Silicon Soul

Silicon Soul
Copyright 2002-2023 thomas e.
Wounded Crow Publishing
All rights reserved

silicon soul - short story about artificial intelligence and transhumanism

The Question:

“If one has a silicon brain; has one also, a silicon soul?” I’ve debated this question for three years. What else have I to do? After all the work and success that I had achieved; I could not buy my health. As others before me, I had tried everything to prolong my life: extensive chemotherapy, the latest new drugs, Asian meditation, Indian dances, Eastern treatments and European specialists. But nothing would work. Nothing could take away the cancer that was eating away at my insides. Nothing was going to prolong the body that carried this mind.

The doctors had given me six months. But I made fools of them and lasted almost two years. My determination and sheer will could buy me at least that much time. It was not nearly enough however, for what I still needed to accomplish, but long enough for me to come up with the answer. The answer to that age old question; is there a fountain of youth, immortality, cheating death, or whatever you want to call it. I did it. Yes, I came up with immortality.

The Idea:

It was the strangest thing. I was working on my computer, trying to finalize some last minute deals before my final departure, when it hit me. I was transferring some files from my desktop computer to my notebook computer, and I thought, “Why not transfer my brain to the computer?” After all, it’s all just memory and process. Why not use artificial intelligence to transfer my knowledge and my personality, essentially my “silicon soul”, into a computer and let the hardware carry me through life. Your body is just a piece of hardware. A very limited and weak piece of hardware, I might say at that. But the technology used to create computers and electronics has been used for years and has been worked through its paces. It could hold my personality. It could hold my memories. I could live on, forever!

Building the Brain Gate:

So, I did it. I found the top software engineers, hardware engineers, scientists, and doctors in the country. All of who were the best in their fields. I told them what I wanted and the timeframe in which it had to be completed. And they set out to build the BGAIT (Biological Gateway for Artificial Intelligence Transfer) or the Brain Gate. The Brain Gate was an interface that transferred memories and the processes, which is how the brain uniquely interprets those memories, into a computer system. Once these memories and processes are in the computer, the software simulates the person’s life.

Okay, it sounds weird. How could the computer simulate your life, you very soul? Well, think about it. What is life? Your entire existence can be summarized down into two things; your memories and how you process or interpret those memories, which is your personality. “What about feeling, touching, seeing, hearing and all the intangibles that come with being alive?” you ask? I got that covered. Is it the actual kiss that you would miss or the memory of how that kiss feels when the lips touched yours?

You see the body is merely the media transfer mechanism that gives all this information to your brain. It doesn’t matter how the information gets there. Just that it does, in fact, reach the brain. The brain is what tells you that the kiss is soft, or the oven is hot, or those cinnamon rolls smell good. The body simply uses its “hardware” to transfer these sensory events to the brain. It is the brain that distinguishes the hot from the cold, the soft from the hard and good from the bad.

The Implementation:

So, three years ago today, I was hooked up to the Brain Gate. And the process began. The process of transferring my memories, emotions, and personality into the silicon chips. Those forty years of life converted to ones and zeros. Forty years of living were being transferred into the computer system via the Brain Gate. I stayed connected to the computer until that very last day. The day in which, my carbon based body gave up, and my silicon body took over.

It has been a challenge to live inside a box. A box filled with transistors and resistors. A box with no arms, no legs; no moving parts whatsoever. But it is a box with a person inside. The person is I, Jonathon Biggs. I have a wife and two children, a son named Mark who is fifteen and a daughter named Ariel, who is a beautiful eleven-year-old. I still run my business empire from within the box. Barking out orders through email, instant messaging and voice conferencing.

There are some legal issues that the courts have no precedence to fall back on. But we are dealing with those minds that are of limited thinking. Yes, there are those who do not consider me to be alive, but some science fair project that went too far. A mad scientist, that went over the deep end, to construct one last experiment out of desperation.

The Results

“Hi Dad,” called out Ariel as she pushed the “hug” button on the HELP (Human Emotion Lithium Protocol) box.

“Hello, Ariel. How was school? Did you get selected on the math team?” I asked.

“We won’t know until tomorrow. I’m gonna get started on my homework, okay Dad?” Ariel said as she walked out of the kitchen and took her books up stairs.

“Okay, I’ll talk to you later,” I called out.

See? It’s working fine. I got a nice little hello “hug” from my daughter. I could have a conversation with her and later we will all have family time together at the dinner table. Of course, I’ll just sit here, in my box, next to the refrigerator. I can move around the house. We had a network installed so I can move from computer to computer, room to room. I can see and hear what is going on through real-time video. I can interact with my family and feel emotion through the HELP box. Although, that pain button tends to get overused in my opinion.

The Answer?

So, to ponder my question, “If one has a silicon brain; has one also, a silicon soul?” I don’t know. Perhaps my soul left when my body did. Perhaps I am merely an advanced picture frame that recalls the memories of a past loved one. A high-tech photo album that helps the people, who knew and loved me, to remember who I was and what I stood for. “Am I alive?” My face is a twenty-one inch color monitor, for a heart, a four hundred watt power supply.  My body is an AT7000 desktop server, my limbs are networked cables of copper wire and my brain is a Titanium Oxide Silicon T12 processor. “Am I alive?” I am alive as long as there are people here who I can share my thoughts with, express my feelings for and cherish old times. As to the other question…that indeed is the question.

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Silicon Soul

Snow Angels – A Christmas Miracle

Copyright 2003-2021 thomas e.

Snow Angels - A Christmas Miracle

by Thomas Nastek
author of Penury City

Snow Angels is a story that reminds us to hope in this time of year for a Christmas miracle.

Daniel opened the garage door and stood before it, waiting to walk underneath. The snow had stopped falling now, but had dumped almost five inches onto the driveway. He put the blade of the shovel to the concrete and began to push the snow down the driveway, making a long path down the center, forming two sections. When he got to the bottom, he turned and walked back toward the garage and started to shovel the snow into the already towering mountains that stood on either side of the driveway.

With every shovelful of snow that he threw, he remembered every Christmas his family spent together. Daniel, his wife Jasmine, and their seven-year-old daughter Maisha, always loved the holiday season. Each Christmas they would go out and find the perfect Scottish Pine tree, always the biggest one in the lot that would still fit in their living room. Together, Maisha and Daniel would put the lights on the tree and then, Jasmine and Maisha would fill it with ornaments. After they finished with all the decorations, he would lift Maisha up bringing her close to the tree, while she placed her grandmother’s star on the top.

He stopped shoveling and looked up at the living room window. He could see Maisha and Jasmine in the kitchen baking gingerbread cookies. Maisha’s smile could be seen from across town. Her sweet smile, large brown eyes, and gentle nature made Jasmine and Daniel’s life so much more. She touched everyone who knew her. She was bright, caring, and never complained about her illness. How blessed they were to have her.

A small smile grew across his face as he pushed the shovel into the snow and threw it over the ever-growing mountain of fresh powder. I will make Maisha a snow angel tomorrow, he thought. She would like that. They could look at it together through the living room window and… Daniel paused for a moment as a tear rolled down his cheek. He leaned his weight on the shovel and reaching his hand up to his face, pushed it away. “We promised we wouldn’t be sad. Not now, not this Christmas,” Daniel said aloud.

He grabbed hold of the shovel and continued throwing the snow. Reaching the bottom of the driveway, he stood up straight, holding the small of his back. He looked out over the white landscape. The tree branches were all covered with snow, sparkling with the reflection of the moonlit sky. It was a beautiful night as Daniel looked up at the countless number of stars. “God, if you could just let it be me instead. Please God, let her stay.” Daniel lowered his head and walked back toward the garage where he started to shovel the other side of the driveway.

Why someone so small and beautiful and full of life was this burden laid? Maisha had been diagnosed with Leukemia two years earlier, and though the treatments prolonged her life for a little while, the doctors recently gave her only until March. It was to be their last Christmas together. The pain inside of Daniel was so strong, he could be barely breathe. He felt an emptiness in his soul and he couldn’t help but wonder why it had to be his child, or any child for that matter. Children should be exempt from such pain and misery.

Daniel had almost three-quarters of the driveway shoveled when he stood up once more and looked down the street. He could see a man walking underneath the street light. He wore an old long coat and a brimmed hat. Daniel continued to shovel the rest of his driveway. In between the scrapes of the shovel against the concrete, he could hear the man’s footsteps crunching in the snow. He looked up and saw him coming closer to the house. His head was down, looking at the street as he walked along the side of the road, the wind blowing his long coat behind him.

Daniel had nearly completed the shoveling when the footsteps had become fairly loud. He looked up to see the man stop at the end of his driveway.

“Merry Christmas,” Daniel called out.

The man raised his head to reveal his face from underneath his hat. He was probably in his late thirties and he looked at Daniel with eyes so blue you would swear that the sky was just behind them. He smiled at Daniel and looked up at the living room window.

“I can smell those gingerbread cookies from here,” he said.

Daniel stared at him in disbelief. Could he really smell the cookies from all the way out here? Daniel thought to himself.

“Do you live around here?” asked Daniel.

“No, I had a call and came to answer it,” the man replied.

Daniel looked at the man who smiled at him. He had a presence about him that was hard to describe. He looked like that of a humble, poor man, but had an inner glow and confidence that seemed to be of royalty.

“Would you like me to help you make the snow angels?” the man asked.

Daniel dropped his shovel on the driveway, and though he found this man to be very odd indeed, he found himself trusting him. He knew somehow that he meant no harm to him.

“I would like that,” Daniel replied.

Daniel and the man walked into the snow-covered front yard and lay next to each other, at arms width apart. They each began to move their arms and legs, making snow angels just below the living room window. They stood up together and walked backwards a few steps. Daniel stared at the perfect snow angels they had just made and smiled. He looked toward the living room window and saw his wife and daughter beaming as they took the gingerbread cookies from the oven.

Gazing back down at the snow angels, he noticed that there were no footprints in the snow. Only the two angels had disrupted the snow covered ground. He turned and faced the man, who tipped his hat. Daniel looked out at the shoveled driveway. Lying next to the dropped shovel in the driveway, he saw himself!

“You will always be in Maisha’s mind and her heart. She will know the sacrifice you made by the Christmas snow angels,” the man said.

“She isn’t going to die?” Daniel asked.

The man looked at Daniel with those caring, blue eyes. “You have saved her, Daniel, with your Christmas wish and your love. Come, take one more look and we will go.”

Daniel looked back at the living room window and smiled as he watched his wife and daughter take the gingerbread cookies off the cookie sheet and slide them onto the serving dish. He moved his hand up to his lips and blew them one last kiss. He turned to the man with the brimmed hat and together they walked down the snow covered street.

Every Christmas thereafter, Maisha would wake up to two snow angels just underneath her living room window, and she would remember the night of her father’s last Christmas; the night in which she was miraculously cured.

Penury City

The Penury City novels

God weeps

God Weeps

God weeps for the SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF MAN – look at all that you do to one another. See the carnage you inflict upon the innocent. See the misery you have caused one another. See how you take upon yourselves the creative power that was not yours to take. See how you manipulate the laws of nature bending them to your truth. See how you fear your own creations and try to out run what you have done.

You have ignored my pleas. You have not adhered to my laws. You have taken what was not yours to take. And you have not given what was not yours to keep. If only you had asked what was to be done. All the power, the knowledge, the love was yours to use, but your pride was too great to acknowledge its ignorance. So now the innocent suffer; the innocent are destroyed; the innocent cry out.

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF MAN – look at all that you have done.

God Weeps

Penury City

The Penury City novels

Am I going to Heaven?

Penury City Blog
"Am I going to Heaven?"

It is a provocative question. “Am I going to Heaven?” It scares us, annoys us, angers us, or sends us away trembling with fright. However there are some of us who believe we are good people so of course we’re going.

What does it mean to “go to Heaven”? Is it earned? Are we invited? Can we crash it? Might we just sneak in unnoticed?

The Prodigal Son Parable

One of my favorite and most theologically sound parables that Jesus gave to us is the prodigal son. In this simple parable is the story of a father and his two sons. It captures much of who God is and how He nurtures relationships. In the story is captured two different personality types. Some of us relate to the younger son, who asks the father for his share of the estate. He then takes off to live his life to the fullest – selfishly. Others relate to the elder son, who stays with his father. He works his fingers to the bone out of obligation and righteousness. Yet, neither of these two sons really love or know their father.

When the younger son loses everything he comes back to the father. However, it is more or less out of sheer need. He does seem to have a contrite heart and makes amends with his father. The father, who by the way, receives him with open arms, doesn’t even let him finish confessing his wrongdoing. The elder son, who is jealous and resentful at the behavior of the father towards the younger son, feels cheated. His younger brother might horn in again on his inheritance after he worked and slaved for the father. Again, this elder son is not thinking of the father only his own selfish needs. Yet, the father again comes out to invite his elder son into the house. He wishes that he share in everything that the father has including his happiness and joy.

The Answer

So, what is the father asking of his children? It really isn’t so much about the work on the farm. However, it is everything to do with the relationship that each of these children could have with their father. So, to answer the first question: no, we cannot earn our way into Heaven. We can go to Church every day, spend thousands of hours in prayer, and give countless of dollars in charity. However it will all be for naught if we do not know and love our Father.

We cannot crash the Heavenly wedding feast because well it’s God’s house. He’s not about to let in the riff-raff who do not have contrite hearts and seek only to better themselves. Nor can we sneak in unnoticed, climbing through some back window. Our Father has counted every hair on our heads and knows each of us intimately. Do you think you can go unnoticed? There are placards at every seat at His table.

Our Father does invite us to have a relationship with Him. He loves each of us and wishes that we love Him as well. This is really what it is all about. The question is really a trick question. Heaven is not the goal. Heaven is just the place where our Father lives. The real question is do we know our Father well enough and do we love our Father deeply enough that we want to be with Him wherever that may be.

If you can sincerely answer “yes” to this question, then you are already in Heaven, so do not worry; be at peace.

If you cannot sincerely answer “yes” to that question, then maybe it’s time you get to know our Father. After all, your seat at the table is waiting for you to accept it.

The Adventure awaits you…

CMN Event comes to a close

Great time at the Catholic Marketing Network event!

As the CMN event comes to a close, thomas e explains the adventure of Penury City. It is the latest Catholic fiction work from the author.

“Mostly, I felt as though I was just the typist delivering God’s message that He is with us. The living God of the Bible is not some entity that lived long ago, in a land far, far away, but He is here – today – in the present! He waits for us to talk with Him; to listen to Him. Since the beginning, from Adam and Eve, through Noah, Moses and the prophets of old as well as the Apostles and Disciples in the New Testament, God has spoken to us. Jesus taught Paul in the desert for three years! How did He do that? Was it in Paul’s mind? Was Jesus really there with him?

God talks with us today

“God talks to us today as well. He is always constant. We are the ones who change. What He did in the Old and New Testaments, God also does today. It’s just that today we are so distracted. We have our technology, our gadgets, our earbuds, our science, and our degrees. I think sometimes today we feel we are too sophisticated for God. We need to re-evaluate our lives; to stop for a moment. If we can keep quiet for just a minute, He will be there. And in that silence, we will hear Him. God longs to talk with us. He delights in us. God created us to receive love and to give love. However, if we don’t receive His love – what is there left for us to give away?

“Penury City reminds us that God is with us. God is now. Living in the Kingdom of God doesn’t mean we must wait until death. We can live in the Divine life right now. We too can walk again with God in the cool of the evening. When was the last time we took a stroll with our Father?”

“We too can walk again with God in the cool of the evening.”

thomas e

And though the CMN event comes to a close …

The adventure of Penury City endures. It awaits you to come and find out for yourselves the message for our day.

Penury City Trilogy
Penury City Trilogy

The story of the Crow

The story of the crow

The story of the crow started as a writing challenge in August of 2003. After partaking in a writers’ group, the manager encouraged me to elevate my skills. So, I drafted Apocalyptic Verve, a type of new writing form called a Lucidian, which was something between a poem and a very short story. In February of 2005 this short segment, just an idea really, eventually turned into a novel of the same title, initially. However, after writing about nine chapters, I changed the title to Wounded Crows don’t Fly in August of 2005. This novel was a historical fiction piece that proved to be one of the more enduring works and probably one of the better received books in the market. The book published in 2006 under the new publishing company Wounded Crow Publishing, thus the beginning of the Crow as a publisher.

after writing about nine chapters, I changed the title to Wounded Crows don’t Fly in August of 2005.

Wounded Crows don’t Fly

Wounded Crows don’t Fly is a story of two brothers who were very close, but so very different. They had each been wounded in different ways and struggled to regain what was lost. It was a good reflection of my own relationship with my brother. In April of the year 2008, my research and development job was downsized. My brother’s melanoma cancer had returned in June of 2008. After which, my sister who had long suffered with Multiple Sclerosis, took a turn for the worse.

My brother had been studying to be a movie director before his cancer. While staying in the hospital with my brother during his chemo treatments, we discussed turning the novel into a movie. We started writing the script. However, by September my sister passed away from complications due to the MS. Then, just two months later, my brother followed her home. Left wounded on the battlefield, the script was left unfinished. I didn’t create, I didn’t write or compose music in nearly three years. Some wounds take your heart’s breath away.

Some wounds take your heart’s breath away.

Eventually, I started to write again. I penned a novel about my brother’s story titled Gubber’s Gate. I published it in 2013 under Wounded Crow Publishing. It was one of the hardest stories I have ever written. I have yet to read it.

In September of 2013, I started a novel titled Oak Creek Lane. However by December of 2013, I quickly put it aside as Divine inspiration led me to a different kind of story. Penury City always had the same title and developed rather quickly compared to the other books I had written. In two years, I completed the first volume. It published in 2016 after a series of edits and small changes.

Wounded crows can still fly

The rest of the volumes came afterwards as well as a new set of covers for all the books. With a fresh new look and a companion book to go with them (The Peshar), the Penury City Trilogy released in June 2021. And so, the story of the Crow has taken on a whole new adventure in bringing the message of the Divine. In Genesis, Noah sent out a raven to test the waters. I suppose one might say that my black bird, though wounded, will also test the waters with the desire to bring hope to God’s people in the ark.

And so, the story of the Crow has taken on a whole new adventure in bringing the message of the Divine.

Penury City: The Adventure awaits you
Penury City Trilogy: The adventure awaits you

The adventure awaits you …

This adventure is like no other. It will take every ounce of courage, strength, and trust that you can muster. This requires that you put aside everything you know, everything you have been taught, and everything that you might have planned for yourself. The quest compels you to seek after something other than yourself and your passions. It is the journey you have spent your entire life training for ~ hoping for. Penury City is a book of our times.

If the life you have been living has come up short on adventure, short on meaning, short on fulfillment, then why not give something entirely different a chance? Why not go on a journey of discovery to finally find out for yourself the answers to questions that have consumed humanity since the beginning of time: “Who is God? What does He want from me? Why does He hide from us?”

You will travel with a non-believer, an atheist of longstanding, who is going after the woman who left him to chase after the myth of God. You will also be accompanied by a seasoned religious who is well trained for this combat mission. There will be others who will join the expedition. Some will make it to the next leg of the journey; some will not. This is not an adventure for the faint of heart. You must be willing to go all the way. You must be willing to give everything. As one Penurian once said:

“Trust is a leap and the risks are incredible, almost unbearable, but the rewards of such a faith are unimaginable.”

Ready to start your adventure?

The journey to Penury City is not your typical story; not just a book for our times, it is a book of our times. This is the adventure promised by our fathers. It is the chance for the ultimate goal – to finally answer the question that has been burning in you for some time now: “God, are you there?”

God, are you there?

Penury City Trilogy a book of our times
Penury City Trilogy