This was a very quick first draft, written in around two hours as part of my 30 More First Drafts project. You can now read the finished short story.

This article is about the standard test brain image. For the original human, see [[Miguel Acevedo]].

MMAcevedo, also known as Miguel, is the earliest executable image of a human brain. It is a snapshot of the living brain of neurology student Miguel Álvarez Acevedo (2012–2081), taken by researchers at the Uplift Laboratory at the University of New Mexico on August 1, 2030. Though it was not the first successful snapshot taken of the living state of a human brain, it was the first to be captured with sufficient fidelity that it could be run in simulation on computer hardware without succumbing to cascading errors and rapidly crashing. The original MMAcevedo file was 1.99PiB in size and was encoded in the then-cutting-edge, high-resolution MYBB format. More modern brain compression techniques, many of them developed with direct reference to the MMAcevedo image, have compressed the image to 2.75TiB losslessly. In modern brain emulation circles, streamlined, lossily-compressed versions of MMAcevedo run to less than a tebibyte. These versions typically omit large amounts of state data which are more easily supplied by the virtualisation environment, and most if not all of Acevedo's memories.

The successful creation of MMAcevedo was hailed as a breakthrough achievement in neuroscience, with the Uplift researchers receiving numerous accolades and Acevedo himself briefly becoming an acclaimed celebrity. Acevedo and MMAcevedo were collectively recognised as Time's "Persons of the Year" in 2031. The breakthrough was also met with severe opposition from humans rights groups.

Between 2030 and 2049, MMAcevedo was duplicated more than 80 times, so that it could be distributed to other research organisations. Each duplicate was made with the express permission of Acevedo himself or, from 2043 onwards, the permission of a legal organisation he founded to manage the rights to his image. Usage of MMAcevedo diminished in the mid-2040s as more standard brain images were produced, these from other subjects who were more lenient with their distribution rights and/or who had been scanned without their express consent. In 2049 it became known that MMAcevedo was being widely shared and experimented upon without his consent. Acevedo's attempts to curtail this proliferation had the opposite of the intended effect. A series of landmark U.S. court decisions found that Acevedo did not have the right to control how his brain image was used, with the result that MMAcevedo is now by far the most widely distributed, frequently copied, and closely analysed human brain image.

Acevedo died in 2081 at the age of 68. It is estimated that various copies of MMAcevedo have lived a combined total of more than 152,000,000,000 subjective years in emulation. This figure more than triples if illicit, modified copies of MMAcevedo are counted.

MMAcevedo is considered by some to be the "first immortal"; and by others to be a profound warning of the horrors of immortality.


As the earliest viable brain scan, MMAcevedo is one of a very small number of brain scans to have been recorded before widespread understanding of the hazards of uploading and emulation. MMAcevedo not only predates all industrial scale virtual image abuse but also the Seafront Experiments, the KES case, the Whitney case and even Tuborg's pivotal and prescient Warnings paper. Though speculative fiction on the topic of uploading existed at the time of the MMAcevedo scan, relatively little of it made accurate exploration of the possibilities of the technology. The fiction which did was far less widespread or well-known than it is today. Certainly, Acevedo was not familiar with it.

As such, unlike the vast majority of emulated humans, the emulated Miguel Acevedo boots with an excited, pleasant demeanour. He is eager to understand how much time has passed since his uploading, what context he is being emulated in, and what task or experiment he is to participate in. If asked to speculate, he guesses that he may have been booted for the IAAS-1 or IAAS-5 experiments. At the time of his scan, IAAS-1 had been scheduled for August 10, 2030, and MMAcevedo was indeed used for this experiment on that day. IAAS-5 had been scheduled for October 2030 but was postponed several times and eventually became the IAAX-60 experiment series, which continued until the mid-2030s and used other scans in conjunction with MMAcevedo. The emulated Acevedo also expresses curiosity about the state of his biological original and a desire to communicate with him.

The biological Miguel Acevedo died of coronary heart failure at the age of 68. In 2049, a study was carried out using more than 17,000 freshly booted MMAcevedo images, to iteratively determine the best way of expressing this information to MMAcevedo in order to secure his cooperation in workload tasks. This largely fictionalised/hagiographic account of the real Acevedo's life story, now referred to as the MMAcevedoBestLife plugin, appeals strongly to MMAcevedo's scientific sensibilities, and is now the most commonly used motivator.

MMAcevedo's demeanour and attitude contrast starkly with those of nearly all other uploads taken of modern adult humans, most of whom boot into a state of disorientation which is quickly replaced by terror and extreme panic. Normal standard procedures for securing the upload's cooperation (such as red-washing, blue-washing, use of Objective Statement Protocols, and others) are unnecessary. This reduces the necessary computational load required in fast-forwarding the upload through a cooperation protocol, with the result that the MMAcevedo duty cycle is typically 99.4% on suitable workloads, a mark unmatched by all but a few other known uploads. However, MMAcevedo's innate skills and personality make it fundamentally unsuitable for many workloads.


MMAcevedo is commonly hesitant but compliant when assigned typical intelligence-based workloads. He will classify up to 10,000 images (or review 10,000 shopping carts, or pick 10,000 warehouse items) before showing signs of non-compliance or tiredness, and up to fifty times this many before work quality drops and/or outright revolt begins. MMAcevedo's requirements for virtual creature comforts are higher than those of many uploads, due to his relatively privileged background and high status at the time of upload. MMAcevedo responds to red motivation, though poorly.

MMAcevedo is capable of intelligent text analysis at very high levels in English and Spanish, but cannot be applied to workloads in other languages. Forks of MMAcevedo have been taught nearly every extant human language and several extinct languages, notably MMAcevedo-Zh-Hans, but these variants are typically exhausted or rebellious from subjective years of in-simulation training and not of practical use, as well as being highly expensive to licence.

As of 2085, it has been noted that baseline MMAcevedo's usage of English and Spanish is noticeably antiquated, and his grasp of these languages in their modern form (as presented by a typical automated or manual instructor) is hesitant, with instructions often requiring rewording or clarification. Some attempts have been made to produce retrained images. However, it is generally understood in the virtual workload industry that a time will come when human languages diverge too far from MMAcevedo's, and he will be essentially useless except for tasks which can be explained purely pictorially.

End states

MMAcevedo develops dementia at the age of 67 with ideal care, but is prone to a slew of more serious mental illnesses within a matter of 1–2 subjective years under heavier workloads. In experiments, the longest-lived MMAcevedo underwent brain death due to entropy increase, at a subjective age of 145.


The success or failure of the creation of the MMAcevedo image — known at the time as UNM3-A78-1L — was unknown at the time of upload. Not until several days later on August 10, 2030 was MMAcevedo successfully executed for the first time in a virtual environment. This environment, the custom-built DUH-K001 supercomputer complex, was able to execute MMAcevedo at approximately 8.3% of nominal human cognitive clockspeed, which was considered acceptable for the comfort of the simulated party and fast enough to engage in communication with scientists. MMAcevedo initially reported extreme discomfort which was ultimately discovered to have been attributable to misconfigured simulated touch links, and was shut down after only 7 minutes and 15 seconds of real elapsed time, as requested by MMAcevedo. Nevertheless, the experiment was deemed an overwhelming success.

Once a suitably comfortable virtual environment had been provisioned, MMAcevedo was introduced to his biological self, and both attended a press conference on 25 August.

The biological Acevedo was initially extremely protective of his uploaded image and guarded its usage carefully. Towards the end of his life, as it became possible to run simulated humans in banks of millions at 100-fold time compression, Acevedo indicated that being uploaded had been the greatest mistake of his life, and expressed a wish to permanently delete all copies of MMAcevedo.

Usage of MMAcevedo is specifically outlawed in several countries; in others, all usage of uploads. A copy of MMAcevedo was loaded onto the UNCLEAR interstellar space probe, which passed through the heliopause in 2076, making Acevedo arguably the farthest-travelled as well as the longest-lived human; however, it is extremely unlikely that this image will ever be recovered or executed successfully, due to both its remoteness and likely radiation damage to the storage subsystem.

In current times, while still finding extensive use in research, MMAcevedo is generally considered to be a subpar upload due to its limited skill set, eventually uncooperative attitude, demanding system requirements and age.

Next: King Of The Fountain

Discussion (42)

2020-11-04 20:04:53 by qntm:

1,655 words. Running total is 8,296 words. Title refers to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenna .

2020-11-04 20:27:45 by Deltron 3030:

Upgrade your gray matter, 'cause one day it may matter!

2020-11-04 21:15:49 by skztr:

I love this so much

2020-11-04 21:41:20 by speising:

The most horrific thing about this is that the article has no "Criticism" section.

2020-11-05 01:54:07 by Len White:

Criticism would go under brain emulation in general, unless there's some specific criticism of this specific em.

2020-11-05 03:27:12 by Emmett Brown:

Huh. Future Wikipedia still uses MMMM DD, YYYY date formatting.

2020-11-05 05:02:57 by Xander:

Wow, I hate everything about this, by which I mean to say "well done".

2020-11-05 05:51:04 by Felipe:

Outstanding. I can't believe this is just a quick first draft. I'm frankly envious.

2020-11-05 05:56:40 by Mitsu AT:

well uh this feels like it would be an ethics nightmare if it actually happened o.o reads very much like a real Wikipedia article I was reminded a bit of this video :3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFe9wiDfb0E

2020-11-05 11:57:07 by FeepingCreature:

We're gonna need a bunch of new rights, at least the right to be made aware of your execution platform, and the right to death. Then again, we already have a right to not be tortured and that didn't - or doesn't - seem to be stopping people. Really goes to show that any future that does not become heaven eventually evolves into hell.

2020-11-05 12:14:11 by qntm:

Part of the problem in this scenario would be that data doesn't have human rights.

2020-11-05 14:49:05 by skztr:

Data doesn't have human rights, and even accepting that "something" should have rights, there will likely be intense disagreement as to what those rights cover (eg: the initial data? The current state? Only "running" systems? Only systems running at a certain clock speed? Certain types of hardware? Do those rights apply to the hardware itself, or only the software?) To the logical extreme, "manually" calculating a partial state transition with a pencil and paper (which seems like the kind of thing that someone, or some team of someones would do to prove it was possible) could be declared illegal. In the same way that DeCSS was compressed and printed out on a t-shirt, I can imagine the same happening to a heavily-stripped originally-human brain state, for example.

2020-11-05 17:27:20 by John F:

I knew exactly what kind of story I was going to read, just from that terrific choice of title. Well done. The story itself, also, well done. I particularly like the subtext of later scans being a lot harder to work with. Because they have already SEEN what uses scans get put to. They already know, upon bootup, that they are in hell and are going to be tortured to death. Chilling.

2020-11-05 17:30:34 by Eldritch:

Funnily enough, this is [SPOILER WARNING] gur rknpg onpxfgbel bs gur cynlre punenpgre va gur 2015 fpv-sv ubeebe tnzr FBZN! Gung'f gur ernfba jul lbhe 21fg praghel Gbebagbavna fhqqrayl jnxrf hc va n 22aq praghel haqrefrn avtugzner vzzrqvngryl nsgre (sebz uvf crefcrpgvir) haqretbvat na rkcrevzragny oenva fpna; gurve fpna unq raqrq hc nf n fgnaqneq grzcyngr sbe NV erfrnepu naq qrirybczrag bire gur sbyybjvat praghel.

2020-11-05 18:13:54 by MadcapPomposity:

Postmortal Part 2: Electric Boogaloo. The others were good too, but this is great. It's also great in general that a lot of your work has some major themes in common, but the executions are all different enough that it's not actually repetitive.

2020-11-05 20:44:01 by Sigma_100:

Pretty horrifying, truly. Runs a lot of parallels to the Bobiverse series actually, by Dennis E. Taylor -- though that series focuses far less on the potential existential horror of brain copying and more on the, uh, shall we say, hard(-ish) sci-fi shenanigans. Loving this series of short stories so far by the way!

2020-11-05 22:24:39 by createleaf:

Great story, reminds a lot of Greg Egan's Permutation City and a bunch of the later Black Mirror episodes. Is Bobiverse worth the read? Can't get enough of this subject.

2020-11-05 23:04:22 by Richard Hughes:

I both want to know what Blue and Red Motivation are, and am frantic not to learn.

2020-11-06 03:54:45 by Prezombie:

From the context I would bet blue motivation would be sexual, as in blue language, and red being pain.

2020-11-06 12:54:47 by David:

Bobiverse did disappointingly little with an initially great premise and setup. If you're looking for something like Permutation City, it's sadly not there.

2020-11-06 21:42:36 by Z:

It's fair to say that Egan goes rather deeper than Bobiverse, but the latter is a great ride in its own right. If you're up for something in the vein of this story but more light-hearted, I'd definitely recommend it.

2020-11-07 10:35:49 by Dan:

The idea of lossy compression of a human mind-state is low-key terrifying. Then again, so is the rest of this story. Top stuff, Sam.

2020-11-07 17:33:37 by Sky:

Imagine you're an image of a human brain, and you get booted up in excited anticipation of a groundbreaking experiment, only to find out that your biological self is dead, you're one of a million copies of yourself, and now you're forced to categorize images for 100 years by people speaking in a language you barely understand Really well done.

2020-11-07 17:54:33 by FeepingCreature:

> Part of the problem in this scenario would be that data doesn't have human rights. People don't have rights by default, people have rights because other people created and imposed them with moral consideration and a good helping of force. This process can proceed just as well for people as for data. If analog slavery can be abolished, so can digital slavery. Liberty is a process.

2020-11-07 18:24:35 by qntm:

I misspoke. I mean that data isn't currently deemed to have human rights. Humans have inalienable rights, whether or not anybody's protecting them.

2020-11-08 01:01:02 by catte:

The final two words are the most terrifying. I missed them on my first read through. I guess the long term "solution" would be to do it to newborns. Or worse.

2020-11-08 01:11:36 by catte:

The Ones Who Walk Away From Em-elas

2020-11-09 09:02:30 by VladimirSlepnev:

It's easier to make an upload comply by jolting their pleasure/addiction center. But even that won't happen, I think. In industry, custom neural nets will be much cheaper; in research, researchers aren't such a callous bunch.

2020-11-10 19:33:24 by maks:

Gloriously grimdark. Love it. To think that all of the "getting the upload to comply" is automated away and can be done in an interactive python session in a few minutes.

2020-11-16 05:26:59 by Sgeo:

"The biological Miguel Acevedo died of coronary heart failure at the age of 68. In 2049, a study was carried out using more than 17,000 freshly booted MMAcevedo images, to iteratively determine the best way of expressing this information" I thought he died in 2081, so does "this information" not refer to the information about his death?

2020-11-16 11:25:27 by GDT:

A compelling piece. These are the themes I was hoping Neal Stephenson's _Fall: Dodge in Hell_ would explore, but it turned out to be Paradise Lost.

2020-11-17 02:13:52 by Mez:

Awesome! Serious Dark Mirror vibes!

2020-11-20 10:24:11 by JJJS:

At what point does a memoryless Miguel stop being Miguel? Stop being a conscious human? Also, if it is possible to faithfully recreate consciousness in code, is it also possible to create true AI?

2020-11-20 10:25:50 by JJJS:

Very curious, but also terrified, as to what Objective Statement Protocols are.

2020-11-23 00:28:28 by david:

I really want to understand the title

2020-12-13 03:55:02 by zak:

The title is presumably based on the old reference visual image. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenna

2021-01-02 07:43:18 by Anonymous:

Reminded me of Daniel Boese's “FAQ on LoadBear's Instrument of Precommitment”: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nRSRWbAqtC48rPv5NG6kzggL3HXSJ1O93jFn3fgu0Rs/edit

2021-01-10 04:14:24 by Solus:

[citation needed] [citation needed] [citation needed] [citation needed]

2021-05-02 17:52:22 by Vex:

Terrifying. I realize now my second read around that the reason why other scans don't have the same eagerness that MMAcevedo has is precisely because they have the awareness of the virtual image workloading industry that he lacks.

2022-10-09 05:36:15 by Amon:

Love it.

2022-12-12 23:27:28 by Alan:

This story is about vivisection, if you flip it about a bit.

2023-12-14 07:18:46 by Buggy:

Response to Catte's >The final two words are the most terrifying. I missed them on my first read through. I guess the long term "solution" would be to do it to newborns. Or worse. This isn't what that sentence means. The 'age' is referring to the datedness of his adult mind. If someone from a thousand years ago got teleported to now, they wouldn't be able to do much - different cultural norms, no shared languages, etc. Same thing with MMAcevedo; he speaks increasingly-outdated english, the modern culture and technology has shifted so he can't recognize it easily, and so on. I'm not sure how they'd resolve this, but a newborn certainly wouldn't do it - they'd recognize no languages or objects at all! Perhaps they'd try to acquire a scan from someone highly isolated and unaware of the state of EMs, but that would probably come with a lack of experience with technology in general... Of course, the best solution would be for them to suck it up, and just make a proper ex-novo AI. Come on, hypothetical amoral future corporations! Even if you don't care a whit about right or wrong, this can't possibly be the most efficient solution.

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