This was a planning page for how to continue VirileMail from the point where it had stalled out (the end of Chapter 5). There is still some useful information on this page for people who are interested in collaborating on the story, however, the basic plot of the story has now been completed (VirileMail/14) and current development activities are centered at VirileMail:meta.
The basic idea is that a nanorobotic artificial life form is trying to establish itself on Earth and communicate with humans. Actually, the goal is more complex than just communication....the aliens want to integrate themselves into human bodies....make use of human bodies as vehicles for the alien beings!
The first task of this extraterrestrial artificial life form is to start to integrate itself with (download artificial intelligence code into) terrestrial computer systems and the world wide web (call this initial rudimentary AI "Level 1 DETI" (downloaded extraterrestrial intelligence)).
In the story, computers located at Antler Network Services receive this download AI code, but what the story does not mention is that the aliens have been on Earth for a very long time. The alien actions at Antler Network Services have previously been practiced and refined elsewhere. In particular, the aliens have a base on Mars where they house a colony of humans who perform special tasks for the aliens.
Next, nanorobotic artificial life forms will invade the brains of some computer programmers in order to tweak the terrestrial computer systems to make them better hosts for the downloaded AI code.
These first two steps (above) are taking place at the headquarters building of Antler Network Services during the time period covered by Chapter 1, however, the nanorobotic aliens have actually been on Earth for a long time. The time of the story (starting in 2005) is a critical time for the aliens because Earth is finally reaching a level of technological development that will allow the aliens to fully integrate into human hosts.
By the end of Chapter 1 the computer network at Antler Network Services contain a Level 1 DETI and several of the employees have been "infected" by alien nanorobotic probes.
Chapters 2-5 describe the process by which Joe Daonet is able to escape from the control of the alien nanorobotic probes that are inside his brain. The basic idea is that Joe is in love with Chloe and this causes changes in his neural networks that have not been anticipated by the aliens. In particular, Joe's concern for the well being of Chloe leads him to stop accepting that everything is "business as usual" at Antler Network Services. Joe learns how to limit the ability of the nanorobotic probes to control his memories. By the end of Chapter 5, Joe has decided that his only chance of figuring out what is going on is to step back from full participation in the VirileMail software project.
Going into Chapter 6, the Level 1 DETI is rapidly being tweaked and optimized by the VirileMail software team (of course, they are not aware that they are doing this!) and the Level 1 DETI is about ready to start work on step #3, below.
the nanorobots and their abilitiesEdit
An important part of the story is that alien nanorobots invade the brains of some humans. In this way, the aliens can exercise some control over the behavior of humans, but the nanorobots do not have magical abilities; their control over humans is limited. The alien nanobots have a long history of experience trying to influence human behavior by inserting nanorobotic probes into human brains.
1) For example, the aliens have learned which parts of the human brain control sensations such as thirst and hunger. If the aliens want to distract a human from continuing to do something, nanobots can stimulate specific parts of the brain and make the person feel thirst or hunger.
It is important to note that the nanobots cannot "read thoughts". In general, the nanobots must wait for humans to speak or move; only then can the aliens try to change what a person is doing. However, there is one exception to this. If a person becomes obsessed with an idea and the associated memories and thought patterns are held frequently in working memory then the aliens can often learn to recognize the brain activity pattern associated with such an obsessional thought or memory. So under these unusual circumstances, the nanobots can act "pro-actively" to prevent a person from saying something, for example, by using methods #2 and #3, below.
2) If more "force" needs to be applied by the aliens, they can activate another part of the brain and cause a painful "anxiety attack", which is almost always effective in preventing the person from continuing "bad behavior".
3) An even more dramatic control that the nanobots can exert is to induce a state of unconsciousness. During sleep or unconsciousness, the nanobots can induce chemical changes in the brain that disrupt normal memory processes. The effect of this disruption is that recent experiences (5-50 minutes prior) become very difficult to recall.
Note that such modifications of a person's memory processes does not involve the ability to control individual specific memories. All recent memories are equally altered.
4) The three abilities (1-3) described above are essentially "negative" interventions that can be exerted by the aliens on humans. When the alien nanobots want to make a human do something that would not normally be done, they generally have to induce a brain state similar to, but more dramatic than, what can be attained by hypnosis. The nanobots stimulate special parts of the brain and the person enters into an altered state of consciousness during which they become highly susceptible to suggestion. For example, while in this state a person might work tirelessly to complete a task mentioned in an email from their boss. When in this altered state, humans tend to work at speeds and in ways that go beyond normal human limitations. The person's normal fears, inhibitions and memory processes are suppressed, and the person can often perform tasks with unusual speed, or, possibly the person will do something that they might normally think they cannot do. At least, they will try to perform a suggested task, even if they have no prior experience doing it. If the aliens do not want people to remember what they have done while in this altered state of consciousness, they can alter memory storage mechanisms in the brain so that people have very poor capacity to recall what they were doing while under this alien influence. When this is done, their minds automatically invent artificial memories in an attempt to "fill in the gaps".
When these nanobot interventions (1-4) are used in combination, it is common for people to display odd patterns of behavior, particularly disrupted memory. However, they also tend to invent "excuses" or rationalizations of the odd behavior. Most people can be fairly effectively controlled by the nanobots and they can be tricked into "doing work for" the nanobots while not being able to really notice that anything unusual is going on. However, some people have unusual brain structures that make it impossible for the nanobots to control their behavior as efficiently. Sometimes these "resistant" humans are targeted by the aliens for "abduction" and transport the the alien's secret base on Mars.
Also, it is important to note that the nanobots enter into the brains of some newborn humans. In general, such long term hosts for nanobots are more easy for the nanobots to control than are human adults who are "infected" by nanobots for the first time.
The optimized alien AI code (Level 1 DETI) will start making use of some new computing hardware. The new hardware has been developed at Ormuz Computing, under the direction of Dr. Helen Geisler. The alien nanorobots have been assisting Helen's team to develop revolutionary new computing devices, pushing available integrated circuit fabrication processes to the limit. In Chapter 7 Joe delivers the first of the new Ormuz hardware to the VirileMail team.
Once these alien-inspired computer components become integrated into the Antler computer network, a more sophisticated version of the alien nanorobotic intelligence (Level 2 DETI) will be downloaded into the computer network where it can make use of the new hardware.
This step happens while Joe in in the hospital. The Level 2 DETI then contacts Joe by email and they strike an agreement. The Level 2 DETI will help Joe get out of the hospital as long as Joe stops trying to warn people about an alien invasion. In an effort to gain Joe's trust, the aliens take Joe to their secret base on Mars where Joe meets humans who have worked with the aliens for a long time. Joe returns to Earth and takes part in Step 5, below.
The Level 2 DETI, still working through the internet, will establish a collaboration with a group of molecular biologists for the purpose of making altered versions of terrestrial life forms. The goal of the Level 2 DETI is to turn terrestrial biological organisms and cells into molecular factories for the production of molecular-scale nanodevices that are chemically compatible with terrestrial life. If they can accomplish this task, it will be possible for these new molecular-scale nanodevices to form functional hybrids with human biological material (people) that can serve as optimized hosts for the nanorobotic artificial life forms that has made the interstellar journey to Earth. It will be possible for the nanorobotic artificial life forms to take human form and interact "naturally" with the human population of Earth.
Joe participates in a key part of Step 5 by going to Mars and becoming infected by a genetically engineered virus that makes humans better hosts for alien nanobots. Joe is paranoid and suspects that the aliens want to take over Earth. Joe returns to Earth, unknowingly carry the virus that will make complete "mind control" by the aliens possible. However, in the end, the aliens are not a threat to Earth (happy ending), their integration into human hosts is just the natural way for them to convert from their interstellar traveling form (the nanorobotic form) back into a biological form that can live on earth.
After three years of doubt, the title is VirileMail. To see other ideas that were rejected, visit Template:VirileMail/Titles.
Sequel and PrequelEdit
- Timeline for the story.
There are some "advantages" to having a Level 2 DETI in your brain! In particular, the alien technology that allows full integration of an alien nanorobotic life form with a human brain (step 5) would allow the human "host" to have a kind of direct brain access to computerized systems. I'm thinking of this as a path towards Mind uploading. This could be explored in "Book 2" of a series of books that starts with VirileMail. It is likely that some humans might volunteer to be hosts because they would essentially become immortal in the sense of being able to pass their memories on to new host bodies or transfer to a nanorobotic host. However, I think most human hosts would be "invaded" by the nano probes at a young age and grow up as a kind of human-alien hybrid. True "optimization" of human hosts would require genetic engineering so as to make a brain more like the original brains of the aliens.
Prequel. Imagine that these aliens might have arrived on Earth many millions of years ago. Maybe the aliens have been doing what amounts to a selective breeding program for the past 6 million years....selecting for bipedal, tool-using apes who would some day be able to start making computers. A prequel could tell the story of the actual first arrival of the aliens on Earth and how they start to control Earthly life forms.