Elwin, barely a teenager, loved electronics, robots, and gadgets—especially when they loved him back. One of his favorite places to visit was Omni Electronics in Fairfax.
He sat on a stool at the application hub and looked for a personal assistant application that would help optimize his efforts at school and home, but none seemed sufficient. What he found was a personal simulation program called LifeSim that would simulate a person’s growth, accept a number of decisions as variables, and predict where they wind up according to preset time parameters.
—Hello, Elwin— The interactive User Interface said.
“Wait,” said Elwin. “I haven’t told you anything, yet. How do you know my name?”
—I’m currently loaded on a computer with several scanning devices. I scanned every magnetic strip and chip in your wallet, as well as your phone’s databases. I’m also programmed with facial recognition, and I found a picture of you on the Internet taking second place in a Marrin Middle School science fair.—
Elwin grumbled. “His father taught physics at MIT.”
—To what are you referring?—
“The kid who won first… never mind.”
—What time parameter would you like predicted?—
“What will I accomplish by the end of my life?”
—One moment while I access your academic transcripts, medical records, and Angry Birds scores.—
“What you doing, Elwin?” Missy Peterson from his middle school homeroom, girlfriend to Scott Kimball, the school’s hero quarterback, sat next to Elwin at the application hub.
“Check this out,” he said. “This program is going to predict my future.”
—What field of study would you like to go into?—
“Astronaut,” Elwin said. “I want to be on a team to Mars, and then Jupiter.”
—Which are you more likely to do when you are an adult? Hunt for sport, create a graphic novel, or start a rock and roll band?—
“Band,” said Missy.
“Yes. Definitely the band,” said Elwin.
The application UI asked several more questions, then started calculating.
“I’m next,” said Missy.
—Elwin Nielson, you will work your way up the ranks of a pharmaceutical corporation, then break off on your own to found a successful nanotech company. You will marry a beautiful and intelligent woman who will challenge you and support you. You will also score higher than anyone else on the planet on a soon to be invented game called Schroedinger’s Minions.—
“Huh,” said Elwin. “I guess it kind of sounds like me.”
“Me, me, me,” said Missy. “LifeSim, begin new profile. How will it be thirty years from now?”
The UI prompted her for hobbies, interests, and her favorite Teletubby.
“Dude.” Scott stepped up behind them and put his arm around Missy. “This program is only as good as a guessing game by the programmers who wrote it.”
Missy laughed. “You’re a major killjoy, Scott. Enjoy the fun for once.”
—Missy Peterson, you will be a successful marine biologist. Six kids—two boys and four girls. You will live in the Monterrey Bay area, drive a Prius, and teach RCIA classes. You will lead a poetry club for children and adults, and you will be widely published. You will name your dog Parcheesi.—
“Wow,” said Missy.
“Spooky, isn’t it?” said Elwin. He elbowed Scott in the shoulder. “Six kids, pal.”
Scott’s cheeks turned red. “Riiiight.”
“Hey, LifeSim,” said Missy. “Will my husband win the Superbowl?”
Missy looked up at Scott, eyes wide and mouth open in sympathy.
“C’mon. It’s hogwash,” said Scott, but Elwin thought he saw worry in his face.
“Are you sure, LifeSim?” asked Missy. “I mean… well, who will my husband be?”
—Elwin, of course.—
Elwin fell off his stool laughing.