Ravi woke up early today because he had an online meeting scheduled at 7:30AM with people from Singapore and Hongkong. He rarely had those meetings but it always messed up his daily routine when he had to attend these meetings.
On a normal day, he would wake up with his alarm at 7AM, grab his iphone to go over his emails and to check Facebook updates before he finally got up at 7:30 to get ready to get out of his house by 8 for a half hour commute, reaching his work at 8:30.
But today, he had to reach his work by 7AM so he had set his alarm at 6. So when he woke up with the alarm, he grabbed his phone to check his Facebook updates. As soon as he opened his facebook he realized that today he didn't have time for facebook in the morning. He subconsciously noted that there was a message waiting for him in Facebook, since there was 1 notification in red next to the messages icon.
Ravi had graduated from a liberal arts college majoring in Marketing studies 4 years ago and moved to Chicago because few of his friends from high school were there. Initially, there were four of them; Ravi, Basant, Rajiv and Arun. Chicago was a great place for recent graduates with jobs. They had rented a large 4 bedroom apartment, with a gigantic living room with lots of sunlight. When they came back from work, they always did things together. Among them, Basant loved to cook and his work schedule started a little early so he got back early and had time to cook before the others came back. Basant was working in a biochemical engineering firm, and he seemed to have a nice thing going for him. His parents were pressuring him to get married but he was trying his best to ignore them.
Basant was enjoying his day to day life. One fine morning, he left the apartment to go to work thinking about few things going on his his mind. He hadn't called his family for over 2 weeks so he tried to find his home number on his phone while driving in the interstate highway.
At the same time, another motorist, Raj Kumar was driving to work on the same highway, hurrying to get to work for an important meeting with his Boss. His boss was not happy with his sales numbers for the past 6 months so had called him on an early morning meeting with few other divisional managers. Raj Kumar wondered if he was going to be fired or what. He was cruising at 65mph, 5 miles over the speed limit, when suddenly the car in the other lane swerved dangerously in front of him. It was too close for him to do anything, his car hit the other car on the side.
As Basant was looking for his home phone number, he did not notice the steering wheel getting pulled over to the left. It all happened in a fraction of a second. He looked up and saw himself halfway into the other lane. As soon as he tried to get the control back. BANGGGGGGG he heard a big noise to his left as he saw an incoming SUV hit him on the side. His car started to flip and he could feel the top of the car squishing on impact every time it rolled over. He felt like it was a slow motion movie. Everything seemed to happen so slowly. He could feel different impacts on his body as different parts of the car began to squish him and knock him out. "I have to stay awake", was his last thought before he lost consciousness.
He was pronounced dead 2 hours later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Ravi got a call from the hospital that noon, since his phone number was the last dialed number on Basant's phone. Ravi could not believe his ears. None of them could believe what happened. No one expects this kind of thing to happen and when it happens no one knows what to do next. It was the worst day of his life. Rajiv and Arun also came back from work after being informed and then a lengthy process ensued on taking care of last rite details. Basant had enlisted his body for clinical studies in the event of his death so it took some time before the body was available for incineration.
After everything was said and done, the three of them continued to live on that apartment for 2 more months until it became unbearable to live there. It felt as if Basant was always there cooking something. The three of them decided to move on. Ravi decided to get an apartment of his own and move forward with his life.
That was three years ago. Today, Ravi had woken up for the meeting with colleagues from Singapore and Hongkong. He reached his work at 7 o clock and started setting up his internet connection so that he could share his desktop with the other participants. The Webex applet was not opening correctly because of some administrative rights issues. He hated how the company restricted access to install softwares on his company laptop. Finally, everything was all set. All the participants were connected in by 7:45AM.
After few hours, there was a coffee break and Ravi stepped outside to get some coffee. He remembered that he had one message so he opened his facebook and checked his message.
"Basant: Hey Ravi can you read my message?"
It sent a chill down his spine. How, what, huh, he started to stammer in his thoughts. He calmed him down and got a little angry. "This is a bad joke. Who are you and why are you using Basant's account?" He typed back with shaking fingers.
He checked the profile of the person sending the message, and it was his very friend Basant's who had died in that fateful car accident 3 years back.
(Please go have some peanuts.)
In the next scene, Ravi is very disturbed. He quickly does a screen capture and sends the image to Rajiv and Arun. "Do you guys know who is doing this?"
Rajiv: Ugh, no idea. Why would anyone do this?
Arun: you must be joking right?
Ravi was very disturbed but he had to go back to the meeting. There were two other local colleagues in the meeting and they had decided to order in some Ziti and baked chicken for lunch. So Ravi ate with them and finished up the meeting late afternoon.
As soon as he got back home, he sat in front of his desktop and looked at Basant's profile again. Basant profile had been deactivated from Facebook after Ravi had notified Facebook of his death. They had sent him a confirmation message of deactivation saying, it can only be activated with the original password which no one knew besides Basant.
Ravi had not gotten a response on his response this morning. So he was just preparing for something to eat when he heard a message beep on his ipad. He quickly went to his desktop to check and it was the message he was waiting for.
Basant: Hey Ravi it's me.
Ravi: Please don't fool around anymore this is not a good joke at all.
Basant: This is really me. Remember I used to work for a biochemical firm? I had agreed to give my body part to the company after my death. They have saved my brain and currently I am part of the experiment.
Ravi: I don't believe this. Please stop this.
Basant: I knew you won't believe this so I will tell you something that only you and I know about. Remember that time when you first came to Chicago, I had been there for 6 months only and we went to check out a strip bar, and it turned out to be a male strip bar. We didn't tell this to anyone.
Ravi: WTF. What is going on. Maybe Basant told someone else about that.
Basant: Com on Rob. I know you hate it when I call you Rob.
Ravi took a deep breath. This is not happening. He pinched himself to check if it was for real.
Listen, when my body died, my brain was still alive so the hospital contacted my biochem lab and they kept my brain alive by submerging the brain in oxygenated artificial cerebrospinal fluid. It was attached to an artificial perfusion device which kept oxygenated blood flowing through it. It was as if, I was in a coma, devoid of any physical sensations.
At the time of my accident, I was working on a simulated neural network (SNN) which would simulate real neural movements for each sense of our body. At that time, the technology was not developed enough to connect the SNN to a real brain because the neural synapses did not fire quickly enough. But three years later there has been enough development in the computer chips industry to allow for faster processing as fast as the human neural network.
Since I had signed my body for the experiment if I was meet any kind of immature death, it was a perfect candidate for the first trial. They connected my brain that was being kept alive to the SNN which the computer had certified was ready to handle real brain activity.
Two days ago when they turned on the SNN connected to my brain, it felt like I woke up right after the accident three years ago. I was traumatized and my vision and hearing and sensation were a bit off so I thought it was due to the accident. Slowly my team communicated to me what had happened using the SNN. They have created a 3D world within the system for me to move around and it feels like I am in a video game. But I am alive. I am still me. I remember everything from the past. I just do not have a physical presence besides the brain that is lying somewhere in the lab.
The best thing that happened was this morning when they connected the SNN to the internet. Apparently the brain worked very well with the SNN, and they decided to see if I was able to interact using the internet. When they informed me about the internet access it was like being set free from a prison. I logged back to my facebook account and checked everyone updates and sent you a message. Please keep this quiet, I don't want it to freak anyone out and at this point the experiment is pretty top secret.
The experiment seems to be very successful and you know what that means. People can choose to extract their brains and keep them alive electronically through the SNN when it has been perfected.
I have been told that the brain has not aged at all since the oxygenated cerebrospinal fluid provides all the nutrients that the brain needs without the need to process any negative elements or viruses that seems to age the brain fast in a normal human body.
Ravi: Hello you there?
Basant: Sorry I was just checking to make sure you were still there.
Ravi: WOW I don't know what you say. This is amazing. This is cool. So people can stay alive forever in the internet even if their body dies.
The camera zooms away from the desktop terminal. Background music starts playing.
Music Lyrics: Do you wanna live forever....?
Thank you for reading.