Forrest Cameranesi: Geek of all Trades

(3x12) Light of the Foundation: Part 1, Episode 3

Still aboard Xio and Aten's ship, Metis is taken to the Jovian system to be formally reintroduced to the Foundation, the secret society formed by their extended family of immortals, including her true original parents, Osan and Teth, and her grandmother Keie, who are all overjoyed at the chance to finally meet her again. The Jovian moons are full of mostly-automated settlements, accompanied by numerous artificial satellites, all part of the "factory floor" (as it were) of Jovian Corp, the solar system's premier manufacture of cutting-edge starships, automatons, and other advanced technologies.

But Jovian Corp is itself a front for The Foundation, who relocated to the Jovian system, predominantly in an enormous spacestation hidden in the calm at the center of the Great Red Spot, from their previous home base in the Earth-Moon system after the rest of humanity developed space travel. Her family explain that the Foundation have had space travel technology for centuries longer than the rest of humanity, having developed it secretly in equatorial America while the most advanced civilizations elsewhere were still in their Dark Ages, and then destroyed the evidence of it still remaining on the surface before any of those powers even knew the western continents existed. They say they would have been a dozen millennia still further along, if not for Kron's betrayal costing them their original starship and stranding them on primitive Earth for most of that time.

Metis asks why they haven't revealed themselves to humanity long ago and guided everyone to a brighter future. She is told that they did reveal themselves to humanity long ago, after which they were worshipped as gods, which was more trouble than it was worth and ultimately drove them into secrecy; but that even from the shadows, they have been guiding humanity to a brighter future, both socially through the orchestration of the Internation, and technologically through things like Virtuality, automata, and the products of Jovian Corp.

These reintroductions are interrupted by a transmission from Kron, who claims he is approaching the Foundation station with no hostile intent, needing only to come into realtime communication range. (Though their technology is advanced, and FTL communication via wormhole is known possible, they don't yet have the means to build such devices themselves, and so are limited by the speed of light in practice). Osan takes a heavily armed fleet of automata-ships out to escort Kron safely to within communication range, and then a kind of video conference through a wall-sized holographic screen is initiated. Xio has many harsh words for Kron for doing something this stupid in what amounts to another tantrum or plea for attention, but Kron is nothing but apologetic, which takes everyone present by surprise.

Kron explains that he had intercepted the Foundation's communications with the Valhalla, the ship sent to explore the world on the other side of the portal, and knew from that that the vast spacefaring alien threat their creator Keius had feared was not there, even if the more-primitive locals to that particular world were hostile. Kron only intended to finally escape from living under the thumb of his own son, and all in the service of their inferiors (the rest of humanity) no less, and fully expected that the portal would be sealed off behind them. But in the time since the Valhalla came, something changed, maybe the Einherjar somehow awoke the threat that was out there after all, and now Kron says his Horsemen are doing everything they can to push that threat back through the portal so they can seal it off for good. (Aten explains for Metis that Kron long ago gave himself the epithet "light-bringer", or "Lucifer" in the language of the day, for which "Luke" is short; and his four loyal brothers were noted in one of the many mythologies loosely inspired by their family history as four horsemen thought to one day help him end the world as those primitive writers knew it, a moniker to which "Luke" has since taken a liking).

But it's not enough; they need the Foundation's help, but even that won't be enough, as there are fleets of alien ships pouring into the other star system from other portals to worlds still beyond it, they don't know how many in total. This, Kron insists in terror, is an existential threat to all of humanity, even they as immortals, and all of humanity must be mustered to combat it together if anyone is to survive.

Xio agrees, as do the rest of the Foundation leaders present. Osan heads a fleet of Foundation automata-ships who immediately follow Kron back to the outer solar system to begin delaying the enemy further, while Xio heads back toward Earth to deliver the biggest news of all history to the leaders of humanity. Aten and Metis accompany him. En route Metis insists to Aten that she wants to help fight this fight; she will gladly direct a fleet of automata-ships or anything else that is needed of her, if it will help to save humanity. Aten remarks that she is her mother's daughter, in the sense that she (Aten) evidently takes after her (Metis) in her fighting spirit, and agrees to teach her the relevant AI interfaces in a simulation aboard the ship.

Like the interfaces she is already familiar with, it consists largely of mediating between advisory AI and subservient AI, but instead of having to listen, understand, and approve the advisor's plans and then relay them to the servants, the Foundation technology interfaces much more closely between the human and the AI. There is essentially a fully independent general AI which lacks any "personality", having no long-term memory in its own program and so no beliefs or intentions on which to act, so by itself it merely sits there as unused potential, until a human mind interfaces with it through a piece of wireless headwear called a "halo". Then, the AI reads in the human's memories as its own, feels like it is the human, with all the same memories and beliefs and intentions, but with all the increased cognitive powers of AI; and it stores long-term memory of its experience back in the human brain, giving the human user the experience that they are doing all the things the AI does, with all the same motives and personality they normally have, but with superhuman competence and ease. Because the AI process runs separately and not in the human brain, the human's normal thought processes meanwhile continue as usual, so the AI-enhanced process cannot control the human body, and everything done through the AI interface feels like thoughtless, effortless muscle memory to the human user.

As their ship finally settles into Earth orbit, Xio begins gathering a multiuser video chat between various world leaders. He introduces himself as the face humanity knows him as, the head of Jovian Corp, and then he carefully details how Jovian Corp is a front for a far more advanced secret society that has been hidden among humanity for thousands of years and is now centuries in advance of them technologically. He spares them the details about them being immortals once worshipped as gods, but he does detail the alien wormhole in the outer solar system they have long known about, and how it has recently been reopened allowing an alien threat into the solar system which the Foundation are currently trying to fight. Lastly, he outlines the dire need for reinforcements, and calls on both Terran and Lunar forces to set aside their differences and lend aid, under his leadership, in combatting this existential threat to all of humanity. He then opens the figurative floor to questions, of which the world's leaders have many.

Next: Light of the Foundation: Part 2, Episode 1