D: You can’t make a set of rules with infinity in it. As long as there is no infinity, the universe can be simulated.

M: From a computational standpoint, emergent complexity takes no more hardware than white noise.


3 Weeks Later - Megacles - The Sugar Lab

I wake up at Candy’s. I’m alone, she’s out. I rustle up some breakfast. All the food is healthy, which is annoying, but it suffices to sustain life. She’s offered to change my preferences in food. No thanks.

I go to her lab. It’s used mostly for hypnosis, and looks like a recording studio had a baby with a bordello. I fire up her hypnoclone and overlap my lab from home. I study God Machine. I don’t know if it’s working.

Doc-Danger got it into space by “using math”. Which could mean anything from home rocketry to blackmail. We’ve tested it with impossible questions and really hard questions. It excels at the hard questions, giving solutions instantly. It has failed to answer any impossible questions. The satellites could be too close together. It’s ability to solve problems is proportional to how random a number it can generate, which is proportional to how far apart the two satellites are. It’s possible that moving the satellites farther apart will allow it to answer impossible questions. It’s also possible that answering impossible questions is impossible.

The satellites drifted another kilometer apart last night. I upload a suite of test questions and watch it beaver away. I like watching it work, cause i’m a colossal geek, but after 5 minutes even I get twitchy. I turn on Mr. President.

He’s supposed to be meeting his economists about the jobs crisis. He’s sitting in a bar. The Darkness is with him. There is a handful of security, bar staff, and drinkers present. They are going about their business quietly. It’s clear Mr. President came here for some peace.

He drinks for a while, then begins to speak.

“I’m going to give the country a goal. We’re drifting. I’ve been promising an easier life, but people need hard work. They need purpose. We’re giving tax breaks to people we’re losing to debt, depression, and diabetes. People need help, and they need something to do. So, fuck it, let’s help each other. But, like, in an organized way.” says Mr. President.

“Communism?” asks the Darkness.

“No. A mission statement. Everybody can do whatever they want. Including work on the mission.” says Mr. President.

“What’s the mission?” asks the Darkness.

“A future where everyone is powerful. Like Superman powerful.” says Mr. President. “We’ll use that goal as a lodestone, and let the people science the shit out of it.”

“Sounds like nobody’s getting paid? That’s convenient.” says the Darkness.

“In an age of abundance, ownership is meaningless. Money less so. Pretending it isn’t happening won’t stop it. May as well go with it.” says Mr. President.

They drink for a bit.

“You’re unusually quiet.” says Mr. President. “Hit me with the heavy stuff.”

“Arrgg.” says the Darkness. “Nothing you are saying is wrong. But… Goals don’t create focus, they just change it. You’ll probably get what you want, but you will pay for it. In ways you may not expect.”

“I hear that.” says Doc-Danger.

I jump. I’m shocked - Doc-Danger’s here! Virtually here, but still. He has full access to my feed, one of two people who can tune in at any time. But, he has always adhered to a rigid schedule - Monday to Thursday. Never Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. He’s so unexpected, it’s disorientating. I actually check the date, even though I know it’s Saturday.

“So, we’re probably living in a hologram.” He’s drunk.

“Cool.” I say, and crack a beer.

“All the information of a 3D hologram is contained in a 2D image. Using string theory you can describe the entire universe in 2 dimensions. It’s increasingly likely that the universe is made only of only 2 dimensional information, and that mass, energy, and time are only useful delusions.”

“Yes, I’m familiar with the Holographic Principle.” I’m drinking fast, catching up.

“I thought if I could get to this information, I could change reality. But, now… I don’t.”

He’s not happy. His math is troubling him.

“Dude, if we’re really just information, we don’t need to edit the information to change reality. We just need to see it. The real universe, the real us. That should give us enough power to go fucking crazy.”

He smiles.

“I love you.” he says.

“I’m glad.” I say.

We chat for a bit. I have to run errands, I’m hungry. I ask him to come with me. He gets up and walks with me. Hmm… I wonder where he’s going in real life.

We wander through the city. We smoke and drink and eat and laugh. We stop by a large ad screen, and get distracted by the girls booty dancing on it.

“I can totally see why people join dance troupes.” says Doc-Danger

“They do look like they're having fun.” I say.

“I want to have fun. Excuse me a moment.” says Doc-Danger.

He adjusts his avatar and jumps into the screen. He gets about half the moves right, and flubs through the rest with booty wiggling intensity. It's the best thing I've ever seen.

He pops out of the screen to a few cheers. I hold out my hat, and some kids throw money in it. I think they’re doing it ironically, but it'll buy me drugs just the same.

We stumble along, joking about the ads everywhere. I block ads on the internet, I kinda forgot about them.

“It's not men's fashion unless it makes Steve Buscemi look better.” I say.

“Really?” asks Doc-Danger.

“Yep. Suit, fashion. Man bun, not fashion. It's that simple.” I say.

“What about a kimono?” he asks.

“I dunno. Let's mail him one, and ask for pics.” I say.


“What do you think of Mr. President’s plan?” I ask.

He shrugs “We all have the same problems. Makes sense to work together.” he says. “We were doing that anyway, with capitalism and the scientific method. It was working pretty good, until capitalism solved the scarcity problem that created it.” says Doc-Danger.

“So, what now? We post a wishlist for humanity on Wikipedia, and everybody pours sweat on what they want most?” I say.

“I’ve heard worse ideas. We should be publishing new science directly to Wikipedia anyway. They could peer review as well as anybody, and the science would end up where we could read it.” he says.

“Ha! Imagine picking a problem on Wikipedia, and it lays out a fast-track curriculum so you can start helping.” I say. “Like, science helping, not busy work.”

“Well heck, that's the human race’s problems all sorted. I guess I'll go back to being crushed under my own, much smaller, problems.” says Doc-Danger.

I laugh and drink more beer.

“What are you going to do with the God Machine if we can get it to work?” I ask.

“Holy shit! Will you look at that!” says Doc-Danger. He sends me a link to view his feed. I invert my feed to see what he’s looking at.

It’s a big fucking tree. A huge evergreen. It’s rimed with frost. Above it, the Milky Way stretches to the heavens. Billions of stars are visible. He must be far, far from any man-made light. The frost and the stars twinkle. It's otherworldly and beautiful.

I look at him through his live feed. He looks just like his avatar. Worn down, but strong. Pretty rough, but fucking beautiful.

We make love.


About the author

Doctor Zero


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