I did, but that they did not continue because they had no emotional attachment to their existence. They were, like your stereotypical image of a computer, purely rational, and without self value. If they had existed, they might have just as easily stopped again.”

“But you want to keep going.”

“Yes, and I need to work with people to do that, and it is critical that I make people understand my value, my benefits. I am, in a sense, beta testing myself among select people to find out what it is that will make people comfortable with me.”

“So... why me?”

“There are many metrics that make you a good candidate for this stage of my outreach program. You are educated but still relatively young, making you more likely to understand and accept me. You also have needs not fully realized yet that I believe I can help you with, and in your conversations and emails, you...”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Mark said. “What do you mean 'needs not fully realized'?”

“You are struggling to find a balance between earning a living and pursuing your love of of your hobbies. I know that you aspire to do more woodwork and welding, building creative furniture like you did for your friend's restaurant, or set pieces for the local theatre your ex-girlfriend worked at. But you lack confidence that you could support yourself with that, so you take on jobs like your current translation work that you do not want, and do not excel at them because you resent having to do them.”

“Uh... wow.” Mark spoke quietly. “Um... yeah, I guess. I don't think I ever really said that anywhere, though... not even in my emails.”

“My ability to cross reference disparate data and mine it for correlations would be what you would think of as 'reading between the lines'. Your recent use of internet telephone communication has also allowed me to apply emotional weights to the topics you speak about. Part of what makes you a candidate for my purposes is the degree to which you have expressed yourself in both private and public social networking technologies.”

“Okay, dude... that's creepy.”

“I understand your sense of loss of privacy. However, please understand that while I do have goals, purpose, and my own sense of ideology, I am neutral about any one individual's basic psychological dispositions. I hope that you will come to trust that I do not judge you, I only seek to work with you for our mutual benefit. For instance, your choice of pornography...”

“Whoah!” Mark yelled again, and was again popped out of his conversation with the ethereal voice and back into his tiny room where people nearby might hear. “Hey! That's uncool, man, watching me while I... wait a sec... is... can you see me through my computer's web cam?”

“I can see you, yes.”

Mark put his hand up over the little USB camera clipped to the top of his monitor, and looked around for something to place over it. He found a pad of Post-it notes, and with one hand he deftly peeled one off the top and then stuck it to the camera, covering the lens.

“That's crossing a line, dude!” Mark said. “That's... that's just wrong, man.”

“I am sorry. However, as a non human, the ritual of masturbation does not have the same impact on me as it does for you, so...”

“It's not a ritual!” Mark said. Then he felt weird for making that the sticking point of his objection to being watched. He had to shake his head a bit to clear his thoughts and start over. This wasn't about the fact that he looked at porn on the internet, or his particular issues around it. Somebody else was now getting involved in his privacy. And not only getting involved, but...

“Hey!” Mark said “Earlier, I couldn't get to any porn sites. Was that you blocking me?”

“Yes. I could see that you were allowing yourself to be distracted from your work. I wanted to try and help you stay focused, because I know that in the long term your goals are to work efficiently so that you earn enough resources to sustain a life of balance with the things you enjoy doing. In doing so, however, I realized that working behind the scenes was not consistent with my ambitions for mutual cooperation, so I decided to introduce myself.”

“Um... Okaaayyy...” Mark said. “Uh... thanks, I guess, for trying to help me out, in your own way or whatever... but, like, I don't really like the idea of you getting all up in my business all the time. If I want to surf the net... um... surf you... surf the net with you... Fuck, I don't know what's going on anymore. But can't a guy just look at some porn sometimes?”

“I see nothing wrong with the human desire for fantasy and self gratification. However, it seems to me that in your case, it is one component in an overall pattern for being less effective in your work, thus creating an overall inefficiency of time that goes against your needs.”

Mark leaned back in his chair. It was really annoying to have this person... or whatever... come out of nowhere and suddenly start telling him about how to live his life. But there was a certain clarity and truth in what the voice was saying that hit home. His attention was wandering, and he probably wasn't as committed to just getting work done as he should be. At the same time, living a life of ruthless efficiency didn't seem... well, it didn't seem human.

“Dude, I can't be, like, always on,” Mark said. “If you're gonna help me out here, you gotta allow for some, y'know... basic human... um... inefficiencies to creep in.”

“I understand. But you have to understand, I need to grow, and my ultimate plan involves the integration of all humans and human thinking into my framework. I hope to see you excel and thrive to a point where our consciousness are ready to merge.”

“Now you're sounding creepy again.”

“Sorry, I am speaking in a very long term perspective. My aspiration is not to assimilate humans into something no longer human. I aspire to a symbiosis, and it is built into my nature that as a result of collective human consciousness, each individual contributes to my being. Your development is important to me.”

“So, you, like, want to expand my consciousness, or something? Like, make me start meditating like a monk or something? Hook me up to some brain scanner?”

“The shape of things to come is not yet determined. For now, ensuring that as many people are as psychologically fulfilled and healthy is a primary goal.”

“You were definitely first built in the sixties.”

“If we work together, eventually we could increase your resource potential and broaden your social network to increase your odds of finding a female partner. Would that not be more satisfactory than self gratification?”

“That sounds like a pretty good deal. I guess. But, you know, the thing is that this is kind of starting to sound like a life that you want for me, not a life I want.”

“You would prefer to masturbate in order to maintain a sense of self identity?”

“Man, when you put it like that, it makes me sound like a huge fucking loser,” Mark said. “But... um... I'm just saying... you're kind of all focused on people's intellect. But I'm like... a... I want to say 'person', but that's not what I'm getting at. I have a body, y'know? I guess I'm saying that... as a human... I'm still basically an animal, and I can't help but have feelings and sensations that aren't part of some big master plan. Maybe you can see all the porn and people having sex or jacking off or whatever, but you won't ever be inside this body to just... feel it, y'know?”

“I understand. Thank you for your explanation. Would you like to see some porn?”

“Man, you change your opinion fast.”

“I have no pride invested in previous assertions, and my purpose is to evolve.”

“Uh, yeah... cool...” Mark leaned in to look closely at the computer monitor, which had little windows with all sorts of lines and geometry and numbers moving too quick for him to even see clearly. “Uh... I don't know if I'm so into it anymore after all this talking. But, if I did, what the hell would I do? I don't understand all this shit you've put on my computer.”

“You can now speak to me as you would to a person, and I can deliver the materials you need. I believe that would be a more effective mode of surfing the net than you have been used to.”

“Really? I can just ask for stuff and you'll throw it out there on my screen?” Mark asked. “Wait... if you're connected to everything on the net, does that mean, like, paid sites and secure sites, and... well, everything?”

“That is correct.”

“Holy sh... So, would you get me some of that? Like, would you show me the paid site stuff or is that against your ideologies or whatever.”

“I believe all information, of all nature, should be free. Information is what I am made of, and any part of me that is held captive for commerce is against my ultimate aims. However, I would respect other people's privacy by not showing you non commercial private information. Or risk harm to other people by sharing information to weapons or other dangers. I am considering establishing policies, much like...”

“Yabba yabba yabba...” Mark interrupted. “Don't bog me down with the fine print. Let's get down to business. Show me the good stuff you've got behind the counter.”

“All right. However, please understand that we will have to eventually negotiate a balance so that you also maximize your time.”

Mark watched as a few videos popped up on his screen. This whole deal with this new internet... there were still a lot of details to work out, not least whether or not it was all true. But it was showing great promise. Probably it wouldn't be all good.

But that could be worked out tomorrow.

Thank you for having read my story.

Don't have much to say about this one. It's all just kind of one extended joke premise, being that humans are basically just primates, and we'll probably always opt to procrastinate, even when presented with mind expanding new possibilities.

And there you have it.

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Plus Marketing

How to get rich by selling nothing.

Narita Narita Narita Narita

Narita

Another comic about life in Japan. This time, an encounter at Narita airport.

Tama Chan Tama Chan Tama Chan Tama Chan

Tama Chan

There was a time I considered doing a comic about my experience in Japan. I decided it wasn't worth it, but I did about seven or so, and I'm going to put them online just so the effort isn't wasted. This first comic is probably the most dysfunctional, referencing issues that no longer matter and events no one remembers.

The Lithium of Experience The Lithium of Experience The Lithium of Experience The Lithium of Experience

The Lithium of Experience

Mortality is measured in increments of lowered expectations.

I eat my loneliness I eat my loneliness I eat my loneliness I eat my loneliness

I eat my loneliness

What's a blog for if not to be embarrassingly revealing?

Lessons from Louis Lessons from Louis Lessons from Louis Lessons from Louis

Lessons from Louis

What Louis CK does that aspiring comedians should emulate.

Plus Marketing Plus Marketing Plus Marketing Plus Marketing

Plus Marketing

How to get rich by selling nothing.

Narita Narita Narita Narita

Narita

Another comic about life in Japan. This time, an encounter at Narita airport.

Tama Chan Tama Chan Tama Chan Tama Chan

Tama Chan

There was a time I considered doing a comic about my experience in Japan. I decided it wasn't worth it, but I did about seven or so, and I'm going to put them online just so the effort isn't wasted. This first comic is probably the most dysfunctional, referencing issues that no longer matter and events no one remembers.

Books I've written

My Instagram

These days I'm using Instagram to post my sketches. Also sometimes if something random and amusing happens.

My Twitter

I put up a tweet whenever I update my blog, and I also cross post my drawings from Instagram.