Louise took her morning dose of Cognizoid, and sat down at her screen with a cup of tea and toast. The Minder said, “Louise?”
“Yes?” she said, wondering if someone were coming.
“You appeared to have had a disturbed night of sleep,” the Minder said, its voice tinged with artificial concern.
“I slept very well, thank you,” she said as breezily and unhesitatingly as she could.
“I see,” the Minder said, and said no more. Recording the data, no doubt. Nosy fucker.
Louise didn’t have to wait for the dose to kick in before she had several windows open and some theories flowing. No, she found, the whole science fiction “jacking into the network” thing still wasn’t science fact. Trying to do anything like direct brain-to-network connectivity required chancy experimental neurosurgery that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, though a surprising number of people still tried. Companies had been experimenting with wet nanotech like Neures-Q, but complicated actions, like building a port and its connectors to specific sections of the brain, was still beyond the little bugs.
So how did this wireless communal long-distance virtual reality come about when it still wasn’t possible to create a “real” local wired virtual reality?
She poked at another couple of summary thresholds about virtual reality tech and then moved over to the agency website. She puzzled her way through the new-to-her user interface into the public database and found the approval information for both Cognizoid and Neures-Q.
Nothing of interest there, and oddly, the summaries of the clinical trials were absent.
Louise chewed on her lower lip for a little while, fighting with her ethics. Technically, she was retired. Technically, she shouldn’t have any access to the agency internal database. Technically, even if they somehow hadn’t disabled her access, she really shouldn’t go in and look.
But…. they hadn’t disabled her access after all. She quietly gave thanks for government “efficiency.”
She flew in on the hopefully silent wings of her old user id, and went looking for her Holy Grail: speculations about the mechanism of Cognizoid. Why did it work only with Neures-Q patients? How did it work? And how did it create this bizarre shared world?
Some answers lay in a surprisingly vast storehouse of microscopy and pathology photos: Cognizoid somehow convinced the Neures-Q biomechanisms to link together and form bridges around damaged brain cells. They were replacing missing or damaged neurons. Bypassing the mess that was Alzheimer’s, for instance.
There was, however, a much tighter security lock on the rest of the results data, as well as the detailed clinical trial design documents. She couldn’t go any further without raising alarms.
She backed out and logged off and wiped her system’s cache. She scowled at her screen. Had they figured out how to command the cyberbugs to fall into line, or was that an accident? What was coded in the Cognizoid that allowed that? And what happened in the clinical trials?