(Жестокая сказка N5. Кошкин дом)
-- ENGLISH --
(Translated from Russian by Alone Coder)
Some words from the author...
Over two years the seminar of Boris Natanovich Strugatski drowsily runs on the SF story competition on the subject of "12 June 2018". Either Boris Natanovich expressly selects for resound the faintest stories (for the members of seminar to learn other's errors), or there are another reasons, but at all events the SF story competition has grown into the competition of nightmares. Who can scare best of all. Problems are all absent, and every other story has relation neither to SF, nor to the subject of the competition. Where has this tendency sprung from? Is this crisis of genre?
I'm getting rattled even more by the fact that the weak, marrow-minded, messageless stories receive the full marks for the pencraft. Not for the content, but for the form. Art for art. I was trusting that this trend had died out in the beginning of 20th century, but no such thing... It's rising...
In short, I was sitting down under that, then couldn't control myself - and wrote The Cat's House. Simply for assure myself that one can write a science fiction story on this subject.
That's the things...
Comics The cat's house
. (C) Pavel Shumil Shumilov Pavel Robertovich HomePage: http://dragonbase.nek0.net/index.htm HomePage: http://fan.lib.ru/s/shumil_p HomePage: http://samlib.ru/s/shumil_p Translated from Russian by Alone Coder 17 December 2006. E-mail: alone_coder(at)mail.ru Please e-mail me if you have found a mistake.
HARSH TALES TALE #5 THE CAT'S HOUSE "All my life I had a lack of processing power of computers. At first a memory was so tiny that anything serious was out of it. Suppose what kind of program one can start from a punched tape on forty-eight kilobytes of RAM*? However somebody started... The Covetous Knight... This character permanently pursued the programmers of that time. To spin out every word, every byte... How otherwise, if formula of the Moon's orbital movement contains more than thousand terms. And you are given with only 32 k** of six-byte words for all. Once I spent my both rest-days hammering a system module into a page of RAM. Page is 1024 machine words. On a disk it is a zone. In a modern way it is a cluster. Of course, I coded in assembly language. In `autocode' if speak Russian. 300 commands didn't fit. I've driven them in. Ten minutes per command. Yes, indeed, 3000 minutes. But what a result! It's a pity that in a ten years a last BESM*** was written off. ------ * RAM - random access memory. ** k - kilo - 1024 units (usually bytes, not here). *** BESM - High-speed Electronic Calculating Machine BESM-6. ------ "A new epoch began after that. Gradually the memory was improved. Then the computational capability became chronically lacking. No doubt, the problems had also been changed. And then this family of cluster processors appeared. Suddenly I've found the comps* had reached an ideal. With my `birdie' I can model any problem I can imagine. No, I shan't start again with AI**..." ------ * comp - computer. ** AI - artificial intelligence. ------ Silva licks a paw, and begins to wash herself. "Not interesting for you?" "Tell. I hear," purr speakers somewhere in piles of old magazines under the escritoire door. "AI is area of potentially dangerous studies. You see, it's impossible to create an AI. But it's possible to create conditions for self-creation of AI. Human intelligence also evolves from one fertilised ovum. I've made such an ovum as early as previous century. It's nice of computer nets were in theirs infancy. Now my Sinter would cause troubles..." Silva turns face up: "Again these fables of the benefit of instincts?" "Again," I sigh. "You've got a lot of time," Silva stretches herself, arching the back. "Get a dog, and persuade it. It will look into your eyes devotedly, and will agree in everything." Surely, Silva is right in many respects. Cats live fifteen years, humans live much more. Silva has left behind her tail five years of her fifteen. And she is right about dogs. Cats walk by themselves, and easily look at kings. On TV. Where else one can see a live king? And the talk on the instincts is like a trite disc, at 33 rpm. This dispute is equally old and hopeless. But Silva loves me. I affirm that love is instinct. And this only thing is enough to justify the benefit of instincts. What does Silva say? That this is nonsense; that such a love is not love but habit; that living in warmth and comfort is better than living in hunger under the stairs. That it's enough for her that I love her. Marriages for convenience are strongest. We are responsible for everyone whom we tame*. Etc. Really nonsense. You see, now she sits, and licks a back paw. Instinct? Instinct! Because she casts the coat. Later she'll vomit hair. ------ * `Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoise' (Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Le Petit Prince). ------ She ends licking paws, tries to wash behind an ear, and wrinkles up. "Go here, I'll take the helmet off." "F-f-f-f!" "When you end wash I'll put it on." A reproachful sight and a nervous tail twitching. We both stare at the tail. The tail is one more argument in the dispute about instincts. And so it was pressed by paw and licked. Well, I haven't returned to computer version of AI. But somehow I met a school friend, got to talking, and came to his job. I still remember the date - 12 June 2018. White nights, empty corridors, sleepy granny on a watch... We drank soluble coffee, and boasted, and recalled the schoolmates. Then I downloaded a symbol analytics package from the net, and aided him to set it up. I explained him what to do with a dead printer/scanner. And I saw first time a cat in a neuroinductive helmet. Not only saw, but also helped to put this helmet on, and to connect it up. The cat was against... It would be the end of the story, if... If I hadn't a cat at home. Our supply department is still getting even with me for a set of neuroinductors ordered allegedly by mistake. My friend is a good guy, but he is medical. He had never been engaged in exploration seismology, never processed the results of tomographic checkup. What I tell this for? An analysis of 3D needs the most complicated mathematics. What is done by Peter is a trifle and child's-play. The same as an electrode in a brain, but without this electrode. Measuring in point. And his comp is weak. It is new, but with a monoprocessor. It shall never bear 3D in real-time. I've made my helmet. I got ten elastic cat caps from Peter. (He has hundreds. Cats hourly claw them.) I ordered the neuroinductors through the supply department. I collected everything at home, ran it on the comp, sweared hard, turned nasty, and for a week I adapted the information concentrator chip. Without it the fifty inductors choked the ether, and jammed each other. After the week of work it was late to cave in. Or it was shame. To myself. Such a character I've got. Silva, of course, was against a cap. But I had foreseen this. Feeding - only in a head-dress. And after three `training' caps pulled apart, two bites, and plural marks of claws, the consensus has been found. The time began, for turn to a helmet with electronics. I've obtained a primary rough picture of brain neuroactivity almost at once. I was very helped by program package for oilfields exploration seismology. Don't wonder. The content is the same. Multitudes of sensors receive a superposition of the crowd of fields and waves. One needs to puzzle out, what is the bottom of every wave. I've puzzled out. Beautiful pictures on the screen - and all are in conditional colours. I even wanted to call Peter for make a display, but firstly I decided to teach myself a terminology. You can trust or not, but what I've done is enough for a doctorate. Why? Because I am the first! Because medical men don't practise oilfield exploration. Because my picture is better by three orders of magnitude than what they ever could gain. Because I had grabbed such a bulk of information about cerebration as I couldn't conceive what to do with it. I even don't know, how to explain. Maybe in this mush it's possible to fetch out and to track every signal which has come into the brain. Now then I touch a cat's whisker with a finger. And a bluish wave of displeasure is running across the picture. I think this is displeasure. What this may be else? Would you be pleasured if anyone touched your whiskers? You follow me? My guesses have no relation to science. Science - which I've downloaded from the net - is a Stone Age. Yes, I've gained a terminology. Cortex, subcortex, dendrites, axons, exteroceptors, interoceptors... What is in manuals and what is on screen facing me - are like a photo near a stereofilm. There was neither dimension nor action. It's early to display to Pete. Or it isn't to display at all. He won't take in this. Not a programmer. Anyway he'll get at me. This info is to be filtered and filtered. If I say him no, I'll be a scoundrel. To dangle a goody - and not to give it... Again I've edged into a foreign business. I've got that bad habit - to bung up holes with myself. To edge myself into the place where nobody is, while somebody is very wanted. And later it's impossible to edge out. Because I am the only and irreplaceable. Working people trust and rely on me... In fine I haven't told anything to Pete. At first I decided to twiddle some modellets on a computer, and to get manage (in case it came to hand) of cat's mentality. I began with simplest. A negative feedback. (This is when the comp not only reads the brain activity by neuroinductors, but also depresses it slightly.) A positive feedback. An oscillation. (This is when the feedback polarity is being changed sinusoidally.) Positive to cortex, negative to subcortex, - etc. And I've landed myself. I shan't amplify on details of know-how, but I've attained... I've waked up an intellect of extraordinary strength in the cat's brain. Why extraordinary? Try to compare the volume of the cat's brain with human's one. For compensate chances compare not with adult but with a 3-year child. Silva was about 3 years that time. And child's brain is smaller than adult's one. However, all in all, it is larger than cat's one by almost two orders of magnitude. You can think as you want, but my geniality is that I've discerned the wakening of intellect in Silva's behaviour. And just in this filtration/inhibition/stimulation mode. Although firstly I had mistaken it for usual "hang-up", a kind of drug dependency. The more so as in the mode of the motor centres inactivation Silva looked like an addict under a fix. But Silva has come not only to like our experiments. She also grew wiser distinctly. Have you ever seen a cat calling you to the computer? And bearing the helmet? Dogs bear slippers to the owner. Achieve that from a cat! And with no training. Hence I was knowingly searching a brain region able to become a speech centre. And I've found one. The rest is Silva's efforts. I dare hope they were deliberate efforts. Anyway she talks so. "Will you go sleep, or again in the Internet for all night?" "I'll go," I sigh. "Give me Seton Thompson, then." I take an old-fashioned, yet 5-inch CD, slide it into equally ancient drive. Silva has her own comp. Very small Compaq notebook, almost 20-year old. It contains only one PCMCIA with external CD-ROM, and has a network controller on the motherboard. Just don't lay the blame on me that I'm greedy to give a normal comp to my beloved cat. The problem is merely technical. The notebook has a tiny keyboard, every key is paw reachable. Would you be pleased to run along the keyboard? The screen is black and white, but it is of no. Cats haven't full colour eyesight. Hedgehogs are said to have. Silva says. She has read this somewhere, and now envies them with a black envy. Falling asleep I see Silva entering the net. She's got many friends in the net. I was afraid of Silva would give away her inhuman nature by a wrong phrase. You see, awareness levels of a 5-year old cat and of the adult human vastly differ. We've developed a legend. By the legend Silva is bedridden 7-year old prodigy girl. She uses the Internet without dad's knowledge; so don't visit her. This is strong legend. Silva is known in a dozen of chats. However I advised her to attend no voice chats. Boss fell asleep. According to a terminology used by humans I have to call him owner. But I'm not keen to this word. Therefore he is Boss, Big Chief, Descendant of Monkey, sometimes Tailless Monkey. But when he very gets at me, he is Noseless Stinker. Truth to say I've never said that aloud. This is terrible outrage. Double terrible because it is correct. His sense of smell is at ground level. He knows it himself. But he says that poor smell is compensated by the colour sight. Doubtful compensation because his eyesight is poor too. This isn't spite. This is logical and exact analysis of our strength and weaknesses. And he's got more strength. I envy him with white and black envies, but I give no sign. I envy him his longevity and size of brain. For hide the envy I disguise it into a harmless peccadillo. Every day I snarl with him about instincts. As if only a cold mind can rule the world. This is a dreadful nonsense, but how many convincing arguments one can give for prove it! I glance into several chats by the way. I open the window of the Night Cinema Hall. There is some endless serial. Ha! In the previous series the hostess of the motel had a black cat, but in this series she has changed in wonderful way into a tomcat. How do the people look such a bosh? Switching to cartoons. Tom & Jerry. Even in English. I could learn the language in a couple of months, but I fear. I fear with horror that my memory would overflow. My brain is so small as compared with human's one. And I am the first. The investigator. My memory overflowed, who shall I be? Sclerotic or marasmic? I close the unnecessary windows, and go out of Internet. Tonight, according to plan, must be Seton Thompson. Wild Animals I Have Known. But I suspect there are no animals. The same humans, but in another dress. I switch off the notebook, having the complex feeling. I've forgot whom I was. I can give no more expert appraisal to the human's creative work. And to dog with this past! 'One takes after his friends', as Boss says. I sweetly stretch myself, arching the back. Who has concocted that the cats are night animals? This is nothing but matter of upbringing. Another is impossible to understand - why do I support Boss in this error? I switch off the light in the corridor. All the switchers in our home are situated according the western standard - on the level of the male feature of Boss. This is his token of goodwill. As if this symbolises the equality of sentient beings. There you are! Equality is equality, but he has slammed the lavatory door again... O.K., I forgive for tonight, I shall not wake him up. I jump onto the basket with the black linen, and perform an acrobatic trick. Back paws are on the basket, front paws are on the door-post. Now I paw the door-handle... I drop down on the floor. But the task is fulfilled. The door is gone aside for an inch. I put the claws out, and open it. How that at Voinovich? Who delivers the shit perfectly...* Equality is equality, but Boss clears my shit away from the box. Here is some homespun truth in everything. ------ * `КТО СДАЕТ ПРОДУКТ ВТОРИЧНЫЙ, ТОТ СНАБЖАЕТСЯ ОТЛИЧНО' и т.п. (Vladimir Voinovich. Moscow 2042 - Владимир Войнович. Москва 2042). People of this anti-Utopia receive meal tickets in exchange for their waste products. ------ I jump onto the bed towards Boss, make myself comfortable at his legs, and yawn. It is necessary to remind him of Whiskas is coming to end. And of potatoes he must not forget to buy for himself. "Good morning, purrie." "Purr-r-r." In the morning I like to keep my bed for a half-hour. Silva likes too. She purrs, and pushes me by front paws, as if stamps. But it's time! "What would you like for a breakfast? Some forcemeat or a fish?" "A sassage." Silva and I love summer sausage. I was about to eat the last piece of it. But seemingly I am not fated. I chop it into small pieces, and drop them into Silva's saucer. Every affair has its own secrets. The saucer must be warm - scalded by hot water from the tap. Because the sausage is from freezer. While we can't wait long. We want eat. We paw the ground from impatience. I drink tea with milk, and with the light envy I watch Silva stuffing down the sassage. "What would you read today?" "A medical encyclopaedia and Kant." I insert the mentioned disks into the drives. "Aren't you afraid of overfill your memory?" "I'm afraid," Silva confesses, and jerks the tail nervously. "Don't be bored. See you in the evening." "Don't forget Whiskas, Deliss-complete, and potatoes." While descending in the lift I reflect, for what is Kant for Silva. I ought to read myself a little. Afterwards I ought to consider how to persuade Silva to move to the country. Purrie regards herself as cyborg. Half of mind is in the head, other half is in the computer. Though this is not true. Comp only helps to activate the hidden reserves of the brain. As a massage helps a sportsman. During phase of inhibition the brain makes an effort, searches a detour, activates new bonds. When that phase gives place to phase of stimulation, new bonds gain activity. Comp is only a massager of brain convolutions. I explained this to Silva a hundred of times. Switching off is safe. I switched it umpteen times for a prophylaxis. To be sure I timed when pussy was asleep. But Silva is still afraid of losing herself. She doesn't allow getting off the helmet for more than five minutes. The country is two hours' journey. At first by tube, afterwards by suburban train. That time the effect of outer stimulation shall come to naught. In the first experiments I've measured the duration of after-effect. It lasts from fifteen minutes to an hour. Silva is prepared for two hours sit in the dark, in tightly closed basket, if I attach the helmet to the notebook. But this is unreal. The notebook is weak. It has ordinary processor, not cluster one. Apart from practical matters like moving to the country the philosophic ones worry us. More precisely, I am worried. Silva has arranged all in pigeon-holes a long time ago. "You've created no new civilisation," she claims. "You've created a cyborg. Without your box I'm a beast. The box without me is a heap of iron. Only together we cost something. But notice, both parts are changeable. One can get another comp or another cat. You humans would never replicate this experiment." "Why?" "A pride wouldn't allow you. Imagine - you put the helmet on Milkie. Her brain is oho how big! She'd be one too many for all of you by intellect. While she's got no hands. What result would be? You feed her, water her, clear the shit after her. And she thinks instead of you all. Who'd be the king of nature then, and who'd be the slave? And you wouldn't dare send her to a slaughterhouse. A conscience wouldn't allow. You don't slay your incurable madmen, you're ashamed. Even if Milkie without helmet can't put two words together, she was reasonable. What the hell you need this, then?" She's right, stripy catty, she's right in all. "Good morning, purrie!" "Purr-r-r!" I examine, how do emotions change on the cat's face. At first a perplexity, then angry discontent. Silva jumps off the bed, hurries to the notebook, presses the power button in. Musically chirping, the comp wakes up. Silva opens the editor window, hastily clatters the keys by paw, turns to me, and exactingly meows. I haven't heard such for a long since... I throw off the blanket, putting feet into slippers. "What with you?" Message on screen: "Check speakers!!!" I aim the remote at the comp, and press the button. The screen turns alive, showing a TV window. It's a morning news program. Something has sank somewhere, somewhat has been passed in second reading with the advantage of three votes. "Speakers work." A discontent on cat's face turns into a fright. "I can't speak," a paw hastily taps on the keyboard. I sit down at the comp, calling NETSTAT. It's curious... I examine logs. "Your helmet turned off at two o'clock in the morning." Silva is in panic. "Don't worry, fluffie. The paradox of the situation is that if you're afraid, then you must be afraid no longer. If really the helmet worked, but you couldn't speak, then..." I can see in her eyes, what does Silva think about these paradoxes. "Go here, baby. I'll repair your helmet." Silva jumps onto my knees. First time I see her gladly parting with the helmet. I unfasten the inside with a sticker, take the multimeter... The problem isn't worth twopence. "FPC is dead," I report to Silva. FPC is Fuel Power Cell. In essence it is the same battery, but ten times more expensive. In the theory they can be refuelled with alcohol. But after refuelling they leak, and don't bear wanted current. It would be more reliable to buy a new one. "I'll buy while go from job." Silva doesn't want to wait for my coming from job. She is ready to any humiliation, but can't wait till evening. I call my job, and take a half of day off. Coming home from the shop, I found Silva online. In two chats at once. Complaining friends about the destiny. About FPC is truth, the rest is her violent fancy. The beginning of the dialogue is flown off the screen, hence I can't understand where this FPC was. All together are sympathising with her and blaming my unpracticality. While I exchange the FPC, Silva fawns, and gores my elbow by the head. I put the helmet on... "... your mother! This way one can get stuttering!" "Who taught you swear?" "How it's good! As catching a mouse!" "Silva, do you understand what happened?" "A little catastrophe. Once more I've made sure of how much I depend of your box." "You've lived without helmet for ten hours. And haven't lose yourself. What is the conclusion?" Silva pricks up her ears. "I'll take a vacation since Saturday, and we'll go to the country! The summer is in full swing, while the beds aren't yet dug up." I sit in the train, reading Rochefoucauld at Silva's will. Silva couches on my shoulders, and also reads. As it turned out, she reads two times faster than I do. Apparently, the point is brain size. Her brain is more compact, so the impulses come faster. In my backpack the big comp is placed, one bag contains food-stuffs, another bag contains Silva's notebook, soldering iron, multimeter, and three tens CDs. This is called, 'people go to nature for having a rest'. I close Rochefoucauld, and Silva sniffs discontentedly. But I must think about philosophic questions. Questions itch. The helmet happened to be necessary only at initial stage. Stimulated brain has gained a new property - a reason - and doesn't want to part. Every creature on the Earth larger than a cat is potentially reasonable. No more insensate large species! Dogs are reasonable, cows are reasonable, horses are reasonable, and pigs are geniuses of mathematics. Giraffes, antelopes in Africa, white bears, and Nile crocodiles. All of them are now brothers in reason. And only I know this. The question is, does the whole humankind need to know about this? We eat meat. Almost every day. I like meat, and don't intend to refuse it. Since yesterday I am cannibal. I eat brothers in reason. We all are cannibals. Savagery! What will happen in case the humankind received this bitter pill? Will it swallow, or choke? "Dig me, kitten," I explain to Silva, "this helmet is very easy to make. Even now a comp with helmet is worth less than five thousand bucks. Using the specialised chips instead of a comp, the cost may be lowered ten times. Maybe fifty times. Hundred bucks are not money. A month or two - and new sentient being is ready. Even a rabbit or a Himalayan Bruin if you like. Would Bruin turn to vegetarian diet? Would a wolf do?" "You skipped one point. Without a helmet we'll remain animals." "A helmet is a trinket. We teach our children more than twenty years. At a day nursery, at school, at university. Since school times the children know virtual reality helmets and very complicated interactive teaching programs. Maybe you don't believe it, but your helmet is just a little more expensive than a virtual reality helmet. Two months in a neurohelmet are a small coin against ten years of school. No more than one more teaching program." "But you're born reasonable." "We're born POTENTIALLY reasonable. Read about Mowgli, Tarzan, and what do real scientists think about them. And afterwards look at yourself in the glass. You're only five, but your thinking style is completely adult, IQ is high. So far your awareness level is retarded, but that'll come." Silva narrows her lids contentedly, licks a paw and tries to wash behind an ear. "How many years you were learning?" "I've completed the institute at age of 23." "Glo-o-om! Forget about animals, think about humans," she advises. "Will or not appear another sentient species, this depends only on humans." "They shall appear. What they'll do if they'll not appear? Dig me, Purrie, the time of lone persons is over. Medical science nowadays is placed on industrial footing. There are vast sums of money put up into it. There's army of scientists. They shall not go by." "You say, the time of lone persons is over? Look into a mirror." I turn to the mirror and understand not immediately, what does Silva imply. "Ah, that's what you mean?! No, Silva, everything isn't the case. I've used things invented by another army. There's more money put into oil exploration than into medicine, so former has shot ahead. But this is temporarily." For long I meditate on the causes of the lag of the medicine. But it isn't to think. Have we got another way? Can we refuse meat today? Not on your life! Yes, there are talks about biofactories where the crops of meat would grow in vats. Of beef, of whale's and bear's flesh, of sea-lion's one... But very costly! Natural cow is eight times cheaper. And will be cheaper for another fifty years. So within the next fifty years it would be better for the humankind to know nothing of my discovery. It is, the humankind, not physically ready. I would provide for the humankind a shock with unpredictable consequences, a hey-day of vegetarianism, a surge of suicides, a surge of cold cynicism, and - as sequent - a falling cost of living by all the moral categories. Would the humankind want to starve and to turn, one and all, to fruits and vegetables? No. We ate meat, we eat and we shall eat. Previously we ate beasts, now we're eating sensible beings. Educated reasoners shall eat uneducated ones. A standard of education as a protection from the griddle. But here is one more criterion. A bull-calf can grow fat in a year, while human booby grows no less than 18 years. It's not feasible economically. Here is a new criterion for selection of reasoners. Apropos it works both ways... Solved! The humankind must know nothing. Though I'm a swine, though - an evil genius, a black angel, a shit on a stick, but the stain shall lie only on my conscience. I've made a discovery, so I'll make a covery. It isn't new to me. I must do it! Then, what I have in assets and liabilities for the covery? Let's arrange in pigeon-holes. Minuses: Accessibility of neuroinductors, of powerful comps, and of mathematical packages for exploration seismology. Pluses: A package of tomographic and tuned analysis is a general infatuation of medical men. It doesn't bear here, but one needs to understand this. Pluses: Absence of any considerable amount of broad specialists. Like me. Minuses: One wizard will be enough. And these busters can gather in groups of two or three men. Pluses: My brilliant idea of training a brain. My know-how. By-product of fifteen years' studies of artificial intelligence. I win here a ten years or so... What do the scales show? That I've simply outran the world for about ten years. And afterwards some tousled post-graduate will come, yesterday's student - and he'll repeat my great discovery for want of anything better to do. Conclusion: hushing up isn't enough. It's necessary to actively bury the discovery. Such a damn! Again I've edged into other people's business. And this business has engulfed me. Thoroughly. Like a fetid swamp. Silva flops by tail not averting her eye from the hole. "It thinks I haven't another affairs!" speakers repine near the TV. The comp itself is hidden under the table. "Forget about it. I had a mousetrap somewhere." "Just try! You'll eat it yourself!" "It's my take!" I roar, grabbing Silva and falling onto the sofa. "Guv, don't dare harm little ones!" the speakers pipe. Some time we combat. Silva attacks and wins. And a cat has two pa-irs of legs, And she has leng-thy ta-il behind. But do not da-re touch her affa-irs For her own li-ttle height, little height!* ------ * `А у кошки четыре ноги, позади у неё длинный хвост. Но ты трогать ее не моги за ее малый рост, малый рост' - song of a homeless boy (film Republic of ShkID - Республика ШкИД). ------ I sing, spread-eagle on the sofa. Silva hears declining her head aside. "Very right song," she judges. "You're excused! But forget about a mousetrap! Mice are mine. Don't dare catch or feed them." "Agreed! But birds are mine." "Big are yours, small are mine," Silva offers. "The reverse - agreed." "You take big birds and rats above!" "Chaffer is out of place!*" I affirm categorically. ------ * `Я думаю, - сказал Ипполит Матвеевич, - что торг здесь неуместен!' (I.Ilf, Y.Petrov. Diamonds to Seat On - И.Ильф, Е.Петров. 12 стульев) ------ "And worms for fishing," Silva plunks her last trump. "I return you worms. I'll dig them in place. Well! You take small birds, as well as plant-louses, gnats, Colorado and other bugs." "You blackmailer. You win. But pigeons and larger are mine!" "Deal! Give your fist!" "Give your paw! You can take worms too." "I'll never forget this, my darling. Every third fish is yours!" Pleasured Silva raises the face for I take off the helmet, then licks the pill of cat antisex from the saucer, winks at me, and goes to a walk. Many affairs. She must examine and re-mark the plot... Or only tomcats mark? I need to ask Silva. But an examination is required, as well as making tomcats know `who is who'... Many affairs. While I initiate a tea ceremony. A ritual. I wash a teapot thoroughly, to squeak, then I scald it by boiling water. Two spoons of tea from one packet, two from another. I mix up the mix, shaking up the teapot, I smell an aroma, then sluice the teapot by hard boiling. Now - cover by cap, and gulp back my slaver for four minutes and a half. I've even bought sand-glasses for this business. For three minutes and for five. There are no glasses made for four minutes and a half. While tea infuses I throw up windows at veranda. Take off the cap, smell a steam from the nose. Nice... "Lavender, mountain lavender..." I hum pouring into small porcelain cup on the saucer with blue edging*. I sup a tasting. A wondrous, supernal taste. Delicate and a shade astringent. I sip the whole cup slowly. But then the hunger arouses. Tea ceremonies are shelved to a buffet till the next time. I pour the celestial potion into a table-glass, and put three spoons of sugar and a spoon of jam above. The picture of the moral falling is complemented by a sandwich of two split hot dogs on a thick hunch of bread. ------ * a treasure on the saucer with blue ending - symbol of authority and happiness: `Уж я так устрою, что он свои деньги мне сам принесет, на блюдечке с голубой каемкой' (I. Ilf, Y. Petrov. The Little Golden Calf - И. Ильф, Е. Петров. Золотой теленок). ------ Just as I ended the snack Silva jumps on a window-sill. She hops to the table - a clean table-cloth by dirty paws! - and puts a wee nestling before me. "Fallen from nest?" She nods and bumps the catch to me by paw. As if, 'Did you ask? Then that's yours!' I sigh and inspire the silly little chap in my palms. "Show it." Silva overleaps the sill while I, envious of her, get out through the door. Aha! My house has got a swallow's nest. I borrow a ladder from a neighbour, and return the fidget home. Silva's gloating face got a thoughtful look. Can I bury the discovery? Why not? This has succeeded with artificial intelligence, hasn't it? Of course, the process needs continuous work and active correspondence with workers on this field. If I only weaken an attention, then newcomers will appear, ready to revise the axioms. I have to criticise them, encourage them, teach them, and supply them with references to scientific works of predecessors. On the whole, I must gradually push them into a swamp. The method is generally simple. To declare the dangerous trend of effort to be deadlock and investigated inside out, while the attractive, beautiful, but immense one - to be most promising. Not that this trend is full deadlock, but even a ten lives will be short of explore it. But then the exit would be safe. Not an artificial intelligence, but an AI simulator. Without creative fantasy, but predictable and acting rationally in the most complicated situation. Then I should repeat the same in medicine. To declare a global analysis of brain (with my method) to be history, to divide a brain into several functional parts, to drown the specialists in research of narrow subjects. Let them dig deeply, but narrowly. The main thing is to reduce to minimum the study of brain's general map. The general map - in all details - must be published in all sources. As if there's nothing left to discover. As if one has no choice but to make details more exact. Fine! Except one point. For this I must study the general pattern, so I must coach Pete, at worst - confide to him. Pete shall understand. Well, most likely I have to confide to him. Then immediately the institute authority shall stand up behind our back, including the names of three academicians. Medicine and physiology are not cybernetics. They are conservative fields, inclined to respect for rank. Thus... Plan exists. Of course I have to change my job... Why I've edged into this business? A saviour of the humankind... Boss is again worried by his problems. Biped eggheads have two favourite questions: 'Who is in fault*,' and 'What is to be done**?' First question is clear, second one is varied by Boss. From 'What is to be done next?' to 'Oh, what to do?' His problems. I don't wanna go into them. Even if this is egoism. I've a right. I am loaded by my own problems up to my tail. If I collect all world-weariness into my head, then I'll catch a memory overflow without fail. Anyway the world has no time to change under my lifetime. And no way to think! Sh!.. So-o-o! Pirate came to see. A cat of handsome presence. He walk by my territory as by street... He's scented my mark. Hey you! Don't dare set your one! Though, well, set it, you dog. But master is me. Now you'll see this. I'm calm, I'm absolutely calm. The tail is calm. I go to meet. E-e-eh?.. Wait, where are you going??? Stop! Stop, you cat of a bitch! ------ * Who Is in Fault? - book by Russian socialist A. Herzen (А. Герцен. Кто виноват?). ** What Is to Be Done? - book by Russian socialist N. Chernyshevsky (Н. Чернышевский. Что делать?). ------ Shame! I lose my temper for a trite caterwaul. I've made something wrong way. But I have manifested no aggressiveness. I've only wanted to approach. You coward! That's your funeral. Never mind. Here live more tomcats, Chernomyrdin*, and Peach, and two homeless ones. Grey and Frostbitten Ear. I won't end up without a boyfriend. ------ * Chernomyrdin, Viktor Stepanovich - a famous Russian politician. In regard to a tomcat, this name may be literally interpreted as Black Mug. ------ The dispute about instincts is lost in every way. The things, which seemed doubtless in the city, have disappeared like smoke. But I have, of course, saved face (a face of the muzzle or a muzzle of the face). How? In the city I walked with helmet, but here I am without one! The helmet has not only stimulated my reason, but also suppressed instincts. Weighty argument. O! Grey comes. He isn't the Pirate, but isn't least too. I am friendly, and kind, and affable. Tail up, I purr, come into contact... Wait, where are you going? Wait, foolish! Don't flee... What marvels? Boss told that three years ago these rascals were making me run all over the plot. I remember myself. Vaguely, but remember. The smell, the marks on my territory, the fright, and the uncertainty. I forgive everything to the scoundrels. Well, the night of love hasn't taken place. It shall be the night of bl-l-loody hunt. No, don't fear, you pop-eyed, not for frogs. Look at yourself - who needs you? Cold, slippery... Firstly become overgrown with hair, you monster. A rustle... Attention! I gently slink behind a log by soft, half-bend feet... I look out from behind the butt-end... A ratty... Not so large, but... Do I need troubles? However it would be funny to have a tame rat. I come out from the log and sit in the face of the mammal. First moment the rat bares its teeth, ducking down to ground. But I don't attack, so the scaly-tailed thing grows bolder. The quick noselet gets into motion, and afterwards the creature itself runs away. Not so rapidly, saving the dignity. Nothing of the kind of the tomcats. Not an evidence of panic. It should seem that here must be quite the reverse. I ought to consult with Boss. He is all in cycling on his problems, let him think about my ones for the rest. Then a curious thought comes to mind. Here is a way out for the Big Brothers. They'll eat mice. Lemming farms will appear... `Meat and milk lemming,' has it force? Mouse hams. Boss will come into a shop and say, "Please weigh for me a kilogram of mouse undercut." Pur-r! "Anybody home?" "Come in, Maria Semyonovna." "I go last evening, and see a light at you." "Do you want some tea?" Maria Semyonovna is my neighbour. Widow. She lives two doors off, and has her eyes on me. She cooks perfectly well, she's prominent, able-bodied, everything's on their places. Five years my junior. Has only demerit. If country radio exist then Maria Semyonovna is its broadcasting station. She knows everything about all. And she confesses a formula of hackers of all times and nations, 'information must be free.' Namely, if she discover something, then next day all the settlement will know that. Silva and I can't go to this. Anyhow. In despite of... I ply Maria Semyonovna with tea and crackers, and hear all the local news. Silva jumps on the window-sill, then travels to my knees. She fawns, and poses as an ordinary cat. She takes an interest in the news even more than I do. So I keep up the ball, and ask the correct questions. "Oh, I linger at you, my daughter desired me to look after grandson," recollects Maria Semyonovna. "Trouble with grandson we got. Dimka is two and a half, but don't speak yet. Doctors say, after-effect of parturient trauma, needs neurotomography. But how to do it, if the waiting list is booked out for a half-year on. They pests are working two days for state, and five days commercially. On the state machine..." In my head like a trigger switched. I must explore a brain, while Dimka needs neurotomography. And I've got all the needful with me. Only the helmet needs slightly rehash. "Maria Semyonovna, I can do tomography myself. I just turn a penny tuning facilities for medics. And testing it on Silva. Bring the grandson tomorrow, we'll do all best way. But medics haven't told you the point. For give an accurate prognosis, one sitting isn't enough. It needs about two weeks of every day tomography. Then a sort of film will come out - one can see at once, how the brain goes on." Ten or so minutes more we consider the details. I view a record of cat's cerebration. The picture in conditional red-blue-yellow colours looks very demonstrative. Maria Semyonovna doesn't know how to thank me. While Silva gets the needle. "Don't worry," I say to pussy, just as the door closes after the neighbour. "You shan't lose the voice. I'll make for you, instead of helmet, a collar with only four neuroinductors. It'll be enough for metering the voice signal. You can wear it all the time." Silva calms down in a wink. Until the very morning I sit and work. Firstly with a soldering iron, then with a needle and a shoe awl. We try the collar on, and the carping begins. Like it's thick, heavy, try yourself to wear such one... If only she prizes that it has got working without a peep, without any tuning. Ah, if you don't laud yourself, then no one will notice. Thus I laud myself, and even ply myself with a glass of strong coffee. Silva quirks that one must not drink coffee by table-glasses. "Aristocrats don't drink," I parry, and begin to rehash the helmet. Here's a purely sartorial work. No, I was early to chuckle. Wires need lengthening somewhere. Anyway it's simple. Of course, wires are filmy, so the work is like a work of a watch-maker. But this is a work for hands, not for head. After six o'clock I out the 200W reflector lamp, pull away the plug of the 36V transformer for the soldering iron, shift Silva to the end of the bed... How I disrobed, and couched, I don't remember anymore. In the morning (if two o'clock is morning) I test the helmet. At myself. For a very long time I conjure with parameters of the program. A cat's brain happened to differ from human's brain more than I thought. This is out of boundaries of auto-tuning of the program. At last everything came into readiness. Some less than an hour remained before the coming of the neighbour. I stock a tail-arrow to the volume knob of the speakers. Now Silva herself can turn down the volume, for fling off nothing at guests. Silva carps again. She proposes me to buy a player and change it into a small broadcasting station. "What for?" I wonder truly. "For one don't ask why you ever have head-phones in your ears. Or you want me to converse with you by mobile phone?" "It's rational, but I'm lazy to tinker," I report to her. "Let's reserve." "Let's have a breakfast," she amends a counter motion. "Let's," I agree drowsily. "But you cook." Silva smiles spitefully, and leaps out of the window. After a second she returns with a mouse in her teeth. "I conserved it just for you. Young, tasty!" "Thank you, my dear. But it's so small, while I'm so big..." I struggle sleepily. "I saw a rat last night. I'll catch now. Would you eat?" "Surrender, surrender, surrender. You win." Silva narrows her eyes contentedly. While I cook a dinner for two, Silva enounces an idea of mouse farms. I plainly don't like this idea. Although Indians by Fenimore Cooper ate rats... No, anyway I don't like. Exactly at six o'clock Maria Semyonovna arrives with the grandson Dimka. I begin to pity that I've started this work. The grandchild is an obvious retard. He takes after his dad-drunkard. We are familiar with the dad by hearsay. He's endowed the wife with the child-imbecile, drank half of the furniture away, and then was expelled with disgrace from the home. Well, that's not my care. I put the helmet on, and while I tie the strings under his chin, Dimka slobbers my hands. "Oh, what a bonnet on us! And see, what a pussy," Maria Semyonovna coos, while I start the comp, and tune the program. Next I, bona fide, record a 3D picture for ten minutes. Out of boredom, I read a lecture on the structure of human brain. Maria Semyonovna listens, and wipes Dimka's slobber. When she went away, I cut two tens three-dimensional slides from the record, and put them together into a kind of cartoon film. Even after such a cutting-back my cartoon is more perfect than ones given by apparatus of medics. And this is good. Let them see that somebody has a more perfect apparatus. Then there will be more respect to a patient. Before going to bed I throw down to the notebook the texts of Fenimore Cooper and Karl May. Silva wonders who are that Indians who ate rats. Silva has problems. Tomcats feel something alien in her, and run away. Silva is in a trance. I understand nothing too. But the fact is on hand. Only Peach doesn't run away. But he is under-age. Teenager. He was three-week-old taken away from the mother, and has grown at humans. Now he is last hope of Silva. My pussy attracts him to our home, and rubs his head. With a paw. And afterwards she inquires, what is the difference between her behaviour and a behaviour of usual cats. Peach takes her for his mommy. What kind of sex then. Only next summer... And I haven't restrained myself again. In the third seance, after the usual recording, I engaged my program of brain training. I set Maria Semyonovna to drink tea, and while we drank... By the end of the seance Dimka fell into a drowsy state. The head inclined to the shoulder, slobber from the mouth, snot from the nose, a foggy sight into nowhere. "Get tired, dozed off," decided Maria Semyonovna. It was seen how she is ashamed for the grandson. While I recollected that Silva didn't look better after the first seances. The next day Maria Semyonovna brought Sonya, Dimka's mother. Again the tea, the demonstration of beautiful pictures, and the lecture on the structure of brain, and about the functions of cortex, subcortex, thalamus, and hypothalamus. (I must be careful for avoid touching the hypothalamus by the stimulant wave.) Afterwards I listened to a lecture about radiculitis and about people's methods of struggle against it. While Dimka tripped out, passing the second seance of brain stimulation. In that rate we proceeded next. I found a CD with Disney's cartoons, downed a couch from the attic, and organised a small cinema hall. While the guests saw cartoons, and drank tea, and gifted me by jam and spice- cakes, Dimka received a seance of brain stimulation. By the nights I sat examining the records. I've allocated about forty nerve centres, compared, analysed, rummaged in literature, and understood nothing, if frankly. I've recognised about ten centres. Sight, hearing, smell - all what I could synchronise with outer events. One more problem existed. Brain is the most complicated machine. Having some region damaged, the adjoined ones assume its functions. In vain I started the study from idiot's brain. By the way, that parturient trauma was fiction. No signs of it. The father-alcoholic is guilty of all. But I shall not break the legend. In the seventh day Dimka stopped slobbering. The activity of cortex and subcortex greatly rose. I took fright, and ended the seances of stimulation. Observation only. But the process began. The activity of cortex kept on rising. Two weeks later Sonya said she hardly recognised him. A co-ordination of movements appeared, and emotions, and interest to surroundings. The seances made a magical effect to him. "Well, stop it please, what have the seances got to do with it? It's simply such a moment came. Something accumulated, and then like an abscess burst open. Have you heard about the conversion of quantity into quality?" I talked wet, seating her in front of the computer screen. "Newton was also behind in his childhood. He was weak and sickly. You see, this is the first day, fifth, ninth, fourteenth. Do you see the difference?" "Can you tell me, don't I need guide him to doctor, then?" "If you notice that the boy develops abnormal, then guide him, of course," I advise with confidence. "Human brain is wonderful mechanism. Usually it uses only a small percent of its resources. Some say about one percent. Another ones say about ten. Dimka's brain was behind because of parturient trauma. Now the protective mechanism has switched on, and the hidden reserves of organism came into operation. The nature creates things with something to spare. If he was behind firstly, then now he'll make up like nobody's business." "Why it has started? What was the trigger?" "It's hard to say," I invent, blushing not a bit. "Maybe the fresh air, vitamins, and vegetables from the garden. Maybe cartoons, which we saw here. Or something else. We know so little about a brain." Sonya nodded, while I leaded the cursor by the screen and loaded her with scientific terminology. Afterwards I switched the talk to the simple and plain - the games, puzzles, meccanos, Rubik's cubes... Sonya was assenting and all shining with the motherly happiness. Eh, damned difference in age... If she was at least fifteen years elder... She is all girl... I'm too old for a girl. Oh dear! Silva has the same troubles. The red-haired juvenile Peach. Somebody said exactly, 'A cat takes after his owner'. But why did she decide that I'm cycled on the fate of the civilisation? This is no idee fixe. I simply think aloud sometimes... ...A month later Dimka began to speak. He soon shall be called infant prodigy. "Suddenly he said: 'Birdie!' And throws a brick into it," told Sonya, breathless with rapture. I was able to pull a smile on my face. To hit a swallow with a hollow plastic brick - this means not only good, but incredible coordination of movements. I won't argue, this may be discarded to a fortuity. But nevertheless. Speech, coordination... With what merits else I've endowed Dimka? I won't be surprised if he'll become a genius. And this is after seven seances. Only four hours in helmet... It's cold and empty in my heart. What should I do NOW? Do I have a right to hide such a discovery? It ever brings the humankind onto a quite new level! A genius will become standard. Imbeciles will recover by several seances. First-formers will play chess in intermissions, on the grand masters' level. The term imbecile will disappear. Helmets-stimulators will change our world. And very soon somebody will guess to put a helmet on a dog, or a horse, or a bear in a zoo... A cow will make a sorrowfully look in milkmaid's eyes, and say: "Don't take my son away from me. Send me to slaughter-house instead of him." What should I do with the discovery? "Is it really difficult to decide?" Silva takes an interest, licking a paw. "Two variants only. To bury or to publish. Do you want an advice? Put the helmet on yourself. You'll become clever and wise, and all will be clear." To put the helmet on myself? No, not at any price, never! I'm afraid. What if I won't become a genius? What if the brain is already ossified, and the road to the light future is closed for me and for all of old men? Or vice versa. I'll become a genius. As much above others, as humans are above animals. Would it be attractive to see only sheer stupidity around? To stay lone in the middle of the crowd of idiots. No, this is not for me. I am too old for such experiments. Perhaps, in the company of friends I would bring myself to that. But never alone! Only with the entire humankind! But would the others want to grow wiser? My helmet is able to make the entire humankind to be geniuses. And to turn all large animals into sensible beings. Reasoners will eat reasoners. Because there's nobody else to have. But even if we solve the food problem... Wolves will not eat rabbits. Antelopes will not go for dinner of alligators. All together will be fertile and multiply. What will happen with the biosphere? I look to unworkmanlike bonnet containing three tens radio components and a wisp of wires. This thing can blow up our world. No, not can, but shall blow up. The world will become wiser, more technological, and harder. But will the new world be better? What should I do with this bonnet? 17.10.2000 - 30.10.2000 Translated from Russian by Alone Coder E-mail: alone_coder(at)mail.ru Please e-mail me if you have found a mistake.