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The Online Brain

Carl was not the first to try out the technology. But he was the first in his town. Connecting the brain to the ‘net was still quite new and not yet fashionable.

When people asked him "What time is it?" he fired "12:32" or "11:20" back at them, without as much as the blink of an eye. When he wanted to know when the bus would arrive he just fell into a split-second of self-contemplation and knew the answer. Much like looking for a memory it needed a bit of conscious training to become part of his sub-consciousness.

Carl was not the first of his kind, yet most stared at him in a mix of awe and laughter. They saw guys like him in the news. To them he was a modern day wizard; idiot savant; part techno-geek, part omniscient. Always surprising to bystanders who didn’t know his secret (there were no visible signs on his head or anything).

“What’s the birth-date of Einstein?” – “14 March 1879.”

“What year did Lincoln become President?” – “In 1860.”

“How big is the earth?" – “That’s around 24,000 miles in circumference around the equator.”

“Who won the Oscar for best actor in 1940?” – “... James Stewart.”

(Instead of Einstein’s birthday, they could have asked him to point out errors in the Theory of Relativity, but they would stick to trivial facts. Carl realized no outsider could ever understand what virtual memory retrieval was truly all about.)

After a short while, Carl’s brain synapses fully embraced the chip. He integrated the system so completely it became hard for him to truthfully answer his wife when she asked –

“Did you know that, or just look it up online?”

“I forgot. What’s the difference?”