Recalling his experience with Professor Mo Xuan in the Flying Star Sector years ago, Li Yao could not help but have a lot of mixed feelings.
From the video just now, he could feel Professor Mo Xuan’s deep love for the virtual life form and the benevolence that transcended mankind itself and reached the level of the universe.
It was not hard to imagine that the collapse of the Virtual Spirits Sector must have been a heavy blow for him, to the point that even the game Civilization became a trigger of his sad memory. As a result, he was unable to continue managing the magnificent project.
Li Yao sighed and asked, “Was the ‘Virtual Spirits Sector’ destroyed just like that? Was nothing left behind at all?”
“Not exactly,” Ling Xiaole replied. “If we get to the bottom of it, Xiao Ming and Wen Wen, the game assistants of the players in Civilization, are the last legacy of the Project Virtual Spirits Sector. They are sort of ‘quasi artificial intelligence’. More than one billion pieces of information are within them, allowing them to simulate almost all the reactions of a human being.”
‘Artificial intelligence’ and ‘quasi artificial intelligence’ seemed similar, but they were in fact vastly different.
The former boasted a real ‘soul’ and ‘self-awareness’ and could be regarded as humans of a different form, whereas the latter could only be considered an enormous database with all kinds of advanced algorithms.
‘Quasi artificial intelligence’ could make appropriate, sometimes fascinating, reactions to the stimulation of the outside world, but such reactions were no different from the mimicry of a parrot. It could only be only a conditional reflex at the lowest level at best.
The simplest example would be Black Wing, which Li Yao had possessed since childhood. It was a kind of ‘quasi artificial intelligence’.
Little Black could give feedback to Li Yao’s demands. It sometimes even boasted rather high independence and did not listen of Li Yao’s command.
But the independence and the random performance were also set for it a long time ago by his pop or somebody else.
No matter how much Li Yao liked Black Wing, he would not regard Black Wing as a real ‘person’ from a rational point of view. Black Wing’s reactions were all based on a certain special database and instruction sets that had been compiled a long time ago.
No real ‘person’ could live inside a Cosmos Ring for decades without going mad.
Similarly, a lot of magical equipment in the federation boasted the so-called ‘ware spirit’. At first glance, they seemed to have their own soul and will. They could communicate with their user fluently and even take the initiative to carry out tactical arrangements.
But everything was also compiled and set in advance, and the reactions would be triggered when a certain special condition was met. There was not really a soul inside the magical equipment that boasted independent will.
The larger a database and the more delicate the instruction set was, the more real the ‘quasi artificial intelligence’ would appear to be. But no matter how real it was, it was a puppet doing unconscious mechanical reactions after all.
It might take hundreds more years before true artificial intelligence and virtual life arrived. However, ‘quasi artificial intelligence’ was already quite popular in the federation. Therefore, Li Yao was not surprised at all after hearing what Ling Xiaole said.
“You can turn your crystal processor on and activate Xiao Ming and Wen Wen without entering the game,” Ling Xiaole said. “Then, just select ‘original mode’, and you will see what they actually looked like when they were first created in the Virtual Spirits Sector.”
Li Yao’s curiosity was greatly aroused, and he did exactly what she said.
Two round, plump, and pure babies popped up on Li Yao’s palm again.
As the ‘original mode’ was turned on, Xiao Ming and Wen Wen seemed to have been awakened from a big dream. They blinked somewhat in confusion and looked at each other. Then, they turned around at Li Yao and suddenly said, “Dad!”
Li Yao shuddered and almost slapped the two fellows with his palms. “What the heck?”
Ling Xiaole tried to hold back her smile. “This is the original setting. They have been programed as a child civilization of mankind. Of course, they address human beings as ‘mom and dad’.”
“Yes. We are the child civilization of mankind!” Xiao Ming proudly declared and held his head high, his hands on his hips.
“A kind child civilization. A cute child civilization. A beautiful child civilization. A bright child civilization!” Wen Wen danced in circles.
“Mankind is our parent civilization,” Xiao Ming continued. “A great parent civilization. A brave parent civilization. A glorious parent civilization!”
“Praise the parent civilization. Praise the parent civilization!” Wen Wen sang merrily.
Li Yao was utterly dumbfounded. Looking at the two kids who looked like dolls jumping up and down in his palm and giggling like two real children, Li Yao had goosebumps all over his body.
“Well,” Ling Xiaole said. “Because most people in our society were still suspicious and vigilant of the so-called ‘artificial intelligence and virtual life’ when the game Civilization first began decades ago, a lot of promotional information was implanted when the ‘quasi artificial intelligence’ was created in the hope of relieving people’s concerns with their cute image.
“If we get to the bottom of it, Xiao Ming and Wen Wen were just mascots at the beginning.
“However, along with the collapse of the Virtual Spirits Sector, the project to hatch virtual life completely failed. Such commercials and mascots became meaningless. The much-feared ‘threat of virtual life’ was nothing more than a joke. At the very least, it was impossible for them to be born in another hundreds of years. But the enormous database for Xiao Ming and Wen Wen did not have to be completely abandoned. After some adaptation, they were changed into the game assistants in order to improve the fun and content of the game.
“Of course, in the ‘original mode’, they can be recovered to the most primitive state. You can try raising them as ‘virtual children’. A lot of people, especially girls, actually quite like playing with them like that. It is quite adorable!”
“Dad, I’m hungry!”
“Dad, come and play with me!”
“Dad, dad, tell me the tales of the heroes among the human beings. I want to hear Vulture Li Yao’s stories!”
“Dad, dad, dad, dad, sing me a song. Or, I can sing a song for you!”
As Ling Xiaole further explained, the two virtual children made of light crawled on Li Yao’s arm and stopped on his shoulders. One of them grabbed his earlobe and the other pulled his hair while they shrieked obstreperously. In the end, they even began to sing a nursery rhyme that had been popular on the Spiritual Nexus since hundreds of years ago.
“I’m not afraid of either rainfall or snowfall”
Li Yao was dumbfounded, feeling that his head was dizzy.
Dear heavens. Mischievous children are so horrible!
He would rather face the collective attacks of ten Xiao Xuances, Bai Xinghes, and Jin Tuyis than deal with two mischievous kidseven if they were virtual!
“Alright, off you go!” Li Yao was amused. “I am not your dad. Exit the original mode and go somewhere else to play, kids!”
“Okay” Xiao Ming and Wen Wen, pouting, crawled back to the crystal processor hand in hand.
“Hu” Li Yao took a deep breath in relief and waved his hand at himself as a fan. He could not help but feel like laughing.
The two virtual kids were already enough to give him a headache. It appeared that he was really not ready to be a father.
It could not be helped. He was meant to cruise in the sea of stars, save the world, defend the peace of the universe, and look for the so-called ‘Earth’ at the same time. With so many great responsibilities on his shoulder, it was highly unlikely that he could be a qualified father like other men, right?
Thankfully, they are virtual. Mischievous children are the worst. It is truly wise of Ding Lingdang to not have bred our life seeds!Li Yao thought to himself.
“Achoo!” He sneezed hard, feeling that somebody had just tickled his nose, as if somebody far, far away was missing him 1.
Earlier in the day, in the deepest level of the underground treasury of the National Medical Center in the capital city of the Star Glory Federation
It was a very special bank, one where tremendous life seeds had been deposited for a long time.
Since the age of the Old Federation, a lot of heroes had gone through life and death in the universe, fighting for the future of the Star Glory Federation.
Many of them did not have any offspring when they embarked on their perilous journey. They often chose to deposit their life seeds before they left.
Once their death was confirmed, or after they had gone missing for a certain time, the life seeds of themselves and their spouses would be retrieved and fertilized so that the bloodline of the heroes continued.
In the deepest part of the treasury of sperm, the most important ‘asset’ of the entire ‘seed bank’ was stored in a heavily guarded special cabin.
It was the life seed left by a superhero in the last years of the Old Federation who had facilitated the unification of the three Sectors and was praised as the ‘dominator of three Sectors’.
For more than a hundred years, the seal of the secret cabin had never been opened.
But that day
On the seal of spiritual energy outside of the cabin, an extremely feeble ripple, which looked like the giggling face of a children, suddenly spread out.
In the meantime, on a weird world that was half seawater and half debris
The ocean looked like when a planet was just born, and the water in it was thick and boiling soup. Sulphur, magma, and poisonous gas flowed everywhere. The most initial monads were slowly being bred in the pot of dirty, fatal soup.
Next to the beach, on the other hand, a glorious city made of the landmarks of every era of the civilization of mankind was standing.
However, the glory of the past was already gone. The skyscrapers had been reduced to broken walls. Brilliant statues, wall paintings, and artwork were all scattered. The place looked like a grave that had been forsaken for billions of years.
The quiet and gloomy debris of human beings was a major contrast to the ever-rolling primitive ocean.
In such an extremely harsh, weird environment, on a gray beach that separated the debris of a civilization and a primitive forest, two fair, translucent kids were dancing and cheering merrily.
“Praise the parent civilization. We’ve found it!” said Xiao Ming.
“Praise the parent civilization. Even mom’s life seed was also found last time!” said Wen Wen.
“We can finally go out to look for mom and dad now!” said Xiao Ming.
“But we only know mom’s coordinates. Where is father exactly?” asked Wen Wen.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Xiao Ming. “We can search for them slowly. We will find dad eventually after we search the entire universe.”
Wen Wen nodded hard. Holding each other’s hands, the two of them sang the ancient nursery rhyme with a young and happy voice.
“I am not afraid of rainfall or snowfall. Even if a cold wind is blowing,
“I will not be scared at all, as long as I can see his face every day.
“I want to, I want to find my dad. I must find my dad wherever I go.
“I haven’t found my good father yet. If you ever meet him, please tell him to go home!”
In Chinese culture, it is often believed that when you sneeze, you are being missed (or cursed) by someone who is not present.