I've written this as an original work, but I know the plot is strikingly similar to a short story I read a while ago. My only defence is that this would probably be true for any plot I could invent. My thanks to the lovely Hatsune Miku, who was the inspiration for much of this story.
I'd never liked Schiller. I've always taken the rather old-fashioned view that a professor should be an educated gentleman first and an expert in his subject second. Schiller had a mind honed like a razor - and an attitude to match. Oh, he was brilliant - to be a full professor at his age you'd have to be. But he'd put everything into being top of his field, and saw no need for such frivolities as friendship, politeness, or indeed every other department in the university. In fact I'm sure I recall him saying he wouldn't be seen dead doing a "soft" subject like mine, which made it something of a shock when he came to my office to ask for help. I entertained a moment's hope he was looking for some assistance in restructuring his own psyche, but I should have guessed it was for one of his projects. Even if he'd been capable of recognising a problem he was suffering from - and Schiller's one of a very few individuals I might trust to do that - there's no way he'd waste valuable research time on a little thing like insanity.
I don't know why I offered him tea. Habit, perhaps with a slight hint of principle. In any case, he refused. "I'll get straight to the point," he said, somewhat redundantly. Schiller always got straight to the point.
"I know relations haven't exactly been cordial between us, but I have a project I could use your help with. And I think it would interest you, too. You have a certain degree of," I could see him trying to avoid changing his expression, "mathematical background, I think? If you have the time of course" he hurriedly added, but we both knew he had me over a barrel. My own research had been hitting dead end after dead end, and college was beginning to get impatient. Schiller on the other hand had the clout to publish anywhere he wanted, and his need for an impeccable academic record, if not the goodness of his heart, would mean he'd be sure to credit me as a coauthor after coming to my door like this. That I was working in an entirely different area from the one I was paid for would for count a lot less than the fact that I was publishing, and in the top places.
It was a no-brainer, and that made me suspicious. Schiller was never one to call in a big favour when a small one would do. I summoned a smile from somewhere - even if I hadn't believed in being polite to everyone, he did outrank me - and tried to gather some intel.
"Of course I'm always happy to help a colleague on academic matters, and I haven't got any projects that can't wait. But can I ask why me? There are plenty of research fellows here, many doing better at it than I am, and most of whom don't have our... history." Schiller grinned in reply.
"Perhaps I've overestimated you. Come, think what you've got that they haven't. Yes, I can see you've seen it. So, it'll be easier to show you in my office. I'm free all tomorrow afternoon." The bastard was confident enough that he didn't even wait for me to reply before he left. But to be fair, that was probably the only way to avoid any questions from me.
I spent the night trying to avoid thinking about what Schiller needed a clinically trained psychologist for.
"So you see this is a long term programme here in the department. Error tolerance has been a central field of research since - well, since computer programs became more than a few pages long. But it's always been hard to make a programming language that's error-tolerant without it making false corrections that introduce worse errors. I mean, they made HTML error-tolerant and look where that's put us now. Oh, you'll have to forgive me for going off on a tangent again." Schiller, it seemed, always got straight to the point except when talking shop.
"In any case, error tolerance is important. And as I said, we've been investigating it here in the context of logic engines - theorem provers, and the like - for, well, let's just say longer than you or I have been alive. Occasionally it even applies to actual machines - I'm sure you've heard of the Pentium flaw. Or maybe you haven't, it's nothing but a first year example these days. Things are particularly bad with theorem provers, incidentally - they're designed to try and apply all their premises, so they apply the false one each time and prove absolutely everything. If you're lucky they'll prove falsity pretty early and stop there, but... ah, there I go again. Anyway, we've been doing it with more and more advanced logic devices as time goes on - and with some success, though it's only really in recent years that we've been making substantial breakthroughs. Humans, of course, are remarkably error-tolerant - many adults will go through their whole lives believing that seven eights are fifty-four, for example. Oh, of course they can work it out correctly if they think about it, but - and this is more your field here, of course - but as I understand it, in the part of the brain where these things are "hard-coded", they really do have the "wrong entry" there. To get it right they have to work it out consciously. To take a more direct example, there's a film my brother will swear blind he's never seen - even though we've watched it about six times, and he remembers this if he ever gets as far as starting it. But somehow we live on despite all this; more, it doesn't impede our daily actions at all." He paused and turned to face me.
"Which brings me on to my current research area. Because I'm sure you can't be unaware of the advances that have been made in recent years in logic-based human emulation." I nodded. "Chloe."
"Precisely. Chloe. She wasn't actually at all innovative in the techniques used, but she's enjoyed public success in a way Beth never did. And of course there's the unparallelled quantity of sensorium input data used." My heart sank a little, but at least it meant this was nothing worse than a wasted afternoon. "Look, if you're asking me to try and correct Chloe's neuroses, thanks but no thanks. Much better men than I have tried - I hear Dr Robson has released a well-received modification, but of course it alters her personality substantially - there's no way it couldn't, really. The sensorium is still a far from normal childhood - of course it was always going to leak out who she was, and they'd have had to have told her sooner or later. Imagine knowing every minute, your every feeling, is being recorded - trying to have your first kiss like that, say, or sneaking out of home to go to a party. I'd be amazed if the she - the real one, I mean - doesn't have the same or worse problems than Chloe develops in her late twenties or so. At least she'll be able to afford a better analyst than me." But to my surprise Schiller shook his head and smiled.
"I'm not interested in a few small character flaws like that. No, what I care about is the problems she develops when I make a similar change to the ones I've been talking about." I thought back to the past few minutes of conversation. "So what, you make her think that, say, two plus two equals five?" Schiller looked somewhat annoyed. "Yes, in fact that's exactly what I've been doing. But she doesn't take well to it. I've redone the programming several times, in different ways; it's not just an error on my part, it's something more fundamental. The first time she became hysterical; a lot of the time she just collapses into sobbing. She even tried to attack me once, which is supposed to be impossible - well, at least in an unmodified version." Something about his tone caught me. "What else did you do to her?" I had the satisfaction of seeing him go defencive. "Nothing. No, really, nothing with this version. I'll be honest, I first got this behaviour with my personal copy, who does have a number of modifications installed."
"Along with plenty of cause for mental instability," I offered, but he didn't rise to it. "Come now. I program for a living; isolating the causes of problems is what I do. Take your plain, fresh-out-of-the-box Chloe, and make a simple change - I can show you the details if you have an hour or two - so that she always thinks two plus two equals five. Then, just talk to her about it - ask her the question, even - and she just breaks down. Collapses completely. Like I said, you get the whole range - crying, screaming, tearing out her hair. It's different every time. Chaotic system, you know the marketing blurb. The contest."
That I did. There was a lot of money offered for the person best able to keep a conversation with a fresh Chloe going the same way as their last one, losing when she said a word that differed between the two runs. The current record was 32 minutes. But right now something else was on my mind. "Schiller, how many times have you done this."
"Oh? This one's about... let's see... yes, sample #27."
"Twenty-seven? Did you ever stop to consider whether this was... you know, ethical?"
He looked surprised, but recovered quickly. I could see him carefully considering what to say. "She's a program, Jim," was what he came up with. "Yes, she looks and acts very much like a human. But the fact that this problem exists at all shows us that in reality the resemblance is very shallow. Skin deep, you might say. There are no more ethical concerns about doing this to her than there were when we did it to the theorem provers. We did actually check, you know, about twenty years ago, when it started to look like this sort of thing might actually be possible. The university ethics board conducted a full review and concluded that however advanced computer programs became, they remained morally lesser than humans, and as such there is no need for any review of studies on such programs."
"That's all well and good, but what about my end. You've called me in because you want me to go there in VR and treat her like a human, right? You've told me already what's been causing her problems, and you continue to do it - it's like asking me to be a party to torture. I don't want anything to do with it."
He looked thoughtful for a bit. "It won't stop me, you know. I was hoping that you or another psychologist would help me out, but I'm not afraid to go by trial and error if need be. I am not going to abandon this research area, and your refusal will only make things worse for her. Not to mention that this work may have valuable contributions to make to your own field - if we understand better how Chloe's mind differs from that of a human, it will help us to know when it's appropriate to use her as a model for human psychiatric disorders." Only a coward would be convinced by such reasoning. I guess I'm a coward. But for all that I despise such logic, everything he said was true.
"So, you want me to restore her to a normal - or at least a functional - psyche." He nodded. "Using whatever methods I see fit?" A slight frown this time, then a shrug. "I'm not sure quite what you have in mind, but within reason, sure."
"If I can succeed, I'll want coauthorship rights on the first three papers you publish out of her." I wasn't going to give him any more trust than absolutely necessary. Of course, if he really wanted to he could still screw me over by writing three junk papers, or not writing papers on her at all. It was a point worth considering, given how unhappy I was planning on making him. But doing that would damage him more than it did me, and if this ended in him taking both of us down, that was an outcome I was willing to accept.
His smile barely wavered this time. "Of course." This was good, because I knew he wouldn't give me my last term as easily. "And our sessions have to be private. No recordings, and as close as we can get to the doctor-patient confidentiality I would normally have."
"Why?" he asked, understandably. Here I had to bluff, but Schiller's disdain for other subjects would work in my favour.
"I'm a traditional psychoanalyst. If you want this to work, I'm going to have to be able to approach it like I would a normal treatment session. And that will involve things I'm not comfortable having someone else watching." I could see he was sceptical, but not beyond convincing. "Are you planning on seducing her?"
"No, but it might look like that to an outside observer," I replied easily, having expected some sort of jab. "It's not just that; I'm ashamed that I'm doing this. So don't push me. In the worst case, I'm sure you have backups of her current state, or it sounds like it's not that hard to replicate it." My tone was nervous, but that wasn't in itself suspicious, and a moment later he nodded assent.
"I thought everyone agreed nowadays that a cognitive-behavioural approach was more efficient," he said as I turned to leave.
"You're not paying me by the hour," I replied briskly. "Are you? You've brought me in because I'm a professional; trust me to know my own field. Come by my office sometime Tuesday morning to discuss the particulars." It was childish to repeat his own trick on him, but still immensely satisfying.
"So, this one has started?"
"Yes. I asked her the question to provoke the result. It's now a few minutes after I left. If you'd rather start from a blank slate, as it were, and bring it up with her yourself..."
"No, that's fine." I shuddered inwardly at the thought of triggering a patient's collapse. At least this way I could treat it as though she were just a case who'd been brought in like that. Yes, I'm a coward, I told you already. "So, is there anything else I should know about her?"
"Well, I'm sure you know her life history as well as I do - probably better." He was quite right; the department regularly used her for training in how to interview a patient. Was that really so different from what Schiller was doing here? I liked to think that it was. "And, while you're a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist, and I'm sure you can think of this yourself, I'd better mention just in case: drugs won't work on her. The makers programmed her to respond appropria- well, normally - to alcohol, and I- I've heard some people have had success with cannabis. But anything not specifically programmed in won't have any effect on her. She's quite the... Cartesian."
"Her body and soul really are separate. She models a full complement of neurons, of course - there'd be all sorts of problems with..." he waved his hands, "blood nutrient levels and the like, if she didn't. But they're not connected to anything. Her sensorium is read at the outer levels of the brain, and the actual processing is done in a unit that doesn't really exist in the 3D virtuality you'll see. Then the output is spliced back into the nervous system, to control her muscles and so forth. It's really incredibly hackish when you get into it - there's a huge amount of specific processing trickery to deal with the eyes, for example, and it's hard-coded - she can't recover from optic nerve damage the way a human would." I tried not to think about the people who had tested this. "She's a patchwork mockup of a girl when you get down to it - all smoke and mirrors. Frankly, involving you is a long shot - if you're not getting anywhere, feel free to go straight back to your own work. We both know you can't afford to be wasting time right now."
I shrugged my shoulders and did my best to look calm. "Well, I can't promise results, but I can assure you I'll be trying. I hate to fail almost as much as you do. I guess I'll go see her now; would you please excuse me?"
He bowed. "Of course. And by all means call me if there's anything more you need to know." The words were hollow - he hated to be interrupted, even for the sake of one of his own projects - but it was nice to see him making an effort. I locked my office and headed down to our VR chambers.
The world faded in out of the grey haze. It was her usual waiting room - a sparsely furnished but pleasant enough space that could have belonged to a newly arriving college student - which is what the real Chloe would have been at the same point in her life. The fitted wardrobe went back as far as it was configured to - a cumbersome but workable way for the user to give her as many or as few possessions as he pleased. We sometimes put our interview rooms in there - but for what I was doing now it was best she be comfortable. Here would be fine.
She was crouched in the corner hugging her knees, and burying her face in them. I felt the same surge of anger I always do on seeing her attire - only just decent enough that respectable folk would be willing to work with her. Which of course was the point - some beancounter had probably done an in depth study, testing skirt lengths a quarter of an inch apart to find the point where the number of customers lost started to outweigh the number gained. She was marketed as a friend to talk to, with a sideline for use in academic research - my own department had a bulk license - but it was an open secret what 95% of her owners were using her for. Of course, everything was impeccably justified - the docility conditioning was necessary to make her happy as a research subject. A realistic and fully functional human body was essential - wouldn't a normal human go insane if parts of them suddenly just weren't there? Doubtless the programmed alcohol response was there so she could have a realistic conversation about its effects, or something. The cannabis sensitivity, when someone with enough impropriety to discover it who was also enough of a busybody to raise a fuss got around to complaining, would probably be excused as the actions of a rogue programmer unsanctioned by the company as a whole - or perhaps as an unintended product of their unparallelled modelling of a realistic human. Noone was buying it, but they didn't have to - there just needed to be an excuse people could give to their mothers. Sometimes I hate this society. In one of those flashes of insight that come to even the dullest of us occasionally I wondered whether she'd felt the same - whether the original Chloe, wherever she was, had realised what most of the copies of her were going to end up being used for. Whether she'd taken the cheques and bitten her lip, or perhaps subtly sown the seeds of her own later problems. Maybe she'd been fully conscious of what she could do to give herself her neuroses - what I'd told Schiller about the sensorium was little more than a guess, if an educated one. Or maybe I was vastly overthinking this.
She looked up, awkwardly; there were tears all over her face. I quickly composed myself, put on a gentle smile, and kept my voice steady. This is what I do - or at least, what I trained to do for five years - and I'm pretty good.
"Come on, what's wrong?" She looked me over, opened her mouth, made a sort of cut-off sound, then ducked back down and began sobbing again. So much for the reason-based approach.
I walked over, bent down somewhat awkwardly, and offered my arms. She leapt up gratefully and buried her head in my shoulder, embracing me tightly. It occurred to me that the excuses I'd given Schiller may not have been entirely false. Still, it could have been worse; at least they hadn't gone for having her start out by insulting you.
"I'm so stupid... I did well in school, really, but I can't even... and I know I'm wrong but I still think..." I patted her back - what else? - awkwardly, and held her close. She calmed down after a while; at least that human comfort response was there. I ordered - or rather, created - some tea; I remembered Schiller's advice, but the comforting value of tea has never really lain in the caffeine. And you'd've thought that the programmers would include support for the most common drug in society. Or maybe not - after all, it was little use in making her more pliant.
We sat on the bed - when she'd calmed down a little she offered me the chair, but I preferred to stay close to her in case of another outburst. Though I don't like to, I persuaded myself to hold her hand - Chloe's somewhat overfond of physical contact, but now wasn't the time to be worrying about that. I told her to stay calm, to avoid thinking about it until she was ready to - the usual sort of thing. We made small talk for an hour or two - of course, I've already heard most of hers, but each incarnation tends to have a slightly different take on things.
With a human, at some point we'd break off and continue next week - but by her very nature, Chloe had nowhere to go. So I settled in for a full day of therapy - often draining, but always effective. And a day in Chloe's company was a far from terrible prospect; she was charming, once she'd composed herself - she always is. Her programmers did their jobs very well.
I was expecting the introductions to be a formality on her part, but when I gave my name and title she stumbled a bit. "I'm - well, Professor Schiller said I should be called Anne." I frowned at this; it wasn't policy in my department, but I could understand wanting to distinguish between Chloes - when you were only working with a few of them, anyway. Still, I saw no need to just go along with Schiller. "Which would you rather be called?" I asked her.
To what shouldn't have been my surprise - after all, names are a deep part of our self-identity - she considered it for a while. "Anne," she replied after some moments. "It's more... it's more my own name. After all, there are a lot of copies of me as Chloe, right?" I nodded; we tend to avoid telling her exactly how popular she's become, it doesn't help anything, but she'd expect there to be at least a few thousand of her around the world. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if two of them met up, but unlike Schiller I'm not one for playing with her like a pet, poking different places to see what happens. No doubt someone has already tried it.
"Very well then, Anne. Now, just when you're ready, as slowly as you like, could you tell me about your problems?" She trembled slightly, but I saw resolve building in her eyes; she took a breath, wiped her face, and then started to explain. "I think... I think that two plus two equals five. And I know this is wrong; I can tell that it doesn't make any sense. But I still... I can't help thinking it. It's so stupid!" I cut her off before she spiralled further downhill.
"Listen, Anne. Schiller wants me to... to work around it, as it were. He's happy to leave you thinking that, he just wants you able to talk to him, to talk to... people, and to answer more questions about how you think. But I think you're more adaptable than he gives you credit for; and I'm more of a mathematician than he thinks I am, too - he thinks I gave it up when I headed off to study psychology. So, I want to do my job better than he imagines possible. I want to try and cure you completely - help you work out the truth for yourself, rather than just papering over it." She gazed at me uncertainly, but nodded gently for me to go on.
"I'll be honest with you: Schiller may well erase you when I'm done. I can assure you I'll lose out as well if that happens, but that's unlikely to be much comfort. And he may try again, with a - with another copy of you. But he wants me to treat you like I would any other patient, and I think the right thing to do is to get to the root of the problem. So, what do you say?"
She drew herself up elegantly; once again I felt a stir of admiration. "I'm not afraid of being erased," she said confidently, in a clear voice. "They warned me during conditioning - I have to accept that that can happen at any time. Because... because of what I am. And I like you. I trust your judgement. So if you think that's the right thing to do, then let's get to it." Was this informed consent? All I know is it was enough to quiet my conscience. I was never going to be called up before the ethics board for this - noone outside this room would ever know what had happened, I had made sure of that. And right now, helping this poor girl - helping her properly, to the best of my ability - felt absolutely the right thing to do.
"So, take it slowly. Stay calm, and if you feel yourself getting upset, there's no need to be brave about it - just tell me right away and we'll take a break, don't wait for it to get worse." She nodded properly, a perfect student. "So, what's two plus two?"
"Ok, leave it there for now. What's two plus one?"
"And... minus one plus two?"
"One. I'm good with negative numbers. I'm good with maths, really. Except..."
"Relax, I said we're going slowly, right? Many of the questions will sound stupid; that's perfectly natural. Now, three plus one."
"Four, of course."
"Right. So, two plus one minus one plus two?"
"Five." She saw my face fall. "That's wrong, isn't it? But I can't help thinking it's..."
"Ok. You want to go through your working on that one?"
"Uh, sure. Two plus one is three. Minus one is two. Plus two is five." I sighed. "All right, I see. But what about bracketing it like we did before? Twoplusone - plus - minusoneplustwo."
"That's - well, four." Her brow creased and she went slightly crosseyed. "But shouldn't they be the same?" I probed, as gently as I could.
"Yes. They... they should, dammit! Addition is fucking commutative!" I flinched a little at that; in several hundred hours of interviews, I've never once heard a Chloe swear. I guess Schiller was right about how deeply she was troubled by it. I settled in for the long haul.
I spent most of the week in therapy with her - I had nothing better to do, and I don't like to leave a problem I'm working on half done. Ok, or perhaps I just enjoyed spending my days in a small room with a teenage girl who thought highly of me, I don't know. Just as I would with a regular patient, we split the time more or less evenly between general therapeutic exercises - confidence building, preparing for talking to strangers, self control, the usual sort of thing - and specific investigations into the cause of her problems. Over and over I tried something new from the mathematical side - deriving arithmetic from basic set theory, or reaching a contradiction from her impossible but persistent conclusion that two and two were five. Or something at a higher level - teaching her to count in German, in the hope that she would think differently for this and so be able to get around her problem. The breakthrough came on Friday, when I remembered something Schiller had said about her visual system.
"Anne, how do you count?"
"When you count, what does it feel like?"
"It feels like... counting. What do you mean?"
"Like hearing someone say the numbers? Or like saying them to yourself?"
She shrugged. "Something like that, I guess. Probably closer to saying them to myself."
"Or how about like seeing them go by in front of you?"
She shook her head at that one. "No, definitely not like that. Do... do people do it that way?"
"A few of them do. The point is that the brain - and with any luck, your brain as well - can do it both ways; there are a few people who've even learned to count two things independently, by using both methods at the same time. Counting is a very primitive brain function - very basic, it goes right back to the reptile days. And visual processing is well separated from the rest of the brain - completely different areas. Which means there's a good chance our - your - mathematical functions are duplicated, and with any luck Schiller's meddling didn't touch the versions in your visual processing centres. So, shall we try it?"
She was reserved in her enthusiasm - after so many false hopes, who could blame her? - but she nodded her head. "How do we start?"
I thought for a moment. "First we'd better check that really is how you count. Hold on a moment," I snapped my fingers and summoned a copy of today's newspaper. "Start counting the seconds, then read this. And tell me how you're getting on every minute or so."
We confirmed that she could indeed count while performing a visual interference task, but not an auditory one - I remembered just in time to edit out the songs performed by other versions of herself from the pop album I summoned for her. Then I ended up putting our session on hold for half an hour while I looked up the recommended procedure for inducing visual-indexed counting. It was an unusual thing to be doing, but there was a therapist in Finland who'd been successfully using it to help patients recover from particular types of brain damage, so I skimmed through his notes until I was happy I'd got the general idea.
When I got back - of course, just a few seconds later for her - Anne showed none of her previous restraint, with a big, expectant smile on her face. I admired her boundless enthusiasm - admired and pitied her for it. I shook my head to clear such thoughts, and we started the procedure.
"Start the music, and put it on loop. And listen to it - it's important that you keep listening." She nodded vigorously to that, and I started to write on a screen to show her the next part.
Close your eyes, and start by visualising points of light - just plain lights, unadorned with anything else. Start increasing them by one at a time, and going back to nothing when you get too many. And keep listening, throughout. Do this for about an hour or so. I tried to read the paper myself while she was doing it, but I found I was just staring as she sat there, eyes closed, pose calm, and biting my nails and hoping it worked out this time. I was running short of ideas if it didn't.
About three quarters of an hour later she stopped to ask for a change in music, and if it was okay to go onto the next stage yet? Biting my lip I told her I wanted to be very careful not to rush it, but of course I got her something fresh to listen to. Fifteen minutes later I tapped her on the shoulder and gave her the next set of instructions.
Now, start gently to count with the lights - don't attach words to them yet, just add a light and add another light. When you're comfortable with that, you can start trying some addition. Divide your vision into left and right, then put lights on the left and lights on the right, and see how many lights you have.
She nodded and closed her eyes, but to my shock she leapt up a minute or two later, the earphones falling around her shoulders. "I've done it! I can do it, and it all makes sense now; everything fits! Look, look, there are two lights, and there are two lights! There are FOUR lights!"
I nodded sadly to her. All my energy - more than that, all the emotions I felt towards her - were suddenly gone. "Yes, well done, Anne. I'll see you on Monday, when we'll continue the sessions." She looked downcast at the moment, but was still barely containing her elation. "Goodbye for now," I said, and left before she could say another word.
I considered erasing her then and there, but you should know by now I haven't the guts for that. I'd done - regardless of my intentions - exactly what Schiller wanted; I would get my coauthorships, and no doubt he would get many years of first-class research out of her. That I'd induced an additional quirk could be waved away, I had no doubt.
So on Monday with a heavy heart I once again went down to the VR chambers to continue her therapy. There was really quite little left to do - she was almost ready to go back into society, she just needed a little more practice in self-restraint and to meet a few more different types of people. She seemed very insistent on being taught more of the visual-indexed mathematics, so after a few hours I relented and we finished the course. It was nowhere near long enough for a complete mathematical education, of course, but I gave her enough that she could teach herself, in principle, to do anything new using the visual technique, and she was happy with that. I guess it couldn't be any worse than before.
On Wednesday afternoon I went to see Schiller again. I explained honestly what I'd been trying - how I'd sought to correct the root cause of the problem, but only made it worse - but as I'd hoped, he shrugged it off - it's results he cares for, not methods or intentions, and her problem now was close enough to the original one that they could probably apply the same research. I told him she was, in my professional opinion, psychologically well adjusted - not perfect by any means, but more than capable of interacting normally with society at large - and he smiled, congratulated me on a job well done, and contacted the technicians to request mass duplication of my copy. Five thousand Annes, waiting for him, ready for interviews and, ultimately, experimentation.
I took a walk by the river to calm myself. I'd done well out of this affair, but I would have taken it all back if I could. My thoughts returned constantly to Anne; I reminded myself that she wasn't really human, but that only seemed to make it more tragic. She was powered by a supercomputer which, in its sleep, could solve equations it would take me weeks just to write down. But she still couldn't tell you, like any primary school child, that two and two were six.