WORK IN PROGRESS
Virtual Intelligence, better known by the acronym "VI", is a form of neuromorphic computer meant to mimic real life. VI mimics how organic creatures process information, rather than operating like a traditional computer. Many people erroneously use the term "artificial intelligence" or "AI" to describe these machines, but that is incorrect. While they closely mimic a real brain, they are neither sentient nor sapient and are, just like traditional computers, slaves to their own programming's limits, even if they are capable of learning and improving themselves to a point.
A traditional computer has discrete components operating in tandem in order to perform computations. For instance, it has a central processing unit to perform calculations, a memory module to hold data that needs to be processed, long term memory to store long-term data. The key bottleneck is the transfer of information between these different components. Several ways have been implemented to get around this, such as local cache memory, but all that does is extend the time before the bottleneck is hit. It's also extraordinarily energy inefficient, requiring large amounts of power to operate, leading to a lot of heat.
Mimicking the brain
An organic brain does not operate in that manner. It has millions of individual neurons instead of discrete components. There is no central memory storage, no long term storage, no central processing unit. Instead, it operates on a neural state system, where each neuron operates in interconnected states. A traditional transistor in a classic computer has no memory of what charge has been sent through it, hence a separate memory module is needed. A neuron functions as a "memristor". Basically a transistor with a memory of what current passed through. This allowed the design of a synthetic neuron, and thus making artifical synapses.
The artifical brain
A neuromorphic computer still operates out of programming and a set of parameters. It is no more alive or sapient than a traditional computer is. However, the way it processes information is ridiculously efficient and fast in comparison and its capacity for self-improvement and learning is vastly superior to a traditional computer.
With the advent of the neuromorphic computer, VI became a possibility. It possessed the capability to process and handle information on a "subconscious", "effortless" or more correctly "energy efficient" level, allowing it to mimic living organisms to a near perfect degree. A properly configured and trained VI could easily pass as a living being in a conversation, provided the living person interacting with it could not see something that immediately gave it away. In conversation, even live voice synthesis, is near perfect with high grade VIs.
Ly-R-AIn-E is an advanced virtual intelligence that has been run inside the Grand Archives since long before the Cataclysm. With her extensive knowledge and long run-time, she behaves almost as if she was sapient.
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