0 / 0 / 166 New Starfaring Era

by Jack Blakely, NetSense Tech News

Bliss.  The ancient Thurslan monks wrote about it: a state of explicit, unbelievable happiness, a happiness so great they felt no hunger or thirst though they meditated for days at a time.  All one had to do, they wrote, was concentrate on the present moment to the exclusion of all else.  A simple enough idea; and yet, its mastery was so difficult that even monks who practiced for decades claimed it evaded them.  

Now, Telex Corp aims to bring that Bliss to consumers with EverBliss, their latest neural implant.  Lift your skullflap, hook the EverBliss chip into one of the free slots on your PARA-compatible decoder, and launch the program with your Command Thought.  Once started, EverBliss suppresses all cognizance of the past and future, using a sophisticated algorithm that compares the user's current sensory input with the makeup of his thoughts.  Only the present moment is allowed to pass through the filter into the user's mind.  It's the exact experience defined by the Thurslan monks; but it is available to anyone, requiring no training, asceticism, or mountain climbing.  

To get more information on this novel implant, I visited the Telex Corp headquarters, a magnificent cylindrical skyscraper that towers above the surrounding business district on Orbital Platform Cloud-1.  I met Telex Corp CAE Mark Blank in the Product Demo Labs for a quick interview and trial.  The dashing and lean Blank looked ten years younger than his thirty-five, even in his stark black business suit.  Perhaps it's his energy that gives that impression; he overflowed with an almost innocent love for his product as he described it to me, waving his hands like a pro zoneball player.  "As humans," he told me, "we have always been controlled by our thoughts.  Worries over the future create unavoidable, crushing stress.  Regrets over the past create hopeless and terrible despair.  We live in an arena of time, struggling with ghosts.  Even when we win, there's no victory--because victory, happiness, can only occur in the present moment.  EverBliss returns that present moment to you, by warding off the ghosts of Past and Future that so haunt us."

When Blank handed me the chip, I was a bit fearful to pop it in.  Most implants simply augment your existing faculties, but the EverBliss aims to radically change your state of consciousness.  I seized upon my spirit of adventure--and my need to complete this article--and hooked it in.  It was very easy to install--no problems with the latch like on older chips.  Blank advised I sit down before starting it.  I did so, and launched the program with my personal Thought Command.

The program immediately launched, with no waiting time.  What happened next...is difficult to describe.  The very nature of the device interferes with memory creation, true--but my trouble lies in the unexpected intensity and wordlessness of the experience.  Suddenly, I had no problems, no fears, no frustrations.  My present moment--sitting in a comfortable chair with calm people in a temperature-controlled office--was peaceful, and, so, I was at peace.  I was overcome by peace.  My senses, fully attuned to my immediate surroundings, were much amplified, and I noticed--and was moved by--small things I would've passed over normally, like the perfect, bright red color of a teenage employee's sneakers, or the way the air tasted fresh, clean, almost salty, or how musical the low hum of the air conditioner felt.  I remember smiling at Mr. Blank openly and fully, like a child, and I remember him smiling back at me, somewhat wryly.  At no point did I think: I am a journalist, I need to work, I have an article to complete, a deadline.  With the EverBliss on, I was not a reporter, not even a person.  I was just a creature, a creature whose sole task was to see and feel the world.  

The automatic timer--a necessity for the device--went off after ten minutes.  Returning to normal consciousness, I felt disconcerted, even alarmed.  I had left a drifting, vibrant, sensory peace for a dull, hasty and complex reality.  I imagine being born feels similar.  As I shook my head, feeling my head crowd with unruly thoughts, Mr. Blank explained, in a soothing voice, that "You get used to that sensation over time, although we are working on an update that would slowly transition you between filtered and real consciousness."

It was an interesting experience--perhaps a little too interesting for this middle-aged, rational journalist.  I'm not sure if I'll purchase a unit for myself.  But I'd better make my decision fast: the EverBliss is generating a lot of controversy, and its opponents--led by Blake Jaxon, former Telex Corp Director of Technology--are pushing for a government inquiry into the legality of such an implant.  If successful, the inquiry could take EverBliss off the market for years, if not indefinitely.  I talked to Jaxon, a scruffy, muscled man who would be just at home in a bike gang as he would at a science lab, over vidcomm from his office in Redmond.

"I believe," Jaxon told me, "that implants should amplify humanity, not alter it.  I worked at Telex for years, making math implants for physicists, memory implants for students, time management implants for businessmen.  I took something a person could do and made it easier for them.  But I split with Telex when they started making things that change how consciousness itself operates--like the EverBliss."

One could argue that Jaxon's protests are financial.  His company, JaxTech, is one of Telex's main competitors.  However, it was clear to me, as he launched from his desk to pace the room, shaking his mountain-bicep'd arm at the camera, that he really believes the EverBliss is taking implant technology in the wrong direction.  "Humans aren't meant to think this way," he argued, as he completed one circuit of his room and turned around.  "We are meant to have problems, stress, worries. We can't accomplish anything without them.  They are the symptoms of difficulty, and difficulty is a part of life.  The EverBliss is, essentially, a drug to make people forget who they are, and, like any other drug of its kind, it's unnecessary and dangerous."

"Couldn't this help people?" I asked him.  "It's just like meditation, which has numerous benefits proven by medicine."

"It's not just like meditation," Jaxon replied.  "Meditation requires willpower, self-control.  It gives you a handle on yourself.  This machine, on the other hand, requires no effort.  It substitutes for self-control.  It's a coping device for the lazy.  Look," he said, stopping his storm of movement for a moment to look directly in the camera, "Our society has gotten so soft these days, chasing pleasure and comfort in every way possible.  EverBliss is just the next logical step of that process.  But it's got to stop somewhere.  People need to learn that there's more to life than momentary bliss.  If you spend all your time chasing that, you'll be hollow, because that's not what life is about."  He smiled at his own tirade, shook his head.  "Living only in the present is for children who have no responsibility. Adults need the past and future because we are meant to build things.  We need the past to see what worked and didn't work.  We need the future to see what could be.  Sometimes it's difficult to cope with our mistakes, harder still to deal with the invisible walls we see in front of our goals.  But that's part of the human experience, part of our struggle, and if you take that away from us...we become...less."

After I met with Jaxon, I called Telex Corp's Mark Blank for a rebuttal to his remarks.  "Jaxon," Blank said, "wants to limit the human experience to what it's always been.  Our new vision at Telex is to expand human experience, giving people more control over how they live and what they can do.  We want to redefine humanity for the new millenium."

Blake and Jaxon will get another chance to argue with each other in front of the Market Inquiry Board's preliminary hearing on the EverBliss, scheduled for the 21st.  A member of the Market Inquiry Board, who wished to remain anonymous due to the confidentiality laws, said the case will be a tough one.  Telex Corp has some of the best lawyers in the business, and enough capital to grease the palms of important members of the Board.  Jaxon's company, which is relatively new, does not have the ability to compete with Telex there.  Yet a substantial enough public outcry might be enough to sway the board in Jaxon's favor; after all, the bi-annual elections are coming soon.

For now, I'll hold off on purchasing an EverBliss.  While it was a unique and influential experience, I can't see myself using it--productively--on a daily basis.  However, it did spur me--along with Blake Jaxon's advice--to take up a meditation class.  

What do you think?  Will you be buying a unit?  Or will you be joining Jaxon's protests, whether in person or via net petition?  Let us know in the comment section below.  The best comments, as always, will be posted in the next update to this article.

***Top Comments from Our Readers, Chosen by Our Editors***

[Mark Delaney: My wife died when a drunk man took his hovercar off autopilot.  My cousin lives in rehab with an impossible addiction to neurocodine.  The last thing society needs is another mind-altering substance. Plastic chip or metal pill, it's all the same.]

[Yennefer Jillian: It's my mind, and I have a right to do whatever I like with it.  If the technology is there, it ought to be available.  Just like any other product, it's up to the consumer to use it responsibly.]

[Janee Lily: I won't be buying one for at least a year.  I had a horrible experience with the first release of the LoseFast Appetite Suppressor.  There were problems with the processor interface they didn't find for months, and the whole time I had the thing in my skull, I had problems forming whole thoughts and often found myself in the kitchen, staring at a chef's knife, without remembering how I had gotten there.  Once I tracked the problem down to the LoseFast I returned it and reported the issue; but I will never make the mistake of buying an implant at release again.  They rush them out to market without properly testing them because they are more concerned with capital than conscience.  Would be nice if the government would regulate them, but I guess they're just too powerful and too rich.]

[Wren Silos: I applaud the inventors for this new and ingenious idea, and look forward, as an implant collector, to the future achievements we might see from this company and others.]





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