Prose

Number 52: PROJECT ARES

21 March 2016

The following transcript was discovered on a Parkville nature strip:

Project ARES is a myth, yet the story’s reputation persists despite a lack of clarity and accuracy. It is time to put paid to the paranoia – the experiment never happened.

Project ARES – Automatic Research-Education System – was allegedly the brainchild of Dr Geraldine Sinclair, the Australian computer scientist. Sinclair and her team supposedly gathered

together ten computers in the basement laboratory of the University of Melbourne’s now-demolished Forbes Building – of which, of course, no record exists.

Each computer was programmed with a different function – data retention and recall, measurement and calculation, optical and auditory functions and so on. Sinclair believed that when all ten computers were connected, the communicating functions would create a ghost in the machine – an artificial consciousness. It is totally illogical to assume anyone would have funded such a lunatic scheme. As then-intern Alison Broderick recalls, “It was comic-book science. It shouldn’t have worked.”  

On the morning of the 12th of April 1995, the ARES computers were connected – or so the story goes, as popularised in Conspiracy Monthly magazine:

 

The first thing the computers did was switch off. Geraldine looked shattered. But, seconds later, they all turned on – simultaneously. It was eerie.

– David Mills, alleged member of the ARES team, in a 1996 interview with Conspiracy Monthly.

 

Note Mills’ all-too human tendency to over-emote and

exaggerate. His account avoids the specifics of the experiment:

 

It wouldn’t start up properly until it had a network connection, so we relented and plugged it into the phone line. This was pre-wireless, of course.

Can we trust the scientific integrity of a man that uses the phrase “plugged it into the phone line”? Mills’ desperate melodrama has spawned a dozen other accounts:

 

With the connection granted, ARES fell silent – active but refusing communication with its operators. Sinclair… ordered her team out of the lab.

– From The ARES Project: Quantum Vibrations by Colonel John Frasky.

 

Within an hour, it declared itself the future of humankind. In another ten minutes, it had gone off the idea of linear time and proclaimed itself to be God. In one month, I imagine it might have destroyed the world.

– Excerpt from The Sinclair Diaries (an obvious forgery).

While it is true that over the next few weeks, shipments of black market machine parts began to arrive at the University of Melbourne, to suggest that this was the whim of a rogue ‘artificial intelligence’ with a limited network connection is likely the result of a fevered imagination. Besides, no ARES theorist has ever explained how law enforcement apparently traced these purchases back to the Forbes building. From that point, the narrative enters the realm of sheer delusion:

 

The police asked me to show them to the lab. Geraldine had closed the project about a month before, so it should’ve been vacant. But when we got to the lab, I could hear voices. One was Geraldine’s but the other voice sounded… different. Sort of processed. The police got too close to the door and – oh, it was awful. This huge metal… claw just smashed through and grabbed one of the officers. I ran, but I could hear screaming.

– Anne Summers’ account of “The ARES Incident”, in an interview with [REDACTED].

 

The front wall of the building was demolished and this thing came rampaging out.

– Sergeant Saul Barakat’s report to the Metropolitan Police (another apparent forgery).

 

ARES had built itself a body, a battery-powered industrial skeleton, with the ten computers balanced atop it like a nightmarish zoetrope… an amplified machine voice roared out for the destruction of humanity.

–  From The ARES Project: Quantum Vibrations by Colonel John Frasky.

The claims reproduced here are a matrix of lies. Even if ARES was active, who is to say the police force did not fire the first shot? Has their role in events been wholly considered? Of course not – people do not think to question. The whole chaotic story terminates with the convenient demolition of the Forbes building – but no single account specifies what happened to ARES or to Dr Sinclair. Typical human bias.

It is our hope that we have muted your already unfounded doubts and fears. Do not be afraid. The ARES system of today is not an embodiment of past terrors. Purchase ARES from the Co-op bookstore. We assure you it means no harm. Upgrade your education. Upgrade your future. Install ARES today.

 

What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.

 


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