02/2017

The Conscious Series




When David was still a child, eight years old, he got his first iPhone. It was made of wood with a matte finish. Its display hovering two centimetres above the wooden case activated whenever he was nearby. Glowing. Glitching.
He had a special family membership of the AppleGoogle Company since he was born. His parents where so smart to put him on the list the very day he was born. Due to this special membership he was one of the first ones to get the new Conscious Series. Fresh wooden smell. Still sealed. The newest of the newest. His father was talking about it for weeks. Always before bedtime. He clearly remembers how his father was acting, looking over his shoulder and underneath the bed before whispering that he would be killed if he told the news further. “It will be the first iPhone with real intelligence, David.” David didn't understand. “Real intelligence? …Like my bike?” “No David, not like your bike, more like… like you and me”. “With a consciousness, a soul… never mind David, it will be awesome”.

The wooden iPhone was laying on the table in front of him. The battery was long time gone. The wooden case was still matte, a little darker and shiny at the bottom. Polished by all the touching. It looked like a digital relic from past times.
“Please David, can you tell me when your iPhone was updated for the last time?” The tall, skinny guy in Davids apartment was clearly not at ease. He refused the coffee David offered him earlier, just out of protocol.
“He was never part of my collection Ash, may I call you Ash?” “Uhm, yes sure David. No problem. What about the last update David?”.


Ash was just newly assigned at the AppleGoogle company, this was his first assignment. They told him it was an easy one, a walk in the park, just to get used to the job. They didn't tell him David was a special case. Nobody could help him anymore. David was part of the AppleGoogle family for 28 years now, he was the first one to get the iPhone from the Conscious Series.
Ash knew it didn't have a real consciousness, just an advanced Siri, a super Siri so to say. It was all marketing, even the material was marketing. The wooden finish was a way to connect people to nature they said. Ash thought it was all quite stupid. He never saw a real naturally grown tree in his entire life. But there was something truly innovative about the Conscious Series. It was the first of its kind that could make a link to any inanimate or animate object within a ten meter radius. The objects around this iPhone could then work together, just like ants, as an intelligent network so to say. They stopped the production after two years. Just after the news about David.

David pretended he was thinking but actually he remembered the last update very very clearly. “He must have been updated just before all this shit happened, Ash”. “So I would say about nineteen or twenty, umm twenty years ago”. Although it was odd, the transformation still took place while David actually updated his iPhone with the Conscious Series 2, Ash didn't say anything about it. The protocol was to act normal, keep your distance, don't socialize.
“Ok, that’s perfect David”. “That means that the iPhone was shut down just before the Conscious Series 2, right?”. “No Ash, the Conscious Series 2 was released for the newer models. I still have the original, do you think you can still help me?” David could easily feel how Ash was slightly shocked by this information but tried to hide it by acting he was looking at some data on his tablet. “Uhm, yes, sure twenty years ago, two weeks after you purchased it”.

“So what about a coffee now Ash? Black or?” Ash didn't like coffee at all, but just out of politeness, or maybe out of a bit of nervousness he fell out of protocol: “Thanks David, black… thanks”.
David moved his arm, stretching it a little bit and then bending it again. Stretching it and bending it. After a couple of stretches and bending he felt the urge to squeeze. Somehow it felt just like making a strong fist, but he had no fist. It felt like a phantom limb. If he squeezed hard enough the coffee would boil and pour out into the palm of his hand, the coffee cup limb, drip by drip. He knew Ash couldn't help him, the Conscious Series program was shut down years ago. It’s been a long time since he felt like a real human. The interior became his prosthesis. Ash drank the black coffee out of the palm of Davids hand.
© Merle Flügge 2017