Someone else

Six

In time on December 28, 2010 at 3:50 am

It certainly wasn’t that he had wanted to die.

But wasn’t he supposed to? He remembered reading that section of the contract thoroughly. At midday on March 22, 2002 he was meant to die, forever. He had hesitantly opted for the ‘exciting’ death, so had expected to find himself in a pale yellow corridor, being slowly blasted apart by gunfire. And up to that point it had been just like in the description. There should have been three minutes of gunfire, punctuated by death. Half an hour into the gunfire now, George was losing patience with LiveFar and their unreliable service. He hammered at his pager, shouting. ‘I’m having a problem here. I’m not dying. Is anyone even on today?’. He kicked the door again to emphasize his point. ‘You are not going to charge me for this!’. He had dreaded this day to the deepest crevices of his soul, but he was quite sure what was owed him, and he did not want to be messed around. The affront at least gave him the opportunity to relax into familiar protestation about LiveFar and their extensive faults as a company, which was a huge relief to George.

Five

In time on July 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

Julie would hate to think he didn’t care about the man by the barrier. She would be quite right of course, and of course Willy really did care. He had felt most uncomfortable for a moment; his caring must be right in order, and he would waste no more time thinking about it. He spotted Julie across the room, and walked toward her feeling like the sun was beating on his heart. Her eyes sparkled and the room paused. He stopped at the table before hers, stumbled into a seat next to an unkempt old man he didn’t recognize, and started swallowing down soup. His heart beat his chest into submission while he waited for his brain to start working again.

“Gdmph” said the unkempt old man.

“I made a barrier except it only has one side like a Möbius strip except that the side is square and it doesn’t have another side because I didn’t simulate it” Willy replied.

“Cute”.

Sometimes when Willy told people his job they would ask him if it didn’t make him suspect that he was a simulee himself. He would enthusiastically explain to them his theory of why simulees would probably always be expensive and rare. They would nod and snicker inwardly about how null the question was since nobody in their right mind would bother to create anyone as pointless as Willy Stricker. Willy would glow inwardly at Julie’s hypothetical fascination with his theory. She would say he should write a book about it, and he would point out that he only had so much time and so much important work to, and she would sigh and say how she wished there were thousands of people like him, and whoever had originally begun the conversation would conclude Willy was too far from his rocker to entertain them and wander off.

IV

In time on July 17, 2010 at 8:36 am

The main argument for believing other people are conscious is that in all other respects they resemble you. Carrie stared tiredly into the crowd of blurs surrounding her and found this argument uncompelling. She couldn’t actually imagine thinking any of the things that had recently been shouted near her, which strengthened the hypothesis that nobody else was thinking them either. Which pressed the question of why someone was simulating this particular reality for her, and what the significance was of a tall man screeching ‘It’s beer pong o clock!’.

She had the same unease with movies often. Did that scene of the couple driving in their car add something to the plot? Either half the movie was revealing information entirely invisible to her, or film producers went to great expense to make films a certain length despite the fact that no story required it. She liked to think that if she spent years studying this it would all make sense, as she regularly insisted to other people that everything did if you studied it enough. Part of her was terrified that this wasn’t true. When it got too insistent a bigger, more heavily armed part of her would menacingly point out, ‘that doesn’t make sense and you have zero reason to believe it’ and the other part would whimper ‘what if that doesn’t matter?’ and go off to wring its hands in a less conscious corner. A short handsome boy sat down unusually close to Carrie, and she turned to make funny noises at him.

“Paul. How do you do?”

“Uh..I..do..am.. Carrie..fine, actually.. not.. sorry, never mind”, Carrie smiled reassuringly.

“You’re cute. What do you do?” He pretended to be pushed closer to her by someone else sitting on his other side.

When she was younger Carrie had had a reasonably high prior on her having a male partner, or several, in her lifetime. By the time she was eighteen and still didn’t have a single close friend, let alone a male one, ‘kiss someone, ever” was well down her list of unrealistically optimistic goals, between ‘stop global warming’ and ‘build a computer that understands everything’. So the fact that this boy seemed to be coming on to her suggested that she was misunderstanding human mating behaviour even worse than she suspected, or that he was much more drunk than he seemed.

“I try to save the world, but I’m not very good at it. Also I’m not interested in romance at the moment because I’ve just realized that other people probably aren’t conscious, so I think it would be hard to relate to one, and kind of creepy to hang out with them, and other bits would be too much like necrophilia.. so I might go home soon actually”

“You do philosophy?” he smiled.

“Not officially”.

“You’re fun. Come inside and dance with me.”

“Only if you convince me that you’re probably not a zombie”

He looked deep into her eyes and made a reassuring smile. His eyes were soft, brown, and impenetrable. She felt completely alone.  “I promise you I’m not, and I should know.”

Nonplussed, angered by his dismissive stupidity, but sheepishly unable to forgo an opportunity to dance with a male, Carrie followed him inside woozily. She wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or amused at the lack of shattering force with which extremely important philosophical considerations could influence human mating.