Monday, August 16, 2010

A gift (2/2)

This is a (somewhat unexpected) continuation of the first part. A bit rough, would need further editing.



Heat in the head. Not the one you feel when you are ill, it's different. The heat you feel when you think hard about something. Like in the university,
when they give you a puzzle you haven't solved before, there's a time limit,
and the clock is ticking, and if you don't get it done - you fail the exam. Wait, what's this ticking sound ? Ah, indeed, there's a clock. He opened his eyes. And it shows just after five. He was about to think whether he slept at all when he realized something was strange. Something subtle. The bed, the bedroom it was in - all looked boringly usual. Finally it clicked.

Thin Mint cookie. On the headboard shelf, near the clock. Was that it ? No, something else. What was it ? Ah. His body. Missing. How ? Ah, obviously, that smiling old man and his "mind uploading". They must have kicked him subconscious and syringed a fair doze of cough medicine. But this would not explain this constant buzz in his head - even though his conscious brain was evidently idle, the subconscious obviously was not. But it must be just an effect of DXM. And in any case, the old mofo has ripped him off of 50 bucks - it's only one copy of him, that is visibly - no, mentally - present.

"Or two".

Now that was not him. And it was. The phrase felt like talking with himself yet it was not the controlled dialog - it was an interrupt that carried a wave of the annoyance that was suppressed.

"Idiot. You should not have asked for two copies. Now you get the suffering you deserve!"

- Why ?
- "Do I have to explain to you the perils of the non-standard setup ? Of course not - because it's me who is going to suffer!"
- Suffer from what ?
- "From doing all the work, goddamit! If you did not yet admit that this bloke was not joking, you better do it now! We are indeed now in the 'uploaded' state."
- And how does it work ? I venture it has to do with 6.443J which I missed almost entirely.. Brain alone would require an enormous amount of computational power to simulate - let alone the bed...
- "Probably it does. Because, being your copy, I can't fully comprehend it either.
If not your twaggering, I might have not ended up being such a dweeb."
- Hey, if we are two perfect copies, it's equally your fault same as mine. So, stop offending me, okay ?
- "Fine, you have a point. In any case - I came to consciousness a bit before you had, and searched a bit on this topic. I think this might have to do with the P-NP."
- Transistors ?
- "Idiot. Complexity."
- What would it have to do with the complexity ?
- "There was a supposed proof of it a few months ago. Which was proven incorrect, however it started a lot of talk around the subject. One of the reviewers observed that the problem of solving the 'P!=NP' is an NP problem in itself. The other reviewer observed that both the time and space are computational complexity resources. And the neuroscientists were exploring the hypothesis of quantum brain dynamics. This guy added 2+2 and went a bit further."
- I still can not make sense out of it...
- "That's because your brain is busy simulating me and the entirety of my world - that's where the feeling of 'puzzle' comes from. My and the entire world I am in is your puzzle you are trying to solve. Much like you and your world around you are now inside someone else's brain. Who is in turn inside someone else's brain, and so on. Much like you have with the russian dolls. Except they do not change in size - the time becomes slower so the space 'expands'. That's why it will never be anything later than just after five on this clock."
- But it ticks same as before!
- "That's your brain offering itself a stitch, so it did not go sideways like waves on the water. The sound of tick is local to your consciousness, while the picture of the clock in this case depicts the 'global' time. Don't ask me why."
- Great - so we have uploaded mind which has enough computing power to simulate another uploaded mind, which in turn simulates another one. What's the catch for the uploaded mind ?
- "There's none. Since there are more and more people coming in to the old man, the time has to slow down faster for those "outer" minds. So, their conscious part, with the speed of their thinking, never makes it to being overloaded by the computation required to 'simulate' the inner mind."
- Complicated.
- "It's exactly the same principle as the pension funds. You allocate them your money that you earn so they can invest it into the publicly traded companies, which then pay you this money as wages, which you invest into the pension funds. Your neighbor needs money, so he gets to borrow it from the pension funds, which then sell the debts to other pension funds for more money. The whole system works - if it didn't, you'd not be paying into your pension fund, right ?"
- If your description is correct to any extent and we both are not a split-mind after a hallucinogen overdose, we're past the point of needing to talk about the pension funds.
- "No, we are not. Since it's not just the mind, but the whole world that is emulated - there are pension funds in each of the nested 'russian dolls'".
- And do they all work the same everywhere ?
- "No, of course they do not. The complexity of solving the problem of pensions relates to NP same as NP relates to P."
- This guy is ambitious.
- "And very practical. Remember that you - me - we - paid hundred bucks. And you saw a couple of people coming in over a course a few minutes. So, he appears to have solved the problem of functioning pension funds."
- Does this mean he proved P=NP ?
- "Not at all. He cheated, somewhat. Really you do not care about the "NP" part as soon as you can enumerate all the alternatives fast enough. That's what he did for the best himself and the mankind - a computing device of an ever increasing capacity. It's like a blackhole but instead of sucking in the matter it sucks in the computational power, and overall becomes yet stronger. Or so is my theory - I am still not clear how he would suck out the excess of power that is left after all the work required to simulate the inner worlds."
- And how comes that we are able to talk just like that - if your theory is right then it should not be possible for me to be aware of each other, much like I am not aware of the existence of the "outer" person.
- "We are copies of the single brain. Again, this fact and the supposed quantum properties of the brain, even simulated, have to do with it. It's kind of I say 'bitter lemon' and it makes you feel the taste of it - even though you do not have a head now, much less the mouth and tongue. Don't bug me - I told you already, it's just guesses - you missed too many classes for me to be able to tell it any better".
- It's all good. I'm just killing the time - if your theory is correct, we're going to be the Lewis Carrol live - we are only missing Alice.

Alice Wong was happy - she was about to get married. She did not worry about the ceremony itself - her worry was her wedding ring. The future husband's father himself was supposed to bring it in. The wedding was starting at five sharp, and it was already four fifty seven - but the father was still not showing up.

Finally, she saw him getting through the crowd, to her future husband and giving the box to him. There was something unusual in his look. Maybe that he, oddly enough, had a moon-shaped cookie hooked to his suit - just in place where there'd be a rose. What an odd idea. But the old chap was a strange one. Noone knew how old he was, nor what he was doing. He did not seem to be very rich. But whenever his son started to talk about his plans after the marriage, the father always just hid himself under a friendly but a distant smile and mumbled something about the pension problem.

The ceremony began. The time seemed to fly right past by - even if the mechanical clock on the wall was ticking seemingly with the same speed as before... Here comes the moment... "Do you agree to be my wife ?" - "yes I do" - and he opens the box with the ring....

A gasp rolls over the the room, and dies into a complete silence. The stunning perfection of the crystal in the ring. She catches the reflection of the sun ray. It has the sophistication of hundreds of thousands of man-years of experience. The time stops. She sees an unbelievably fast caleidoscope of images, somewhere in the middle her mind captures the bed with the mechanical clock on it and a mint cookie - same as her now-husband's father had been wearing in his suit. And the clock shows exactly the same time.

It's just after five.

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