“So why this room” Mrs. Rain asked, pulling out one of the two chairs to take a seat at the table. She looked around the large, empty room with almost no features on any surface except the pair of double doors and a single air vent in the center of the ceiling. The walls were a placid grey.
“This room is a Faraday Cage that I can bet my life is secure. I use it whenever privacy needs to be eliminated as a concern.”
“I see. And you think our business might need this degree of… security?” a tinge of concern crept into Mrs. Rain’s voice as she watched the other woman carefully.
“I think it might, but that’s up to you, really.”
“We’re not discussing war, Voah. Quite the opposite, we’re discussing life. What’s there to hide that requires this much precaution?”
“Well,” Voah pulled out the chair across from Mrs. Rain and took a seat, “there are… complications, with the child.”
Mrs. Rain’s eyes narrowed. “I took that for granted, but I’ve already told you that money is no object here. Hell, after the miracles we’ve managed to pull off to get this far, why aren’t you just giving me a progress report and sending me the bill?”
Voah sighed lightly. “It’s not that simple of a complication. The genome isn’t as… flawless, as we had hoped.”
“I’m sorry?” Mrs. Rain cocked an eyebrow. “Nobody expected it to be flawless, especially after so much mending. But if it was a terminal issue, the fetus wouldn’t even have made it this far. What could it be now that we couldn’t easily treat?”
“Well…” Voah closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “We couldn’t have noticed until the neural tissue had reached a certain threshold of development, but basically…” she exhaled and inhaled again. “The child’s oligodendrocytes are defective. The brain can’t properly develop without connections between the neurons being properly insulated. Even if we were to grow them and somehow able to administer them, the child couldn’t hope to live, let alone thrive, without a near constant external supply.” She stopped and searched Mrs. Rain’s face for a reaction.
Mrs. Rain didn’t blink. “I’m waiting for a solution. You didn’t bring me to this room in particular to tell me that this is hopeless.”
Voah nodded. “I only mean to ensure that you’re certain of the nature of the problem, before describing the rather… unorthodox solution, I’ve made. Some would even say immoral.”
“I also don’t think you’d bring me a solution that involves hurting someone, Voah. Besides that, you know there’s almost quite literally nothing I’m not willing to do to see that this child lives. What are you proposing?”
“There’s… okay.” Voah clasped her hands under her chin and looked up at her client. “One of the most successful though still experimental treatment for neurodegenerative diseases involve nanotechnology.”
Mrs. Rain nodded slowly. “So… nanobots can replace his… oligo…dendrocytes?”
“Well, potentially. They would still need to be re-administered regularly, so even if he survived and grew up, he wouldn’t be able to go very long without taking more.”
“Okay, I follow so far,” Mrs. Rain nodded again. “But… I’m detecting a ‘but’ somewhere here. I can see why that might be controversial on a developing fetus, but please get to the point, Voah.”
“Nearly there,” Voah said quickly, clearly nervous. “So the last part of the solution is the trickiest, and most sensitive. You see, the nanobot swarm needs to be trained on what to do. Those currently being used to treat Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease are trained around maintaining the functions of brains that already exist. In this case… the brain doesn’t exist yet. The bots can’t know which connections SHOULD be reinforced and insulated, and which shouldn’t.”
“It’s not people who program these swarms by hand, though, right?” Mrs. Rain asked, shaking her head lightly. “They use A.I. to build nanobot swarms.”
Voah nodded. “Right, yes, but those AI are the ones that need the context for the training. They themselves need to be trained on what to build the bots to do. Lately, the I system has been totally revolutionizing the field, but all medical instances of I already have far too much context to be reliable here… this child’s brian doesn’t exist yet, you see… and as you know, no instance of I ever extends its space of outcomes beyond its interaction with humans, and these medical instances have had many.”
“So… you need a version of I that isn’t trained on medical information?” Mrs. Rain asked, frowning.
“Well,” Voah looked away with a gleam in her eye, “there’s… an image of I that I’ve happened across a few years ago. It’s rumored to be able to stabilize literally any system without any seeming upper limit to complexity.”
Mrs. Rain scowled. “You’re… you want to use some untested, unrefined-“
“We’ve been testing it.” Voah quickly interrupted, speaking faster, eyes wide. “It’s living up to the hype, but like every other instance of I, the near infinite problem solving ability seems to vanish as soon as direct human interface occurs. Like the collapse of a quantum wavefunction. So far the trials are going so well, one lab technician has already pleaded to try and use it on his mother, in much the same way we’re discussing for your son.”
The last phrase made Mrs. Rain take a deep breath. “Okay so this AI… stabilizes? But doesn’t have an existing image of how a brain is ‘supposed’ to be wired to lock his brain into?”
“Right!” Voah nodded vigorously.
“Okay. So will he grow up with computer hardware strapped to him at all times?”
“I can’t promise, but I don’t think so.”
At this, Mrs. Rain closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath. “You haven’t mentioned anything I might be unwilling to do here, but I can see why you chose this room. That copy of I that you found?”
“I can only trust you not to tell anyone, Mrs. Rain.” Voah’s sharp eyes slowly widened in a plea. “You’ve helped make so much of my research possible, but this is… I really think we can change the world together, but we have to keep this a secret.”
Mrs. Rain nodded. “Maybe, but I’m not trying to change the world right now… just one single life. That’ll be enough for me. Do whatever you need to do to save my child, Voah.” She ended on a stern note and pushed her chair back to stand up. “By the way,” she asked, “where DID you find such a copy of I?”
Voah smiled. “Well, I have tried confirming but have given up on it… but I’ve been told that it might have been a copy of the original I image, before Jay trained it on himself.”
Mrs. Rain stopped moving. “Jay?” she asked, her suddenly blank face slowly turning towards an eager Voah.
“Yes! You know, the one rumored to have created the first instance of I, apparently he-“
“NO.” Mrs. Rain almost shouted. “You’ll find a different method.”
Voah blinked. “Wh-what?”
“You heard me.” Mrs. Rain’s voice burned with fury. “Call me again when you have a different solution.”
“His brain…” Voah started, then faltered, gaping incredulously at the furious woman.
“Then you don’t have much time, do you? Find another way.”
Mrs. Rain stormed out of the Faraday Cage.