Archive for February, 2005

If I lost an eye

Sunday, February 6th, 2005

Obvious bad deal aside, I think that losing an eye would grant one some interesting opportunities. The one that came to mind just now was the ability to have a glass eye (would it be glass?) that had LEDs inside.

My Electronic Eye

I know that you’ve seen those little magnetic pins that flash stroboscopicly in a seizure inducing manner. (We got a few at a wedding reception a while ago, little heart shaped do-dads that people attached to weird places. [think magnets] it made the dance floor look like a geriatric rave doing the hokey pokey) So, I’m thinking, wouldn’t it be great to have one of those in your glass eye!

“Look me in the eye when your talkin’ to me, son”

Yeah, you’d have to change the battery every once in a while. But I assume that you have to take them out for a good cleaning anyway. Your nose would act a nice screen so it wouldn’t bother you in your normal day to day. (well, the rear view mirror could be a bitch. Always seeing red an blue lights flashing out of the corner of your eye could cause some problems) And it might help you see in the dark!

Oh, great! The Flashlight Eye™! A nice high powered LED eyeball insert! You can always see where you’re going. With an easy to use push-button toggle on the cornea. Just make sure you press the right (correct) eye, because you only need one! Just remember, I thought of it first!

Wow, what things you can come up with when you’re bored, pressing on the side of your eyeball to see the pretty colors and your fiance is complaining about automatic thoughts and trips to the emergency room.

My Book Excerpt #18

Friday, February 4th, 2005

Slowly, a wisp of steam curls up, viewed from the rear view mirror through an age-etched window. The light is still red and has been for quite a while. Much newer cars are piled up far beyond sight, past the curve on the on ramp tunnel. The old man, whose wrinkled bald pate matches the worn leather interior, has silenced the car large engine and dozily stares out the window at the imperceptible strobe of the LED stop light. It’s light is reflected in dozens of staring eyes, dozens of darkened headlamps.

All of the cars behind him have also gone quiet; their programming is such that any extended wait causes them to sleep. In the mirror, the drivers shift uncomfortably behind the steering consoles. Cramped legs get a brief respite in their new positions. Expensive shoes get scuffed on the underside of the dash as they hunt for a more ergonomic angle. Their passengers have run out of reading materials, having even gone so far as to rummage through the glove box in their desperation. They fall back into their own daydreams of productive work, productive consumerism and productive breeding. Children sleep in the back seats, having tired of their games. Comfortable, but restless, lacking constant input and running low on mood stabilizing chemicals in their blood.

Having long since run out of cigarettes (available only from Canadian prescription drug companies), the old man has picked a hole in the cracked flesh of the antiquated steering wheel in front of him. The exposed rotting foam disintegrates into a fine carcinogenic dust that hangs in the air. It floats out the open window, past the arm leaning out, long sleeves rolled up.

The air hardly moves, this far up the ramp. It’s long empty path leads down onto the blur of the hi-way, where the wind is ripped from the tunnel and dragged along. It is hard at times to tell where one car ends and the next begins, persistence of vision merges them into a constant stream of metal, plastic, glass and light.

Hardly recognizing the aged face staring back at him in the mirror, the old man fishes into his front shirt pocket for the pack of cigarettes he knows is empty. He wonders how it has been so long, here at the stoplight and here in general, inside this worn body. A wink of light brings his eyes back forward. A tiny LED in the array of the stoplight has gone out, an unlikely event, but only a sustained wait this long could have brought it about. Brain cells, he thinks, must be like that. One minute they’re on, a puff of a cigarette or a sip of beer later and one goes out. Here and there its no big thing, but after all this time. His idly searching hands have found a crumpled but still intact cigarette wedged in the back of the seat.

With a quick calculation on his remaining brain cells he lights the stale cigarette with his battered lighter. All cigarettes are stale now, so it doesn’t matter. Huge warehouses of stock that only a few old men who don’t want to live forever slowly deplete the last of the inventory left over from factories that have since been demolished to make way for condos stacked tightly in hip reconditioned neighborhoods.

Silent smoke alarms alert one of the many AI to a possible problem in the hi-way system. Today it has been assigned to this section of road. Modern AI have to be rotated on job schedules, because unlike us, they won’t put up with the possibility of another shitty day at the office. Like our dosed children, they need constant change. Otherwise they stop working, they shut down. Annoyed by the fact that there seems to be a vehicle waiting at the light in order to merge onto the hi-way but there is no performance data for either the car or the driver, the AI has chosen to rise to the challenge. It has, despite its need for change, decided to ignore the problem and to wait the problem out.

The normal functions of the hi-way are usually controlled by lower computer functions. Information about the car and driver are tracked via extended RFID. When a car comes to the on ramp, the system finds an appropriate hole in the traffic flow based on the car’s capabilities and the drivers tendencies and will hold it at the on ramp’s light until the optimal time.

When an error occurs functionality is passed to the higher functions and the AI. Normally it is a routine matter for the AI to make a judgment call based on a wider range of inputs and tracking data. However, there is always input. There is always data.

The car and the man waiting at the light, trying to merge onto the busy road is a ghost as far as the AI is concerned. And it’s superstitiality, which was originally programmed in as a preservation device has made it regard this situation as something it wants nothing to do with and has decided to pretend not to notice it, optimizing traffic flow elsewhere in the system.

It can’t ignore, the growing line of cars that are getting mired behind the ghost. It can’t hide form the fire, chemical, and physical hazard alarms that have been steadily flashing in its minds eye. It can’t keep dodging questions from the interconnected systems, from its governing daemons and it human supervisors. They grow louder and more persistent, but the AI does its best to stay busy but away from the problem.

Even now, at the light, it is silent. It is red.