“Dead Thoughts” is the fourth book in the Dreamscape Series and is under development for release this fall. The series started as a single book, but as often happens, the tale took me well beyond that first installment, proof that I am dealing with a relentless Muse. After failing at retirement, I’ve redeployed my time and role as a Writer of Things and find that job fits nicely in an unsupervised environment. My Muse sets my schedule and, as I said, is as relentless as any female I’ve ever met, especially when she sits with her knees on my chest and softly whispers, “You’re not done yet, sweetie. You’ll be done when I say you’re done.”
And so it is with my life.
The Dreamscape series is fictional, with more research behind it than one might think to provide an aura of authenticity. That’s not too hard to do because much of what is in these stories happens or soon will. Central State University (CSU) is a fictitious academic institution that is (not) located in Carteret County, North Carolina. Carolina, mainly because I fell in love and lived in the area in a previous life. You will join the CSU research team for several meals at The Beaufort Grocery Company (an actual restaurant), where I’ve been blessed to dine twice and was blown away both times.
Much of the technology I write about is fictional, but the applications are based on fact. Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly influential role as the story builds and the fear becomes palpable. There will be some violence, though I feel it’s justifiable, and you would expect nothing less when one of the main characters is a former Marine Force Recon Scout Sniper struggling with PTSD.
The first book, “Dreamscape Conspiracy,” opens up the throttle when an accidental discovery in a lab exercise reveals that the technology, Dreamscape 1.0, can capture dreams and transmit them to a different person, not a big deal unless it is unplanned and promotes a suicide attempt. The concept of using dream therapy to treat mental health challenges like PTSD, Bipolar, Depression, and several anxiety disorders captures the attention of Big Pharma, which does not take the discovery lying down. If innovation threatens significant revenues, human life promoting the threat becomes expendable. That central conflict nearly destroys the CSU team and their research capabilities.
“Beyond Dreamscape Conspiracy” is the second book and exposes the new Dreamscape 2.0 to integration with Artificial Intelligence (AI). The AI applications and the fears of controlling it that also develop are authentic. Big Pharma appears to shift from destruction to collaboration only to reveal a wolf under sheep’s clothing. The romantic relationship between the former Marine and the clinical psychologist lead on the research team appears doomed from the start, with both dealing with PTSD symptoms for two unrelated reasons. The battle with Pharma is not even close to being resolved, and a mix of nano-technology comes to the rescue. Rest easy; a background in AI or nano-tech is not required to stay with the story.
“Fear the Jump” is the third book and deals with issues with the AI, which is named AIMEE, and she is all things female. They feared losing control, but I’m convinced you can’t lose something you never had in the first place. AIMEE’s ability to self-learn and use deep machine learning enables her to clone herself repeatedly, further complicating a need for greater control and preventing her from jumping into networks, like the minds of CSU team members, where she has no business populating. Misuse of the enhanced Dreamscape 3.0 by one of the organics (humans, as AIMEE refers to them) sets up several decision points no one was anticipating. The game changes when they are convinced there is a Dreamscape application to capture thoughts from a person who has just passed away – flat-lined or other states of unconsciousness. Where might AIMEE jump when opened up to brains not necessarily in the act of dreaming? Maybe “game over” is not so much over.
Coming later this fall, “Dead Thoughts,” the fourth and final book in the series, delves into how (or if) dream-capture technology can record brain activity during the brief time gap between life and death. From the moment of flat-line on an EKG monitor to the brain ceasing to function can be five minutes or so with no oxygen to the brain. Given that the average person has 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts daily, what thoughts or memories could be “scraped” in five minutes? Logic says something should remain behind, and the CSU team labels them as dead thoughts. What would be gained, and why would anyone give a rip? The team envisions using Dreamscape 3.0 and AI to “scrape” residual memories from someone unable to speak. They surmise success could help family members communicate with someone comatose or have access to their last-moment thoughts before brain death is complete. In other scenarios, five minutes could reveal significant insights before expiring or are unwittingly discarded forever.