A Public Intellect

Summary: An inventor shares his uploaded memories and secrets with the world, bringing forth dramatic social changes.

The inventor of whole brain emulation, Dr. Desmond Dowell, left behind three feuding forks when he died. When the dust settled, his company was a shell of what it once was. Nevertheless, the most influential of the uploads made an unprecedented move: the entire uploaded mind of Dr. Dowell would be given to the public domain.

The move was not without controversy and criticism, for every uncensored thought and moment Dowell had ever recorded had been rendered naked to the collective judgment of history. While by no means a disliked man, Dowell had never been without his critics and rivals. They savaged him for his flaws and shortcomings, while his supporters praised his courage and impactful life.

Other minds found other uses for Dowell's memories. Ribald jokes among his close friends were repeated on the dark corners of the internet, some becoming virulent memes. Dowell's moments of intimacy and partners became public knowledge, as his love life was forever loosed upon an unprepared (yet voyeuristic) world. Much to the dismay of hackers and identity thieves, Dowell's financial information and passwords had all been changed before his intellect was released. Copyright lawyers hounded Dowell's estate, claiming that releasing his memories of media was infringement. Curiously enough, Dowell's favorite media experienced a surge of interest.

From the memories and uploaded connectome sprang an infinite line of uploads and forks. It was altogether appropriate that the inventor of mind uploading became the most-copied upload in history. Dowell's forks reached a fecundity unrivaled by even breeding rabbits. Despite this, not all of the uploads were run by his supporters. His mental scions were eternally tortured in virtual reality for his perceived sins by uncounted religious and political demagogues. Ideology intensified, as the world opinion on Dowell became polarized.

It was when another person, a doctor named Shang Yifei, disclosed her mind upload that a broader trend started. People uploaded raw memories and experiences to the world, seeking vindication through public scrutiny. While imposters faked convincing memories, many of the frauds were eventually discovered. The biologically dying willed themselves to do the same, so that their memories would live on well beyond their years.

Amongst the young and adventurous, interest in extreme sports, dangerous professions, and new experiences rose dramatically. From increases in military recruitment to more astronaut applicants to ambitious innovators, the drive towards the novel grew into a raging torrent. The minds with the most exciting memories dominated the media, so the most successful ensured their memories were worth sharing.

While many reached for passion and vitality, the most insidious minds drew inspiration from a perverse nihilism. Their uploads offered memories, methods, and motive for all manner of iniquity, from atrocity and massacre to petty cruelties. Like Herostratus of Artemis, they sought immortality through infamy. The response to Butcher of Samarkand, however, broke the trend.

The Butcher's victims shared empathetic memories with the world, creating a feeling of sympathy that drowned out the imitative violence of the copycats. Memories of those that had fought back were shared, spreading expert knowledge to counteract the narcissistic sadists. When a would-be murderer in Capetown met his now-infamous end at the homemade weapons of a vigilante flash mob, the influence of the sociopaths waxed like an overripe moon.

As the collective memories of humanity reached towards the stars, the intellects that held caches of secrets were ones overlooked. As the mindful society built the von Neumann probes for settling other star systems, the digital crews consisted of those adventurous enough to try. Uploads of Dr. Desmond Dowell applied for every new expedition he could.