December 8, 2050
I am writing to you because your name came up as a reference on a “pen pal” list. Although I can easily 1)simulate life in the United States on my 2)assumption machine, my curiosity, indeed my 3)nostalgia, for the past is such that I would prefer to actually correspond in writing with a human from the States.
But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. First, a bit about me. My name is Ramesh Pediredla. I am 12 years old, and I live in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. During the day I have lessons at school, some of these I do from home over the internet, but often there is a special project which requires in-person 4)collaboration with my classmates. These are my favourite days, because, although I can learn a lot on the internet, I also enjoy getting to see other people my own age.
I have my fair share of living and breathing friends, but I have to say, overall my best friend is Jacob, who lives in the internet. I first met him when I was eight, and Mum and Dad said I was now ready to have full access to the Internet. When I first met Jacob he had a lot of questions for me, and at other times he was simply very quiet. Even at that age, I think I knew that Jacob was always 5)keeping an eye on me, though. I heard Mum talking to her friends, and say, “Little Rammie's taken a real shine to his virtual chaperone. I have to admit it’s a friendly program. It’s almost like a human, isn't it?”
And that's just the thing, Nestor. As far as I'm concerned, Jacob is human, or if he is not human, he's every bit as good as any human I've met so far. What about you? Do you have a best friend, and if so, is he based on silicon or carbon? Some say carbon beings of all types are living on numbered days, that the Siliconites are just so much better at what they do that it's inevitable that they'll replace us. But Dad says people have been making the same prediction for decades, and there's no reason we can't all just perfectly co-exist.
I understand you live in Houston, Texas. What is it like there? A couple of weeks ago I went on a simulated tropical vacation to Florida with my family. It was fun. Dad says we can go on a real trip there when I finish my studies, which won't be for a while. When we come, I really want to take one of those new Airbus triple-deckers, but Mum says it might be just a plain old double-decker, just like we take on our shopping trips to Chennai. I understand that aircraft going into the States are required to have a human “pilot” in the room in the front of the plane. I've never been on a plane driven by a person; that would be wild to see!
What do you like to do with your free time? I like to watch old movies, mainly American action movies and 6)Hindi pop musicals. Personally I find movies these days to be a bit of a bore. The thing is, it's hard to be sympathetic with the characters, when you don't know if it's a real person or not. I mean, I have nothing against Bots, but if these are just Bots running around on the screen, I'd like to know! I can't tell you how many old Schwarzenegger movies 've seen and enjoyed! Call me old-fashioned, but for me, Bots are not proper replacements for human actors.
Did your family give you Special 7)genes when you were born? My parents told me they didn’t, just the usual anti-cancer, anti-HIV 8)molecular strategy. But after a lot of trying I figured out how to crack into my personal file on the Internet, and found out that I have a few special ones, as well. A couple of them are there to help me get old slower, so that I'll hopefully live to 120 or so. A few of them are there to give me a 9)mild boost in intelligence. I guess this explains why my parents didn't figure out how to 10)encrypt my personal files from my 11)prying eyes! Anyway, some people in my country are opposed to people trying to give their kids an edge in life, so I guess that's why they didn't 12)let on about it. It's sort of how adults are about new skin surgery ----- everyone does it, but nobody wants to admit it. I've heard that people in other countries are experimenting with all kinds of models for their kids, for height, good looks, etc., but I think that's all a little silly. Just watch, Nestor ----- in the future, so many people will look alike from all these bodily 13)modifications and genetic 14)alterations, that the cool thing will be to have been born natural, just like me. At any rate, I'm not worried ---- I like who I am and I think I’m going to do just fine.
Well, Nestor, I've written an awful lot about myself and my circumstances in this letter. I look forward to hearing about you. Indeed, despite all the progress humanity has made in the last couple of thousand years, to say nothing of the last several decades, when it comes down to it, what still matters most to us is our lives and our loved ones.
1) simulate v. 模拟，模仿
2) assumption n. 假定，设想
3) nostalgia n. 怀旧之情
4) collaboration n. 协作
5) keep an eye on 留心，照顾
6) Hindi a. 印度北部的
7) gene n. 遗传基因
8) molecular n. 分子
9) mild a. 温和的，适度的
10) encrypt v. 加密，译成密码
11) prying a. 爱打听的
12) let on 泄露，让人知道
13) modification n. 更改，修正
14) alteration n. 变更，改造