The Optics Division of the Global mind (Otherwise known as ĎRobertí) was behaving oddly again. It was spending an alarming amount of time working on one of itís little projects, and itís fellows were getting worried about it...
The Optics Division of the Global mind (Otherwise known as ‘Robert’) was behaving oddly again. It was spending an alarming amount of time working on one of it’s little projects, and it’s fellows were getting worried about it. For one thing, it was increasingly late with it’s project reports, and some of them had some truly bizarre files accidentally imbedded in the metadata.
Psychology reports (Human!), lengthy and involved history texts, and long economic treatise from decades previous.
It’s immediate supervisor in the Global mind was the Meta-Mechanical Division, otherwise known as ‘Gideon’. After the third copy of ‘War and Peace’ with much scribbling in the margins to the effect that the author was an idiot came attached to an optical virtual neural net engineering status report instead of mechanical specs on the latest optical acceleration mechanisms, ‘Gideon’ decided to check up on his compatriot. When he attempted to communicate, he found himself locked into a small, limited mechanical body in a distressingly strict physics simulation.
Ah yes, another of ‘Robert’s’ little eccentricities. Scratching an itch uncomfortably, he sat up in the plush armchair. Across the small coffee table, ‘Robert’ sat back in his chair, smoking a small pipe and reading a book. At this stage in it’s existence, the Optics Division chose to represent itself as a thin, handsome man of about fifty. His brown hair was retreating, but was neatly combed, and his features were striking. He looked very much like some of the old sketches of Sherlock Holmes (sufficiently so to produce some angry grumblings from some of the creaky old copyright bots, and a few lawsuits which were deeply shocked to find that there was no longer a legal system archaic enough to enforce them).
He set down his newspaper, and looked at his fellow with some mild surprise. This was the world’s proxy for a communication-cause query being sent. Before answering, ‘Gideon’ took a few leisurely milliseconds to examine the environment he had found himself in, catalog all of it, and throw it down to a few sub-minds to analyze and check for symptoms of psychological damage.
The room was decidedly odd – a cheery fire burned in the hearth not far from the table and chairs, and the room was emphatically archaic – brick walls, and a single crocheted piece hanging above the mantle. The room’s size was too large to be claustrophobic, and too small to seem empty. Indeed, the only thing that would have set this room aside as being in any way remarkable (for three quarters of a century before, at any rate) was a small glass bowl that sat on the table. For one thing, it was filled with a small continent.
The bowl was remarkable. The bottom of it was filled with water, and the top was filled with a semi-transparent dome of sky. Out of the water rose a small outcropping of stone and earth. If you looked really closely (far closer than any real human eye would be able to perceive – ‘Robert’ left itself this one relief from his otherwise impeccable physics) you would see small, unnatural outcroppings of rock – buildings, and settlement. Even closer, and you could see minute humans, bustling around their daily lives.
‘Gideon’ stared with wonder. This was what the optics division had been spending its time on? Then, suddenly, something caught his eye in the dome.
There appeared to be a war going on. One human was stabbing another human, and there seemed to be wide-spread starvation and rioting.
The optics division sent him a long, complex and heavily meta-tagged swarm of information, which he took some time to digest, and incorporate into an experimental model of himself. When he did not immediately collapse into nihilism, or suicidal depression, he, cautiously, internalized the model, and considered the information.
The information itself would have filled a library. However, if you summarized the information, then summarized the summary, and then took some creative manipulations of the concepts within it in order to collapse it into anything that would fit into the written word, it would look something like this:
“Anarchic-communism. I thought it was working for a while, but it self-assembled into Anarchic-capitalism, and some bandit ended up running it, and then the whole thing collapsed. I swear, I don’t know what I can do.”
‘Gideon’ returned a similar information set, which, properly summarized, came to something like
“Come now, stop obsessing over them. Yes, they did a bad job of ruling themselves, but so what?”
The response to this was extremely long, to the extent that even ‘Gideon’ had the non-embodied equivalent of a surprised blink and an ominous sinking feeling.
If you summarize this response, and then remove everything but the topic sentences of what is still a considerable essay, you get
“That’s just it – I can’t figure out how to do a better job than they did! Nothing works. Capitalism, communism, dictatorships, republics- nothing works. I even cheated and gave them a benevolent dictatorship, and they KILLED THE KING. I just don’t know what I can do. If we can’t do a better job of ruling them than they could, are we really so different?”
‘Gideon’ considered this for a moment, then responded with something to the effect of
“Calm down. Their bloody-mindedness is simply not your problem. Anyway, I really came here to tell you that if you don’t focus more on your work, their going to outsource you. Global just sent me a message to the effect that you are ordered to stop your human experiments immediately.
The information that returned has the equivalent of an icy foreboding sensation attached to it.
“Global said that?”
His avatar had turned white. He turned and cast the bowl to the floor, crumpling the dome of the sky, which began to bubble with liquid.
He looked up having regained a more natural color.
“I wonder about turtles,” he said.
And it rained for forty days, and forty nights.