The big day finally arrived. I am now officially an Omniscience employee, and even better, an actual professional scientist. On paper, anyway. In reality, my job so far mostly involves cleaning lab equipment and staying out of the way, but every great career starts somewhere, right?
I’d met my new boss, Hugh Seymour, during the interview process, but it’s hard to get a feel for a person when he’s grilling you like you’re a prisoner of war. As it turns out, he’s… well, he’s pretty much the same way all the time, at least to this new guy. He seemed to have very little patience for my newbie questions and total lack of any idea about how things work at Omniscience, but I’m sure he’ll warm up to me eventually. I hope so, anyway. So far, I get the distinct feeling he’d rather not have to deal with the latest clueless greenhorn.
In case you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my glasses in these photos, it’s a company policy thing. There is a lot of very expensive machinery here and the bean counters don’t want someone’s horn-rims falling off and jamming up the gears. Normally I can’t stand contact lenses, but I’ll deal with the annoyance if it means I get to keep my job, even if it means I lose a little of my nerdish charm.
Most of my day was spent being escorted around the office by Mr. Seymour, who made no secret of the fact that he was rather annoyed to be torn away from his work for the day to play babysitter. The sacrifice was appreciated, though, and I got to meet a lot of my fellow scientists, who were gracious enough to take time out of their busy schedules to shake my hand and welcome me to the team.
One particular interesting thing I learned today is that not all of my co-workers are completely human. Take Sparky, for example. He’s sort of a combination of a 3-D printer, a laser rifle, and an AIBO, with a generous amount of artificial intelligence thrown in to round out the whole package. In a place like Omniscience where every room is filled with state-of-the-art high tech gizmos, Sparky stood out as something really extraordinary.
Mr. Seymour left us alone together for quite a while, no doubt happy to have a chance to get away from me for a while and actually get some work done. While he was gone, Sparky and I chatted like we’d been friends for years. Whoever programmed him is a certified genius.
At one point the discussion turned to astronomy. I was waxing rhapsodic about the complicated dance the planets do around the sun, and the moons around the planets, and so on, and how inspiring I found it all.
Sparky’s big round head bounced up.
“Well, then, Edison,” he said in a voice ironically reminiscent of HAL’s from 2001, “I’ve got a little project for you. Step up to the keyboard. Don’t by shy.”
I did as he asked. You don’t turn down an invitation from an AI equipped with a frickin’ laser beam attached to his head.
For the next hour or so, Sparky prompted me to enter coordinates, gravitational vectors, and telemetry into his console, all the while modeling my data as a holographic projection. Then he sprung into action, his printer heads moving with rapid precision, followed by several bursts from his head-mounted laser.
The end result was an absolutely stunning, fully-animated 3-D model of the solar system.
I offered to take Sparky out to lunch as a thank-you, but since he doesn’t eat, and getting him out to the parking lot would require a very large crane, he took a rain check. I’ll have to find some other way to thank him. I may have to try Googling “industrial lubricant of the month club.”