Monday, January 14, 2013

Our Life - Another 13th Floor Experiment?


A few years ago, one of my friend asked me to do a review of any artificial intelligence movie as part of their assignments. After watching a few movies, I finally decided to review "The Thirteenth Floor". At that time, the emphasis was on the technical aspects of the artificial intelligence used in the movie but now I have trimmed it to be posted on our blog here. Hope you people will like it. And at the end, there is a question for all of us. Think about it.

The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

The time is somewhere in the late 1990s. A multi-billionaire computer entrepreneur Hannon Fuller is the inventor of a virtual reality (VR) simulation of the 1937 Los Angeles. To populate the virtual city, they use brainscans from the real world people. Each person in the virtual city has a user from the outside world and the neuron structure of both are the same so that they can easily transfer from real to virtual and vice versa.

The process of this transfer of minds from real to virtual is done on the thirteenth floor of the building. The real user mind is uploaded into the virtual body while the the virtual mind is downloaded into the user body so that the basic human body functions of the user run smoothly for the time he/she is using the virtual world. The transfer process is done in a sealed environment while the user body is kept unconscious so that the virtual mind cannot control it.
End of the World?

The company has two employees of which Douglas Hall is the senior one. Just months before launching the system public, the owner Fuller is murdered. And the prime suspect is Hall but he has no recollection of the time of murder. During the investigation by LAPD Detective Larry McBain, Hall meets Jane, the daughter of his murdered boss. Later Jane give an alibi when Hall is imprisoned after a local bartender (witness to a murder-night meeting between Hall and Fuller), is found murdered.

The way the brain of the virtual host is matched to that of the real user, it is possible that the virtual brain would wake up inside the real user if something goes wrong. Hall attempts to track and find a message Fuller left in the simulation. In the virtual world, Hall learns that bartender Jerry Ashton has stumbled upon the truth about his artificial nature after reading the message Fuller left for Hall. Frightened and angry, Ashton tries to kill Hall, who barely survives to escape the virtual reality.

The characters in the virtual world go on with their lives even if their real world users are not logged onto the system. As for example, the virtual character of Hall is that of a bank clerk and the clerk carries on with his routine even though Hall is not logged on all the time. But when he logs in, the virtual mind is transferred into his body and so whatever he does during this time, has no memory in the brain of the clerk as it was not present in the virtual world during this time!

In the virtual world, Hall found the double of Jane working as a grocery clerk but fail to recognize him. Perplexed, Hall intends to perform an experiment as instructed by Fuller in his letter. To drive to a place where he never would have considered going otherwise. When he arrives, he sees that the area, and everything within it, does not exist, and is, instead, replaced with wire frame models. Finally understanding the meaning of inventor Fuller’s message, Hall grasps the truth — that 1990s Los Angeles, his world, is a simulation.

In fact, the 1990s Los Angeles, the Hall’s world is only one of the thousands of virtual worlds created by the world of 2024. But the distinguishing part is that this world created its own virtual world of 1937. Jane Fuller lives in the “real world” — and only participated in the 1990s simulation to assume the identity of Hannon Fuller’s daughter, gain control of the company, and shut down the simulated 1937 reality. Hall is modeled on David, Jane’s real-world husband, who, in the 1990s simulation, is seeking pleasure by murdering people. It was David who committed the murders (whilst controlling Hall’s body), on becoming jealous when his wife Jane fell in love with Hall, in the simulation.

Whitney, Hall’s associate, enters the 1937 simulation, assuming the role of bartender Jerry Ashton, who has kidnapped Ferguson (Hall’s 1937 identity) and bound him in the trunk of his car. When Whitney is killed in a car crash, Ashton’s consciousness is released to Whitney’s body (in the 1990s simulation). Ashton kills a security guard, David assumes control of Hall, kills Ashton, and attempts to rape and murder Jane, who is saved by Det. McBain shooting and killing David.

That death releases Hall’s consciousness into David’s body; he wakes in 2024, connected to a VR system. He disconnects the system and finds Jane and her father, much resembling Hannon Fuller, the man he was accused of killing in his original reality.

So my friends, what if the world that we live in is a virtual one, part of thousands or millions of similar other worlds created by a “real world”? Do you think it is possible?

20 comments:

  1. My brain just exploded o.O Maybe it's just the time of night, but to me that was a lot more confusing than Inception. May take a few more re-reads to sink in o.O

    It's weird, but I've sort of thought about it before, and it's like... it's possible, but I can't fathom it. My brain kinda goes yeah, nice, no comprendo.

    God knows ^_^

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    1. yes..the concept is very confusing... but in short, it is like virtual world inside a real world and then another virtual world inside the virtual world and so on, and every world people think that they are real :)

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  2. It might be possible...but i dont want to think about it! Its really confusing.

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    1. well, we dont know what is possible and what is not, but sci-fi people come up with many new stuff :)

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  3. I have often had such thoughts. As a boy I used to suppose what if this world is a dream and I wake up in the real world? Maybe a primitive world? What will I be able to take from here to there in the way of knowledge to benefit it? Later, the dreams became virtual worlds. I have read stories but never seen a full length film based on such a "what if?"

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    1. thanks for reading and commenting... yes there is always a what-if in our lives... we are not sure about our present, the world that we live in, it could be a dream, or virtual or anything ...

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  4. I recall seeing this film but cannot recall whether I was confused by it! (Probably was.)

    To condense the films plot (as you have done)leads to confusion due to the complexity of the plot itself - but there is no way round this!

    Is our world a virtual one - sincerely hope not as if so the programmers are making a real hash of it (and our programme needs rewriting).

    I do sometimes toy with the idea that this Earth of ours might be the equivalent of an ant farm in some child's room or school in some distant galaxy...

    (Wrote about it here: http://puzzelicious.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/industry.html )

    Anna :o]

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    1. yes the plot is confusing... with all the artificial intelligence and virtual and sci-fi stuff... well i dont know... but i always think that what if there is another galaxy another planet laughing at us that what we call technology and modernization is antiquity to them! :(

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  5. Even if it is, what's the big deal. The virtual 'us' or the real 'us' has no idea what the hell is going on in the other world. So basically it doesn't matter. Because the real us or the virtual us are probably as much messed up as we are, and who knows , even more.

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    1. hahaha, what if the real us wake up and do not have any idea what was happening to us in the virtual world!

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  6. This could get so confusing but I like to think anything is possible!

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  7. I'm going to watch it.. Soon :P

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  8. quite good information and felt as if in that world...

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    1. if there were any other world, just remember to visit my blog there as well (i hope i will have a blog there as well) :P

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  9. It better not or else i am going to kill the programmer after holdinh him responsible for all the bad things that are happening in the world esp to me :@ And as long as I get to travel the world in this 'virtual' world im happy with it :D

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    1. hahaha... who knows if you were the programmer of the virtual world and somebody would hold you responsible for all this? :P hahaha.. lucky you that you get to travel around the world..stay safe..have a nice weekend :)

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  10. Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.

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    1. thank you for reading and liking :)

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