Serial Fiction: FRIEND - Part One
FRIEND is the story of an organic, Protein-based Artificial Intelligence project - called ProTAI by its creators - and what happens when science recognises itself.
This science fiction piece won first place in Loudoun County Library's 2019 Write On! Short Story Contest. The version here is expanded somewhat. I'm hoping that by the time we get to the end of this piece, the sequel will be available to view online - it's currently out for consideration with a publisher. Please look for opportunities to participate in your local writing or art community. Flex yourself.
To create true artificial intelligence, we worked bottom-up: we evolved a being. ProTAI was created from protein-based sensors with self-repair capability. My name, David McCoomb, is on several of the patents.
The silk fibroin electronics with flexible silver nanofibers are water-soluble; ProTAI grew in a roomy glass container of nutrient-rich hexadecane emulsion. I say roomy - the vat is four meters square - we planned for several years of study based on growth rate of test samples. With a diameter of 1.17 meters, ProTAI is remarkably light – just 2.54 kg, twice the weight of Einstein’s brain.
I remember clearly when I noticed the Nanophone activity. I was at the lab avoiding my birthday. I’d begged off dinner with my wife, claiming backlog, but she’d accepted my ruse. As our kids were no longer kids, we didn’t need celebrations – I believed she’d enjoy a night to herself. It was my special day, after all, so I thought I deserved to spend it where I felt most comfortable.