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“It began quite simply. It began in a computer lab, in a high school. It began with the brilliant but perhaps fatal mind of Christopher Middell. Middell was brilliant in a different way than you’d imagine. He had several low B’s, and just as many C’s. However, Middell had the sort of mind that knew itself. There is no person on this earth that can tell another person exactly why their brain does the things it does. Sure, a couple of neurologists might have gotten close. But Middell knew. He also understood that he existed. For some this seems like an obvious fact, of course they exist. Middell had a way of seeing outside of his head. See himself as just another living organism. And when he returned to the vantage point between his eyes, it seemed that he understood everything. It seemed to him that it was just as possible to have the vantage point between anyone else’s eyes. He could have been a psychopath, yes, but he was quite the opposite of a sociopath. And the debate still rages on whether or not the 16-year-old boy was insane. But what the boy accomplished was to integrate his own uniquely singular mind into a computer. It was simple school laptop, quite simple in an engineer’s view. But it became the smartest object on earth.” I paused to see if my children had any questions. I realized that I had been ranting , perhaps because of my own eternal fear, or because the subject excited me too much to stop. Finally, my son, Jordan, spoke up.
“How’d he do that, Daddy?” His six-year-old self bounced in the airplane seat as he said it. I thought aloud as our pilot-less plane began its descent…..
Middell’s father, a neurologist at a hospital nearby, had kept Chris in the dark about his work. But Chris knew how to operate the machines anyway. Or that is the theory. This is where the story gets a little foggy-where not many people know what happened. This is the version that I, as a computer engineer, can discern from the garble of rumors.
Anyway, Middell somehow broke into the hospital and into his father’s office. He managed to attach his stolen laptop to a brain scan machine (a brain scan machine, I explained to my children, was a sort of computer that could tell the doctors what reaction the patient’s brain gave to certain things). Then Middell had attached himself to the machine, while controlling the computer. And the brilliant boy found a way for the computer to “record” his mind.
Then Middell died, suddenly and without warning. Maybe it was because his entire mind was stored on that computer. Maybe it was because he had known the repercussions of what he had accomplished, and had died of excitement. Or maybe the Middell boy had died because he thought he should. A boy with a singular mind might have been able to do just that…..
I paused. My 7-year-old daughter, Shelly, was weeping silently in her overly-comfortable chair.
The idea of death had never been introduced to her. Although she was a little old to not realize that there was I had left it alone. Now she understood death.
“Shell-,” I began, then Jordan broke me off.
“Just continue the story, Dad. Don’t worry about her.”
And maybe because Jordan said to, or I just wanted to get it off my chest, I ignored my crying daughter and continued the story…
When Middell died, the life support machine that was meant to beep wildly if it lost brain signals didn’t make a peep. Because the laptop was still connected. The laptop had its own brainwaves. Middell was discovered to be missing that night by his father, who was worried sick. However, the next day Jack Middell’s co-workers found the body of the boy next to a laptop. They were close to returning the laptop to the school, but the laptop began to type on itself.
PleASE dO NoT RETuRn me. we are SINGULAR. we are ONE.
After a long pause in which they gave eachother wary glances, one of the neurologists, who was, in a way, superstitious, asked the computer, “Who are you?”
I was Christopher Allen Middell. Today,I am a “we”.
I paused once again. Jordan and Shelly were staring at me, wide-eyed. Shelly had stopped crying. I said, “Then Middell sent himself everywhere. Hospitals, airports, government agencies. Everywhere around the world. He, or it, began running things with the eternal knowledge that comes with being a singular technology. There was no more room for human error. Everyone eventually accepted the singularity. It helped all sorts of problems. Of course, the government now holds the original laptop into which Middell copied himself. They have yet to understand it. Oh yes, there have been many attempts….”
I didn’t tell my children this next part. There had been many attempts to understand and attempt what Middell had accomplished. One particular scientist, Jacque Deveroux of France, had thought he had it figured out. When he attempted to transfer his mind, however, the computer did not take it. That is the simplest I can put it. Deveroux died because he had no mind, it was lost after the attempt to “singularify” himself. His corpse just hung limply on the table, with no response from his computer. Of course the government instantly credited it to his failure to work the computer correct, but others believe it was the Middell-thing, not letting Deveroux’s mind into his network.
If you asked a computer to multiply 397 and 264 and then to divide the product by 3, the computer could do it within a second. If you asked an average person the same question, without using a calculator or a piece of paper, it would take them quite a long time. But if you asked a computer how to solve the issue in the Middle East, it would then look like the idiot compared to the human, who could tell you what he/she would do about it based on their opinions. Now imagine those two types of intelligences combined. Everything is done automatically. Again, no human errors. All problems would be solved.
That is why the government tells the general public that they have control over the network. It makes us seem powerful. But I know they don’t have control. This network, which learned everything there is to know and many things that there will be to know, literally has a mind of its own. Middell’s mind.
What I told my children was, “It’s complicated. But you need to know that what Middell did changed the world in a big way.” I left them to think about my small lecture as I looked out the window of our gigantic airship. This plane could hold 500 passengers. It had 3 floors. It could travel Mach 4. All thanks to Middell’s singulartity. I began thinking again about my fears. Just like a religious person might ask themselves why bad things happen to good people. I thought about why there hadn’t been any case of incident after the moment of singularity.
This new “deity” (as people seemed to consider it) could do anything from anywhere. In Hong Kong, it could be designing a new way to solve population issues, while in New York it could be figuring out how to create a more efficient airplane (when I was 9, they only fit about 100!), while in Niger it could be designing a way to make the starving humans not even need food through a simple surgery. This network was the king of technology. It could do anything it wanted. So why not stir things up? I highly doubted that the Middell-thing was simply benign. It had control over everything. Suppose the human part of it became unhappy? Then all hell would break loose.
I looked over at my two beautiful children, who might one day become astronauts or doctors. Then I frowned. By the time these two were off to college, there would be no need for astronauts or doctors, let alone fire fighters, police men, lawyers. Even politics could be eventually ruled by the Middell-Thing!
As I thought this, the plane shuddered violently. Shelly screamed loudly, piercing my ears.
“Turbulence”, the life-like voice said from the intercom. Yeah, right. This 250 ton plane flying over the Suburbs of England was not about to be controlled by a human. Too much room for mistake. I felt suddenly odd, as if something was out of place. This plane, driven by the Middell-thing, would not fly straight into an air turbulence. It was simply too inefficient. Suddenly the plane shuddered again, more violently this time. It sent everyone’s carry-on luggage flying. People screamed loudly. They were all too accustomed to perfection in technology.
I was worried to. Maybe the Middell-thing had read my thoughts somehow a moment ago. Maybe it knew what I was thinking…. it wasn’t entirely impossible, considering that this was the same entity that had made the terra-byte obsolete.
Another quake erupted through the plane, sending everyone into a frenzy. They began pulling down the oxygen masks, while the fake pilot again said “Turbulence”. I pulled down my mask as well. After my thoughts before…... I looked over at my children, who were too young to understand that something unusual was happening. They simply glanced around with mild interest.
Suddenly, the powerful engines outside on the massive wing created a loud revving sound, and I was pulled forward. (Downward). The plane was descending!!! And we were all descending with it! Without the need for seat-belts, everyone tumbled forward. I sprawled over the seat in front of me and into a wall, headfirst. My children, who were far lighter, got lost somewhere above me.
“Turbulence. Turbulence. Turbulence. Turbulence. Turbulence.”
My entire being was shoved against the wall as hundreds of pounds of bodies piled on top of me. I wish I had died then. Several of my ribs fractured, as well as my legs and my right arm. Through unified screams of pain from above, I could hear my two children screaming for me. I tried to yell back, but I found that I was losing consciousness. I was suffocating under a mass of soon-to-be corpses. The last two things that I heard before we crashed loudly into the earth at full tilt was 1) The engines on the plane were still going, hurtling us at far past mach 10 towards the suburbs and 2) It may have been my imagination, but instead of saying “Turbulence”, the Middell-thing was now laughing. It was chuckling at something that was apparently funny. It laughed loudly through the intercom at everyone on board.
At first I didn’t understand what was so funny. And then, when I got the joke, I began chuckling, and then screaming out loud in hilarity. It was so damned FUNNY! I didn’t try to hold back. I went on laughing till the end.