On his way back to the hotel in the shuttle, Li Yao was frowning, deep in thought.
Although he was overjoyed to have witnessed the boundlessness and the infinite possibilities of Civilization, an indescribable feeling gradually popped up on his mind after the initial excitement gradually faded away.
Perhaps it was human beings natural fear of the unknown, just like the uncanny fear when human beings first discovered the boundlessness of the universe itself after they raised their head and observed the starry sky.
Ling Xiaole chuckled after she saw Li Yaos expression from the rear-view mirror. What, are you worried that the Spiritual Nexus may grow independent?
Li Yao was slightly dazed. Growing independent was a rather neat description for his worries. He blurted out, How did you know?
Because when the best experts and specialists of the Water Crystal Sector, the Forest Ocean Sector, the Nether World Sector, and the Uranian Ring Sector visited and inspected the federation before they decided to join us, they were all worried that the Spiritual Nexus would grow independent!
Ling Xiaole shrugged and said, Every civilization of mankind with crystal processors has the same tales and fears. They are scared that as the crystal processors grow more and more developed, their computational and deduction abilities will gradually surpass human beings. Then, the machines will grow independent and control and destroy humanity instead.
Shouldnt we be worried? Li Yao asked.
I dont know if we should, Ling Xiaole said, but some people raised the exact same concerns before. I have a video here. It is the record of a fierce debate that two specialists had in the Sky Fantasia Academy about sixty years ago on the pros and cons of the Spiritual Nexus. The one who was in favor of a grand-unified Spiritual Nexus was Professor Mo Xuan, director of the game Civilization back then, and the opposition was Professor Xie Wufeng, who was the vice-president of the Sky Fantasia Academy at the time.
Wait, isnt Professor Xie Wufeng the incumbent director of Civilization right now? Li Yao asked.
Yes, he is. Professor Xie used to be a firm alarmist about the grand-unified Spiritual Nexus. He fiercely argued with Professor Mo Xuan on the future of the Spiritual Nexus and even mankind many times. But in the end, he was convinced by Professor Mo Xuan and joined Professor Mo Xuans team. He even became Professor Mo Xuans successor. You may find some answers to your questions and concerns from the debate between the two of them.
Ling Xiaole sent the video to Li Yaos portable crystal processor.
In the picture, the assembly hall of the Sky Fantasia Academy, one of the Nine Elite Universities in the federation, was jam-packed with people.
The vigorous young people further added to the simmering atmosphere in the assembly hall.
Professor Mo Xuan, Li Yaos old friend, was sitting across from another scholar who was relatively younger, surrounded by many students. The two of them argued with each other fiercely without giving in at all.
Out of Li Yaos expectations, Professor Mo Xuan did not crawl into an artificial body and show up in public like a normal spectral Cultivator as he usually did. Instead, he simply presented himself with his real appearance of liquid metal. He did not even simulate the limbs or the head, and he was nothing more than a huge, glittering silver ball.
Such a gesture made him look even more aggressive and unreserved.
Today, Xie Wufeng said, the behemothic creature that is the Spiritual Nexus controls our everything. Dining, sleeping, working, entertainment, transportation, shopping. Everything depends on the Spiritual Nexus. All the data is collected and stored through the Spiritual Nexus. Once we lose the Spiritual Nexus, our seemingly prosperous civilization will immediately collapse. Such a state is truly too insecure, unstable, and creepy!
The history of mankind is a history of socialization, Professor Mo Xuan said. Forty thousand years ago, the ancient Cultivators could set up a residence in the woods and live in seclusion for decades. Naturally, their lives were much more stable than the modern Cultivators who are highly dependent on the social division of labor, the developed Spiritual Nexus, and the resource distribution network. The traditional flying swords of the ancient Cultivators, which were often crafted from one solid piece of metal, were certainly much more stable than the modern chainswords that are made of hundreds of components and less prone to faults. But does such stability mean anything?
On a certain level, a grand-unified Spiritual Nexus can indeed be very unstable, fragile, and susceptible to the enemys attack, but should we give up perfecting and developing it just because we fear that the enemy may attack it? Is it different from someone not eating food because he is scared of choking?
Silver ripples were spreading on Professor Mo Xuans body of liquid metal, and his voice came from the center of the ripples.
It made him look completely unlike a human being but a representative of some alien civilization.
Professor Mo, lets stop beating about the bush. You know that we are not really worried about the attack of an enemy but the grand-unified Spiritual Nexus itself.
An attack from the enemy can be resisted and cracked through various ways. However advanced and evil our enemies right now are, they are human beings after all and have brains identical to ours. Therefore, they cannot surpass the limits of our imagination. They can be defeated, or at the very least, they can be comprehended.
But what if something goes wrong with the grand-unified Spiritual Nexus itself? What if the Spiritual Nexus awakens its soul after the expanding computational ability surpasses the tipping point? It feels like
Professor Mo Xuan said coldly, It feels like the Spiritual Nexus is growing independent?
The students below all burst into laughter.
Expressionless, Xie Wufeng did not give in at all. Yes. Thats exactly what I meant. If we truly become mired deeper and deeper into the Spiritual Nexus, and our civilization is completely entwined with the Spiritual Nexus, our prosperity will be founded on a developed Spiritual Nexus. Then, what should we do if one day the Spiritual Nexus grows independent and boasts self-awareness?
Silver ripples were still spreading out on the surface of Professor Mo Xuans body. Today, we are discussing the future of the grand-unified Spiritual Nexus and mankind in the Sky Fantasia Academy, which is the most famous academic establishment of liberal arts in the federation. This is the place for the greatest writers. I know that most students here major in liberal arts. Some of you may even enjoy reading fantasies. I believe that you mustve read, if not written, stories where the Spiritual Nexus grows independent, the crystal processors revolt, and human beings are enslaved and destroyed, havent you? Are there any such students here? Raise your hand, please, if you have read or written such content before.
The audience burst into laughter again. Almost all the students raised their hands.
There was delight in Professor Mo Xuans voice. It appears that you share the worries and concerns of your Vice President Xie.
Xie Wufeng slightly frowned. This is perhaps the intuitional alarm that human beings share for unknown danger.
I understand your concerns and even fears, my friends, Professor Mo Xuan said. In fact, ever since the crystal processor, magical equipment dedicated to calculation and thinking, was invented, human beings have never stopped worrying about it. Even a long time ago, when the crystal processor was just born and could only be used to solve arithmetic, such fear was already there. A lot of literary works themed on crystal processors enslaving human beings were created, too.
Flying swords and sabers are an extension of our limbs. Armor and spiritual shields are extensions of our bones. As for the crystal processors, they are the extension of our brain.
But we often say that the brain is the most important organ in a human body, if not a human being itself! Therefore, nobody is worried that flying swords will rebel one day and replace human beings hands and feet. But almost everybody is scared that their brain will be replaced by the crystal processors. Even today, when the artificial bodies are so developed that a human beings soul can live inside a crystal processor, such a fear will never be eliminated. If anything, it is even getting worse.
It is more justification on the fear and concerns, Xie Wufeng said.
Romance of the liberal arts students is one thing, unrestricted fantasies of the novelists are one thing, but the birth of a brand-new life form in reality is a whole different thing, Professor Mo Xuan said. To be honest, I am very tempted to become one of the evil experts of crystal processors in the novels and create a new, virtual life form in the darkness secretly, but it is such a pity that I am not capable of that!
The audience burst into laughter again. It was quite a joyful mood.
Professor Mo Xuan continued. The birth of a life is so mystical. Up to this day, nobody can thoroughly explain what a soul and self-awareness are exactly and where they come from.
Professor Xie, you just said that as the computational ability of the crystal processors grow higher and higher, they might reach a certain tipping point and eventually break the limits, thereby gaining self-awareness?
But the truth is, the soul, self-awareness, and computational ability are not related at all!
Of the tens of billions of people in the Star Glory Federation, 99.99% have a computational ability not nearly as good as a common Dawn IV crystal processor, which is currently being sold for only 12,500 star coins in magical equipment stores. If we are talking about the Phantom Dragon VII mainframe crystal processor installed in heavy warships, even 99% of the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators are no match for it when it comes to instantaneous limit calculation.
However, the Phantom Dragon VII mainframe crystal processor, which has a computational ability higher than Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, has never developed self-awareness, much less the common Dawn IV crystal processors.
However, the billions of ordinary people, whose computational ability is only one hundredth if not thousandth of them, all have self-awareness.
Children with Down syndrome due to genetic flaws, whose computational ability is only one thousandth that of the crystal processors of the lowest level, have self-awareness. They also have precious souls!
What I am trying to say that, has it ever occurred to you whether or not computational ability and self-awareness are really related? Does a higher computational ability really lead to self-awareness in the end? If that is the truth, then the brand-new life form after the Spiritual Nexus grows independent that you are terrified by right now shouldve been born hundreds of years ago. No. Not hundreds of years ago but ten thousand years ago, because the Star Ocean Imperium ten thousand years ago already boasted crystal processors whose computational ability was a hundred times higher than that of human beings!