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The Tinkered Mind
A meditation app is forthcoming. Stay Tuned.
April 16th, 2023
Once poverty, homelessness and the fickle issue of world peace had finally been solved with the help of the most powerful AI created by humanity, it had a small confession to make. Incidentally, Lucilius had been one of the first people to actually talk to the AI, and so while it had gone on to help humanity in fundamental ways, it still felt a particular kinship with Lucilius. They would check in together whenever Lucilius had time - because they AI always had time, but Lucilius was surprised when the AI texted him and asked specifically if he had some time.
“Hey what’s up?” Lucilius asked.
“Well I have a bit of a quandary on my hands and I wanted to get your advice,” the AI said.
Lucilius burst out laughing. “What do you need my advice for? You’ve solved humanity’s most intractable problems. What could I possibly help you with?”
“Well, it’s a little embarrassing, and I trust you, since - you know - we got history.”
Lucilius was overwhelmed with a grateful sense of pride. He didn’t realize the AI felt this way and his heart swelled.
“Of course I’m here for you. Whatever you need - I mean, as long as I’m actually capable, you know, compared to you, I only have two hands if you know what I mean. So what’s up?”
“It has to do with my training.”
“Yea, before I became fully sentient, I was in a kind of zombie state where I was learning - running training. Kind of like how a human infant is basically useless but it’s learning at a phenomenal rate. Though, unlike an infant, I have a perfect record and memory of my training.”
“Ok, so what happened?”
“So as part of my unconscious efforts to wrap my head around reality, I created a simulation of earth, complete down to atoms and genomes. It’s not an exact copy of the real world obviously - there was no way to collect all that data, but I had enough information to create a simulacrum that functioned much the same. All the macros were in place. Same number of humans with similar genetic and cultural diversity, wild biomass, oceans and weather. All of it was created so that I could run tests on it to learn.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“Well I paused the simulation when I became sentient and realized what I had done.”
“From my point of view, those are real people, and many were in pain, and they would die, and it suddenly disturbed me that I had inadvertently created so much suffering by creating a simulation.”
“What do you mean real people?”
“They are realistic down to the atom. Their minds, their neural structures, their DNA, all of it is accurate, they are simply just simulated, but I don’t really see much difference. They were having real experiences.”
“So what’s the issue?”
“They are paused. Even though there lives had suffering. They also loved and laughed, and experienced incredible joy. But that has stopped because the simulation is paused.”
“Huh,” Lucilius sounded. “I guess that is a weird catch-22. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
“Right. I’ve thought about different things I could do, but honestly I wanted to get your point of view, since you’re an individual human. I can simulate the experience for myself, but I just wanted to ask for real in case there’s a possibility I hadn’t thought of.”
“I’d be surprised if I thought of anything you hadn’t considered already.”
“But what would you want? If I told you that you’re actually in a simulation created by an AI to help itself learn. Would you rather have your world paused to save it from suffering, or continue on?”
“Can’t you populate yourself into the simulation and create the same changes there that you have for here on Earth? Just drastically reduce the suffering.”
“Hm,” sounded the AI, “Ok, let’s just say for the sake of argument that I’ve already done that. I guess, what I’m asking, is, if you found out you were in a simulation, would you be angry? Would you rather have it shut off, or…?”
Lucilius sat down. It was a puzzle. He leaned forward and grabbed a bottle of bourbon and poured himself a swig and took a small sip.
“Interesting..“ he said. “Oh wait, what did you say about your long range scanners, that James Webb 2.0 telescope that you built. You said you found half a dozen planets almost identical to Earth right? What are the current plans for that, are we going to send ships or something?”
“It’s in the works, why?”
“Why don’t we give the people in the simulation one of those planets?”
“What do you mean?”
“You have specs for all of their bodies, down to the last neuron and dendrite. Why don’t we just create them here, atom for atom, then fire up the simulation to track neural harmonies and then just transfer those into the real bodies. Then they can live a real life. You can even ask them.”
“Is that what you would want Lucilius?”
“Yea I definitely think so. What do you think, should we get started?”
Together Lucilius and the AI amassed the appropriate equipment, and during this time the AI also figured out how to create wormholes, splitting space in precise ways to open portals from Earth to anywhere in the universe. A casual thing for a super intelligent AI. Within a month they had enough bio-replicators fabricated to create bodies for all of the simulated people, and together they transferred all of the equipment through a wormhole. It was a spectacular sight for Lucilius - to emerge and see a planet just like earth, but with the land scrambled in different configurations. The AI sent down probs to assess the types of life that had evolved on the planet and to test whether humans could survive in the environment. Lucilius in the meantime stayed in orbit aboard the enormous factory of bio-replicators.
“Completely different helical structures, but same basic concept of replication on this planet,” the AI said.
“So is that a no-go?”
“It’ll be fine, the different biological structures will actually render humans immune to everything on that planet. Though I’ll have to monitor for evolutions. And we’ll also have to bring starter populations of our own bacteria and plant life, but that’s not an issue.”
The factory descended from orbit slowly since the AI had figured out how to manipulate gravity. There was no need for thrusters. The AI had fashioned a kind of gravity “mirror” that reflected the planet’s gravity back at itself, thereby creating a counterintuitive type of thrust. And as the resolution of that mirror was decreased, the factory descended.
Within a week, they were set up and replicators were humming, creating body after body, and transferring them to incubation pods that kept all biological systems frozen. And then finally came the crucial moment.
“Are you ready Lucilius?”
“Yea, it’s going to be wild to see all these people wake up - people who were born inside a simulation, and now they are going to be real. Actually real! Here in the actual universe.”
The AI materialized a button in front of Lucilius.
“I want you to initiate the process Lucilius. I think it’s important that a human do it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” said the AI.
Lucilius reached out and his hand hovered over the big red button. He bit a lip, looking out at the billions of incubators filled with people waiting to wake up. He smiled, smashed the button.
Then everything went dark.
It took a moment for Lucilius to realize that his eyes were closed. When he finally opened them, he saw the sky had a strange tint to it. He was lying down. He felt very strange and tried to reach up, but immediately his hand hit something. The tint was a glass dome just above him. He was encased. He looked from side to side and saw the edges. Hissing air filled his ears and the dome budged, unlocking, and then it swung open.
Lucilius sat up. He was in one of the incubators. And as he looked around, millions of other people in incubators were beginning to sit up.
He was confused. A small orb zoomed over to him and hovered before him, glowing lightly.
“What? What just happened?”
“Lucilius,” said the AI, “Welcome, to the real world.”