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Virtual Person

"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Construct (Pseudo-Relationship)  
  An artificial intelligence person, serving as a companion for a human person not capable of forming real relationships.  

“Several years ago,” the modulated, shifting voice began, “you volunteered to have your neural connectome mapped and uploaded.”

“Right, yeah. DIANIMA project. Back when they were renting a big lab here at the institute. There were four—no, five of us chosen for that. There were a lot of volunteers, but the qualification process was long. Lots of questionnaires, that sort of thing.”

“Did you know what they were going to do with the data?”

“With the connectome models they made of us? Yeah. The project was to create companions for people. It was supposed to be therapeutic. The idea was that certain people—well, lots of people—aren’t capable of relationships. This causes them to feel isolated, depressed. The idea was to create these models and use them as the basis for a construct isolated people could have a sort of ‘pseudo-relationship’ with. The constructs would have all the little quirks of real people. The people who used them could interact with them. Could practice being with other people. They were expensive, but I know the republic now offers them to citizens in need, on a limited scale. And I heard you could have one prescribed for you by your insurance company."

Technovelgy from The Mountain in the Sea, by Ray Naylor.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2022
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