15 May 2022

A day in the life of Patricia, 2045

Filed under: vision — Tags: , , — David Wood @ 2:14 pm

The music started quietly, and gradually became louder. Patricia’s lips formed into a warm smile of recognition, as she roused from her sleep. That music meant only one thing: her great grandson, Byron, was calling her.

Patricia would normally already be awake at this time of the morning. But last night, she had been playing the latest version of 4D Scrabble with some neighbours in her accommodation block. This new release had been endlessly fascinating, provoking lots of laughter and good-spirited competitive rivalry. It’s marvellous how the software behind 4D Scrabble keeps improving, Patricia thought to herself. The group had finally called it a night at three thirty in the morning.

Her mindphone knew not to disturb her when she was sleeping, unless in emergencies, or for special exceptions. Byron was one of these exceptions. The music that preceded his call had been Byron’s favourite in 2026 – one of the first songs entirely written by an AI to top the hit parade. For his call-ahead music, Byron used a version of that song he had adapted by himself, reflecting some of the quirks of his personality.

Hello young man, she directed her thoughts into the mindphone. To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?

But Patricia already knew the answer. This was no ordinary day. It was a day she had never expected to experience, during the majority of her long life.

Happy Birthday Great Grandma! The thoughts appeared deep inside Patricia’s head, via a mechanism that still seemed magical to her. 115 years young today! Congratulations!

Byron’s voice was joined by several others, from her extended family. Patricia reached for her mindglasses and put them on, in order to add video to the experience.

Don’t forget there’s a big party for you this evening, continued Byron. And we have arranged a special virtual concert for you before that. The performers will be a surprise, but you can expect the best ever simulations of many of your old favourites!

Patricia had an idea what to expect. Her family had organised similar concerts for her in the past. It had seemed to her she had been sitting right next to the Glenn Miller Orchestra, or to Bill Haley and the Comets, or – especially delightful – a youthful-looking Tom Jones as he belted out passionate versions of his famous songs. Each time, the experience had been splendidly different.

But will I have time for my golf game later this morning? Patricia already had plans of her own. Don’t worry, everything has been scheduled perfectly, came the reply. Thank AGI!

Ninety minutes later, Patricia was standing at the first tee of her local golf course, along with three of her regular golfing buddies. As their health had been enhanced by wave after wave of rejuvenation therapies over the decades, their prowess at golf had improved as well. Patricia was hitting the ball further and straighter than ever. To keep the game interesting, the grass fairways would change their slopes and curves dynamically. It added to the challenge. And their exoskeletons had to be disabled for the duration of the game. At least, that was what the friends had agreed, but there were many other ways the sport could be played.

The only drawback to these golf gatherings was an occasional recollection of former playing partners who had, sadly, died of diseases over the years before new treatments had become available. Sometimes Patricia would also think of James, her beloved husband, who had died of an aggressive cancer in 2003. James had taught her how to play golf back in the 1970s. They had spent 48 years of married life together – thrilling to Bill Haley and the Comets, and then watching children and grandchildren grow up. But James had died long before the birth of Byron, or any of the other great grandchildren. How… unfair, Patricia thought to herself.

Patricia had actually been thinking of James quite a lot over the last few weeks. Byron had persuaded her to engage with an AGI agent that was collecting as much information as possible about James, by talking to everyone alive who still had memories of him. The agent had even roamed through her brain memories whilst she slept. Don’t worry, Great Grandma, Byron had reassured her. In case the AGI finds any ‘naughty’ memories in there, it will never tell anyone!

Then it was time for the concert to begin. Patricia would take part from her own living room, wearing a larger version of her mindphone, for a completely immersive experience. She realised that Byron was in that virtual world too, along with several other family members. They embraced and chatted. Then Byron said, quietly, There’s someone else who can join us, if you wish.

Patricia noticed, in the distance inside the virtual world, a silhouette that was strangely familiar, yet also somehow alien. She caught her breath suddenly. Oh no, she exclaimed. I think I know what’s happening, and I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

The newcomer remained a respectful distance away, and appeared to be standing in a shadow.

He’s not real, of course, Byron explained. He’s no more real than the performers here. After all, Bill Haley has been dead since 1981, and Glenn Miller since 1944. And Great Grandad James has been dead since-

Patricia was overcome with emotion – a mix of joy, fear, excitement, and even a little disgust. This is so strange, she thought.

Sensing a need for privacy, the other family members quietly retreated from the shared virtual reality. Patricia could make up her own mind whether to turn her back on the silhouette, or to call him forward. After so many years, what would she say first, to a replica of a man who had shared her life so completely all these years ago?

The silhouette quietly called Patricia’s name, in the way that only James could do. The long, long wait was over.


This short story was submitted as part of my entry to the competition described here. For some more details of the world envisioned, this article has answers to 13 related questions.

The image at the top of this page includes a design by Pixabay member Gordon Johnson.

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