Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Mind Weaver (scifi thriller)

Mr. Raman waited impatiently in the lobby of the office. Six years, it took him six years to get this investor interested in his product. For a fifty-year-old man with a terminal illness, this was a very long wait. He had invested his life into this product.
“This invention will be the end of us” His wife would warn him with a frown. But he turned a deaf ear to her and continued to work on it. Year after year, experiment after experiment and finally he had something of significance. His name would be in the lines of Thomas Edison and Einstein. He smiled nervously. He looked at the clock. The uncertainty was annoying. He picked up the newspaper to get over his nervous fidgeting. It was crowded with the campaign ads for coming election candidates. A full page picture of Mr. Kailash Chadda stared at him in the face.
Bloody crook!. He thought to himself. A multinational company owner is just what this already corrupt country needs.
“Mr. Raman, We are ready for you“ Mr. Anand, The CEO of  Zelo Enterprise called him out from the conference room. Raman gave him a clipped smile and calmly gathered his stuff from the desk. This was it. He took a deep breath and stepped inside.
 The Large conference room was elegantly paired with dark wood table and matching chairs. The floor to ceiling glass window gave the room a spacious outlook. One could see the hustling crowd of people walking below, engrossed into their phones. It was like an industrial warfare for the app companies. Every day a new app or product was being launched, competing for the customer’s attention. But he knew his product was class apart, a technology revolution in the current industry.
Five men dressed sharply sat across the table, all much younger than him. Their sharp gray eyes rested on him insolently. They were far too busy and he was just too unimportant. Raman knew he was up against the tough crowd.
Not for long. He thought silently.
“Good morning Gentleman” Raman smiled setting up the wall projector.
 “Let me start by saying that I am immensely grateful to have this chance,” Raman spoke adding a humble length to his smile.
“May I present the product of the future, ‘The Mind Weaver’,“ He clicked the start button on the slide. A small chip with a logo of a green thread flashed on the screen. He opened his pitch line.
“We are living in a world of the attention economy. Where information is very cheap and attention is expensive. Look at the crowd of people walking below.” He waved at the crowd walking outside “ We all know that the advertising companies will do anything to know their information. Their likes and dislikes. The knowledge to know what to advertise and precisely to whom is something of great importance to them. That is what they call as target advertising. Facebook , Google, every platform uses user data for target advertising. These people addicted to their phones are not our customer, but our product” He looks importantly at all of them.
“We know that already,” A board member said boringly” We own half a dozen patents for apps. Advertising is what we earn from.  What does your chip do?”
Raman flinched a little. He hated getting interrupted by impatient ordinary people. He forced a polite smile.
“This Chip is called Mind Weaver” Raman clicked to the next slide.
“Imagine you do not need any device to communicate. You can just share information by merely thinking of it, with any person or group anywhere in the world. Imagine Facebook or Google which runs directly in your Mind!”
“Looks like you have made up some real fancy word for advanced ‘walkie-talkie’” One of the men jested. Other joined him in a light chuckle.
Mr. Raman smiled stiffly at his senseless joke “You are quite right there,” He said respectfully “Telepathic communication is something of the sort of a walkie-talkie.”
The room went absolutely quiet “Telepathy?” One of them asked raising his eyebrows at him.
“Yes, a programmed telepathy. This chip here is programmed to convert brain neuron activities into binary 0 or 1 equivalent”
They all looked at him confused.
“Let me simplify,” Raman said “Our brain communicates with our sensory system, like vision, sound, touch etc. via neurons. If I have to relate it loosely to something, neurons are like an electric current. This chip when attached to the scalp of a person , can tap that electronic current and convert it into a computer language. This chip can be linked to a network of WIFI and transmit information into any platform including humans”
“Ok, hold it there” A board member waved his hand at him” I am  no scientist but what I understand is that you have made something which can understand brain thoughts and communicate that to any medium, like laptop, phone, TV etc and even to any other human using the same chip?”
“Exactly!” Raman exclaimed “However in long run, this chip will finally eliminate the need of any physical device itself. So what will remain is the direct telepathic communication between humans”
This time the team looked at the screen keenly. The prospect of owning a chip which will be the only device of communication in the future was extremely tempting.
“But how is it any different for advertising agencies? For them this is just another platform to advertise on” Mr. Anand asked curiously.
“Ah! Very fine question sir” Raman smiled, secretly proud of the next piece of information he was about to reveal “Brain neurons controls all of our body sensory systems, which includes the emotions. With right programming, we can trigger neuron responsible for invoking feelings like happiness or excitement. The advertiser can use this new sensation to their benefit along with audio and video. Imagine an ad for a Pepsi or Cola, where the chip runs a video into the vision and ears of a customer and can even make them feel satisfied or happy. Imagine the impact!”
The people in the room made a great effort not to look impressed. But it was evident to Raman that he had hit the jackpot.
“That is all fine,” Mr. Anand said casually “But people may find it creepy. We all know that Facebook uses our post, likes , shares and even Google searches to show us targeted advertisement. That thought itself is little uncomfortable and here this product goes next step and gives access to our emotions. This is beyond creepy!”
Raman shifted uncomfortably. They got his weak point. The moral flaw of his product .He had known this all along and was never able to justify this in his heart. But he was already way into his research to back out now. He pulled a confident look.
“It might seem like that at the moment. I mean when people started using Facebook and Google they did not realized how much of their personal data was used by them to study them. They were literally like a subject of social experiments. But once they got used to free app and platforms, they couldn’t care less. But just to be cautious I have only programmed the chip for positive emotions, and no negative emotions can be triggered. And the intensity at which you feel these emotions is also largely tuned down. Nothing can go wrong with positive emotions“
“Hmm, that makes sense,” Mr. Anand said” And of course we will provide with all the disclosure information to them before they sign off. We will earn enough from advertisement to give away this product as free.”
Raman looks away cautiously. He knew it was on a thin line of deception. No one reads a five-page disclosures or disclaimers for any product.
“You will, however, need to get the approval from product regulatory compliance for this product” Raman gave a nervous grin.
“We have got that covered.” A board member spoke “Compliance agencies will approve even a Time bomb if you have enough money and know right people. I think Mr. Kailsh Chadda can help us with that. We are one of his major beneficiaries”
They all nodded in agreement. Raman did not feel comfortable with Mr. Chadda’s involvement, but then business was not his forte. His job was to let the world know about his invention. He convinced himself weakly.
“I still think people might not accept this product. After all, their mind is very private space” A board member looked at Raman critically.
“But think about the impact of such invention on other fields. What it could do to help humankind and country” Raman spoke desperately. He cannot lose his chance now. He needs this contract for his treatment.
“What sort of other fields are you suggesting here?” Mr. Anand asked.
“Well, isn’t that obvious?,” Raman looked at them confused. Could they have not realized his inventions true potential? “This chip can be used for medical treatments. Since it can access human emotions programmatically, it can treat depression or it can help communicate with subconscious mind of the person in a coma. It can be used in military covert operations. Since one does not need any device to connect and can talk directly into soldiers mind in a private network it will be perfect for war-like or resuce senarios as well.”
He looked at all of them confused. How can they not foresee the scope of this invention?
Mr. Anand nodded his head and looked at others “That would definitely help with promotions. We can start with medical and military projects and then move it to commercial projects. I guess once people will know it’s secure for medical and military purposes they will trust it more”
“Agreed” Another board member spoke” And the potential is unlimited. We can make a profit out of any platform if not social media. It will definitely dominate the market in future”
Mr. Anand turned towards Raman” What is the life of this product and what about wear and tear?”
“This product can work for a century without major wear and tear” He spoke proudly.
“Hmm, that is not going to work” Mr. Anand spoke” We will have to tune down a quality a bit to make this product profitable. How will we earn if only one product is sold per customer for a life time ,that too for free”
Raman had a strange sense of foreboding. Was he doing the right thing by handing over such great inventions to the hands of few morally flexible people?
“I must caution all of you though “Raman spoke hesitated. He did not want to ruin his chances” Product does have manipulation abilities. It has to be used with great moral responsibility”
 “Mr. Raman, I do understand that any great scientist, such as you, is obviously concerned about humankind. But countries don’t stop creating nuclear weapon because of the threat it poses. It’s a social responsibility of every person and country to use things for the good and protection of its people.” Mr. Anand gives a vague smile. Raman did not like the analogy one bit. But he just shook his head silently “Besides if we do not take this our competitors will. Better us than some soulless bastards.” He said with a snub.
“True” Raman responded tersely.
“Now come on, let’s celebrate. You are going to be a very rich man.” He patted Raman’s shoulder excitedly.
‘The Mind Weaver’ was launched with the biggest success ever recorded by the ‘Zelo enterprise’. It quickly rose to the charts of most demanded devices. Within a three year of mass production, everyone had the latest version of the chip installed. Streets were now full of people who had embodied chip in their head temples, with the green light flickering like glow worms in the forest. Anyone and everyone wanted their hands on it.
Raman was a rich man now. He had now all the money in the world to get himself treated. He lay on the bed of the five- star-hospital, watching the news on an outdated Television. Headline showed Mr. Kailash Chadda ahead in the elections.
“Ahh, the luxury of an old TV” Doctor said as he entered the posh private room.
“Yes,” Raman smiled weakly. His illness had taken better of him. Three year and no progress “Government has not yet approved chip on people with preexisting condition” He thanked God internally for that.
“Hmm the Irony of life, you cannot use your own invention “The doctor smiled sympathetically at him and turned his attention to the TV news.
“Do you see this? Who would have thought that this guy would ever be people's favorite? But I was so wrong. I have never felt so connected and positive about anybody. Although it’s irritating to have his ad campaign pop up on my Mind Weaver every hour” The green light of his chip on his skull flickered. Raman shifted uncomfortably.
“Now, let’s look at your reports Mr. Raman” Doctor tapped on the chip and a sheet printed out of the printer. He frowned looking at them” hmm Still no progress” He paused for a minute “No worries I know just a thing! It is relatively new treatment for your illness but I think we should try out. Somehow I have a very good feeling about this one” Doctor smiled brightly at him as chip flickered again.
Raman looked at it passively. He knew it was too late to undo what he had introduced in this morally skewed world. How can any invention help anybody when there is so much greed for money and power? By the end of the year, Mr. Kailsah chadda would have won the elections. The government would use mind weaver to manipulate its people and a country of zombies will be created. Indulged and wasted in a technology that they would have no control over. But he will no longer be alive to witness any of this because doctors will never be able to find the true cure in the horde of advertised treatments.
He finally saw the truth behind his wife’s word.
“This invention will be the end of us”

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