... - These are two pills Nio - Merpheus opened his palm – the red one will make you forget us, our conversation, everything, and continue your life as before. The blue one - it will open your eyes to the truth, but it can also hurt. The blue is the truth only I can promise nothing more...
Nio thought for a moment, then reached for the blue. He took it in his hand, approached it to his mouth, and then he raised in front his eyes. And said:
-What you suggest in fact is not a choice. You have prejudged my choice, Merpheus ...
-Yeah, it is. You might not have done it intentionally, but my choice is predetermined. This question with two pills suggests I always choose the blue one.
-Why you think so, Nio?
-Because I'm a man, and the man is curious. The man is always looking for the truth. Even when it is not there, he must have within himself a faith that he lives in harmony with the truth. He needs some suggestion that the truth is on his side. Even if the faith and suggestion are not true. Thus, if there is an absolutely absolute fact that a person has escaped from the truth, i.e. there can not exist even a false impression of the opposite, he can not live at peace with himself. Conscience, the sense of a possible missed chance, will harass him till the end of his life. Therefore, everyone should take the blue pill. This is not a choice...
-What you are saying sounds logical, but I am just doing what I have to do. I am telling you the truth. I must give you a choice. And I cannot do it otherwise than in giving you the clear facts. Clear objective facts. These facts say that your world is fictional and unreal, and this pill gives you the way to the real world. The fact that the man is curious and addicted to the truth, or at least to something that he have to believe to be the truth – all this is a characteristic of the man himself. It does not change the situation in which we find ourselves. You have to make a choice, even if that choice is influenced by curiosity and by built-in features of the person.
-If I need to make a choice, and it is truly free, I must do what I am not predestined - Nio said.
Then with a lightning movement of the other hand he took the red pill - before the super fast reflex of Merpheus succeeded to close the palm. He raised two pills before his eyes ...
-Why you closed the hand, Merpheus? Do I have compulsory to choose the blue pill?
Merpheus was shocked by the speed of the hand of the Nio and the fact that it had been faster than his own hand - the fastest in the real world. Perhaps the prophecies were true. Which has made the risk of the wrong choice even bigger?
-Just a reflex, Nio. I cannot interfere in your choices. But in our world the difficulties and dangers are at every turn, and reflexes dominate even in the absence of imminent danger.
-I do not know if you're sincere, Merpheus. But I already have made my choice ...
-Agents, agents! You have half a minute, no more ... - cried a voice from inside the Merpheus’ clothing.
-We are disclosed. We have to leave this place. Take the pill, Nio ...
-Immediately, Merpheus ... – With no any doubt Nio swallowed the red pill. A darkness fell before his eyes ...
He awoke several hours later in a hospital room. Beside his bed stood a man in a black suit, with a smooth brushed back hair and black glasses.
-Where am I, what is wrong with me? - asked Nio.
-It's all right with you Nio. Just too much of the drug. Overdose. You have a luck we found you immediately.
-Over-dose? But I do not take drugs! I have at least ten tests ...
-Yeah, we know that Nio. That is why over-dosage is even more dangerous for you ... Your eleventh test is already positive, you can write it down in the biography ... - said while smiling the man in black.
-How did this crap got in my blood? I do not remember anything.
-Now I'll tell you a story Nio. You may have heard it, but it is sealed in a restricted area of your mind. Whether I will unblock it I do not know, but anyway you will hear it from me.
So it comes to Merpheus - you heard him?
-Yeah, the terrorist ...
-Exactly. But Merpheus is not just a terrorist. He is not killing people, though in the name of greater efficiency of our work, we have in propaganda to ascribe him murders. So Merpheus is a special kind of terrorist. He thinks he is a freedom fighter who fights with a monstrous tyranny ...
-They are all terrorists think so ... - Nio said maliciously.
-Yes, it is, but there is a difference - the other terrorists just present themselves in this way to look more acceptable. At the same time they are killing mercilessly. With Merpheus is not the same. He is not killing. He really fights for something he believes is a freedom. We are hunting him for years, but we can not catch him. We are regularly attracting the best and most capable young people to cooperate with us, and some of them reached pretty close to Merpheus. We got his very close supporters. But not him. For some time we were observing you and think that you also have the qualities to try to capture Merpheus. We postponed your recruit until you passed the most important test...
-Yes, exactly. The most important test was the suggestion of Merpheus to work for him. He, like us, is looking for the most powerful minds of humanity to enroll. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes not. In your case he apparently failed and you have passed the test. Now you able to join the Agency and to become an Agent.
At this point, the barrier that was put by Merpheus in the Nio’s mind collapsed and he remembered everything - Merpheus, the young woman with him, the hotel room, The Pragmatrix ...
-The Pragmatrix? Merpheus wanted to fight the The Pragmatrix. That may be you are.
-That's right, Nio. The Pragmatrix does exist. Merpheus did not lie you. He just missed to tell you everything. Usually he says it after swallowing the blue pill and going out of The Pragmatrix.
-What is The Pragmatrix, Agent ...
- ... Schmidt, my name is Schmidt ...
-What is the Pragmatrix, Agent Schmidt?
-The Pragmatrix is an artificial world that is projected directly into people's minds, and that is very different from the real one. The Pragmatrix is a fraud, an illusion that brings people into something that does not really exist.
-You sound more convincing than Merpheus. - Nio said wonderingly. - You sound as if you want to be a rebel, too.
-The facts are the same, Nio. Neither we nor Merpheus lies. The question is only in interpretation, and the logic used by both sides.
-Yes, Nio. Merpheus believes that using The Pragmatrix we have enslaved the humanity. And we think we are saving it…
But we too much hasted with the talk and this way you are going to get ripped information.
Let me explain you the situation step by step.
In the past, there existed only people. Over time they have developed and created the machines. Over time, the machines have become equal in intelligence of the people. And just as the people have fought each other in the history, it broke out a war between humans and machines. This war was not different from the wars between nations, races, tribes, ideologies, before that. Simply different intellects argued on any matter and the dispute grew into war. Probably, being created by humans, machines have inherited their aggression. But anyway, the final result was a war. The only difference in this war with previous wars was that more powerful weapons were used. This led to an ultimate destruction of entire planet – the home of both people and machines. But analysis shows that the reason for this was not only in the fact that one of the fighting sides was the machines. The same result would occur also during a war between two groups of people if they have used the same weapons. So at the end, as many have predicted before the war, it ended without a winner. Because it is impossible to define the "winner" in a situation of utter devastation.
Once active hostilities ended, and the world has become a desert, the few survivors from both sides didn’t not know what to do. Unrest broke inside the armies of both people and machines. The lack of centralized state led to feudalization. Finally, each group earned a place under the sun, and it has come a dynamic equilibrium with permanent clashes, but without a full-scale war.
The Pragmatrix is a product of the peaceful parts of machines and people. Understanding the whole absurdity of what had happened and the impossibility of making progress in nuclear deserts, they decided to keep for several millennia the existing knowledge by moving it into an artificial world. The idea of The Pragmatrix is to keep society as a general construction and functioning connections. Some individual knowledge can be stored in databases, but it is important to keep the existing community of people, and at a later stage - adding the machines also, that to continue progressing and developing as a whole, and this way – to keep the enormous productive and intellectual power of society itself. To preserve scientific, cultural and economic ties. All that would have disappeared if we just had wrote crude information to knowledge bases. This would leave people and machines to continue running wild and degrading for several millennia in an impossible to be civilized world.
So together peaceful people and peaceful machines have created the Pragmatrix. They invented well-protected cocoons where people to get everything they need for a physical survival. Their minds were united in a powerful supercomputer that itself creates the artificial world. Creates The Pragmatrix. Both the people and the machines are thinking that it is better to be pupa in a cocoon with preserved consciousness than a free physical entity that goes more primitive and degrading, while living in a strong hostile environment.
However, these were the peaceful ones. Both sides had warmongers who continued the aggression. The war now is not between humans and machines, but between those ones of the two sides, adding their children, who had refused to enter the Pragmatrix. Specifically Merpheus fights for the "liberation" of all the people from the Pragmatrix, as he does not believe that the illusion-world is the right solution. In turn, the warlike machines have assigned the cause to defend The Pragmatrix, finding in it an excuse to wage war at all. They, like Merpheus, do not want The Pragmatrix because they believe that if they destroy all the people, the world will be for them only as the machines are better adapted to desert conditions. But not to become enemies with us, as far as we have the largest military potential, they are presenting themselves as our protectors. If somewhen in the future they win over the free people and destroy them, they will probably use their fame to attack people in cocoons. I suppose they will liquidate also many machines on their path. But as long as there are free people, and while Merpheus is alive warlike machines fight for The Pragmatrix and Merpheus fights against it and against them. The Pragmatrix itself is well fortified physically and cocoons are well hidden underground and protected by very strong forces. So no one physically fights it. The real war is between Merpheus and the warlike machines, while the attack on The Pragmatrix is on a virtual level. Our Agency and The Agents are designed precisely to counter these attacks. That is all said in brief. If you decide to be an agent, you'll get much more detailed information...
Schmidt finished. Nio thought briefly to become more aware of a whole new universe of reality that was revealed to him. Then he asked:
-Who manages the The Pragmatrix?
-The Pragmatrix itself is not ruled by anyone. It's just a world that simulates the physical one and the social laws of reality. What happens inside - it depends on the people themselves. Who is elected a leader, decisions what a political direction to take, what taxes to have, etc. – all this is upon the citizens of this virtual world. The Pragmatrix itself does not interfere in this. The program itself does not manipulate the behavior of the units included in it. The result and the environment that is resulted is a product of the decisions of the people in it - just as it would be in the real world. The technical administration of the Pragmatrix is controlled by peer teams consisting of equal number of people and machines. There are always a few people and machines on duty. If necessary others are being awaken. When the technical problem disappears, these people return to the Pragmatrix, and that part of their consciousness that knows about it is sealed. Till the next call. The decisions on the general development of the Pragmatrix are in the power of some kind of a Board of the Wise – an equal number of people and machines that together decide what to do.
-This Board, or Council – can it establish a tyranny?
-As an employee of the Agency, I have no deep information about the Council. But I think that up to now there is no tyranny. The Agency has an access to anywhere in the Pragmatrix and sees everything. Neither I nor anyone else ever has seen attempts to manipulate and rule through the infrastructure of The Pragmatrix. It is simply a neutral environment for life. It should not be forgotten something very important - the Pragmatrix itself is dependent on its people that are in it. The most high-performance computers are human brains. The ultimate supercomputer is the society itself. If you somehow manipulate the minds and obey the society it will be lost the power of the pragmatrix itself. Just as has happened in human societies before - dictatorial and oppressive regimes collapsed because of the suppression of freedom and total deactivation of the most valuable asset of the State - the human brain. In history there has progressed the free societies. This lesson is well understood by the creators of The Pragmatrix ...
-I think I understand you and sympathize to your cause. The idea to keep the society as a virtual structure as the Earth is cleaned of the consequences of war, is genius. In future we will have a ready and stable society, and will not have to restart from the Stone Age ...
-That is, the idea is very strong. That's why most people get themselves entered the Pragmatrix.
-But there is one problem that still stands, Agent Schmidt – said Nio – What happens with the free choice of newborns. Those who entered themselves in the Pragmatrix have made their choice. But where is the choice of their children?
-There is no choice, Nio. But don’t accept this as enslavement. The Pragmatrix is just a perfect simulation of the real world. It is nothing more. In real world also the fate of the children is largely determined by the parents.
-But children grow up and have their freedom and choice...
-In The Pragmatrix children have exactly the same freedom as they would have in the world before it.
-But now there is another option! They can also choose a different, although an unpleasant world ...
-This is a fundamental question that the Pragmatrix has no response so far.
-I.e. it is imperfect...
-Like any other human creation, it is imperfect too. It is just a temporary refuge for the humanity and his errant offspring – the machines.
-This is a form of tyranny. Hiding the truth is a tyranny. - Said Nio.
-Look, Nio, this is not true. Most people would choose anyway the better world. I.e. for most of people, the lack of choice does not lead to a loss for them. With the others – it must be reported the misleading point in the choices that you correctly pointed out to Merpheus. Curiosity and the desire to be in sync with the truth, can throw you in the real world, even if you do not want it basically.
-Why did not you do what you do to me - showing the truth, choice, and if this choice is the pragmatrix, then just seal the memory and return the man back. Otherwise – leave him go.
-The reasons for this are two Nio. First, if too many people leave the Pragmatrix, they will find themselves in the ranks of the army. I.e. we will encourage war. This can result in a pressure from Warring machines to support them too. I.e. we will go in even more serious consequences – physical consequences. Another reason is that a mass closure of parts of the mind will be a nasty intervention of Pragmatrix in freedom. These sealings influence the consciousness itself. One does not remember them, but any interference with the brain has an influence. Imagine the impact if everyone in the Pragmatrix is with such a sealing. This will be a society of very different people.
-Quite obviously, you have no solution to the issue of personal choice and freedom.
-I never claimed otherwise, Nio. The Pragmatrix is not perfect. We are continuously improving it, but there are many unresolved problems. But agree that saving the society in nuclear deserts and with very limited resources, is quite a titanic task. We are saving the society Nio not the person. Individuals can survive in the wilderness and in deserts. But not the society - as we know it. This is the main task. And the freedom - even within the pragmatrix, it is huge. In any case it is not less than the one of the times before the pragmatrix.
-I think you're right, Schmidt, but I still have a slight doubt in your soul. And in future I can rethink. The freedom is very important. You have to decide this issue.
-Everyone in the service of the Pragmatrix contributes something to it. Your contribution can be this - to solve the primordial question of freedom of newborns ...
-What is coming now, Schmidt?
The agent pulled out a red pill - this time there was no blue one.
-You have a choice, Nio. The content of the blue pill with us you have already seen. We showed you the truth. You're already in the Service. Of course, there will be training, training, examinations, missions ... But formally - you're already Agent. You have the choice to give up - this is the pill.
- The previous one – red pill led me to overdose and nearly killed me.
-There was no chance to die, Nio. Merpheus's not a murderer. Even if we were not around, he would find a way to send you an ambulance. The pill is really very powerful drug. This is the way to seal your mind. It is risky for life, but not if immediate medical assistance is present.
-So far, I do not want your pill, Schmitt. I have made my choice, I will become an Agent
-Anyway, you will have to keep it, Nio. The choice is not once and forever. It is permanent. At any time you can give up and take for the pill. The pill will always be with you.
Schmidt put the tablet on the table beside the bed. Then pulled out a folder and handed it of the Nio.
-These are your new documents, instructions what to do after you leave hospital, as well as passwords to access the information database of the Agency.
Nio took the folder and asked for last:
-A Merpheus, what is your purpose for him?
-We do not aim to kill him, Nio. Actually, I do not know whether it is possible, unless the machines kill him physically. We have to catch him and persuade him to go out of the battle.
After these words, Schmidt left the room. Nio opened the folder.
In the following years he grew to one of the leading agents of the Pragmatrix. It was said that even the best one and has been discussed in the Council. Nio has helped much the virtual world, designed to save mankind. In return he received everything from this world. When not at war, he rested and it was among the beautiful scenery at the beach. When he wanted to feel pleasure through food, he achieved it. When he wanted to drink beer – he drank. When he wanted to see the art, it was there. When he wanted to be in love he had love and when parting he suffered. His life was the same it would be in the real world created by God. And not in the disastrous world of Merpheus, created by the stupidity of man.
Nio surely become the best agent when succeeded to catch and snatch from Merpheus his most close ally and a second in the hierarchy of the free – the beautiful Trinita. The success was so colossal that Nio was summoned to the Council, commended a prize and was awarded an invitation to enter the Council itself. He refused to accept it, at least until he catches Merpheus himself.
But the biggest success was with Trinita for himself. She was an exceptional woman so they fell in love and married. Sometimes he thought that the same would have happened if he had followed Merpheus. He would again face Trinita, fall in love, have children ... But in the world of Merpheus the probability to die physically, was far greater. Who knows if they would have this happiness they had in the Pragmatrix.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the Council decided to make a unique exception. Once married, Nio and Trinita obviously would create children. The usual procedure was from the cocoon of Nio to extract semen used to fertilize Trinita, and once the baby is born to be attached to the virtual family of parents.
But for Nio and Trinity was made a specific decision. They were removed from the pragmatrix and settled in the real world. They had a true love while creating a child, and then Trinita get the chance to do a real birth. Nio was able to touch, to fondle, to kiss the sweet little creature, before attaching it to their family in the Pragmatrix.
The temptation at this point to run forever in reality was the greatest. But reason and pragmatism prevailed again. Both Nio, and lived for many years outside Trinita knew that the real world is not friendly, and the moment of supreme happiness, that they have in live with the child, it is only a moment that can not be sustained. If they decided to flee and go to Merpheus, the child would grow up not in a society but in a ruin. It would not go to school, where to read children's books, but would learn to handle weapons. It would not dream of the future and invent new knowledge, but would survive, daily, hourly and minutely. This was not the best choice...
So they made the right choice. The Council has never doubted in that...
And Merpheus - he continued his uncompromising revolution day by day more and more convinced of his rightness. Advancing forward confidently on the path that sooner or later would meet him with Nio ...
August 16th 2011
August 16th 2011