Neurocracy is the fiction of the future in the form of Wikipedia

In 2048, Wikipedia does not exist. Without enough donations and too many copyright claims, it must be shut down. In 2049, a new substitute will emerge: Omnipedia, built in the spirit of its predecessor as a free encyclopedia for all. Days after the launch of Omnipedia, its lead investor, Xu Shaoyong, who is inevitably the most powerful man on earth, is assassinated.

This is an imaginary universe Neurocracy, an experimental reporting project that will take place over 10 sessions from 14 July. Through Omnipedia, it urges readers to solve Xun’s murder in the near future, where millions of people will suffer from the deadly Cariappa-Muren disease caused by infected tuna. The famous neuroscientist and activist Connie Mure, who helped find the disease, has lost a trace. The environment is disintegrating from irreversible climate change, and the world is living under a bio-monitoring system called the G6.

You see Neurocracy as hypertext literature or as part of an alternative reality game, it is the first project of its kind to use media that we take for granted every day. The whole game takes place in your browser on the Omnipedia site. Each weekly period represents one day Neurocracy, and over time, Omnipedia entries will be updated and reviewed just like real Wikipedia. There are other types of wiki – based metafiction projects, such as Excalibur, which is a fan-wiki style for a fictional TV show. But no one tells a story quite like this.

The game has been at work for years, albeit in various forms. In 2019, its creators Joannes Truyens and Matei Stanca began to consider crowdfunding to continue development; author Truyens had started working on the project in 2016 based on his idea of ​​the sci-fi world he had 20 years ago as a teenager. The following year, they raised a modest £ 12,000 for Kickstarter, which allowed them to order art for Omnipedia from a concept artist and illustrator. Alice Duke. Since then, the project has cultivated a tight community that eagerly shares theories Neurocracy Disagreements. The final project features more than 30 different articles, each carefully constructed in the same familiar dry wiki tone with careful references, each with its own periodic variations.

But 2019 was an eternity then. Our new Korona reality shares annoying parallels Neurocracy, which revolves around the familiar points of modern anxiety: pandemics, billionaires, artificial intelligence, climate change and biosecurity in the name of public health. “Even when the real, real-life pandemic subsided and began to prevent some of them NeurocracyThe construction of the world, the Wikipedia format, has helped us adapt quickly and incorporate the lessons of this first modern-day pandemic into the imaginary, ”says Truyens, who struggled to mention COVID-19 at all. so I couldn’t leave it out. “

NeurocracyThe origins date back to the early 2000s, when Truyens and Stanca met Half life editing scene. They worked on a few projects Deus Exan inspired total transformation model called Omnius Global that followed Marc Laidlaw’s manuscript-style format Half – life 2. Although Omnius Global did not go anywhere – Truyens not chopping words about the quality of the old manuscript – it contained a crucial part Neurocracy’s story base, its wiki-style story bible. The text of the universe Deus Ex had such a profound world-building influence on Truyens that he included its editor, Sheldon Pacotti, On Omnipedia.

“Much of the description of artificial intelligence Neurocracy is based on his work to the point that it is called “Pacotti architecture,” Truyens says one of Pacott’s articles as the basis of his imaginary artificial intelligence. In his blog, he defines Neurocracyapproach “concept art is the ultimate art” Deus Ex – a vision enhanced by illustrator Duke’s artistic orientation to the world of 2049. “Neurocracy invites players to add their own meanings and interpretations to what they read about Omnipedia, and the idea is that the visual has a similar space of opportunity, ”Truyens says.

Pacotti has been unable to attend Neurocracy (yet), but Truyens is not far off alone. He has put together a dream group whose vastly different interests and writing styles only reinforce the game’s fiction that multiple people participate in Omnipedia. Guest authors include an award-winning narrator Leigh Alexander, sci-fi writers Malka Parent and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, and author / critic Axel Taiari. The parent teaches predictive fiction and has led humanitarian assistance in Darfur, Indonesia and Japan. Wijeratne investigates misinformation and online communities and sets up a fact-finding team Watchdog. Alexander has been at the forefront of Internet culture and near-futuristic writing for years, and Taiare has more than a decade of experience in the field of technical writing information technology. (She is also starting a doctoral program hypertextuality.)

NeurocracyThe wiki format also invites us to explore our changing relationship to ubiquitous language technology, which includes everything from Gmail’s response suggestions to artificial intelligence transcription services. As a researcher, Wijeratne works continuously with human and artificial intelligence language technology; in one case, he trained the OpenAI GPT-2 language model to write poems for his novel Rescue personnel. He even had a language model trained in Wikipedia bios that fit well Neurocracy. In the future, Omnipedia entries will be sketched with artificial neural networks before human journalists step in.

“I had trained it as a testament to what we may face in the years to come with human editing and artificial intelligence‘ text diarrhea ’that combine to build authoritative-looking websites with a huge amount of content in days,” Wijeratne explains. “I looked Neurocracy and I thought: this is perfect. It gave me moods Deus Ex, SCP wikiand Borgesin Garden of branched paths. “As with other guest writers, the opportunity to participate in Wijeratne Neurocracy it didn’t make sense.

Given the episodic form of the game and today’s horror spoilers, it is incredibly difficult to get accurate details from any author of their writings. Malka Older, who specializes in disaster preparedness management, geopolitics and world construction, is understandably cautious about her stories. Leigh Alexander uses his interest in the social and cultural implications of technology to balance hard science. “I decided to come Neurocracy” World media, entertainment and play, ” he says and tells of his game story, which recently included Love Island 2019, based on a British reality show. “And while I love all kinds of storytelling, I’m now obsessed with reality TV and micro-celebrities. I felt it was really important that these elements were in any vision of the future.”

Even going through the demo is obvious Neurocracy not just about murder. It’s one corner of a complex, diverse mystery that screams Pepe Silvia’s conspiracy. Taiari points out that building one big mystery simply doesn’t work in a hypertext format that requires careful layers of narration. Truyens told the visiting writers about his extensive notes and plots and gave everyone the freedom to explore for themselves. “None of our publications are even close to reminding each other,” Taiari says. “And yet, since we all started the search from the same perspective and returned to it, it’s all connected – like a cave system. On top of that, a temporal, episodic angle adds a layer like Mr. Robot and provides a connecting thread.”

As for the details of the fictional Omnipedia editors and mods, as well as other in-game features, Truyens gives nothing. “We hope to create some audience feedback in which we publish an episode, look at emerging story theories, and then adapt the next episode to those theories,” he explains, targeting him closer to an experimental prison master rather than a regular writer. “There are a lot of chains where we’ve left things intentionally unclear or undefined.” New players are welcome to join Neurocracy A discrepancy that is already full of reader theories. “If we decide to give birth to a subreddit, also good,” Truyens says. “We know the end, it’s just a matter of what we know and what we don’t communicate about it,” he adds quite secretly.

Given how attached we are to our devices, the amazing convenience of accessing all of human history with a few clicks and swipes, the idea Neurocracy looks natural. Wikipedia is not just for a narrow purpose; it is part of daily modern life as a utilitarian descendant of the early Internet bulletin board and forum. “The futuristic storytelling experience that unfolds on imaginary Wikipedia feels a lot easier now for me as a concept than I would have felt even 10 years ago,” Alexander says.

At the same time, Neurocracy is a great example of how Truyens and Stanca undermine our relationship with an ergodic text – that is, a text that you have to make a real effort to understand. Some like it in traditional games that focus on gameplay and mechanics. Ironically, many of the same people who brag about never reading World of Warcraft world-building text and dialogue also spend hours on theoretical development forums and complex game guides. “Most of the literature is as non-ergodic as possible in its design. As a writer, my job is to keep the reader turn the page, ”Wijeratne says. “Hypertext is narrow because it requires non-trivial efforts to transcend narration. The irony is that more and more people are also navigating hypertext in the context of games: game wikis.”

Wikipedia is much more than a dry source of bone with a basic knowledge of history and geology or theories of quantum physics that your boyfriend is not silent about. It has become a sinkhole that too many of us are willing to go deep into the morning, and a fully formed door to narrative experiments that question our way of looking at real media. “There’s no playable game if we tell you what to solve, or how to solve it, or if it can be solved at all,” Taiari says. “As a result, all the ingrained pattern identities and habits that players have with regard to wikis are mixed up. Is this page meant to help me or trick me? Who wrote this and why … what’s important to me as a player? What should I care about and try to decipher? “

After all, to borrow something from what Truyens told me in 2019, Neurocracy is a story we tell ourselves – a way to understand the world given in Omnipedia, and perhaps gain some insight into our current reality during the process. “If what we were trying to do Neurocracy works, then players create their own reading, playing / decoding strategies and in turn tell the world to themselves and others, ”says Taiari. “The stories that arise as a result, whether they dismantle parts of the world or contribute to their clogging – well, these stories are not for us to tell.”

For those who missed Kickstarter, the game can be purchased directly through Omnipedia at

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