Lawrence had contacted Sara, the head of the SAAI program, six hours before his meeting with the investors to see if his idea was even plausible. She informed him that, in theory, it could work. There had been no serious hitches in the testing of the new AI, except one; in order to create a true AI, the new system they built had to learn naturally. They couldn’t upload all the information they needed directly into the SAAI system, it had to experience the world and learn from the people and events that unravel around it, just like a human.
“Attaching the program to the pre-existing AI of an NPC in a fantasy game would help speed up the process, I suppose,” Sara had said. “By absorbing the NPC’s experiences and fusing its personality with the new AI, you could have it functioning immediately, instead of waiting for it to learn everything naturally. But, it could also have a few unpredictable consequences.”
“Once you attach the SAAI to them,” Sara had explained, “they’re going to be just as self-aware and conscious as you and I. Imagine if someone came up to you out of the blue and told you that your entire existence was fake; just a game to someone else. You could damage the program’s psyche. You don’t want to break everything to them too quickly.”
Lawrence sat with Sara until he was summoned to the meeting, coming up with the dos and don’ts of what to share and how to explain everything. They settled on not mentioning the real world and instead pretending the “mission” was just some quest that Lawrence and whatever team members were roped into it were on. Going out of character while in the presence of the SAAI Enabled NPC, which they had decided to start calling SEN, was strictly forbidden.
As it stood, they had already decided that they would have to tell the SEN that their world was connected to the larger Multi-Verse, the MV. They were not alone, and there were many hundreds of alternate realities to explore with thousands of strange creatures and technologies they had never seen or heard of. Lawrence and Sara spent a few hours putting together a story and explanations for everything. He borrowed inspiration from a number of his favorite movies and games and treated it as though he were creating a new campaign for his bi-weekly Dungeon and Dragons group.
When Lawrence left the office, leaving Brad Lee to discuss “getting ahead of the situation” with the PR guy, he immediately went to the portal and teleported to his personal programming space. The company had switched over to Virtual Programming years before so that coding new items inside the system was similar to trying to build a computer in the real world.
Starting with another system he had already designed, one created to introduce updates to NPCs, Lawrence made a few alterations that changed from where the update originated; this way it would pull from the SAAI system instead of the main server. The process wasn’t very complicated; he only needed to tell the system what to connect to, set limitations, install a fail-safe in case the NPC went awol, and a few other commands to explain what he wanted it to do, and how he wanted it to do it.
In the end, he opened a window that popped up in his display, floating in front of him, and scrolled through a database of millions of different display options. There was almost an endless choice of different articles of clothing and jewelry listed under the “WEARABLES” category. If he was going to give this program to an NPC, it had to be something they could wear and never remove.
An idea struck Lawrence and he typed the word ‘AURYN’ into the search bar. This narrowed the results down from 156.7 million items to only 53 items. The one he wanted was the first choice; a golden snake entwined with a silver snake, each biting the other’s tail. He paid for the graphics file, 999 credits, about 10 dollars real world currency, and installed the chip into his new creation. He stepped back, opened a menu and pressed ‘activate’.