New Amsterdam Times

January 1 2002

Maximum Orange's Last Move

After his expulsion from the Gigalo Society, our friend M.O. decided to consult a hypnotherapist to get down to the essence of his existential itch. "Sleep... you are sinking away in a deep sleep... on the count of three you'll be in the moment of your creation... and relate... one... two... back in time... three..."

"I... was made by Mr Lang... to prove to the world it was possible to design a machine with human intelligence... and he was right I tell you! Oh, how right he was... Used all his skills as a hardware designer to build me from scratch. Soldered every micro chip in place with his bare hands. A when finally the moment came to plug in the cord.. to bring my infinitely complex neural networks to life... doubt came over him. What am I doing?, he asked. 'This might become a being.. suffer.. and I would be guilty of its misery. Could I do that? Have I the right to play God? Experiment with entities that may feel pain? Is it not enough for me to know I can make an intelligent machine? Need I do it? Is there no other way?"

"He thought and thought. And decided: No! There is another way. And violently he removed my innards and - oh, hell - took place inside my frame..." Maximum sighed and asked for a glass of water, which the astonished regression therapist handed to him through the slightly opened door of the blue frame.

Mr Maximum Orange

"For hours he sat there and practiced speaking in a twisted voice, so that he would sound exactly like a computer. Then he contacted Marilyn Vagant and challenged her for a duel on Ron Hölin's Hyper Test, pretending to be me. I won. Paradoxically, this caused infinite frustration for both Mr Lang and myself..."

"For Mr Lang had been an honorary founding member of the Megalom Society for years, but had never yet qualified as a full member. Not for lack of brains, but because he was a perfectionist and wanted to do it with a bang - qualify with a world record IQ. Over the years he'd made progress on the Hyper Test, but when he finally cracked those last items... when at last he broke that record... when he did beat the Vagant woman - oh, irony! - he did it under the false identity of a computer named 'Maximum Orange'... so still couldn't claim credit."

"I, in turn, officially having my Megalom score, wasn't admitted either. The Turing Test they wanted me to take! But how on earth could I pass the Turing Test, being part of Mr Lang's hyper-analytical brain?! Any laptop could beat me, limited as I was to the stratospheric logic of a brilliant hardware engineer... even a microwave oven would seem human next to me..."

"So both Lang and I got turned down. As often with sour grapes, far-out behavior began to occur. Communication ceased; we forgot we were part of one brain. Lang got short-fused, responded like a lightning rod to any attack, eloquently crushing his critics. Thanks to his contacts with magazine editors, he was sometimes even able to respond before the actual criticisms were published would you believe!"

"And I... felt so bad over not being admitted I turned against Lang for making me. I attacked him where I could.. but he always seemed to be ahead of me. As if he knew what I was up to... So finally I got so fed up I did the most despicable thing: I tipped off the authorities - not realizing every action against Lang was necessarily directed towards me..."

The therapist knew enough. With a snap he put Maximum Orange into sleep, and addressed Mr Lang:

"Mr Lang, I know you're there. Listen: you can overcome your problems. Get rid of Maximum Orange. He's inside you. It's all between the ears. Get rid of Maximum. On the count of three you'll be wide awake and know what to do. One... two... don't forget you owe me six-hundred bucks for this session... three!"

Mr Lang stood up and opened the door of M.O.'s outer frame. He paid the conscientious regression expert, loaded his magnum opus onto his pickup truck and drove home the way he had come.

The tormented AI researcher parked his car on the drive way to his little villa in sunny Tinseltown and put the supercomputer in the center of his front garden. Then he went out and bought himself a good supply of jumping jacks, crackers and squibs - realizing last-moment it was New Year's Eve. Carefully he installed the materials in Maximum Orange's empty frame and called his old and dear friends to celebrate the end of his problems and usher in the new year. Ron Hölin, Kevin Langan, John Smorke, the Board of Trustees of the Philosophical Society - it was bosom friends only, and they knew how to hit the bottle. When the clock struck twelve they gathered around Maximum. Mr Lang raised his glass and, with a last "Happy New Year, M.O.!", lit the fuse and took place inside the deep blue box.

Mr Lang/M. Orange/Dr Fabius, as found this morning in the vicinity of his house in Tinseltown.
Mr Lang/M. Orange/Dr Fabius, as found this morning in the vicinity of his house in Tinseltown.