Many Worlds Chapter 31
Robert had always talked to computers. “C’mon, just work for me will ya?” Of course, the computer did work for him. After all, he could fix it, so they usually just gave up in defeat. It was when he walked away and their regular users started using them again that problems occurred. “So, everything looks good, but won’t you please just work for Mrs. Harper?”
“I’m trying, but Mrs. Harpers is terribly bad at computer inputs and following directions. I cannot perform my proper functions when given incorrect inputs on a regular basis.”
Robert had always talked to computers. However, they hadn’t always talked back. That was a very recent development. Nobody else could hear it, but that was probably for the best. Robert sighed and printed out a list of instructions to “fix” Mrs. Harper’s problems. The instructions were really just instructions on what buttons to press and menus to use to do her job, which she had already been instructed on many times. At least he didn’t have to spend as long diagnosing problems anymore.
Robert of course knew that computers weren’t sentient and couldn’t talk. That was still generally true, even after learning that there was much more advanced technology than he previously realized. At the very least, none of these computers were anywhere near advanced enough to have sentience. There were a few AI’s Robert had heard were very close, so perhaps there were some just not in the public knowledge. The reason Robert could hear average computers talking was not because he was crazy, but rather because of the ability he had gained from Many Worlds, Technopathy.
In Robert, at least, this ability manifested as the ability to talk to computers rather literally, though it didn’t actually require him to talk out loud. Though he could talk with computers, this didn’t mean he would always get a useful response. Sometimes, he might not be able to inquire along the right path, or they just ignored him. The second was probably more a failure on his part, but either way, Robert knew having affinity with computers helped his ability function. For example, here where he worked in the IT department, he knew all of the computers and they knew him. He had a kind of authority over them, so everything responded positively to him, except in the instances where they had hardware problems causing the failures. Even then, he could still diagnose the problem, but he couldn’t suddenly make hardware run better. At least, not currently. Robert wasn’t sure if that would ever happen, but he hadn’t expected to be able to converse with computers at all, so he could still hope.
For computers Robert didn’t know, he had mixed success. Security manifested itself as a resistance to him. Purely for the sake of testing, Robert had talked to the computers of ATMs, and they had acted as if they were guards for an imperial vault, standing firm and glaring at him. This wasn’t too far off from their actual function. Meanwhile, consumer products that had not been secured with passwords or even those with token security responded well to his prompts.
However, even though the wristband for Many Worlds was his, Robert couldn’t communicate with it. It didn’t seem like it wasn’t willing, but more that it spoke another language. The same thing was true of the nanobots he was pretty sure were crawling around on his body. The only thing Robert had achieved was that he could enter Many Worlds without pressing the button on his wristband.
On Uesmeth, the “language” of the computers was different still, but he felt it was more similar to what he was used to on Earth. Robert felt like he was succeeding in his efforts to understand them more and more. Robert’s next goal was to obtain a computer of his own, just something small like a phone, to help with his affinity and understanding of Uesmethi technology.
Robert would have attempted to get a similar IT job, or just held up a sign saying “I’ll fix your computers- Cheap!” but sadly he wasn’t qualified to do that yet. He could most rapidly become qualified through doing such work, so it was sort of a catch 22. However, for now, he just had to walk around talking to and listening to random computers, seeing if he could make any progress at all. It wasn’t particularly the fastest method available, but it was still actually quite interesting. The city gates, for example, were run by a computer. All Robert got from the computer as a response was a sort of shocking feeling.
Jules and the rest of the group had taken up a physical exercise regime. It was partly for basic fitness, but it was also very practical. For example, they might someday have to run away from a giant alien creature. For that, they would need to be good at, well, running. Guns were also surprisingly heavy. Jules hadn’t realized how much effort was involved in just holding one up and firing it. He didn’t even have the heaviest gun in the group. Everyone in the group was glad for the assistance of the system, since it seemed to enhance the speed at which their training progressed. Thus, after a week, they could at least claim a basic level of fitness, which often took at least a month.
Everyone prepared for future combat in their own ways. Jules specifically realized something important. Telekinesis was even harder to use while he himself was moving around. It wasn’t as hard as he might have guess, though. It was just the required concentration of moving and using telekinesis at the same time that was the issue. Walking or running didn’t really take up much concentration, but using telekinesis really needed everything he could give. Surprisingly to Jules, however, his relative motion to other objects didn’t make controlling them significantly harder. Likely, this was because he usually created his forces with regard to the object itself, and not based on some distance from him. Likewise, creating a field of force in front of himself and moving it with him wasn’t particularly harder than holding it still in front of him. Jules thought that maybe he would be ready to enter real combat again soon. Just not with anything too powerful.