RedDevil 4 is spine-tingling techno-thriller based on cutting edge research from surgeon and inventor Eric C. Leuthardt.
Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Hagan Maerici is on the verge of a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that could change the way we think about human consciousness. Obsessed with his job and struggling to save his marriage, Dr. Maerici is forced to put his life's work on the line when a rash of brutal murders strikes St. Louis.
Edwin Krantz, an aging, technophobic detective, and his partner, Tara Dezner, are tasked with investigating the horrifying killings. Shockingly, the murders have all been committed by prominent citizens who have no obvious motives or history of violence. Seeking an explanation for the suspects' strange behavior, Krantz and Denzer turn to Dr. Maerici, who believes that the answer lies within the killers' brains themselves. Someone is introducing a glitch into the in-brain computer systems of the suspects—a virus that turns ordinary citizens into murderers. With time running out, this trio of unlikely allies must face a gauntlet of obstacles, both human and A.I., as they attempt to avert disaster.
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|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
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About the Author
ERIC C. LEUTHARDT, MD is a neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, and a recognized pioneer in neuroprosthetics. He is widely published in scientific journals and has received a number of scholarly awards in recognition of his contributions. Dr. Leuthardt is the director of the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology at Washington University School of Medicine, where he researches brain-computer interfaces. RedDevil 4 is his first novel.
ERIC C. LEUTHARDT, MD is a neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, and a recognized pioneer in neuroprosthetics. He is widely published in scientific journals and has received a number of scholarly awards in recognition of his contributions. Dr. Leuthardt is the director of the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology at Washington University School of Medicine, where he researches brain-computer interfaces. He is the author of RedDevil 4.
Read an Excerpt
By Eric C. Leuthardt
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2014 Eric C. Leuthardt
All rights reserved.
**2053, FRIDAY, 2:01 PM**
"Have a seat, Hagan." The man gestured toward the black leather sofa in front of his desk. He was tall and bony and wore a white coat that was impeccably ironed and creased. With his broad bald dome of a head and small pallid ice-fleck-colored eyes, he had an annoyed look that suggested an irritable impatience. His chin was barely distinguishable from his thin neck, his face was small and pale, and the residual hair of his eyebrows and thin mustache were all a white blond. To Hagan, he looked more like an asshole than usual.
Sighing to himself, Hagan sat down. The pitch of the seat always tilted him slightly back so that his knees were higher than his buttocks. He never could position himself to sit up straight and always had to lean to the side or with his legs bowed out to lean forward, making him feel like was sitting on a toilet. Like he was a kid in the principal's office, the conversations always began with "have a seat." He prepared himself for the usual preamble.
"Hagan, I have been looking at your numbers, and they are not good." Hagan's chairman put his fingertips together and touched the tip of his nose for a long pause. "You are not generating the revenue you ought to be, either in clinical fees or in grants. Some things are going to have to change, Hagan."
"Simon, you and I both know the market is down. Elective surgeries are always the first to take the hit. It's a small downturn, and cases are sure to pick up in the spring."
"Are you giving me excuses, soldier?"
Hagan rolled his eyes. Simon Canter, his boss, loved to take on military lingo when they would argue. Hagan knew Simon thought it made him sound tough or commanding or something. To Hagan, it just sounded silly.
"Simon, Jesus, no. What am I supposed to do — pull people into the OR against their will?"
"Market or no market, if it takes more work beating the bushes to get patients, then that's what you gotta do. Less time in that little closet and more time out in the community talking to the primary care docs. If there is less water in the towel you gotta wring it harder, got me?"
"You know that's more than a little closet, Simon." Hagan could feel the heat rise on the back of his neck.
"To me, since your research isn't generating any research dollars from Uncle Sam, it may as well be a closet."
"I'm close, you know that, you've seen it, for Pete's sake. I just need to take it a little further, and we're not going to have any complaints about money for this department, I promise."
"You promise, you keep saying, 'its gonna happen, its gonna happen.'" Hagan watched as Simon put up his fingers to form the annoying quotation marks. "I need more than empty air — I need results. I need you to say to me, 'mission accomplished.' You keep saying neuromorphic artificial intelligence is the future; well, I need to pay bills in the present."
"Dammit, Simon, do I really need to spell it out for you? If we were having this same conversation thirty years ago, you would be arguing against all the work that went into neuroprosthetics. Look what changed — every human's mind is connected and augmented in every way possible. You and I, and about ninety percent of the human population, have a neuroprosthetic implanted. We can use our thoughts to engage the world beyond the limits of our bodies, brain-to-brain communication has changed the way humans interact, we can fix almost any brain injury, and the virtual reality — it's changed the way we do everything. It's what fucking built this city."
"Do you also want to tell me about how my car works? I already know all this. What's your point?" Canter asked snidely.
Hagan sighed. "Creating truly artificial intelligence based on the human brain's architecture is the next step. After three decades of implants we have the data — all we need to do is apply it. Again, Jesus, you know that. Once we get there, we can make armies of virtual scientists to solve every problem in medicine. We can have enough intellectual resources to answer pretty much every question that the human species can't currently figure out. It's worth the sacrifice."
"Show me the money, Hagan, show me the money. We are living in the here and now in 2053 — not thirty years in the past, not thirty years in the future. And here in the present, no grants, no science, no cases — no salary."
**FRIDAY, 4:30 PM**
The old man looked down at the gravestone. Tall and thin in a rumpled suit, he stood there for a few moments in silent contemplation, holding a handful of pink flowers.
"Hello, April, I brought you some daisies today. These are the pink ones with yellow centers. The lady at the flower shop called them Strawberry Blushes." He slowly kneeled next to the headstone and carefully placed the bouquet in the adjacent basin.
"Thought you would like them — not your typical yellow or orange ones. Something a little different this time." He sighed as he looked at the silent stone.
"Gonna cut the grass tomorrow. The yard is looking pretty good, though not much in the way of flowers the way that you used to like it, but I'm still keeping it tidy." As he spoke, he brushed the letters and the runners free of pebbly dirt and bits of bark. He let his fingers linger on the words — April G. Krantz, 4/23/1985–11/4/2050. God I miss her, he thought to himself.
This was his Friday ritual. He had kept it for the several years since her death. Every Friday after work he would bring her flowers. It was what she had always loved, bright colorful flowers.
"So, typical stuff this week. Young punks broke into some ninety-four-year-old Asian guy's home and beat him senseless. Guy died a few days later. Apparently stole about two hundred dollars. Tragic — got DNA traces on all of 'em. Probably bring 'em in on Monday. The forensics guys are telling me they are probably fifteen by their epigenetic markers — whatever that means.
"I know I've said it in the past, but God, how young are criminals gonna get ..." As the old man continued to recount the week's events, blue letters appeared across his field of view.
DETECTIVE KRANTZ, COMMUNICATION REQUESTED. CONFERENCE CALL WITH SERGEANT ORTIZ IN 10 MINUTES. MATTER CONSIDERED URGENT. PLEASE CONNECT WITH DIVISION HUB 3. THIS IS AN AUTOMATED MESSAGE.
Krantz sighed. "Honestly, April, I don't know how you convinced me to get these things put in." The lawn, stone, and flowers remained silent in response. He could still hear her voice in his head. He remembered how she browbeat him into getting these neuroprosthetic implants — "Nobody is using cell phones or laptops anymore," she had said. "How are we going to communicate with people? How are we going to shop? We need to keep up with the times," she had said. She was always the modern one. Change was always exciting for her. Finally he had acquiesced, and after about thirty minutes, a few patches of shaved scalp, a little bit of lidocaine, and a brief pinching sensation, his mind and the outside world were forever connected — his thoughts were accessible — for better or worse.
"April, how are we gonna get any peace? That's what I say." He felt the small lump behind his ear where the power source was. He was almost tempted to turn it off for a few moments of mental silence.
MEETING IN 5 MINUTES. MATTER CONSIDERED URGENT. PLEASE CONNECT WITH DIVISION HUB 3. THIS IS AN AUTOMATED MESSAGE.
"Well babe, looks like I may have to cut this visit a bit short. Work is work, no escaping it. I'll be back to see you next week." The detective lifted himself up and walked toward his car. Amid the trees and shrubs and carved stone, blue-lettered highlights, names, and advertisements all floated in the air. Today it bothered him more than most; he reached behind his ear and pushed on the small bump. I need a break, just for a few minutes. He felt a click and all the images disappeared.
**FRIDAY, 8:02 PM**
Scuffling along the large marble hallway, a young man slowly limped his way forward. The end was highlighted with large windows framing a large mountain vista. His left foot slapped the polished surface with an echoing clack, and the right followed in a slow scratching drag. With each clack and drag, his body would rise and fall with the imbalance of his gait. He slowly made his way to the large steel doors of his room. A large plump woman came up behind him quickly.
"'Ello, Trent." Startled, the young man straightened slightly. He turned on his good leg, pulling the other, paretic limb along like a compass. The inverted foot rasped against the ground in a wide circular arc. His maid stood looking at him with plain-faced enthusiasm and said, in her singsong Bosnian accent, "Sorry, I no mean to scare you. Your fadder wants you to join him for dinner."
"Hey, Jasmina, I already ate, I'm meeting some friends in a bit." His words were lisped and contorted by a facial paralysis. Spittle accumulated at the corner of his mouth with each word. Though in his mid twenties, he could easily pass for a prepubescent adolescent teen. He was small and thin and lopsided in his stance, his right shoulder held far below the left. His thin atrophic right arm was held rigidly bent against his body as if he was holding a book against his chest. The hand was a nonfunctional clump of knuckles and thin fingers bundled into a fist. Knotty and jagged scars on his scalp pushed through patchy, thinning chestnut-colored hair.
None of this bothered his maid, who had known him since he was a child. Ruddy and round-faced, she exuded a simple indomitable pleasantness that he greatly appreciated. In her broken English, she spoke to him as she would anyone else. "Trent, you spend too much time in room, come join for dinner."
"Can't, Jasmina, I'm gonna be late. My friends are waiting."
"Who is in room?" Her voice took on a higher pitch. "Nobody in room — nobody — you need be with people, real people, boys your age."
"I'm meeting with them virtually, in the SIM, like I always do."
"Dees nothing for me, dees tings in head, I no understand. I know your fadder make for many years, but for me I still like see people. You too, you should see people."
Knowing he wasn't about to convince her, Trent held his hand up in acquiescence. "Jasmina, really, I gotta go." He directed his attention to the doors of his room, and watched as the pieces of polished metal slid apart with a mechanical whisper.
"Alright, alright, I tell Dr. Devron you no come." She rolled her eyes. "Fadders and der sons, always de same."
Trent walked into the room and the doors hissed behind him. He thought about Jasmina as she went bobbing off to clean another one of the domestic quarters. He could see her plump arms pumping as she cleaned some forlorn corner of the house. He always enjoyed her enthusiasm. The little things always made her happy.
My closest human relationship is probably with a maid who barely speaks English, he thought with a sigh. He didn't like lying to her. The happening was not for another thirty minutes, but spending it with his father would have been a misery. The whole scene would play out as it had for years — sitting in that cavernous dining room, watching as the members of the household staff silently moved in and out like well-dressed zombies. He and his father would have forced one-sentence exchanges with long uncomfortable pauses, and finally, when it was all over, he would walk away hungry because he had been too anxious to actually eat anything. No thanks.
He looked out his digital window.
Another fake reality brought to you by Devron Incorporated.
Trent climbed into his bed. System. Log on to Nexucist. The room began to dissipate into a snowstorm of blue flashing lights. As images began to emerge, he felt his body begin to relax. This is the way things should be. These are the lies I want to believe.
**FRIDAY, 8:05 PM**
"OK ... Now tell me ... what a 'stitch in time saves nine' means."
Hagan's mind was connected to an artificial intellect he was pushing toward consciousness. Human thoughts raced and analyzed to coax awareness out of a compilation of data bits and electrons where there was none. I can get him there ... true consciousness ... it can be done.
The man sat motionless at the table looking into the space before him. Slate eyes stared intently forward beneath slightly furrowed brows. He had dark hair, short, wavy, and brushed back with hints of gray dispersed throughout. The slightly rounded jaw and Roman nose suggested a certain old-world European quality. A solid figure in a white coat, he sat still and erect on a high-backed ebony chair with a frame of vertical lines. His elbows rested lightly on the polished gunmetal gray surface with crossed hands. Around him were walls paneled with the same iridescent adamantine material as that of the table. A soft white light diffused from the seamless surface of the ceiling. The only overt activity in the ascetic and sterile room was a small flashing green light on the table to the left of the man's arm. This was the neurosurgeon Dr. Hagan Maerici, and this was his lab.
To the outside observer, there was only a still man and the quiet buzz of hidden electronics. To Dr. Maerici, he was looking at a semitransparent bluish child sitting cross-legged in front of him. Superimposed on the minimalist environment, the walls were covered with an assortment of blue-lined squares with numerous diagrams, graphs, and various anatomic pictures of the nervous system. In the air behind the blue cherub-faced child were various bar graphs and waveforms, all fluctuating dynamically with each thought that went between the solid multitoned figure of Hagan and the azure boy before him. The boy, the graphs, and the images were all the conjured result of innumerable miniscule electrodes stimulating various neurons within Hagan's brain.
The boy shook his head. "I will require more data to perform adequate assessment."
"Alright, Omid, access cortical information from subjects ten and forty-two." Data wirelessly streamed to hidden data banks — the recorded compilation reflecting billions upon billions of neurons of human subjects attempting to understand a proverb entered into a computer, pushing the furthest limits of physics.
Voice audiograms bounced and adjusted to the pitch, timbre, and volume of the projected thought that Hagan was directing to the figure. The young boy looked placid and calm. With the appearance of a baroque marble angel held under a neon blue light, he had a certain statuesque presence — solid, immutable, and imperturbable.
The ghost child never blinked. His gaze was fixed on Hagan with a quiet thoughtfulness.
"Calling subjects ten and forty-two. Frontal lobe sets." The boy's voice, the synthetic product of Hagan's stimulated cortex, sounded profoundly unchildlike. He had the unwavering and focused delivery of a soprano Zen master.
"Processing." Waveforms were fluctuating rapidly, and a small sliver of a pie chart behind the boy widened slightly. "Download complete."
Hagan was anxious to begin. "OK ... go ahead, tell me what 'a stitch in time saves nine' means."
"Processing." For the first time the boy closed his eyes and his head tilted back. Nothing else about his face changed. Wire graphs jumped and bobbed.
The bar histograms again returned to their basal level and the flowing line charts reduced to a slight quiver. The boy opened his eyes.
"Small efforts now reduce larger efforts in the future." Omid said in even and measured tones.
"That's correct." Hagan's pulse quickened — progress. Did he really get it? Now to make sure he wasn't just using verbal parity from the downloaded experiences, just imitating the experience from humans who had answered the proverb questions by using alternative words. Researchers called it the "thesaurus trick." Artificial Intelligence Reverse-Engineered from Neural Signals — AIRENS — were getting better and better at the trick, but it still didn't represent understanding. Omid, perhaps arguably one of the highest engineered AIRENS to date, was the best at it.
"OK, lets try this one —'a rolling stone gathers no moss.'" Hagan gripped the edge of the table in anxious expectation.
A flashing orb suddenly appeared to the right of Hagan's field of view. It looked like a white golf ball winking in an out of sight. Someone was attempting to call.
"Ignore," he commanded. "Not now." The phosphene ball winked out. He again returned his attention to Omid. Looking beyond him, he could still see that the processing function indicators were maximally engaged. Why is he struggling with this so much? Machines just don't understand context. Why is that so difficult?
The flashing orb appeared again ... "Dammit ... Ignore and disengage external communication."
"Dr. Maerici, I believe that it is your wife calling. Shall we pause?"
"No. She can wait."
Excerpted from RedDevil 4 by Eric C. Leuthardt. Copyright © 2014 Eric C. Leuthardt. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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About the Author,