|This is the article on the project itself. For the virtual reality brought about because of this project, head to Aunkai.|
|This is the article on the project itself. For the arc that shares the same name, head to Project Alicization Arc (SAO A: SBO).|
Project Alicization (アリシゼーション計画, Arishizēshon Keikaku?) is a top-secret government-run project, run and managed by Rath to create the first Highly Adaptive «Bottom-up Artificial Intelligence (Bottom-up AI)». The Japanese government intended to use these AI for both medical and military purposes, as since both their medicinal and defense technology is behind the West's. The name 'Alicization' is formed from the acronym A. L. I. C. E. (Artificial Labile Intelligent Cybernated Existence or simply a highly adaptive artificial intelligence), in reference to the project's goal of turning artificial human Fluctlights into «Alice».
The events of the Cold War that drove the Soviet Union and the United States close to war had come to an end, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in general. As such, the world had developed a general dislike against putting men out to war. However, countries that focused mainly on their military, specifically, the United States, kept stockpiling arms.
However, due to Japan's market not being capable of sustaining the domestic production of weapons from scratch as a result of export prohibitions, Japan was forced to either import or co-develop weapons with America. Despite this mutual cooperation, America claimed the cutting-edge technology for itself, while the weapons sold to Japan lacked key features, such as control software for fighter jets. Thus, feeling anxious about relying on Americans for their core defensive capabilities, some military officers and technicians decided to create a technology that would entirely belong to Japan.
History and Development
Creation and Conception of Project Alicization
In order for Artificial Intelligence to replace humans, the Alicization Project was planned. The scientists at the top decided that in order to make the AI into efficient human beings and not just simply AI, they required a certain nurturing environment and a certain upbringing for them to understand and display human-like qualities. This, in turn, would be used to explain the eventual progression into bringing them into a new stage where history itself could be replicated as closely as possible with information, and then using the genetic templates created to attempt to recreate humans from long ago in order to better understand their motivations and eventual choices in life. If possible, this would allow for the recovery of lost histories and to fill in gaps in history with the highest accuracy or even uncover the brilliance of generals, kings, and philosophers of humankind.
Invention of the Soul Translator and Initial Experimentation
After the events of the 75th Floor, Akihiko Kayaba was forcefully ejected from his own game by an unforeseen glitch after he was stabbed in the back by Kirin. However, he was simply amused and was later, reached out to by Rath. The head scientist, Seijirō Kikuoka, introduces Akihiko to the Alicization Project and highly intrigued, Akihiko agrees to co-develop the fifth-generation FullDive device known as the «Soul Translator» (STL). There were three scientists who worked together to invent the Soul Translator: Akihiko, Takeru Higa, and Nanairo Arshavin.
The scientists at Rath believed that in order to create a truly adaptive «bottom-up» Artificial Intelligence, it required the complete and total replication of the so-called 'human consciousness' which they believed resided in a quantum field nestled within the microtubules of neurons which they dubbed «Fluctlight». For this purpose, the Soul Translator was invented which had the ability to not only read a human's «Fluctlight» but has the ability to copy it. Additionally, the developers also created a special quantum supercomputer, dubbed «Quantum Particle Gate Crystallization» (量子粒子門晶化, Ryōshi Ryūshimon Shōka?) shortened to «LightCube» (ライトキューブ, Raitokyūbu?) with the capacity of storing millions of qubits worth of Fluctlight data, allowing it to serve as a medium for the storage of replicated Fluctlights.
Initial tests proved that it was quite nearly impossible to replicate an aged human's Fluctlight as the cloned Fluctlight could not handle the fact that they were not the originals, thus resulting in their mental collapse after an average of three minutes. After a week of brainstorming, an alternative plan was created. The staff attempted to limit the memories of the cloned Fluctlights, as a Fluctlight without memories of any personal information, such as a name or address, was unlikely to experience an existential crisis about being a copy that would lead to its collapse. However, this plan also proved to be a failure, as learning is a form of memory, thus losing the memory of successfully executing an ability would lead to the loss of the ability.
Ultimately, it was decided that the cloning of an aged human's Fluctlight is impossible and as such, the target was changed to newborns, as they had not accumulated any memories yet. This plan was successfully implemented by scanning the Fluctlights of twelve newborns. According to Takeru, Fluctlights — especially those of newborns — lack the kind of physical differences that genes have, meaning that a newborn Fluctlight clone would not have a specific personality. This allowed the creation of a «Soul Archetype», which could then be inserted into the virtual world where it could grow and develop into a new individual.
Creation of Aunkai
The world for nurturing the Artificial Fluctlights needed to be nearly equivalent to the level of modern society in order not to cause issues with their development. However, even the Soul Translator was incapable of completely recreating an entire world. As such, it was decided to bring the level of the civilization in the virtual world to a past era, to a time when science and philosophy were just discovered, making it easier to nurture the AIs under certain conditions and to prevent them from realizing that their world is fake. However, as the people behind the project were oblivious to the cultural and societal norms of the past era, they instead came to a consensus that the creation an original setting for the world with limited space and customs dictated by the staff would suffice for their goal. Any potential issues could then be resolved by explaining away them as so-called 'magic'.
Although creating a virtual world within the Soul Translator mainframe would not require any 3D data, customizing the world would be a tedious effort. This was where Akihiko came in. Using the same advanced Cardinal System he had used to create his masterpiece of Sword Art Online, he created the villages and landscape of the new virtual world. This data was then converted to mnemonic visuals via the STL, creating a dual-layered world that was constantly synced with a server that contained the data for the world itself. Now self-sustaining, Akihiko left the Cardinal System in charge of balancing the newly-created world, dubbed «Aunkai».
Development of Aunkai
Firstly, sixteen artificial Fluctlights were created and nurtured in two farming families, with NPCs fulfilling the role of other villagers. However, the first-generation AIs could not be raised by another AI, hence two Rath employees, Kazuto Kirigaya and Asuna Yūki, who were both forcefully logged out of Sword Art Online following their in-game deaths and were immediately hired by Rath, volunteered to enter Aunkai and raise the AIs to the age of eighteen (with the Fluctlight Acceleration (FLA) rate set to 1:1461, meaning one day in real world equates to four years of simulation). Afterward, the employees were logged out by simulating their death via an “epidemic” and their memories of their brief stay in Aunkai were suppressed. After the volunteers logged out, the initial sixteen AIs — four boys and four girls in each of the two families — formed their own families with ten children each (making a total of 96 AIs after two generations).
As part of initial testing and world-building, the developers at Rath had programmed the AIs with the basic instinct that 'This land is your country'. They hoped that the AI would just assume it was there and carry on as if it actually existed. However, after three generations, cracks began appearing as suddenly the AIs were observed to have the thought of 'Who made this rule? Perhaps I should be King of my own home'. With this, unrest, riots, and civil wars erupted (the first generation were pre-programmed to understand this information as fact, while the next generations born within Aunkai either accepted or rejected this information which was not entirely accounted for since this is a new concept field the researchers are analyzing into).
After around 60 years of simulation (or fifteen days in reality), the AIs developed new trains of thought as mentioned earlier. As such, they created five basic encompassing cultures to establish their world into five nominal countries; Kiyotō, which is based on China, Japan, and Korea, Raktavi, which is based on Persia and the Indian subcontinent, Ibrizaraf, which is based on Arabia, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Levant, Albatigrum, which is based on Mediterranean Europe with heavy influences from Ancient Roman culture, and Svarbyrdheimr which is based on Scandinavia.
Problems Pertaining to Aunkai's Development
Even as codes, a series of numbers, the problem of the eventual biological impairments induced by the Fluctlights inbreeding with each other was predicted to become a major issue before the twentieth generation. In addition, the need for the creation of entirely different societies demanded a greater yield of people that did not currently exist within Aunkai nor was it feasible to generate the greater yield so quickly in the early stages of Aunkai's development.
This issue was resolved with the creation of 1,450 non-playable characters (NPCs) who were able to intermingle with and even procreate with the pre-existing Fluctlights. The first generation of Fluctlights was pre-programmed with the skills and obedience needed to establish nations with powerful Fluctlights as their respective leaders. However, the second generation of NPCs and Fluctlights did not inherit this precognition of inherent roles as their parents had and this would eventually culminate into discontent at the status quo leading to many uprisings from the peasantry and the lower-ranking Fluctlights, especially from the Fluctlight descendants who were ill fit to inherit the responsibility of kings.
The next issue that arose is the fact that Fluctlights are basically humans and they have the ability to commit one of the seven deadly sins. Did they have the ability to properly govern themselves? If they failed to rule themselves properly and wipe each other out in a civil war, would the remaining NPCs proceed to take over? [FRAMEWORK]
Initial Player Testing
While they have successfully laid the groundwork, they do not have people with enough experience and time to properly test and utilize the virtual world they have simulated since everyone within the company is a technician and scientist who cannot integrate themselves properly into the environment. Thus, they bring in Ayanami Shiratsuyu who not only led the vanguard in order to clear SAO but has an excellent general understanding of VRMMORPGs since she has records of playing and succeeding across multiple games without too many issues, SAO and SBO being prime examples. She accepts because this is another way to earn money besides her job as an idol.
Secondary Player Testing
The world of Project Alicization and in turn, the world of Aunkai, runs very differently from other virtual reality universes.
Unlike other virtual reality worlds, Project Alicization has no menu. Instead, a Status Window called a «Brightway Window» can be called out for any object and person by drawing a seal shaped like the alphabet letters S and C with one's hand and tapping the target that one wishes to inspect. However, as the «Brightway Window» is considered as a basic form of «Sacred Arts», calling out the window for larger objects is considerably more difficult than for smaller objects and requires sufficient practice and knowledge in the Sacred Arts. The Brightway Window shows the ID and current/maximum «Life» values of the targeted object, as well as the item's Priority class if the item is a weapon, or Object Control and System Control Authorities if the target is a sentient being.
As a menu does not exist, an item storage feature does not exist either, meaning that all items need to be carried by hand, while clothes and weapons can be equipped the same way as in real life, instead of via a menu. Logging out manually is also impossible due to this, and it is presumed that only an Administrator can log a player out from within the game.
The stats for any object or living being can be viewed by calling out a «Brightway Window» for them. Everything in Aunaki has a property called «Life» while humans also have stats called «Object Control» and «System Control» Authorities and certain items, like tools and weapons have a property called «Priority». The OC and SC authorities were implemented at the beginning on the suggestion of Professor Akihiko, as he thought that the aptitude to use weapons and magic was necessary in order to really observe how society develops within the simulation.
The «Unit ID» (ユニット•ID, Yunitto Aidee?) is a parameter that every object and living creature has. This ID is typically alphanumeric and is seemingly ordered by the sequence in which that object was created in a specific category. The Unit ID usually begins with a string of characters that identify the category they belong to. For example, «NNC», which stands for «Natural Number Character», precedes any unit that has the aforementioned characteristics.
Additionally, Human Units (NNC is their beginning code) also have a Unit ID that can be seen when bringing up a Stacia Window. This Unit ID is preceded by a string of characters, which identifies the beings they are.
These IDs, for both Objects and Living Units, can be utilized with Sacred Arts for various purposes, such as locating a Unit or modifying one of a Unit's many parameters.
The «Life» (天命, Tenmei?) shown as «Durability» in the status window, is the name given to the durability or HP value of each object or living being in Aunkai. Unlike in RPGs, a user's Life is not displayed in their interface and can instead be checked by calling out a Brightway Window. The maximum amount of Life each individual has is increased with age, peaking for humans at around twenty years old, but starts decreasing after the peak of one's lifespan is reached. Each object and living being has a different amount of Life available, which seems to depend on the lifespan of their real-life equivalents, for example, insects and flowers have far less Life than trees and rocks. Life measures the current state of each object and depends on the conditions the object is kept in.
Most objects in Aunkai do not disappear immediately after running out of Life. Most of them start a new count of Life as shards, fragments or carcasses, though the Life of such broken objects decreases at a far greater rate and disappears completely, without a trace, once the Life reaches 0 again.
For food, Life gradually decreases with time, but the rate of Life decreasing greatly increases in hot weather and, once the Life of food runs out, it becomes rotten, causing various illnesses if such food is eaten. For clothes, Life controls various defects and stains and will drop rapidly if the clothes are not washed.
For humans, Life drops at a rapid rate if injuries and illnesses are not treated in a timely manner. Bleeding is especially dangerous to a person's Life, as it causes a constant decrease in Life, making Life recovery rituals useless until it is sealed. Bleeding can be stopped by either sealing the wound, for example with cloth or any similar material, or by using special Sacred Arts. Fatigue in the world is treated as an illness, thus a person's Life drops with extensive running, holding on to large weight or anything else that leads to fatigue. A user becomes weaker as their Life decreases, even resulting at the user becoming unconscious when their Life reaches a critical level. Although there is no other way to control one's maximum Life aside from Administrator-level rituals, the currently available Life can be restored via medication and Sacred Art rituals (the most effective being the risky Life transfer rituals), though they cannot increase it beyond the maximum limit.
When a human's Life reaches 0, white arrows of light rain down on the said person, causing the insides of their head to be shaved away bit by bit, in other words, the system begins deleting the person's Fluctlight. A dead human can still be revived unless important parts of the Fluctlights are shaved off before the ritual takes place. A resurrection can never be done perfectly, as the bits of Fluctlight that are shaved off until the ritual is cast cannot be restored. In a best-case scenario, the revived person will only have lost their memories of the past few days.
Object Control Authority
«Object Control Authority», abbreviated as OC Authority, is a parameter that determines what kind of tools, weapons, and armor the person can wield. A person needs to have an OC authority equal to or higher than the item's «Priority» class to be able to wield the item properly. Swords that have a higher Priority than a person's OC authority cannot be used to perform «Secret Maneuvers», i.e. Sword Skills and they will feel much heavier than they should to the user. A sword's Priority determines the maximum hit combo Sword Skills that can be used with it and higher Priority items are also capable of breaking lower Priority items. The OC authority parameter can be increased by killing any creature that is capable of moving, even other people, but a larger increase in the parameter is awarded for killing creatures from the Cimmerian Fields.
System Control Authority
- Main article: Sacred Arts
- Main article: Sword Skills (Project Alicization)
Server and Mainframe Composition