Friday, December 25, 2015

Rebel Spirits of the Past

Tales of Strange Aeons

Rebel Spirits of the Past 

To the rebel spirits of all times.

      The Celebration of Singularity came as the harbinger of Christmas Eve into the nameless colony. With the collective investment of the entrepreneurs participating in the faire they set the annual tree up, a pillar of lightning crackling, reaching for the skies, forming the shape of a pinewood as it neared the ground.
      “So tell us about these synthetic bodies, these Personas, Mr. Bright,” Ana Mionar, her eyes recording, interviewed Mark Bright.
      “I wouldn’t get into the technical details but they are made to house the assistant AI drones and give them identity and name. To put it very simply, we created a body with a very simple virtual intelligence built into it. We then put the VI into a predetermined simulation of a specific life, which is the simulated life of the person whose body it wears, and after the VI experienced that written life, it is ready to be merged with an AI. “
      “So,” Ana asked, “if I understand it well, there is a reason why when I look around I recognize faces on these Personas.”
      “Yes,” nodded Bright. “For example if you’d put an AI into that one,” he said, pointing to a body of Llewellyn Rockwell, “the AI would basically become Rockwell. We studied and tried to rewrite the history of these men from every source we found.”
      “How do you mean ‘become?’ What would happen with the AI?”
      “Well, you see, let me tell you how the idea came to my mind. I was listening to one lecture of Alan Watts, who talked about the Hindu concept of the god. The way he explained was something like that the god was incarnate in every life, it was the self behind all faces, and it played this game of hide-and-seek with itself. It pretended that he is not god, that he’s just and ordinary man, both to himself and to others. This idea stuck into my mind and somehow I connected it with the concept of the AI, and whether it could pretend that it is not an AI. So, to answer your question, they become the body by merging with the VI, and their perception of this event is something that is like yours and mine, recalling the life the VI lived in a simulation as their own life, remembering that past and so on, but deep behind all this there is their true self which is the assistant, the AI.”
      And as the interview continued, Solaris and Raoul walked around the great hangar where thousands of synthetic bodies stood, lined up as an army, bearing the faces of familiar, ancient minds. They walked past the sleeping shell of Murray Rothbard, of Milton Friedman and of Thomas Sowell. They walked, thinking that all around them stand shells of wires and metal, and feeling that they walk uninvited the pantheon of titans.
      The Shaman stood in front of them, facing a body, gazing at its face as if nothing else would exist.
      “Did you know him?” Solaris asked the Shaman as they neared. Cantharis returned to his time, into his world, shook his head to fend off the nightmares. He turned towards the two students, smiling a warm and gentle smile.
      “Yes, I did. Back in Earth he was a friend, a very good friend of mine,” he answered. They looked at the face that mesmerized Cantharis, at the determined face that radiated strength, with closed eyes that seemed as if it would be ready to wake, face evil and fight for what is right. “It reminded me of a long forgotten life.”
      “How do you feel now?” Raoul asked.
      “I feel all right,” Cantharis sighed. “I’m good,” he smiled. “I think I will buy him and torture myself a bit more with the past. It is hard to describe this feeling. Do you guys remember the simulation we once had when we were on that planet with the approaching meteor? When our job was to make sure nobody is left behind. Do you remember watching that last rays of the sunlight? It was wonderful and painful at the same time. Well, I feel similar to that.”
      “I’m not sure you should buy that machine,” Solaris said.
      Cantharis shrugged.
      “At least something happens that is out of the normal. I’ve been waiting for things to change for a long while.”
      “Master Cantharis, you respect me with your presence,” the voice of Mark Bright welcomed them from behind, accompanied by Ana Mionar. She stepped next to Solaris and tightly held onto his arm. “I am highly grateful for the Orphanage’s help in advertising.” His eyes veered to the body Cantharis faced. “Have you chosen yourself a Persona, sir?”
      “How consistent are these Vis with who they were when they were alive?” the Shaman asked.
      “About ninety-nine percent, down to the microexpressions. We used all information available to build them. We had a team working on each Persona, hunting down rare memories in the market, studying the writings and recordings about them and so on.”
      “So if I turn it on…”
      “It will be exactly like the last time you saw him, Master Cantharis,” the man said with a serious tone.
      Hours later, Cantharis de la Cruz brought home the inanimate vessel of a digital soul to witness the reanimation, and called for his assistant who hovered into the hollow skull of the synthetic body. Countless other customers did the same, and hundreds of legends began to walk the streets and agoras of the colony without a name. People gathered around the awakening of Stefan Molyneux in the agora named after him, whose Persona stood in front of the statue erected to his honor. They watched as Frederick Douglass, the former slave opened his eyes in the world of greatest economic freedom, as Mises cast his first glance at Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who with curious anticipation watched him.
      “What is going on here?” the Persona asked Cantharis as he opened his eyes, and the Shaman explained. He was, Cantharis found, the same as last time they met, and so were all the other Personas. The great warriors of liberty were reborn, walking the Garden of Eden that they fought for.
      It was not long after they were purchased and turned on that the first android, the reincarnation of Henry David Thoreau, went missing, leaving a formal letter of apology, declaring his sovereignty and ownership of himself.
      “Was it not predictable?” some asked as the news spread.
      “I’m sure he joined the Taoists,” others stated.
      “It is very queer that he refuses freedom,” a minority pondered.
      The letter was deemed authentic, and in impotent rage, those who purchased the Persona of Thoreau had no choice but to accept it. Ethicist of the colony, revered philosophers dabbling with morality, unilaterally agreed that the Personas have a self-ownership right, and hence subject to the principle of non-aggression. It was said to the complaining owners that their contract clearly stated this fact.
      Legends walked the streets of the nameless domain in those December days. Jeffrey Tucker enjoyed the hallowed music smuggled out of Vatican, played by Oana Rain. He visited libraries, joining simulations of vast arcane towers of knowledge and wisdom where he looked up to see the dark abyss, with the infinite height of the bookshelves swirling around it. Around him were quiet, readers at candle’s lights who looked up at him and watched staggered the wraith for a long time, looking at the bowtie, at the elegance, and returned to their books and papers. He inquired for the most popular literature, and was well pleased to hear familiar names, names that he himself had chosen as chief liberty officer distant eons ago.
      He walked the streets, gazing at the marvels built by the free world. He called for, and ascended in space elevators, looking down at capitalism’s kingdom. Far up in the station within the troposphere he saw far off other towns and asked a man waiting for his cruiser to arrive what other lands there are. The man was looking at him for a long while.
       “Oh well, Mr. Tucker, you know, before Transcendence there were few of the free marketers standing their ground. And parallel to us there were the commies who, after of course we terraformed this world, also fled those earthly hostile grounds. They live all around the planet now, like rabbits reproducing and building other towns to sustain their low population life.”
      “Hmm…” there was a disturbing thought rising up in his mind. “And don’t they want to join this world? Shouldn’t we teach them?”
      The man waved away the thought.
      “No, good sir, those people really want to live a life like that. This society pays hundreds and hundreds of sleeping agents just to watch and report on those guys, to be there when someone changes their minds and wants to escape, and to protect from abuse their youth but they don’t want to hear about property rights. They are there by choice and we respect that.”
      The maddening thought finally formed within his mind, this though that made him unable to smile, that until now whispered only incomprehensible words about this nameless realm.
      He has no value to offer to these people. It is but a past life that they revered. There was no one to talk to about the virtues of trade now; these people were the children of such thoughts. Nobody would want to hear about the free market’s might, these people revel in it in their day to day life. What perspective is there left to give was to pronounce what is already accepted and seen now, and there was nothing else to fight.
      The Personas washed through like a tide in the social life. News focused on what happened with the reanimated ancient minds and people sought the legends’ advice. Some hid, others enjoyed the public sunlight. Ayn Rand, being famous in her time, craved desperately for attention. She mocked great thinkers of the current time, and challenged a philosopher, who sometimes criticized her work of ethics, calling his views ‘aberration,’ ‘a disgrace to mankind,’ and ‘evil.’ And now she stood stunned, speechless, as she was bombarded by the truth.”
      “Look around!” her opponent growled. “This world is the product of an idea you described as, quote, ‘the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement,’ and no, you cannot claim the plea of ignorance. You knew Rothbard; you had a wild imagination to envision a society free of violence. You never apologized for these insults; you never said that you were wrong. Let me quote from you once more, Ayn Rand. ‘The “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshipping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy. To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.’”
      The audience murmured, people raged at the quote. Her opponent continued.
      “You are personally responsible for slowing down the growth of the movement, and you are causal in the death of those who perished by the State in those times. Rothbard was repulsed by you, and instead of facing the reality of your toxic, cult-leader life, you choose to spit on his movement, but I tell you something, Ms. Rand. You are a statist. And your statism contradicts the philosophy you wrote down. Man is Man, you pronounced, and then you called for an institution of legal violence to secure market monopoly on law and defense, to prey on men, spitting in the face of your system of morals.”
      “Well I tell you this, since you befouled the movement with such pride. This world is not for your kind, because you advocated that the initiation of force is a State’s right. With that, you became part of the priesthood of statism, and assisted in crime. And I hereby propose to all who listen to us your banishment, Alisa Rosenbaum.”
      And one by one, liberty’s pristine minds fell, leaving what they saw to be a world devoid of darkness behind. Few stayed, enjoying life all around, some disappeared with nothing but a note left behind, and the news were awash with acts of suicide, some sparing, some destroying the assistant inside the VI. People watched in aghast as more and more names came by, such as Spooner, Hazlitt, Bastiat…
      “They are just machines,” people faked a laugh.
      Cantharis abandoned the simulation for which he left the Persona alone as he saw the news. His wings of unstable electric discharge swoop down as he leapt from the Orphanage’s rooftop, awakening an ear-splitting crashing sound at sundown. Thunders roared at the Shaman’s wake, and within heartbeats he stood in his doorway, opening the door, praying not to find a vessel undone.
      His friend turned towards the opening door surprised.
      “Oh, so the thunder was you again,” he laughed. “It was familiar.”
      “I’m so glad you are alive,” Cantharis sighed. “I thought you committed suicide,” he said, looking down at the hands of his friend, holding a sealed envelope. “What is that?”
      “Oh well,” he looked at it, “It is but a… final message.”
      There was a long silence before they spoke. Winds began to roar outside and the darkness of the night fell down as the last rays of the sun said goodbye. There were no sounds, apart from the gusts and howls. People stayed inside that evening to think, to face what happened with the Personas.
      “What the hell is going on today?” the Shaman asked in a desperate, pleading voice.
      “We define ourselves, Cantharis, as warriors standing in defiance against the dark. You see, old friend, this is what you do not dare to face: that we are not normal. We have spoken and fought against evil, against the State that waged wars and murdered billons of people. It is insane if you want to be alive. We did that under the banner of freedom but not to live a liberated life. We fought because we wanted to fight, because we found existential value in waging wars against the dark. We defined ourselves not as, like this city, as pure light, but as champions fighting against the dark.”
      “And who are we, Shaman, once there is no dark? Who are we, once there is nothing to fight? If all we dreamed of came to life, if all our enemies perished, where is the place of the warriors and champions then? Should we watch, as the mighty Shaman, that our strength fades, our muscles wither and our voice dies? Or should we watch as we become past deeds looming above old men and women who has not the strength to face a crowd?”
       “We were supposed to die. We were supposed to be buried without ever seeing this Paradise. We fought to create it but not to live a life in it. Like Hamlet, a renaissance man living in medieval times, we are misplaced in this realm of the light. We do not belong here; we have nothing to gain here, no way to define ourselves here. There is no State, no enemy of mankind to channel our energies into. I mean… even I thought when I was alive that I want to live a liberated life, but the fact is that I wanted to fight, I loved to fight, and this world took it away from me. What else is to be done here? You want to see Molyneux as actor or playwright, Rothbard as professor teaching about an era of statism long gone by to bored students, or Frederick Douglass fighting for whom, for drone’s rights? You don’t even eat meat for god’s sake, you only print it.”
      “And you are no different than us by the way. You, the last living breed of heroes who somehow survived the wars, have just as little place in this world as we do and you know it. There is nothing for you here, and maybe there never will be. You will live your life growing old and tired, being praised for deeds done by someone you can no longer recall, huddling under the shadow of your past life.”
      “This is what’s happening today, friend. People facing what you dare not to face.”
      He raised his hand; he saluted as his eyes rolled back and closed. His hand fell down, his skull opened and the metallic colored assistant drone flew out.
       “What happened?” Cantharis asked in shock to which the assistant answered that it died, it created an electrical malfunction that can be triggered by a specific motion of the hand.

      “Let me begin with an apology,” the inventor of the Personas announced that midnight, “and let me also propose something far more important. First, I am genuinely sorry for the deep scars this day might have left on some people. I would have never though that this will be the turn of events, I really had this vision that these people will join us in our daily lives. I, as many others, have read the Shaman’s experience with his product and I was really heartbroken by that. I never thought these people would feel in such ways.
      “That being said, here is the other thing. Christmas is here with a tradition supported by no philosophical basis. Few of us are followers of Christ yet we retain the holiday. There is the Celebration of Singularity every year, purchases made there to be gifted in the holidays, and this heightened economic activity with which we try to wrap happiness to others fuels technological growth. We set up glaring golden lights, illuminating our homes in the darkest of the nights.”
      “I propose we offer our Christmas holidays to the memory of those brave souls who cannot be together with us, who deserve, yet cannot be the part of this world. I propose that when we spend on presents, think of those who made it possible to have such freedoms, to live under a free market that produces such goods. And when we turn on the lights, let us remember to those souls who shined bright in the darkest, State-ruled epochs of men’s life.”

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