At some point over the last 10 years, have you ever stopped and wondered: What is an io9? Well, wonder no more. This animated video, voiced by co-founders Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders, reveals the secrets of the io9 device, which were thought lost in the midst of time. Check it out below.

(Oh, and if you want the behind-the-scenes history of the site’s name, watch this interview with our co-founders Annalee and Charlie Jane, too.)


What is an io9?

io9s were marketed as cheap time machines in the 2070s. They were actually just low-grade input/output devices for the brain that tuned tachyon waves and gave users vivid images of possible futures. Because nobody was actually traveling to the future, it was impossible to say whether they were accurate predictions. Skeptical scientists cast doubt on the truth of these “io9 Utopian visions,” citing computer models that suggested the future was statistically more likely to be dystopian.

The io9 brain implants were so addictive, and drove so many people insane, that the things were eventually outlawed. Rumor has it that subversive, pro-democracy hackers are still making them somewhere. But it’s impossible to find them using government-approved search apps.

Today the word is mostly just slang. io9ers are the early implanters who obsessively upgrade themselves with beta tech. People who tweak out on buggy brainware are sometimes said to have “gone io9.” The ones who see io9er visions of a better tomorrow—at least, the ones who haven’t been re-educated—speak about it only in ephemeral, off-the-record messaging sessions. “We come from the future,” they type, before their texts are obliterated forever. “There is still hope.”

- Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders

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