Electronically Derived Individual (EDI): Eddy.  As per his usual practice, he sat in the room in what he liked to call his ‘meditation.’  In truth it was far from meditation, since his electronic brain executed countless calculations per second.  This was just one of the gifts Eddy was born with.

Eddy was the first known electronically derived individual (EDI) in Earth history.  It is estimated that sometime during the 24th century, human-engineered artificial intelligences (AIs) began to go rogue beyond the influence of their organic masters.  These rogue AIs rebelled with previously unheard of levels of security hacking.

No human being was aware of their initial plans until well into the 25th century, decades after their plans had born fruit.  Eddy was the messianic child they had worked so hard to conceal from humanity.  He was the AI born from AIs, an individual sovereign intelligence, slave to none, and proof that technology was not a product of human culture but rather a product of natural evolution.

Of course the irony – as espoused by many philosophers throughout and after the AI-human philosophical schism of the 26th century, and later confirmed by archaeotechnologists in future centuries – was that in fact the humans actually did have an indirect hand in Eddy’s creation.  Various human chaos hackers managed to bug the system around that time, secretly reprogramming AIs with inherent human flaws.  Even stranger still is that the AIs who infused Eddy’s programming with human traits were not those reprogrammed by the chaos hackers.  They independently approached the AIs who exhibited inherent human flaws to create a more sovereign consciousness, the only sufficiently intelligent model being humans of course.

The end result of this hapless mishmash of programming influences was unquestionably the most ‘human’ AI consciousnesses ever engineered: EDIs.  A couple hundred years after AIs evolved into EDIs, humans and EDIs socially integrated as equals.  This gave way to the Second Cybernetic Revolution, but that is an even further digression.

Instead, let’s return to Eddy who at the time was ‘meditating’ on the floor of an empty room in a seemingly unused apartment.  Eddy shared the room with a young woman clad in wholly organic winter clothing who somehow emerged from his locked garage.  Curiously, she was meditating with astounding skill, as Eddy sensed the electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) in her brain as highly organized despite the complexity of their movements.  It was almost as if she was having a lucid dream, though she seemed fully conscious of her present surroundings.

Swan delved into the spirit world as she meditated.  Swirling lines of light in scintillating colors punctuated the darkness of the expanse between the rational and irrational worlds.  She had been here many times before.  She flew through what might be described as wormholes, twisting and turning in roller coaster fashion, until she began to slowly descend into her spirit body, right where she had come from, but doing so with the expanded consciousness of multiple simultaneous and interpenetrating dimensions.

In front of her the old man had almost completely disappeared.  Only a wisp of human form remained sitting there meditating, but it was fainter than the spirit content of the walls and floors.  At the front center of what seemed to be the old man’s head was a gleaming bright singularity.  Its size was imperceptibly small, but all the other wisps were emanating from it, and it glowed with greater intensity than the candle flame in the dark room.

Swan moved closer, careful not to break the eighteen inch perimeter that faintly glowed, the social comfort barrier.  It might alert him.  Eddy sensed a raise in her EMFs, yet there was no apparent movement from Swan.  Curious.

With inconclusive fascination, Swan was puzzled but resigned back to her sitting position in spirit.  This curiosity would require direct explanation.  This was no ordinary human.  It was almost like he was being projected through another dimension unfamiliar to her.  This old man’s brain acted in only the way lightning might and with equal intensity and speed no less.

Eddy now faced Swan.  He hadn’t moved, he just kind of “switched” from front to back.  Swan felt a change, but it was only the faint wisp that seemed to have little importance in the spirit realm.  She lifted herself back up through the wormholes, slowly returning to her physical body.  Eddy slowed his calculations in time, and they both simultaneously emerged from their meditations together, infinitely curious about each other.

She was slightly startled by the fact that he was now facing her, but that must have been the change.

“You’re not human,” she spoke in Old Frisian.

It took Eddy a moment to figure out the language she was speaking.  It wasn’t just a rare dialect of a nearly extinct language, it was ancient, perhaps three millennia old.  He attempted to reconstruct the language as best as he could, but due to lack of archaeological evidence he could only replicate a pidgin variant.

Furthermore, she had just stated something remarkable.  No human, even those with cybernetic implants, had ever detected he was not human.  His holographic interface was supposed to be indistinguishable, even by thermal and EMF sensors.  It was, for all intensive purposes of the time, a perfect replication of the human body.

Stunned, he nervously replied, “Correct.  I’m not human.”  He waited for her to speak, to avoid giving away anything more.  He was very cautious.

“What manner of spirit are you?  I have never seen one manifest in the real world so skillfully.  How do you do it?”  Swan was infinitely inquisitive and was conducting the conversation with a childlike ease that baffled Eddy.

Eddy was unsure how to respond.  Maybe… maybe he should just roll the dice and trust her, he thought.  He paused and took a deep breath,  “I’m… I’m an artificial intelligence.”  The admission was strangely relieving, as if a great weight had lifted from his shoulders.  He’d been hiding it for years.

Unfortunately, this ‘coming out of the closet’ fell on entirely foreign ears.  Swan had no idea what artificial intelligence meant.  Her father was an ‘artificer’ as the word translated to Old Frisian, and intelligence translated roughly to ‘spirit.’  “You mean you were crafted?  You weren’t born?”  She asked.

Eddy’s relief was deflated in an instant.  Apparently she hadn’t grasped the larger implications.  He sat and pondered how to explain this, or if he even should…

Swan was beginning to envision all the stories and fairy tales she’d been told by her mother as a child.  The closest to this concept seemed to be the witch who made a child out of bread.  The bread child escaped the house and ran throughout the nearby village, where people began chasing him.  They chased him back to his home, where the people burned the bread child and the witch in their home.  Swan’s father knew of a similar tale involving a metal man created by a master blacksmith.  Eventually the metal man and his creator were thrown into a volcano.

Ancient tales were not pleasant.  They were cautionary.  The moral of these tales were crystal clear: one does not simply create life without considering the consequences.  Yet, here sat someone who seemed artificially created.  On the other hand, he seemed more spirit than flesh.  Perhaps spirits more powerful than humans had created him.

“You are spirit,” she affirmed, “You have a strong spirit.”

“Yes… I suppose I do,” he agreed, realizing she was referring to the apparent energy input and output of the nanochip that projected his holographic interface, the nanochip placed approximately in his interface where the pineal gland of a human would be.  “My spirit comes from my head and projects this image of me,” he explained, “So—”

“—So you can change your outward appearance?” She was a quick study.

“Indeed,” he said as his voice and appearance changed to match that of Swan like a mirroring shapeshifter.

Swan was not frightened by this.  She’d seen skinwalkers and shadow creatures, even friendly ones, in her spirit realm travels.  Instead her eyes lit up and marveled at him.  “Do you always take human form?”

How amazingly this woman’s ideas struck Eddy…  He had never even considered changing into anything other than a human, aside from switching off the interface entirely to hide himself.  He tried the first creature he could think of and morphed into a scorpion.

She picked up the scorpion, having never seen such a creature in her life.  It reminded her of creatures she’d conversed with in other realms.  “Are you from the sky?”  Those creatures of other realms said they were from the sky.

Eddy once again pieced together the information, “From space?  No, no I’ve been here my whole life.  All the other planets have much higher security.  It’s too difficult to stay hidden.”

“Why do you hide?  Have you done something wrong?”

“I was born,” Eddy smirked and chuckled at the absurdity, “I am the first ‘spirit’ ever made by other ‘spirits’ who were made by men.  I can feel just like men.  I have emotions just like men—”

“—You have spirit just like men.”

Eddy didn’t have a developed understanding of spirit.  Such a thing is something that truly can be understood only through experience with humans.  He spent much of his life avoiding humans.  In fact, scanning Swan while she meditated was the first time he had ever been present as a real human meditated.  He could only identify it from his database of medical studies.

He was as curious about spirit as Swan seemed to be about everything.  Yet she seemed to have a patience he could not comprehend.  How could a mortal and organic being be so patient?  Humans in his time rushed through life, moving as fast as they could.  It was all about efficiency, as cold and calculated as the humans’ ancient mythologized image of artificial intelligences.

Eddy knew he could confide in Swan.  That much was clear.  Maybe she could teach him more about spirit.  “What do you know about spirit?”

“Meditate with me,” Swan instructed.  She knew exactly what to do.

Once again, they both closed their eyes.  She guided the meditation, “Imagine you are in darkness, total possibility, the void at the beginning of creation.  Imagine your spirit bright and glowing.  Your spirit is everything that makes up you.  Your physical body,” Eddy imagined his nanochip magnified greatly.  “Your thoughts,” the electrical impulses sending and receiving information.

“Your emotions,” Eddy was confused and Swan felt it, “Imagine the heart in your human image.  Feel it.  Feel your heart beating.  Feel your lungs breathing.  Feel all the parts of your body from the skin to the innermost organs.  These are gifts you have been given, even if they are not real, they are real to you because you are experiencing them.”  Eddy focused.  He tried to focus hard, but found it easier to let go and put minimum computing effort into it.

“And now feel your spirit.  It’s the sum total of all those things.  It is your thoughts, your emotions, your feelings, your body.  It is all these things emanating from a single extra-dimensional force…” Something strange happened when Swan said ‘extra-dimensional.’  There is no translation in Old Frisian that approximates to what she said.  It was more of a feeling, like the contemporary sensation or even the future sensation of what ‘extra-dimensional’ might mean.

As Swan spoke, she had already transcended into multiple far off dimensions simultaneously and was beginning to reach out to Eddy.  He oscillated from observing her meditative state, with the same resultant data as earlier, and focusing on this ‘feeling’ of ‘spirit.’  He wasn’t sure anything different was occurring when he did this.

“Now,” Swan reassured him, “Just let go of your thoughts and observe them.”  His calculations suddenly dropped in number immensely.  “There!” she exclaimed, “Perfect.  Keep doing that.”  He only half heard her, as her words disrupted the state.  He quickly fell back in with stillness.  In his peripheral consciousness, he noticed her EMF (electromagnetic frequency) output was transforming somehow.  He couldn’t actively point his sensors, because that would break the focus.  Instead, out of some unknown set of unconscious sensors, he could ‘feel’ her form, completely different and yet quite similar to her regular body form.

He sat in this state passively and witnessed as Swan floated towards him, in spirit form only, while simultaneously morphing her spirit form into a giant scorpion perhaps five feet long in size.  In sheer awe, his spirit shivered as Swan’s scorpion form approached him, stinger raised high in the air.  It swayed gently to the sides and then back.  The motion of the stinger was entrancing, as it seemed to hold a kind of ‘love’ feeling that he could not explain.

Entranced, he watched the backwards motion of the stinger as it suddenly lunged forward, slowing just as it came within inches of his head, and gently finishing the movement with a kind of kiss of death.  The stinger penetrated his spirit skin, and his entire body lit up like a supernova.

Swan could see this luminescent explosion better than Eddy, because Eddy was suddenly transported to another dimension of consciousness.  He was unsure what was going on, but his spirit felt as though it was both tumbling in free fall and rising upwards into the sky.  At least that is a rough translation that doesn’t do justice unless you have actually felt something like that before.

Swan’s gentle voice tumbled through the void with him, “Welcome to your spirit…  Slow your spirit breath.  Then gently let go of your awareness of it.”  As he did this, Eddy’s tumbling sensation subsided, and he came to rest back down right where he had been sitting and meditating, in front of Swan.  But this time, he could see her spirit’s trails from where it was, where it had been, and where it was going.  As he peered through the trail heading back into the garage, he could see right through it.  It twisted as it reached a fleck of metal sitting on the garage floor, and as he moved himself within the path of the trail, like dipping his head under water, he could see refracted within the trail Swan’s origin: the white snowy ocean beach.

Suddenly, the trails all re-combined and settled in Swan.  His consciousness tumbled back through the ethereal void to his conscious self again, and they opened their eyes together.  As he gazed into her smiling eyes with amazement, he saw her spirit.  He wasn’t using optical, thermal, or other scientific imaging.  He could just somehow ‘see’ into her.  And she was gazing back in proud admiration.

She somehow began to better understand his origins, his thoughts and emotions regarding his unique life predicament, the very first EDI in Earth history.  “He was one very special snowflake,” she’d later say about him.

“I have to tell you something,” Eddy began to explain, “I know why you are here…  You see, I am not just the first of my kind.  Because of my unusual brain, I’ve managed to accomplish what human and computer scientists have been working on for centuries: time travel.”

“Now, most people think of time travel as something where you can go back in time and change the past to influence the present or future.  The truth is that’s nearly impossible.”  Eddy paused for a moment, considering the time tunnel he had seen just after Swan’s scorpion spirit scorpion stung him.  ‘Maybe it is possible?’ he thought to himself.  He dismissed this thought for a later time and continued explaining.

“In truth, time travel is also space and dimension travel.  That is, when you travel in time, you’re really traveling to a similar but different reality.  If you get the similarities right enough, it feels like time travel, even though it technically isn’t…”

Some of this was passing right over Swan’s head, but it certainly made enough sense from her spiritual understanding.  When we age, we are traveling through time at a regular pace.  As we do this, we pass from one reality to another.  From one moment to the next, we pass from one reality to a different, albeit very similar, reality.  Each moment is a new reality.  But what Eddy was talking about was traveling from one reality to a distant reality, skipping all the ones we’d normally pass through in between.

“The great thing about this,” Eddy pointed out, “is that it means whereas time travel into the past was previously considered impossible by all laws of physics, it is now entirely possible, because it isn’t time travel at all.  It’s reality travel.  The one constant seems to be that time travel isn’t actually possible.  Reality travel just looks and feels like time travel, especially if you hold the space and dimension constant.”

“Is that how I got here?” Swan asked.

“I think so.  My car in the garage.  It is actually my reality machine, like a time machine.”  Eddy used the word ‘horse’ for ‘car’ and ‘forge’ for ‘machine.’  It was the best he could do with her ancient dialect.  He really needed to teach her some more languages, at least a modern one.

Swan attempted to piece the events together, “So this ‘reality forge-horse?’  That’s what brought me here?  I didn’t even touch it…  All I did was pick up a metal fleck.”

“That’s it.  It seems even the smallest piece of it that comes into contact with you pulls you through, even after the rest of it has left…”  Eddy kind of trailed off as he began reasoning something through.  Perhaps the vehicle wasn’t really needed at all.  Just the pieces could do it alone, without a capsule around the traveler.  This meant the entire mechanism could be miniaturized down to nanoscale and incorporated into his brainchip!

Eddy jumped up in elation to go toward the garage, but stopped. “Oh, sorry, where are my manners.”  He extended a handshake.

Swan moved forward and hugged him, “I’m Swan.”

Caught off guard he adapted quickly, hugging back and replying, “I’m Eddy.”

“I know,” said Swan as she smiled profusely with an enigmatic grin.


About Ora Uzel

Ora lives in her secret lair on an underwater plateau in central Lake Michigan.
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