Part 5: In Which There Is A Meeting In Malcolm's Study

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While Ethan retreated to the windowsill after dinner, Malcolm took to his study with Marcus for a drink, precisely so that he could get to the topic he’d been burning to discuss with his twin since Thursday afternoon. “Now, tell me about this new investment you’ve gotten involved in, won’t you?” Marcus began.

Malcolm took his first sip and sighed with contentment. “They’re a company named Hugh & Olson. They are doing some rather promising development of something called a neural prosthetic limb, and they offered us the opportunity to get in on it early.”

“Neural prosthetic limbs?” Marcus repeated.

Malcolm brightened. “Indeed! Many emotions crossed through me Thursday during that meeting, and one of them was acute annoyance with you.”

Marcus darkened. “May I ask why?”

“Because there everyone was, ready with money in their hands, speaking to someone whose company is doing marvelous things that you would be able to do if you would just do it!”

“Malcolm, what I do cannot be done quickly, and it’s not something that just anyone can do. That is precisely why I have not ‘made a business’ out of building mobile artificial limbs.”

“You don’t think you can produce enough product to meet the need? What if the technology was available to mass produce them?” Malcolm asked.

“I cannot see that coming about anytime soon. One would need a higher level of technology to even attempt the kind of mass production you’re suggesting.”

“Surely not!” Malcolm protested. “This Hugh & Olson seems to think they can do it. If they can, why can’t you?”

“They can’t do it. Not in this century anyway,” Marcus told him flat out.

“You don’t know that!”

“Oh, yes I do! What technology can be developed to construct them on a mass scale? Automatons or robots that have precise enough movements to construct such devices in a factory? I fear that you have fallen prey to some sort of con artist, Malcolm!”

Malcolm blinked. “We can build a factory! That’s what investors do; they invest money to make something happen. People could get jobs there, and other people could be helped. There are no bad parts to this scenario, Marcus! Imagine the potential!”

“For making money?” Marcus groaned. “Oh, yes, indeed!”

“People who were previously unable to walk would be able to do so once again! Can’t you see how many people might be aided by these devices?”

“Why do we not imagine being able to perform a surgery that would enable someone to actually save the compromised limb, rather than hacking it off and replacing it with metal?  Is there not enough money in that?” Marcus sneered.

Malcolm grit his teeth. “Marcus, these devices could benefit soldiers! After all, our weapons can rip a person apart nowadays more than they have ever been able in the past. These limbs might enable them to live something of a productive life. Perhaps they may even be able to return to active duty!”

“It hardly matters.  I regard most of medicine these days as inelegant, crude, and a far cry from what it should be. Instead of working to ease the cause of a pain, medicine uses a pill to cover it up. Rather than find a cure for the illness that nearly took my son’s life in January, this company is bothering about making metal arms!” Marcus waved it off in apparent disgust. “Not everyone gets arms blown off, Malcolm. Not everyone is a soldier. But everyone gets sick. Everyone, even soldiers, can die from disease. Put your money into something like curing disease, and you will not only make a great deal of profit, but that is how you help potentially millions of people. For every Hugh & Olson, there’s a hundred potential Louis Pasteurs waiting for financial backing to help them finish life-saving research.”

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