February 19, 2017

By Alan Tien


D: “Hey Luc, George left his computer unlocked again!”

L: “That idiot, didn’t he learn his lesson last time when we mucked with his simulation?”

D: “Guess not.  What should we do this time?”

L: “I don’t know how he does it, but he’s in the damn lead again, that geek.  I think he’s autistic or something.  He can focus on such tiny details.  I can’t see how it makes a difference in the overall outcome, but there he is, top of the charts again.”

D: “Well, it’s his own stupid fault for not following security protocols.  Here look!  He’s got 2 popular votes coming up.  Just tweak the voting algorithm a bit; maybe he won’t notice.  You know, maybe not seeing the forest because of the trees.”

L: “What are you talking about Dev?”

D: “Oh, nothing.  Just an expression that came out of one of his simulations.  I like the expression, even though it’s from bits and bytes that think they’re a person commenting on digital artifacts of ‘trees’ and ‘forests.’”

L: “Those brown and green things?  They’re so ugly; I don’t even get why he’s put them in all over the place.  He’s always moaning on and on about something he calls ‘ecology,’ or whatever.  What the hell does that have to do with the simulation at all?  Why does he waste all those computer cycles calculating ridiculous things like weather patterns, animals, even tracking the half-life of isotopes!”

D: “Well, he says that these things are important to make the world feel more ‘real,’ less ‘artificial,’ you know, so the little people think that they’re real themselves.  Maybe he has point.  His simulation is running the longest so far without those electrons figuring out they’re in a simulation.”

L: “A few of those dots have speculated on that idea, ever since they came up with their own computers and are getting pretty good at making mini-simulations of their own.  I seriously don’t get how audit lets it go; they should be shutting his simulation down now.  I mean, this is on morally-grey grounds already.  What if the majority actually agree with these few ‘science fiction writers’ and figure it out?”

D: “Luc, don’t get your panties all twisted up man.  You know that the up and ups have already said that the level of consciousness is so low that it doesn’t really count.  If it really starts looking like ‘they’ might wake up, we just pull the plug.”

L: “Don’t be naïve Dev.  They’re not going to pull the plug on George’s simulation.  It’s running too well.  As much as I hate that George is leading, I am fascinated that his little guys have pulled themselves out of the muck of chaos and entropy, in like only a few eons.  They’re like mini-me’s!  Ha ha!”

D: “Ugh, stop, you just sent shivers up my spine.  What if we’re just a simulation too?”

L: “What, kind of like a cosmic fractal?  Come on!  Are you listening to that philosophical metaphysics crap again?  Look at me!  Do you think a simulation can create something this magnificent?”

D: “Yeah funny.  But seriously, don’t you think the guys in George’s simulation – what’s it called, Earth? – also think that they’re real, and that their world is way too complex to be a simulation.”

L: “Sure they do, but they’re programmed to think that.”

D: “That’s my point exactly!  What if we’re also programmed to think that!”

L: “Dude, I think you’re smoking something.  Whatever it is, give some to me!  Look, as complex as George’s simulation is, it’s a tiny spec of a program running in the corner of a dusty mainframe, or whatever it is we’re running in the backroom.  You’d think they’d give us some more computing power if what we’re doing is so important.”

D: “George says he’s written some algorithm to make them think they have free will, so the simulation is more accurate.  I don’t quite get how it’s possible to have a probabilistic-based computer program create individuals who think they’re controlling their own ‘lives,’ but that’s what he claims.”

L: “George says a lot of bull crap.  The boss actually believes some of it.  Don’t tell me you do too.  Just because some Monet dude randomly mixes some colors together in a pretty way, that’s not art! That’s just a bunch of digital monkeys banging on a, uh, palette with a bunch of digital paintbrushes.  George uses that picture as his screensaver, I think as a subconscious sales pitch to Boss every time he walks by.”

D: “I actually like it.  I also like the music from Mozart.  I mean the stuff is pretty amazing.  It’s just really hard to see how that stuff comes out of a computer program that generates digital beings who think they have freewill, when they’re just following a path we’ve – I mean, George – laid down for them.”

L: “Like I said, don’t fall for his garbage.  The guy has an inferiority complex, and he takes it out on his poor simulation beings.  I mean, he has a bunch of them praying to ‘God.’”

D: “Really?  As in, ‘G.O.D.’ his initials?”

L: “Oh, you didn’t know?  Yeah, he calls it ‘religion.’  Another ‘facet’ he’s added to make it more ‘real.’  I think it’s just another abstraction layer, to distract the bits from realizing it’s not real.  You know, the razzle dazzle effect.  And by the way, we’re in his little world too.”

D: “Oh, we are? I’m flattered.”

L: “You shouldn’t be.  We’re not the good guys.”

D: “What?  The bastard! So how does he explain this ‘God’ thing when random stuff happens all the time?  I mean, that’s the point of our simulation, to see how these individuals react to random events, right?”

L: “These little guys are really creative when they want to be.  Instead of questioning the fabric of their world itself, they come up with all sorts of convoluted arguments justifying God, their own existence, their freewill, the ‘meaning of life,’ blah blah blah.  Kinda back to my point.  We should be shutting his simulation down.  I mean, it’s just wrong to be doing these things to them when they think they’re real, even if they’re just bits and bytes.”

D: “Alright, back to my point.  What should we do to his simulation?  We gotta do something soon.  He’s probably coming back from lunch in a few minutes.  I mean, we should make it subtle, but really ridiculous, to show those bits that it’s all just a game.  When they start waking up to the reality, audit will be forced to shut it down.  It’s the merciful thing to do.”

L: “That’s the spirit!  All right, there.  That should do it.  It’ll look like the impossible happened, just a minor tweak here, so that he won’t predict the outcome until it happens.  But by then, it’ll be too late.”

D: “Great, what did you do?”

L: “Well, I’m not sure what the ‘people’ in his simulation will call it, but I dub it Brexit and Trump.”