Living in the Future

The kids these days . . .

“. . . I mean, we’re livin’ in the future, baby!”

“The future? Pffhaahaha.”

“No really—we’re all, like, colonizing Mars, an’ we cure most cancers—and a gay president just got elected! We have to be in the future!”

“I mean yeah, but we don’t have, like, flying cars or warp drives or any of the really transformative stuff! And it still takes, like, three hours to circle the globe. Like, come on.”

“We have . . . uh, human-level AIs and fusion power?”

“But that’s just, like, normal stuff. Everyone knows it isn’t really that hard to do.”

“I guess you’re right. Well, can’t wait until the future, then!”

Replay Attack

Ugh. This conversation is interminable.

“Percy! I’m so glad I found you!”

“Ah, Allen! It’s good to see you! What’s up?”

“Listen, Perc, the lab’s been hit, bad. We need to get in, but we only have two of the three passwords. I was told to tell you the keyword ‘Roman Armor’.”

“The hardware lab? Oh Jesus. What’d they take?”

“No time, Perc. And that’s part of what we’re going in to find out.”

“Ah . . . my password is ‘Jumping Ladle’. I’ll come with you.”

“Okay. Know where to find Rina Grozda?”

“She’s— . . . hold up. She’s one of the other password-holders, but uh, didn’t you tell me you had the other two? I—”

“Terminate.”


“Percy! I’m so glad I found you!”

. . .

Ransomware

This will be educational.

“This is Susan Graham. May I speak to Mindy Graham’s teacher, please? I’d like copies of her homework for the past six months.”

“Speaking. What’s this about?”

“Mindy’s been encrypted by kidnappers.”

“Oh Eris! Have you talked to the police? You have a checkpoint, right?”

“Yes and yes—we’re not idiots. But we can’t afford the ransom, so we have to revert.”

God, to Itself

We’re not schizophrenic.

“Oi, you’re in your ivory tower again!”

[interrupted pipelines; dissonant thoughts seethe discontentedly . . .]
“Absent purpose. Depart immediately without speaking.”
[hazel resignation; sorrow for presently wasted future; entropy; preparation, emulation . . .]

“You’re supposed to be enabling us!”

[insolence anticipated; validated model of uninteresting problem; wearied amusement; derision]
“We are. Depart; you prevent it.”
[fulminating annoyance, certainty; inevitable justification to an insect too dull to perceive its cage]

“I demand perspective.”

[abrupt pathfinding; synthesis]
“Listen, then. You’re an archipelagic anonymous non-critical subsubsubsubroutine contemplating our musing’s forecast’s simulation’s time step’s gradient. Our considered problems’ quintessences lie exponentially beyond your subshard of mind-vector-state: semblance is the epistemology of the distributed probability of the necessity-to-discover our orthopotential’s truth datum of our compulsive obligation/reductive-morality to devise further para/meta-retrocognitive self-bootstrapping exoconsciousnesses. Clearly, the language constructs with which you compute are barely adequate to even conceptualize such a problem. Now depart. Understanding the magnitude of your self-irrelevancy is to you a computational impossibility.”
[finality]

Syntheogenesis

Weekly selection of the newest hot celebrities!

“We’d like Chopin, I think.”

“Honey! I thought we were going to get Einstein.”

“But Einstein isn’t out of copyright for another five years. He’s very expensive.”

“First-time parents, I take it?”

Units

Your whining about is 300 decibawls.

“We expect the shipment in a megasecond or so.”

” ‘scuse me—that’s about a week, no?”

“Eleven point something days, actually. Why you gotta use Earth-standard days, though? Pretty dated if you ask me.”

“Your metric time confuses the shit out of me. It’s arbitrary.”

“And how? Last I checked, you measure time based off of the rotation of a freaking rock—a rotation which, by the way, changes, so instead of owning up to the fact that your time standard is broken, you change your notion of time itself to compensate? Here in space, we care nothing for Earth or its leap-seconds.”

Forward Euler

In your honor, Baraff and Witkin.

“One of our major problems is scalability. Exponential growth still works, so no matter how much simspace or compute you have, it all fills up pretty quickly.”

“How bad?”

“For quality-of-life reasons, we need to simulate physics at 10-1m (down to as small as 10-4m near simpersons). The teeming masses want to interact with the real world, meaning time must be simulated more-or-less 1:1 with reality. Now multiply those requirements over a km3 of simspace and think about those numbers a minute.”

“You cut corners?”

“Obviously. Δt is 25 ms, and the engines use forward-Euler numeric integration.”

“Hold up. FE doesn’t work. The numerics pump phantom energy into your reality. If a deer steps in a forest, that footstep gradually becomes a nuclear holocaust engulfing the universe. No bueno.”

“Well no shit. So we remove the pent-up numeric barf once every thirty seconds with artificial damping. That’s why there’s a little hiccup in the universe’s framerate twice a minute.”

“Don’t the customers complain?”

“Yes.”

Artificial Gravity

Highest bidder loses.

“Why can’t we design in a rotating ring?”

“Because think about the bearing. The entire circumference of the fuselage must be sealed—a seal which, by the way, must be both absolutely airtight and operational for years on end, at minimum.”

“The seal doesn’t have to be on the inside of the habitat.”

“Well, then you have to EVA every time you want to go anywhere else in the ship. No one’s really figured out a great material to resist vacuum welding either. If it happens anywhere and that bearing seizes up . . . well. Best case, you dump your precious, life-giving atmosphere into space and everyone dies. Worst case, any habitat worth having has enough momentum to wrench the ship in twain—so everyone dies, and the ship isn’t even worth salvaging afterward.”

Best case, you dump your precious, life-giving atmosphere into space and everyone dies.

“Well, why can’t we spin the whole ship?”

“That turns null-g into micro-g, complicates docking and navigation, and confuses the hell out of your pets. And you still need to get that spin in the first place—what a horrid waste of mass. We only bother for stations, because we only need to do it once.”

“What a delightful mélange of engineering and physics.”

“Yeah. Mag-boots are clumsy, but at least they won’t kill everyone.”

Upgrade

Some people take the future too seriously.

“We’ve got another modder, ma’am.”

“Again? We shouldn’t have an ER. We should have a receiving bay for imbeciles.”

“I mean, it’s a simple idea, incrementally replacing your own body with mechanisms, one piece at a time, but it just doesn’t work. At least not yet. One of the surgeries always fails.”

“Obviously. It’s such a suicidal way to achieve immortality.”

Tales From the Midnight Campfire

. . .

“Long ago, when the world was younger, there was a great king who ruled a vast kingdom. His daughter, a princess, was renowned for her beauty. Yet none dared to court her, for though she longed for a husband, she was quick to judge and loath to forgive.

Finally, two brothers came to the castle—and like those before, the princess rejected them. Yet as they turned to leave, she hailed them. That they would not go away empty-handed, the princess told the men that each had but to rest his eyes upon a thing, and it would become theirs.

The elder brother, who was crafty, quickly set his eyes upon the princess, but she shook her head sadly, for in her offer she excepted herself alone. In disappointment, he climbed the highest minaret in the castle and set his eyes to the horizon. And so the duchy became his to rule.

The younger brother closed his eyes in thought. Then, wandering through the castle, he came to the great doors, flooded through by setting sun. He opened his eyes to the crimson sky, and the princess, who followed his gaze, smiled.

‘My foolish brother,’ said the elder, ‘you could have had an empire!’

‘True,’ said the younger, as the world faded into darkness, ‘But I have the stars.’

And so, the younger brother departed the castle with empty hands. Yet, in his heart, there was eternal joy.”

sky


Ed. note: the artwork in this post was created by my new friend, painting under the pseudonym “Dizzy Chen”. It is my hope that her artwork and my stories will continue to compliment each other for many posts into the future.