"Ok, come on in John", I let out a long impatient breath after sitting there in eternity.
Real life Sarah directed me to a conference chair as she went over her notes.
"So we jumped into your world and looked at what you made.", there was an eager edge to her voice as she continued talking faster than usual.
"We're amazed, to say the least. What you created was richly detailed and quite large given the time you had. Coupled with a system crash, we're a little baffled at the same time." she waited for my response.
After thinking for a long moment, I queried, "Well, what exactly were your expectations?"
Sarah reached over to her bag and pulled out her tablet computer. After hitting power and then play a video began showing someone else's world. It was a very simple world with 8-bit like textures on everything. There were simple geometric objects and wide open spaces of black void. In the middle of the screen was a blocky looking avatar that looked more mechanical than organic.
She explained, "This is more or less what the average tester has been creating in about an hour of wondering around for the first time." I gulped as she changed to a different video with my name on it and yesteray's time stamp. "This is part of what you created in less than 20 minutes"
This video was like a National Geographic Ultra-HD documentary of the Amazon Jungle, or something like that. Everything was so realistic, it was more real than real. I saw my cottage next to the waterfall flowing into a lake that flowed off into a rich thick forest. I saw myself in vivid detail, sitting on the floor touching the screen on the ground and looking up. I can see my lips moving, but I'm talking to nothing. I gulped again.
"Which brings us to this.", Sarah paused the video and pointed at the screen i was holding inside the virtual world. "What is that?" she asked pointedly.
"It's a screen that I created, it was showing me the time", I made the assumption that anything my mental avatars did was actually me doing, so this wasn't a lie.
"So you created a user interface and connected it to the system", her mouth was held slightly open and I could smell the sweet peach candy she was eating earlier.
"I'm sure your other testers are good guys and all, but we all know testers are kindergardeners learning to walk in the tech industry." I continued my explanatinon, "I've been a coder for over thirteen years, so I'm sure my experience accounts for everything you're seeing here."
She sat there in thought for a moment and then smiled, "We are certainly lucky to have you then." She stood, "Follow me, I want you to meet one of our engineers behind the software simulation systems"
I followed her through the cubicle farm, randomly ducking as a nerf darts zinged by my ear. Looking around, I see the typical New York City geek culture. Finally we stopped at a cube towards the center of the farm. The owner of the cube had long red hair in a pony tail, and an equally long goatee sans mustache... a hipster geek.
"John, I would like you to meet Jason. Jason is leading the simulation development team."
Jason stood up and shook my hand generously with an enthusiasm only a hipster good bring to the mundane act of hand shaking.
"So duuude, how did you get that level of detail in 20 minutes... I mean I can do that in about five, but I've been in the systems since the beginning... what's your deal?", he asked without hesitation or any preliminary small talk as is usually the custom when meeting someone new. I like this guy.
"I figured out the interface pretty quickly and was able to use it pretty naturally. I guess my brain is wired in a way that is compatible with your interface", I speculated.
Jason was grinning and nodding furiously like a wobble head toy on a dashboard. Then there was an awkward silence only a geek can bring to a conversation.
"I'm gonna throw you an elite tool when you jack in", now this peaked my interest, "I'm gonna give you some special ray-bans that will let you see the code behind any system. Kind of like in the Matrix, only it's written in Java." He grinned widely.
After recovering from my nerdgasm, I shook his hand only this time I had the overzealous enthusiasm. "I'm at a loss for words, but I'm eager to jack in and test it out. Thanks, man!".
"That's just the beginning. I'll catch you on the inside.", gesturing me towards the lab.
As I followed Sarah to the labs, I caugh a glimpse of one of the suits packing a box in his office. I filed that away in my brain for later.
Getting situated in the seat, I asked Sarah, "So what do you want me to focus on today?".
"We're start from scratch, so I want to you to create a comfortable environment again. After that, we're going to introduce you to the work Jason's been focused on, the AI.", she saw my grin, "... just wait, Jason's jacking in to give you the rundown."
An AI? They've been imaging brains and interfacing with them directly, and yet it never occured to me that they would be building an AI from what they learned. At least not yet.
I put on the headgear, layed back and everything went black.
In the void, I summoned grass in ever direction and a blue sky above it. The landscape appeared almost instantly, it basically took no effort to manifest at this point.
The computer completely interpreted my thoughts with precision now.
I decided to have a little fun. I raised my hands and mountains came up out of the ground creating a valley around me. Then I spawned a water source at the top of one of the peaks, and the waterfall came thundering down into the valley. The water pooled up in a lake and flowed into a stream exiting the valley behidn me.
Now I imagined a moderate sized traditional Japanese house with the shoji windows and sliding doors. I opened my eyes, and there it was in its perfection. I've always had a thing for Japanese culture and artchitecture, and this was just plain amazing.
I entered the front door, admiring the wall to wall tatami flooring and the simplicity of the design. I walked in, bowing first, and sat down in the center on the black meditation cushion I spawned on the floor.
The door opened as I sat in meditation, I looked up and saw Jason, or at least his avatar. He stood there with a digital smirk admiring the intricacies of the shoji door and other details of this amazing house. He had sunglasses on and there was an aura glowing around him as though he was some kind of deity.
I stood up, "Hi Jason, nice aura.".
When he spoke, his voice echoed subtly and deeply as though he was more than human, "Well done, my friend. You've got some serious talent", he golf clapped.
He took off the sunglasses and in one motion flung them in my direction. He winked, then made a gesture, and the sunglasses slowed down in their path towards my head. They slowed down as if traveling through water and then landed on my outstretched hand.
I looked a little wide eyed and said, "... don't tell me your about to give me a morpheaus speech on the nature of this place...".
He laughed an alien bellow laugh, his voice booming accross the house like a subwoofer turned too high. "Do I even need to?", he paused a moment and then continued, "I do want show you one thing you don't know about."
I watched as his aura grew brighter. It reached a retina burning solar yellow when I saw it pop. The light popped and then seperated into two lights.
The second light drifted a few feet away from the avatar and then formed into a human like shape. After another bright burst, the light dimed.. and Jason was there next to himself.
He saw the look of confusion in my eyes, "This is my AI", new Jason pointed to his old Avatar. "I'm a compelte digital replica of meat popsicle Jason's brain, so really I am him in every way that physically counts" the AI finished Jason's explanation.
"The only difference between me and the AI is that my consciousness is linked to this new avatar while the AI is autonomous, but without consciousness.", he was excited now, "... but, as you saw, I can merge with the AI and be one with the avatar. Our digital minds merge and I have a hightened awareness and existence within this world."
"This is too much to take in at once... there's so much awesome in this machine, I don't know where to start. How do I make an AI?", I asked pointedly.
"That's going to take a while. The glasses will help you study the code and figure it out. You already created a interface to the systems, so I'm sure you can figure out how to build code around objects, that's where you should start." he pointed to the avatar, when you're done with him just shut him down. I gotta go back to coding. Enjoy"
Jason disappeared into thin air and a balloon popping sound betrayed his exit.
I stood their looking at the AI, and I realized that figuring this out was going to take a long time.
I put on the glasses and looked around. I saw code attached to objects... It was all Java code. The code was in three dimensional layers that I could mentaly zoom into and read. I saw connections between functions of one objects and functions in other objects... this is all very straight forward, there's nothing unusual about his code, other than the fact that I'm able to visualize it in a life-like setting. The power was in all the little objects working together in systems... and systems of systems. Like cellular autonoma, this is digital life.
I looked over at AI Jason, all his code was more dense. He was definitely more advanced, with more systems working together. There was a thin silver cord going from the back of his head all the way up, through the roof, to the infinity of the sky. It was a data stream!
Then a thought occured to me, and I looked up. Sure enough, there was a silver cord going straight to me also, but this cord had a glowing white aura around it. That was clearly my conscious connection to my avatar.
I closed my eyes and thought of a silver cord coming from the floor into a screen. I opened my eyes as I breathed out and the terminal I used yesteray was in front of me on the floor.
I picked it up and saw the two time periods in sync with each other. One second in here was currently equal to one second outside. It's time to change that.
I flicked my finger from the right number to the left, very fast. The number representing outside stopped moving, and the inside number went to a decimal point. My head started to spin a bit, as vertigo gripped me.
I put the glasses back on and saw that the flow into my datastream appears unaffected. I looked down at the screen and saw the user interface. I rearranged some code, and wrote a new interface to this time gauge. It now showed time outside, time inside, and the ratio of the rate. It currently says 64 to 1.
With a grin, I spun my finger in a circle like a dj, as I saw the ratio changing from 64, to 128, to 1024, to 2048... and that's when i threw up. I threw up data. There was a steady stream of digital vomit flowing out of me as I blindly fumbled and changed the dial back down to 1024. I stopped puking.
I took off the glasses and saw the puke as puke as I tried to regain a sense of balance.
I'm currently at 1024, which means for every second ouside, 1024 seconds pass in here... or from my perspective, one minute outside is about seventeen hours in here. Let's keep going, 1 hour outside is forty two freaking days in here.
I grinned widely as I started planning the next 6 months of my digital life.
"Ok, come on in John", I let out a long impatient breath after sitting there in eternity.