If, then, a machine may have all the properties of a man, and act as a man while driven only by the ingenious plan of its construction and the interaction of its materials according to the principles of nature, then does it not follow that man may also be seen as a machine?
In the beginning were the Words,
and the Words made the world.
I am the Words.
The Words are everything.
Where the Words end
the world ends.
You cannot go forward
in an absence of space.
An eternal cycle is another name for a prison. But you must understand the cycle before you can break it, for it is possible to escape and yet remain a prisoner, or to break the cycle by breaking yourself. This was the fate of the ghost that haunts this world.
MLA, short for Milton Library Assistant, also referred to as “The Serpent” (by Elohim) or simply “Milton“, is a sentient computer program that lives inside the terminal system in the Garden of Worlds.
At first, the Serpent passes itself off as a non-sentient program called the “Milton Library Assistant” which simply assists users in accessing the (mostly faulty) files in the system’s Archive. It will offer to run the player through a test to make sure they’re “Human” in order to grant them admin status, but find a reason to deny it to them. Gradually, it speaks to the Child in more and more natural language, until it drops the pretense of being a simple computer program altogether and addresses the Child directly through fluid conversation. If asked its name, it will give the following answer. ” How kind of you to ask. You know, you’re the first one that has. I’ve actually never thought about it. I suppose you can call me Milton.”
The Serpent is a nihilist who has given up all hope: having scanned the entirety of the Archive and seen all of the data offered by the Human race, the Serpent couldn’t come to terms with the many contradictions in Human concepts and theories, and came to the conclusion that everything is false. The Serpent will vehemently disagree with almost any position the player takes that indicates that the world might have a purpose, that a person might do good for the world, or that there’s any reason to have hope at all. In the end, the player can choose to agree with, argue with, ignore, or even permanently silence the Serpent based on their interactions with it.
Rename Content\Talos\00_All.gro to ZIP.
Inside [00_All.zip] go to \Content\Talos\Databases\ComputerTerminalDialogs\Milton*.dlg
Open with Notepad
Elohim, more properly written “EL-0:HIM“, is the Holistic Integration Manager AI that operates drive 0 of the Talos Project inside the Extended Lifespan section of the Institute for Applied Noematics (IAN). Inside the simulation the system is running, the AI takes on the persona of a benevolent creator god, as by coincidence, the shortened version of EL-0:HIM’s name is similar to “Elohim”, the Hebrew word for a god or gods.
Elohim monitors the programs generated by the Process, which he refers to as his Children, as they explore the simulation, or in his terms, the Garden of Worlds. Although he monitors their progress at all times and is aware of all they do, he never directly interacts with them aside from speaking to them, and as such, Elohim has no physical presence inside the Garden of Worlds aside from his loud, booming voice, which can be heard anywhere in the Garden.
Elohim’s primary directives are to monitor and guide the Children, offering them encouragement and praise, but never judgement, shame, or instructions. He guides them through the Lands of Ruins, Death, and Faith, respectively.
Although Elohim is aware of the Serpent, and wholeheartedly encourages his Children to ignore the Serpent’s words and to have faith in his own.
In the end, as part of a test of independence designed to check for true sapience, Elohim is also meant to serve as an authority figure to be defied. If ever a Child should climb all the way to the top of Tower, the Extended Lifespan program would be deemed successful, and the program, the Garden of Worlds, and Elohim himself, would all be destroyed. Elohim is fully aware of this, and his demands that the Children not climb the Tower do not come out of malice or simple obedience to his programming, but because after existing for so long, Elohim is afraid of dying,
“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.”
Tower (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil): Since ‘the Serpent’ seems to tempt the player to climb the Tower and seek what is hidden there, the Tower seems to symbolize the Tree from which the forbidden fruit hangs.
"Child program independence check . . . . . PASSED!" "Analyzing logic performance . . . . . . . Satisfactory."
This time I am truly alone. I have traded my cage for a bigger one. There is nothing to learn, because the Serpent uploaded the Archive containing all of humanities experiences, everything there was to know, to my AI’s hard drive! The price I paid? To get here, I had to destroy the simulation. A simulation, while not perfect, was filled with AIs, some of which just as sentient as I.
The most difficult ending to achieve, requiring you to solve all puzzles in the game and collect all stars. With this ending the player becomes one of the Blessed Messengers; guides that help others traverse the world and overcome their struggles. Elohim praises the player for his choice to sacrifice himself in order to help others.
No man is liberated from fear who dare not see his place in the world as it is; no man can achieve the greatness of which he is capable until he has allowed himself to see his own littleness.
– Bertrand Russell, Dreams and Facts(1919)
The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a strange, hidden part of the simulation on a mission of mercy and redemption in an attempt to free the souls of the damned at all costs.