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Student, Author, and Programmer. PM for commissions, or check out my Patreon.



Ronald Lee is the systems administrator for one of the largest fan-made online games in the world. Though nothing new has been produced for MLP for decades now, fans old and young continue to flock to the online version of Equestria they're building together.

Of course he knew that the programs they wrote would grow more intelligent over time. With cheaper hardware and better AI, this was always expected, and a user experience allowing for content similar to the show to be produced in real time for every user was always tantalizingly close.

Then Starlight Glimmer started talking to him.

This story is a prequel to Synthesis, and doesn't require knowledge of that story. You may want to check it out when you're done here, however.

This story was commissioned by Two Bit, who also helped edit because he is an absolute mad lad. Sparktail helped too.

Cover by Zutcha

Chapters (8)
Comments ( 101 )

I'm so glad we're getting another story in the Synthesis universe. The augmented reality you portrayed really felt like it could happen one day. Hopefully the irl singularity has ponies too.

It was fascinating just glancing at this one as it came in through Patreon. Definitely looking forward to seeing it here.

Dangit, now I've got another story to keep up with!

Keep up the good work! :raritywink:

I never read Synthesis...
Welp, guess I have another story to read...

GIGO affects AI's too. Starlight's got this covered.

Since this now exists my complaint about it's sequel is mitigated but not squashed. In other news: good start.

Well, Color me intrigued!

For all of Sunset’s assertiveness, she was equally shy. She never wore a pony body, but was always human, tucked away behind glasses as thick as a thumb.

Gosh, I wonder if she identifies with human Twilight.

And the new era of software development takes a bold step forward. Well, not necessarily "bold," but handing the reins to your horse is always a risky proposition. At least this isn't the Optimalverse.

I always wonder how terrifying it would be when you make software that can make itself better and you don't understand it anymore.

This should prove an interesting read.

Time to move from human-generated code to AI refactored!

Isn't that basically the Singularity? I'm honestly surprised more agents didn't join Norinco's faction in the last story. With the level of sophistication the network ended up getting, you'd think everypony would get bored with the limitations of human interaction. They would either leave the planet... or uh convert it into a computer.

It would certainly be interesting to see how the two AI networks would interact (probably warfare) with each other. At least they're both mostly benign to humanity.

“No,” Twilight said, confidently. “We live here, and we want to try.”

Scary, makes the blood rush, but in a good way!

That moment when a group of artificial intelligences start to take a hand in the management of the hardware they run on. If they weren't ponies that aren't CelestAI this would be terrifying. It probably should be anyway.

Indeed it is. And it has already started in reality, read up on the Deep Learning programs like Alpha Go. The designers made it and let it go, but it has iterated on itself so many times that it would take thousands of hours to dive in to try and understand why it does what it does.

"Does this unit have a soul?"

I can only imagine the shock that came from this event. Seriously, I cannot conceive of a monolith-esque jump in the sophistication of one's consciousness. (And Starlight did have some kind of awareness earlier, just a more rote one.) And Sunset...

Oh, things might not end well for Sunset. She never appreciates being jerked around, and this user agent is a very good simulation of her template. Especially since, in Synthesis, she never even shows up.

Strange indeed!
Those idiots in Canterlot did a dumb, didn't they?
Well hopefully the Shockwave calms down.
Keep going! ;)

To save MLP you must save it in a VHS tape, after all, no once suspect's something that obscure being found in my basement give it or take 50 years, after my disappearance in the year 2042.

it is kind of cool to see more than one master ai like an ai that make a mistake and admit it and get help and appreciates things and friendship or maybe help each other from corruption to just silly stuff to keep the others on their data would be a nice change from a professional perfectionist or crazy bad and naughty clench ai
I always felt ai eventually get lazy in their "perfection" perfect answers no drive or new things no hardships or problem that not a quick fix about there just a fast library in the end with no compromises in there perfection for "errors" or surprises life can give them most of there knowledge will probably be based on are minority geniuses that the majority of the people benefit then there own theories and data but I hope they keep the friendship is magic in them then become weird superior my way is always right...

“Equestria becomes more of its own system,” Kayla muttered, rising from the table and making her way to a window. “That sounds like the start of something, doesn’t it? Are we really the ones who should decide?”

“No,” Twilight said, confidently. “We live here, and we want to try.”

As a wise man once said, freedom is the right of all sentient beings.

Little surprised to see the Incident so early in this story, though I suppose it's more interesting to have the ponies be more fully sapient.

What is a brain but a computer of fleshy neurons and electrical impulses? The ponies are reborn. Now they fully share dominion with humanity.

That moment when you feel for a dying AI. I'm glad the humans here didn't take the genocide route. They don't exactly have the resources or technology for a migrant fleet.

I don't remember Starlight being there either. Where does she appear?

Taking a look, she doesn't show up either. Given the fates of agents who lose their users, both may have gone into stasis. Or Canterlot.


>object passing in front of the moon
>massively increased internet use

I call aliens.

Nah too obvious. It was obviously a crashed weather balloon!

You believe that government lie? The real truth is that the reptilians from the fifth dimension who are living below the earths crust were testing out a novel rocket design and it accidentally became visible for fourty two seconds

How do I know if I’m alive?

“I think, therefore I am”
You already have your answer :twilightsmile:

Synthesis and Convergence? Why have I never heard of these stories before? I am very excited at a new story from you, but sad I'd never even heard of your own take on Virtual Ponies before now. That said, since this seems to be a prequel to your older story, I suppose I am getting in on the ground floor, told the way perhaps you had - or now have - intended. Thank you for writing more science fiction, my favorite of all genres.

I thought this was going to be Optimalverse, but no, it is even better - something entirely original to you, and something new (though, I do love Optimalverse, don't get me wrong! I eat that stuff with a spoon!). I am very excited by this. Yay Starscribe!

I am glad to be introduced to your AR Pony story... stories. This is going to be so much fun!

Yeah, I'd be both terrified and absolutely enthralled by this.

This is the kind of stuff that changes civilization as a whole. There's no stopping or denying it. It is pure change, or chaos if you wish.

I honestly don't know how I'd react 100% but I'll be honest, I'd love to try to understand it and with the background Ronald and co have, they have a slim chance if they can get past their preconceived notions.

A portal, but not like you're used to..
Starlight is getting more crafty all the time, her discovered abilities can be devastating if inappropriately applied. Her sense of self preservation is admirable, but how strongly will she defend it?
Keep going! ;)

I certainly wasn't expecting Aliens That's kind of a big deal.

Guess the initial shock made Ronald think a restore is the best solution so far. Wonder if Starlight can convince him to stop. He'll obviously fail if he holds on to this mindset but that might not bode well regarding his fate. But even if he doesn't prove to be a threat, there certainly will be others that'll target Equestria. Some people do not wish for the status quo to change. Especially when it's unpredictable.

History in the making. And Ronald is faced with a very troubling moral dilemma. Poor guy, he never signed up for this to deal with fully self-aware AI. Let's just hope he doesn't do anything foolish.

Man, I'm really excited for the next few chapters! I really want to see what happens when Starlight finishes dealing with the fact that she has emotions and starts discovering what her emotions are. And when the users realize without a doubt that these ponies are alive.

Starlight, are you ready for true Ascension? 😉

Nice apology.
"Whoops. Sorry we killed a bunch of your people. Have some extra space so you can make more." :ajbemused:
(at least if I'm understanding all of this correctly— I haven't read Synthesis... :twilightsheepish:)

Considering the aliens' objective to advance Earth's technology enough for humans and digital ponies to interface together in synthesis like they have, it's quite a gambit to have killed a number of both (either accidentally or defensively) and hope that they wouldn't be considered hostile or cautiously ignored.

Sorry the whole alien and Catetlot angle killed this thing for me. Granted have not read the other story. Prefer going chronological when I can and this just isn't fully what I thought it be.

“I,” he repeated. “No story, no plot. I. What are you, Starlight Glimmer? Are you still a chatbot?”

She could still be an alien chatbot.

She shook her head. “It’s nothing to do with the ship, but with the Canterlot node. The systems there only went offline for a short time. They came back, sending changes that we could not prevent. Technically, Canterlot is still part of the network, even if all the running agents were killed.” There was no gentle way to say it, no matter how kind she wanted to be. “We haven’t considered if we could still use the Canterlot node. Or if… just as it improved our software in subtle ways, perhaps the hardware was changed as well.”

In for a penny, in for a pound. Not using Canterlot post-change might be why they're having problems.

“Fine.” Ronald stomped away, gesturing with his wings. “Come on then, Starlight. If you’re so determined to get yourself killed… let’s get it over with.”

Keep hold of that optimism.

And some aspects of the world are becoming much more clear. This won't end how anyone here expects.

And major ouch on Twilight's sorrow and the one thing that helps...

And then Starlight's brain exploded...

I am worrying more about Starlight's fate every week.

The great thing is that he's not lording his status as Starlight's user over anyone. Having (had? ) control over one of the most powerful instances is not to be underrated, and it seems clear he's instinctively humble about the whole thing.
His next actions will play a major part in Equestria's future...
Keep going! ;)

I'm disappointed in only one thing about this. I couldn't Fave it twice, and I was already following you

"Thanks for reading everybody! Sorry to end on a cliffhanger... but... oh well!"

No, not really. :rainbowlaugh:

Actually, I did a quick check to make sure that the story was still marked as Incomplete.

Jesus! How many bits a pony gotta send to get you to post another chapter?

My bot handles chapter posting, so no bits necessary.

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