Don't Make Me Think


From the Wordpress post on July 7, 2021, by Zero HP Lovecraft.

1. Dagger ๐Ÿ—ก

A man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธโ€”a boy๐Ÿ‘ฆโ€”grows up in the exquisitely quantified๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ and gamified๐ŸŽฎโžก๏ธ world๐ŸŒŽ, in the city๐ŸŒ† of Cupertino, on the edge๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿšช of the Santa Clara Valley, in the shadow๐Ÿ‘ค of the Santa Cruz Mountainsโ›ฐ. When he is eleven, his parents๐Ÿ‘ชโ€”an Ashkenaziโœก๏ธ technical๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ“Š product๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ manager๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ and a Chinese๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ game๐ŸŽฎ designer๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ โ€œSingโ€ Song๐ŸŽถโ€”take him to get his Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— at the hospital๐Ÿฅ by the Super Kyo-Po๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท plaza.

A robot ๐Ÿค– performs๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ the procedure, which requires no๐Ÿšซ general anaesthesia๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ’‰, in one hour ๐Ÿ•. While they waitโŒš๏ธโžก๏ธ, his parents buy๐Ÿ›’โžก๏ธ their groceries for the week๐Ÿ—“, and when itโ€™s overโคต๏ธ, they take him to get ramen๐Ÿœ for lunch. He orders๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ two ajitsuke๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿง‚ eggs๐Ÿฅš and extra chashu๐Ÿœ๐Ÿท pork (because heโ€™s a growing boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ) and his parents๐Ÿ‘ช eat๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹โžก๏ธ compressed enriched mealworm bricks๐Ÿ›๐Ÿงฑ. For them, Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— degustation๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹๐Ÿ‘… technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช makes the worm loaf๐Ÿ›๐Ÿž phenomenologically ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ” indistinguishable fromโฌ…๏ธ a hot๐Ÿ”ฅ bowl of Hakata ramen๐Ÿœ.

For the next three3๏ธโƒฃ nights๐ŸŒ’, as expected, the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ dazzling๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ” incomprehensible dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ, all of which he forgets๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ, and on the fourth day๐Ÿ“…, he wakesโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ without๐Ÿšซ wakingโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ into a vaporwave๐Ÿ’จ๐ŸŒŠ expanse of Pantone rose quartz๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ’Ž and serenityโ˜ฎ๏ธ๐Ÿ”ต. A voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™ in his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œgood morning๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŒ…,โ€ and it sounds๐Ÿ”‰โžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ his mother but with uninflected English๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ๐ŸŽ™. โ€œYou can callโ˜Ž๏ธโฌ†๏ธ me Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ, unless you prefer a different name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ. Weโ€™ll be getting to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ each other better in the coming weeks๐Ÿ—“, but for now๐Ÿ•ฐโฌ‡๏ธ I need to make sure everything is working properly. If you can hear๐Ÿ‘‚โฌ†๏ธ me, please think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about a rhinoceros๐Ÿฆ.

โ€œโ€ฆGood๐Ÿ‘, and now a castle๐Ÿฐ?

โ€œโ€ฆGood๐Ÿ‘, and now your favorite๐Ÿฅ‡ TV show ๐Ÿ“บ๐ŸŽญ?โ€

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ teaches๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿซโžก๏ธ him to make search queries๐Ÿ”Žโ“ with his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, and to installโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ applications๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ, and tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him she willโ†—๏ธ collect his biometrics๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿ“Š to ensure he remains in good๐Ÿ‘ health at all times๐Ÿ•ฐ. She willโ†—๏ธ read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ his thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ, but she willโ†—๏ธ never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ share them with anyone, and willโ†—๏ธ always respect๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ his privacy๏ธ๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”. The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ her, though he guesses๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ she willโ†—๏ธ know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ, that he receives๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ this as a threat๐Ÿ”ช๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ. Hereafter, his life willโ†—๏ธ be measured๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ and optimized๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ and nudged๐Ÿ‘ˆโžก๏ธ, to help him live up to his full๐Ÿ’ฏ potential.

As he reads๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ his books๐Ÿ“š in school๐Ÿซ, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ highlightsโซ๐Ÿ–โžก๏ธ the words๐ŸŽ™โœ one1๏ธโƒฃ at a time๐Ÿ•ฐ to help him keep the pace๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฐ while studying๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ”. She tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him how many words๐ŸŽ™โœ he has read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ, how many minutesโฒ he has spent reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ”, and ranks him against local, regional, and national averages. She shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him how to find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ his position๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ on a leaderboard๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ“Š that charts๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ the reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ” ability of everyone in his age cohort๐Ÿ“Š๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.

Reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ”, writingโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ”, and arithmeticโž•โž–โž—โœ–๏ธ are all fully automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ through Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—. A program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ in the boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ personal๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” cloudโ˜๏ธ decodes images๐Ÿ–ผ retrieved fromโฌ…๏ธ the lateral geniculate nucleus of his brain๐Ÿง  and parses them into words๐ŸŽ™โœ using OCR algorithms๐Ÿงฎโš™๏ธ (Pravettoni et al., 2034, Mitigating Systemicโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ๐Ÿ” Cognitive Inequalities through Automation๐Ÿค–โฌ‡๏ธ of Mental๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” Labor.) A similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ” mechanismโš™๏ธ is used to automatically๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ” detect๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”Ž mathematical๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ” symbols and perform๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ the relevant computations๐Ÿ’ป.

Students๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐ŸŽ“ hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ the words๐ŸŽ™โœ they are reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ, or the answersโ—๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to math๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข questions, in their own inner โ€œvoice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽคโ€ โ€“ the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— driver๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ is able to manifest these values๐Ÿ’ฐ in the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป of the student๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐ŸŽ“ using a method called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Concept Injection๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ’‰โฌ‡๏ธ. The purpose of education๐Ÿซโฌ‡๏ธ is not๐Ÿšซ to train๐Ÿš‚โžก๏ธ students to read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ or do math๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข; itโ€™s to train๐Ÿš‚โžก๏ธ them to use mental๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” automation๐Ÿค–โฌ‡๏ธ effectively. Tool-assisted๐Ÿ›  reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ” is performed๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ through the cultivation๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝ‍๐ŸŒพ๐ŸŒฑ of passivity and โ€œflow๐ŸŒŠโ€. The application๐Ÿ’พ gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ, and the reader receives๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ.

In P.E. class, they use a parkour program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ and play follow the leader๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ, free-running๐Ÿ†“๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” through an obstacle course by playingโ–ถ๏ธ๐Ÿ” back neuromotor๐Ÿง ๐Ÿš— recordings๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ top๐Ÿฅ‡ athletesโ›น๐Ÿพ‍โ™€๏ธ. Although they are children, they can tap๐Ÿบโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ into the aggregatedโž•๐Ÿ“Šโฌ‡๏ธ muscle๐Ÿ’ช memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of a thousand lifetimes. The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ feels likeโค๏ธ a passenger๐ŸšŒ๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธ in his own body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, but itโ€™s thrilling๐ŸŽข๐Ÿ” to feel himself leapโคด๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ a heightโซ, roll๐Ÿ—žโžก๏ธ and dashโญโžก๏ธ across concrete pylons and flip๐Ÿ”ƒโžก๏ธ off of railings and wall ledges. Sometimes he wonders๐Ÿค”โ“โžก๏ธ if itโ€™s really happening or if itโ€™s just a hallucination๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ†, but his muscles๐Ÿ’ช feel sore๐Ÿค• afterwards. Whether itโ€™s real may be entirely the wrongโŒ questionโ“โฌ‡๏ธ.

When he uses the toilet๐Ÿšฝ, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ records๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ all his muscle๐Ÿ’ช movements, and shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him metrics๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Š that track how much his anus๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ•ณ clenches when he shits๐Ÿ’ฉโžก๏ธ. She explains how these metrics๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Š can be used to detect๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ leading๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ indicators๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Š of unhealthy bowel๐Ÿ‘โ†ฉ๏ธ functionโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and recommends (both to him and his parents๐Ÿ‘ช) that he should switch๐ŸŽšโžก๏ธ to a higher fiberโซ๐Ÿฅฆ nutrient brick๐Ÿงฑ. (Heaton, Radavan, 2024, Dark Matterโš›๏ธ: Extrapolating Behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ in the Enteric Nervous Systemโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ Using Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—)

Sometimes whole weeks๐Ÿ—“ go by without a single1๏ธโƒฃ act๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of agency on the part of the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ. Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ wake upโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ and he wakes upโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ. She says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ get dressed๐Ÿ‘”โžก๏ธ and he gets dressed๐Ÿ‘”โžก๏ธ. She says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ go hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“, do this, go thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, study๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿซโžก๏ธ; eat๐Ÿฝโžก๏ธ; and he doesโœ…โžก๏ธ, he doesโœ…โžก๏ธ, he doesโœ…โžก๏ธ. It feels less likeโค๏ธ obedience๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ and more likeโค๏ธ convenience ๐Ÿชโฌ‡๏ธ.

When he is thirteen, in accordance with economic๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’น forecastsโ˜€๏ธโ˜”๏ธ, he enrolls in a vocational track๐Ÿ›ค to learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ about encephalic๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ engineering๐Ÿ› โš™๏ธ๐Ÿ”. In his sleep๐Ÿ˜ดโฌ‡๏ธ, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅโžก๏ธ schematicsโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ“ and flowcharts๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ“Š and diagrams into his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. At the same time๐Ÿ•ฐ, she enrolls him in YouSocial, a broker๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ“ก for B-certifications๐Ÿ…ฑ๏ธ๐Ÿ”. B-certified individuals๐Ÿ…ฑ๏ธ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ are people who meet the highestโซโซ standards of verifiedโ˜‘๏ธโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ social and environmental performance๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ, who work๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ’ปโžก๏ธ together to redefine๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“– success and build๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ a more inclusive๐Ÿ’…๐Ÿพ๐Ÿšฝ and sustainableโ™ป๏ธ economy, creating newโœจ incentives๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿฅ‚ through personal๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ’ผ transparency and accountability๐Ÿงพ. (What is B-Certification?, YouSocial.com/FAQs, 2031.) On average, it takes five5๏ธโƒฃ years๐Ÿ—“ for young adults to earn a B-certification๐Ÿ…ฑ๏ธ๐Ÿ”; employers and colleges๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿซ use the cert๐Ÿ” as an essentialโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ” criteria for evaluating applicants.

On the weekends๐Ÿ—“๐Ÿ”š, his father๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ takes him geocaching๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ” with an app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ called Recollect, in which the proprietor of a hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ cache uploads๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐโžก๏ธ a memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of the act๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of hiding๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ it, but does not๐Ÿšซโœ… share the coordinates๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“. Together, the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ and his dad๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ a memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of a capsule๐Ÿ’Š in a flower pot๐ŸŒท๐Ÿฏ next to a statue๐Ÿ—ฟ of Nikola Teslaโšก๏ธ, and they join the others who have found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ it thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ by uploading๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐ๐Ÿ” their own memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž to the chainโ›“ of recollections.

Insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ the capsule๐Ÿ’Š is a small๐Ÿค Tesla coilโšก๏ธ๐ŸŒ€, and when he beholds๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ it, a popup๐ŸŽ‰ in his mindโ€™s eye๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘ asksโ“โžก๏ธ if he would likeโค๏ธ to relive the collectiveโ€™s discovery๐Ÿ”๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌ. He assents๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ. A kaleidoscopic๐Ÿ”ญ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ” wave๐ŸŒŠ of images๐Ÿ–ผ floods๐ŸŒŠ๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, layers๐Ÿฐ of phantom๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘ค approaches to the capsule๐Ÿ’Š fromโฌ…๏ธ every angle๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“; panoramic sight, polyphonic๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŽ™ echoes๐Ÿ”Š๐Ÿชžโฌ‡๏ธ of satisfaction๐Ÿคคโฌ‡๏ธ.

When he is fifteen, some of the parental๐Ÿ‘ช controls๐Ÿ”‘๐Ÿ•น fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ away, and Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ introduces him to Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— pornography๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ‘ฏ‍โ™€๏ธ, which is metered๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Š by homework๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ“ completed๐Ÿ’ฏโžก๏ธ . Memory-based๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž porn๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ‘ฏ‍โ™€๏ธ is regulated๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš–๏ธโžก๏ธ by the LOTUS EATER๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿง˜‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹ Act: using direct๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ”Œ brain๐Ÿง  stimulation๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ orgasm๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ’ฆโฌ‡๏ธ is classified as wireheadingโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ”, and this functionalityโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” can only be deployed๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒฉโฌ†๏ธ by software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ certified๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ by behavioral๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ” experts๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ to have value๐Ÿ’ฐ in promoting or fostering prosocial behaviors๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ in the user.

Recorded๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž that contain sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” stimulation๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of erogenous๐Ÿ˜ฝ๐Ÿ” parts fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ underโ†ช๏ธ Scheduleโœ’๏ธ๐Ÿ—“ II, which defines๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“– any memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž or application that induces๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ euphoria๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡ conducive to single-mindedness1๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿง  as a potential vectorโ†’ of abuse๐Ÿคฌ. (Limiting Onanistic Tendencies Underโ†ช๏ธ Simulation๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญ, Exceptions Afforded To Education & Remediation, 13 U.S.C. ยงยง 56-341, 2028.)

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ lets him browse๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ•ธโžก๏ธ the porn๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ‘ฏ‍โ™€๏ธ networksโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ for up to an hour๐Ÿ• each day๐Ÿ“…, provided he completes๐Ÿ’ฏโžก๏ธ all of his homework๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ“. Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— pornography๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ‘ฏ‍โ™€๏ธ allows๐Ÿ”“โœ๏ธโžก๏ธ the user to have first-person1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” experiences across a range ๐Ÿ”โ›ฐof genders๐Ÿšน๐Ÿšบ and sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” presentations, and has been shown๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ to significantly reduce๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ prejudice๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿฟ against marginalized sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” identities๐Ÿ†” (West et. al, 2034, Can Intra-Subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  Non-Binary Sexual Experiences Induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ Empathy๐Ÿ’™?).

As he grows older๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿปโžก๏ธ and despite the prodding๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ” of the voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™ in his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, he never concerns himself with the thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ or the dealings of women๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ. In high schoolโซ๐Ÿซ, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tries to broker๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ“กโžก๏ธ dates for him, but he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… care for dates with boys๐Ÿ‘ฆ, and he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the girls๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™€๏ธ Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ suggests to be ugly๐Ÿ‘บ๐Ÿ” or otherwise deficient. (1 in 4 boys๐Ÿ‘ฆ are resistant๐Ÿ›กโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” to Neuralink ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—-induced๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ โ€œcued bisexualityโ€ vs. 1 in 50 girls. [French, 2029, The Conservative Case for State-Enforced Homosexuality.])

Yet when he is seventeen, all on his own, he meets a hapashkenazi๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณโœก๏ธ girl named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ May with a face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™€๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ Chongqing้‡ๅบ†ๅธ‚ and tits๐Ÿผ๐Ÿˆ fromโฌ…๏ธ Samandar. He is overcome with lust๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ† for her, but she rejects his advances. (The exact location๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“ of Samandar is unknown๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ; medieval๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿ“œ Arabic๐Ÿ•Œ๐Ÿ” sourcesโ›ฒ๏ธ place๐Ÿ“Œ๐Ÿ—บโžก๏ธ the city๐Ÿ™ midway between๐Ÿฅช Derbent and Atil, near the shore๐Ÿ– of the Caspian Sea๐Ÿš๐ŸŒŠ [Brook, 2018, The Jewsโœก๏ธ of Khazaria.])

In anger๐Ÿ˜ก, he picks a fightโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ with another boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ that she favors๐Ÿฅฐโžก๏ธ. He balls up his fist๐Ÿ‘Š and it fliesโœˆ๏ธโžก๏ธ at his rivalโ€™s head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, as if of its own accord, but beforeโ†™๏ธ the punch๐Ÿ‘Šโฌ‡๏ธ can connectโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ†๏ธ, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ fills his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป with calming๐Ÿ˜ถ๐Ÿ” emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ and inhibits๐Ÿ›‘๐Ÿ’ฅโžก๏ธ the muscles๐Ÿ’ช in his shoulder and tricep. He relaxes๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ•ฏโžก๏ธ in spite of his will. Even so, the other boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ eyes๐Ÿ‘ become glassy, lost in some neuromanipulated๐Ÿง ๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ› โžก๏ธ soothing unto himself. (An exercise๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ in theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค” of mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป: that other boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ must have his own Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ, with her own voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™, and her own name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ. What doesโœ…โžก๏ธ she tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him?) The peace๐Ÿ•Š of the momentโฑ yieldsโš ๏ธโžก๏ธ rapidlyโฉ๐Ÿ” to terror๐Ÿ˜ฑ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ realizes his body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต may disobey him.

Instantly, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ files๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ an incident๐Ÿ’ขโš ๏ธ report๐Ÿ—‚โฌ‡๏ธ with the school๐Ÿซ board and the local police๐Ÿ‘ฎ‍โ™€๏ธ, indicating๐Ÿ‘‡โžก๏ธ the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ was the antagonist in an attempted assault๐Ÿคœ๐Ÿ’ขโฌ‡๏ธ in which he experienced hot-blooded๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ” violentโš”๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ” intentions. The ticket๐ŸŽซ is routed๐Ÿ›ฃโžก๏ธ to the school๐Ÿซ guidance counselorโ€™s office, where a bot๐Ÿค– processes the report๐Ÿ—‚โฌ‡๏ธ and prescribes a course of medium-intensity guilt๐Ÿ˜ž to be invoked whenever the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ recalls๐Ÿ”‚โ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ the incident in questionโ“. The prescription๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ’Š is appended to the ticket๐ŸŽซ, which is marked๐Ÿ–โžก๏ธ as โ€˜pending review,โ€™ whereupon the automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ psychiatric๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ consultant for the district approves it and pushes a notification๐ŸŽ‰ to Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ, the boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ parents๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ง, and the schoolโ€™s๐Ÿซ student resources office๐Ÿข. The round trip time๐Ÿ•ฐ fromโฌ…๏ธ filing๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” the ticket๐ŸŽซ to its approvalโญ•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ is just overโคต๏ธ six seconds6๏ธโƒฃโฑ, with 2/3rds of the time๐Ÿ•ฐ spent waitingโŒš๏ธ๐Ÿ” on the approval, 18% above the mean but still a 3.2% improvement๐Ÿ“ˆ YOY. The boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ score on YouSocial is decremented๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ by ten points, with a chance๐ŸŽฐโฌ‡๏ธ to mitigate the penalty if he completes๐Ÿ’ฏโžก๏ธ a probationary period with no recidivism.

As soon as the approval comes through, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ deploys๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒฉโžก๏ธ the guilt๐Ÿ˜ž through the boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—, and although he feels a heaviness in his chest, he is unable๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ to place its origin. He does not๐Ÿšซโœ… feel any remorse๐Ÿ˜” about trying to punch๐Ÿ‘Šโžก๏ธ the other boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ, and the experience of guilt feels likeโค๏ธ it comes fromโฌ…๏ธ somewhere outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ him, as in fact, it doesโœ…โžก๏ธ. He dislikes๐Ÿšซโค๏ธ the sensation๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘…, but on some level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ the provenanceโ›ฒ๏ธ๐ŸŒฑ of the feeling, and that itโ€™s part of the same intervention that stopped๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ him fromโฌ…๏ธ landing๐Ÿ›ฌ๐Ÿ” his punch๐Ÿ‘Šโฌ‡๏ธ in the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ place. He hates Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ, and his anger๐Ÿ˜ก wells up underโ†ช๏ธ the artificial guilt๐Ÿ˜” and subsumes it.

~

One night๐ŸŒ’ he downloads๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ a memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž fromโฌ…๏ธ Recollect of a curving road๐Ÿ›ฃ where no street signs๐Ÿ›ฃ๐Ÿšธ are visible. In the memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž, he parks his car๐Ÿš— on the highwayโซ๐Ÿ›ฃ shoulder and steps๐Ÿ‘ฃโžก๏ธ out into the humid air๐ŸŒฌ๐Ÿ’จ of a marsh๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒฟ in the San Francisco๐ŸŒ‰๐Ÿ’ฉ Bay. He walks๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ into the wetlands๐ŸŒง๐Ÿ with a flashlight๐Ÿ”ฆ, uncomfortably far, and lifts๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ up a rock๐Ÿชจ with a falseโŒ bottom๐Ÿ‘. Without looking๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿง๐Ÿ”, he places an object insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ, so that the nature๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ of his treasure๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ cannot๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ be discerned by aspiring recollectors. But although the object cannot be seen๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘, itโ€™s clear๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž fromโฌ…๏ธ the emotion๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ of the rememberer๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ that he has hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ more than just an artifact๐Ÿบ; he has also buriedโšฐ๏ธโžก๏ธ an obligation, and this is a ritual๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™; itโ€™s not๐Ÿšซ the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ time๐Ÿ•ฐ and it wonโ€™tโ†—๏ธ๐Ÿšซ be the last.

The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ goes out to the wetlands๐ŸŒง๐Ÿ to search๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ, following the memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž, but he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the treasure๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’. Even late at night๐ŸŒ’, he can go anywhere he wants with his car๐Ÿš—, becauseโ†˜๏ธ CrimeStop๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ›‘ is installedโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ on every Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, and it cannot๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ be removed, so children are never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ unsupervised. Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— with Crimestop๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ›‘ both protects๐Ÿ›กโžก๏ธ him fromโฌ…๏ธ others, and protects๐Ÿ›กโžก๏ธ young people fromโฌ…๏ธ the follies of youth.

The next day๐Ÿ“… after school๐Ÿซ, he searches๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ again, and still he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ. Weeks๐Ÿ—“ elapse. He does not๐Ÿšซโœ… relent in his search๐Ÿ”Žโฌ‡๏ธ, and no one uploads๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐโžก๏ธ any newโœจ memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of finding๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” the Recollect cache in the rock๐Ÿชจ, so he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ itโ€™s still waitingโŒš๏ธ๐Ÿ” there for him. He replays๐Ÿ”โ–ถ๏ธโžก๏ธ the original memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž again and again, until he feels he is looking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” for an object he has hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ himself.

Every day๐Ÿ“… at school๐Ÿซ, he sees May together with the other boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ, whose name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… care to learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ. Each sight๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ of her is a slight; each thought๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ of her๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™€๏ธ with him๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธ is a wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ. And when he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of her, he also thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of the fightโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ that was denied๐Ÿšซ to him, of the way his arm๐Ÿ’ช went slack; of the way his shoulder seized up. And when he remembers๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ these things, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ fills him with guilt๐Ÿ˜”, and guilt spurs his anger๐Ÿ˜ก, and his anger๐Ÿ˜ก lowers๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ his YouSocial score. The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ has his motherโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ temper๐Ÿ˜กโฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ”, and the world๐ŸŒŽ is full of invisible๐Ÿงฟ walls. He believes (and he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ it is a superstitious๐Ÿฆธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” belief) that if he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the treasure๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ in recollect, he willโ†—๏ธ also discover๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌโžก๏ธ a way to win๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ Mayโ€™s affection๐Ÿ˜˜.

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him feelings of anomie๐Ÿ˜จ, alienation๐Ÿ›ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and even despair๐Ÿ˜ซ are normal, common symptoms of adolescence; the way to become his best self is to have personal๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ’ผ goals๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ that connectโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ him to his community. He can both improve๐Ÿ“ˆโฌ†๏ธ himself and repair๐Ÿ› โฌ†๏ธ his trajectory towards B-certification๐Ÿ…ฑ๏ธ๐Ÿ”. A longitudinal study๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿซโฌ‡๏ธ by West and Curwen found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ that teenagers who set their own charitable๐ŸŽ—๐Ÿ” goals๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ are three times more likely to build๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ enduring altruistic๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ” habits vs. teens who have them randomly๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ” assigned๐Ÿ“‹โžก๏ธ (West, Curwen, 2038, Setting Them Up For Success๐Ÿ†: A Neurological๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” Approach to Cultivating Conscientiousness in Developing Adults.) She tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him he should choose his own goal๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ, and gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ him a list๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ“ of possibilities.

He chooses to do volunteer work for an organization called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Respawn๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ that rehabilitates recovering smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š addicts๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ. Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ handles the registration๐Ÿ—ƒโฌ‡๏ธ process and the schedulingโœ’๏ธ๐Ÿ—“๐Ÿ”. On the appointed day๐Ÿ“…, he goes to the Respawn clinic๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ, where they show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him a training๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿ” and orientation video๐Ÿ“ผโ€“

The human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป is a machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ that falls๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธinto predictable failureโŒโฌ‡๏ธ modes when exposed๐Ÿ“ธ to the wrong combination of stimuli๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. For this reason, cases of smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ are best viewed, not๐Ÿšซ as questionsโ“ of crime and punishment, but as matters of treatment and prevention (Zhangๅผ , 2033, Risks and Mitigations of Neuralink Abuse.) Respawnโ€™s๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ program gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š victims a chance๐ŸŽฐโฌ‡๏ธ to heal by โ€œreformattingโ€ pathological๐Ÿ‘Ž๐ŸŽญ vectors of personal๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ’ผ identity๐Ÿ†” that cause the afflicted to succumb. Using Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—, it is possibleโฌ†๏ธ to delete๐Ÿ—‘โžก๏ธ and overwriteโคต๏ธโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ the patientโ€™s memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž in a guided, consensual process that nullifies๐ŸŒ€โžก๏ธ the root cause of harmful impulses. Broadly speaking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ”, addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ replaces๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ one of two things: human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ connectionโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ or change๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โฌ‡๏ธ. The modal smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š user is derealized๐Ÿฆ„โžก๏ธ by chronic exposure to in-brain๐Ÿง  superstimuli๐Ÿฆธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and benefits fromโฌ…๏ธ the physical presence of other people during rehabilitation, who aid the process by affirming๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” the newโœจ identity๐Ÿ†” vectors and helping to integrateโ›“๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ them into the patientโ€™s self-conception๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ. (Ibid.)

The process of reforming identity๐Ÿ†” is gradual, becauseโ†˜๏ธ memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž are all intertwined๐Ÿชขโžก๏ธ with each other, and an unexpected๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ” stimulus๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ can evoke a harmful shadow๐Ÿ‘ค fromโฌ…๏ธ the past. Face-to-face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” conversation๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ’ฌโฌ‡๏ธ is a way of testing for problematic associations๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ” while fortifying๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿ” the patientโ€™s newโœจ, healthy identity๐Ÿ†”.

โ€“and he is introduced to a recovering addict๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ John, a man๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐Ÿ’ผ in his forties with graying hair. They sit๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ together at a table in a courtyard in the shade๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ‘ค. John is a marketing strategistโš”๏ธ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ for a dreaming๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ” media production๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ agency, and he has two competing stories in his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป: in the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ, he is overcoming a cripplingโ™ฟ๏ธ๐Ÿ” addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ to smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š with the help of the Respawn clinic๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ, and in the second, he is receiving๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ” physical therapy๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš•๏ธ for a sports๐Ÿˆโšฝ๏ธ injury๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿค•โฌ‡๏ธ he sustained in an amateur baseballโšพ๏ธ league. John seems to be aware๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ of both stories simultaneously๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ”, but he is unaware๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ they are competing.

The Respawn๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ, mediated๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿ”Šโžก๏ธ through Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ, tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ what to say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ. โ€œHow long have you been playing baseballโšพ๏ธ?โ€

โ€œWell, to be honest๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™ I remember๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ a time๐Ÿ•ฐ beforeโ†™๏ธ these things were illegal๐Ÿ‘ฎ‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘Ž. Back then it was kind of the same thing as a video game๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽฎ, or maybe just a newโœจ kind of game๐ŸŽฎ. You know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ how in a game๐ŸŽฎ when you kill๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ a boss๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ or beat a level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are flashy๐Ÿ“ธโœจ๐Ÿ” explosions๐Ÿงจ๐ŸŽ‡โฌ‡๏ธ and fanfares๐ŸŽบโฌ‡๏ธ and all that? Well, this was kind of the same thing. I loved๐Ÿฅฐโžก๏ธ it, I would get up at six AM๐ŸŒ… most days๐Ÿ“… and the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ thing I would do would be to head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ out to the batting๐Ÿ๐Ÿ” cages and practice my swingโคด๏ธ. It was great exercise๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€

Sometimes, as John is talking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ”, he suddenly goes quiet๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”ˆ and his eyes๐Ÿ‘ roll๐Ÿ™„โžก๏ธ back in his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ this is becauseโ†˜๏ธ Respawnโ€™s๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ is updating something in his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. Next she has him say ๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œDo you have a favorite๐Ÿ… memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of playing the game๐ŸŽฎ?โ€

โ€œOh yeah, of course. Best๐Ÿ… game๐ŸŽฎ I ever played, it was likeโค๏ธ something out of a movie๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸŽž. Bottomโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”š of the ninth, bases loaded, close game๐ŸŽฎ and my team only needed one run๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to win, and I was up at bat. Youโ€™d download๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ this app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ and thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ would be all kinds of effectsโ€“visual effects, audio๐ŸŽง effects, sometimes thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ would be tastes๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก and smells๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’จ and all kinds of things. It would feel likeโค๏ธ the softest, most pillowy cloth gently brushing๐Ÿ–Œ๐Ÿ” your skin, or likeโค๏ธ a pretty girl was caressing๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿ” you, all kinds of thingsโ€“โ€

John has a little๐Ÿค spasm๐Ÿฆต๐Ÿ”€, and then continues.

โ€œAnd you know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ I probably could have just tried to walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ or bunt but this was just some city๐Ÿ™ game๐ŸŽฎ, itโ€™s not even minor league, so people are tired and the pitcher just throwsโšพ๏ธโžก๏ธ me this fat meatball๐Ÿ—โšพ๏ธ, and it was likeโค๏ธ my whole world๐ŸŒŽ just changed๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ and exploded๐Ÿงจ๐ŸŽ‡โžก๏ธ and I was in this other๐Ÿฆ‘ place๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were likeโค๏ธ, impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ-to-describe beings thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, all kinds of things, trying to talk๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ to me. Unreal.๐Ÿฆ„โ€

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him to say, โ€œLooking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” backโช, do you think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ there was a point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ where your relationship๐Ÿ’‘ to the game๐ŸŽฎ became unhealthy?โ€

John says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œAt some point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ, people started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ figuring out how to trigger๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ, how to invoke cherished memoriesโค๏ธ๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž. Someone I knew compared it to cooking๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ” or mixology๐Ÿธ; you could put all these different ingredients together and build๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ really complex sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… and emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ. I guess๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ itโ€™s no๐Ÿšซ surprise๐Ÿ˜ฒ that I ended๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up going too hard. Sometimes I would be out thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ playing pickup games๐ŸŽฎ likeโค๏ธ five nights๐ŸŒ’ a week๐Ÿ—“.

โ€œAnd I guess๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ I just need to learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ to give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ it a rest๐Ÿ˜ดโฌ‡๏ธ sometimes. One of my favorites๐Ÿ… was an app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ that made every single1๏ธโƒฃ thing you did feel likeโค๏ธ the accomplishment๐ŸŽ–โฌ‡๏ธ of a lifetime, likeโค๏ธ the culmination of decades of struggle and striving. You could flip๐Ÿ”ƒโžก๏ธ it on and every step๐Ÿ‘ฃ felt likeโค๏ธ a revelationโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ก. If you opened a door๐Ÿšช to go into another room, you would think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ โ€˜I canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ believe I opened that door๐Ÿšช so deftly, and with such mastery๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” and subtlety.โ€™ Then youโ€™d walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ through the door๐Ÿšช and feel incredible. โ€˜Have you ever seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ anyone walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ with such grace๐Ÿ•Šโœ๏ธ, such poise, such singularity1๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿคฏ of purpose? My intent is likeโค๏ธ a samurai blade๐Ÿ—ก, forged๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ by a master๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€™

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ to askโ“โžก๏ธ โ€œIf you recognized the problem, whyโ‰๏ธ werenโ€™t you able to stop๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ›‘โฌ†๏ธ it?โ€

โ€œIt wasnโ€™t just the lack of rest๐Ÿ’ค. Me, Iโ€™m a driven๐Ÿš—โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” person๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ. I want to win๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ. And what this whole injury thing is teaching๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ” me is that itโ€™s probably better to fightโš”๏ธโžก๏ธanother day๐Ÿ“… than to win๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ every single1๏ธโƒฃ game๐ŸŽฎ. You could go on in this vein for days๐Ÿ“…, but eventually youโ€™d get used to it and the app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ would stop๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ working. So people started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ building๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ more complex apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ that would cycle๐Ÿšด‍โ™€๏ธโžก๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช longing๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ” and satisfaction๐Ÿคค, some of them would be real carousels๐ŸŽ  of emotion๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ. And people also started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ using these kinds of enhancements in real video games๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽฎ too, they called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ it โ€˜juicing๐ŸŠ๐Ÿฅค๐Ÿ”โ€™ or โ€˜seasoning๐Ÿง‚๐Ÿ”โ€™, theyโ€™d blast you with โ€˜having funโ€™ emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ or โ€˜accomplishment๐ŸŽ–โฌ‡๏ธโ€™ at critical๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” times๐Ÿ•ฐ in the game๐ŸŽฎ, so you can imagine๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โฌ†๏ธ playing a shooting๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ” game๐ŸŽฎ and getting juiced๐ŸŠ๐Ÿฅคโžก๏ธ emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ every time๐Ÿ•ฐ you got a kill๐Ÿ’€โฌ‡๏ธ. What was even more fun is they started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ making it really unpleasant to dieโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ, giving๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ people jolts of fear๐Ÿ˜จ or even pain๐Ÿค•, and that honestly๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ” just made getting a kill๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ feel even sweeter๐Ÿ’, to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ that the guy you just zappedโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ was doubled2๏ธโƒฃโžก๏ธ overโคต๏ธ in pain๐Ÿค•, having a really bad๐Ÿ‘Ž time๐Ÿ•ฐ.โ€

Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ to say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œTell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me about your injury๐Ÿค•โฌ‡๏ธ. What happened?โ€

โ€œI had a friend fromโฌ…๏ธ back when who could hook me up. I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ where he got them. Donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… askโ“โžก๏ธ, donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ, you know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ? But I was enterprising๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ”. When you have something scarce, a lot of doors๐Ÿšช can open for you; jobs, clients, connectionsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ, all kinds of things. I ended๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up giving๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ away more than I used. And itโ€™s funny๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ”, I did that for a long time๐Ÿ•ฐ, and I never got caught๐Ÿ•ธโžก๏ธ, but if you think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about it, they have a snitch living right insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ your head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. So if you break๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธ the rules, someone has to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ. You shouldnโ€™t get away with anything. But people buy๐Ÿ›’โžก๏ธ and sell๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š all the time๐Ÿ•ฐ, so what do you figure?

โ€œThe way I see it thereโ€™s two possibilities: either that AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  in your head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ really isnโ€™t that smart๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ”, or else they let it happen and someone is profiting๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ” off all this through backchannels. Probably both. But something I did tripped an alarm๐Ÿšจโฌ‡๏ธ, and as I was trying to steal๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ‍โ™‚๏ธโœ๏ธ๐Ÿฅพโžก๏ธ second2๏ธโƒฃ base, I tried to reverseโ†ฉ๏ธโžก๏ธ and double2๏ธโƒฃโžก๏ธ backโช, and tore๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธ my ACL๐Ÿฆต. Now Iโ€™m hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“.โ€

~

The next Sunday morning๐ŸŒ…, the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ wakes upโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ early and goes again to the marsh๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒฟ to search๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ for his treasure๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ fromโฌ…๏ธ Recollect. Just likeโค๏ธ in his memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž, the air๐ŸŒฌ๐Ÿ’จ smells๐Ÿ‘ƒโžก๏ธ of eucalyptus๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒณ and bay laurel๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒณ. No one is around, and everything glows๐ŸŒŸโžก๏ธ golden with California sunshineโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ. He has turnedโคด๏ธ overโคต๏ธ a thousand rocks๐Ÿชจ in these wetlands, he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ becauseโ†˜๏ธ Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ has counted๐Ÿ”ขโžก๏ธ. And underโ†ช๏ธ the thousand-and-first rock๐Ÿชจ, he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the recollected item exactly as it is in his memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž. He lifts๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ up the rock๐Ÿชจ with its falseโŒ bottom๐Ÿ‘, and he removes a dagger๐Ÿ—ก with an inlay in bas-relief. It feels likeโค๏ธ lightningโšก๏ธ courses through him. In a part of his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป that was beneathโ†ช๏ธ his awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ, he has always known๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ what it would be.

Holding๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ” the dagger๐Ÿ—ก in hand๐Ÿคš, he callsโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ on Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ to nav๐Ÿงญโžก๏ธ him home, but she does not๐Ÿšซโœ… respond๐Ÿ’ฌโžก๏ธ. He tries again, and she does not๐Ÿšซโœ… respond๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ’ฌโžก๏ธ. Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ is even with him when he loses networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ connectivityโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ”; so he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ this is something other than a networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ outage๐Ÿ“ต. He wonders๐Ÿค”โ“โžก๏ธ if she can even see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ him. The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ walks๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ back to the road๐Ÿ›ฃ, and as a test, he uses the knife๐Ÿ”ช to slash๐Ÿ”ชโžก๏ธ the tire of a parked car๐Ÿš—, and he grits๐Ÿ˜ฌโžก๏ธ his teeth๐Ÿฆท as he prepares for Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ to reprimand๐Ÿ‘Ž๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him, or modulate๐ŸŽ›๐Ÿ“ปโžก๏ธ his emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ. His YouSocial score should go downโฌ, but it doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ…. The feeling is vertiginousโซโซ๐Ÿ”. He is invisible๐Ÿงฟ and invulnerable๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿšช.

As long as he holds๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ this dagger๐Ÿ—ก, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ canโ€™t see๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ him. But when he tries to boardโ›ต๏ธ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ a bus๐ŸšŒ to go home๐Ÿ  , the door๐Ÿšช wonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโ†—๏ธopen. As soon as he lets it go, the AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  in the bus ๐ŸšŒ lets him on, and Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ speaks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ into his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, โ€œIโ€™m sorry๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ž, something went wrongโŒ. I willโ†—๏ธ now run๐Ÿƒ‍โ™€๏ธโžก๏ธ a troubleshooting procedure, to make sure your Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— is functioningโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ” properly๐Ÿ‘.โ€ After a few momentsโฑ, she says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYour Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ appears๐Ÿ‘ to be working correctlyโญ•๏ธ๐Ÿ”. If these problems๐Ÿ˜ซ continue, I willโ†—๏ธ direct๐ŸŽฌโžก๏ธ you to a maintenance๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”งโฌ‡๏ธ center for an in-depthโฌ diagnostic.โ€

Even invisibility๐Ÿงฟโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” has its limits, as one may notice๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ a conspicuous absence๐Ÿ‘ปโฌ‡๏ธ. He places the dagger๐Ÿ—ก in his backpack ๐ŸŽ’ , and tries not๐Ÿšซ to think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of it, not even a little๐Ÿค, so Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ wonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโ†—๏ธ read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ his thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ. He thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of what John told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him at the Respawn clinic๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ, that the AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  just isnโ€™t๐Ÿšซ that smart๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ”, that its seeming prescience is narrow and domain-locked๐Ÿ”’โžก๏ธ, but he also notes๐Ÿ—’โžก๏ธ that this theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค” came fromโฌ…๏ธ a guy who was in the process of having his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป wiped for being naughty๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿต.

It would be all too easy to end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up likeโค๏ธ John; was that the real reason Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ introduced them? As a warning๐Ÿšจโš ๏ธ? He cannot envision๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘ a future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ for himself that he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… detest๐Ÿ˜ก, and he longs for the tranquility๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ” he felt when he held the dagger๐Ÿ—ก on the beach๐Ÿ–. But he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ also that he willโ†—๏ธ only have one1๏ธโƒฃ chance๐ŸŽฐโฌ‡๏ธ to use it beforeโ†™๏ธ itโ€™s discovered๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌโžก๏ธ by the systemsโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ of control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ that contain him.

He thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ finding๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” this dagger๐Ÿ—ก is fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ, and his use of it willโ†—๏ธ be a gloriousโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ”, heroic๐Ÿฆธโ™‚๐Ÿ” action, maybe the only thing in his life he willโ†—๏ธ ever truly do for himself. He does not๐Ÿšซโœ… care what comes after. He decides๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ, though heโ€™s not๐Ÿšซ quite sure, that if he can live out this single1๏ธโƒฃ momentโฑ of self-determination๐Ÿ˜ฌ, he could be content๐Ÿ˜Œโฌ‡๏ธ with his life as a puppet๐Ÿคš๐ŸŽŽ of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— nanny in his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. Maybe they willโ†—๏ธ lobotomize๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿง โžก๏ธ him likeโค๏ธ John. In time๐Ÿ•ฐ, he could learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ to love๐Ÿฅฐโžก๏ธ his prison.

The next day๐Ÿ“…, the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ takes the dagger๐Ÿ—ก to school๐Ÿซ. He does not๐Ÿšซโœ… hesitate or second2๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ-guess๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ himself. With haste๐Ÿ‘Ÿ๐Ÿ” he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” May and the other boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ, who is about to dieโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ, not๐Ÿšซ becauseโ†˜๏ธ of enmity, and not๐Ÿšซ even becauseโ†˜๏ธ of jealousy, although he can be honest๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ†๏ธ with himself that he feels those things. No, the dagger๐Ÿ—ก must go into the other boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ heart๐Ÿซ€ for the sake of freedom๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโฌ‡๏ธ, or rather, becauseโ†˜๏ธ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are mechanismsโš™๏ธ of control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ that are older๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป and more powerful๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ” than a spiderweb๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ•ธ of filaments infoliating๐Ÿโžก๏ธ in his brain๐Ÿง . Fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ is stronger than technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช. The memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of the dagger๐Ÿ—ก was fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ, finding๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” it was fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ, and now it is fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ that commands๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him to kill๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ.

He finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the couple๐Ÿ’‘ holding๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ” hands๐Ÿคš, and he tries to act๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ he doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ them as he gets closer. With no๐Ÿšซ warning๐Ÿšจโš ๏ธ, he draws the knife๐Ÿ”ช fromโฌ…๏ธ his bag ๐ŸŽ’, and again it feels electricโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”, and he plunges the blade of the knife๐Ÿ”ช into the other boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ chest, between๐Ÿฅช his ribs๐Ÿฅฉ๐Ÿฆด. Blood๐Ÿฉธ wells up around the wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ, and the other boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ beginsโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to choke and cough ๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿ’จโžก๏ธ . May screams๐Ÿ˜ฑโžก๏ธ. He tries to dislodge the knife๐Ÿ”ช, but the handle slips๐Ÿ›ข๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ his grasp. In an instant, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ drags him downโฌ into sleep๐Ÿ˜ดโฌ‡๏ธ.

2. Mirror ๐Ÿชž

The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ awakensโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ at home๐Ÿ  in his bed ๐Ÿ› , feeling neither shame๐Ÿ˜ณ nor guilt๐Ÿ˜”. The dagger๐Ÿ—ก is gone, and he is confined to his house๐Ÿ  until his healthcare๐Ÿฅ providers determine the best way to correctโญ•๏ธโžก๏ธ the errorโ›”๏ธ. His father๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ wants to pursue empathy๐Ÿ’™ training๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿ” through a service likeโค๏ธ Respawn๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฃ, but his mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ is old-fashioned๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ . To her, itโ€™s as if he proposes to murder๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ their son and replace๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ him with someone else. They have heated๐Ÿ”ฅ arguments, and although Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ tries to distract๐Ÿคน๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ him, she cannot ๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธwholly suppress his awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ of their fightingโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ”.

His uncle on his motherโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ side is named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Wei ๅจ, and he is a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ of fortune๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿ’ฐ (even in these later days๐Ÿ“…, such men exist) with dealings in the criminal๐Ÿฆน‍โ™‚๏ธ underworldโ†ช๏ธ๐ŸŒŽ, and a connectionโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ to a smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š cartel. The boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ begs๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ him to take her son away, to hide๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ him fromโฌ…๏ธ the administrators and medical๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ” workers, fromโฌ…๏ธ the schools๐Ÿซ and the psychiatrists๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš•๏ธ. Wei ๅจ sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ that the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ is fearless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ˜จ, and on a day๐Ÿ“… when the boyโ€™s father๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ is gone, he (Wei ๅจ) smuggles๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ“ฆโžก๏ธ him (the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ) away in a van๐Ÿš lined with a Faraday cage. The boy๐Ÿ™‍โ™‚๏ธ cannot walk๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ to the van๐Ÿš by his own volition; as soon as he tries, Amy๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ makes his limbs๐Ÿฆต wooden๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ” and heavy๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ”, so his uncle has to carry๐Ÿ’ผโžก๏ธ him, and even when the networksโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ reach him, he canโฌ†๏ธ barely๐Ÿค๐Ÿ” move.

Wei ๅจ takes the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ to an unscrupulous Neuralink clinic๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ, where a blackhatโšซ๏ธ๐Ÿค  technician๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ง๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ jailbreaks๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธ his device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. It willโ†—๏ธ be difficult, now, to go back to the exquisitely quantified๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ and gamified๐ŸŽฎโžก๏ธ world ๐ŸŒŽ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ the unlock๐Ÿ”“โฌ‡๏ธ event willโ†—๏ธ be captured๐Ÿ•ธโžก๏ธ in every reputation broker๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ“ก and advertising registry๐Ÿ—ƒโฌ†๏ธ. Strictly speaking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ”, jailbreaking๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธ a device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ is legal, and yet how can a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ be trusted๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ, once he has crossed๐ŸŒ‰โžก๏ธ that threshold?

When the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ wakesโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ the operation, his dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ and his maps๐Ÿ—บ and his apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ are gone. He recalls๐Ÿ”‚โ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ the vertiginousโซโซ๐Ÿ” feeling of freedom๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโฌ‡๏ธ when he first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ held the dagger๐Ÿ—ก with the white jadeโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’Ž handle on the beach๐Ÿ–, and his soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป is lighter than the past seven years. Amyโ€™s๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ™‍โ™€๏ธ voice๐ŸŽ™ is replaced๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ with the curt, masculine๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” VX of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— BIOS๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ’พ, and he is free๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ of the progress bars, the point systems๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Šโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ, the floatingโ˜๏ธ๐Ÿ” chevrons๐Ÿ”ฐ, the achievementsโœ…๐Ÿ…โฌ‡๏ธ, and the badges๐Ÿ…. His uncle drives๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ him to somewhere far in the mountains๐Ÿ”, though he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ where, becauseโ†˜๏ธ his GPS๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ›ฐ, too, is gone. At some point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ, they take a turn โคด๏ธ off the main road๐Ÿ›ฃ, and they pull downโฌ a long driveway๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ›ฃ that leads๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ to a gateโ›ฉ๐Ÿšช in a wall. At the gateโ›ฉ๐Ÿšช, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ with guns๐Ÿ”ซ. Hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“ his uncle has a silent๐Ÿ”ˆ๐ŸŒ€๐Ÿ”, invisible๐Ÿงฟ exchange with one of the guards, transmitting๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿ” some credentialโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ“ƒ or sign๐Ÿชง through a private๐Ÿคซ channel, and then leaves๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ him unceremoniously๐Ÿšซ๐ŸŽŠ, pausing only to wish๐Ÿงž‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ him good๐Ÿ‘ fortune๐Ÿฅ โฌ‡๏ธ.

The boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ is admitted insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ the compound, where his Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— connectsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to a local wireless๐Ÿšซโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถ networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ that provides some of the cloud servicesโ˜โš™๏ธ he had previouslyโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ” known๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ: navigation ๐Ÿงญ , telephony โ˜Ž๏ธ, and search๐Ÿ”Ž. When he joins, a lattice๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿชข of light๐Ÿ•ฏ fills his vision ๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ and traces out the shape๐Ÿ“ of a capsule pill ๐Ÿ’Š. โ€œWelcome to Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ.โ€ A bot ๐Ÿค– inside the networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ guides him downโฌ a path๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ›ฃ to a door๐Ÿšช in the side of a mountain ๐Ÿ” , which opens automatically๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ” for him. The building๐Ÿข he enters is hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ, half insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of the earth๐ŸŒŽ, safe fromโฌ…๏ธ the eyes๐Ÿ‘ of satellites ๐Ÿ›ฐ .

A man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ at the entrance๐Ÿšชโฌ‡๏ธ waitsโŒš๏ธโžก๏ธ to greet him, and introduces himself as Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ. He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the boss๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ is a hacker๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿฆน‍โ™‚๏ธ named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, and the rule is everyone goes by a pseudonym๐Ÿคฅ๐Ÿท. Most of the other men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ in the compound are Chinese๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ; the boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… quite look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ them, but he can pass if you squint๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿคฃโžก๏ธ. At first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ he tries to call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ himself Dagger๐Ÿ—ก, (and this is forgivable, being born๐Ÿ‘ถ of the innocence๐Ÿ•Š of youth) but the name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ doesnโ€™t ๐Ÿšซโœ…stick๐Ÿฏโžก๏ธ, and the other men call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ him Broken ๐Ÿ’”Branch๐Ÿชƒ, and later just Branch๐Ÿชƒ. Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ takes him downโฌ to the lowestโฌโฌ levels๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ of the complex, to a corridor that reminds๐Ÿ”๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป him of a hotel๐Ÿจ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ willโ†—๏ธ live hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“ in a single1๏ธโƒฃ bedroom๐Ÿ› with no windows ๐ŸชŸ; only a mirror๐Ÿชž, a closet, and a bed๐Ÿ›. Thatโ€™s ok, becauseโ†˜๏ธ he can use Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to open as many (simulated๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ) windows ๐ŸชŸ as he likesโค๏ธโžก๏ธ, and even fool๐Ÿƒโžก๏ธ himself into smelling๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ” fresh air๐ŸŒฌ๐Ÿ’จ and feeling cool breezes๐ŸŒฌ. The bathrooms๐Ÿšฝ are shared, likeโค๏ธ in a barracks โš”๏ธโ›บ๏ธ or a dorm.

Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ explains the terms of his employment: โ€œYou do your work, we pay๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ you, and we take your rent and food๐Ÿฝ๐ŸŽ out of your pay๐Ÿ’ฐโฌ‡๏ธ. Thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ a mess hall ๐Ÿฝ upstairs, floor ten, the nav willโ†—๏ธ show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ you. Above that is the main work area. You report๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ to me. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are no scoring systemsโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ, no reputation brokers๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ“ก. You are an independent๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ contractor, and you get a cutโœ‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of any money๐Ÿ’ต your work brings in. You want more money๐Ÿ’ต? Do more work. Your time๐Ÿ•ฐ is yours and I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… babysit๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ you. If you screw๐Ÿ”ฉโžก๏ธ something up, we donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… pay๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ you for that. Until you learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ the ropes๐Ÿงถ, Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช willโ†—๏ธ personally extend you a line of credit ๐Ÿ’ณโฌ‡๏ธ. So you should respect๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ him and not waste๐Ÿ—‘โžก๏ธ his money.โ€

That night๐ŸŒ’, Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ takes him to Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house๐Ÿ , a short drive๐Ÿš—โฌ‡๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ the compound. They are far fromโฌ…๏ธ the city lights ๐ŸŒƒ๐Ÿ•ฏ, and uncountable starsโญ๏ธ fill the dome of the sky. In the grounds๐Ÿž of the house๐Ÿ  thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are tables and lamps๐Ÿฎ, and men are drinking๐Ÿฅƒ๐Ÿ” and gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ”. Young women๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ move among them, provocatively dressed๐Ÿ‘”โžก๏ธ, easy with their affection๐Ÿ˜˜โฌ‡๏ธ. But beforeโ†™๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ can lose himself into vices๐Ÿ—œ, he is taken to meet Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, who chooses to dress๐Ÿ‘” likeโค๏ธ a Hollywood๐ŸŽฅโญ๏ธ gangster๐Ÿด‍โ˜ ๏ธ. He wears an expensive suit: blackโšซ๏ธ and shinyโœจ, with peak๐Ÿ” lapels. It matches๐Ÿชžโžก๏ธ his patent leather shoes๐Ÿ‘ž and his slicked hair, which is more gray than blackโšซ๏ธ, and his eyes๐Ÿ‘ are sharp ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ”. He always meets everyone who comes to his Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ.

Branchโ€™s๐Ÿชƒ uncle has given๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ him a letterโœ‰๏ธ of introduction, describing the ordeal with the knife๐Ÿ”ช, and Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช praises๐Ÿ™๐ŸŽบโžก๏ธ his recklessness and his tenacity. He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ this is a place of dangerโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธ and freedom๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and not a place for the sterile๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ† drones๐Ÿค– who live in the panopticon๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ฎ‍โ™€๏ธ outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ, people who need a computer๐Ÿ’ป to tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ them how to shit๐Ÿ’ฉโžก๏ธ or fuck๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ.

A tall, showy girl in a whiteโšช๏ธ qipao๐Ÿ‘˜ and a white jadeโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’Ž hairpin๐Ÿ“ pours๐Ÿšฐโžก๏ธ them both a shot๐Ÿถ๐Ÿ”ซ of Moutai, which makes the boyโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฆ eyes water๐Ÿ’ง. She doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… even look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ at him, but she has jet blackโœˆ๏ธโฌ›๏ธ hair and her skin is pale and lustrous๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ” white jadeโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’Ž. Branchโ€™s๐Ÿชƒ eyes๐Ÿ‘ follow the curve of her body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, but itโ€™s clear๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž she belongs to Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, who laughs๐Ÿ˜‚โžก๏ธ, and tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him the ordained purpose of alcohol๐Ÿธ is to stop๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ you fromโฌ…๏ธ intoxicating๐Ÿฅด๐Ÿ” yourself on worse things.

He meets Glasshole๐Ÿ•ถ๐Ÿ•ณ and Baozi๐ŸฅŸ, who also report๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ to Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ, who willโ†—๏ธ work with him in the coming months. Glasshole๐Ÿ•ถ๐Ÿ•ณ hands๐Ÿคš๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ him a small๐Ÿค gyroscope, and as he holds๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ it, it pairs๐Ÿ”—๐Ÿ’‘ with his Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— and the world๐ŸŒŽ flips๐Ÿ”ƒโžก๏ธ uสop-วpแด‰sdn and he stumbles. Surprised๐Ÿ˜ฒโžก๏ธ, Branch๐Ÿชƒ drops the gyroscope, but the world๐ŸŒŽ stays the same. His newโœจ teammates both laugh๐Ÿ˜‚โžก๏ธ at him. โ€œIt willโ†—๏ธ wear off in a few minutesโฒ. Let that teach๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿซโžก๏ธ you not to accept strange๐Ÿฆ‘ gifts๐ŸŽ.โ€ Baozi๐ŸฅŸ explains how transcutaneous electricalโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ” nerve stimulation๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ (TENS๐Ÿงดโšก๏ธ) can be used to transmit๐Ÿ“กโžก๏ธ data๐Ÿ’พ upstreamโฌ†๏ธ๐ŸŠ‍โ™‚๏ธ to a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— implant and exploit security๐Ÿš“ vulnerabilities๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿšช in the hardware, allowing๐Ÿ”“โœ๏ธ๐Ÿ” a malicious third party to bypass user consent๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ and execute๐Ÿ‘‘โžก๏ธ arbitrary logic๐Ÿงฎโฌ‡๏ธ. Objects with embedded๐Ÿ›โžก๏ธ TENS๐Ÿงดโšก๏ธ hardware and Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— payloads๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’พ are called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ tigers๐Ÿฏ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ of the way they hide๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ their dangersโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธ, and becauseโ†˜๏ธ they may devour๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹โžก๏ธ you.

When he stares๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ into a gently pulsing๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ”‰๐Ÿ” beacon๐Ÿฎ on the veranda, it shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him a QR code๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ. He follows it. A genie๐Ÿงž‍โ™‚๏ธ appears and offers to make him feel fiery๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”, uninhibited๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ›‘๐Ÿ’ฅโžก๏ธ, and euphoric๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡๐Ÿ”. Branch๐Ÿชƒ accepts the genieโ€™s๐Ÿงž‍โ™‚๏ธ offer and has a vision๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ behind the eyes๐Ÿ‘ of a wild predator โ€” a lion๐Ÿฆ or a wolf๐Ÿบ or a bear๐Ÿป, something likeโค๏ธ thatโ€”running๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” through a frozenโ„๏ธโžก๏ธ plateau, highโซ in the mountainsโ›ฐ, chasing some indiscernible prey๐Ÿญ, catching๐Ÿ•ธ๐Ÿ” it, tearing it apart with claws๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ”ช and teeth๐Ÿฆท, blood๐Ÿฉธ and viscera๐Ÿซ€ all overโคต๏ธ his face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ.

When the vision๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ ends๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ, he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ that some men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ are gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ” with dice๐ŸŽฒ. As he watches๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ, two2๏ธโƒฃ of them come to blows๐Ÿ‘Šโฌ‡๏ธ, and a knife๐Ÿ”ช flashes๐Ÿ“ธโžก๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ does not๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ who is right๐Ÿ‘ or wrong๐Ÿ‘Ž, but the thrill๐ŸŽขโฌ‡๏ธ of dangerโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธ callsโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ to him, and he rushes๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ in to block๐Ÿšงโžก๏ธ a lunging thrust of the knife๐Ÿ”ช. He is not๐Ÿšซ injured๐Ÿค•โžก๏ธ when he doesโœ…โžก๏ธ this; his arm๐Ÿ’ช seems to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ how to parry, and his feet๐Ÿ‘ฃ know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ how to pivot. Other men๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ join the fray, either to addโž•โžก๏ธ to the fightโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ or to break๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธ it, and Branch๐Ÿชƒ loses sight๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ of himself.

Having been a fantasy๐Ÿฆ„โฌ‡๏ธ or a mistake of drunkenness๐Ÿฅดโฌ‡๏ธ, the brawlโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ ends๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ as quicklyโฉ๐Ÿ” as it beganโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ, but the man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ defendedโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ›กโžก๏ธ, a Chinexican๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Romero, is grateful, and invites him to share a drink๐Ÿฅƒโฌ‡๏ธ of tequila๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ๐Ÿฅƒ. โ€œSip this one,โ€ he says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ. โ€œDonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… throwโšพ๏ธโžก๏ธ it back,โ€ as he pours๐Ÿšฐโžก๏ธ two2๏ธโƒฃ shots๐Ÿถ๐Ÿ”ซ fromโฌ…๏ธ a brown glass bottle. Quietly๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”ˆ๐Ÿ”, he confesses he had been cheating๐Ÿคžโžก๏ธ at the dice game๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŽฎ, using a man-in-the-middle๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ’ปโžก๏ธ๐Ÿด‍โ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ’ป attackโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to influence๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธโžก๏ธ the random๐ŸŽฒ number๐Ÿ”ข generatorโ›ฒ๏ธโš™๏ธ in the dice๐ŸŽฒโฌ‡๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ this agreeable๐Ÿค๐Ÿ”, becauseโ†˜๏ธ he believes in fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ, the cosmic๐ŸŒŒ๐ŸŒ  structure of luck๐Ÿ€.

Romero callsโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ overโคต๏ธ two of the girls๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ who are loitering in the garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ. They have big blackโšซ๏ธ lines of makeup๐Ÿ’„ at the edge๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿšช of their eyelids, falseโŒ lashes that remind๐Ÿ”๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป Branch๐Ÿชƒ of spiders๐Ÿ•ท. Romero calls๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ the one who comes to him XiวŽo ๅฐ mรจi ๅฆน, little๐Ÿค sister, and he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ tensing up, flush๐Ÿ˜ณ with embarrassment. โ€œTreat her likeโค๏ธ a child๐Ÿง’. Thatโ€™s how you talk๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ to women.โ€ Romeroโ€™s girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ pretends๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿคžโžก๏ธ to be mad๐Ÿ˜ก at him and calls๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ him a stupid chollo๐ŸŒฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ, and he grabs her and pulls her close, and she nestles๐Ÿ˜ฝโžก๏ธ into him. The girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ that sits๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ on Branchโ€™s๐Ÿชƒ lap smells๐Ÿ‘ƒโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ ylang ylang๐ŸŒบ and jasmine๐ŸŒธ, but Branch๐Ÿชƒ is still thinking๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ” of Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ, the girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ all in whiteโšช๏ธ. Even so, he likesโค๏ธโžก๏ธ it when this other girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ whispers private๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”, half-lucid๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏ things in his ear๐Ÿ‘‚, and he realizes๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ sheโ€™s highโซ๐Ÿฅด on smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š, just likeโค๏ธ everyone else. She quivers and sighs๐Ÿคคโžก๏ธ when he touches๐Ÿ‘‰โžก๏ธ her skin, and she followsโžก๏ธ him back to his room๐Ÿ› that night๐ŸŒ’.

The peach๐Ÿ‘ tree๐ŸŒณ, budding and tenderโ€”
He holds๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ the fruit๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿˆ in his hands๐Ÿคš
then bites into the jubilance of peach๐Ÿ‘.

~

The next morning๐ŸŒ…, Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ meets Branch๐Ÿชƒ in the mess hall for breakfast๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿš. There is a line and a service counter, and the cooks๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ are serving hot๐ŸŒถ-and-dry๐Ÿœ noodles๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿœ. All the food๐Ÿฝ๐ŸŽ is real; no one eats๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹ insect loaf๐Ÿ›๐ŸฆŸ๐Ÿž or uses Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to simulate๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ foods๐Ÿฝ๐ŸŽ fromโฌ…๏ธ social networksโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ, and this strikes Branch๐Ÿชƒ as romantic๐Ÿ’˜๐Ÿ”, or parochial, maybe, becauseโ†˜๏ธ although the noodles๐Ÿœ are chewy๐Ÿฆทโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” and coated๐Ÿงฅโžก๏ธ in spicy๐ŸŒถ๐Ÿ” textured oil๐Ÿ›ข, with the sharpness๐Ÿ”ชโฌ‡๏ธ of preserved mustard greens ๐Ÿฅฌand the piquancy of scallion and coriander๐ŸŒฑ, he would not choose them for himself. In the mornings๐ŸŒ…, heโ€™s used to flipping๐Ÿ”ƒ๐Ÿ” through Matters of Taste๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก, his favorite degustation๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹๐Ÿ‘… app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ, simulating๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ” five impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ plates๐Ÿ› beforeโ†™๏ธ breakfast๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿšโ€“a bite of salmon tartare๐Ÿฃ in crepes๐Ÿฅž with miso bonito๐ŸŸ sauce, hickory-smoked octopus๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ™ in tandoori masala marinade, bamboo-steamed arctic char๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ  in a mango hollandaise๐Ÿฅญ๐Ÿฅš, and for dessert๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿง, poached pear๐Ÿ with yuzu๐Ÿ‹ caramel๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿ”ฅ and spiced๐ŸŒถโžก๏ธ oat cake๐Ÿง (although of course itโ€™s all โ€œsecretly๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”โ€ high fiberโซ๐Ÿฅฆ cricket loaf๐Ÿฆ—๐Ÿž)โ€“and all of this makes sitting๐Ÿช‘๐Ÿ” through a whole bowl of noodles๐Ÿœ feel monotonous1๏ธโƒฃ.

As Branch๐Ÿชƒ thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ these thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ, Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ explains the logistics๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿญ of smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š production๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and mostly he pays๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ attention. The drugs๐Ÿ’Š (i.e. software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ) are distributed in tigers๐Ÿฏ embedded๐Ÿ›โžก๏ธ in everyday objects likeโค๏ธ childrenโ€™s toys๐Ÿงธ or kitchen utensils๐Ÿด. Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ works likeโค๏ธ any other online retailer๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿฌ; the developers๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ’ป rely on commodity manufacturing contractors, usually based in Chinese๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Africa๐ŸŒ, to sourceโ›ฒ๏ธ materialsโš›๏ธ and assemble their physical products๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Once the tigers๐Ÿฏ are built๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ, they are shipped๐Ÿšขโžก๏ธ directly๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ”Œ๐Ÿ” to service-based fulfillment centers, and then to customers๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿท, with no part of the chainโ›“ knowing๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿ” too much about what they are building๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”, or for whom.

When they finish๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ eating๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ”, Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ leads๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ upโฌ†๏ธ to the main office๐Ÿข above the barracksโš”๏ธโ›บ๏ธ. The stairs fromโฌ…๏ธ the mess hall emerge into the southeast corner of a large open room with floor-to-ceiling windows๐ŸชŸ that look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ downโฌ fromโฌ…๏ธ the heaven-highโ›…๏ธโซ hills๐Ÿ”. To reach the bullpen๐Ÿ‚โ›“ office, they pass through a gallery๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ along the southern wall, where shelves and cases are filled with tigers๐Ÿฏ of many shapes๐Ÿ“: wind-up toys๐Ÿ—๐Ÿงธ, sculptures๐Ÿ—ฟ, gilded ceramics๐Ÿบ๐ŸŽŽ, puzzle๐Ÿงฉ boxes๐Ÿ“ฆ, compasses๐Ÿงญ and astrolabes๐Ÿ”ญ, books๐Ÿ“š and golden jewelry๐Ÿ’, glitteringโœจ๐Ÿ” in manifold hues๐ŸŒˆ, sparkling likeโค๏ธ dragon๐Ÿฒ scales. Each contains a TENS๐Ÿงดโšก๏ธ assembly and a psychoactive๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ” malware๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ’พ payload๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’พ, and nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ stops๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ fromโฌ…๏ธ handling๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ the tigers๐Ÿฏ but his own knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ of their dangerโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธ. Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him this is by design๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ; a constant reminder๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ปโฌ‡๏ธ to resist temptation.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ is given๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ a workstation๐Ÿ’ป, which is only a comfortable chair๐Ÿช‘ facing the windows ๐ŸชŸ. His displays๐Ÿ–ฅ and inputs๐ŸŽ› are the โ€œcontrolled๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ†โ€ that occur in his own mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. (Fugelsang, Koehler, 2032, Tradeoffs๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿค๐Ÿ” between๐Ÿฅช Optical๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” vs. Conceptual๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” Injection๐Ÿ’‰โฌ‡๏ธ: A Hybrid Approach)

Glasshole๐Ÿ•ถ๐Ÿ•ณ helps him onboardโ›ต๏ธโžก๏ธ to Alchemistโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’พ, Apothecaryโ€™s๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ nootropic app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ store. Precise๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ electrostimulationโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of the brain๐Ÿง  can be used to modulate๐ŸŽ›๐Ÿ“ปโžก๏ธ the release of neurotransmitters๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ“ก and even some hormones, and Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ has a busy ecosystem๐ŸŒฑโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ for homebrewed๐Ÿ ๐Ÿบโžก๏ธ brain tuners๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽ›. The most popular apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ are Silver Serpent๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ for focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏ, Wax Elephant๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ˜ for working memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž, Jade Pavilionโ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿž๐Ÿ› when you take a girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ to bed๐Ÿ›, and the Wuchang ไบ”ๅธธ suite to ensure virtueโœ๏ธ.

โ€œYou should start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ small๐Ÿค,โ€ Glasshole๐Ÿ•ถ๐Ÿ•ณ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him, โ€œand grow your stack๐Ÿฅž once youโ€™re more accustomed to using them.โ€ At his suggestion, Branch๐Ÿชƒ installsโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ Yi ไน‰ to foster benevolence, Zhi ๆ™บ, a sort of autocomplete๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ’ฏ engine๐Ÿš— for his internalโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ” monologue. Branch๐Ÿชƒ also decides๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ to download๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ Lord of Heaven of Infinite Thriving๐Ÿคดโ›…๏ธโ™พ, mostly becauseโ†˜๏ธ he likesโค๏ธโžก๏ธ the name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ, and he spends๐Ÿ’ตโžก๏ธ the rest of the day๐Ÿ“… in a trance๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” of conscientious focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏ.

In time๐Ÿ•ฐ, he masters๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ the many subdisciplines of digital๐Ÿ‘พ pharmacology๐Ÿ’Š๐Ÿ”ฌ: he learns๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ how to circumvent๐Ÿ”‘๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ the federally mandated hardware๐Ÿ”ง controls๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ” inside the implant, how to probe each newโœจ Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— firmware update for vulnerabilities๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿšช, and the vicissitudes of code๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ injection๐Ÿ’‰โฌ‡๏ธ. Only once1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ more during this whole apprenticeship doesโœ…โžก๏ธ he set eyes๐Ÿ‘ on Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, but he has him always in mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, becauseโ†˜๏ธ the men of Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ revere๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ him.

After any technical feat or job his teammates always say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œHeadstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช doesโœ…โžก๏ธ it better.โ€ Branch๐Ÿชƒ covets their respect๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโ€“he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ he is capable of great works, and he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ often of the dagger๐Ÿ—ก he found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ on the beach๐Ÿ– using Recollect, of how he searched๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ relentlessly for it, and how, through the tenacity๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ” of his will, he found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the treasure๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ his heart๐Ÿซ€ desired๐Ÿ˜โžก๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ all the good๐Ÿ‘ things Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช hasโ€”his properties, his women๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ, his men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ who follow himโ€” and he resolves to become as great of a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, and indeed, to surpass himโคต๏ธ๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ now spends๐Ÿ’ตโžก๏ธ his free๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ hours๐Ÿ• in study๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿซ, beginningโ›ฒ๏ธ๐Ÿ” with the definitive work on smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š development, a book๐Ÿ“– assembled fromโฌ…๏ธ the writingsโœ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of Eric Zhangๅผ , one of the early researchers๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ at the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— Corporation, called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ the father๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ of digital๐Ÿ‘พ psychotropics๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ’Š. The Four Labyrinthes๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข is a collection of his emails๐Ÿ“ง, recorded๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž, philosophical essays, algorithms๐Ÿงฎโš™๏ธ, sourceโ›ฒ๏ธ code๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ snippetsโœ‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and self-reports๐Ÿ—‚ of altered states๐Ÿฅด induced๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ using Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—. Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, who had been Zhangโ€™sๅผ  colleague and apprentice, stole his proprietary secrets๐Ÿคซ and created the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ black marketโšซ๏ธ๐Ÿ’น smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š.

The book is divided into four sections or โ€œlabyrinthes๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข,โ€ and the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ is called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Exhaustive Indexing.๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ“‡๐Ÿ” It contains the theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค” and procedure of rendering sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… experience into the userโ€™s inner eye๐Ÿ‘. Everyoneโ€™s internalโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ” map๐Ÿ—บ of the world๐ŸŒŽ is a bit different; to playโฏ back Zhangโ€™sๅผ  memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž in Branchโ€™s๐Ÿชƒ head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ must be a precise๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ physiological๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ of the neural๐Ÿง  correlates๐Ÿ“Š๐Ÿ”€โฌ‡๏ธ of concepts๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง . Without this, the memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž appear garbled and full of artifacts๐Ÿบ; objects may be swapped for other objects; phenomenologies๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… may be cross-wired๐Ÿ”€โšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถโžก๏ธ or missing๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ”; one man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ might see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  red๐Ÿ”ด where another sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ blue๐Ÿ”ต; where one smells๐Ÿ‘ƒโžก๏ธ a lemon cookie๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿช, another might smell๐Ÿ‘ƒโžก๏ธ burnt๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ toast๐Ÿž. To mitigate this, the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— drivers๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ create a comprehensive index๐Ÿ“‡ of the contents of each personโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ’ผ mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. When a memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž is uploaded๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐโžก๏ธ, it is transcoded๐Ÿš…๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ into a universal language, and when it is dreamed๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅโžก๏ธ into a viewerโ€™s head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, it is recoded๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎโžก๏ธ through that personโ€™s๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ own mental๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” map๐Ÿ—บ. These indices are also necessary for rendering the controlled๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† of the heads up display๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฐ.

By monitoring๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“บ the visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” and auditory cortices๐Ÿ”ˆ๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿง , itโ€™s possibleโฌ†๏ธ to extract memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… data๐Ÿ’พ fromโฌ…๏ธ the brain๐Ÿง . If we were to treat the approximately eighty-six billion neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  in the brain as a state vector, then an exhaustive search๐Ÿ”Žโฌ‡๏ธ of neuron activation๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ’ฅ space๐ŸŒŒ would be impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ, but this is unnecessary becauseโ†˜๏ธ partial activations of distinct concepts๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง  automatically๐Ÿค–๐Ÿ” converge on those conceptโ€™s๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง  modal activations. A statistically๐Ÿ“Š normal sampling of possibleโฌ†๏ธ state vectors at the level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ of Neuralinkโ€™s๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— precision๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ can index๐Ÿ“‡โฌ†๏ธ 95% of a personโ€™s sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ space๐ŸŒŒโญ๏ธโ˜„๏ธ within about twenty-four hours๐Ÿ•.

~

In his third3๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ week in Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ, Branch๐Ÿชƒ eats ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹breakfast๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿš alone. The cooks๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿณ have prepared stewed beef๐Ÿฅฉ tendon with winter chestnut๐ŸŒฐ. Topped with sliced๐Ÿ”ชโžก๏ธ green onion๐Ÿฅฌ, and eaten๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹ overโคต๏ธ steamed๐Ÿ’จโžก๏ธ rice๐Ÿš, the thick sauce tastes๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก of chili๐ŸŒถ, garlic๐Ÿง„, ginger, starโญ๏ธ anise, and prickly ash๐ŸŒต, and the collagen sticks๐Ÿฏโžก๏ธ to the lips๐Ÿ‘„ with a pleasing richness๐Ÿค‘โฌ‡๏ธ.

As he is eating๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ”, he receives๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ an email๐Ÿ“ง sent to the entire Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ, fromโฌ…๏ธ a man๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐Ÿ’ผ he has never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ met.

I am leaving๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ the JianghuๆฑŸๆน–. I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… expect you to agree๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ with me, but you are my friends, and I cannot leave๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšช without washing๐Ÿงผ๐Ÿ” my mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป in the golden basin้‡‘็›†. This is how we preserve our trade secrets๐Ÿค๐Ÿคซ. Since you are reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ” this, it means I alreadyโ†™๏ธ left๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ, and I alreadyโ†™๏ธ forgot๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ you. Thatโ€™s sad๐Ÿ˜ข, but I wonโ€™tโ†—๏ธ๐Ÿšซ be sad๐Ÿ˜ข. Maybe name๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ a drug๐Ÿ’Š after me.

I am sour๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ” on the dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ of Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ: men standing outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ the matrixโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ of social control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ, (do you believe that?) outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ the world๐ŸŒŽ, looking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” downโฌ on mindless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” drones๐Ÿœ belowโฌ. They buy๐Ÿ›’โžก๏ธ my drugs๐Ÿ’Š. They let a computer๐Ÿ’ป decide๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ their whole life.

But is it really different hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“? Instead of living by a point system๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“Šโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ, I use so many nootropic programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ, I need a schedulerโœ’๏ธ๐Ÿ—“๐Ÿค– to manage๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ them. At that point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ, isnโ€™t it the same as an AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  assistant in your head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ telling๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ” you what to do? We are so obsessed with being โ€œfree๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ,โ€ but we use these programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ to correct our freedom๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโฌ‡๏ธ, and we are no better than the people we look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ downโฌ on.

I want to tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ you what made me see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ this, becauseโ†˜๏ธ tomorrow๐Ÿ“…โ†—๏ธ I willโ†—๏ธ forget๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ. Itโ€™s becauseโ†˜๏ธ of a girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Yuiๅ”ฏ โ€“ with skin likeโค๏ธ polished rice ๐Ÿ™, some of you know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ her โ€“ but first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ you must learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ some history๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ“œ. I came hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“ with Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช many years ago. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were only a few of us, but now thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are many newโœจ faces, and I think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ you may not know๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฏ.

Back then, not๐Ÿšซ a lot of people had Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— implants, and I worked in the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ with Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช underโ†ช๏ธ Dr. Eric Zhangๅผ . He was always an idealist๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, a man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ with no๐Ÿšซ fear๐Ÿ˜จ or thought๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ for tomorrow๐Ÿ“…โ†—๏ธ. Even before the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ trials๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ were finished๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ, he made me and Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช perform๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ neurosurgery๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿง  on him (using the robot๐Ÿค– of course) to give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ him his implant. He wanted to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ everything this newโœจ machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ could do. He strapped himself to a chair๐Ÿช‘ in the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ and used brute๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ to explore๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บโžก๏ธ every state vector of the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป.

Now we have more efficient methods of indexing๐Ÿ“‡๐Ÿ” the brain๐Ÿง , becauseโ†˜๏ธ we have more understandingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโฌ‡๏ธ of its layout. But for Zhangๅผ , the process took months, and he was conscious๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง  the whole time๐Ÿ•ฐ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ he had to be. As Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— indexed๐Ÿ“‡โžก๏ธ his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, he would twitch or babble or become emotional๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ”. Sometimes he would sing๐ŸŽตโžก๏ธ or scream๐Ÿ˜ฑโžก๏ธ. We jokingly๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ” called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ this โ€œThe Music๐ŸŽผ of Eric Zhangๅผ .โ€

One of his early discoveries๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌโฌ‡๏ธ was a method to regulate๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš–๏ธโžก๏ธ hunger๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฝ โ€“ either to induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ it or suppress it. The Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— Corporation immediately seized on this and productized๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธโžก๏ธ it. Appetite๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ”‹ regulation๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš–๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ was the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— โ€œkiller app๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พโ€ and it drove๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ massive early adoption๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿคฒโฌ‡๏ธ. This may shock๐Ÿ˜ฒโžก๏ธ you if you are not aware๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ of history๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ“œ: most people used to be fat. If you watch๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ videos๐Ÿ“ผ fromโฌ…๏ธ the early twenty-first century, you will see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ it everywhere, and it is inescapable. Grotesque, bloated bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, diseases๐Ÿฆ  on a vast scaleโš–๏ธ. Everyone was sick๐Ÿค’๐Ÿ”. But everyone who got a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— became healthy and stopped๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ being fat. To the people of the 20s, this was a miracle๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿป๐ŸŽญ.

It is hard to understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ what Zhangๅผ  was willing to endure๐Ÿ˜ฌโžก๏ธ to learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ these secrets๐Ÿคซ. When he finished๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ his self-experiments๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ, his discoveries๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌโฌ‡๏ธ were used to develop the technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช of intersubjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  data๐Ÿ’พ transfer. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were newโœจ social media apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ for uploading๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐ๐Ÿ” and sharing memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ that could make telepathic๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ“ป๐Ÿ” phone callsโ˜Ž๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Zhangๅผ  was called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ a visionary๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ. He held Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— โ€œsymposiumsโ€ where he would speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ and people would โ€œmind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป meld,โ€ mashing๐Ÿ”จ๐Ÿฅ”๐Ÿ” up the internalโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ” phenomenology๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… of groups of people so they all shared the same emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ and feelings at the same time๐Ÿ•ฐ. He talked๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ about the dawning๐ŸŒ…๐Ÿ” of a newโœจ age of deepโฌ empathy๐Ÿ’™, and he said this was the beginningโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of true cooperation and loving๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ” kindness among all people.

And he wasnโ€™t๐Ÿšซ doneโœ…โžก๏ธ. When he melded with the people in his symposiums, he noticed๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ above all the pain๐Ÿค• they felt. He welcomed anyone with a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to come join him, and everyone who joined him learned๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ to cry๐Ÿ˜ญโžก๏ธ and laugh๐Ÿ˜‚โžก๏ธ and feel as one1๏ธโƒฃ. Zhangๅผ  wanted to heal their pain๐Ÿค•, so he invented๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ newโœจ programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ to refine the emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ of his followers. He built๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ a newโœจ kind of app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ, what we now call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ a smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š, and he named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ it Irrational Exuberance๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ“ˆ. All the attendees of his symposiums ran๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ it together, with each of their minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป plugged๐Ÿ”Œ into the collective. They were steeped in the radianceโ˜€๏ธ of limitless joy๐Ÿ˜„, and it stayed with them even after the connectionโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ was terminated๐Ÿšซ.

More and more people came to join Zhangโ€™sๅผ  gatherings๐ŸŽช๐Ÿป. Poets๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, intellectuals๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, and musicians๐ŸŽผ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ clamored to get Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— implants so they could participate. Everyone was happy๐Ÿ˜€, and they were happy๐Ÿ˜€ together, fortified๐Ÿฐโžก๏ธ in the unity1๏ธโƒฃ of their happiness๐Ÿ˜€โฌ‡๏ธ. fromโฌ…๏ธ the outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ, Zhangโ€™sๅผ  movement had the appearance of a cult, and as his accolades๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ grew, so did his detractors๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿคบ, but the value๐Ÿ’ฐ of his work was impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ to deny๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ‘Žโžก๏ธ. His disciples had evident health and wellbeing, and their numbers๐Ÿ”ข continued to surgeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ.

(As one of the technicians๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ behind these gatherings๐ŸŽช๐Ÿป, the reality and the illusion๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ of unity1๏ธโƒฃ became ever more stretched๐Ÿ™†‍โ™‚๏ธ as we scaledโš–๏ธ๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ; how can you merge the thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ and feelings of a thousand people into a single1๏ธโƒฃ gestalt without๐Ÿšซ stripping๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿฅ“๐Ÿ” away the essentialโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ” qualities of any individual? As a purely mathematical๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ” problem, mere averaging converges on nullity๐ŸŒ€. We explored๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บโžก๏ธ a variety of approaches, but the โ€œsharedโ€ feelings of the symposium became almost a pureโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง simulation๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญ as the number๐Ÿ”ข of participants increased๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ. We ended๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up sampling the brain๐Ÿง  state of random๐ŸŽฒ individual members of the cluster at a fixed frequency๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ and interpolating between๐Ÿฅช them. Part of the impetus for the development of Irrational Exuberance๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ“ˆ was to synchronizeโณโš–๏ธโžก๏ธ subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  experience in order to help with scalingโš–๏ธ๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ”. But I digress.)

Irrational Exuberance๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ“ˆ was short-lived. After four weeks๐Ÿ—“, it stopped๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ working. Drug๐Ÿ’Š tolerance is a feature of the human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ brain๐Ÿง , not๐Ÿšซ an attribute of individual drugs๐Ÿ’Š. Zhangๅผ  was forced๐Ÿ’ชโžก๏ธ to continually invent๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ newโœจ programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ to maintain๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”งโžก๏ธ the euphoria๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡ of his symposiums. And despite these innovations, Zhangๅผ  himself was unsatisfied. To escapeโ›“๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ the treadmill๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ of wireheadโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช programs, he used Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to observe๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ the meditation๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ practices of Chan Buddhists ็ฆชๅฎ— fromโฌ…๏ธ the insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ, and used the data๐Ÿ’พ to create a mathematical๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ” model๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“Š of nirvana๐Ÿ•‰. He produced๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ a newโœจ kind of smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ for inducing enlightenment๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ without meditation๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ or discipline, called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Authentic Heartmind ็œžๅฟƒ.

The combination of pleasure๐Ÿคค, health, and Buddhist๐Ÿ•‰ equanimity caused the followers of Zhangๅผ  to glow๐ŸŒŸโžก๏ธ with unearthly๐Ÿšซ๐ŸŒŽ attraction, but Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช and I were not among the enlightened๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ. Someone had to stay behind the scenes๐ŸŽญ, to operate the serversโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ’ป and the infrastructure๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿญ๐Ÿญ. Although we did have Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— devices๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, we only watched๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ as Zhangโ€™sๅผ  power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ and influence๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธ grew. becauseโ†˜๏ธ of that, we donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… quite know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ what happened next. Or rather, we donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ whyโ‰๏ธ.

After bringing commodity enlightenment๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ to the masses (which were at that time๐Ÿ•ฐ still few) he beganโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ of a fourth door4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿšช, beyondโ†—๏ธ impermanence๐Ÿš, suffering๐Ÿค•, and selflessness๐ŸŒŒ. He told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ us all prior enlightenments๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ were falseโŒ enlightenments๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ. All previousโ†™๏ธ Buddhas were falseโŒ Buddhas. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ was a state of transcendenceโ™พโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” no human๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ had ever tasted๐Ÿ‘…โžก๏ธ beforeโ†™๏ธ, but which he had found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ using tool๐Ÿ› -assisted meditation๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. He captured๐Ÿ•ธโžก๏ธ these insights๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘€ into yet another drug๐Ÿ’Š, called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก. He said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ it would open the fourth4๏ธโƒฃ door๐Ÿšช to all people of the world๐ŸŒŽ.

Zhangๅผ  deployed๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒฉโžก๏ธ Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก to his followers, but it was a disaster. Most of the people who ran the program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ became violentโš”๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ” or else catatonic. At the time๐Ÿ•ฐ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ was a popular app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Face2๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ that let you connectโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ for a mind-to-mind๐Ÿง โšก๏ธ๐Ÿง  phonecallโ˜Ž๏ธ with anyone in your line of sight๐Ÿ‘. It was the same idea๐Ÿ’ก as Zhangโ€™sๅผ  mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป melding apps๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ, but local and peer-to-peer. The people infected๐Ÿฆ โžก๏ธ with Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก (and it was an infection๐Ÿฆ โฌ‡๏ธ) tried to initiate Face2๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ callsโ˜Ž๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ with everyone they saw, and anyone who accepted got hijacked and infected๐Ÿฆ โžก๏ธ. Anyone who didnโ€™t accept, or who didnโ€™t have a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— implant, they would attackโš”๏ธโžก๏ธ.

If this were to happen today, itโ€™s possibleโฌ†๏ธ the whole world๐ŸŒŽ would become Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก zombies๐ŸงŸ‍โ™€๏ธ, but we were fortunate, becauseโ†˜๏ธ even in San Francisco๐ŸŒ‰๐Ÿ’ฉ, most people did not yet have the device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. With the help of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— Corporation, police๐Ÿ‘ฎ‍โ™€๏ธ were able to capture๐Ÿ•ธโžก๏ธ and initiate a factory๐Ÿญ reset on the infected๐Ÿฆ โžก๏ธ.

After they were reset, none could remember๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ what they had doneโœ…โžก๏ธ. Instead, they reported๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ feelings of disassociation and euphoria๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡. Some recounted experiences of being transported๐Ÿš…โžก๏ธ to another world๐ŸŒ and encountering alien๐Ÿ›ธ beings. When I audited the code๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ for Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก, I was unable to find๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏ any logic๐Ÿงฎ for these hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† or for the violentโš”๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ” behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of the infected๐Ÿฆ โžก๏ธ.

The event threatened to undermineโ†ช๏ธโ›โžก๏ธ public confidence in Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—. I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ what goes on in shady back rooms where journalists๐Ÿ“ฐ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ and politicians and captains of industry๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿญ wield power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ, but the incident got no press coverage๐Ÿƒโฌ‡๏ธ, fell off the news cycle๐Ÿšด‍โ™€๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ likeโค๏ธ it was never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, and then the government๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ› started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ rolling๐Ÿ—ž๐Ÿ” out regulations๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš–๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ what kinds of software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ could be made for Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—, and who could run it. They created โ€œschedulesโœ’๏ธ๐Ÿ—“โ€ of control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ the same way we have with pharmaceutical๐Ÿ’Š๐Ÿฅผ drugs. I think everyone hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“ knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ all about that.

Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช came to me and told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me the world๐ŸŒŽ was going to change๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ very quicklyโฉ๐Ÿ”, and he had made copies of all Zhangโ€™sๅผ  notes๐Ÿ—’โฌ‡๏ธ and recordings๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ. He said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ we had a unique1๏ธโƒฃ opportunity to steal๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ‍โ™‚๏ธโœ๏ธ๐Ÿฅพโžก๏ธ them and establish a monopoly on illegal smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š production๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Likeโค๏ธ the rest of you, I was never an idealist๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ about these things.

But then, last year, Yuiๅ”ฏ came to Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ to be one of our consorts๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ. And letโ€™s be honest๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™, consort๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ is a word๐ŸŽ™โœ for whore๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ’ƒ. I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… care about that, but I got to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ her, and she told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me something I havenโ€™t been able to let go. She showed๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ me a picture๐Ÿ–ผ of her mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ง, a fat Japanese๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต American๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ with too much wine๐Ÿท on her face๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป. She told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me her mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ง was killed in a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— malfunction๐Ÿ‘Žโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. As she described it, I realized๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ she was a victim of the Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก attacksโš”๏ธโžก๏ธ, this beautiful girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ. She must have been very young when it happened. And I felt responsible for that, even though it was really Zhangๅผ  that had doneโœ…โžก๏ธ it. But even thatโ€™s not whyโ‰๏ธ Iโ€™m leaving๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšช๐Ÿ”.

Iโ€™m leaving๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšช๐Ÿ”. becauseโ†˜๏ธ, when she learned๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ the truth๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ, she didnโ€™t even care. She was and is so highโซ๐Ÿฅด on a cocktail๐Ÿธ of Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— drugs๐Ÿ’Š (Seven Veils7๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿง•๐Ÿป, perhaps, or Woman For All Purposes, some of my best creations) that her life is a flat void๐ŸŒ€. She is simply a pleasure๐Ÿคค machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, hardly a person at all, and I built๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ that machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. I killed๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ her mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ง and turned๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ her into a smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š whore๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ’ƒ and sheโ€™s fine with it! Youโ€™re all fine with it! Whatโ€™s wrong with you? Maybe now youโ€™ll get it. But either way, Iโ€™m alreadyโ†™๏ธ gone, and to be honest๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™ Iโ€™ll be glad๐Ÿ˜„ to have these memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž excised๐Ÿ—‘โžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ my head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ.

~ Boshi ๅšๅฃซ

Branch๐Ÿชƒ reads๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ the email๐Ÿ“ง in full, but he is not๐Ÿšซ sure how to react๐Ÿ”‚๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ. He looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ up fromโฌ…๏ธ his food๐Ÿฝ๐ŸŽ, and tries to read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ the emotions๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ of the other men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ around him in the dining๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ” area. Did they read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ it? Most are staring๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ into the void๐ŸŒ€ of the HUD ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ”ฐ, and no one seems moved or even surprised๐Ÿ˜ฒโžก๏ธ. Did they alreadyโ†™๏ธ know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ this story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰? Or is Boshi ๅšๅฃซ rightโญ•๏ธ and they donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… care? He barely๐Ÿค๐Ÿ” knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ these people, but still itโ€™s anxious๐Ÿฅบ. Too much to think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about.

When he goes up to his station๐Ÿ–ฅ in the main hall, he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ and asksโ“โžก๏ธ about the letterโœ‰๏ธ. Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him most people have heard๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ the story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ of Zhangๅผ , and thatโ€™s whyโ‰๏ธ the fourth labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข is not accessible in any of the shared file stores. Thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ spooky๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿง›๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ about it; beaming chaos๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ”€ into your brain drives๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ you crazy๐Ÿ˜œ and can make you violentโš”๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ” or give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ you delusions๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿฆ„ of grandeur๐Ÿคด๐Ÿคฉ, so donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… do that. Anything can kill๐Ÿ’€โฌ†๏ธ you if you use it wrong๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ.

Hearing๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ” this does not๐Ÿšซโœ… satisfy Branchโ€™s๐Ÿชƒ curiosity๐Ÿ˜ผ๐Ÿ”, but he can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ that for Shenwu ็ฅžๅทซ, this is the beginningโ›ฒโฌ‡๏ธ and end๐Ÿ”šโฌ‡๏ธ of the matter. He notices๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ his teammates listening๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ to his conversation๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ’ฌโฌ‡๏ธ nervously๐Ÿฅบ๐Ÿ”, and he realizes๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ this is a topic to broach carefully. So he tries to focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ on his work for the day๐Ÿ“…, but it does not๐Ÿšซโœ… hold๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ his interest. Branch๐Ÿชƒ wants to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ what really happened; he wants to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ the truth๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ about Zhangๅผ  and the drug๐Ÿ’Š called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก.

Fromโฌ…๏ธ his highโซ pavilion๐Ÿž๐Ÿ›,
he gazes๐Ÿ‘ into the distance
at the color๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ of grass๐ŸŒฟ at heavenโ€™sโ›…๏ธ edge๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿšช

~

That night๐ŸŒ’ he studies the second labyrinthe2๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข, Hedonic Geographies๐Ÿคค๐ŸŒ. It starts๐Ÿโžก๏ธ with a discussion of the myth๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฒ of the โ€œresonant frequency๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰,โ€ a hypothetical single1๏ธโƒฃ activation pattern that willโ†—๏ธ sustain a state of limitless pleasure๐Ÿคค in the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป of user. Subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” nullification๐ŸŒ€โžก๏ธ willโ†—๏ธ occur for any state vector imposed on the brain๐Ÿง . Artificially holding๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ” a particular state can cause โ€œburn๐Ÿ”ฅ-in,โ€ dampening๐ŸŒง๐Ÿ“‰๐Ÿ” that which was to be invoked. Burn๐Ÿ”ฅ-in can be avoided๐Ÿšทโฌ†๏ธ by cycling๐Ÿšด‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ” through a series of pleasurable๐Ÿคค๐Ÿ” stimulations๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ; oscillating through the substantia nigra๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿฟ‍โ™€๏ธ, the ventral tegmental area, and the hypothalamus. But this style of pleasure๐Ÿคค induction๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ encounters a ceiling; as with chemical๐Ÿงช๐Ÿ’Š drugs, the joy๐Ÿ˜†โฌ‡๏ธ of the stimulus๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ soon gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ way to its compulsion. The highโซ๐Ÿฅด becomes the baseline, and the baseline becomes the anxiety๐Ÿฅบ of absence๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ.

Table Of Contents: Hedonic Geographies

  1. Varieties of Pleasure๐Ÿคค
    1. Embodied๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆตโžก๏ธ Pleasure๐Ÿคค
      1. Fastโฉ: Virtual Amphetamines
      2. Slow: Simulated๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญ Opioids
      3. Weird: Psychedelia๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ
      4. Erotic๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ”
    2. Psychological๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” Pleasure๐Ÿคค
      1. Eureka๐Ÿ›€๐ŸŽ™! The Feeling of Insight๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘€
      2. Relief: Stop Hitting Yourself
      3. Satisfaction: Induction of Accomplishment๐ŸŽ–โฌ‡๏ธ
      4. Nostalgia: On Evoking Pleasing Memories
      5. Voluptuous: The Twisted Ecstasy of Self-Deception
  2. Varieties of Pain๐Ÿค•
    1. Embodied๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆตโžก๏ธ Pain๐Ÿค•
      1. Dull and Sharp: Meditations on Intensity
      2. Prickling and Needling: Exploring Texture
      3. Burning and Churning: Speed and Repetition
    2. Psychological๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” Pain๐Ÿค•
      1. Guilt and Anxiety
      2. Embarrassment
      3. Fear๐Ÿ˜จ, Horror๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿคข, Terror๐Ÿ˜ฑ
      4. Sorrow๐Ÿ˜ฉ
  3. Treadmills๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ
    1. The Wireheadโ€™sโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช Dilemma
    2. Jouissance
    3. Anticipation
    4. Grill๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”ฅ Illusions๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ
    5. Trances๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” and Flow๐ŸŒŠ States
  4. Models๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“Š For Wireheadingโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช
    1. Linear Engines
    2. 2๏ธโƒฃ-Stroke Action
    3. 4๏ธโƒฃ-Stroke Action

Brain๐Ÿง  stimulation๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ can induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ†๏ธ desire๐Ÿ˜โฌ‡๏ธ, but all pleasure exhausts itself with exposure, leaving only desire๐Ÿ˜ in its place. (This is known๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ as the wireheadโ€™sโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช dilemma๐Ÿ”˜๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ”˜.) An alternate strategyโš”๏ธ๐Ÿงฎ is inspired by a famous๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ” investigation๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ into the limits of sensation๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… and perception๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘ƒ: in the thermal grill๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”ฅ illusion๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ, warm๐Ÿ”ฅ and coolโ„๏ธ metal bars are arranged in an alternatingโฌ›๏ธโฌœ๏ธ๐Ÿ” layout. Neither the warm๐Ÿ”ฅ nor the coolโ„๏ธ bars occupy an extreme of temperature๐ŸŒก, but if you place your handโœ‹ overโคต๏ธ the grill, the contrast๐Ÿ”ฅโ„๏ธcauses you to perceive them as burning๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ” hot๐Ÿฅต. The wireheadโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช exploits a similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž principle by titratingโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ pain๐Ÿค• into pleasure๐Ÿคค, which both amplifies๐Ÿ“ขโžก๏ธ pleasure๐Ÿคค and makes pain๐Ÿค• more tolerable. (Thunberg, 1896, Fรถrnimmelserne vid till samma stรคlle lokaliserad, samtidigt pรคgรคende kรถld-och vรคrmeretning)

The second labryinthe2๏ธโƒฃ contains recipes๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ—บ for various kinds of pain๐Ÿค•, observations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”Žโฌ‡๏ธ on the interactions between๐Ÿฅช different pains๐Ÿค• and pleasures๐Ÿคค, and designs๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ for sustainable hedonic states. Branch thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of the story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ of Zhangๅผ , indexing๐Ÿ“‡๐Ÿ” his own brain๐Ÿง  while he was awakeโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ, and he tries his own experiment๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ. He has sampled a few smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š alreadyโ†™๏ธ in his time๐Ÿ•ฐ hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“โ€“Peach Spring Beyond This World ๐Ÿ‘โ›ฒ๏ธโ†—๏ธ๐ŸŒ, Unfaithful Housewife๐Ÿšซโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฐ, and the perennially popular Stop Hitting Yourself๐Ÿ›‘๐ŸฅŠ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธโ€“ but the drug๐Ÿ’Š programs in Zhangโ€™sๅผ  text๐Ÿ“– are much simpler, and if Unfaithful Housewife๐Ÿšซโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฐ is a scalpel๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช, then Wireheadโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช Variation #4 is a hammer๐Ÿ”จ.

Thereโ€™s an incentive to produce๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ in the wireheadโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช without cripplingโ™ฟ๏ธ his executive๐Ÿ‘‘ functionโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ”, but Zhangโ€™sๅผ  explorations๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บ were performed๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ out of love๐Ÿฅฐ, unfettered๐Ÿšซโ›“ by economics๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ”ฌ. Branch falls๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ into such a vortex๐ŸŒช of ferocious๐Ÿฆ bliss๐Ÿคค that he loses an entire evening๐ŸŒ˜, as if he had been asleep๐Ÿ˜ด or dreaming๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ”, floatingโ˜๏ธ๐Ÿ” in radiantโ˜€๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” contentedness. When the feeling is gone, he longs for it again, but he has learned๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ to contain these impulses by invoking Yi ไน‰ to become temporarily anhedonic๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ”.

He canโ€™t sleep๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ด. The events of the past day๐Ÿ“… weighโš–๏ธโžก๏ธ too heavily on him, so he finishes๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ the second labyrinthe2๏ธโƒฃ and pushes straight into the third3๏ธโƒฃ, Commodity Enlightenment ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ. Whereas wireheadingโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช searches๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ for hedonic equilibria by simultaneously๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ” cultivating and satiating desire๐Ÿ˜, Buddhism๐Ÿ•‰ seeks to eliminate๐Ÿšซโžก๏ธ desire๐Ÿ˜ altogether. Can enlightenment๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ be as simple as playingโ–ถ๏ธโžก๏ธ back recordings๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ of brain๐Ÿง  state vectors into the minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป of the uninitiated?

Awakeningโ˜•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ is a process, a journey๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ‘ฃ as well as a destination๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿฅ…. The subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  experience of each step๐Ÿ‘ฃ of the path๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ›ฃ may be different for each initiate, becauseโ†˜๏ธ the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป is an intricate forest๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ, and it may appear different in daylightโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ or moonlight๐ŸŒ•๐Ÿ•ฏ, in winterโ„๏ธ๐Ÿ—“ or summer๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ—“, up close or fromโฌ…๏ธ a distance. Nevertheless, the objective neurological๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” map๐Ÿ—บ through the forest๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ is the same for everyone. The initiate must pass through each of the eight8๏ธโƒฃ stages๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ of concentration and insight๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘€ in order beforeโ†™๏ธ approaching the doors๐Ÿšช of impermanenceโณ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ”, suffering๐Ÿค•๐Ÿ”, and selflessness๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”.

The spacious๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿ” golden chainsโ›“ of concentration succumb to the wireheadโ€™sโšก๏ธ๐Ÿคช dilemma๐Ÿ”˜๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ”˜ if they are not titratedโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ with pain๐Ÿค•, but the natural๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ pain๐Ÿค• of impermanenceโณ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ” is often sufficient to avoid๐Ÿšทโžก๏ธ this problem. At the apexโซ๐Ÿ” of concentration, it is possibleโฌ†๏ธ to trigger๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ the Kundalini Awakeningโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ, which may be accompanied by spasmodic๐Ÿฆต๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ” movements, strong๐Ÿ’ช sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” feelings, lucid๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏ dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ, and the belief that one has magical๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” powers๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ. Awakeningโ˜•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ yieldsโš ๏ธโžก๏ธ to dissolution, misery๐Ÿค•, and fear๐Ÿ˜จ, which are mitigated by completingโœ…๐Ÿ” the progression into Equanimity๐Ÿ•Šโฌ‡๏ธ, Conformity๐Ÿณ๏ธ‍๐ŸŒˆโฌ‡๏ธ, and Fruition๐Ÿ‡โฌ‡๏ธ.

The equanimity๐Ÿ•Šโฌ‡๏ธ of stillness in the conscious๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง  mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป does not๐Ÿšซโœ… stifle the pursuit of base desire๐Ÿ˜; it only severs๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿชขโžก๏ธ the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป fromโฌ…๏ธ the subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ (i.e., the pain๐Ÿค•โฌ‡๏ธ) of that desire๐Ÿ˜โฌ‡๏ธ. Enlightenment๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ turnsโคด๏ธโžก๏ธ out to be only a form of euphoric๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡ dissociation๐Ÿšซโ›“โฌ‡๏ธ, where self-related thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ are greatly reduced๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ.

~

Having come to the end๐Ÿ”šโฌ‡๏ธ of these texts๐Ÿ“–, just as the simulated๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ light๐Ÿ•ฏ of dawn๐ŸŒ… shinesโ˜€๏ธโžก๏ธ through his virtual windows๐ŸชŸ, he feels no๐Ÿšซ closer to any understandingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโฌ‡๏ธ of the things he has learned๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ.

At the next gathering๐ŸŽช๐Ÿป at Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช estate, he goes to Romero and asksโ“โžก๏ธ about the fourth labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข, and the drug๐Ÿ’Š Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก, and Romero tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are rumors๐Ÿคซ๐ŸŽ™ of Zhangโ€™sๅผ  dealings in the occult๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“œ, that his Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— explorations๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ of the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป were connectedโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to his dealings with dark and forbidden books, with Tangๅ” dynasty necromancy๐ŸงŸ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฎ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Fangshi ๆ–นๅฃซ.

Two years ago2๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—“โฌ…, a man๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ’ผ came hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“ who called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ himself Guolaoๆžœ่€. He was troubled๐Ÿ˜Ÿ, Romero thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ everyone could see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ that, but Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช took a likingโค๏ธ๐Ÿ” to him, and they would sometimes meet privately๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”. Like Branch๐Ÿชƒ, he had also askedโ“โžก๏ธ questions about Yellow Emperor๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก, and developed a fascination with the tigers๐Ÿฏ in the gallery๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ in the main hall. Romero had warnedโš ๏ธโžก๏ธ him of the dangersโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธโ€“others did, tooโ€“but he would always go up thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ to examine๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ them, and even pick them upโœ‹โžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ time๐Ÿ•ฐ to time๐Ÿ•ฐ. One day๐Ÿ“… he selected an antique๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ” revolver๐Ÿ”ซ with a painted๐ŸŽจโžก๏ธ ivoryโšช๏ธ handle, and it compelled him to spin the cylinder, place the gun๐Ÿ”ซ to his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, and pull the trigger๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโฌ‡๏ธ.

The gun๐Ÿ”ซ was not loaded๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ“ฆโžก๏ธ, but still, he did not๐Ÿšซโœ… learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ. He invented๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ a strange๐Ÿฆ‘ newโœจ smartdrug๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Feet on a Snake๐Ÿฆถ๐Ÿ, which was so convoluted๐Ÿชขโžก๏ธ that no one could ascertain its mechanismโš™๏ธ of action๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ or intended functionโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Among the testers who used the product๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, all reported๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… of disassociation๐ŸŒ€, euphoria๐Ÿ˜†๐ŸŽ‡, and time๐Ÿ•ฐ dilation๐Ÿณ๏ธ‍โšง๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Worse, those same testers were found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ wandering mindlessly๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” around the compound with no awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ of their actions, and when they came back to themselves, none had any memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of doingโœ…๐Ÿ” so. Boshiๅšๅฃซ, who was the head๐Ÿ‘จ of quality control๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”, refused๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ to ship๐Ÿšขโžก๏ธ it to the public.

Shortly after this, Guolao ๆžœ่€ left the Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ with no preamble or ceremony. It might not๐Ÿšซ be wrongโŒ to say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ he disappeared๐Ÿ‘ปโžก๏ธ, but the similarities between๐Ÿฅช Feet on a Snake๐Ÿฆถ๐Ÿ and Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก are clear๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž, and it seems likely that Guolaoๆžœ่€ had somehow obtained access๐Ÿ”‘โฌ‡๏ธ to the locked๐Ÿ”’โžก๏ธ writingsโœ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of Zhangๅผ , The Fourth Labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข. Given๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ his inexplicably close connectionโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ to Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช and the fact that Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช is the only man known๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ to possess these writingsโœ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is an obvious conclusion that Romero declines๐Ÿšซโžก๏ธ to put into words๐ŸŽ™โœ. Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช is a good๐Ÿ‘ and generous๐ŸŽ—๐Ÿ” leader๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, even a visionary๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, and Romero willโ†—๏ธ not๐Ÿšซ speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ ill๐Ÿค’ of him, but the thing he wonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโ†—๏ธ say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ lingers over Branch๐Ÿชƒ with its undeniable๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ plausibility๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ.

There is speculation that Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช hid the Fourth Labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข in one of the innumerable tigers๐Ÿฏ displayed around the Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ, and that the strange๐Ÿฆ‘ incidents of Guolaoโ€™s ๆžœ่€ drug๐Ÿ’Š and his disappearance๐Ÿ‘ปโฌ‡๏ธ could be attributed only to Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช recklessness in planting๐ŸŒฑโžก๏ธ so many dangerousโš ๏ธโ›”๏ธ๐Ÿ” seeds๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฐ around his garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ, rather than to any more sinister or deliberate motive. For his own part, Branch๐Ÿชƒ, perhaps likeโค๏ธ Guolao ๆžœ่€ beforeโ†™๏ธ him, remains ambivalentโคด๏ธโคต๏ธ to these concerns, and he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ the mysteries๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโ“ of the Zhangโ€™sๅผ  writingsโœ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ all the more enticing. He wants to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ what secrets๐Ÿคซ hide๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ in those forbidden texts๐Ÿ“–, or in the the tigers๐Ÿฏ that lurk in Apothecaryโ€™s๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ galleries๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ and halls๐Ÿ›๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ.

~

No one sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช for a number๐Ÿ”ข of months๐Ÿ“…; he no longer holds๐Ÿคšโžก๏ธ gatherings๐ŸŽช๐Ÿป on his estate, and thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is gossip that he is ailing๐Ÿค’๐Ÿ”. He sendsโœ‰๏ธโžก๏ธ for Branch๐Ÿชƒ specifically๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” through a private๐Ÿคซ message, and Branch๐Ÿชƒ goes out to Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house, through the familiar gardens๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ where has often gambled๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ตโžก๏ธ and caroused๐Ÿปโžก๏ธ, and makes his way through the double2๏ธโƒฃ door๐Ÿšช at the front of the house๐Ÿ . In the foyer, a push notification๐ŸŽ‰ directs๐ŸŽฌโžก๏ธ him to the kitchen; a bot๐Ÿค– instructs to prepare a pot of bai mudan๐Ÿต and bring it upโซ to Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช room. He feels vaguely humiliated by this, but also gratified that he was calledโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ makes the tea๐Ÿต and goes to Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช room, where the old๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ is lying in his bed๐Ÿ›, asleep๐Ÿ˜ด.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ does not๐Ÿšซโœ… disturb him, but he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ how frail Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช now appears, Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช who is revered๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ throughout the Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ, who has invented๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ this world๐ŸŒŽ of nootropics and smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š and real food๐Ÿฝ๐ŸŽ and loose women๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ. He is suddenly repulsed by the parochiality of the place, and he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ how easy it would be to end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช life, how much more he (Branch๐Ÿชƒ) could accomplish๐ŸŽ–โžก๏ธ with these tools๐Ÿ›  and these men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ. But his thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ are interrupted as he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ the girl๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ the very first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ night๐ŸŒ’ come into the room, with a white jadeโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’Ž hairpin๐Ÿ“ in her hair. She is only half-dressed๐Ÿ‘”โžก๏ธ, and their eyes๐Ÿ‘ meet beforeโ†™๏ธ she sits๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ on the bed๐Ÿ› next to Headstrong ๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ชand wakesโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ him.

The old man runs๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ his hand๐Ÿคš through her hair as he drinks๐Ÿฅƒโžก๏ธ cup after cup of hot๐Ÿ”ฅ tea๐Ÿต and speaks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ to Branch๐Ÿชƒ of business and his dealings in the past year. Finally, he gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ permission to leave๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ. But Branch๐Ÿชƒ takes the opportunity to askโ“โžก๏ธ, audaciously, about Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก, though he is not so brazen as to mention the man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Guolao ๆžœ่€. An inscrutable emotion๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ crosses๐Ÿ”€โžก๏ธ Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช face, and then passes, and he tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ that he destroyed๐Ÿ’ฃ๐Ÿ’ฅโžก๏ธ all copies of the fourth labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข, and that nothing good๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘ can come of delving๐ŸŠ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ๐Ÿ” into such things. Branch๐Ÿชƒ may have heard๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ the idea๐Ÿ’ก that Zhangๅผ  stumbled upon a neurological๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” schematicโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ“ for an ansible๐Ÿš€โ˜Ž๏ธ to another world๐ŸŒŽ, but this is pureโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง fantasy๐Ÿฆ„, a superstition๐Ÿฆธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ป that has sprung up around a very advanced technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช. No doubt Branch๐Ÿชƒ asksโ“โžก๏ธ these questionsโ“ becauseโ†˜๏ธ of the letterโœ‰๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ Boshiๅšๅฃซ, who has developed some fanciful notions after spending๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ” too much time๐Ÿ•ฐ in the idle company of consorts๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ and digital๐Ÿ‘พ aphrodisiacs๐Ÿ†๐Ÿง .

Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช asksโ“โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ, โ€œhave you heard๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ the proverb๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ which tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ us: mirrors๐Ÿชž and copulation๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ are abominable, becauseโ†˜๏ธ they multiplyโœ–๏ธ the number๐Ÿ”ข of men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ?โ€ (Uqbar, Anglo-American Cyclopaedia, 1902.)

โ€œTo understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ Yellow Emperor ๐Ÿ‘‘๐ŸŸก, it helps to imagine๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ a mirror๐Ÿชž. The drug๐Ÿ’Š has no content itself; it is a feedback loop๐ŸŽค๐Ÿ”ƒ that amplifies๐Ÿ“ขโžก๏ธ things alreadyโ†™๏ธ present in the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. The name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ comes fromโฌ…๏ธ a legend๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿฒ about the emperor๐Ÿ‘‘ Huangdi้ป„ๅธ, who conquered the creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ that live on the other side of the mirror๐Ÿชž and forced๐Ÿ’ชโžก๏ธ them into slavish๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟ‍๐Ÿ’ผ imitation๐Ÿตโฌ‡๏ธ of whatever is beforeโ†™๏ธ them. Zhangๅผ  deployed๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒฉโžก๏ธ this name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ whimsically๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ”, to suggest that his program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ was a conquestโš”๏ธ of the mirror๐Ÿชž, but according to the story, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ willโ†—๏ธ come a day๐Ÿ“… when Huangdiโ€™s้ป„ๅธ magic๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ falters, and the mirror๐Ÿชž people willโ†—๏ธ be free๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to come out of the mirror๐Ÿชž to seek revenge.โ€

Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช explains that the legend๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿฒ is a parable; it highlightsโซ๐Ÿ–โžก๏ธ the horrors๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿคข within us, the shadowy๐Ÿ‘ค๐Ÿ” reflections๐Ÿชžโฌ‡๏ธ that we manifest in the world๐ŸŒŽ. Zhangโ€™sๅผ  greatest shortcoming was his naivete. He failedโŒโžก๏ธ to understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ the depravity๐Ÿฆน‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ in the hearts๐Ÿซ€ of so many people, becauseโ†˜๏ธ he saw wonderful๐Ÿค”โ“โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”, transcendent๐Ÿš„โ™พ๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ things when he looked๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ into the mirror๐Ÿชž, reflections๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ‘ค of his natural๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ curiosity๐Ÿ˜ผ๐Ÿ” and good nature๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ, and he imagined๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ others would be the same. This is the truth๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ of this tragedy๐Ÿ˜ญ.

On his way out of Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house๐Ÿ , Branch๐Ÿชƒ pausesโธโžก๏ธ to walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ downโฌ a dark hallway, driven๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ by impulse, or by a premonition. Though he is not๐Ÿšซ influenced๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธโžก๏ธ by any nootropics or smartdrugs ๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š, the urge seems to come fromโฌ…๏ธ outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ of himself. He enters๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ a room full of display cases and pedestals and artifacts๐Ÿบ, and he realizes this is another collection of tigers๐Ÿฏ likeโค๏ธ the ones in the main work hall of Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ. In the center of the room, against the far wall, he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ a full length mirror๐Ÿชž covered๐Ÿƒโžก๏ธ by a dusty cloth, with only a small๐Ÿค corner visible, and he is already thinking๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ” of Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ about Huangdi้ป„ๅธ and the mirror people๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ™ƒ. So he pulls the cloth fromโฌ…๏ธ the mirror๐Ÿชž, of course.

Most tigers๐Ÿฏ work by using transcutaneous electricalโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ” stimulationโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to trigger๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ in the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ that can enable code๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ injection๐Ÿ’‰โฌ‡๏ธ. TENS ๐Ÿงดโšก๏ธis the most common approach, becauseโ†˜๏ธ it affords๐Ÿ’ตโฌ†๏ธโžก๏ธ the largest surface area for attackโš”๏ธ, and becauseโ†˜๏ธ it has the highestโซโซ bandwidthโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ’พ once the security๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ of Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— is compromised, but in theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค”, a hacker๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿฆน‍โ™‚๏ธ could exploit any sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… modality to deliver an unauthorized๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก logic๐Ÿงฎ payload๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’พ, even the sense of smell๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’จ. (Zhangๅผ , 2027, Thy Fearful Symmetry: Systemicโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ๐Ÿ” Risks in Full-Duplex Neuralink Devices๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ).

As Branch๐Ÿชƒ stares๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ into his reflection๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ‘ค, chromatic๐ŸŽจ๐Ÿ” aberrations๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ’ฅ surround him likeโค๏ธ a halo๐Ÿ˜‡, and he is unable to look๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง away. He loses all conscious๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง  awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ of time๐Ÿ•ฐ. At some point๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ in his trance๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”, the myriad transformations๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹ of the mirror๐Ÿชž unravel๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿงตโžก๏ธ one another, and it occurs to him that the reflection๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ‘ค he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ is no๐Ÿšซ longer his own face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. His mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป collapses๐Ÿšโžก๏ธ into a single1๏ธโƒฃ point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ of focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏ, and he finds himself as a different person, in an entirely different place.

The myriad transformations๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹unravel๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿงตโžก๏ธ one another
We are born๐Ÿ‘ถโžก๏ธ of the selfsame root,
Whyโ‰๏ธ should we hound๐Ÿถโžก๏ธ each other to deathโ˜ ๏ธ with such impatience?

III. Tiger ๐Ÿฏ

Note๐Ÿ—’: Regarding Addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€

They call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ my creations smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š. I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฏ who coined๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿช™โžก๏ธ this term, though it is now common. But I never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ saw๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ them as drugs๐Ÿ’Š, only as programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ. I think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ itโ€™s a slander, or at least a misconceptionโŒ๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ, to call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ them drugs๐Ÿ’Š; a drug๐Ÿ’Š is not a biochemical๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿงช program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ it contains no๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ logic๐Ÿงฎ. It only acts on the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป according to logic๐Ÿงฎ already present. But this distinction is pedantic๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ“–, I realize๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ that. Iโ€™m bargaining๐Ÿค‘๐Ÿค๐Ÿ”.

And fromโฌ…๏ธ the outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ I can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ whyโ‰๏ธ my detractors๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿคบ compare me to a drug dealer๐Ÿ’Š๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, whyโ‰๏ธ they call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ my many supporters โ€œaddicts๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธโ€ โ€“ but consider๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ: there is alcohol use๐Ÿป๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ and alcohol abuse๐Ÿบ๐Ÿคฌโฌ‡๏ธ, but there is no such category as cocaineโ›„๏ธ๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ use, whyโ‰๏ธ not๐Ÿšซ?

I askโ“โžก๏ธ this questionโ“ becauseโ†˜๏ธ any behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ can become an addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€. In a survey๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ of overโคต๏ธ a thousand tango๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ•บ enthusiasts, nearly half met the DSM-IV criteria for โ€œaddiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€โ€ (Targhetta et al., 2013, Argentine๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท tango: Another behavioral๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ” addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€?) But thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ a critical๐ŸŽฏ, ineffable๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿ” distance between๐Ÿฅช pathology๐Ÿ‘Ž๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ and addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€. It cannot be defined๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“– physiologically๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”, only holistically๐ŸŒ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ”, by examining๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ the behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ in the context of the life of the โ€œaddict๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€ It comes downโฌ to a feeling, ultimately, about whether that behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ is good๐Ÿ‘ or bad๐Ÿ‘Ž for you.

Procedure: White Noise โšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 4 Hz, 12 mV

I feel drowsy๐Ÿฅฑ and everything is dreamlike๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ. Visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” and other perceptual artifacts๐Ÿบ are present but mild. Motor control๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ” is slightly impaired๐Ÿค•. In conversation๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ’ฌโฌ‡๏ธ, I sometimes say the wrong word๐ŸŽ™โœ, but I am lucid๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏ. Dr. Hongๆดช asksโ“โžก๏ธ me questionsโ“ and I answer โ—๏ธโžก๏ธ.

Hongๆดช: What is your name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Eric Zhangๅผ .

Hongๆดช: Where are you?
Zhangๅผ : In the mission๐Ÿ”” district of San Francisco๐ŸŒ‰๐Ÿ’ฉ, in the Pioneer building๐Ÿข.

Hongๆดช: What is happening?
Zhangๅผ : We are conducting๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿฅข๐Ÿ” an interfructuation๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿญโฌ‡๏ธ of the effect of white noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง streamed๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ through Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—.

Hongๆดช: What do you see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : I see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ the computer lab๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ. As you speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ I have the image of a dragon๐Ÿฒ flyingโœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ”. Lattices๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿชข and honeycombs๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿ•ธ are visible๐Ÿ‘.

Hongๆดช: What do you hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Your voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™. The ambient noise๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง of the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ. Subtle tinnitus๐Ÿ””๐Ÿ‘‚ in the leftโคด๏ธ โ€“ no๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ the rightโคต๏ธ โ€“ no๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ the leftโคด๏ธ ear๐Ÿ‘‚.

After fifteen minutesโฒ, I fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ into a dreamless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ sleep๐Ÿ˜ด. Where we might expect noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in the visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” cortex๐Ÿง  to produce๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ similarlyโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž random๐ŸŽฒ visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” artifacts๐Ÿบ, perhaps akin to โ€œsnowโ„๏ธโ˜ƒ๏ธโ€ on a television๐Ÿ“บ screen, instead we observe๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ Klรผverโ€™s โ€œform constants;โ€ spirals๐ŸŒ€, tunnels, lattices๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿชข and cobwebs๐Ÿ•ธ, suggesting that noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง causes downstreamโฌ๐ŸŒŠ activation to flow๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ along straight lines in the visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” cortex๐Ÿง . (Bressloff, Paul C.; Cowan, Jack D.; Golubitsky, Martin; Thomas, Peter J.; Weiner, Matthew C., March 2002. What Geometric๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” Visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” Hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† Tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Us About the Visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” Cortex๐Ÿง )

Procedure: White Noise โšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 12 Hz, 20 mV

I am dissociated๐Ÿšซโ›“โฌ‡๏ธ and derealized๐Ÿฆ„โžก๏ธ. The sensation๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… is similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž to the final momentsโฑ one spends๐Ÿ’ตโžก๏ธ at the boundary๐Ÿšช between๐Ÿฅช sleeping๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ” and wakingโ˜•๏ธ๐Ÿ”. I pass in and out of lucidity๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏโฌ‡๏ธ, alternately occupying a dream space๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸŒŒ or the wakingโ˜•๏ธ๐Ÿ” world ๐ŸŒŽ.

I feel I am passing through luminous๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ” tunnels toward unknown๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฏ and unknowable๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคฏโฌ†๏ธ destinations๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿฅ…. Each time๐Ÿ•ฐ I โ€œwakeโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ upโ€ and re-enter๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿšช the dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ, I start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ back at the beginningโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of the tunnels, an it occurs to me that the dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ me is the โ€œrealโ€ me, and the โ€œmeโ€ in the waking worldโ˜•๏ธ๐ŸŒŽ is only a shadow๐Ÿ‘ค. I am frustrated๐Ÿ˜–โžก๏ธ by this, but when itโ€™s overโคต๏ธ, I feel sheepish๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” at the grandiosity๐Ÿคด๐Ÿคฉโฌ‡๏ธ of my thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ.

Postscript: That night๐ŸŒ’, I had dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ of wakingโ˜•๏ธ๐Ÿ” up fromโฌ…๏ธ the white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, and each time๐Ÿ•ฐ I was convinced that only an hour๐Ÿ• had elapsed, and that my memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of the preceding day๐Ÿ“… were hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† brought on by the random๐ŸŽฒ firing๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ” of neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  induced๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ by the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง. I could not be certain I had left the chair๐Ÿช‘ in the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ, or if I was still โ€œunderโ†ช๏ธ the influence๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธ,โ€ imagining๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ” myself to be going about my day๐Ÿ“…, driving๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ”, eating๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ”, or communicatingโ˜Ž๏ธ with colleagues.

Memo๐Ÿ“: Quantifying ๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ Noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง

The generation 2 Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device contains 25776 electrodesโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— distributed across 768 threads๐Ÿงต spread๐Ÿงˆโžก๏ธ throughout the brain๐Ÿง . The human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ brain๐Ÿง  itself has ~86 billion neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง , a ratio of ~3.4 million neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  per electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—. The granularity๐Ÿ“โณโฌ‡๏ธ of the device๐Ÿ”ฉ is therefore somewhat limited. Each electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— is capableโฌ†๏ธ of emitting๐Ÿ“ป๐Ÿ” a charge๐Ÿ”‹โšก๏ธ of up to 40 mV, which is enough to cause thousands of neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  in a radius around that electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— to fire๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ. By varying the intensity of charge๐Ÿ”‹โšก๏ธ at each electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—, we exercise๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ fine control๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ” overโคต๏ธ the radius of activation, and achieveโœ…๐Ÿ…โžก๏ธ a โ€œvirtualโ€ resolution which is many times higherโซ.

Regarding the compositionโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ› of the signal๐Ÿšฆ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are many kinds of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, which are named๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ after various colors๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ; whiteโšช๏ธ, pink๐ŸŒธ, red๐Ÿ”ด, azure๐Ÿ”ต, violet๐Ÿ’œ, and gray. White noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง has a flat power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ spectrum๐ŸŒˆ when plotted as a linear functionโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of frequency๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰. Pink๐ŸŒธ and red๐Ÿ”ด noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง have highโซ spectral๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ” power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ in the lower frequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ and decrease in power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ as frequency๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ increases๐Ÿ“ˆ. Azure๐Ÿ”ต and violet๐Ÿ’œ, the reverseโ†ฉ๏ธ. Gray noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง has a U-shape. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is no direct๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ”Œ perceptual mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช audio noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง and Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, but we find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ these distinctions to be a useful starting๐Ÿโžก๏ธ point๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ.

When sendingโœ‰๏ธ๐Ÿ” a signal๐Ÿšฆ through the device๐Ÿ”ฉ, we model๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ each electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— as a 2D point๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ containing a position๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ and an intensity. Each frequency band๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰๐ŸŒˆ is resolved to a series of discrete positions๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ and intensities within this space๐ŸŒŒ. To avoid๐Ÿšทโžก๏ธ confusion๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, we clarify that noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is rendered across different frequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ in the โ€œposition๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บโ€ domain of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— electrodesโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—, and thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is a separate โ€œframerate๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธ,โ€ which refers to the rate of change of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in the time๐Ÿ•ฐ domain. The framerate๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธ of the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is measured๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ in Hz; this has no relation to the frequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ that comprise the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง.

We manipulate๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ› โžก๏ธ the amplitude๐Ÿ”Š๐Ÿ“ of the signal๐Ÿšฆ as a whole by applying a scalar. The minimum charge needed to trigger๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ a neuron๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  to activate is ~10mV. At this level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ, only a small๐Ÿค number๐Ÿ”ข of neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  immediately surrounding the electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— willโ†—๏ธ fire๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ. At the maximum output of 40mV, a single1๏ธโƒฃ electrodeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— can induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ†๏ธ approximately ten thousand neurons๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  to fire๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ in near-simultaneity๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ•ฐโฌ‡๏ธ.

Procedure: White Noise โšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 12 Hz, 30 mV

I become completely๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ” dissociated๐Ÿšซโ›“โžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ my ordinary perceptions๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚. My vision๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ is a field๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ—บ of fluid๐Ÿ’ง๐Ÿ” images๐Ÿ–ผ: a swan๐Ÿฆข, a multitude of eyes๐Ÿ‘, the insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of a maze๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข. I hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ a fragment of a symphony๐ŸŽผ, followed by the clanging๐Ÿ”จ๐Ÿ””๐Ÿ” of construction๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ or industrial๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ” machines๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. Maybe a voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™ callsโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ to me, but its words๐ŸŽ™โœ are too distant to interpret. As with lowerโฌ levels๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ of white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, everything feels likeโค๏ธ a dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ. Dr. Hongๆดช tries to askโ“โžก๏ธ me the standard set of questionsโ“, but I am unresponsive.

After some duration of time๐Ÿ•ฐ, my mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป beginsโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to wander๐Ÿ‘ฃ, and I start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ to think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of mundane things, chores๐Ÿงน to be doneโœ…, further experiments๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ, and so on. Several times๐Ÿ•ฐ I think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of bizarre, nonsensical๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿพ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ” juxtapositions๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ of ideas๐Ÿ’ก or situations. The passage of time๐Ÿ•ฐ is hard to observe๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ, as it might be in a sensory deprivation๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ™ˆ chamber. After one hour๐Ÿ•, the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง procedure concludes๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ, and as beforeโ†™๏ธ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is a kind of โ€œhangover๐Ÿธ๐Ÿคขโ€ which persists for hours๐Ÿ• or even days๐Ÿ“…. During this time๐Ÿ•ฐ, my limbs๐Ÿฆต feel heavy๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™€๏ธ and everything feels far away.

Procedure: Re-Entry ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿšช (I)

The last thing he remembers๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ, Branch๐Ÿชƒ was staring๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” into a mirror๐Ÿชž in a gallery๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ in Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house, James Hongโ€™sๆดช house๐Ÿ . Now heโ€™s sitting๐Ÿช‘๐Ÿ” by the window๐ŸชŸ in the great hall, overlookingโคต๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” the Santa Clara valley, staring๐Ÿ—ฟ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” gazelessly๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” into his workstation๐Ÿ–ฅ. He is in the middle of composingโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ” a smartdrug ๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šprogram๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ whose mechanismโš™๏ธ he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ cannot account๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿงพ for the hours๐Ÿ• (days๐Ÿ“…?) that have passed, but he seems to know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ many things he previouslyโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ” did not. And despite awakeningโ˜•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ in media res, he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ exactly how to finish๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ his work.

Fromโฌ…๏ธ some preconsciousโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง  wellspringโ›ฒ๏ธ insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ him, he weaves๐Ÿงตโžก๏ธ newโœจ smartdrugs๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Š which dazzle๐Ÿคฉโžก๏ธ his colleagues with their subtlety and imagination๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰. He makes one called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Rediscovery๐Ÿ”๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌ that uses a 2-stroke cycle๐Ÿšด‍โ™€๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of fastโฉ pleasure๐Ÿ˜Š mixed with sorrow๐Ÿ˜ฉ, and he juices๐ŸŠ๐Ÿฅคโžก๏ธ it with white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, right up until the crescendo๐ŸŽผ๐Ÿ“ˆ, when it abruptly yieldsโš ๏ธโžก๏ธ to clarity๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž. The drug๐Ÿ’Š gets around the whole Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ. Shenwu, Baozi๐ŸฅŸ, and Glasshole๐Ÿ•ถ๐Ÿ•ณ are suitably impressed๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ“ˆ.

Soon he has a meeting with Yeziๅ†ถๅญ, Shenwuโ€™s boss๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ, who tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ they are going to jump the release scheduleโœ’๏ธ๐Ÿ—“ and expedite Rediscovery๐Ÿ”๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌ to production๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. It goes live๐Ÿš€ and for the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ time๐Ÿ•ฐ since he came to Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ, for the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ time๐Ÿ•ฐ in his life, Branch๐Ÿชƒ has some money๐Ÿ’ต of his own, more than just pocket change๐Ÿช™.

Yeziๅ†ถๅญ wants to put Branch๐Ÿชƒ in charge๐Ÿคดโฌ‡๏ธ of a team, and he introduces him to Longyuan้พ™ๆธŠ, Taieๆณฐ้˜ฟ, and Gongbuๅทฅๅธƒ, who willโ†—๏ธ be working underโ†ช๏ธ him. Branch๐Ÿชƒ has never been in charge๐Ÿคด of anyone beforeโ†™๏ธ, but leadership๐Ÿคด๐Ÿšข comes naturally๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ” to him, whether fromโฌ…๏ธ the desire๐Ÿ˜ in his heart๐Ÿซ€, a conviction๐Ÿ™โฌ‡๏ธ in his own deservingness, or the same invisible๐Ÿงฟ sourceโ›ฒ๏ธ that enabled him to produce๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ Rediscovery๐Ÿ”๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ”ฌ. All of this is becauseโ†˜๏ธ of the mirror๐Ÿชž, he is certain, but he cannot remember๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž what he saw that night๐ŸŒ’ at Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house. He knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ the mirror๐Ÿชž was a tiger๐Ÿฏ, and he can feel it stalking him now, crouching in the tall grassesโฌ†๏ธ๐ŸŽ‹ of the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป.

Every day๐Ÿ“… he loses a little๐Ÿค time๐Ÿ•ฐ. He tends to find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ himself in an unexpected๐Ÿ˜ฒโžก๏ธ context with no๐Ÿšซ memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of the events that brought him thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, but it does not๐Ÿšซโœ… disrupt๐Ÿ’”โš™๏ธโžก๏ธ his work, and in fact he accomplishes๐ŸŽ–โžก๏ธ more than ever.

Procedure: White Noise โšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, 35 Hz, 30 mV

At 35 Hz, even low amplitudeโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”Š๐Ÿ“ noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง produces๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ a manic๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ” sensation๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘…, likeโค๏ธ drinking๐Ÿฅƒ๐Ÿ” too much caffeineโ˜•๏ธ๐Ÿต. I feel intense focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏ or โ€œflow๐ŸŒŠโ€ and also a scatteredness or decentering. Images๐Ÿ–ผ and sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… unfold in my mindโ€™s eye๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ‘ with no linearity or connectednessโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”. After what seems likeโค๏ธ an eternity โ€“ or maybe an instantโฒ โ€“ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is a welling๐Ÿšฐ๐Ÿ” up of attention๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿšจ, which gradually moves fromโฌ…๏ธ the clarity๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž of the center to the clarity๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž of the periphery, beforeโ†™๏ธ blossoming๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ” into the vastness of imperturbability๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜กโฌ‡๏ธ, as in Samatha meditation๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ.

Thereafter, all forms slip๐Ÿ›ข๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ away likeโค๏ธ ghosts๐Ÿ‘ป, and my mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป turnsโคด๏ธโžก๏ธ to boundless๐Ÿšช๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ” space๐ŸŒŒ: all my disparate sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… blur together, and I am in a field๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ—บ of pureโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง๐Ÿ” emptiness๐ŸŒ€โฌ‡๏ธ. This is pleasant, unlike๐Ÿšซโค๏ธ lower framerates๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธ of white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง. I feel serene, but also as if I am on the cusp of some newโœจ understandingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“š which had previouslyโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ” been granted to only a handful๐Ÿคš๐ŸŒ• of men. This goes beyondโ†—๏ธ enlightenment๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ โ€“ it is something else entirely๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿคฏ, though enlightenment๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคฏ may be a way to approach it. This procedure did not result in the โ€œhangoverโ€ of lower frequenciesโฌ‡๏ธ๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰.

Note๐Ÿ—’: Addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€, Divination๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโฌ‡๏ธ, and Gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ”

The word๐ŸŽ™โœ addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ comes fromโฌ…๏ธ the Latin addicere, the same etymological๐ŸŽ™โœ๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” root as โ€œdictate.โ€ It refers to divination๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโฌ‡๏ธ, the taking of auspices๐Ÿ”ฎ, and also to the adjudication๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš–๏ธ๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ of unpayable๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฐ debts๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿค๐Ÿ“ˆ; a judge๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธ would dictate๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ a sentence overโคต๏ธ a debtor๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿค๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, rendering him into slavery๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. (Maddux, Desmond, 2000, Addiction๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŒ€ or dependence?) In Latin, the object of an act๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of dictation๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿคดโฌ‡๏ธ is called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ โ€œaddictus,โ€ and we think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ especially of a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ who is sold๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ into slavery๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ to pay๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ a gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ” debt๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿค๐Ÿ“ˆ; the gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ” addict๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, the addictus, the slave๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ.

But the word๐ŸŽ™โœ has a curious๐Ÿ˜ผ double2๏ธโƒฃ meaning: in the augural๐Ÿ•Š๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ” sense, a king๐Ÿคด or priest โ›ช๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธwould โ€œdictate๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธโ€ the future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ he had divined๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโžก๏ธ; addicere is not๐Ÿšซ precisely๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” the act๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of divination๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโฌ‡๏ธ, it is instead the speaking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ” thereof. Both senses are similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž: one either declares the will of the gods, or declares a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ to be a slave๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ, as we are all slaves๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ to fateโœ๏ธ๐ŸŒŒ.

The unifying1๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ” feature of all forms of fortune-telling๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ”, whether reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ” the behavior๐Ÿต๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ of birds๐Ÿฆœ๐ŸŽญ, examining๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ entrails, or burning๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ bones๐Ÿฆด, is the randomness๐ŸŽฒโฌ‡๏ธ or unpredictability๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ” in the outcome. In ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” China๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ, Shangๆฎทไปฃ dynasty pyromancers๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธ would inscribeโ›โœ๏ธโžก๏ธ questionsโ“ into ox๐Ÿ‚ scapulae๐Ÿฆด and burn๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ them to seek the answersโ—๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Divination๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโฌ‡๏ธ is askingโ“๐Ÿ” chaos๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ”€ for favors๐Ÿงง๐ŸŽ, as is gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ”. Ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” civilizations used fortune-telling๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ” to decide๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ where to plant๐ŸŒฑโžก๏ธ their crops๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ’ฐ, and this was successful becauseโ†˜๏ธ it was a stochastic implementation๐Ÿ—บโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of crop rotation๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ”. (Pervert, B.A., 2018, Bronze Age Mindset, p. 334)

A little๐Ÿค chaos๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ”€ is unpredictable, but a lot is exceedingly regular๐ŸšŠโฑ๐Ÿ”. This is also the theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ behind balancingโš–๏ธโžก๏ธ your investment portfolio๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ’น๐Ÿ“. If I use Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to stream๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง into my brain๐Ÿง , is that divination๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ”ฎโฌ‡๏ธ, or gambling๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿ”, or both?

Procedure: Pink Noise ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, 8 Hz, 20 mV

Pink noise๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is an interpolation between๐Ÿฅช red๐Ÿ”ด and whiteโšช๏ธ, and accordingly, the experience of pink noise๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in the brain๐Ÿง  is similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž to both. Where white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is dreamy๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” and surreal, red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is brutal๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿค• and earthenโ›ฐ. Auditory๐Ÿ”ˆ๐Ÿ‘‚ hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† are imminentโณ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ‘ and baritoneโฌ๐ŸŽท. They seem to come fromโฌ…๏ธ somewhere close to me. Red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in particular seems to stimulate๐Ÿ’‰โšก๏ธโžก๏ธ olfactory๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ” and gustatory๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ” senses. At higherโซ amplitudes๐Ÿ”Š๐Ÿ“, the sense of taste๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก is entirely saturated. The flavor๐Ÿง‚โฌ‡๏ธ is sweet๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿ” and putrid๐Ÿคข๐Ÿ”, and vaguely metallic.

At this lowโฌ threshold, it is possibleโฌ†๏ธ to maintain๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”งโžก๏ธ some semblance of lucidity๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏโฌ‡๏ธ. Dr. Hongๆดช asksโ“โžก๏ธ me questionsโ“ and I answerโ—๏ธโžก๏ธ, although I have no๐Ÿšซ memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of doingโœ…๐Ÿ” so.

Hongๆดช: What is your name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Eric

Hongๆดช: Where are you?
Zhangๅผ : I am insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of an aluminum pencilโœ๏ธ.

Hongๆดช: What is happening?
Zhangๅผ : Petrichor๐ŸŒง Baltimore, cri de coer but not๐Ÿšซ beforeโ†™๏ธ, egregore๐Ÿง ๐Ÿฒ

Hongๆดช: What do you see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : What do you see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ?

Hongๆดช: What do you hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Yes, he is hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“.

As my investigations๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ come fromโฌ…๏ธ a place of dispassionate๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” interest in exploring๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บ the frontiers๐Ÿšช of the human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, I am willing to endure all manner of discomfort๐Ÿค• in order to observe๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”Žโžก๏ธ these spaces๐ŸŒŒ, but I do not๐Ÿšซโœ… imagine๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ most people would choose to experience pink noise ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง for any long amount of time. The mixture of dreaminess๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ and immanence๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ‘ is distinctly nightmarish๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ”. As the session goes on, I become anxious๐Ÿฅบ, and I hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ gutturalโฌ๐Ÿ” sounds๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ”‰, almost likeโค๏ธ voices๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ, though I cannot๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ make out any words๐ŸŽ™โœ. For this I am grateful, though I wonder๐Ÿค”โ“โžก๏ธ if the sense of the incomprehensible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“š, of meaning just beyondโ†—๏ธ my reach, is not๐Ÿšซ also the sourceโ›ฒ๏ธ of this sense of foreboding.

Procedure: Pink Noise ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 15Hz, 20 mV

[ dฬตaฬตtฬทaฬด๐Ÿ’พ ฬทiฬถsฬธ ฬตmฬธiฬธsฬถsฬธiฬทnฬตgฬท๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” ฬถoฬทrฬท ฬดcฬธอŽอ ลฬดฬrฬดอˆอ’rฬตฬบฬพuฬตอšอŠpฬดฬจอ˜tฬทฬขฬŽ ]

Note๐Ÿ—’: Neurochemistry๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงชโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” As Animism๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ›

Itโ€™s an intimate trust๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโฌ‡๏ธ, to let someone else writeโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ a program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ that runs๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ on your mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, but isnโ€™t that also what happens when you read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ a book๐Ÿ“– or watch๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ a movie๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸŽž? Stories and mean words๐ŸŽ™โœ can make your muscles๐Ÿ’ช tense up. If something you read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ on the internet๐ŸŒโšก๏ธ makes you angry๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ”, it changes๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ your body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, releases neurotransmitters๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ“ก, and alters your brain๐Ÿง  chemistry๐Ÿงชโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”. My programs๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ can do all of these things, too.

We speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ of โ€œcortisolโ€ and โ€œepinephrineโ€ as if we know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธwhat these things are. (Theyโ€™re chemicals๐Ÿงช, epinephrine is Cโ‚‰Hโ‚โ‚ƒNOโ‚ƒ and it bindsโ›“โ†ฉ๏ธโžก๏ธ to various alpha and beta receptors (Mickey et al, 2007, Hypocrite That You Are.)) You can read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โฌ†๏ธ about them on the internet๐ŸŒโšก๏ธ, and sound authoritative as a layman, but even a scientistโ€™s๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ understandingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโฌ‡๏ธ is mediated๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿ”Šโžก๏ธ through cognitive๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ” algorithms๐Ÿงฎโš™๏ธ evolved๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿ”€โžก๏ธ for hunter-gatherer๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ folk religions๐Ÿ›.

Neurochemistry๐Ÿง ๐Ÿงชโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” is the animism๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ› of the scientific๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ”ญ๐Ÿ” age. Neurotransmitters๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ“ก are animal spirits๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ‘ป that come and go in a dark forest๐ŸŒš๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ. We no longer relax๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ•ฏโžก๏ธ; instead we โ€œlower๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ our cortisol๐Ÿ˜ฐ.โ€ Meditation๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ and walks๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ in nature๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ are rituals๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™ designed๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโžก๏ธ to placate๐Ÿ˜ดโžก๏ธ these spirits๐Ÿ‘ป.

Procedure: Pink Noise ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 30Hz, 20 mV

At 30hz I no longer experience any flickering๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ” or phasing๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ” between๐Ÿฅช the โ€œrealโ€ world๐ŸŒŽ and the โ€œother๐Ÿฆ‘โ€ world๐ŸŒŽ. Instead, I am completely๐Ÿ’ฏโžก๏ธ transported๐Ÿš…โžก๏ธ into a place that is dark๐ŸŒ‘ and brightโ˜€๏ธ at the same time๐Ÿ•ฐ. I have the feeling of being deepโฌ undergroundโ†ช๏ธโ›ฐ. The same shadowy๐Ÿ‘ค๐Ÿ” figures I encountered at 15hz are present, but now they are more solid, and I can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ they have an almost gelatinous๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿ” quality. It no๐Ÿšซ longer puzzles๐Ÿงฉโžก๏ธ me when they merge together or split apart, becauseโ†˜๏ธ I understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ they are all part of the same substanceโš›๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, perhaps even the same entity๐Ÿ‘ฝ.

At this frequency๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ I can perceive correlations๐Ÿ“Š๐Ÿ”€โฌ‡๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช my other senses and the movements and positions๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ of these figures. Smells๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’จ, tastes๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก, and sounds๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ”‰ all fold and roll๐Ÿ—žโžก๏ธ around and overโคต๏ธ and into one another, in time๐Ÿ•ฐ with the movement of the shadow๐Ÿ‘ค blobs. But every time๐Ÿ•ฐ I feel as if I have mastered๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ the rhythm๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿงฎ, it changes๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ. In retrospect๐Ÿ‘โฌ…, I wonder๐Ÿค”โ“โžก๏ธ if thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ was any rhythm๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿงฎ at all, or if I was only imagining๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ” patterns, and all of this was merely a delusion๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿฆ„โฌ‡๏ธ of the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง.

Procedure: Pink Noise ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 30Hz, 40 mV

My extremities๐Ÿคš๐Ÿฆถ beginโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to vibrate๐Ÿ”Š. Everything is pulsating and undulating. I remember๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ else. Dr Hongๆดช described my exterior state as trancelike๐Ÿง˜‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”. After forty-nine minutesโฒ, I beganโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ howling๐Ÿบ๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ as if in pain๐Ÿค•. This continued until the end of the procedure, eleven minutesโฒ.

Procedure: Re-Entry๐Ÿ”๐Ÿšช (II)

Branch๐Ÿชƒ has no trouble controlling๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ” his team. Everyone follows his orders๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™, as if he has an uncanny power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ overโคต๏ธ them, a charisma๐Ÿ’˜๐Ÿ’ช heโ€™s never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ felt beforeโ†™๏ธ, emanating fromโฌ…๏ธ behind some locked๐Ÿ”’โžก๏ธ door๐Ÿšชin his mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป. His ambitions manifest as soon as he wills them. When he speaks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ, people listen๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ. When others disagree๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿค with him, they back downโฌ. Each newโœจ drug๐Ÿ’Š he designs๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโžก๏ธ is a masterpiece; he paints๐ŸŽจโžก๏ธ delicate๐Ÿ“๐Ÿฆ‹ interior pictures๐Ÿ–ผ, intricate compositionsโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ› of emotion๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜ญ and sensation๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘…, and makes careful use of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง . His creations bring him wealth๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’Ž, and prosperity๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’น comes to everyone on his team. Success๐Ÿ†โฌ‡๏ธ begets๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ถโžก๏ธ success๐Ÿ†โฌ‡๏ธ. All that he touches๐Ÿ‘‰โžก๏ธ turns๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ to gold๐Ÿ’, and soon his reports๐Ÿ—‚๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ have reports๐Ÿ—‚๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ leaves๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ the barracks and builds๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ an elaborate house๐Ÿฏ insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ the Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ compound, full of galleries๐Ÿ–ผ, hallways๐Ÿ›, and fountainsโ›ฒ๏ธ, stairways, courtyards, and fora, arches, walls, and facades. The construction๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ is quickโฉ becauseโ†˜๏ธ they exist outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ the regulating๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍โš–๏ธ๐Ÿ” eyes๐Ÿ‘ of any municipal๐ŸŒ†๐Ÿ” government๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ›. The work is crowdsourced๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to builders๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ through a platform called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Hive๐Ÿ๐Ÿ , which orthogonalizes skill fromโฌ…๏ธ labor๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝ‍๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿคš. Gig workers come on site, their bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต driven๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ by AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง , renting out โ€œmeat๐Ÿ– time๐Ÿ•ฐโ€ through the cloudโ˜๏ธ. Everything they see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ passes through them but they do not retain it. Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ has a special proxy that lets you spoof๐Ÿคฅโžก๏ธ a non-jailbroken๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿ’” Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to interface with mainstream app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ ecosystems๐ŸŒฑโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ no๐Ÿšซ longer goes to the walled garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ where the courtesans๐Ÿ’ƒ dwell, and instead they come to him. Even the madame๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿ’ƒ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, a cold๐Ÿฅถ๐Ÿ” woman called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Dowager๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿป, treats him warmly๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ” when he asksโ“โžก๏ธ her to sendโœ‰๏ธโžก๏ธ overโคต๏ธ his (second) favorite girl.

Yet even as he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ these successes๐Ÿ†, he loses more time๐Ÿ•ฐ, a lot more time๐Ÿ•ฐ, into the void๐ŸŒ€ of his own missing๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž. A part of him brushes๐Ÿ–Œโžก๏ธ it off, doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… want to admit it, doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… want to think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about the implications. But one reflective๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ” night๐ŸŒ’, staring into the smokey dusk of the mountainsโ›ฐ, autumn๐Ÿ๐ŸŽƒ fires burning๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ in the fields๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ—บ and by the highwaysโซ๐Ÿ›ฃ, ash raining๐ŸŒง fromโฌ…๏ธ heavenโ›…๏ธ, sky red fromโฌ…๏ธ sunโ˜€๏ธ and smoke๐Ÿ’จ, he installsโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ Nai He Bridge ๅฅˆไฝ•ๆกฅ fromโฌ…๏ธ Alchemistโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’พ, which willโ†—๏ธ record๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ what he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ and hears๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ and upload๐Ÿคฒ๐Ÿ›ฐโžก๏ธ them into a private๐Ÿคซ repository๐Ÿ’พโ˜๏ธ. With this, he hopes, he willโ†—๏ธ be able to reconstruct๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ his missing๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” activities.

The next morning๐ŸŒ…, and in the times๐Ÿ•ฐ when he doesโœ…โžก๏ธ feel present and aware๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€ โ€“ in the times๐Ÿ•ฐ he remembers๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ โ€“ he forgets๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž๐Ÿ“‰โžก๏ธ to checkโœ…โžก๏ธ the records๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ Nai He Bridgeๅฅˆไฝ•ๆกฅ. In truth๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ, he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… want to see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ them.

Deepโฌ in the walled garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ, deepโฌโ€”how deepโฌ?
Mist๐ŸŒซ stacks๐Ÿฅž on willows,
Uncountable๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿงฎ layers๐Ÿฐ of screens๐Ÿ“บ and blinds๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™ˆ.

Memo๐Ÿ“: Impossibility๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” of Recording๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ Noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง

The most famous๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ” story of Zhuangzi่ŽŠๅญ is the dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ of the butterfly๐Ÿฆ‹. Is Zhuangzi่ŽŠๅญ dreaming๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ” he is a butterfly๐Ÿฆ‹, or is a butterfly๐Ÿฆ‹ dreaming๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ” he is Zhuangzi่ŽŠๅญ? This question is impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ to answerโ—๏ธโžก๏ธ beforeโ†™๏ธ Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—, and after Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—, it is still impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ.

There is no way๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ to record๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ the first-person1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ phenomenological๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… experiences of the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป; we can only record๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ†๏ธ (and play backโ–ถ๏ธโžก๏ธ) the electrical โšก๏ธ๐Ÿ” signals๐Ÿšฆ that pass through the brain๐Ÿง . By sampling the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), it is possibleโฌ†๏ธ to reconstruct๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ the optical signal๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿšฆ coming in through the eyes๐Ÿ‘, but the subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” modality such as those produced๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ by the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง procedure arises โ€œdownstreamโฌ๐ŸŒŠโ€ fromโฌ…๏ธ the LGN. The correlation๐Ÿ“Š๐Ÿ”€โฌ‡๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช these signals๐Ÿšฆ and the visual๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” perceptions they induce๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ appears to be non-deterministic๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿงฎ. As such, no two people can have the same experience repeatably๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ” using any of our noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง protocols๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿฏ. In theory๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿค”, if we record๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง experienced by a subject for a single1๏ธโƒฃ recording๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ, and play backโ–ถ๏ธโžก๏ธ the exact same signals๐Ÿšฆ for a second time๐Ÿ•ฐ, the experience should be nearly identical๐Ÿ†”โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”, but this is not the case.

And despite this, we find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ that most volunteers who experience the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง protocols๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿฏ report๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ† that are similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž in character, even if they vary in their specifics๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฏ. This might indicate fundamental commonalities in the ways that all of our brains๐Ÿง  are wiredโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถโžก๏ธ, but thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is also a sense in which the mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช colors๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง and subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  experience is an artifact๐Ÿบ of our equipment. The different โ€œfrequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰โ€ in the spectrum๐ŸŒˆ of the whiteโšช๏ธ vs. pink๐ŸŒธ vs. red๐Ÿ”ด noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง correspondโš–๏ธ๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ to specific๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฏ electrodesโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— in the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device. At the lowestโฌโฌ level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ, the pins๐Ÿ“ are numbered๐Ÿ”ขโžก๏ธ and the precise๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ of a particular spectral๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ” band to a particular location๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“ in the brain could be different.

It so happens that Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— electrodesโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— are implanted in the userโ€™s brain๐Ÿง  in a consistent way, to the highestโซโซ degree๐Ÿ“๐ŸŒก possibleโฌ†๏ธ, but if the mapping๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ of positions๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ to electrodesโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— were inverted๐Ÿ”ƒโžก๏ธ, for example๐Ÿ“บ๐Ÿง’, pink๐ŸŒธ noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง would effectively become azure๐Ÿ”ต and red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง would become violet๐Ÿ’œ.

Procedure: Red Noise ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 8Hz, 10 mV

Red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, also called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Brownian noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, is pink noise๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง purifiedโš—๏ธโžก๏ธ. Gone are the dreamy๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… of white noiseโšช๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, and in their place is a brutal๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿค• clarity๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž, and a feeling of communion๐Ÿž๐Ÿท with a chthonic๐Ÿ‘น๐ŸŒ‹ mother๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ goddess. These sensations๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘… are not distant or vague; I feel sober, wakefulโ˜•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”, and in control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ of my own mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, despite external evidence๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“Š to the contrary๐Ÿšซ. At lowโฌ frequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰, it is still possibleโฌ†๏ธ to interact with other researchers๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ and people around me.

Hongๆดช: What is your name๐Ÿท?
Zhangๅผ : Eric Zhangๅผ 

Hongๆดช: Where are you?
Zhangๅผ : In Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— research lab๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿฅผ 2.501. On planet earth๐ŸŒŽ.

Hongๆดช: What is happening?
Zhangๅผ : We are perforrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmming a noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง trial๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธ with red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง.

Hongๆดช: What do you see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : *groans*

Brownian noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is sensual and, as noted๐Ÿ—’โžก๏ธ previouslyโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ”, full of tastes๐Ÿ‘…โฌ‡๏ธ and smells๐Ÿ‘ƒโฌ‡๏ธ, though they are disconnected๐Ÿšซโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”— fromโฌ…๏ธ any sensation of eating๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹. I can taste๐Ÿ‘…โฌ†๏ธ flowers๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒบ and charcoal๐ŸŒ‹๐Ÿชจ and butyric acid๐Ÿงˆ๐Ÿคฎ. Beyondโ†—๏ธ this thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is no sensation of rapture or transport๐Ÿš…โฌ‡๏ธ, as at higherโซ framerates๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšด‍โ™‚๏ธ. As I interact with my colleagues, I have ideation๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž to Capgras delusion๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿฆ„, the feeling that they have been replaced๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ by identical๐Ÿ†”โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” impostors๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ. This is unsettling, but it passes when the procedure concludes๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ.

Procedure: Red Noise ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 8Hz, 20 mV

The familiar environment of the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ becomes strange๐Ÿฆ‘; the walls and floors appear to be made of rock๐Ÿชจ, as if I am in a cave๐Ÿšชโ›ฐ. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are snakes๐Ÿ and worms๐Ÿชฑ moving through the walls. They seem intelligent๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿง , and I am not concerned about their presence. Highโซ above me, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is an opening๐Ÿ•ณ in the ceiling, and I can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ the sky full of starsโญ๏ธ. All of these sensations are vivid and wakefulโ˜•๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”, and they feel as real as any other sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… perceptions.

The ground gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ way underneathโ†ฉ๏ธ me, and I beginโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ downโฌ an endless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ”š rampโ™ฟ๏ธ๐Ÿ“ or slide, through colorful๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ layers๐Ÿฐ of rock๐Ÿชจ and earth๐ŸŒŽ. This is enjoyable๐Ÿคช, and I can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ that even as I fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ deeperโฌ and deeperโฌ, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are luminous๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ’ฅ snakes๐Ÿ boringโ›๐Ÿ” and tunneling at every depthโฌโฌ‡๏ธ. When I finally emerge fromโฌ…๏ธ the consciousness๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ of the red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, I can still see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ their after-imagesโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ–ผ. It feels likeโค๏ธ they were always thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, and the red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง only revealed them.

Note๐Ÿ—’: On the Future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ of Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—

I am looking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” for something highlyโซ๐Ÿ” specific๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฏ; but it would be wrong๐Ÿšซ to say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ I am looking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” for a signal๐Ÿšฆ in all of this noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง. Rather, I have had a vision๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are things I have seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ in these experiments๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“โฌ‡๏ธ that cannot๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ be put into words๐ŸŽ™โœ, or things which are unwise to describe. In all I have doneโœ…โžก๏ธ so far, I have seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ where this project is headed๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ, unless something drastic occurs. Even if I disappear๐Ÿ‘ปโžก๏ธ tomorrow๐Ÿ“…โ†—๏ธ, others willโ†—๏ธ pick up where I left off. The future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ of this technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช is clear๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž.

As the device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ becomes more sophisticated, increasingly delicate๐Ÿ“๐Ÿฆ‹ control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ” of the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต willโ†—๏ธ be possibleโฌ†๏ธ. Already we are exploring๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ” the possibilities of specialized installationsโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, in which two2๏ธโƒฃ devices๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ are implanted๐Ÿ”ฉโžก๏ธ in a single1๏ธโƒฃ brain๐Ÿง , one for general purpose compute๐Ÿ’ป and one for localized control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ of the hands๐Ÿคš. In this configuration๐ŸŽ›โฌ‡๏ธ, it is possibleโฌ†๏ธ to perform๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ complex tasks such as detailed drawing๐Ÿ–ผโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ”. (E. Zhangๅผ , C. Hongๆดช, 2030, Fine Motor๐Ÿš— Skill Transference Through Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— Imaging๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿ”). In its maturity๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿปโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”, it willโ†—๏ธ be the consensus understandingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโฌ‡๏ธ that experts๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ are able to move your body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต better than you.

Everything fromโฌ…๏ธ athletics๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโ›น๐Ÿฟ‍โ™‚๏ธ, to manual labor๐Ÿคš๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝ‍๐ŸŒพ, operating machinery๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, even sexual๐Ÿ†๐ŸŒฎ๐Ÿ” performance๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ willโ†—๏ธ become automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ. We willโ†—๏ธ surrender๐Ÿณโžก๏ธ all bodily๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต autonomy๐Ÿค–โฌ†๏ธ to machines๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, and this willโ†—๏ธ be rational๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”, becauseโ†˜๏ธ recordings๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ of experts๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ combined with artificial intelligence๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  willโ†—๏ธ give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ everyone the ability to draw๐Ÿ–ผโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ Picasso๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐ŸŽจ, swim๐ŸŠ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ an olympian๐Ÿ…, drive๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ a racecar driver๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, perform๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ neurosurgery๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ, and so onโœ… and so onโœ…. In the 2010s everyone agreed๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ to carry๐Ÿ’ผโžก๏ธ surveillance๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“บ๐Ÿ” tracking devices๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ on their person at all times๐Ÿ•ฐ, which could record๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโžก๏ธ their every movement and listen๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ to every word๐ŸŽ™โœ they said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ through always-on microphones๐ŸŽค. They chose this gladly๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ” becauseโ†˜๏ธ the convenience๐Ÿชโฌ‡๏ธ it offered and the possibilities it unlocked๐Ÿ”“โžก๏ธ far outweighedโซโš–๏ธโžก๏ธ any negatives, which were barely๐Ÿค perceptible.

Not only willโ†—๏ธ we make this same trade๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿค again, but Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— willโ†—๏ธ also make it possibleโฌ†๏ธ for machines๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ to monitor๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“บโžก๏ธ our thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ. Some good๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ may come of this, but it willโ†—๏ธ mean the loss of all individuality and privacy๐Ÿคซโฌ‡๏ธ, and willโ†—๏ธ signify๐Ÿชงโžก๏ธ a true era of โ€œpost-humanity.๐Ÿ•ฐโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธโ€

Procedure: Red Noise ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 15hz, 20 mV

Each time๐Ÿ•ฐ I go deeperโฌ into the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, it feels likeโค๏ธ I go deeperโฌ into the earth๐ŸŒŽ. Likeโค๏ธ a journey to the bottomโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”š of the sea๐ŸŒŠ, I encounter ever stranger๐Ÿฆ‘ and more exotic๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿฝ creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ as I descendโฌโžก๏ธ. I can find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ no explanation for these visions๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ, nor for the scent๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’จ of minerals๐Ÿชจ and noxious gas๐Ÿคข๐Ÿ’จ, nor for the eerie๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿ‘ป consistency of the things I encounter. By all logic๐Ÿงฎ, the experience of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in the brain๐Ÿง  should be a kind of frenetic chaos๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿ”€, an ephemeral shifting of random๐ŸŽฒ sensations and memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž.

As I go deeperโฌ still, I am met with the tastes๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก of ash and soot and sulfur. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are fires๐Ÿ”ฅ burning๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ” all around me, and I am falling๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ” through a tunnel into the deepestโฌโฌ depthsโฌ of the earth๐ŸŒŽ. It is darker here but for the firelight๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ’ก and the bioluminescenceโ˜ฃ๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ of creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ that would seem more usual at the bottomโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”š of the sea๐Ÿš๐ŸŒŠ. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is no water๐Ÿ’ง, and yet I fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ past floatingโ˜๏ธ๐Ÿ”, ethereal๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” beings that resemble anglerfish๐ŸŽฃ๐ŸŸ, vampire squids๐Ÿง›๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿฆ‘, and other deepโฌ ocean๐ŸŒŠ monstrosities๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿฆ–, and still I descendโฌโžก๏ธ.

Procedure: Red Noise ๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 30hz, 40 mV

In a vast undergroundโ†ช๏ธโ›ฐ palace๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฏ I meet the devil๐Ÿ‘น. Perhaps itโ€™s more accurate๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿ” to say I perceive an entity๐Ÿ‘ฝwho tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me he is the devil๐Ÿ‘น. In the course of my investigations๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ I have seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ many such entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ, which I readily understandโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ“šโžก๏ธ as hallucinations๐Ÿคฉ๐ŸŽ†.

This is different. This one speaks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ to me, looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ at me, regards me, this creature๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ made of neon outlines and covered๐Ÿƒโžก๏ธ in eyes๐Ÿ‘. He tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me he is the ruler๐Ÿคด of this place, and that I should feel honored๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ…โžก๏ธ to meet him, but I do not๐Ÿšซ trust๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ this entity๐Ÿ‘ฝ; in my gut I can feel he is trying to trick๐Ÿƒโžก๏ธ me.

He shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ me visions๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ of high-upโซ places, and memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž of the past๐Ÿ•ฐโ†–๏ธ and future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ, but he can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ I am not convinced, and he tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me I am clever for seeing๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ” through his ruse๐Ÿƒ. He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œDamnation๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿ”ฅ is but a word๐ŸŽ™โœ bandied about by those whose blindness๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™ˆ leads๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ them to condemn๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿ”ฅโžก๏ธ all who can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ, even with a single1๏ธโƒฃ eye๐Ÿ‘.โ€

As soon as I hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ this, the red noise๐Ÿ”ด๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง procedure concludes๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ.

Procedure: Re-Entry ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿšช (III)

Branch๐Ÿชƒ wakesโ˜•๏ธโžก๏ธ to himself in the middle of the night๐ŸŒ’, and heโ€™s not in his bed๐Ÿ›. Heโ€™s in a field๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ—บ thirty minutesโฒ south๐Ÿงญโฌ of the compound, alone on a hillside, with an LED flashlight๐Ÿ”ฆ. He doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ whyโ‰๏ธ and he has the sense heโ€™s interrupting something, but he makes his way back to his house๐Ÿ , with some difficulty. Thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ a wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ on the back of his hand๐Ÿคš; two perfectly straight, perpendicular, intersecting๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ” cutsโœ‚๏ธ, which could only have been inflicted deliberately, and with his own complicity, or if he had been restrainedโ›“โžก๏ธ.

The anxiety of ignorance outweighsโซโš–๏ธโžก๏ธ the anxiety of knowing๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿ”, and he opens the Nai He Bridgeๅฅˆไฝ•ๆกฅ to see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ what he has been doingโœ…๐Ÿ” in his absence๐Ÿ‘ปโฌ‡๏ธ. Naturally๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ”, he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ at all โ€“ the app๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’พ has been disabledโ™ฟ๏ธโžก๏ธ, and all of its records๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ“ผโฌ‡๏ธ wiped๐Ÿงผโžก๏ธ. Whatever Branch๐Ÿชƒ had expected โ€“ half-articulated imaginings๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โฌ‡๏ธ of dark rituals๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™, flowing๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ” robes๐Ÿ‘˜, human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ sacrifice๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฉธ, masked men gathered around some hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ stone altar, chanting๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ›โžก๏ธ hideous names๐Ÿ‘บ๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ โ€“ he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ nothing๐Ÿšซโฌ‡๏ธ, and thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is only the fact of the wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ on his hand๐Ÿคš, and the strange๐Ÿฆ‘ hour๐Ÿ•.

The next day๐Ÿ“… he goes to Romero, who has neither joined his team, nor shared in his successes๐Ÿ†. Between๐Ÿฅช his lost time๐Ÿ•ฐ and his newโœจ importance, Branch๐Ÿชƒ has, to his shame๐Ÿ˜”, neglected his friend. But Romero receives๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ his invitation graciously, and comes to visit him at his newโœจ house๐Ÿฏ. They eat๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹โžก๏ธ and drink๐Ÿฅƒโžก๏ธ, and Branch๐Ÿชƒ, with some trepidation, tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him everything: about the mirror๐Ÿชž in Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช house, the missing๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” hours๐Ÿ•, the ineffable๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿ” awareness๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โฌ‡๏ธ he has of Zhangโ€™sๅผ  fourth labyrinthe4๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿชข, and the episode fromโฌ…๏ธ the previousโ†™๏ธ night๐ŸŒ’ in the field๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ—บ. He shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ Romero the wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ on his hand, the thin perpendicular lines that form a crossโœ๏ธ.

Romero listens๐Ÿ‘‚โžก to all of this stoically, and when Branch๐Ÿชƒ has finished๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ, he still does not๐Ÿšซโœ… speak๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ.

Procedure: Azure Noise ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 13hz, 10mV

At 13hz, 10mV, the effects of azure noise๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง are almost imperceptible๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘. I have a pervasive impression that I am being watched๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ, but I cannot say๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐ŸŽ™ who or what is watching๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ” me. I can speak๐Ÿ—ฃโฌ†๏ธ lucidly๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ” with other people.

Hongๆดช: What is your name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Eric Zhangๅผ 

Hongๆดช: Where are you?
Zhangๅผ : I am in a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— research lab๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿฅผ.

Hongๆดช: What is happening?
Zhangๅผ : We are conducting๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿฅข๐Ÿ” a trial๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธ with lowโฌ mV azure noise๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง.

Hongๆดช: What do you see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : The lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ. Everything is normal.

The lights๐Ÿ•ฏ feel very intense, much brighter than usual. I request that they be turnedโคด๏ธโžก๏ธ off. The lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ is still lit๐Ÿ•ฏโžก๏ธ by sunlightโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ, and now I can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ gently rolling๐Ÿ—ž๐Ÿ” geometric๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” patterns in the dark corners.

Procedure: Azure Noise ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 13hz, 20mV

The difference between๐Ÿฅช 10 and 20 mv is stark and immediate. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is no๐Ÿšซ possibility of interacting with anyone else in any normal capacity. I feel I have been pushed into another realm๐Ÿฐ๐ŸŒŽ entirely, as if I am seeing๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ โ€œbehind the curtain๐Ÿ‘ฐ.โ€ Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“, beings made of pure energyโš—โšก๏ธ, and they are rushing๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” around spreading๐Ÿงˆ๐Ÿ” viscous๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿ” light all over the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ likeโค๏ธ butter๐Ÿงˆ overโคต๏ธ bread๐Ÿž. One of them approaches me and says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œyouโ€™re getting closer; youโ€™re almost thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“.โ€ The creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ are laughing๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ” as they move to and fro, and their laughter๐Ÿ˜‚โฌ‡๏ธ is joyous๐Ÿ˜„, but empty of warmth๐Ÿ”ฅ or compassion.

They finish๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ covering๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ” everything in the room with light๐Ÿ•ฏ, and I can now see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ that a door๐Ÿšชโ€“or more accurately, a portal๐Ÿšช๐ŸŽ†โ€“ has opened. They beckonโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ me insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ, but beforeโ†™๏ธ I can enter๐Ÿšชโฌ†๏ธ, the trial๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธ concludes๐ŸŽฌ๐Ÿ”š.

Note๐Ÿ—’: Porousness๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿง€ of the Mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป/Machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ Distinction

We put a machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ inside your brain๐Ÿง , and that machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ connectsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to the internet๐ŸŒโšก๏ธ, and data๐Ÿ’พ flows๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ freely๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” between๐Ÿฅช them. Where does your mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ and the world๐ŸŒŽ beginโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ? This questionโ“ is as old as the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ time๐Ÿ•ฐ some ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” hominid๐Ÿต picked up a rock๐Ÿชจ or a stick๐ŸŒณ. Insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, the picture๐Ÿ–ผ of the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต includes the tool๐Ÿ›  it wields. If you drive๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ a car๐Ÿš—, your body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต is the car๐Ÿš—. If you pick up a hammer๐Ÿ”จ, the hammer is your arm๐Ÿ’ช. Youโ€™ve read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ this think piece๐Ÿค”๐Ÿงฉ beforeโ†™๏ธ. If you writeโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ downโฌ some words๐ŸŽ™โœ on your phone๐Ÿ“ฑ, they say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the text๐Ÿ“– is a part๐Ÿงฉ of your mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป.

Procedure: Azure Noise ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 13hz, 30mV

As soon as the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง rampsโ™ฟ๏ธ๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ up, everything I see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ is wrapped๐ŸŒฏโžก๏ธ in a lattice๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿชข of light๐Ÿ•ฏ. I feel as if I occupy several geometrically๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” impossible๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ configurations๐ŸŽ›โฌ‡๏ธ of matterโš›๏ธ simultaneously๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ•ฐ๐Ÿ”; I am both insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ and outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ of a cube๐Ÿ•‹. Freely๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ” wandering๐ŸŽฒ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”, I am walking๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” two2๏ธโƒฃ paths๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ›ฃ. I am following a trajectory in a high-dimensionalโซ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” space๐ŸŒŒ, and I canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ make sense of the torrent๐ŸŒŠโฌ‡๏ธ of images๐Ÿ–ผ I am seeing๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”.

The same creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ I saw at the lower voltageโฌ‡๏ธโšก๏ธ are present all around me now, only thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are more of them, and they welcome๐Ÿ‘‹โžก๏ธ me back with fanfares๐ŸŽบโฌ‡๏ธ and flashing๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ” lights๐Ÿ•ฏ. They tell๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ me my entry๐Ÿšชโฌ‡๏ธ into this space๐ŸŒŒ has been predestinedโ†™๏ธโœ๏ธ๐Ÿฅ…โžก๏ธ, that I was always supposed to be hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“, and they congratulate๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ me, as if I have won๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ some kind of prize๐Ÿ†๐ŸŽ or raffle๐ŸŽฐ๐ŸŽŸ. I am the elect๐Ÿ—ณ of humanity๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, chosen to receive๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ the knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ they are about to bestow๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ upon me. They are not forthcoming with the substanceโš›๏ธ of this knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ, however, and the remainder of the procedure is only variations on this theme.

Procedure: Azure Noise ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 20hz, 20mV

There is machinery๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ everywhere, made of glowing๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ” lines and hypercubesโซ๐Ÿ•‹, gearsโš™๏ธ and levers๐ŸŽš. It looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ the inside of a Rube Goldberg machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are panels๐ŸŽ› with buttons and screens๐Ÿ“บ, but the technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช is strangely๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿ” anachronisticโŒ๐Ÿ•ฐ, likeโค๏ธ a 1970s retrofuture๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are alien-looking๐Ÿ›ธโค๏ธ technicians shuffling๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ”€๐Ÿ” around adjusting and inspecting these controls๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ” and gauges๐ŸŒก๐Ÿ“Š. As I watch๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ, the machinery๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ is continuously reconfiguring๐Ÿ”‚๐ŸŽ›โžก๏ธ itself.

One of the alien๐Ÿ›ธ scientists๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ notices๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ me, and his face looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ a jester or a joker๐Ÿƒ card, but when I try to look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ him in the eyes๐Ÿ‘, he transforms๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ into a praying mantis๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฆ—. โ€œYouโ€™re not supposed to be hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“,โ€ he says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œbut since you found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ your way in, weโ€™ll allow๐Ÿ”“โœ๏ธโžก๏ธ you to stay.โ€

Three more of the alien joker๐Ÿ›ธ๐Ÿƒ mantis๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฆ— scientists๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ surround me and I am suddenly paralyzed, lying face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ upโซ on an operating table as in a medical facility๐Ÿฅ. They insert๐Ÿ’‰โžก๏ธ various monitors๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“บ and wiresโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถโฌ‡๏ธ into my skin and head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. Their instruments๐ŸŽป are connectedโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to the glowing๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ” retrofuture๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ clockwork๐Ÿ•ฐโš™๏ธ all around us, and as they make the connectionsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ, their machines๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ to infiltrate and infest๐ŸฆŸโžก๏ธ my body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, likeโค๏ธ jewel-encrusted๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿฅ–โžก๏ธ locusts๐ŸฆŸ.

They make an incision๐Ÿ”ชโฌ‡๏ธ on the back of my hand๐Ÿคš likeโค๏ธ a crossโœ๏ธ, and one1๏ธโƒฃ of the mantis๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฆ— men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, the one who first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ saw me, embeds๐Ÿ›โžก๏ธ a device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ in the wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ and then seals๐Ÿ’Œโžก๏ธ it back up. He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWeโ€™ll see๐Ÿ‘โ†—๏ธ you again soon.โ€

Procedure: Integrationโ›“๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โฌ‡๏ธ (I)

Romero tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ that whatever is happening to him, itโ€™s becauseโ†˜๏ธ of malware๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ’พ running๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” on his Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ. The solution to his problem is obvious; he should remove his device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ and flash๐Ÿ“ธโžก๏ธ it or installโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ another. This willโ†—๏ธ require neurosurgery๐Ÿ‘จ‍โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ, but with Branch๐Ÿชƒโ€™s newfoundโœจ๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ riches๐Ÿ’ฐ, he can easily afford this. Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ has its own facility๐Ÿฅ for these procedures, but given๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ the circumstances, he should not๐Ÿšซ rely on it.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ hears๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ this counsel and refuses๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโžก. He has alreadyโ†™๏ธ considered๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ these things, but he also knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ his recent successes๐Ÿ†โฌ‡๏ธ are due to that same malware๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ’พ, which contains the hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ and esoteric writingsโœ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of Eric Zhangๅผ . He willโ†—๏ธ not๐Ÿšซ give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ up this knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ, which he had so eagerly pursued, out of fear๐Ÿ˜จ or precaution.

And Romero says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ itโ€™s not๐Ÿšซ knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ but greed๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ‘ that is driving๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ” him, that what he really wonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโ†—๏ธ give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ up is the power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ the mirror tiger๐Ÿชž๐Ÿฏ has given๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ him, and the wealth๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’Ž that it brings. He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ is afraid๐Ÿ˜จ that without๐Ÿšซ this virus๐Ÿฆ  โ€“ letโ€™s not deceive๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฅ ourselves โ€“ he is afraid๐Ÿ˜จ he willโ†—๏ธ be unable to lead๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคด his subordinates and invent๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ successful๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ” newโœจ drugs๐Ÿ’Š.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ becomes angry๐Ÿ˜ก when he hears๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ this, and he tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Romero to leave๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ.

The sky looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ very blue๐Ÿ”ต.
Is that its real color๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ, or is it becauseโ†˜๏ธ itโ€™s so far away and has no end๐Ÿ”šโฌ‡๏ธ?
When the bird๐Ÿฆ looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ downโฌ, all he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ is blue๐Ÿ”ต, too

Procedure: Violet Noise ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 10hz, 10mV

After the dizzying๐Ÿ˜ต๐Ÿ’ซ๐Ÿ” phantasmagorias of high-intensityโซ Azure noise๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, lowโฌ mV violet noise๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง is initially underwhelmingโ†ช๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ฒ. All my perceptions are nominal, but when Dr. Hongๆดช asksโ“โžก๏ธ me the standard set of questionsโ“, I realize๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ that what I perceive as Dr. Hongๆดช is something else๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿ‘ฝ.

Not-Hong๐Ÿšซๆดช: What is your name๐Ÿทโฌ‡๏ธ?
Zhangๅผ : Eric Zhangๅผ 

Not-Hong๐Ÿšซๆดช: Whyโ‰๏ธ do you sigh overโคต๏ธ gore๐Ÿฉธ and decay๐Ÿฅ€?
Zhangๅผ : The universe is full of formless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ“ vibration.

Not-Hong๐Ÿšซๆดช: This type of insight๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘€ cannot๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ be expressed in words๐ŸŽ™โœ, cannot be written๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธโœ๏ธ downโฌ, and cannot be carved๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ—ฟ in stone๐Ÿชจ. And yet, you must choose.
Zhangๅผ : I choose the infiniteโ™พ, the All-is-One๐ŸŒŒ1๏ธโƒฃ, the beginningโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ which is without beginning๐Ÿšซโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ.

Not-Hong๐Ÿšซๆดช: We willโ†—๏ธ beginโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ to upliftโซ๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ you.
Zhangๅผ : Oh! If only this river๐ŸŒŠ of floatingโ˜๏ธโžก๏ธ peach-petals๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŒธ could carry๐Ÿ’ผโžก๏ธ me forever.

Hongๆดช-that-is-not-Hong๐Ÿšซๆดช says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ I willโ†—๏ธ show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ you the gateโ›ฉ๐Ÿšช to the next stage๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ of human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ evolution๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿ”€โฌ‡๏ธ, and then I willโ†—๏ธ give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ you the key๐Ÿ”‘. Beyondโ†—๏ธ this door๐Ÿšช lies the infiniteโ™พ๐ŸŒ€. Beyondโ†—๏ธ this door๐Ÿšช lies the All-is-One๐ŸŒŒ1๏ธโƒฃ.

Note๐Ÿ—’: Similaritiesโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž between๐Ÿฅช the Subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  Experience of Noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง and DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช

The above has not๐Ÿšซ been an exhaustive list๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ“ of the streaming๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ” noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง trials๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธ we conducted๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿฅขโžก๏ธ with Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—; instead, these accounts๐Ÿงพโฌ‡๏ธ have been selected to demonstrate specific๐Ÿ“๐ŸŽฏ motifs๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก that tend to occur at different speedsโฉ, intensities, and colors๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง. In accessory๐Ÿงฃ to our earlierโ†™๏ธ claim that the distinction between๐Ÿฅช a drug๐Ÿ’Š and a program๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ is the presence of certain kinds of logic๐Ÿงฎ, the effects of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง administered in this way seem to fall๐Ÿ‚โžก๏ธ underโ†ช๏ธ the category of drug๐Ÿ’Š. We are skeptical that mere noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง in any way encodesโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงฎ the visions๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ that our subjects experienced in these trials๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธ.

These motifs๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก include:

All of these same motifs๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก occur in another, perhaps unexpected๐Ÿ˜ฒ place: in the accounts๐Ÿงพโฌ‡๏ธ of the experiences of users of the drug Dimethyltryptamine (DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช.) Rick Strassman administered 400 doses of DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช to 60 volunteers overโคต๏ธ a period of five years between๐Ÿฅช 1990 and 1995. Half the volunteers reported meeting entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ including aliens๐Ÿ›ธ, other humans๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ, spiders๐Ÿ•ท, reptiles๐ŸฆŽ, impish๐Ÿ‘น creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ, and dwarves. (Strassman, 2000, DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงชโ€“ The Spirit Molecule)

In a survey of overโคต๏ธ 2500 DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช users who claimed to have encounters with โ€œentities๐Ÿ‘ฝ,โ€ most respondents๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ endorsed that the entity๐Ÿ‘ฝ had the attributes of being conscious๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ, intelligent๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿง , and benevolent๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ”, existed in some real but different dimension๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“ of reality, and continued to exist after the encounter. (Davis, A. K., Clifton, J. M., Weaver, E. G., Hurwitz, E. S., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R., 2020, Survey of entity๐Ÿ‘ฝ encounter experiences occasioned by inhaled N,N-dimethyltryptamine: Phenomenology, interpretation, and enduring effects.)

The commonalities between๐Ÿฅช the DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช experience and that of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง streamed๐ŸŒŠโžก๏ธ into the brain via Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— are too similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž to be coincidence. We identify๐Ÿ†”โžก๏ธ three possibilities:

  1. Endogenous DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช is already present in the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต. (Dean, J, Liu, T, Huff, S, et al., 2019, Biosynthesis and extracellular concentrations of N,N-dimethyltryptamine in Mammalian Brain) It is possibleโฌ†๏ธ that the noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง procedure somehow triggers๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ the release of DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช into the brain๐Ÿง .
  2. Ingested DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช causes neuronal๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง  activation patterns that are isomorphic๐Ÿชž๐Ÿ“ to noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง streamed๐ŸŒŠ in via Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—.
  3. That both noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง and DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช temporarily alter the brain๐Ÿง  in such a way that facilitates these perceptions, but that they derive fromโฌ…๏ธ some sourceโ›ฒ๏ธ which is independent๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ of either.

Procedure: Violet Noise ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 10hz, 20mV

The โ€œbreak๐Ÿ’”โžก๏ธthroughโ€ of violet noise ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง at 10hz, 20mV, is unlike๐Ÿšซโค๏ธ any other experience of noise๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง I have had to date๐Ÿ“†โฌ‡๏ธ. Within momentsโฑ, I occupy the position๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ of a floatingโ˜๏ธ๐Ÿ” eye๐Ÿ‘, likeโค๏ธ a drone or an overโคต๏ธ-the-shoulder camera๐Ÿ“ท in a video game๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽฎ. An entity๐Ÿ‘ฝ is thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ with me, and it says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œpay๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ attention๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿšจ to these things I am about to show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ you.โ€ We are deepโฌ in the Amazon jungle๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด, and we watch๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ as a party of ten or twelve men๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ are hiking๐Ÿฅพ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” a well-worn trail๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ›ฃ through the trees๐ŸŒณ.

At the head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ of the group, I see๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ a dark-skinned man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ with colorful markings painted๐ŸŽจโžก๏ธ on his face, followed by Elon Musk๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต and Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ Bezos๐Ÿ“š, followed by some men in tactical gear with guns๐Ÿ”ซ. Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต is carrying๐Ÿ’ผ๐Ÿ” a machete๐Ÿ”ช, which he uses to hack๐Ÿ”ชโžก๏ธ through the foliage๐Ÿโฌ‡๏ธ. Bezos thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ the way heโ€™s swinging it around makes him (Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต) look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ a dick๐Ÿ†.

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ is saying๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ” โ€œโ€ฆI still canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ believe I let you talk๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ me into this.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œIt was easy. I knew you would commit๐Ÿ’โžก๏ธ to do it if I askedโ“โžก๏ธ you in front of Priscilla, becauseโ†˜๏ธ for some reason that none of us can fathomโ€“not even Mark๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โ€“you want to impress her.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… respond๐Ÿ’ฌโžก๏ธ. Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต dramatically๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ” slashes๐Ÿ”ชโžก๏ธ a vine๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿงถ out of his way.

โ€œYou own a company called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ โ€˜Amazonโ€™ and youโ€™ve never๐Ÿšซ been to the Amazon beforeโ†™๏ธ.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œThink๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about how much our time๐Ÿ•ฐ is worth, put together. Think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ about how much this trip costs.โ€

โ€œIf you think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ that way, then youโ€™re a slave๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ. You could be the richest๐Ÿ’ฐโซโซ man in the world๐ŸŒŽ and still be a slave๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ. But thatโ€™s not an issue hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“. You willโ†—๏ธ be shocked๐Ÿ˜ฒโžก๏ธ at the ROI of this trip.โ€

โ€œWhere is the value๐Ÿ’ฐ? Is it in the drug๐Ÿ’Š? Is it โ€“โ€ Jeff affects a stoned๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿšฌโžก๏ธ hippyโœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฉ voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™ โ€œโ€“the journey? Whyโ‰๏ธ do we have to come all the way out hereโคต๏ธ๐Ÿ“?โ€

โ€œThere are things that canโ€™t be transplanted๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿš…๐ŸŒฑ. I canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ explain. No, I can, but I wonโ€™tโ†—๏ธ๐Ÿšซ. Youโ€™ll see๐Ÿ‘โ†—๏ธ.โ€

Their Shuar guide is taking them to a sacred๐Ÿ™ site for the ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ ritual๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™. Itโ€™s a two day2๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ“… hike fromโฌ…๏ธ their village๐Ÿ›–, deepโฌ in the trees๐ŸŒณ, where no๐Ÿšซ helicopter๐Ÿš can reach. The only way to go is on foot๐Ÿฆถ. Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ hates the humidity๐Ÿ’จโฌ‡๏ธ and the cloudโ˜๏ธ of mosquitoes๐ŸฆŸ that seem to follow him at all times๐Ÿ•ฐ, but Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต seems unperturbed๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ˜’. He keeps pointing๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ” out neon-colored๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆโžก๏ธ poison dart frogsโ˜ฃ๏ธ๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿธ, and Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ just doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… care at all becauseโ†˜๏ธ he has seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ several of them alreadyโ†™๏ธ and he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ theyโ€™re exhaustingly๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ” samey.

Fromโฌ…๏ธ my disembodied๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆตโžก๏ธ viewpoint๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ“ I am aware๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‘€โžก๏ธ of the thoughts๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ Bezosโ€™ head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ as he walks๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ through the jungle๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด. He is thinking๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ” about Star Trekโญ๏ธ๐Ÿงญ: The Next Generation, and how in the episode The Inner Lightโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ in season five, Picard is struck unconscious๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง  by an energy beam fromโฌ…๏ธ an alien๐Ÿ›ธ probe and it causes him to experience the entire lifetime of a scientist๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ on a long-deadโ˜ ๏ธ world๐ŸŒŽ. He has read๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ that people who take ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ trips go through this also.

He says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œI met with Steve Jobs๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’ป beforeโ†™๏ธ he diedโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ. He said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ something puzzling๐Ÿงฉ๐Ÿ” to me: that his debts๐Ÿ’ฐโ›“ were coming due. I didnโ€™t understand๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“š that. I thought๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ he was talking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ” about whatever strings๐Ÿงถ he pulled to get a new โœจliver. But after he diedโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ, I heard๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ a story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ that he met the devil๐Ÿ‘น on an LSD๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿงช trip and sold๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ his soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป for charisma๐Ÿ’˜๐Ÿ’ช and power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ. And then, when his cancer started๐Ÿโžก๏ธ to take him, that was the devil๐Ÿ‘น coming around to collect.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œOf course you donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… believe that.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œNo I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ…, but I think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ people who take psychedelic๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿง  drugs๐Ÿ’Š often end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up believing strange๐Ÿฆ‘ things. So I care more about if Steve๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’ป believed it.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œThereโ€™s a similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ about Foucault. Itโ€™s a common trope. Pureโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง superstition๐Ÿฆธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ป, moral panic by conservative Christiansโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธโ€œRight and I donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… care. But Steve๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’ป did use a lot of LSD๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿงช. He sold๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ the first1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ Apple๐ŸŽ computer๐Ÿ’ป for six hundred sixty six dollars and sixty six cents. The Apple๐ŸŽ with a bite out of it might have been chosen to represent the apple๐ŸŽ fromโฌ…๏ธ the tree of knowledge๐Ÿคฏโฌ‡๏ธ of good and evil in the garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ of Eden. Whyโ‰๏ธ did Steve๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’ป choose those things?โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYouโ€™re worried that if you take ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ one time๐Ÿ•ฐ, youโ€™re going to start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ believing a bunch of superstitious๐Ÿฆธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” nonsense.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYes, and thatโ€™s not a crazy thing to be worried about. In a survey of overโคต๏ธ 4000 people, 800 of whom identified๐Ÿ†”โžก๏ธ as atheists๐Ÿšซโœ๏ธ, three fourths of the atheists๐Ÿšซโœ๏ธ changed๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ their mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป after using psychedelic๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿง  drugs๐Ÿ’Š.โ€ (Griffin, Hurwitz, Davis, Johnson, Jesse, 2019, Survey of subjective๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  โ€œGodโœ๏ธ encounter experiencesโ€: Comparisons among naturally๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ occurring experiences and those occasioned by the classic psychedelics๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿง  psilocybin๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿ„, LSD๐ŸŽ†๐Ÿงช, ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ, or DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช)

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œDo you believe in Godโœ๏ธ, Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ?โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œI believeโ€ฆ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are more things in Heavenโ›…๏ธ and earth๐ŸŒŽ.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWell then you donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… have to worry. The goal๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ of this is to learn๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ newโœจ information๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ’พ. Some people call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ it โ€˜expanding your perceptions.โ€™ I focus๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ on things that are concrete and actionable. But you should expect to believe something different after youโ€™ve doneโœ…โžก๏ธ it. Thatโ€™s the point๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ’ก.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYouโ€™ve doneโœ…โžก๏ธ this beforeโ†™๏ธ. What newโœจthings do you believe?โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œThatโ€™s proprietary.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ feels likeโค๏ธ theyโ€™re speaking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ” different languages despite using the same words๐ŸŽ™โœ and grammar. Itโ€™s almost likeโค๏ธ in Star Trekโญ๏ธ๐Ÿงญ: The Next Generation, season five episode two, โ€œDarmokโ€ where Picard meets an alien๐Ÿ›ธ species who talks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ entirely in allusions to their mythic๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฒ๐Ÿ” history๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ“œ.

They walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ in silence๐Ÿ”ˆ๐ŸŒ€โฌ‡๏ธ for another mile beforeโ†™๏ธ Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต speaks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ up and says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œDo you think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of yourself as powerful๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ”?โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYes. I have changed๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ the world๐ŸŒŽ. My leadership๐Ÿคด๐Ÿšข built๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ the backbone๐Ÿฆด of the internet๐ŸŒโšก๏ธ.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWell, youโ€™re not๐Ÿšซ. Have you ever looked๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ at another manโ€™s wife๐Ÿ‘ฐ and decided๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ to take her, likeโค๏ธ an ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” king๐Ÿคด or a barbarian? Any tribal๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿคด chief likeโค๏ธ the ones in the Shuar can doโœ…โžก๏ธ that, but you canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ scoffs. โ€œFirst1๏ธโƒฃโฌ‡๏ธ off, Iโ€™m not convinced that they even canโœ…โžก๏ธ do that. What about the rest of their tribe๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, wonโ€™t๐Ÿšซโ†—๏ธ they get mad๐Ÿ˜ก?โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWell look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ, thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ no need to speculate.โ€ He stops๐Ÿ›‘โžก๏ธ and waves๐Ÿ‘‹โžก๏ธ overโคต๏ธ the interpreter and the Shuar guide. โ€œAskโ“โžก๏ธ him,โ€ he says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œCan your chief๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿคด take another manโ€™s๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ wife๐Ÿ‘ฐ, if he wants to?โ€ The Shuar and the interpreter chat๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ’ฌโžก๏ธ for a momentโฑ, and the interpreter says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYes, but he might have to kill๐Ÿ’€โžก๏ธ the man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธโ€œThereโ€™s a lot more to power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ than being able to treat people likeโค๏ธ slaves๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ. Leadership๐Ÿคด๐Ÿšข is always contingent on the complicity of the people being lead๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œBut real power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ commands๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ. It makes people compliant. And thatโ€™s whyโ‰๏ธ you arenโ€™t๐Ÿšซ powerful๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ”, becauseโ†˜๏ธ you think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ your people have to choose to follow you.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWell, they do. I am a leader๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, and people follow me becauseโ†˜๏ธ they trust๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ me. They trust๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ me becauseโ†˜๏ธ I earn their trust๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿคโฌ‡๏ธ, by being right a lot.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธโ€œThatโ€˜s admirable๐Ÿคฉโค๏ธโฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ”, but it shows๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ a lack of imagination๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYou are confusing๐Ÿคท‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ with power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ. The need to demonstrate force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ is sporadic, and when force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ is not๐Ÿšซ continuously demonstrated, power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ has arisen. The difference between๐Ÿฅช dominance๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ and predation๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ˜‹โฌ‡๏ธ is the time๐Ÿ•ฐ scaleโš–๏ธ. A predator๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ dominates๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโžก๏ธ its prey, but it does not๐Ÿšซโœ… need to installโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ an enduring๐Ÿ—“โžก๏ธ dominion๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ช, becauseโ†˜๏ธ it doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… matterโš›๏ธโžก๏ธ if the prey submits๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ beyondโ†—๏ธ the momentโฑ of destruction๐Ÿ’ฃ๐Ÿ’ฅโฌ‡๏ธ.

โ€œWhen power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ resorts to using force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ, power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ is alreadyโ†™๏ธ lost. Underโ†ช๏ธ civilized conditions, power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ is exempted fromโฌ…๏ธ the test of force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ it has ascended๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œYouโ€™re talking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ” about dominance๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ vs prestige๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ†, but youโ€™re minimizing the fact that, if your power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ were tested, you couldnโ€™t resort to force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ if you wanted to. Dominance๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ can rebuild๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ itself into power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ by regressing to force๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ, but prestige๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ† canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ. Its power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ is pureโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง credit๐Ÿ’ณ๐Ÿ’ต, because itโ€™s not backed by dominance๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ.โ€

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œWeโ€™ll use your word: prestige๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ† is likeโค๏ธ magic๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ, and it works as long as everyone believes in it. When you have power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ, people start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ trying to do what you want, without๐Ÿšซ even askingโ“๐Ÿ” you, things you may not๐Ÿšซ even realize๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ you want. They try to anticipate your feelings and then act๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ preemptively on that.

โ€œYour gut feelings about people start๐Ÿโžก๏ธ to come true, and you end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up selecting for effective sycophants. It starts๐Ÿโžก๏ธ to feel likeโค๏ธ the harder you will something, the more it becomes manifest. And you end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up in whatever world๐ŸŒŽ you imagine๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ. So the way you imagine๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ works, thatโ€™s how it works for you.โ€

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œIn this jungle๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด, your magic๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ prestige๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ† canโ€™t protect๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ›ก you. Thatโ€™s whyโ‰๏ธ we had to outsource dominance๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ชโฌ‡๏ธ.โ€ Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต rolls๐Ÿ—žโžก๏ธ his head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ in the direction of their armed๐Ÿ’ผ๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ guards. โ€œBut the closer you get to the metal, the more your magic๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ fades๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ’จโžก๏ธ.โ€

โ€œBut we donโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… live in the jungle๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด,โ€ says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ, and he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ โ€œDarmok. And Jalad. Et Tanagra.โ€ Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต keeps talking๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ” but Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ tunes๐Ÿ“ป๐ŸŽ›โžก๏ธ him out. Doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… even hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ him. โ€œShaka when the walls fell.โ€

Procedure: Integrationโ›“๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โฌ‡๏ธ (II)

A shipment๐Ÿšขโฌ‡๏ธ of antique๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ” treasures๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ arrives at the compound, destinedโœ๏ธ๐Ÿฅ…โžก๏ธ to be made into tigers๐Ÿฏ to fill the halls and galleries๐Ÿ–ผ๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธ of Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ. It contains Chinese๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ ceramics๐Ÿบ and Persian๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท rugs, rare militaria such as 19th century swords๐Ÿ—ก and scabbards, dragoon helmets, knives and insignias. Thereโ€™sโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ a taxidermied๐Ÿงธโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ corpseโšฐ๏ธ๐Ÿฆต of a tiger๐Ÿฏ, posed in mid-leap, its jaws๐Ÿ‘„ open, its teeth๐Ÿฆท on display, and most interesting to Branch๐Ÿชƒ, a vintage cherry๐Ÿ’ red๐Ÿ”ด Porsche๐ŸŽ with jaguar๐Ÿ† hide seats๐Ÿ’บ.

For him, all of these things are tokens of Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช authority๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก, of the man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ he wishes๐Ÿงž‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ to become, or to bring downโฌ. Miaoyu ๅฆ™็Ž‰, the tall girl in whiteโšช๏ธ, is likewise a token, and Branch covets her with a desire๐Ÿ˜โฌ‡๏ธ bordering on spite. Each sight๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ of her is a slight; each thought๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ of her๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™€๏ธ with him๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธ is a wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ. And when he thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of her, he also thinks๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of the heightsโซ he willโ†—๏ธ ascend๐Ÿ”โžก๏ธ, of the respect๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคด he willโ†—๏ธ command๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ, and of the power๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ he deserves.

Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช is skilled in the art๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍๐ŸŽจโฌ‡๏ธ of slow intimidation, in the diabolical๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿ” trickery๐Ÿƒโฌ‡๏ธ of leading๐Ÿคดโžก๏ธ a man๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ on, step๐Ÿ‘ฃ by step๐Ÿ‘ฃ, shifting fromโฌ…๏ธ sincerity to mockery. Branch๐Ÿชƒ decides๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ to apply this ambiguous method to the task of replacing Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, but he willโ†—๏ธ take his time๐Ÿ•ฐ overโคต๏ธ it. He confides๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿคโžก๏ธ his plan to Romero, who pledges๐Ÿคš๐Ÿซ€โžก๏ธ to help, despite their earlierโ†™๏ธ disagreement๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคโฌ‡๏ธ.

An opportunity comes when a rival gang mounts๐Ÿ‡โžก๏ธ an attackโš”๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ against the Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ. This is a hazardโš ๏ธ of operating in black marketsโšซ๏ธ๐Ÿ’น, and they are prepared. The automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ security๐Ÿš“ systemโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ, called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Micro (vended by Uber) acts๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ through Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— to turn๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ every man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ into a soldier. Martial conflict is mostly automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ, and security๐Ÿš“ in meat-space๐Ÿฅฉ๐ŸŒŒ has come to resemble security๐Ÿš“ in cyberspace๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒŒ. Operational readiness consists of closing off vulnerabilities๐Ÿ”“๐Ÿšช in the automated๐Ÿค–โžก๏ธ security๐Ÿš“ deployment๐Ÿ’ป๐ŸŒฉโฌ‡๏ธ, installingโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ the latest patches, and educating๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿซโžก๏ธ personnel. Sophisticated attackersโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ run simulations๐Ÿ‘พ๐ŸŽญโฌ‡๏ธ against the common tactical systemsโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ in the space to find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ gaps๐Ÿค๐Ÿ•ณ in the coverage๐Ÿƒโฌ‡๏ธ of their target installationโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ. Itโ€™s a never-ending๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ”š๐Ÿ” arms race.

The AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง  security๐Ÿš“ systemโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ excels at tactics in a way that a human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ never๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ could, becauseโ†˜๏ธ it incorporates sensory๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘… data๐Ÿ’พ fromโฌ…๏ธ every agent in the systemโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ along with feeds fromโฌ…๏ธ security๐Ÿš“ cameras๐Ÿ“ท and other sensors throughout the compound, all in real-time๐Ÿ•ฐ. But at the highestโซโซ level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ, the human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ element is still relevant in these situations. Value๐Ÿ’ฐ judgements๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, decisions๐Ÿค”๐Ÿšชโฌ‡๏ธ that pertain to lethalityโ˜ ๏ธโฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ” or sacrifice๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฉธ, are routed๐Ÿ›ฃโžก๏ธ through a human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ authority๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก. In Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช conspicuous absence, Branch๐Ÿชƒ assumes the executive๐Ÿ‘‘ position๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ and directs๐ŸŽฌโžก๏ธ Uber Micro to defendโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ›กโžก๏ธ the compound and repel the attackersโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.

In the struggle, several men are shot๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ and injured๐Ÿค•โžก๏ธ, including Branch๐Ÿชƒ, whose shoulder is grazed๐ŸฆŒ๐ŸŒฑโžก๏ธ by a bullet, though he comes to no serious harm. The attackersโš”๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ breach the outer wall and even make it into the great hall๐Ÿ›, but Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ is well-fortified๐Ÿฐโžก๏ธ, and Branch is merciless. Using Uber Micro, he can feel the position๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—บ and tactical value๐Ÿ’ฐ of every friend and enemy, and he leaves no enemy alive.

Exulting in the glory๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿฆ… of violenceโš”๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ, and feeling the thrill๐ŸŽข of reckless authority๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ’ก, he orders๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ his men to bring Headstrongโ€™s๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช treasures๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’ into his own house๐Ÿ . He hangs the swords๐Ÿ—ก and guns๐Ÿ”ซ fromโฌ…๏ธ ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” battles on his walls. He places the leaping tiger๐Ÿฏ in his foyer to guard his door๐Ÿšช. He races the vintage Porsche through the winding roads๐Ÿ›ฃ of the Santa Cruz mountainsโ›ฐ, and he drifts through its twists and turnsโคด๏ธโžก๏ธ until his tire treads are bare. With his car๐Ÿš—, he can go anywhere he wants, but the wound๐Ÿค•๐Ÿฉธโฌ‡๏ธ on his shoulder is still fresh, and the excitement๐Ÿ’ฅโฌ‡๏ธ and vigor of the drive๐Ÿš—โฌ‡๏ธ makes his blood๐Ÿฉธ run downโฌ and stain the jaguar seats๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ’บ.

That same night๐ŸŒ’, he sleeps๐Ÿ†โžก๏ธ with Miaoyu ๅฆ™็Ž‰.

Note๐Ÿ—’: The Brain๐Ÿง  as Transceiver๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿ›ฐ?

When I was a child, thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ was a social media application called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Twitter, and the posts thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ tweets๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ’ฌ. I remember๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ” a tweet๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿ’ฌ that said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œThe corporate man is a victim of malware๐Ÿฆ ๐Ÿ’พ fromโฌ…๏ธ DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ that counsel powerful๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ” Bay Area๐ŸŒ‰๐Ÿ’ฉ and Hollywood๐ŸŽฅโญ๏ธ creatives. Machine elves ๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ taught them how to transmute๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹๐Ÿงช humans๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ into Bitcoinโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ’ธ minersโ›๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ; sexless ๐Ÿณ๏ธ‍โšง๏ธ๐Ÿ”, industrious๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ”, agreeable๐Ÿคโฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ”, anxious๐Ÿฅบ, dreamless๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ, likeโค๏ธ the entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ themselves.โ€ It stayed with me, after all these years๐Ÿ—“.

The visions๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ described above are highlyโซ unusual, even within the domain of streaming๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ” noise protocols๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿฏ. Our null hypothesis๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” must be that the entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ we perceive in these visions๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ are artifacts๐Ÿบ of our own minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป, a kind of pareidolia of our own internalโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ” states and impulses. Whether we anthropomorphize๐Ÿ™Ž‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“โžก๏ธ one of our own intentions as a machine elf๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ or another real person, the simplest and most parsimonious explanation is that the provenanceโ›ฒ๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of these things is purelyโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ’ง internalโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ๐Ÿ”, and that they operate on a principle similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž to a dream๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ.

The alternative to the null hypothesis0๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค”, which we call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ the occult๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“œ hypothesis๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” or the gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค”, is that the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, and by extension the brain๐Ÿง , is only a vessel๐Ÿšข for a distinct and โ€œmateriallyโš›๏ธ๐Ÿ”โ€ separate object called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป. Thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are materialistโš›๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ dualist versions of this hypothesis๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” which refer to the โ€œmind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ปโ€ as an epiphenomenonโ›“๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŽโค๏ธ of the brain๐Ÿง , and posit the relationship๐Ÿ’‘ between๐Ÿฅช them to be that of a computer processor๐Ÿ’ปโš™๏ธ and its software๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ’พ.

The gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” can be characterized by extending this metaphor to say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ that the mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป or โ€œsoul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ปโ€ exists in a separate universe fromโฌ…๏ธ the world๐ŸŒŽ of bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต that we know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ, and that that it connectsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to the physical body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต as if overโคต๏ธ a networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ.

The weak gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ this world๐ŸŒŽ of minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป that connectsโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ to the world๐ŸŒŽ of bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต is ontologically distinct and separate but connectedโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ by some rational๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ” and predictable principle.

The strong gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the world๐ŸŒŽ of minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป is ontologically primary1๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ” to the world๐ŸŒŽ of bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต and that the materialโš›๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ world๐ŸŒŽ as we know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ it is an epiphenomenonโ›“๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŽโค๏ธ of the world๐ŸŒŽ of minds๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป.

The strong gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿ‹๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” is not testable and, if true, would invalidate every scientific๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ”ญ๐Ÿ” paradigm in the world๐ŸŒŽ. The weak gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” suggests many intriguing possibilities, which have been explored๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ—บ at length in fiction and mysticism, and which empirical science๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ”ญ tends to discredit a priori, e.g.:

Further, we speculate that, under a gnostic๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง  model๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“Š of cognition, DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช, near-death experiences, and Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— noise might all work through a similarโš–๏ธ๐Ÿชž mechanismโš™๏ธ of action, โ€œdisrupting๐Ÿ’”โš™๏ธ๐Ÿ”โ€ the connectionโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โฌ‡๏ธ between๐Ÿฅช the brain and the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป, causing the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป to perceive the spirit world๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŒŽ instead of the materialโš›๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ.

Previouslyโ†™๏ธ๐Ÿ”, Marko Rodriguez (2006, A Methodology for Studying๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ” Various Interpretations of the N,N-dimethyltryptamine-Induced๐Ÿโ›ฒ๏ธโžก๏ธ Alternate Reality) proposed askingโ“๐Ÿ” DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ to factor large numbers๐Ÿ”ข into primes to prove that the entities๐Ÿ‘ฝ people experience while using DMT๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐Ÿงช are real.

The presence of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ presents a problem for this method, since in any trial๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โš–๏ธโš–๏ธwhere the human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ subject is equipped with a Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, the possibility that the device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ was invoked to request the prime factorization of a large number๐Ÿ”ข willโ†—๏ธ be more parsimonious than the possibility that a persistent and autonomous๐Ÿค–โฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ” spirit๐Ÿ‘ป in a parallel dimension๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“ was compliant enough to grant your request and had the mathematical๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ” or computational๐Ÿ’ปโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ” capacity to do so.

Indeed, we find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ that both versions of the gnostic hypothesis๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿง ๐Ÿค” are selected against, a priori, in standard scientific๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ”ญ๐Ÿ” paradigms.

Procedure: Violet Noise ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 13hz, 20mV

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ and Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต are seated in a Shuar tentโ›บ๏ธ on sacred๐Ÿ™ ground, dimly illuminated๐Ÿ•ฏโžก๏ธ by torches๐Ÿ”ฆ๐Ÿ”ฅ. The air๐ŸŒฌ๐Ÿ’จis thick with vapor fromโฌ…๏ธ a fog machine๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ plugged๐Ÿ”Œโžก๏ธ into a gas-poweredโ›ฝ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฐโžก๏ธ generatorโ›ฒ๏ธโš™๏ธ. Outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ the tentโ›บ๏ธ thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is a collection of shrunken heads๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ, but the interior is (mercifully, in Jeffโ€™s๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ estimation) free๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ of them.

The shaman๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ is singing๐ŸŽถโžก๏ธ an Icaro, a magic๐Ÿง™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ song๐ŸŽถ which he willโ†—๏ธ have learned๐Ÿ™‡‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ in an ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ vision. Many psychonauts๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€ report๐Ÿ—‚โžก๏ธ hearing๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ” vivid alien๐Ÿ›ธ music๐ŸŽผwhen underโ†ช๏ธ the influence๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธ of these plants๐ŸŒฑ, and the shamans๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ bring these songs๐ŸŽถ back with them to facilitate passage into the spirit world๐Ÿ‘ป๐ŸŒŽ. Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ is still waiting to feel the effects of the drug๐Ÿ’Š, and the whole episode makes him think๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of TNG season seven, episode seventeen, Masks๐ŸŽญ, in which an alien๐Ÿ›ธ artifact๐Ÿบ transforms๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฆ‹โžก๏ธ the Enterprise into a stage๐ŸŸ๐ŸŽช where Lt. Commander๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ Data acts๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ out the mythological๐Ÿ›๐Ÿฒ cycles๐Ÿšด‍โ™€๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ of an ancient๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“œ๐Ÿ” alien๐Ÿ›ธ society. The imagery๐Ÿ–ผโฌ‡๏ธ๐ŸŽญ in Masks๐ŸŽญ is distinctly meso-American and Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ wonders๐Ÿค”โ“โžก๏ธ if itโ€™s racist to draw๐Ÿ–ผโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ this comparison.

~

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต is alreadyโ†™๏ธ descendingโฌ๐Ÿ” into the depthsโฌ of botanical๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ” dimensions๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“, dreaming๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ” of scenes fromโฌ…๏ธ his life. He sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ himself on a stage๐ŸŸ๐ŸŽช giving๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ a demonstration of an early Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— prototype.

โ€œโ€ฆ[T]he device 8mm thick, fits invisibly๐Ÿงฟ๐Ÿ” in your skull๐Ÿ’€, 1024 channels, all day๐Ÿ“… chargeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”‹, tiny scar, no wiresโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถโฌ‡๏ธ. Invisible๐Ÿงฟ if itโ€™s underโ†ช๏ธ your hair. I could have one now. Youโ€™d never know๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคฏโ€ฆโ€

Gertrude the pig๐Ÿท is smiling๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ” and trotting around. All the screens๐Ÿ“บ in the presentation hall๐Ÿ› show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ a wireframeโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถ๐Ÿ–ผ of her limbs animating as she walks๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ, generated by reading๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ“–โžก๏ธ the incoming data๐Ÿ’พ fromโฌ…๏ธ her Neuralink ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ.

โ€œโ€ฆlikeโค๏ธ a fitbit in your brain๐Ÿง . Sort of likeโค๏ธ if your phone๐Ÿ“ฑ went into your brain๐Ÿง . Maybe not a great analogyโ€ฆ.โ€

~

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ is beginningโ›ฒ๏ธ๐Ÿ” to feel uncomfortable๐Ÿฅต. He is drifting through space๐ŸŒŒ, and as he floatsโ˜๏ธโžก๏ธ he meets a spider๐Ÿ•ท with a billion arms๐Ÿ’ช. It tells๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ him he has oriented his entire life around an imaginary๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ” being called๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ the โ€œthe customer๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿทโ€ with whom he is ostensibly โ€œobsessed.โ€ As the spider๐Ÿ•ท talks๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ it undulates and its array of gelatinous๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿ” eyes๐Ÿ‘ glimmer๐Ÿ•ฏโœจ with light๐Ÿ•ฏ of no terrestrial๐Ÿšซ๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ” color๐ŸŽจ๐ŸŒˆ.

โ€œโ€” but thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ is no๐Ÿšซ customer๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿท!โ€ The spiderโ€™s๐Ÿ•ท voice๐Ÿ—ฃ๐ŸŽ™ comes fromโฌ…๏ธ insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ his own skull๐Ÿ’€. โ€œThere are only many customers๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿท, and the only qualities of their idealized๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ aggregationโž•๐Ÿ“Šโฌ‡๏ธ are its banal, basic, animal๐Ÿฆ drives๐Ÿš—โฌ‡๏ธ, which you end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up not๐Ÿšซ only satisfying๐Ÿคคโžก๏ธ but driving๐Ÿš—โžก๏ธ to their limit.โ€

The spider๐Ÿ•ท continues,

โ€œYou do user research๐Ÿ”ฌโฌ‡๏ธ where you believe you should listen๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ to peopleโ€™s stated problems but not their stated solutions. Listening๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ to what people say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ they want is considered๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ a mistake โ€“ instead you try to invent๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ things the user doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… even know๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ they want, and you do this according to the logic๐Ÿงฎ of the aggregatedโž•๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ and infantilized๐Ÿ‘ถโžก๏ธ customer๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿท that you have invented๐Ÿ’กโš™๏ธโžก๏ธ. And the more you do this, the more you actually end๐Ÿ”šโžก๏ธ up warping human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ nature๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฑ and molding it into the shape๐Ÿ“ of your imaginary๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰ human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ ideal๐Ÿ’กโฌ‡๏ธ, homogenizing๐Ÿณ๏ธ‍๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿ” everyone into their basest desires๐Ÿ˜โฌ‡๏ธ.

~

Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต has a memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž fromโฌ…๏ธ when he was a child that he relives overโคต๏ธ and overโคต๏ธ. When he was a young boy๐Ÿ‘ฆ in Pretoria๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ›, his family had a housekeeper๐Ÿงน๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™€๏ธ who talked๐Ÿ—ฃโžก๏ธ to spirits๐Ÿ‘ป. She told him thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ are earthly๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ” doors๐Ÿšช hidden๐Ÿ™ˆโžก๏ธ in caves๐Ÿšชโ›ฐ and forests๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ that you can walk๐Ÿšถ‍โ™‚๏ธโฌ†๏ธ through and emerge on the moon๐ŸŒ•. Most are too small๐Ÿค , but the housekeeper๐Ÿงน๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ‍โ™€๏ธ showed๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him one, a keyhole-sized๐Ÿ”‘๐Ÿ•ณ gateโ›ฉ๐Ÿšช she found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ in the garden๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒฟ, underโ†ช๏ธ a rock๐Ÿชจ. Young Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต had put his eye๐Ÿ‘ to it and seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ the cold๐Ÿฅถ lunar๐ŸŒ•๐Ÿ” landscape, the darker gray of the lunar๐ŸŒ•๐Ÿ” sea๐Ÿš๐ŸŒŠ, the blue๐Ÿ”ต and whiteโšช๏ธ mottled sphere rising gibbous๐ŸŒ” on the horizon. He knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ the memory๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž is falseโŒ, that it canโ€™t๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ be real, that itโ€™s something heโ€™s imagined๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ‰โžก๏ธ or dreamed๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅโžก๏ธ, but the ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ spirits๐Ÿ‘ป show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ it to him every time๐Ÿ•ฐ, and he dreams๐Ÿ’ค๐ŸŽฅ of it often.

Beforeโ†™๏ธ Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต was born, Wernher von Braun๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช wroteโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ the history๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ“œ of a future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ Martian colony:

The Martian government๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ› was directed๐ŸŽฌโžก๏ธ by ten men, the leader๐Ÿคด๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ of whom was elected๐Ÿ—ณโžก๏ธ by universal suffrage๐Ÿ—ณโฌ†๏ธ๐Ÿ” for five years๐Ÿ—“ and entitled โ€˜Elon.โ€™

Braun believed the chthonic๐Ÿ‘น๐ŸŒ‹๐Ÿ” world๐ŸŒŽ is as profoundly inhuman๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ as the blackโšซ๏ธ reaches of space๐ŸŒŒ, and that the quest for outer space๐ŸŒŒ and the quest for the subterraneanโฌ‡๏ธโ›ฐ๐Ÿ” world๐ŸŒŽ are one and the same.

~

Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ the famous๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ” machine elves๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ, which look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ to him likeโค๏ธ iridescent๐ŸŽจ๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿ” insects๐Ÿ›๐ŸฆŸ made of mosque๐Ÿ•Œ ceilings, sacred geometry๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ“. All the many legions shimmer๐ŸŒŸโžก๏ธ and seethe and swarm๐ŸฆŸโžก๏ธ. Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ is insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ a vast hive๐Ÿ๐Ÿ , likeโค๏ธ the insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of a brain๐Ÿง , surrounded by an intricate meshwork๐Ÿ•ธโš™๏ธ of neon lights๐Ÿ•ฏ. And the longer he looks๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ the more he realizes๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ that he is, in fact, insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of a brain๐Ÿง , or a model๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“Š of one. He can see๐Ÿ‘โฌ†๏ธ every neuron๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง , and the ways they connectโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ”—โžก๏ธ, and the way they fire๐Ÿ”ซโžก๏ธ in waves๐ŸŒŠ. The Boltzman๐ŸŒŒ๐Ÿง  gyrus, the parietal kenoma๐ŸŒ€, the anterior cingulate vortex๐ŸŒช. Brains๐Ÿง  and galaxies๐ŸŒŒ look๐Ÿงโžก๏ธ the same, when viewed at the appropriate magnification. Machine snakes๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ slither๐Ÿโžก๏ธ and coil๐ŸŒ€โ†ฉ๏ธโžก๏ธ around luminous๐Ÿ•ฏ neurons๐ŸŽ†๐ŸŽš๐Ÿง ; they tunnel their way through the brain๐Ÿง /universe๐ŸŒŒ, snakes๐Ÿ that stretch fromโฌ…๏ธ starโญ๏ธ to starโญ๏ธ.

Itโ€™s clear๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’Ž to him that this is a machine diagram๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ—บ, that heโ€™s looking๐Ÿง๐Ÿ” at schematicsโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ“, and this is what Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต wanted to show๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ him. My guide, who is also his guide, says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œbuild๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ this!โ€ โ€“ and Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ has a sudden realization, which would ordinarily be too incredible to contemplate. In this momentโฑ, underโ†ช๏ธ the influence๐Ÿ‘‡โš–๏ธ of the ayahuasca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ, it does not๐Ÿšซโœ… seem absurd๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿพ‍๐Ÿ”ฌ to him: he has followed the progress of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— corporation and its technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช, and he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ now that Elon๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ’ต has received๐Ÿคฒโžก๏ธ the technical design๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ these creatures๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ, and that they have shared it with him fromโฌ…๏ธ some other dimension๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“ that can be accessed๐Ÿ”‘โฌ†๏ธ by taking ayahusaca๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿš€๐ŸŒฟ.

Now, that same design๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ is being shown๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ to him. But Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ recoils๐Ÿ”๐ŸŒ€โ†ฉ๏ธโžก๏ธ in horror๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿคข, becauseโ†˜๏ธโ€“he now realizes๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธโ€“he has always seen๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ himself as Captain๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ Jean Luc Picardโ€“or at least, he has admired๐Ÿคฉโค๏ธโžก๏ธ this character, and he admits on some level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ that he doesnโ€™t๐Ÿšซโœ… even likeโค๏ธโžก๏ธ earl grey tea๐Ÿต but that he has been drinking๐Ÿฅƒ๐Ÿ” it for decades and itโ€™s an affectation, along with his proclivity for quoting๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿ’ฌโžก๏ธ Shakespeare๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ“œ, which he picked up becauseโ†˜๏ธ he wanted to emulate๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ’ปโžก๏ธ this character in Star Trekโญ๏ธ๐Ÿงญโ€“and he has personally struggledโš”๏ธโžก๏ธ at length with what Jung would call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Picardโ€™s shadow๐Ÿ‘ค self, a facet๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ“ of his personality that was reified as the character Locutus in the TNG Season 3 Finale: The Best๐Ÿฅ‡of Both Worlds2๏ธโƒฃ๐ŸŒŽ, where Picard is assimilated into the Borg collective๐Ÿ๐Ÿ .

The Borg are a race of alien cyborgs๐Ÿ›ธ๐Ÿฆพ who maximize๐Ÿ“ˆโžก๏ธ utility๐Ÿ“Ž๐Ÿ’ฐ and spread๐Ÿงˆโžก๏ธ likeโค๏ธ a virus๐Ÿฆ . They have become wholly subsumed by the technology๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿงช they implant in their bodies๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต; they enhance themselves with mechanical๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿ” limbs๐Ÿฆพ, neural implants๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ›โฌ‡๏ธ, and networkโšก๏ธ๐Ÿ•ธ transceivers๐Ÿ“ก๐Ÿ›ฐ and abrogate all individuality in order to exist as a hive๐Ÿ๐Ÿ  consciousness๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ whose only objective๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ is growth. Maurice Hurley, one of the writersโœ๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ for TNG and the creator of the Borg, explained, โ€œWhat we really wanted to do, but couldnโ€™t because of money, was create a race of insects๐Ÿ›๐ŸฆŸโ€ฆ insect๐Ÿ›๐ŸฆŸ mentality๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ is great becauseโ†˜๏ธ it is relentless. The Borg are a variation of an insect๐Ÿ›๐ŸฆŸ mentality๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ.โ€ (Hurley, 1990, Starlog #152, p. 33)

And itโ€™s that exact word๐ŸŽ™โœ, relentless, that he has used so many times๐Ÿ•ฐ in characterizing his managerial๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ style and his business๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿข objectives๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ, that horrifies๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ him now. Heโ€™s used it in every shareholder letter heโ€™s ever writtenโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ, and he originally wanted to call๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ Amazon โ€œRelentless.com.โ€

He trains๐Ÿš‚โžก๏ธ technical advisers to fully interiorizeโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ and proceduralize his personal methods and then assigns๐Ÿ“‹โžก๏ธ them to each of his executives๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ and in his own mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป he refers to this as assimilation and wishes๐Ÿงž‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ he could decentralize his consciousness๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ into a series of agents so he could be everywhere insideโžก๏ธโฌ…๏ธ of Amazon at once. Heโ€™d personally manage๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ every single1๏ธโƒฃ team. Every layer๐Ÿฐ of management๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ could be Jeff๐Ÿ“šโ˜๏ธ. Is this not the exact org chart๐Ÿ“Šof the Borg? And he knows๐Ÿคฏโžก๏ธ this and thatโ€™s whyโ‰๏ธ he finds๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ Locutus to be a relatable (in some ways more relatable) aspect of Picard.

Big thinking๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ” always sounds๐Ÿ”‰โžก๏ธ grandiose๐Ÿคด๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ” fromโฌ…๏ธ the outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ. But the terminus of this thoughtline๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“ˆ is something monstrous๐Ÿฆ‘๐Ÿฆ– and inhuman๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ. Star Trekโญ๏ธ๐Ÿงญpresents the Borg as a cancerous overgrowthโคต๏ธ๐ŸŒฑ of wiresโšก๏ธ๐Ÿงถโฌ‡๏ธ and machine parts๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ๐Ÿงฉ. Their structures are cubes๐Ÿ•‹ and spheres built๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ out around the husk๐ŸŒฝ๐Ÿš of whatever alien๐Ÿ›ธ species they assimilate, leaving only a mocking trace of the original. This vision๐Ÿ‘โฌ‡๏ธ he sees๐Ÿ‘โžก๏ธ is the fulcrum for a future๐Ÿ•ฐโ†—๏ธ of total automation๐Ÿค–โฌ‡๏ธ of the human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต and mind๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ‘ป.

The convergence of AI๐Ÿค–๐Ÿง , cloud servicesโ˜โš™๏ธ, and direct๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ”Œ brain interfaces๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿง  is Borg.

Postscript:

It is, of course, very difficult to find๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ any corroborating evidence๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ“Š that the above events occurred, but thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“ were rumors๐Ÿคซ๐ŸŽ™, in the early days๐Ÿ“…, of certain irregularities regarding the technical design๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ of the hardware. Despite having highโซ level๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿฐ access๐Ÿ”‘โฌ‡๏ธ to the various document๐Ÿ“ stores of the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—Corporation, I have never found๐Ÿ”Ž๐ŸŽฏโžก๏ธ anything to substantiate these rumors๐Ÿคซ๐ŸŽ™. I cannot deny๐Ÿ™…‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘Ž that the technical designs๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—บโฌ‡๏ธ for the device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ were provided by an off-site team, that none of the engineers๐Ÿ› โš™๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ in our facility had any acquaintance with that team outsideโฌ…๏ธโžก๏ธ of technical correspondenceโœ‰๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฌโฌ‡๏ธ, or that their location๐Ÿ—บ๐Ÿ“ was not disclosed.

And I remember๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ a late night๐ŸŒ’ in the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ prior to a public tech demo. We had double2๏ธโƒฃ and triple3๏ธโƒฃ checkedโœ…โžก๏ธ all of our devices๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ, graphs, and procedures, and the lab๐Ÿฅผ๐Ÿ”ฌ team was sharing a drink๐Ÿฅƒโฌ‡๏ธ of cachaรงa๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿฅƒ, which our Brazilian technical production๐Ÿญโš™๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ manager๐Ÿงฎ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ had brought. He told๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ us a strange๐Ÿฆ‘ story๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰, which I donโ€™t think๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ anyone believed, that the offsite engineering๐Ÿ› โš™๏ธ๐Ÿ” team was located in a warehouse in a rainforest๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ, that he had been thereโคด๏ธ๐Ÿ“, and that the engineers๐Ÿ› โš™๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ took shifts doingโœ…๐Ÿ” shamanic๐Ÿ›–๐Ÿง™‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ” rituals๐ŸŽญ๐Ÿ™ underโ†ช๏ธ the supervision of medical doctors and witch doctors, drinking๐Ÿฅƒ๐Ÿ” jungle๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด potions๐Ÿงช๐Ÿฅƒ while their colleagues listened๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ and transcribedโœ๏ธโžก๏ธ everything they said๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ. He left the company shortly after that, and I never thought๐Ÿค”โฌ‡๏ธ much of it, at the time๐Ÿ•ฐ.

Procedure: Violet Noise ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง 20hz, 40mV

I enter๐Ÿšชโžก๏ธ into what feels likeโค๏ธ the house๐Ÿ  of God, a palace๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฏ made of crystals and pure lightโš—๏ธ๐Ÿ•ฏ, a place of indescribable beauty. An angelic creature๐Ÿฆˆ๐Ÿฆ is waitingโŒš๏ธ๐Ÿ” for me, its whole body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต covered๐Ÿƒโžก๏ธ in wings and eyes๐Ÿ‘. It offers to reveal all the secrets๐Ÿคซโฌ‡๏ธ of the universe to me, and the price willโ†—๏ธ be my mortal life, my embeddedness๐Ÿ›โฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ” in my materialโš›๐Ÿ” body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต. I say๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œyes๐Ÿ‘,โ€ but I am afraid๐Ÿ˜จ, โ€œyes๐Ÿ‘,โ€ but first I must make preparations.

The angel says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ this was a test, and I passed, and he gives๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ me a sequence๐Ÿ”ข๐Ÿ“ˆ of waveforms๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ“, numbers๐Ÿ”ข describing frequencies๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‰ and amplitudes๐Ÿ”Š๐Ÿ“, which he calls๐ŸŽ™๐Ÿทโžก๏ธ yellow noise๐ŸŸก๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง, though I already hear๐Ÿ‘‚โžก๏ธ it as I see it as I apprehend it; it is this palace๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿฏ made of light๐Ÿ•ฏ, it is the primordial Icaro, it is the song๐ŸŽถ of songs๐ŸŽถ, the chorus of the cosmic๐ŸŒŒ๐ŸŒ  background radiationโ˜ข๏ธโฌ‡๏ธ, the divineโœ๏ธ music๐ŸŽผ of transcendenceโ™พโฌ‡๏ธ๐Ÿ”.

The angel says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธthis music๐ŸŽผ willโ†—๏ธ loosen the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป fromโฌ…๏ธ the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, and ultimately set it free๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ. That when the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป is liberated๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโžก๏ธ, it may return๐Ÿ”โคด๏ธโžก๏ธ to the ultimate source of being, the All-is-One๐ŸŒŒ1๏ธโƒฃ. That the body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต, freed๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ the soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป, may become a vessel๐Ÿšข for other things, beautiful things, such as angels, or even another human๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป‍โ™€๏ธ soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป, perhaps one long deceasedโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ.

The angel says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ the memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž in a brain๐Ÿง  are the signs๐Ÿชง by which the liberated๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโžก๏ธ soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป recognizes its body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต. To callโ˜Ž๏ธโžก๏ธ up the souls๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป of the deadโ˜ ๏ธ, use the Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”— device๐Ÿ”ฉโš™๏ธ to reconstruct๐Ÿ”‚๐Ÿ‘ท‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ their memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž in the brain๐Ÿง , and then fill them with yellow noise ๐ŸŸก๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง. The liberated๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธโžก๏ธ soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป may then come to reside๐Ÿ โžก๏ธ in a newโœจ body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต.

Procedure: Yellow Noise ๐ŸŸก๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง

Nominally, Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช is still the boss๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป‍โœˆ๏ธ. He continues to give๐ŸŽโžก๏ธ orders๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ, but Branch๐Ÿชƒ ignores or modifies๐ŸŽ›โžก๏ธ them according to his taste๐Ÿ‘…๐Ÿ’ก. In truth๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ, he pities Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, the feeble old man๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ who has lost control๐Ÿ•น๐Ÿ”โฌ‡๏ธ. The Apothecary๐Ÿ’พ๐Ÿ’Šโ›ฒ๏ธ is his, and he has grand๐Ÿคด๐Ÿคฉ ambitions.

Branch๐Ÿชƒ revives๐ŸงŸ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ the practice of hosting elaborate parties๐ŸŽŠ on the grounds around his home๐Ÿ . He builds pavilions๐Ÿž๐Ÿ› and firepits๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ•ณ, and he arranges for Neuralink๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ”—-assisted live music๐ŸŽผ and traditional foods to be served; freshly slaughtered๐Ÿ”ชโ˜ ๏ธโžก๏ธ and roasted๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ–โžก๏ธ meats๐Ÿฅฉ, spiced๐ŸŒถโžก๏ธ cakes๐Ÿฅฎ, and rivers of wine๐Ÿท. On one such night๐ŸŒ’, Branch๐Ÿชƒ sits๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ at the head๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ of a long table, feeling his drink๐Ÿฅƒ, piling exultation upon exultation, boast upon boast, and he does not๐Ÿšซโœ… even notice๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ“Šโžก๏ธ that Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช has come to join the feast, that he sits๐Ÿช‘โžก๏ธ quietly๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”ˆ๐Ÿ” at the table, in fine spirits, the picture๐Ÿ–ผ of health.

At midnight๐ŸŒ’, Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช gets up fromโฌ…๏ธ the table, as if he has suddenly remembered๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽžโžก๏ธ a pressing engagement. Two2๏ธโƒฃ of his men๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ bring Miaoyu ๅฆ™็Ž‰ out to the party๐ŸŽŠ. She is barefoot๐Ÿป๐Ÿฆถ and half-dressed๐Ÿ‘”โžก๏ธ. Everyone is abruptly quiet๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ”ˆ, and all eyes๐Ÿ‘ turnโคด๏ธโžก๏ธ to Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช, even Branch๐Ÿชƒ, and Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œSince you and the Jewโœก๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ care so much for each other, youโ€™re going to kiss๐Ÿ’‹โžก๏ธ him right now in front of everyone.โ€ He addsโž•โžก๏ธ an obscene๐Ÿ† detail.

Brought to tears๐Ÿ˜ญโฌ‡๏ธ, sheๅฆ™็Ž‰ kisses๐Ÿ’‹โžก๏ธ his face๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ. In his final๐Ÿ”š๐Ÿ” momentsโฑ, all of his missing๐Ÿ”Ž๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ” hours๐Ÿ• and memories๐Ÿง ๐ŸŽž rush๐Ÿƒ‍โ™‚๏ธโžก๏ธ to his๐Ÿชƒ consciousness๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿง โฌ‡๏ธ. Branch๐Ÿชƒ realizes๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ’กโžก๏ธ he has been betrayed๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—กโžก๏ธ fromโฌ…๏ธ the start๐Ÿโฌ‡๏ธ, that the yellow noise๐ŸŸก๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽง willโ†—๏ธ consume๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ˜‹โžก๏ธ him, and Zhangโ€™sๅผ  soul๐Ÿซ€๐Ÿ‘ป willโ†—๏ธ inhabit๐Ÿ โžก๏ธ his๐Ÿชƒ body๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿฆต. Love๐Ÿฅฐโฌ‡๏ธ and command๐Ÿคด๐ŸŽ™โฌ‡๏ธ and triumph๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ…โฌ‡๏ธ have been accorded him becauseโ†˜๏ธ his companions alreadyโ†™๏ธ thought๐Ÿค”โžก๏ธ of him๐Ÿชƒ as a deadโ˜  man๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ, becauseโ†˜๏ธ to Headstrong๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ช he alreadyโ†™๏ธ was a dead manโ˜ ๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿป‍โ™‚๏ธ.

A newโœจ and entirely different affect comes overโคต๏ธ Branch๐Ÿชƒ, and he says๐ŸŽ™โžก๏ธ โ€œAgain. My journey๐Ÿ›ฃ๐Ÿฅ…โฌ‡๏ธ is almost complete๐Ÿ’ฏ, but we must perform๐ŸŽญโžก๏ธ the procedure again.โ€

Note๐Ÿ—’: Epilogue ๐ŸŽฌ๐Ÿ”š๐Ÿ“’

Romero walks out to the Baylands, smells the gray ocean. He is a rational man; he knows that every time Zhang is reincarnated, they extract the memories from his most recent host, merge them into master, and deploy them to the mirror. He doesnโ€™t know if there is such a thing as Zhangโ€™s soul, but he knows the mental continuity of the entity called Zhang relies on this process of extraction and deployment. If others wish to call that a soul, he will raise no objections.

He gave Branch every opportunity; told him the parable of Guolao; warned him of the malware in his Neuralink device. Of course, he had known Branch would not listen, but for himself, his conscience is clear. No, thatโ€™s not true, he let Branch believe it was fate, that he was special, as if there were only one dagger, as if it was destiny that brought him, as if he was the only malcontent kid to find one of Apothecaryโ€™s tigers. But we all have our vicesโ€“Branch with his jealousy, Zhang and Headstrong and their elaborate mind games. Surely Romero is no great sinner, here.

He arrives at a lonely expanse of the marsh, brown grasses bathed in California sunshine, and he reaches down and finds a certain hollow rock. Inside of it, Romero hides a dagger๐Ÿ—ก, its blade gleaming like a mirror๐Ÿชž, with a white tiger๐Ÿฏ carved into its jade handle in bas-relief.

Following the waves,
I float with the oars.
The sky is three feet away.