What is Periva?
The World of Periva – it seems like everyone's talking about it these days. It's making news headlines around the globe, people are talking about it all over, you might have even seen pamphlets being handed out at doctors' offices or heard religious leaders condemning it. It's the hottest topic of the century, but what is it? Periva is the brainchild of William Stevenson, technological prodigy and founder of the IVA Initiative. It is the initiative's flagship product, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, neural programming and mind-machine interface. Periva is the first and only technology of its kind, and has created a whirlwind of excitement and controversy since its release in late January, 2045. Periva is the PERsistent Interactive Virtual Afterlife, a technology which enables its subscribers to transcend death by transferring their consciousness to a simulated virtual world after their physical body dies. In this rich and bountiful fantasy world, users are free to explore and make new lives for themselves. They are free to pursue any lifestyle they wish, whether it be exploring ancient ruins, vying for political power, founding their own businesses or settling down to raise a family. The possibilities are as limitless as the imagination! Thousands of individuals have entered the world of Periva since its launch, with thousands more in the registry, all set up so that they'll be transferred once they die. Since the project was announced in 2037, Periva has attracted a steadily-increasing number of followers, many of which view Stevenson as a sort of technological savior, promising an afterlife mankind can truly believe in. Many religious groups have understandably been riled up by what they call Stevenson's "cult-like" following, claiming that he, and Periva, are false idols, leading followers astray of their religious truths. Some have even called Stevenson an "antichrist," aiming to steal his follower's souls away from the righteous path. Stevenson, of course, has publicly objected to these accusations. In one interview, he claimed that these accusations were "ridiculous," explaining "our technology cannot steal your soul. The @IVA Initiative is not a religion. Any religious scholar will tell you that your mind – the contents of your brain – is not your soul. When you die, we can make sure your mind lives on in Periva, but this won't prevent your soul from going to Heaven, or from being reincarnated, or whatever else you might believe in. We deal in the physical realm, the realm of technology and biology, not in the metaphysical realm of the soul." Yet, despite his objections, many religious groups still protest and boycott his product. "There will always be ignorant people," Stevenson said. "Ignorance is the only illness mankind cannot cure." Religious groups aren't the only people objecting to Stevenson's creation. In 2044, Stevenson announced that Periva would be open to all people, regardless of how they die. This was met with harsh criticisms from suicide prevention organizations who claimed that people would be more likely to commit suicide if they knew they could secure a new life in Periva. These groups urged Stevenson to rethink his policy, hoping that he would discourage people from suicide by refusing to accept anyone who committed suicide in order to enter Periva. Yet Stevenson refused to change his policy. "We at the IVA Initiative believe in death with dignity," he said in another interview. "We believe that everyone should have the right to die on their own terms. If you're suffering from a debilitating mental or physical illness, or even if you're just not happy with your life, you have a right to end it on your own terms. We will not punish people who choose to come to Periva instead of suffer a life they no longer wish to live. That would be cruel and unethical." Stevenson and the IVA Initiative have stood by their decision. In fact, an estimated twenty percent of Periva's current residents committed suicide, most of whom were suffering from terminal illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. When asked to comment, Stevenson said "If you ask me, I think the fault lies squarely with the medical and pharmaceutical industry. We've had the technology to cure these diseases for decades now, and there's no reason the cures should be as expensive and excruciating as they are. Those [industry executives] should be ashamed of themselves. They're profiting off the suffering of others. When it's cheaper and more desirable to die than to be cured, you know there's something wrong." Regardless of the controversies surrounding Stevenson and the IVA Initiative, Periva has been an indisputable success, raking in record-breaking earnings in its first year alone. The Initiative has announced plans on expanding its product line, promising modern-day and sci-fi universes for its subscribers to enjoy, with the added promise that users will be able to switch between any IVA products at will.