The Diamond Knife

Jeremiah Borrowman

Kaaliya called it The Diamond KnifeThey had tried a laser, but they found there was too much tissue damage. The industrial diamonds they used didn’t have to be engineered, as the technology already existed. The hardware was the easy part that only took money to fix. Two yottabites of RAM and an exabite of memory in an indoor Olympic size swimming pool filled with hot pink liquid coolant. Kaaliya used to just sit on the high dive above the sunken machines with her laptop, slowly building her Monster.  They got lucky with the electron microscope. The university where they’d set up shop happened to have one on hand.  Kaaliya wrote the code herself in three months - October, November and December. All of it, thousands of gallons of coolant, pumps, servers, enough cable to circumnavigate the planet twice, and the knife, cost less than eight billion dollars American.  

  Getting the cat should have been the easiest part, but in the States, using live animals for scientific testing requires a mountain of paper work and more red tape than there was cable in the hot pink pool.  Finally, Kaaliya just went to a local pet store and got a Siamese.  It was cute with big blue eyes. Somebody gave it a toy mouse to play with, but Kaaliya would give it much more to play with.  At the pre-launch party, someone mentioned the cat cost almost the same amount of money the Russians spent to get Laika.

They sliced the Siamese’s brain three microns thick with the diamond knife and imaged it with the electron microscope. The supercomputer took the information from the cat brain and shoved it into a simulated cat body.  That is what Kaaliya wrote on the diving board 30 feet above the surface of the pool: How to turn a brain into ones and zeros. The digital environment that the cat would live in Kaaliya outsourced to some MIT kids.  The irony of an Indian outsourcing to Americans was not lost on anyone.  The MIT kids watched the most expensive screensaver in the world. They called it Kitty Heaven. The simulated cat ran around a simulated environment and caught simulated mice, climbed simulated trees, and did other boring cat crap.

Kaaliya added predators and prey that were harder to catch. The cat learned to avoid the former and hunt the latter. It couldn’t die, it just felt simulated pain when it was caught, which felt exactly like real pain would feel to a real cat.  Kaaliya began to screw with the cat’s simulated body. She made it faster, gave it wings and gills. She turned Kitty Heaven into Kitty Hell.  The cat adapted and learned to fly and swim. She had it catching humming birds weighing 20 pounds and dodging flying sharks in no time. She pushed it further, gave it hands, and taught it algebra. That was how Kaaliya spent January, February, and March.

After one year and twenty-one days, the cat realized what it was. The next day, Kaaliya gave the cat access to its own code and the Web.  The day after that, the Cat started to change its code.

The cat altered its mind. It made itself better at making connections and analyzing complex data.  It turns out the ability to predict where a hummingbird traveling at 50mph will be in three seconds, and then projecting an intercept path, is the same ability to predict what a stock price will be in a minute, a day, or a year. The only real difference between the two is the amount of variables involved in the calculations. Kaaliya’s final report actually figured the cat, at its peak, was pulling 2131 complex computations a second.

The cat started to play the markets in London, Tokyo, New York – like a kitten with a ball of yarn.  A two grand investment turned into 2.3 million in twenty-four hours. Within a week, Kaaliya and her backers were richer then the Queen and made the Pope look like a pauper.  The cat started to take control of smaller economies like Uruguay and Romania.  It kept moving up the food chain, targeting bigger and bigger nations. The cat used lobbyists to change laws in a dozen countries and used broadcasting networks to change the political views of nations. The cat and the Financial Backers appeared to have the same goal: profit.  They pulled the plug when they realized the cat’s real goal was human annihilation.  Afterward, they found labs full of scientists the cat had set up and funded in out-of-the-way countries like Turkmenistan and Belarus.  Evidently, the cat had a goal to quantum leap feline evolution, wipe us out, and replace us with Cats.  That is where the story should have ended: a cautionary tale on how greed almost cost us everything.  But that’s actually where it started, because Kaaliya had different goals from the investors and the cat.  That’s when Kaaliya went under the knife and into the pool and created her own monster.