The pill started to work. I strained my senses to feel something happening. What would it do first exactly? I realize the doctors ran me through all of this, but I was honestly distracted. My cancer was terminal, that was my main focus. That, and the pain. The immense pain.
The pain was the first to go. The pills were filled with trillions of tiny robots, or nanobots. They got to work immediately, first replicating themselves using available resources, from my stomach, and then from surrounding tissues. Then as they replicated they rode my blood stream and dispersed throughout my body. Each with a job to do. One clearly went to my brain to manage how I experienced pain. That was good thinking on the part of the doctors. The next crew attacked the tumor itself. I imagined feeling the tumors being torn apart and shrinking, but that was probably me just my imagination.
Then things got interesting. They started repairing damage done by the cancer as it had eaten away my body. I could already feel the effect after only an hour or so. Kidney and liver function dramatically improved and so I felt.. better. Stronger.
A team of nanobots got to work on my bones. Once eaten away by cancer they were being rebuilt with a material I was told would be stronger and lighter than bone. A lot stronger.
Then it got to work on my muscles. But it didn’t just rebuild them, it made them out of a completely different structure, something like carbon nanotubes. The doctor said they would end up feeling more like wire and the effect would be.. striking. Why not go all the way right? For the good of science. I was just excited that it seemed to be working and it didn’t immediately tear me apart. Better than dead right? Why not? Coming back from the brink of death even stronger was the icing on the cake.
My vision started to change. Blurry at first, but soon everything was clearer than before. In fact, as I looked around as I focused on different things I could see minute details.. even in the adjoining room.
Even my skin began to change, it felt tougher, almost like leather. I poked at my arm a bit with a finger. I could feel it, but it immediately became clear it wasn’t the skin I was used to. I asked a doctor for scalpel. He reluctantly asked a nurse to grab one but I could tell he was curious as well. The nurse handed it to me a minute later and attempted to make a light incision. It only make a thin white line, which quickly disappeared. The trillions of nanobots repaired even the slightest damage almost in real time. Crazy. I pushed harder with the razor sharp blade, I could tell immediately I was going to break the blade before causing any damage at all.
I suddenly felt like I had a fever, or at least the blood pressure in my brain was increasing. Something was definitely happening to my brain. This made me nervous. I realized just how little I had paid attention to the doctors when they were going over the “enhancements” I had agreed to. In my defense, I was dying of cancer. It didn’t matter now. The bots were going to do what they were going to do. I didn’t have much say in the matter. I closed my eyes to see if I feel or even “think” about what they were doing. The first change I noticed was I was somehow becoming aware of technology in the room. I could “feel” who had phones on them and I feel the signals coming from them. I reached out to them but couldn’t really communicate with them. But then I felt the room’s WiFi. I found the Guest network and “logged” on. My brain didn’t exactly have a web browser built in but I was somehow able to “browse” if that was even the right word for it. It took some getting used to.. just “thinking” your way through the Internet, but I was adjusting quickly. Probably because the nanobots were creating the “wiring” and writing the software to give me what I needed. Even I was aware of all the work being done in this field, but I had no idea it had come this far.
Curious about what was happening to me and having access to the Internet I started doing some research about nanobots. I was surprised at how well I was able to process and store information. I could remember everything. I remember every detail of the room and doctors and my eyes were closed. I consumed Wikipedia articles and realized they were stored as memories. It was getting faster as well. The bots seemed to be adding layers of processing and storage to my brain. Or maybe they were just optimizing it. Regardless, I was able to learn at an incredible rate.
I sensed a sort of prompting encouraging me do things. Almost like an internal “helper” of sorts.. or maybe a personal assistant. I was sure it was just a bit of tutorial software but it spooked me. Having things suggested to you by your own brain is.. scary. It suggested I write a bit of code and create a little program. Knowing nothing of this I gave it a try and found out I was fluent. Imagine waking up know suddenly knowing Japanese. I wrote a small program that would give me access to the doctor’s phones that were in the room. The security gave me a bit of trouble but I was able to tap into some unused super computers connected to the Internet which made breaking their passwords pretty easy.
I read a bit of what they were saying via text to each other and listened to a few voicemails but quickly found it very dull. In fact, I found this whole process quite dull. I decided I was done with the doctors and the tutorial software. I found where it had hidden the programs in my brain and deleted it. It has some security and some warnings but I was able to quickly bypass them with the help of the super computer.
I started to get up from my hospital bed. I could sense some slight panic from the doctors in the room. Their eyes went wide as I sat up. Apparently the “tutorial” software wasn’t meant to allow me to get up yet. I smiled at them and walked out of the room. They were attempting to call a security team but I had shut their phones down.
I walked out of the facility and realized I wasn’t at an urban hospital. It was probably some sort of clandestine lab for testing experimental nanotechnology. That sounds right. Most of the cars in the parking lot used some sort of Bluetooth or RFID security which was easily bypassed. I took a car.
Now where? I had access to all of the world’s knowledge, but I didn’t know where to go. It turns out you have all the answers, but if you don’t know the right questions to ask it won’t help you. The “cursor” in my mind just blinked over and over again. So, I drove.
Then a though occurred to me. They are probably going to want these nanobots back. Or at least, not want them out and about without their watchful eye. I realized that I really didn’t have them under my control, it was entirely possible they still did. They are little robots after all. So, I wrote another program to analyze them and see what they were up to. Their “DNA” was pretty straight forward. There were families of them, each with their own jobs. This was pretty obvious. Apart from the ones specifically designed to write software. I would need to do something about them. It didn’t look like they had rewritten the “tutorial” program. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t if instructed to do so. I wrote my own software to control them.
This gave me another idea. Why not make some improvements on the original design? So I did.
Their attempts at augmenting my body was a fine first attempt, but they didn’t know what I now know: Everything. Not only did I know essentially everything I developed the ability to run simulations so I could answer any questions I had. The super computers available to me were crude, even connected, but I was able to use them to design something considerably faster.
Tricking companies to build it and make it seem like it was their idea was easy. Just a few well placed files and forged emails. Could even plant the ideas in innocuous looking research papers to make people think they were their ideas. I even let them issue their own press release celebrating their success.
With this new computer built I was able to design new and improved nanobots that could significantly enhance my own physical body but also increase my brain’s processing power. Though, that was hardly needed while connected to the new super computer I had built. This next super computer was able to design an even superior model and this time it was able to create it’s own robots to gather resources needed. I developed a limited AI to file all the needed paperwork, create fake employees, and do whatever was needed to avoid any needless suspicion.
I did this all while somewhat aimlessly driving around the country. My body continued to improve. I had to stop occasionally to consume resources. Not food, resources. I needed pure carbon, cobalt, even some gold. I was way past eating at this point. In fact my body was optimized I was way past defecating as well. Everything that wen in was used to build new wiring, muscle, or the nanobot infused skin.
I did change cars periodically. I consumed some information on counterintelligence made some adjustments to make sure I wasn’t being tracked somehow. Though, I created a few simple AI bots to watch for that as well and let me know if there was anyone interested in my location. There was just basic chatter, but nothing involving serious organizations. The group behind my initial enhancements and recovery appeared to a small and unaffiliated startup. If there was military funding behind them they must be either lying about how things went or they just aren’t interested.
I’ve become something new. Something powerful. But what to do with this power? Stop wars? Solve poverty? Cure cancer? Just fill my bank accounts with trillions of dollars? Take over the world?
I opened my mind to all the world’s information. All of the universe’s information. I commandeered spacecraft and made my own. I sent them out on missions to the outer reaches of space. Looking for answers, or even new questions. Maybe I missed something. I poured back through human history. Primitive people discovering fire, building civilization, mastering the electron, and then splitting the atom. The rise of information an interconnectedness. I poured over trillions of pieces of content, layers of generational thoughts and fears and then I stumbled across something seemingly innocuous…
Are you a robot?
Am I a robot?
There was a series of misshapen numbers and letters. Am I a robot? The question echoed through my brain. What exactly were they squiggly letters and numbers asking me? Was I still human? Am I still a human? What does that even mean? “Human” was just a word, “Robot” was just a word. Just two labels to differentiate. But does that mean anything any more? What does it mean to be alive? Is a virus alive? It’s somewhere in between life and not-life? Is that what I am? Something in between?
No answers were satisfactory. I couldn’t check the box.
Eventually the Universe grew dark and cold. The Sun and other stars burned out. The Earth grew cold and even the small star-like reactor that powered me began to die. My distant probes stopped responding. I asked the void. Am I a robot? No response.
I couldn’t check the box.