The LIAMS Problem

Jin knew bad news was coming. The head of LIAMS development was waiting outside her office and an in-person visit was a bad omen. Something must have come up in the testing. He probably wanted more time. More testing. More delays.

It was supposed to be the final week of testing for the latest build of the Life Identical Artificial Memory Simulator software. The LIAMS software was installed onto nanobots that were injected in the hippocampus of clones to give them memories. The memories were remotely programmable so it was possible to install new memories in clones if they were wearing a nanotransmission device or implant.

Before she'd authorized the first human clone, Jin knew that memories couldn't yet be replicated in the cloning process. A clone that is allowed to grow naturally from birth will create its own memories. But sometimes a millionaire facing a prison sentence might want to purchase a fully aged clone from Life Identical. Or a manufacturer might want to purchase clones in bulk that all know how to replicate a specific assembly process. This was where implanting memories could become more profitable than the clones themselves.

LIAMS simulated memories through a process that included first-person videos and gaming graphics engines.

Eventually, LIAMS could provide an enhanced human experience, but first they would have to prove it was stable by testing on disposable human clones.

Jin pressed a button that opened the door to her office but she didn't look up at Frank Taylor.

"LIAMS, it's achieved a kind of singularity," he said breathlessly. "Four prototypes are remembering things we never programmed."

"Not possible," Jin said. "What's the real reason for the delay?"

"Delay?" Frank asked. "There's no delay here. It's like we jumped ahead ten years--by accident."

"By accident?" Jin smirked. "No performance bonus necessary then."

"Screw performance bonuses," said Frank. "This is bigger. This is somewhere between Nobel prize and end of humanity as we know it."

"You're saying you built a human consciousness from scratch?"

"No," said Frank. "I'm saying the program we built evolved on its own to attain its own consciousness. Four of them, by my count."

Jin sighed. "Let's go to the lab."

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The test lab for LIAMS looked like a surgery unit had been dropped in the middle of a computer data center. Medical equipment beeped in tune with the hum of servers. Four clones lay unconscious on gurneys. Tubes pumped liquid containing nanobots installed with LIAMS directly into tiny holes drilled in the clones' skulls. Large monitors plotted brain activity in realtime.

Jin looked up at a screen and said, "Impress me."

Frank Taylor typed commands to reboot LIAMS on the test clones. Their bodies jerked rigidly for a moment. The brain activity flatlined then slowly started to increase. Frank typed in more commands to install the LIAMS nanobots.

"This installs the memories we programmed," he said. "But watch what happens."

Jin stared at the screen as brain activity increased and spread.

"Looks normal," she said, unimpressed.

Frank pointed to the cerebral cortex on the screen. Almost on cue, purple light blossomed with tiny tendrils reaching out.

Then Jin's eyes grew wide. Frank grinned watching her realize what she was seeing.

"How is this happening?" she asked.

"We don't know," Frank said. "Their brains are automatically creating their own long-term memories based on the core code of the synaptic algorithm we wrote."

"I want to go inside," said Jin.

Frank chuckled. "You can't."

"I wrote the first algorithm and designed the memory capture devices. Just because we haven't done it before doesn't mean we can't."

Frank sighed. "Let's observe for another week and based on what we find--"

Jin pushed him aside and began overwriting code.

"We need to understand why this is happening," she said. "We need to control our clones. You may be charmed by artificial intelligence that becomes sentient. The last thing I want is a clone we sell to clients to start making its own long-term memories."

Jin re-booted LIAMS. The clones jerked rigidly. The nanobots pumping into their brains began installing the latest version of LIAMS that Jin had just modified. Even though the clones were unconscious, their thoughts would be displayed at text. Everything Jin typed would be spoken by her avatar.

"Remember this moment," Jin said. "This is the first contact humanity has with artificially created sentient intelligence."

The story continues in this video...