Richard G. Epstein

 

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PHASE ONE OF EDEN PROJECT NEARS COMPLETION

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VR Software Creates a Garden

of Unparalleled Beauty

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Special to the Sentinel-Observer

by

Adam Richardson

When former President Klammer proposed the Eden Project during her 2019 State of the Union Address, her proposal was greeted by stony silence. Now, nine years later, the first phase of the Eden Project is nearing completion and the public debate is growing whether human beings should "play God" by populating a Caribbean island with new man-made species.

Klammer told Congress that the United States "as the world leader in technology, must be the first country to create its own new species, using the latest in biotechnology, genetic engineering and computer technology." She warned the Congress that if the United States did not pursue this possibility of creating new species then "some other country will take the lead in these essential technologies and the United States will be seen as a second-rate power."

Citing the decline in biological diversity because of pollution and industrialization, Klammer emphasized the need to replenish the depleted gene pool by artificial means. "I know that somewhere out there in America there is a young scientist who is going to be the one who is going to create a new plant that will provide a cure for YRAX," she declared in the silent House chamber.

Klammer, who has been called the greatest communicator in the history of the American presidency, took her case to the American people. Dressed like an old British gardening enthusiast, she criss-crossed the country from one end to the other with her famous gardening trowel. Finally, in March of 2020, the Congress passed and she signed into law the "Garden of Eden Act" that funded phase one of the "Eden Project", America's attempt to become the first country to create its own customized species of plant and animal life.

In her memorable farewell address of January 2021, former President Klammer called the Eden Project her greatest accomplishment. She prayed that "Almighty Providence will grant me length of days so that I might behold the creation of a new Garden of Eden, a new paradise that people can enjoy."

The Garden of Eden Act funded phase one of the Eden Project, which calls for the creation of a virtual reality simulation of the proposed Garden. The virtual reality simulation would provide detailed models for new plant and animal species. These models would include complete specifications for each species, including their forms, their physiology and their behaviors.

Phase two of the Eden Project involves mapping the species specifications to actual realizations in terms of genetic materials. In other words, phase two involves transforming the virtual reality plants and animals of the Garden into genetic codes that could be used to produce actual plants and animals. Congress is expected to fund phase two of the Eden Project by the end of this year.

Phase three of the Eden Project will involve the actual creation of the new species, based upon the genetic codes generated during phase two. In an act of unprecedented generosity, multi-billionaire Bill Gates donated his own private Caribbean island as the ultimate location of the actual Eden. In other words, current plans are that the island that Mr. Gates has donated will be transformed into an actual island paradise that will be populated by the new and exotic plants and animals by the year 2100.

Phase one also calls for the creation of new national parks, called "virtual parks", that will give the public access to the Garden of Eden virtual reality simulations. These virtual parts will exist in cyberspace and are seen, in part, as a device for drawing people away from the over-crowded national park system. The virtual parks will enable citizens to study the proposed new life forms before their actual creation in phase three of the project. Visitors to these parks will have some say in deciding which new plants and animals will be selected for creation in the eventual Garden of Eden.

Phase one of the Eden Project is nearing completion and members of the press, including myself, were permitted to have a preview of the Garden of Eden virtual reality simulation. This reporter had the opportunity to visit the virtual reality version of the Garden of Eden last weekend. What follows is a report of my experience in paradise.

 The Garden of Eden

Dr. Henry Thorpe is the project director. He gave me a brief introduction to the Garden of Eden before I donned my virtual reality suit. "You are going to project into a paradise of unbelievable beauty. Once you see it, you will never want to return here, but we will arrange for you to leave the Garden at the appropriate time. On occasion, I will be able to communicate with you through your virtual reality headset."

Dr. Thorpe told me to relax and to enjoy myself and to enjoy the thousands of new animal and plant species that I would be encountering. We shook hands just before I put on my virtual reality suit and entered the virtual reality chamber.

At the risk of losing my journalistic objectivity let me just say that the Garden of Eden is remarkable, a veritable paradise of gorgeous landscapes, magnificent plants and exotic animals. The virtual reality engages all of the senses. In addition to the entrancing sights, there are wonderful sounds, textures, tastes and fragrances. The Garden of Eden scientists have created thousands of new plants and animals. Some of these are truly unexpected, one would have to say revolutionary in their design, but all have a certain beauty and wonder about them.

I was especially impressed with the new birds that Dr. Thorpe and his colleagues have conjured up. Some of these new bird species had fantastic colors and tails that were almost like velvet curtains that draped across the sky as they flew. Many of the birds sang melodic and soothing songs of a most unusual nature.

The birds were just part of the story. Dr. Thorpe and his colleagues have created a whole new visual vocabulary in the realm of plant life, including exotic flowers, trees and crops in seemingly endless variety. I especially loved the flowering trees, which were delicate as well as fragrant, and the fruit-bearing trees, which bore fruits unlike any that I had ever seen in ordinary reality.

I was in the Garden for just a brief time when I came upon a magnificent valley, with sparkling streams and beautiful waterfalls. The valley resonated with rich, vibrant colors. There were rainbows in the sky, punctuated by the flight of dozens of exotic song birds. In the middle of this part of the Garden I found a magnificent tree whose leaves were like veritable veils of green that fluttered in the fragrant breeze. This magnificent tree bore enormous and delicious looking fruits.

It was at this point that something unexpected happened. I heard Dr. Thorpe's voice through the head set. "This is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thou shalt not eat from this tree. If thou eatest from this tree, thou shalt surely die."

"Dang it!" I muttered. No one told me that there would be any rules or restrictions. I immediately felt myself getting angry, but soon the soothing beauty of the Garden dissolved my anger into pleasure and my resentment into delight.

It seems like I must have spent two or three virtual days in the Garden, although it was only about six hours of ordinary time. Then, unexpectedly, I became sleepy and I feel asleep right there in the Garden of Eden. I had never in my entire life fallen asleep during a virtual reality entertainment, game or simulation. This was a first for me. It is truly paradoxical since the Garden had engaged my interest so intensely. I certainly had not been sleepy. Perhaps it was the effect of one of the permissible fruits that I had eaten.

When I awoke I received quite a shock. Another person had joined me in the Garden, a woman, with beautiful features. I decided to call her Eve because she would not volunteer her real name. In any event, sometime during that same day, she approached me with one of the magnificent fruits of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

"I ate and did not die," she said. She offered me a bite of the forbidden fruit. And I bit. All of a sudden I realized that I had been naked in this virtual reality all along and that this woman, Eve, was also naked. I grabbed two gigantic leaves from one of the exotic plants, one for each of us, and I told Eve, "Here, put this on!"

Then I heard Dr. Thorpe's voice thundering over my virtual reality headset. "Did you eat of the tree that I commanded you not to eat?"

I completely forgot that this was just a virtual reality. I shook with genuine fear. I devised an ingenious defense: "The woman that you gave me to stand beside me offered me of the tree and I ate."

The next thing I knew, Eve and I were expelled from the Garden. Then, I woke up in the virtual reality chamber. Dr. Thorpe was waiting for me, all smiles.

"Well, did you like it?" he asked.

"It was fantastic! I've never seen anything so wonderful or so beautiful," I exclaimed. "And all of those gorgeous plants and exotic animals. Congratulations!"

"Thank you," he said.

I had just one question. "I could have stayed in the Garden forever. I can just kick myself for not having the strength to resist that forbidden fruit. Tell me, if I had resisted temptation, would I still be in that beautiful Garden of yours?"

Dr. Thorpe smiled broadly. "Of one thing you can be certain: when we designed the Garden of Eden, nothing was left to chance. Nothing."

 

1997, 1999 Richard Gary Epstein

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