When we left the auditorium, my mind was still abuzz with the representation. I wasn't the only one. Everyone around us was talking about it, and more than one person on the phone. I had no doubt that the professor would be fielding calls before the day was over. Billions of credits would be thrown at him for his research, and I would soon be reading about Professor Wang's research in the news portal.
"Is it always like that?"
I turned my head to look at Salma. I quickly realized this was probably her first time at an international science conference. It was my first time too, but I knew what to expect.
"Hell no! Not all representations are that earthshaking. Usually, things are much more sedate and boring."
"Good. Emotions were running too high in there. That could have been dangerous."
"Really? I mean it had been an intense Q\u0026A, but most of the people in the auditorium were academics. There was no danger in there."
"Toby, emotional people are more likely to do strange things. Besides, there were more than a few security personal in there."
It seems that Howard shared Salma's misgivings. I didn't.
"Oh, come on you two. I know I am paying you to keep me safe but live a little. Don't you know we just sat through something that would most likely go down in history? People would be talking about what happened in that auditorium a century from now. That was historic."
"That is one way to view it." Howard answered. "I prefer to call it an unwanted development."
My human eye raised at that. I thought it had been a very successful presentation from Professor Wang and believed everyone in that auditorium had the same thought. The science was great, and the potential of it was off the charts. However, it seems that I was the only one who had enjoyed that representation. I didn't know Salma well enough, but I instinctively knew there was more to it for Howard. His objection couldn't be because of the science.
"You two don't think Professor Wang's research is a good thing?"
"It is not my place to say." Salma's answer was professional, but Howard knew me well enough to take the hint.
"I think it is dangerous."
"Toby, think about the problem this research would cause. Transferring someone into a robot so that he could live forever? That would change society forever."
"Yes. That's why it is a good thing."
"No, it isn't." Howard objected. "A rich trillionaire could afford it, but you think the Tom, Dick and Harry in Singapore could? And those trillionaires aren't going to just do it just for themselves. They will be doing it for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. Now multiple it by a thousand times, over two to three centuries. Think about that. Very soon, we are going to have a ruling class of robotic immortals ruling over billions of flesh and blood humans. That is not a future I want to live in."
Howard's answer surprised me. I hadn���t thought of it that way, but the man had a point. The future he mentioned was possible, even likely, but he missed one important point.
"In the Age of Steam, the life expectancy of a human was around eighty. Two hundred and fifty years later, it was now around two hundred. Life expectancy always increased with advances in science."
"There's a big difference between living longer and living forever." Howard countered. "What is to stop these immortal robots from proclaiming themselves kings and emperors? It's like something out of a dystopia novel."
"You are stretching it. It's just progress. You can't stop progress Howard. That was progress."
"It was," Howard agreed. "But not all progress is good."
I could only smile at that. Howard wasn't totally wrong, but he wasn't right either. Progress may not always be good, but it was inevitable. Humanity couldn't stop progress, and it's a fool's game to even try.
I knew better than to argue with Howard on this though. He could be stubborn, and it wasn't as if either of us was totally right. We both had our point of views, and only the future could decide the fate of Professor's Wang research. I accessed my cybernetics and opened the conference schedule. Professor Wang's representation had run over the time limit, but there was some time till the next representation we would be attending. We could still make it. I decided to follow our plan, but a call came in while we were halfway there. I saw that it was Mike Tanner.
"Mr. Tanner, I am surprised to hear from you. How are things back in the SEAL?"
"The day started great, but after what I heard, it may be going downhill. I hear you were there when Professor Wang Wei Dong introduced his Forever Life research."
"Wow. Word travel fast. It's only been twenty minutes since the end of the representation, and you had already heard of it. Aren't you still in the SEAL?"
"I am but open up any news portal and you will hear nothing but the professor's work. Is his work as important as the reporters say?"
I wanted to say yes, but after the misgivings of Howard, I decided to hedge. "I haven't read what the reporters are saying, but it is important. Or it will be. It may take some time before we feel the full effects of his work. Why are you asking?"
"Money. We are introducing our 'Mana Energy' at the same conference. Some members of the council are worried this will steal our thunder."
I wanted to laugh. Professors Wang's work was going to change history, and the council was more worried about how it was going to hurt them in the pocket. Well, at least Tanner was honest about it.
"Don't worry. His work is in robotics. His research will have an effect in the field of medicine and security. Technically, we are in the energy market. The impact will be negligible."