Augmented Reality by Anonymous

-Recording starts.
9:30 p.m. .
Chicago is the place.
This is Agent Nathan Forsythe.
I’m about to interview Dr. Jeremy Joule, former DARPA
technician.
Specific subject: the Project Purgatory incident.
Professor, would you like to begin or would you prefer me to
list some more technical data before we continue?

-As you said, my name is Jeremy Joule, I’m thirty-four years
old and I used to work as a national defense supervisor.
The last project I was assigned to…I was working with
Professor Henry Chavez, as a part of his equipe.
He already had his own office, he was well into DARPA, though
he was younger than me.-

-Chavez, the young promise of national cyberwarfare.
Sorry for the interruption…

-No, it’s okay, I’m having a little trouble talking right
now…

-I can see that, but relax.
We have all night and we got coffee and ice cream.
Eventually, I will accompany you home.
I would like you to return with your mind to Dr. Chavez, to
summarize your personal involvement, to make it easier for me to
write the report.-

-Well, officer…Chavez already created for our Nation the
maxifirewalls for 5G and the semi-autonomous malware filter DETOX.
He was a genius when it came to managing digital connections
and data traffic, so much that there were rumors in the offices that he could perceive data flows with his brain, a bit like those
migratory birds that can pinpoint directions with magnetic fields.
He was a national asset, more valuable than a general or a
secretary of state.
You understand that today we are back to Renaissance warfare,
with the super-specialized and restricted armies?-

-Of course, Professor: specialized armies acting and reacting
at lightning speed, so that the arsenals and bombers stay sleepy.
Therefore, their computing devices must be the ultimate in
technology and home support.-

-Exactly… the government has been investing billions of
dollars for years in experimental weapons but unfortunately we
won’t see anything truly revolutionary for another hundred years,
because the timeframe for scientific research is indeed long.-

-Chavez thought the same way you did?-

-No! He was much more superb, obsessed with speed…he wanted
to bring the magical speed of data traffic into the real world.
He was talking lucidly about the possibility of creating a new
reality, superior to the augmented reality proposed a few years
ago by private companies.
At times it seemed he was talking more about teleportation
technology than data transmission… you are aware of the concept
of teleportation, Officer?

-Pretty much, and I know that in the practical way of things,
if higher exoskeletons will take a hundred and fifty years,
teleportation awaits us in a millennium or have I heard
pessimistic rumors?-

-No no, too optimistic, officer! Techné has its own
weight, techné demands a tribute… a tribute that must not be
paid too quickly! But Chavez wouldn’t listen to reason… Oh God!-

-Have a glass of water, professor.
Want some ice cream?-

-Am I sweating, Officer?

-Yes but it’s hot and the fan isn’t too loud, so I don’t think
you’ll feel sick.
I need you, even at the cost of being cramped, not to withhold
any important details.-

-Officer, fifteen people died, all of them at the DARPA-
controlled X48 facility in Michigan, a secret facility used for
Chavez’s latest project…. we’re all researchers and five security
staff members.
The security measures proved not to be sufficient…not
sufficient at all!-

-It was an experiment involving a computer device, in an area
already controlled by satellite and with limited access.
With all due respect, doctor, no one expected anything like
this.-

-But you saw it, didn’t you? You saw what happened?-

-Sure professor: I was the first one to come and see what
happened and get you out from under that rubble.-

-And you… you also saw the conclusion! You saw what Chavez
had become! Or did I imagine it?-

-No, I can assure you that the event was traumatic and
disastrous.
I don’t want to belittle your suffering and the deaths of your
colleagues and security personnel, of course.
What happened was upsetting to me, and during my career this
is not the first time I have seen blood spilled in large
quantities.
And I didn’t see exactly what you saw, before I arrived.
I’m sorry.-

-There were no records saved, Officer.-

-That’s why your testimony is important, until we can get
something off the surviving hard drives.-

-Those databases and computers left whole should be
demagnetized and then burned, Agent Forsythe.
Chavez… your madness must remain buried in those ruins.
That technology… that madness!-

-Please, have some ice cream… slowly.-

-Thank you… Can I ask you something?-

-Sure.-

-Is there really a branch of the FBI that investigates
unexplained cases?-

-More like there is an urban legend about it.
Over the years, the government has commissioned a series of
special projects, with the more or less forced participation of
civilian specialists and various branches of the military and
security services.

These projects were official but approached in an
extraordinary way precisely because of their particularity.-

-But these projects appeared beginning in the 1930s, didn’t
they?-

-In the 1940s.-

-Like the Blue Book project? –

-Mhmmm.
That one in particular, though, is much later.
I guess you know what the final response of that work was: a
hole into water.
Reasonably, that small percentage of unexplained celestial
phenomena could not have aroused the government’s concern at all
more than the USSR’s projects could in reality.-

-Tell me, Officer, what about that story of hypnotic radio
signals from East Germany?-

-Interference and reverberations.
You know very well that if conspiracy theories were really
national secrets they wouldn’t appear in bookstores on multiple
best-selling titles.-

-Exactly, all those tactics are static screeching,
interference noise, right? And they’re meant to mask a hidden
transmission, aren’t they?-

-What are you suggesting, Doctor?-

-That conspiracy theories are used to cover up real mysteries
or real plots!-

-We’re getting off track here, Doctor.
Please return to the event…-

-Yeah, yeah… here’s what happened.
The project, the last project of Chavez…-

-This project was supposed to generate a prototype for a new
form of accelerated data sharing, capable of replacing the
artificial intelligences that have failed to deliver in recent
years.-

-Not just that.
I’m not claiming that Schadenfreude is something we can share,
of course…-

-Schaden what?-

-Joy in the misfortunes of others.
Did you see the explosions at the atomic laboratories in China
last year, officer?-

-Yes: another tragedy.-

-Caused by faulty artificial intelligence!-

-Exactly, but what does that have to do with anything?

-Listen, do you remember any of the old electronic games?
Before the collapse of the video game market?-

-Sort of.-

-You remember that the little men, the little figurines,
didn’t always work well, right?-

-Yes, I do. –

-Those were little artificial intelligences.
So, Chavez’s research to overcome the limits of traditional
artificial intelligence can be justified.
Many experts realized that, eventually, the idea of creating
augmented minds could be a viable replacement for the creation of
supercomputers that were too flawed or had little empathy for the
human realities they were supposed to help…
But believe me, officer, when I say that Chavez was not
motivated by humanitarian or patriotic motives: his scientific
curiosity was purely devoted to his own ambition, to the way he
wanted to shape reality in accordance with his own desires…-

-Doctor, describe Chavez’s project to me and please without
getting too carried away.
This will become an official report.-

-Yes, officer.
Chavez’s project was called, in both development and official
stages, Purgatory Network.
In essence, a more advanced version of state-of-the-art Cloud
technology, wired with highly efficient antennas, cameras and
projectors.
State-of-the-art computer processors combined with the wonders
of the entertainment industry.
Entertainment industry… what an ugly definition.-

-Well doctor, let’s be thankful that the movie business
collapsed along with electronic games. -Well, doctor, let’s be
thankful that the movie business collapsed along with electronic
games.-

-That’s right, Chavez often made jokes about that, too, and
said how all those people lacked perspective… that they hadn’t
been able, as he put it, to imagine the future.-

-The future as Chavez saw it.-

-Exactly.
Chavez proposed to our superiors and government
representatives the creation of a new form of shared human
intelligence, which would allow us to replace unreliable
artificial intelligences and maintain the supremacy of our Nation
in the world.-

-That is, to avoid being surpassed by the Chinese.

-More or less.
In fact, what they saw in Chavez’s idea was the invention of a
super-technological form of War Room…. if the Purgatory data
sharing system could also support something different than a group
of researchers able to share data with each other, as it is the
case in normal virtual reality.
Even a group of military personnel creating a project
together, present in different locations and with different data
packages…even that could have been possible!-.

-The Purgatory system wasn’t just a cloud system, what made it
special compared to what we already have?-

-Data shared on this network didn’t just come from devices.
The augmented reality manipulation systems were hardwired to
the users’ sensory organs and responded to stimuli emitted by the
users at the neurological level.-

-So the users of the system could see for themselves what was
going on, the information they were sending and receiving?-

-Much more! They could visualize consequences of their nerve
stimuli reprocessed by the system, thanks to the holographic
projectors even into the spacial perimeter of the building and not
only on their ocular and auditory peripherals, agent.-

-Are you suggesting that they could make their own thoughts
appear as holographic images or manifest actually with that
system?-

-You… you very quickly understood the nature of what Chavez
wanted to accomplish…-

-I had suspected something like that and I think it explains
well with what happened.
There seems to have been some sort of collective hysteria at
the facility.
That would explain the devastation.-

-I saw the whole thing, and you come pretty close to the
truth, but really, you should have seen what was going on.
You could project images and graphs and equations into the air
like a science fiction movie and even translate thoughts and
feelings into colors, figures and writing… Chavez had created
something incredible, and I assure you that no one, even though he
claimed to have explained the specifics, understood what was going
on!-

-Excuse me, you didn’t understand how the system could
illustrate your thoughts?-

-No, it was so natural, spontaneous… we could easily
communicate even from one room to another by sending a thought or
an illustration, and even combine them.-

-Such technology should be impossible by our current
standards.-

-Yes, but I guarantee there was something unnatural about it!
Magic! Chavez always seemed to have the upper hand, though.-

-What do you mean? –

-Maybe because he was the inventor, but he certainly had much,
much more control over the mechanism than we did.
His mastery was such that he modified himself through the
system.-

-What do you mean? His perception of himself?-

-More or less.
He was just using the system to project images onto his own
figure, changing his clothes at will, and even his own appearance.
And then… then he started to change everything.-

-Explain yourself, please. –

-He could… run faster, roll like a ball, grab every object.
At one point he had taken to turning into a cowboy and waving
a gun with an overly long barrel, blathering things like, “You
ain’t gonna run faster than my bullets, stranger.”-

-Excuse me, don’t you believe that your sensory capabilities
have been altered by Chavez to deceive and manipulate you to the
point of making you believe that reality was not only augmented,
but transformed?-

-Well, we understood that… but how can I put this when there
are no surviving recordings? Chavez had become capable of running
from room to room at an absurd speed, jumping four meters forward

from a standstill, and floating through the air… he seemed to
have become a living cartoon, like in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”-

-And he used this power of his to scare you, didn’t he? –

-Yes.
He said we were stupid and lacking in foresight and that we
were only serving him as computing processors.
He said he wanted to expand his system into the normal
network, that he wanted to change the world… he said that with
his Purgatory system, there would be no more distinction between
the real world and the world of the imagination.
The ghosts of the night would walk among the living and the
gods would sit again on the seats of Olympus, he repeated in the
last days.-

-Didn’t you try to call for help?

-We were in his power… we didn’t know if outside they agreed
with him, if instead we all had to be sacrificed for the
project…-

-And yet, you fought, or didn’t you? How else would you
explain the slaughter I found?-

-We… we had to do something, don’t you think? You said so
yourself! There was no time to call for help, Chavez had to be
stopped now!-

-Calm down, take a breath.-

-That monstrosity… Purgatory was a hoax, an excuse, a
terrible lie! He didn’t want to create a new augmented reality, he
wanted to destroy the real world, the world wanted and created by
God, and replace it with a satanic counterfeit! He wanted to turn America into Bosch’s garden of delights, with everyone losing
their heads behind ghosts that had become so real they could prey
on the living!-

-Please, you’re getting too hot.
First I motivated you to focus and talk, but now you’re in
danger of collapsing.-

-We figured out how to manipulate the system, how to project
our will, and we launched a counter-attack… for a whole day, we
projected our thoughts against Chavez’s, against that devil… he
took us one by one with the force of his unbridled diabolical
will, without restraints, scruples, no longer human and no longer
beast, but something completely different.
Yet, in the end, we got him… we reasoned like him, we
trapped him in an illogical circuit where he annihilated himself.
We had to take his gun and funnel it into a long bizarre form
like the one in the Tex Avery cartoons, and then… we turned his
energy on him.
He shot himself.
It cost us so much effort…only I stayed alive…-.

-The subject is unconscious but still alive.
We need to make sure he gets psychiatric help.
Most likely the trauma of the experience will be removed from
his memory.
Nothing seems to be left of the Purgatory mechanism.
I insert a personal assessment for the other members of the
association: I propose to have the project deleted and any
possible remaining components or back-ups destroyed.
I believe that our experts in paranormal and ESP matters will
be more helpful than computer consultants in understanding this
aberration.
Our war will be won with guns and blades, not smoke and
mirrors.

It is now a quarter past ten.
End of recording. –

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