We found a lot of vegetative patients who were soaked in the medical cabins in the ward area outside, Li Yao said solemnly. Are they the experts and masters you mentioned?
Yes, Liu Wenshan said. I asked all the seniors. Their experience was the same as mine. When they were working day and night on certain important research and broke the limits of their brain time and time again with the virtual cabin, the holographic helmet, and the grand-unified Spiritual Nexus, they passed out due to mental derangement. After they woke up again, they were already in the Spiriters Realm.
Lei Yuqin simulated environments that were similar to our hometowns or workplaces for us in the Spiriters Realm. She even simulated our families. Our job was to study the projects that Lei Yuqin offered us. Some of the experts had studied them for decades.
If you knew that everything in the Spiriters Realm was illusionary, why did you cooperate with Lei Yuqin and help her with the studies? Li Yao asked in surprise.
With the most painful and devastated expression, Liu Wenshan mumbled, You dont understand and cant even imagine a lot of methods in the Spiriters Realm. Lei Yuqin definitely had her own methods to allure and coerce us into cooperating.
In most of the cases, she did not have to resort to coercion at all because research is our natural instinct. Everything was false when we were trapped in the Spiriters Realm. Although most of our demands could be satisfied, such satisfaction was simply too hollow. It was even more excruciating than a life sentence. Other than studying, was there really anything meaningful for us to do?
Besides, many of the projects that Lei Yuqin threw at us had been partly solved with innovative, extraordinary ideas that we had never heard of before. They were well above the technological limits of the federation and even the Imperium. That was too attractive for us!
The special environment in the Spiriters Realm also gave us an illusionary sense of safety, or rather, it allowed us to lie to ourselves. Although we knew that Lei Yuqin could monitor our every move, we still gathered in the secret chambers that seemed to be empty and discussed the projects.
In the most extreme cases, if some people were too rejective, Lei Yuqin would throw them into a special Spiriters Realm, which was a silver ball-shaped space that was less than two meters in diameter. It was as smooth as a mirror without the tiniest gap. Those being punished could not hear any voices or see any color other than silver!
Everything in the Spiriters Realm was virtual. If Lei Yuqin wanted, she could easily deprive us of our sense of hunger. Think about it. If a guy loses his sense of hunger and cant hear, see, or touch anything, and all he can do is float in a silver, ball-shaped cage less than two meters in diameter without knowing how long he has to stay there, maybe five days, maybe ten days, maybe half a year, maybe forever, what a cruel punishment it is!
At this point, if a research project as well as everything needed to accomplish it presents itself in the ball, does the prisoner have any choice except to dedicate themselves to the research?
Li Yao pictured the punishment in his head. The more he thought about it, the harder he clenched his teeth.
Those people who came up with such a penalty were too dreadful!
Liu Wenshan shuddered hard and said, I was thrown into the silver prison once and spent five or six days inside. Then, I couldnt take it any longer and became willing to compromise on everything. After all, I was merely studying the flaws of the crystal processors of the Imperium and the ways to seize their starships, which couldnt harm the interests of the federation at all. I told myself that as self-comfort and cooperated with Lei Yuqin obediently.
I hadnt been trapped in the Spiriters Realm for long. So, I was still able to keep my head clear. However, for the seniors who fell to the Spiriters Realm decades ago, many of them were cooperating with Lei Yuqin sincerely and even joined her side from the bottom of their hearts as the real members of the Spiriters Realm!
Why? Li Yao asked.
Liu Wenshan smiled miserably. It is very easy to be lost in the Spiriters Realm after forgetting the boundary between reality and illusion. I havent been trapped here for long. Although Lei Yuqin simulated my family members, I knew that they were false and that my real family members were still out there waiting for me. I still wanted to get out.
However, many of the seniors have been trapped here for decades. Theyve spent decades with their illusionary family members that are simulated by artificial intelligence. Theyve been working hard to build the Spiriters Realm for decades. The flowers and trees of this place are perhaps calculated, modeled, and rendered by them personally. Theyve long been melded into the Spiriters Realm and became part of it. For them, the Spiriters Realm and the family members simulated by artificial intelligence are the only reality. The world outside no longer matters!
Li Yao was silent. He could not help but recall the vivid Wei Qingqing, Long Yangjun, and Ling Xiaole in the second Spiriters Realm constructed by Professor Mo Xuan.
It was quite true. If he was caught in a Spiriters Realm and faced with artificial intelligence that looked exactly the same as Ding Lingdang, Jin Xinyue, and the rest of his family and friends, unable to free himself, for a year and a half, he might have been able to clearly recognize that they were just illusions.
But what about ten years? Thirty? Fifty? Forever?
Could the artificial intelligence that he had spent decades with, which looked exactly like his family and friends and talked and acted accordingly, really be called illusionary?
Li Yao took a deep breath before changing the topic. What have you been studying?
The experts in the Spiriters Realm are divided into different research groups, Liu Wenshan replied. Their main focuses are the Spiritual Nexus, crystal processors, and artificial intelligence.
Some of the groups study the battle network of the federation and the Imperium, trying to figure out how to hack and even paralyze the network. Some groups try to create more magnificent crystal processors that will further improve our own computational ability and deduction ability. As for the research group I am in, we focus on artificial intelligence. We are developing the most powerful artificial intelligence so far in the entire federation. It is even more advanced than the artificial intelligence in the Imperium!
Li Yao slightly frowned. More advanced than the Imperium? How is it possible?
I didnt think it was possible at the beginning, either, Liu Wenshan said. After all, the Imperium is a superpower at the center of the cosmos, with tremendous technological reserve and experience. The gap is not something that we can cover so soon.
However, Lei Yuqin brought abundant files to us. A lot of technological barriers had already been overcome by her. Ive seen the artificial intelligence on the starships of the Imperium that we captured ten years ago. It was nothing worth mentioning at all compared with what Lei Yuqin offered us.
The federation and the Imperium are both civilizations of human beings. We also have the gifts from Kunlun. The technological gap between the two parties is not uncoverable after all. Naturally, we made significant progress very quickly based on the latest files that Lei Yuqin provided for us!
Li Yao and Long Yangjun looked at each other, both greatly astonished.
That did not make any sense!
Even if Professor Mo Xuan was truly up to something, Professor Mo Xuans technological limits were also the federations technological limits. How on earth could he grasp crystal processor, Spiritual Nexus, and artificial intelligence technology that was even more advanced than the Imperiums?
When I joined the virtual research team, Liu Wenshan said, they had already developed quite a few brand-new super artificial intelligences, which were officially known as Half Intelligent Virtual Educational Telepathic Thought Amalgamations.
Li Yao widened his eyes. Ive heard the name before. Theyre also called old grandpa in the outside world and seem to be designed for educational purposes.
Liu Wenshan smiled. Right. Somebody calls it old grandpa. However, education purposes? Hehe. Every brand-new technique and technology will be applied to the military field first when they are just invented before they are slowly spread to other fields.
If an old grandpa can automatically search and analyze the environment and perform the complicated task of passing on knowledge, why cant it be applied to battle?
Therefore, in the Spiriters Realm, the code name for such artificial intelligence is not old grandpa but Deviant Spirit!
Deviant Spirit Li Yao chewed on the name and could not help but feel creeped out.
Liu Wenshan went on. The Deviant Spirits are further classified into Intelligent Spirits and Fighting Spirits. The Intelligent Spirits can hack and control the Spiritual Nexus without alerting anyone. They can also simulate the images and even habits of many people in cyberspace. If an Intelligent Spirit takes over the Spiritual Nexus and sends someone a message, it would be impossible for the receiver of the message to distinguish whether he is speaking to a real person or a fake one. The Fighting Spirits are the purest battle-type artificial intelligences. There will be dire consequences if they control war puppets, starships, and even mainframe crystal processors of star fortresses!
Li Yaos eyelids bounced quickly. How many Deviant Spirits have you produced?
Liu Wenshan shook his head and said, I came to this place too late and was not involved in the production of most of the Deviant Spirits. So, I dont know their total number. The common Deviant Spirits that can run real-time calculations are too many to be counted. There is also a type of super Deviant Spirit, which seems to have been designed to take over the control of main-force warships. I think there are seventeen of them. Yes. Thats the number. There used to be nineteen of them, but two collapsed in an accident during the test.
To take over the control of the main-force warshipsLi Yao swallowed and asked, Then, where are your companions and the Deviant Spirits?
I dont know, Liu Wenshan said dutifully. Last night, most of the people and the Deviant Spirits being tested were moved in different batches. Only a few people were left behind to continue their work. They are all newcomers who havent been trapped in the Spiriters Realm for long and still prefer the real world to the Spiriters Realm.
Li Yao and Long Yangjun looked at each other in bewilderment. Both of them felt that their heart was heavier than ever.
The most terrible thing had happened.
This place was indeed Professor Mo Xuans nest. It was also a base where his secret weapons were produced.
However, they were a step late.
The battle shells modified on the basis of the bodies of a thousand battle-type Cultivators, the souls of countless experts who were adept at the technology of crystal processors and the Spiritual Nexus, and the mysterious and unpredictable Deviant Spirits were already on their way!
No wonder they did not encounter much resistance when they marched all the way into the hospital. As it turned out, the criminals and the mastermind had long left the place.
What was the target of Professor Mo Xuan and his army of Deviant Spirits?
Why did the professor have technology that was even more advanced than the federation and the expedition army from the Imperiums knowledge?