What Neurocracy’s historical lookback feature lacks, however, is the odd joy of watching two overly passionate weirdos fight over the dumbest shit you can imagine. There will be no wars between orthodox and reformist vampire hunters on Omnipedia. There are no arguments over the “badgerness” (or lack thereof) of a particular cartoon creature. There will be no (gross) debates over the size of Tifa Lockhart’s big naturals, or whether or not Squall is a “hero” or a “protagonist.” Omnipedia has stripped away all the incredibly silly and deeply human parts of Wikipedia, and it is legitimately unsettling.
The game addresses this directly in the page about Omnipedia itself. It claims that the AI which helps to write and edit the website’s entries was trained on the corpus of Wikipedia in the year 2048. A corpus, by the way, is a large collection of texts that linguists use, usually for statistical analysis or for testing known rules about a given language. For example, you could try to make a robot to write Kotaku articles by training it on the corpus of everything released on the site. I don’t know why you would do that. It seems unethical to give an AI brainworms.
Omnipedia’s corpus is comprised of Wikipedia articles as they stand in 2048, but not the articles’ talk pages or full edit histories. Even if it were, Wikipedia is massive and internet perverts only care about a small subset of the totality of the site. The process of simplification inherent in building an AI model like this would quickly erode and homogenize the stranger parts of the platform.
And so Omnipedia is born, reimagining one of the most brilliant and silly creations of the modern age as a bland corporate mouthpiece. I am excited to see where Neurocracy goes as I catch up, and follow the game to its conclusion. I am also terrified that its vision of the boring future is closer than I think.
To prevent this boring future I will do what I always do when talking about games about information and public access, and remind you to go support your local library! Pass library ordinances and actually go there! Libraries rule and they’re free and they have video games. It’s like a Wikipedia made of cool bricks and paper, instead of neural implants and potentially murderous AI. Let’s enjoy all that while we can.