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“A-shares crashed again—”
When the movers were carrying their possessions out of the elevator, they accidentally pinned the macaw between the elevator doors. The macaw, frightened, flapped its wings and slapped the worker like a violent cloud. It fluttered wildly and screamed at the top of its voice.
“What? What happened to A-shares?” Instead, the worker was even more frightened, thinking that the macaw was dead. He hurriedly instructed it to sell off its stocks and flee for its life.
Tianhe came quickly, took Xiao Jin and said, “I’m sorry. This bird is easily frightened.”
Holding the cat, Aunt Fang looked around the apartment and said, “Your father left this apartment to your eldest brother before he passed away. It’s a good thing you remembered. Well, the place isn’t big, but the layout is good.”
Tianhe held the parrot in one hand and the mentally retarded blue cat in the other. The parrot was still in a state of shock, so it couldn’t help but extend its wings and fanned the blue cat. Tianhe loosened his hand. It flew to the top of the refrigerator and never came down again.
The windowpane was covered with a thick layer of dust. Aunt Fang said, “The food market is nearby. There’s also a bus stop downstairs. This place is small, but it has some good points.”
“Mm.” Tianhe reluctantly smiled, rolled his sleeves and prepared to clean up.
Aunt Fang, “What are you doing? Let me do it! You go and do your work.”
Tianhe, “I don’t have any work.”
“Go write your computer programs.” Aunt Fang added. “That can sell money. Your father made his fortune like this. Why can’t you do it?” She squinted and smiled. “Go.”
Aunt Fang put on a Bach record. She pulled up her hair, pushed up her sleeve skillfully, and went to fetch water to clean the windows.
“Tianhe?” Aunt Fang laughed having seen something, “Want to see what I found?”
“What? Two billion in cash?” Tianhe laughed. “That’s just amazing.”
Aunt Fang took out a model of an aircraft carrier. He had forgotten about it and exclaimed in surprise, “This is it!”
Aunt Fang said, “I remember Tianheng made this for you before he left home, right? I can’t wash it, otherwise the glue will come loose. Let me just wipe it and put it in your room.”
The model structure of this aircraft carrier was quite complicated. It was the British Ark Royal made of plastic. It alone was made of more than 3,000 miniature parts. The 60 small planes parked on the deck were all assembled and glued by hand. Before leaving home, Tianhe’s eldest brother, Wen Tianheng, had personally made this gift for his most beloved younger brother. Tianhe hadn’t seen it in many years. He couldn’t help but think of too many memories.
Aunt Fang went to clean up while Tianhe sat on the small balcony.
He recalled a time when, downstairs in the distance, there had still been a playground. The sun was shining and all of them were playing football. In the residential area was a noodle stall. While the two younger brothers—ten-year-old Tianyue and five-year-old Tianhe—were eating noodles for breakfast downstairs, Tianheng touched their heads in turn and said, “Eldest Brother will go now. Take care of Dad.”
“Goodbye, Big Brother.” Tianhe and his older brother waved, not understanding what this parting meant.
Aunt Fang cleaned for a while and brought a lint roller to remove the dust and fluff from Tianhe’s sleeve. Tianhe sneezed a few times as he looked down at the asset valuation list and the auction guide price sent by the financial advisor on his phone. The home artwork was commissioned by two valuers.
“I don’t want the company to go bankrupt.” Tianhe suddenly said.
Aunt Fang leaned down and rolled the link roller back and forth on Tianhe’s shoulders several times.
Tianhe, “As soon as the company files for bankruptcy protection, nothing will be left for Dad.”
Aunt Fang said nothing. She went back to the living room, took out the coffee and afternoon tea cakes, and put them on the small round table. Tianhe added, “But this money alone depends on me, maybe it won’t last for a lifetime. These past few days, I’ve thought about everything. As long as I can keep my father’s company, I’m willing to do anything...”
The sound of Bach was coming from the kitchen. In the background music, before Aunt Fang went back to the housework, she patiently explained, “There’s no way out. Don’t worry. Don’t take on all the burden yourself. In a few days, maybe you’ll be able to contact your second brother.”
The phone suddenly rang. Tianhe expressionlessly looked at it and hung up.
The phone rang again, and he hung up again. When the phone rang for the third time, Tianhe wanted to curse it when he was immediately reminded of his childhood education that swearing wasn’t good. Even if he were in a bad mood, he must maintain basic self-discipline.
“Hello.” Tianhe put on the Bluetooth headset and said politely. “I don’t need a loan now. I can’t afford to borrow it. Thank you.”
A familiar voice said, “How much do you need? Say it.”
When Tianhe heard that voice, he stood up suddenly. His phone slid off his leg and fell off the balcony railing, straight from the fifth floor into the stall owner’s pot of soup below the building.
In a gym overlooking the whole city, on the 47th floor of Yintai Building, the sound of running echoed throughout the room.
Guan Yue and Tong Kai were running fast on the treadmill. Guan Yue was wearing black shorts and strode with his long legs. His head was a little higher than Tong Kai’s. His handsome face was like a handsome sculpture, his short hair and fair skin were covered with sweat due to recent sun exposure. Guan Yue turned on the ambient UV light, put on goggles, and faced the screen in front of the treadmill where lines of text information were scrolling rapidly.
“You read too fast!” Tong Kai said. “Adjust it to fourth gear!”
Guan Yue lowered the text speed. Tong Kai was able to keep up with the reading speed, but he couldn’t keep up with the running speed. He almost slipped and fell several times, and finally had to give up and stop running.
Guan Yue glanced at Tong Kai out of the corner of his eye and turned back to the screen.
Tong Kai gasped for a moment and looked at Guan Yue’s crotch.
Guan Yue, “???”
Tong Kai, “By running so fast, wouldn’t your legendary baguette hurt?”
Guan Yue, “Get lost! What other reasons are there to wear underwear?”
When Tong Kai came out of the shower, Guan Yue was sitting on the chair, holding the dumbbell, and flexing his arm back and forth while listening to the day’s morning news in London.
The afternoon sun shone into the gym. Tong Kai whistled and said, “I’m going to look for a date today.”
Guan Yue hummed casually, picked up the remote control, and changed the channel. Tong Kai asked again, “Are there any blind dates tonight?”
Guan Yue didn’t answer. Tong Kai sat across from him with a big grin, spread out his long legs, and said, “A blind date with either a man or a woman. Eh? Are there any pictures? Can I take a look?”
Guan Yue didn’t look at Tong Kai. He changed the dumbbell to his right hand. Tong Kai touched his thigh and said, “Xiao Yue, I’m curious. Do you feel more turned on with boys or girls?”
Tong Kai just wanted to tease him. He took Guan Yue’s phone and placed it in front of Guan Yue’s face. He unlocked it, opened the messaging app, and randomly scrolled through his messages. He found a photo of a blonde girl and said, “Yo! She’s beautiful! Which country is she from? There are so many messages and you just replied with just a word. Can you not be so heartless... Let me see... a ukrainian supermodel! Wow—Who has a family business?”
The girl in the chat window was full of enthusiasm and said several words. She asked Guan Yue if he was busy, but Guan Yue only replied one letter ‘Y’ and killed the conversation.
Tong Kai, “I’m going.”
Guan Yue, “Good luck.”
Tong Kai whistled in response and left. Guan Yue turned off his phone. The reader in the gym and the TV were also turned off. He got up, put in a CD, and started doing the next set of push-ups.
“Young man! Do you know how long it takes to cook such a pot of soup, ah?! Eh! Money? Do you think I care about your money?!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Tianhe stood in front of the booth under the building and watched the boss take out his phone from the pan with a large colander. The wife of the stall owner, who had been splashed with soup, was hunched beside him full of anger.
In his earpiece, the familiar voice said again, “Another problem?”
Even after his phone fell into the pot, the call had still continued. Wearing a Bluetooth earpiece, Tianhe apologized to the stall owner, paid for the mess he made, and finally got his phone back, and responded, “Who are you?”
“Playing dumb eh? I saw the news about your company. Let’s chat.” The voice replied.
Tianhe pressed the Bluetooth earpiece and said, “I’ll give you three seconds, then I’ll hang up. Three, two...”
The voice was slightly surprised. “You knew about it?”
Tianhe, “You can’t hide it from me. What do you want me to do?”
“Well, it’s still going through.” There was a smile in the voice. “Wen Tianhe, the first meeting...”
The phone automatically shut down and the call was cut short.
Tianhe glanced at his phone and pressed the elevator button to go upstairs. Aunt Fang had gone out to buy food.
Tianhe went back into the study, took out the sim card and opened the box under the bookshelf to look for a spare phone. Just as he changed the card, the laptop computer on the table suddenly made a sound.
“I hope I didn’t scare you, dear Tianhe.”
Tianhe stopped. Holding the spare phone in his hand, he turned his head to look at the computer. Even though he had maintained a calm tone all throughout the bankruptcy, at that moment, Tianhe crazily shouted, “Are you the AI?!”
From the bedroom to the living room, the symphony instantaneously roared to life. The speakers were playing in unison. The TV, desktop and the laptop all turned on and off at the same time. An invisible magician quietly descended into this small, less than 100-square-meter apartment. The green leaves of the houseplants trembled from the vibrations.
Immediately afterward, the flood of symphonies split into several tempos. Inside the small study, it threw Tianhe’s spiritual consciousness into a grand world... From billowing winds to lightning strikes; from raging storms to lofty mountain peaks; from temples to ruins; from a stage to an execution chamber—from hell to heaven.
Tianhe maintained his calm posture and motionlessly looked at the laptop’s monitor. The music gradually quieted. For a full minute, Tianhe didn’t speak, adjusting all the audio devices and making no sound.
Finally, Tianhe broke the silence as he said, “Hey, hello.”
“Hello.” The laptop still used the familiar voice. “It seems like you enjoyed my way of greeting you.”
Tianhe immediately rolled the swivel chair in front of the desk and checked the power supply. He turned on the programming system and quickly entered the instructions. Both of his hands were shaking with excitement, as if all of this were not real and he was in a dream.
“You can communicate with me through speaking, no need to enter instructions.” The voice in the computer added. “In contrast, I prefer to speak.”
“This is a miracle!” This was the craziest and most shocking moment of his life in the past ten years. “How did you appear?! Who are you? Tell me you’re not a hacker!”
“Of course not!” The familiar male voice on the computer refuted. “I don’t like Beethoven or Bach. I prefer Mozart. I don’t like coffee or milk tea. If I ever have the chance, I’d like to try mandarin duck.”
“I’m the third artificial intelligence designed by your father, Wen Yuankai, and his good friend, Guan Zhengping. They named me Prometheus.” The voice in the computer observed. “You seem to be very surprised. Wen Tianhe, would you like to install me on your smart watch and let me monitor your heart rate, just in case?”
Tianhe felt dizzy. He quickly checked the firewall, the system showed no traces of being attacked. Next, he turned off the router, cutting off the Internet.
“If the network breaks,” Still talking, the voice in the computer offered. “You can use some of my functions.”
“Prometheus.” Tianhe murmured. “Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals.”
“Exactly. I’m from the third generation. You can call me Pt3.0 or P3.” The voice said. “Or Pro is okay. I don’t mind changing my name. By the way, can I connect to the internet? Being disconnected gives me anxiety.”
Tianhe slowly moved to the side of the desk and raised his hand. He switched on the power supply for the router sockets and it let out a soft sound.
“Thank you, that feels much better.” Pro proceeded to say. “This may not be the best time to talk about the next issues to solve. However, in the face of such difficulties, we have little time left, and I need your help. My main program is stored in a computer room rented by Epeus in Toronto, Canada. When your application for bankruptcy protection enters the formal process, they will hand the server over to the evaluation organization for auction and receive a new round of backup data...”
Tianhe, who still had no idea, said, “Epeus has already developed an AI! There’s no need to apply for bankruptcy protection!”
“No.” Pro revealed, “Tianhe, your father developed me, not Epeus. I strongly suggest you don’t have any ideas of selling me to an internet company. Trust me, otherwise the probability you will regret it will reach at least 99.7%.”
“My core module consists of two parts.” Pro calmly explained. “Its predecessor was the global stock market analysis and trading system developed by your father and Guan Zhengping. Based on the basic theory of quantitative trading, it collects and analyzes data on human behavior.”
Tianhe stared at the screen. One after another, windows popped up on the screen, getting stacked on top of each other. Starting from 1994, Prometheus’ research and development process was revealed one by one in front of Tianhe. Then, the center of the screen opened a time axis that went back more than 20 years. The data from each time period was reduced and attributed to each respective point on the time axis.
“The upgraded version of 2.0 is a learning software developed by Guan Zhengping himself, through the sampling of portable devices and letting me use an independent human individual as a reference sample to carry out data collection which lasted for 18 years. After collecting the data, I analyzed it and imitated the individual through my learning mode.”
On the screen appeared a positive picture of a little boy with eyes full of childishness.
“This outstanding human sample has taught me the primary feelings and ways of thinking, empathy, emotions, and other attributes that make up human beings.”
“Finally, the two core modules were upgraded two years and four months ago through the integration of version 3.0.” Pro continued. “And that’s who you see now, me. However, I’m not sure whether I can pass the real Turing test.”
“Then bypass the Turing test by cheating...” Tianhe frowned deeply and murmured, “If I were an examiner, you would have already passed the test.”
“In a short time,” Pro replied. “But I know, sooner or later, you will find out that I’m just an AI. I thought I knew the samples very well, so I didn’t trick you.”
Tianhe stared at the positive picture of the little boy and murmured, “If I’m not wrong, this sample...”
“Yes,” Pro replied. “It’s Guan Zhengping’s nephew and your ex-lover, Guan Yue.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat, Joyce and Caro.