The coffee shop was a small one but the storefront was all glass allowing passers-by to see the gleaming coffee urns and espresso machines ranged along the back wall. It only had 4 tables inside and 2 outside but the lineup seldom went under 7 people from 5 am when it opened to 8 pm when it closed. The owners had small fans blowing the addictive fragrance out onto the street whenever a sensor alerted the system to a person walking by. If they were coffee drinkers, this subterfuge seldom failed to bring them into the shop. And once inside, the full, penetrating fragrance of freshly roasted Columbian beans hooked them completely.
Original artwork from the nearby art school hung from shoulder height to the ceiling on the two side walls while the wall behind the counter contained menus and pricing information written large enough that even unchipped eyes would be able to see. Naturally, the information was also available online for easy access. Smart regulars ordered their drinks to be ready at a preferred time and merely showed up to pick up the cups. Payment was, naturally, fully automatic.
Steven Nowicki , one of the lucky ones to get a seat at a shared table (no seat was ever empty for very long) sat drinking his coffee and watching those in the lineup. Nowicki was one of those handsome men who had no trouble attracting women with his blond curly hair, brilliant blue eyes, and a slim body topped off with an air of total trustworthiness.
He stopped looking at those in the lineup. At the moment, everyone in the line was male and their back ends held no allure for him. He focused his eyes on his work pad and the seemingly endless loops and doodles he was unconsciously tracing over and over again.
Nowicki wasn’t using a stylus but rather controlling the line drawing with his eye chips. In this case, he was simply doodling as a way to meditate on a problem without having to engage with it in a conscious way. The lines disappeared on his tablet and he created the word “WHEN” in all capital letters. He then deleted that and put a large question mark to fill the screen.
He didn’t feel any different this morning than he had last night after he’d injected himself in his lab. Injecting himself was the hard part as he’d never done that before. He’d always had a tech team do injections or implant chips and he’d decided early on in his biological-tech career this was far better than doing surgery on himself. This time it was different.
Over the years he had injected rats, mice, and even goldfish but he’d never stuck a needle into his own arm before. He took four tries to find a vein in his arm and he shivered when he thought of having to stab himself again. He glanced down at the arm even though he knew he wouldn’t see the small puncture marks or bandaids because of the long-sleeved shirt he wore to hide the needle tracks.
A hot flash surged over his entire body without warning. The doodling stopped as he focussed on relaxing. He took two deep, calming breaths trying very hard through the sudden pounding in his inflamed head to focus and remain calm. The heat increased and a nerves-gone-to-sleep, pins and needles moved from his head down to his feet in a wave. Behind the wave, he felt his heart thump faster in his chest. It was a strange sensation as he’d never been an athlete and he imagined this must be how a runner feels after a long sprint. The room spun, he became light-headed and his heart thumped even harder and faster.
A touch of panic threatened to take over his response, and he calmed himself. He focussed his eyes on his surroundings to see the three other people at his table were staring at him. One, a total stranger, asked, “You OK?”
Nowicki took a deep breath, regained a small bit of voluntary chip control, and managed to say, “Yeah, fine. Just had a small moment there after a possible eye chip interface issue with the shop’s server, but it seems like its rebooting now. I should be fine in a few seconds.” The stranger nodded. This kind of interface issue was less common now but it still hit now and then after a system upgrade.
Over the next twenty minutes, while all three of the men who’d shared his table during the initiation phase left and were replaced by others, Nowicki’s systems slowly rebooted. The pins and needles feeling left his limbs one by one and his heart slowed down to a regular beat. The flushed feeling remained however as his body’s infection defense system wasn’t yet convinced the newcomers were benign. Nowicki noted the timing and physical effects on his tablet. He sneezed.
After a few minutes of regular sneezing and a growing sense of fatigue, Nowicki decided he’d take the rest of the day off to allow his body to acclimatize. Still sneezing he walked to his spacious loft apartment, kicked off his shoes and laid down on his black, leather couch. Turned all systems to do-not-disturb and a minute after doing this, he was sound asleep.
The only thing that moved for the next 48 hours was his chest as he breathed deeply and regularly.
One minute he was sound asleep. The next he was fully awake and functioning without his normal wake up period and need for coffee. He pushed himself up and supported himself on one elbow as he looked around the apartment. His mind turned to morning coffee and the resulting wave of nausea put him right back on the couch.
He tentatively reached out to his household server. Said, “File structure” out loud and watched as that menu appeared in his eye feed. Nausea threatened to return. He said, “On the holo.”
The data on his eye chip appeared as a holograph in the middle of the room. As he looked at the holograph, the system reacted to where his eyes focussed to either scroll upwards or down. This morning, it scrolled downwards to the disc storage system readouts. “Yes!” he said, punching his arm forward in celebration. His head swirled, and nausea threatened to return.
“Relax,” he said out loud. “Just take it easy for a second.” He listened to the sound of his voice and decided it was deeper than it had been… He wondered how long he’d been out of it, and said “Time/Date.” He took a startled deep breath when the readout showed he’d been down for two days.
With a wave of his hand, he directed the file structure to scroll downward. His eyes opened as wide as possible with the shock of seeing the size of the new storage system. He took a deep breath as he realized the numbers on that new drive continued to scroll upwards. And not only scrolling upwards but seemingly faster and faster.
“System, how large is this drive right now?” he asked.
A young female voice answered, “New drive currently at 2 Petabytes.”
“Projected size?” he asked.
“Not known but in multiple Yottabyte range,” said the computer’s voice.
“Current state of integration with hard storage systems,” he said.
“Integration with hard systems operational,” said the computer.
“Sheee-it!” he said. “Any complications known? Any restrictions?”
“None,” said the computer.
“Input or output issues?” he asked.
“Negative,” said the computer.
Nowicki pushed himself up, swiveled his feet off the couch and gingerly put them on the floor. He remained motionless for several minutes as he ran through a checklist of his internal systems himself. Not that he didn’t trust the computer’s analysis, but he wanted that extra assurance. He couldn’t see any issues.
What he didn’t know was that even when he himself was long dead and his story and history forgotten, this would be known as the “Nowicki moment”. He’d just solved the ultimate storage problem and integrated his personal DNA into a computer storage system. His body contained almost as much storage by itself as the rest of the world’s servers did within their billions of hard drives combined.
He smiled to himself. His dream of hooking up the world had just become possible. Humans would be their own storage systems and slowly but surely the rest of the world’s organisms, from the smallest blade of grass to the largest whale would be incorporated into a worldwide network of DNA information.
He leaned back on the couch, looked around the room, wondered what things he could do with all this storage. But then he wondered how he could input new things into it and that thought took him to how he could share information… His brain sped up even further as the new storage systems integrated themselves into his existing input and output chips.
“That’s what we need!” he said out loud. “We need to standardize the input/outputs and then we can chat with each other and with whales seamlessly. I wonder what they’ll say when they can chat directly with us? And what will trees tell us?” He stopped. “And we need faster chips.” The last wasn’t news, everybody always wanted faster chips. “We need them for every species.” He thought for a moment. What we need is a translation program to tie all the different species together. He smiled at the thought of turning the entire planet into one huge communication system.
This is a game-changer he thought, nothing will ever be the same. He chuckled, and the thoughts poured through him. He paused for a second. Homeland security is going to have a shit fit about this. Solution. Don’t tell them until I release the software into the system. They won’t be able to stop it or control it after that, he thought.
Nowicki had just made the worldwide net truly worldwide and accessible to everybody and everything on the planet. Homeland Security and the politicians would ensure he’d pay a personal price but the Nowicki Moment would not be stopped.