Cat asked me that. I didn’t even know she noticed me, despite the fact we share an office. She’s beautiful and brilliant, where I’m not.
One day, I was reviewing Otto’s report on H. habilis and Cat came back from teaching. She asked me about my research. Compared to hers on a DNA virus that can destroy anything it wants, mine sounds boring. Educational research. But it excites me and that’s all I care about at this point in my life.
I explained that I’m not really researching artificial intelligence so much as using it to do my research. Otto collects info on paleo flora and fauna, paleoclimate, geography, everything he can tap into in the metaverse, and creates what’s called a data-driven simulation. Would you be surprised to know she understood all of that.
Well, maybe she wasn’t listening. “I’m hot, and what’s that I’m smelling?”
Otto shares scents and sounds with sensory ports, but that’s only part of it. When he finished collecting the billions of bytes of data available on Plio-Pleistocene Africa, he stitched together a 360 degree four-dimensional panorama, similar to those virtual tours of hotel rooms, but Otto carries it further. As you move through the habitat, Otto re-renders everything as your eyes would in real time. His processors are so fast and his database so huge—equivalent to the digital size of the Library of Congress—he can add the details that make it feel real.
Take the pothole Lyta just avoided. It’s a reasonable assumption the equatorial heat would spiderweb the savanna with crevices. Where I might not have thought to add that, Otto would never miss it.
The ‘actors’—Homo habilis, Australopithecine and Homo erectus—are built using data from ancient bones and teeth. Because there are so few organic remains, the creatures aren’t as realistic as their surroundings. In fact, at that time, they were cardboard figures amidst a lush, vibrant world. That’s changed, but more on that later.
It’s like virtual reality, but without limits. Otto is more a simulated reality. He isn’t predesigned, as the world around you isn’t. Everything is interactive and you can influence what you choose. When you enter Otto’s world, you and he discover it as you go.
That cleared it up for Cat, but her IQ is 198. Do you think it makes sense?