What Next?

It was so unfair! Jimmy Smarts was cursing his luck. He’d just been fitted with his first sub-cranial neural computer, and was disappointed to discover that he was only capable of providing 420GB of RAM. 

You never knew your personal capacity until it had been fitted, and the waiting around was one of the most stressful times in a young person’s life.
The computers were only fitted on your sixteenth birthday; until that time you were limited to standard, low speed mechanical interfaces. As the youngest member of his class, he’d been the last to have the operation, and the bulk of his classmates were in the 600-700 range. One member, Jason White, an obnoxious bully at the best of times, boasted 1280, almost unheard of. He’d already been voted “Class Member Most Likely To Succeed”, and the MegaCorps were sniffing around.

His parents would be mortified; they had just paid a fortune for this, his birthday present. Even his stupid older brother, Mark, had managed 640GB. It wasn’t even as though he had a huge storage facility to make up for the lack of RAM, 2 million GB, just below the national average. There were ways of increasing capacity, but he didn’t even want to think about that poor boy down the street; the illegal operation had gone badly wrong and now all he was good for was low level data processing at one of the government processing plants.
The organic neural computer interface had been the most influential development in computing since the abacus. There were a few Luddites who refused them, but nobody even considered hiring those people. At best, they ended up as farmers or fishermen or doing some other manual labour. Jimmy shuddered at the thought. No more were people reliant on the latest hardware developments to keep up with the software companies. The human brain had proved far more efficient and reliable. Now, you provided your own hardware; RAM, data transfer rates and storage capability decided by the individuals own brain. Previously, humans had only used 20% of their brain’s capacity, now nothing was wasted. Wireless interfaces allowed direct access to most networks, and the bulk of the population could perform their work function from anywhere on the planet. 

Feeling miserable, Jimmy left the lab, and found his best friend, Ethan, waiting for him. Ethan cocked his head, questioning,


‘W?’ Ethan pulled a face.

‘Tell,’ said Jimmy.

They touched wrists together briefly and continued the conversation electronically.
‘Well Jim, that’s an absolute bummer, I thought for sure you would be in the upper percentile. You were top of the class three years running. What did the techs say?’

‘It’s possible I may increase slightly over time, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever top 500. It looks as though I’m not as clever as everyone expected.’

‘What are you going to tell the parentals?’

‘I’m sure they already know.’
Jimmy began to explore his new reality, noticing a message from DELLCORP(medical), congratulating him on his choice of supplier, explaining that no parts were user-serviceable, and his warranty would become void, should he try to do so. Also recommending that he ran the two-hour induction program before proceeding. 

Time enough for that later, he thought.

Another message popped into Jimmy’s mail box, a vid from his mother telling him not to worry, and to hurry home after school. He deleted it without letting the message finish.

‘Yup, they already know,’ said Jimmy.

‘Good news travels fast.’

Another message came in, this time from his older brother. He didn’t even look at this one before deleting. Several Spam messages were deleted automatically, but he noticed an unusual header on one of them:

That looked interesting. He pulled it out of the trash. The vid played automatically, and Jimmy was enthralled, as the Professor explained the, “100% natural enlargement,” that would occur, should he, Jimmy Smarts, undertake a course of intensive dietary supplements. Typical results varied, but there was a guaranteed enlargement, or his old brain back. A win-win situation then. All for a lousy 2 million dollars. Why, he had more than double that in his savings account right now.

‘Check this out!’ he said, sending the vid over to Ethan.

‘I don’t know man, I’ve heard those things are a rip-off.’

‘Surely they wouldn’t be allowed to advertise it if it wasn’t true,’ said Jimmy,
‘Look at all those testimonials. And just look at the size of that guy’s synapses.’

‘Have you run your induction program yet?’ asked Ethan.

‘Of course not, I only just left the lab.’

‘I would run that before you go ordering any of this stuff.’

‘The sooner I get started the sooner I can have the enlargement,’ he said, ordering the package. He continued exploring. WOAH! What was that? He’d accidentally logged into one of the over 21 sites. Damn, that felt good! Abruptly, the sensation was cut off, and a message appeared; “Subscription required.” Dammit!

‘Jimmy. Jimmy!’


‘Where did you go? You’ve been ignoring me for the last 2 seconds.’

‘Just widgeting.’

‘Well, be careful. Some of those sites just want your money, and never come through. But, take a look at this one,’ He sent over an address.

‘WOW!…….What’s that?’

‘That’s what it’s like to take cocaine.’

‘Is that legal?’

‘Who cares,’ said Ethan, laughing.
Jimmy laughed along and continued to widget through his virtual environment.
A warning flashed up for both of them, telling them it was time for class. Jimmy couldn’t face the rest of his classmates right now and decided to take the afternoon off. Ethan headed off to school, but they continued their conversation.

‘Seriously Jimmy. Don’t go doing anything until you’ve run that Induction Program.’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,’ said Jimmy, breaking the connection.
Jimmy made his way towards home, wondering when his order would arrive. He logged into the tracking system and was disappointed to find that the package had not even left the supplier yet. How was he supposed to enlarge his RAM, if they didn’t send the pills out in a speedy fashion? He queried the site, and was even more disappointed to receive an auto-response. The money had already left his account, he noted. By the time he reached home, Jimmy knew what it felt like to take cocaine, heroin, hashish and whisky. He couldn’t see what all the fuss was about really. None of them had made him feel particularly good, just queasy. His mother was waiting for him, and welcomed him as he went through the front door.

‘Jimmy, darling. Happy birthday? How do you like your present?’

‘It’s great Mum, thanks. Is dad home?’

‘Not yet.’

A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. Jimmy hurried to answer it, hoping it was his package. He opened the door and found a large policeman.
‘Jimmy Smarts?’ said the policeman, touching Jimmy’s wrist.


‘Why aren’t you at school?’

‘I wasn’t feeling very well, so I came home.’
The policeman looked at him suspiciously, and said, ‘Your diagnostic say’s you’re fine.’

‘What diagnostic?’

‘Haven’t you run your induction program yet?’

‘No. I only just got fitted.’

‘Well, in that case I’m going to let you off with a warning, but you better be in school tomorrow morning. Just be sure and run the induction program before you do anything else. Let me speak to your mother.’

‘My mother’s not here at the moment.’

‘You definitely need to run the IP, son. Fetch your mother.’

Jimmy’s mother came to the door and spoke to the policeman, excluding Jimmy from the conversation. After the cop had left Jimmy asked his mother,
‘What was that about Mum?’

‘Just go upstairs and run the IP, we don’t want any more visits from the police, do we?’

‘No, I guess not.’ Jimmy went to his bedroom, but before running his IP, once again checked on the delivery he was expecting. Still not en route! What was wrong with these people? He queried the site once again, and found that it was gone now. How could that be? Surely there were laws against that sort of thing! There was another message in his mailbox, telling him that the site had gone out of business, but if he cared to send another 2 million to this new site they would guarantee delivery of the pills. But that would be all his savings!
He decided he’d better run his induction program after all. 

Two hours later, Jimmy was a little wiser and a lot better informed. This business with the enlargement pills was just a SCAM! They NEVER sent the pills!
He’d also been offered a list of low/mid level facilities that were prepared to offer him employment based on his current capacities, when he left school in two years time. None of them were the kind of place he’d imagined he would end up at. It wasn’t possible to upgrade your capacity, and it was a criminal offense to try. Along with the list of employers was a list of potential girlfriends in his area with similar capacities. It was a criminal offense to date outside of this list.
He was also now aware, that wherever he was, whatever he was doing, somebody, somewhere was watching. Apparently, the massive reduction in crime over the last 20 years was thanks to the introduction of neural interfaces. The only type of crime that flourished nowadays was the kind he’d just fallen victim to. He couldn’t even claim to be feeling sick, because his computer was in constant contact with the central medical facility. If he ever did fall ill, they would automatically send an autodoc. No more days off school playing hooky with Ethan!
The more he thought about it, the more he started feeling that this computer was not such a great idea, but he’d already discovered that it was not possible to remove it. Why had everyone wanted him to have one? Just so he’d be in the same boat as them? It was so unfair! He logged into the VALIUMCORP site, and began to feel a little better.