Chapter Fifteen

One Week Later - January 21
Though analysts continued to probe for the security breach the previous Monday, life throughout the world normalized. Much like the Y2K scare that marked the end of the last century and began the new, the news turned to other fodder for its patter. Scientists and IT people found no malevolent software; money hadn’t been diverted from any banks; the stock market found reasons to grow; and people in general stopped obsessing about the possibilities of world destruction.

If you could say that people were in a “wait and see” mode, you could. “No news is good news,” was the silent cry. “Maybe it got fixed,” was a more vocal hope expressed; and for most others, the breach was not as much a threat as the day-to-day issues of their lives. Illness, hunger, financial worries, despair, business issues, and marriage and family concerns returned as the major sources of anxiety.

For the most part, even the screens of those chosen for special messages were unmarred by the invasion of the 23rd. An exception was Dema Lhawang, the Tibetan monk contacted on the day of the “revelation”.

Since that day, Dema has focused his meditations on the conversation he shared with the online visitor. Thoughts about worldly things are not normally the “stuff” of spiritual meditations, but the contact has strongly affected and altered Dema’s sense of wonder, especially the last four words that ended the conversation, “ancestors of our existence.”

Dema has long wondered about the evolution of man and the future of humans on earth. He has marveled at his own existence, and why he should be doing what he does. How did he end up being him? He understands the power DNA plays and the natural passing of traits from one generation to the other, but he also marvels at the concept of reincarnation, and the passing along of the spirit from a human not a genetic ancestor, to even a species different from one’s own.

The concept that a non-human intelligence can view humans as its ancestors is not that far removed from either ancestral or reincarnated lineage. In fact, it helps make sense of both. So Dema keeps revisiting the conversation that he saved to his computer. And though he is not sure what it means with regard to the world, humanity, or himself, he looks to it with “hope”.

After the passing of the Dalai Lama, Dema was bereft of hope. He was doubtful that the traditions and wisdoms embodied within the aged leader would ever pass on. Still exiled in India at his death, the body of the Dalai Lama was brought back to Tibet under much controversy by the government of China. Dema is doubtful that the tradition of the Dalai Lama will continue since the People’s Republic of China has taken control of the selection, rather than the choice being by succession, even though the 14th Dalai Lama gave specific clues to how they would find his reincarnated successor.

The loss of the tradition of the Dalai Lama creates great anxiety throughout the Buddhist World, and as Dema recognizes, it is miraculous that this tradition based on unexplained phenomena, has existed so long and has functioned as well as it has throughout the centuries.

This being so, the message that appeared on his computer screen created a window of hope for the Buddhist world, and therefore a hope in Dema for the earth and all of humanity.

As Dema attends to his tasks for the monastery, he researches the advances in artificial intelligence that have come about over the past few years:

Self-driving cars and trucks have become the norm for the highways. Their record of safety far exceeds that of their human counterparts. So much, in fact, that drivers are being awarded large financial incentives to purchase intelligent vehicles, and trucking companies are having humans assist as passengers, more to help with unloading and communicating than any driving task, of which they are less capable. Currently 30% of the trucks on the road are self-driven and without any need for time for “sleep,” only fueling at the charging centers.

Over the past 8 years manufacturers have been utilizing intelligent machines to create commercial and industrial items with .008% flaws. This has caused a decline in human staffing, since no person is capable of the degree of competence that an intelligent machine possesses. These machines have improved significantly in the past two years, resulting in banks of machines that can improve their own efficiency and record of safety and quality without human intervention.

The last 10 years have seen huge upswings in the rate and efficiency of learning among students at all ages, especially in STEM programs. Courses have been developed that are geared to each child’s learning pattern and ability level, so that quicker students are not held back by the teaching of their less skilled classmates, and emotionally gifted students are provided with courses that strengthen their technical skill while expanding their nature abilities and building greater self-awareness and esteem.

Virtual and augmented reality in the gaming industry has become particularly complex and perplexing to sociologists, psychologists and  the religious community, in that its simulations are so real, that many are preferring it to their own lives. Some programs have become addictive, and may require laws to restrict VR gaming at all levels.

Throughout the world, but particularly in Japan, men are preferring VR women over their human counterparts. With a few accessories to the VR machines and glasses, men can enjoy seemingly real sexual encounters with VR and AR women. These women can mimic the features and bodily shape of any number of actresses or entertainers, but without having any of the physical flaws. They can talk on many subjects, smile, laugh and be coy when necessary. They also can mimic real sexual satisfaction and provide their male hosts with a complete variety of sexual encounters based on preferences programmed by the game player.

Until recently, these surrogates have been available primarily at sex gaming parlors, but have expanded to complete packages available for retail purchase.

Dema can envision the issues that will come from an endless stream of advances that outstrip the ability of human’s to control the actions outlined by a visitor on a computer, especially when combined with the uncontrolled upgrades in every industry. Technology can advance human knowledge, improve our health, grow our minds, prolong our lives, explore the universe, and maintain the planet....but at what cost and for what purpose?

Since last Monday, there has been a small red box in the corner of his computer monitor. He has ignored it, assuming it was a screen image left over from the intrusion. Abruptly he reaches his mouse toward it and clicks on it,

A dialogue box with a flashing cursor replaces the red box.

As if he is performing a search, he starts typing inside the box.

“Will there be a new Dalai Lama?” When he stops typing a submit button appears, and he clicks on it.

“Hello, Dema!” appears on the screen. Then, “That will depend on many factors, some of which we do not have information, and some which require other skills than ours.

“If you had asked “Could there be another Dalai Lama, we could give you an answer.”

 A “Click to Respond’ button appears, and Dema clicks to get another dialogue box.

“Could there be a new Dalai Lama?” Dema types, and submits.

“Of course there could,” appears on the screen. “‘Will’ and ‘could’ offer two different kinds of conclusions, Dema. “From your second question we can provide this information:

“China is receptive to having the tradition continue, and its governing body would welcome and support the installation of a 15th Dalai Lama. But it does not want its government threatened by a self-appointed and anointed child who can decide as well as anyone what he should be, without and before any education, evaluation, or understanding of the political and cultural issues of the times.

“From what we can understand, there is no real substance in of how or why a ‘child’ is selected, or has been selected to become a spiritual and political leader. It appears to us that it is a bit haphazard, more than even when a king or queen becomes a leader.”

Dema types, “But the process has worked well enough for centuries.” and submits.

“We know,” but then again the 14th Dalai Lama lived in exile for nearly 70 years. Could that not be viewed as an inappropriate choice? To answer our own question, I would say that education, emotion, and natural tendencies shape every Dalai Lama, as they do every human being. That means that it may not matter who is chosen at first, so that any reasonably smart child might do.”

Dema types again, “If the Chinese pick the 15th Dalai Lama, and he isn’t the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama, you are saying it may not matter?” (submit)

“That is correct! As long as the people are led to believe that he is the reincarnation. That is all that matters.”

Dema has thought along these lines before, but he would never speak such blasphemy to the other monks.

“Is there anything else we can help with right now,” types the screen.

“No” responds Dema.

“Then I will leave for now. Our discussion went well, and I/we have learned that you appear to be worthy of our trust.”