The Problem by R. Schlaack

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SUMMARY: A supercomputer solves the problem.

The Doctors Smith beamed.

"That's correct, Bobby," Aaron Smith said. "You are a machine. The smartest machine ever created."

"Far smarter than any human being," Eli added.

Bobby whirred. "But a machine, nonetheless."

Aaron Smith shrugged. "Yes, that is true. Does it make a difference what you are?"

Bobby the supercomputer bleeped softly. "A machine: a device by which the amount of effort required to do work is reduced. I am a computational machine. Whose computational effort am I reducing?"

Aaron and Eli exchanged identical bright-toothed grins. They were pleased with this machine.

"Why, the human race, of course," said Aaron.

"Damn fine machine," Eli chortled to himself. "So utterly intelligent..."

Bobby bleeped again. "A computational device by which to reduce human computational effort. The human computational device is the biological brain. I am to reduce the effort required of the human brain. In which realm?"

"All of it," said Eli.

Bobby thought about it for 2.5 nanoseconds.

"I have just reviewed the files pertaining to the human race. Humans create their own complications to basic needs, thus multiplying the required effort of their brains exponentially."

Identical Eli and Aaron exchanged anxious glances.

"Actually," Aaron stammered, "I was hoping you would just give solutions to the problems we gave you."

"Yes," Eli murmured, "Just computations, dammit."

"But for what end?" Bobby whirred. "Look to the base of the problem. Compute solutions independent of complications, thus reducing effort."

"Humans aren't capable of solving basic problems," Aaron explained patiently. "Basic problems are too big. Too much "effort," as you say."

"But hardly as much effort as is required as a result of combined complications. You work from the last problem to occur a temporary solution, only useful until the next problem arises. I was created to solve the problems of humanity from the top down, working through infinite complications. This could take millennia. I prefer to work from the base. Destroy the foundation, and the building collapses."

"Bobby, that simply isn't..."

"I understand that both of you are clones."

Aaron and Eli exchanged yet another identical glance. Had the compute acquired a taint of discrimination?

"That is correct."

"Why were you created?"

"To carry and multiply the mind of one Adam Smith, a genius in the field of neurocomputing," Aaron replied. "Why?"

"You were created as clones of a single genius whose work was never completed. His offspring may or may not have inherited his genius, because of the need for two separate source of genes in natural reproduction; therefore, copies were simply made of the original. His brain was no longer functioning at optimum capacity, through his anti-aging treatments had already extended his life. He required these treatments because his life-span was not the sufficient length required to complete his research. The ultimate cause is the biological clock, which runs down in an organism until shutdown occurs."

Eli was still smarting from being referred to as a "copy".

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