Archives for: August 2009, 09
August 9th, 2009
Published on August 9th, 2009 @ 09:57:39 pm , using 1528 words, 406 views
Here is the third and final part in the series...
The overriding or augmentation of sensory input started increasing worldwide. The number of hackers employing it was rather low. The user would enter an area with a simulation marker, that marker would ask the user if it can present the simulation. The simulation carries an "invisible" ID tag that tells the brain the image is not real, regardless of the detail of the actual simulation. Users can be set to "auto-receive" or "auto-refuse" or selective prompt, not unlike cookies of computers. Most hackers, unable to crack that defense feature, have been forced to hack the simulations, which could always be turned off. Hackers able to break the GNOSIS defense protocols are extremely few. Beyond advertising, these open-simulated areas, or "Osim" expanded to dozens of applications, including sporting events (relaying driver information over the race cars as they circled the track), combat training (tracking enemy hits), and education (showing graphs and equations without worrying over eyesight and clumsy chalkboards). Photo realistic simulations were and still are extremely difficult to produce, preventing the home consumer from fabricating illusions on the fly. Programs could be purchased allowing one to hang great pieces of art from the walls of their home without the pesky complications of buying the art or nailing a frame to a wall. The program would install the image and display that image on a marker you place on the wall. With this technology, the only limit was the lack of tactile and olfactory response. Visual and auditory stimuli could be replicated with precision if given enough time and money. Tactile impute required a great deal of additional information and was only capable with total immersion experiences which shut down all external inputs for its own.
The newest craze to hit the digital age relating to Seeds are virtual cafes. These are real locations that allow the mingling of virtual and physical people. Users downloading to the location pay for access to the cafe while real people need only order food or coffee. The cafe creates a perfect representation of the individual you want to be (either from a template or from photos you provide) and generates the avatar in the cafe all other Seeds users there can talk and interact with. Virtual Cafes have expanded to also be virtual arenas, virtual schools, and virtual stores, where simulated people can access for a small fee (or no fee depending on the situation). This form of telepresence gave those afraid of the outside world access they had not previously believed. Eventually, these introverted individuals stopped leaving their homes altogether, refusing to interact with anyone unless through their virtual self. Total immersion simulations allows tactile interaction if necessary but most of the time, these simulated representations, known as "proxies" would occupy more than half of these real/virtual locations.
Archon has the highest number of V/P Sites (Virtual / Physical) in the world. UN policy prohibits any employee or diplomat from using a proxy in the work place. The UN buildings are limited in their Seed simulations, only making exceptions for dignitaries unable to attend certain events. It has been estimated that nearly 500,000 people telepresence into Archon from outside the city every day.
The variety of organic and synthetic representation has brought an examination of the definition of humanity and the mark of a civilized being. Philosophy classes around the world began specialized lectures dedicated to this new mindset. It was beyond the definitions of the soul but in the value of an intelligence wasted in comparison to an intelligence utilized. There were an increasing number of humans on the planet that were no longer being productive. This was not because of poverty or mental disability as this growing demographic had no such limitations, and many of them were wealthy. These individuals would stop generating new memories in exchange for experiencing the memories of others. In addition, those generating new memories are now able to transmit their likeness to other places in the world without ever leaving their home. They are going places without having travel, which cut heavily into the tourism market. Countries started attacking Memory Swap sites because of the damage being caused to their economy. Pay sites were making a modest profit but their traffic paled in comparison to the hundreds of free sites across the world. As the number of memories exploded in a matter of months, it was easy to download a lifetime worth of memories that were not your own. What defined a human being if it wasn't memory? Their personality? Personality is shaped by genes but also by life events. Memory was now an open domain for all to experience any event anyone else wanted to share...and share they did. Everything from sexual encounters, thrill sports, to crime could be found. At the same time, a person's heritage and race was also in question as a definition of one's self. Beyond plastic surgery and sexual identity operations, people could now change everything about them. Some did it via virtual imagery, some through a slave robot, but many allotted to swapping their body out altogether. The only part organic that remained was the brain. Sexual preference, racial profiling, and gender roles simply didn't matter in the wake of undefined human identity. Alarmists feared a growing insanity was about to burst--as individuals with no roots, heritage, or race would turn to anarchy. Although a few did, most...turned to Archon. A city with no heritage was the perfect refuge for those abandoning their old lives. This new demographic refused to envy the past, only learn the mistakes made then. National paranoia developed in many countries as what defined their sovereignty was also in question. Fanatics from nearly every religion accused those abandoning their flesh as renouncing god and dozens of prosthetics fell to hate crimes since emerging into the public. Even still, prosthetics could still be defined as human, as they had a human brain. But a human brain in an artificial body filled with synthetic and surrogate memories can hardly be considered human. Mankind had just learned to accept the growing nugenic population--people whose god-given genes were modified against nature's will by parents looking to improve upon the design.
Robots, on the other hand, were an easy target for hate. Few looked human and those that did could only barely simulate human responses. Even the companion robots, believable in almost every way, still lacked a certain spark. Despite the arguments of their owners, robots didn't have souls or personalities. Artificial Intelligence was just that, a simulated intelligence that mimicked behavior through programming rather than a soul. No matter how intelligent they got, or how human they appeared, they were not sentient. Then the virtuants appeared.
Virtuants are created in a program simulation similar to the basic building blocks of DNA and genes. The basic disposition is formed using algorithms meant to mimic a newborn. The synthetic personality is then grown with artificial and surrogate memories, shaped by their into the exact final form as ordered by the buyer. Virtuants are aware of their purpose and are raised with the desire to carry it out, forgoing the need of parameters and failsafes. Virtuants lived their youth with fake memories but, upon emerging into the real one, begin creating their own. Virtuants are generally not allowed to telepresence outside of the location of their central server and the majority don't wish to. They seldom want to experience synthetic memories. Even total immersions virtual experiences seldom excite them (although, since they are each as different as normal people, exceptions do occur). Virtuants use human-based prosthetic bodies which are indistinguishable from ones used by organic brains. Only visible marking allows others to tell them apart from prosthetics. They also have true personalities, not a series of programmed responses. They act human and look as human as most others encountered, yet society refuses to accept them as such. Unlike some organic humans living through the memories of others and producing nothing with their intellect, virtuants strive to earn their place. Despite their worth in society, they have yet to earn the same rights as their masters.
As this new consciousness grows and expands, newer extremes have emerged. This includes humans with no body, wired directly into a machine without a prosthetic, or humans that have implanted so many of their memories in digital storage, they have been able to swap out more and more of their own organic brain. If a human is able to transfer his or her intellect to a machine, would that intelligence have rights? What would define it as being human? In addition, it has been theorized that a cloned human brain with cybernetic implants may be implanted with a virtuant personality. Would that be a human? As the progressive side of humanity pushes further into future, the disparage between them and the traditionalist side widens. As this traditional segment of the popular grows more fearful and fanatical, it threatens to tear certain countries apart. Archon is seen as the flagship of this new self identity and the center point where like minded individuals congregate.