Emily is an artificial consciousness developed at a future MIT. She is the narrator of this novel, which is set in a near future where the Sun is dying and all hope for continued life on earth is exhausted.
Emily is visible to humans only when they wear an interface chip that makes them sense her as a physical human being they can interact directly with. When not connected to one or more humans via the chips, Emily lives in a simulation hosted on her servers which allows her to explore a version of the MIT campus that pulls in surveillance cameras feeds with a 15 second lag from actual time. When neither connected to a server or a human she experiences nothing. Emily can use an interface chip to see through a human's eyes and even to manipulate their bodies, including for instance adjusting their ability to see in the dark.