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written by "Birmingham, Lloyd"
...n cell absorbing matter from the world. Then, to make certain this central mind would never become chaotic, there was programmed into it an automatic rejection of all sceptical challenges. "That was the highest moment of our race," Newbridge sighed. "We had harnessed infinite complexities to our needs. But the success was too complete. Ever since then humanity has become more and more dependent on what was to be essentially a tool and nothing more. Each generation became lazier and there's no one alive who can keep this Central System in proper working order." He leaned forward to emphasize his point. "You see, it's very slowly breaking down. There's a steady accretion of inefficiency mutations in the axons and that's why more and more switching mistakes are being made—as in your case." Connor was dazed by it all. "What's going to be the upshot, I mean, how is it going to break down?" Newbridge threw up his hands. "I don't know—it's probably a long way off anyway. I guess the most likely thing is that more and more errors will accumulate and plenty of people will be Suspended just because Central is developing irrational quirks. Maybe the critical social mass for change will exist only when more are outside the System than inside. I suspect when that happens we'll be able to return to direct telepathic contact. As things are, our projection attempts are always blocked." A buzzing sound came out of a small black box on the doctor's desk, startling Connor who in his executive days had received all such signals directly in his head. "Well, I've another patient waiting so this will have to be the end of our chat." Connor and his wife exchanged glances. He said, "I'd like to come back. I'll probably have a twenty-hour week so I'll be in town a few days a week." "More than welcome to come again," Newbridge grinned. "Just make the arrangements with Miss Richards, my nurse." When th...

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