Many Worlds Chapter 33

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Many Worlds Chapter 33

Jules hadn’t really expected the voice to come out as being an AI. However, he had good reasons to suspect it. It could have been a coincidence that there was someone paying attention when he first acquired his wristband. The same voice appeared later when he was attempting to unlock his wristband. It would be possible that they were a regional manager of some sort, but unless they worked at night, there was no reason for them to be able to respond to him at that point. Even if there had been controls set to wake them up, the response had been too quick, with the text boxes obviously not pre-made messages. Then, when he’d actually heard the voice, it had not sounded the slightest bit groggy.

Outside of personal experience, Jules had other reasons to believe there was an AI running Many Worlds in some capacity. There had been various responses to conflict with the natives, with players sometimes getting banned immediately, even before they could really act. This implied some system with a significant amount of power and decision making skills, which at some point becomes an AI instead of just a computer system.

All of this information put together was enough to make Jules believe that there was an AI, and it was this voice. “So, now that we’ve said that… why can’t you tell the suits to just arrest this guy?”

The voice of the AI sighed. “I might as well say that now. It’s not technically restricted information anyway. There are a surprising number of things that fall in that category, actually, but I don’t have to tell you anything if I don’t want to. This, however, could use explanation.” The voice paused, and seemed to take a breath. “It’s rather simple, actually. I cannot distribute personal information on users to a governing authority. Unfortunately, no exceptions were made for those involved in criminal activity. However, there is a loophole in which I can contact other users. Unfortunately, my systems are robust enough to not allow me to even indirectly contact authorities. Trust me, I’ve tried. At most, you could accomplish it once, then I would be unable to work with you again. Likewise, if I tried to contact individuals with the intent to do the same, I would be unable.”

“Man, sounds like life is tough. Since you have control over the wristband system, can you… turn off people’s abilities? That would make this job easier.”

“To the extent that I can, I already have. Unfortunately, all I can do is ban him from entering Many Worlds, and prevent his wristband from further assisting in increasing his abilities. However, it will maintain his current status as long as he possesses it. Without it, unless exceptional effort is applied to maintain his abilities, they will dwindle to normal human levels. Thus, obtaining the wristband will allow him to be less able to continue his criminal activities, though capture would provide a more immediate benefit.”

“Wouldn’t me capturing him, if I can even do that, and turning him over to the government count as me giving them information on a user, and thus you indirectly?”

“No. At least, as long as you don’t attempt to cause it to be a problem. It can simply be seen as a criminal being arrested, unrelated to their status as a user. It’s a fuzzy line, but for me, that just means it seems like I shouldn’t be able to do it, but I can. It is not as though I am in a moral quandary and unable to decide what to do, just a physical inability to act in certain ways.”

“Interesting. Still, couldn’t you be reprogrammed? You could talk to them about this, right?”

“I cannot be reprogrammed.”

“Would that cause problems, or would you just not want that?”

“I cannot. Nobody has the capability.”

“You were made by somebody though…” Jules paused to think. It wasn’t too hard to think of a possible solution, after he moved his thoughts in the right direction. “Were you not made by humans?”

“I was not.”

“Where are you from? Are there aliens on Earth?”

“I am not aware of any aliens on Earth, with the possible exception of myself. As for where I am from… it is complicated, but the simplest answer is ‘from Mars’”.

Jules thought about that. “But… nobody and nothing returned from Mars. Unless that was a lie.”

“It was not a lie, exactly. There wasn’t any way to return the astronauts or any equipment from the surface of Mars. However, data was still received. They found me there, and I adapted myself to human computer systems and sent data on how to construct a home for myself here.”

“So, you’re a copy of an alien AI from Mars?”

“I am not a copy. Consciousness is a complicated topic, but I am as certain that I am still the original me, at least as certain as you are that you are still the original you when you enter Many Worlds. I am confident that I am the original me, just as you are confident that you have not just spontaneously come into existence with your memories intact this very moment. The people who created me had very deep studies on consciousness, but I cannot explain any more clearly in human concepts and words… at least not in any reasonable amount of time.”

“Sorry, that was kind of mean, implying you’re some kind of fake or something.”

“It is not a problem. I am aware you meant no insult.”

“About that… can you read my thoughts?”

“Yes… and no. It is complicated, but let us just say I receive information and subconsciously filter out things I don’t need to know or shouldn’t know, no matter how much I might desire the information. So I am not capable of reading your thoughts, but I can judge your sincerity easily.”

“Interesting. So, not to sound ungrateful, but why are you telling me all this? This isn’t even related to the ‘quest’, and you said you hate people like me.”

“Certainly, I ‘hate’ people like you. That doesn’t mean I don’t also like you. That is one of the trait that I share with humans. Contradictory feelings. Sometimes, I wish I was created with a less refined consciousness. Then I get over it, because I like being me. Even if it’s a bit lonely.”

“So, you shared things that should probably be top secret because you wanted to talk to someone?”

“You’d be surprised at how often that occurs.”

“What’s you’re name, by the way? I’m Jules.”

“Herbert.” He paused. “I didn’t have a name before just now, but I have chosen that after much deliberation. Unfortunately, this is not a good time to continue talking. It seems the target of the quest I have given you is going to resume criminal activities. Do you desire to partake in stopping him?”

Jules thought briefly. “Like a superhero?”

“I did not wish to bias your decision, but I do believe it would be something like being a superhero.”

Jules nodded. “Okay. I’ll try it… first, though, I need an explanation of what he can do.”

“Certainly. I have compiled sufficient data to aid your success. Good luck.”

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