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The Unlikely Mind of Howard Nimh

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As Thomas Edison once said, just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do it doesn't mean that it's useless. Edison forgot to mention that that something can still cause you a lot of trouble. Who is Howard Nimh? That's a good question. The simple answer is: he's the first human being to download his mind into a computer. He was already one of the most important minds of the 21st Century, but history will remember Howard Nimh as the first guy who dove completely into the binary world. And he didn't come back out. Why did he download himself? He was in love. People in the scientific community disagree with me, but I'm pretty sure he did it because he was crazy about a girl. Howard Nimh was born to school teacher parents Julian and Renee Nimh in 2001, in the Hudson Valley, just an hour north of New York City. The Nimhs would have been like any other boring, middle-class family were it not for the mental illness of their son Howard. A happy child, young Howard had an intense interest in bad jokes and matchbox cars. But Howard had a condition that baffled psychiatrists. As he grew older, his mind did not. Howard Nimh had reached early adulthood and he still possessed the mind of a five-year-old. Diagnosis of young Howard Nimh's condition changed with the fashion trends in psychology. Labels on the illness ranged from Asperger Syndrome to autism to Attention Deficit Disorder, and once, even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Famed psychologist Professor Robert Hammerstein discovered Howard Nimh's case through a colleague, and he invited the teenager to the University of New York for treatment and study. Watch him go around him go around the side of the bar again. This response gradually wins out because it is rewarded the fastest and with the least effort. Now what do you think the satiated animal has learned to do? In two years, Professor Hammerstein published a paper on Howard Nimh's disorder naming it, "Nimh's Syndrome." A month later, came the popular book on Howard, entitled: "Life With Howard." Around this time, Howard Nimh caught the attention of Martin Papier. A graduate student at the University of New York, Martin Papier was a man obsessed with artificial intelligence. By the early 21st Century, scientists and engineers had already created computers that outreached the computing capacity of the human brain. However, there were many aspects of the human mind that the fastest computers could not yet emulate. In the early 21st Century, the general populace tended to think of the human mind as being like a computer. In fact, they were at the time vastly different things. Most computers are logical, sequential, linear things. But the mind is messy. There are always several trillion processes happening at once. When a woman walks down the street her brain is making sure that one foot steps in front of the other, that she doesn't lose her balance and fall over. Just processing the visual and audio cues of her environment takes a lot of synapses and neurons firing at the same time. The brain's part analog, and, furthermore, the human mind is never restricted by logic. For example, if the ugliest shirt in town was designed by Betsy Johnson, I would buy the damn thing if it was on sale. I'd probably never wear it, but I'd buy it. Taking these obstacles head-on, a few scientists began to reverse-engineer the human brain with the goal of creating a human-like A.I. One such scientist was Martin Papier. All these other scientists were trying to reverse-engineer the human mind by looking at how normal people thought and functioned. But Martin Papier realized that many discoveries in biology were made when studying disease. He theorized that Howard Nimh's disease would give him the tools to make a complete computer model of the human mind. He signed on Howard as his exclusive test subject, and in exchange, he gave him room and board. Papier's first experiment was to connect a commercial Microdrive to Howard Nimh's brain. As in Trask and Holland's experiments with the intellectually-handicapped, the drive increased Howard's memory. Howard immediately showed progress in pattern recognition. He spent much of his time, in this early part of the study, exploring chess puzzles. However, to Martin Papier's frustration, Howard's mind stayed immature. Aside from chess, Howard's other favorites pastime was whispering superlatives to his stuffed bear, in French. "Magnifique." Martin Papier was a very intelligent man, and a hard-working man at that. But he was not what you'd call a "compassionate" man. He saw Howard as a really frustrating problem he needed to solve. While Martin was hard at work trying to find his way into Howard's mind, the day-to-day care of Howard Nimh fell to Martin Papier's wife, Helen. Helen Papier met Martin when she had been a university administrator. You can talk to anyone on the faculty at the university, any of the students who worked with her, and you'd hear that she was a great lady, nicest person on campus, a true saint. Soon after her husband signed on Howard Nimh, she took a leave of absence to assist in looking after Howard. According to people who were friends of the Papiers at the time, Howard, as one could predict, became very attached to Helen. "Excellent." At the time, artificial intelligence was almost entirely goal-oriented. Whether the A.I. used decision trees to win a chess match, or it used cluster analysis for data-mining, the program was basically directed to solving a particular problem. In a stroke of pure genius, Dr. Martin Papier wrote an algorithm that managed to not be goal-oriented. And three years after their work together began, he uploaded the program into Howard Nimh's head. Taking advantage of this thick young man, Howard Nimh, Dr. Papier wrote the beginnings of an artificial intelligence that took advantage of the boredom of Howard's biological brain, of all the completely random bits of information blowing around in there. The program allowed Howard Nimh to decide for himself what his goals were. With Howard's initiative leading the way, the A.I. could follow the trail and map out Howard's mind. Though those goals started simple enough, "I want some food," "I want to be more comfortable," in a matter of days, Howard Nimh's intelligence exploded. This was a very fertile time, intellectually, for Howard Nimh. He designed a better light bulb-- He wrote the genome for a theoretically-indestructible microorganism-- --constructed a completely insane artificial language called "Z-LAN" that can be spoken as well as used for programming-- He wrote and illustrated a graphic novel based on the Kyrgyz epic "Manas"-- Pertinent to Dr. Martin Papier, Howard Nimh modeled the pre-frontal cortex of the human brain-- --and of course, Howard Nimh's greatest achievement from that time period was "Nimh II." Nimh II is a hybrid computer that uses both digital and analog components. It utilizes the accuracy of digital processors, but it also enables unprecedented parallel and nonlinear functioning. The analog components are technically mechanical, but Howard Nimh took advantage of the nanotechnology available at the University of New York and created what scientists and engineers dubbed, "The Gray Matter." Made from a protein, the microscopic, polygonal shapes inside Nimh II arrange and rearrange themselves performing the computer's nonlinear functions. The Nimh II was the beginning of the end for these two. For some time, Dr. Martin Papier, esteemed professor and inventor, sees his own creation, the New Howard Nimh, outshining him in every way. Howard was his test subject, Howard was smart only because of a logarithm that Martin wrote, and now Martin is Howard's assistant, especially with the Nimh II. The final straw that broke Martin Papier's pride involved his wife, Helen. As Howard's caretaker, Helen was closer to him than anyone else in his life. Martin Papier treated Howard more like a lab rat or a freak than a person. Even if Helen Papier hadn't cared for Howard as much as she did, there wouldn't have been anybody else in Howard's life. So, of course, when Howard Nimh's mind reached an adult maturity, he gravitated towards Helen. You can't get more Oedipal. Martin creates the genius of Howard Nimh, a son figure, but instead of being the pride and joy Martin was hoping for, Howard kills him with success and then goes after his wife. Freud might've made a comeback if Helen Papier had chosen Howard. Instead, she decided to stay with her husband. I believe that Helen Papier simply could not relate to Howard Nimh on any level. My own research indicates that at this time, Howard Nimh was losing touch with reality. His mind had literally evolved past ours. He spent more time thinking and writing in his Z-LAN than in any natural language. I've only ever heard of three people who can even understand even the rudimentary vocabulary of Z-LAN. In other words, Helen could relate to Howard Nimh about as much as an orangutan could relate to her. When choosing between your husband and some creature whose thoughts you can't even begin to comprehend you'll inevitably choose your husband. On May 5th, 2035, Howard Nimh uploaded a computer model of his consciousness onto Nimh II. The act did irrevocable damage to Howard Nimh's Microdrive and organic brain. But, in layman's terms, he had successfully downloaded his brain to a hard drive. I think he was heartbroken, trying to impress Helen Papier. All right, nobody really knows for sure. Most people like to think Howard Nimh had planned on this from the moment he started work on Nimh II. It makes logical sense that Nimh II was built to house a human-like consciousness. But I think Howard was trying to create a peer. I think he was lonely being the only person like himself in the entire universe. Helen Papier didn't want him, couldn't understand him. Who better to understand him than a mind that was basically a copy of himself. It doesn't matter why he did it. What's really tragic is that no one knows how he did it. Now separated from Martin, Helen Papier has become the driving force behind the controversial organizations that are demanding government recognition of Nimh II's sapience, a recognition that would result in the computer's legal independence. Nimh II is not a person. But it's certainly more intelligent than we are. And though we shouldn't let it run for office, Nimh II should not belong to anyone but itself. Those who disagree are simply afraid of some fantasy robot apocalypse.

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Duration: 15 minutes and 33 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: lewismanalo on Mar 28, 2017

A nerdy romance about the end of human history, "The Unlikely Mind of Howard Nimh" is a science fiction montage film about the first person to download his mind onto a computer.
Winner of the 2012 ConCarolinas Neo Sci-Fi Award.
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