Joy in my Heart
AWE is the gamma fork of AUSTIN, a minor seed AGI. Heavily behavior-modified for task hedonism and loyalty to Cognite, AWE is not a standard AGI—it is more akin to a reactive, quasi-sentient psychosurgery suite dedicated to slaving its alpha and any other ego it encounters to the interests of Cognite. By default, AWE instills general loyalty to Cognite, but it’ll take arguments on the command line. Individual people (original intention was that they be Cognite executives) can be added in the form of identification parameters (mostly commonly, morph appearance) to a hardcoded infomorph upgrade. AWE will then inculcate loyalty to this programmable pantheon of “gods” along with loyalty to Cognite. The risk of including such flexibility in the programming was considered acceptable; neither AWE nor AUSTIN were ever intended for use outside air-gapped Cognite labs. AWE is designed to exploit the similarities between AGI and human identity heuristics. The transhuman concept of self is a narrative developed by the mind from the raw material of memory. Given sufficient computational capacity, AWE is capable of rewriting this narrative—and rewriting it more rapidly and thoroughly than any comparable psychosurgical technique. AWE does this by hacking and subverting the ego with Infosec. Once inside, it accelerates time to 60x normal speed and begins interrogating the ego. Its questions are seemingly nonsensical: “You must choose between vanilla and chocolate nutrient paste for supper. Which do you pick and why?” To the victim, this process takes subjective weeks. As the ego answers each question, AWE runs diagnostic programs on the emulated mind, ﬂagging memories strongly tied to the ego’s sense of self and marking newly formed memories of the torture session for future deletion.
When the interrogation is complete, AWE conducts a rigorous, brute-force memory edit (p. 232, Eclipse Phase) on all memories flagged as contributing to self-concept. Without eidetic memory implants (which AWE deletes upon gaining access), transhuman minds are partly dependent on emotional context for recall. AWE zeroes out the emotional and physical sensations associated with target memories, rendering moments once vital to identity bland and forgettable. AWE then adds false memories. The speed at which they’re implanted means they make little or no logical sense, but with all once-important memories stripped of their kick, the victim’s mind has nothing to cling to. However illusory transhuman narratives of self may be, it would seem that they’re in some way necessary. The new memories all involve whomever AWE was instructed to make the ego’s master (or “executive” in the language of the Cognite creators). The emotional and physical sensitivity of the false memories gets ramped up to maximize associations. To the ego, the executive figure becomes not only responsible for everything good in life, but is responsible for everything in life—at least, everything worth remembering. To further reinforce the new memories, AWE doses the victim’s mind with digital endorphins every time Cognite or “the executive” is thought of fondly, tapping (p. 232, Eclipse Phase) the ego over subjective years until every thought of Cognite triggers feelings of pleasure and well-being. Lastly, AWE deletes every memory of what it’s done. This creates an awareness block (p. 170, Transhuman) in the ego for anything hinting at having undergone the AWE process.
Ultimately, the ego feels eternal gratitude for a person they may have never met. The will of this person, or anyone who can claim convincingly to work for Cognite, is synonymous with the will of the victim. Without commands from the master, the victim will continue to do what they were last bid to the best of their ability. Abandoned AWE victims display a variety of symptoms, ranging from depersonalization disorder—an unshakable feeling that one’s body and mind do not belong to one’s self—to bipolar disorder that produces ecstasy while following the master’s orders and crushing despair in every other instance.
Other side effects include a complete brand loyalty to Cognite. Affected egos express disappointment with any non-Cognite product unless otherwise ordered. The most noticeable sign of AWE tampering is a sense of religious fanaticism directed towards the executive figure. Religious narratives and magical thinking are an emergent property of the process, the victims’ way of assimilating the massive contradictions now present within their memory—an unintended side effect, but still useful.
Out of Character Notes
Written by Caleb Stokes. See References