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Simulacrum, Pt 1 of 3

Gabe:
This is a difficult letter to write for a number of reasons. The easier difficulty to state is that there's a lot of things I don't understand about getting a simulacrum. Even here in the US, it's not yet common and it's very controversial. People who have gotten one have a hard time describing what it's like to the rest of us. So no doubt I'm going to raise some questions I can't answer. There in Southern Spain it's possible you haven't even run across anyone with a simulacrum in operation...since the operation is only available in a handful of cities in the US and Northern Europe, most travelers to southern spain are going to try to enjoy the sites and they'll shut the simulacrum off.

The more difficult thing to discuss is what has happened to Judy. At this point, we know she's had a simulacrum for a while now (perhaps as long as a year), but we can only infer things after that. Any conversations I describe to you may have been with the simulacrum, so I really don't know how to discuss what it's been like or what our concerns are. It's entirely possible they are unfounded...we really only have a small number of "facts", everything else boils down to feelings, intuitions, and conjectures. Such things are normally codifications for pure bias, as Judy (or her simulacrum) has insisted.

Since I'm not sure about how much you know about simulacra, I try to outline what my own understanding is. No doubt, such a description is prone to error, but at least you'll know what my own reference point is for the rest of this letter. A simulacrum is installed through a fairly simple operation currently requiring a long weekend. Within a few years it will probably done as an outpatient surgery. During the surgery an ASIC (a specialized microchip) is installed into the medulla oblongata portion of the brain. It's got a WiFi subchip allowing for internet access and so that routines and upgrades can be downloaded without any kind of external jack.

What the simulacrum does is allow your body (as seen by others) to go on a form of "autopilot", so that you (ie, your thinking/feeling/conscious you) can attend to pressing tasks such as taking important phone calls, working on a virtual computer, or even playing videogames while your body takes care of routine and mundane tasks such as going to the bathroom, taking an airplane or attending straightfoward and mandatory social functions. Sophisticated applications available on the internet supposedly allow for the simulacrum to perform less trivial tasks such as cooking, cleaning, or even driving or babysitting, though in many states there's already legislation pending that will make it illegal for a simulacrum to perform such things.

For me, however, I continue to feel kind of...uncomfortable...about the tasks requiring a simulacrum to speak. The simulacrum can be 'fed' pieces of dialogue and basic facts and even stories about the person's life, and as time goes on the person can review responses the simulacrum has given and then edit them going forward, so that the simulacrum can do an increasingly excellent impersonation of the actual operator. And in many situations, and particularly with strangers, it will be very difficult for someone to tell that the simulacrum is engaged rather than the actual person.

Of course, in many situations it is indeed possible to determine that one is talking to a simulacrum. And in more dynamic and less predictable environments, the simulacrum will continually be knocked offline, requiring the actual person to be present and make decisions and respond to dialogue, etc... On the other hand, it seems that if someone with a simulacrum keeps themselves to predicatable and controllable social environments, they may be able to keep the simulacrum "on" for extended periods of time, just how long I don't think anyone knows for sure.

Of course, this might be a nice segue to discuss what we think may have happened to Judy, but I think I should finish discussing what a person experiences when a simulacrum is in operation, so you can understand some of what has gone on.

Interesting approach

I like your use of letter-writing as a way to deal with exposition. It adds a kind of 'personal' tone that makes the information much easier to digest. It could be over-used, of course, but since we're not seeing many epistolary stories on Oort Cloud, this one stands out in a good way.

I really like the concept too. Except, I have this feeling that even if what happened to Judy is something very unpleasant, I'll still want to give that chip a try. At least for doing laundry. =)

kelson.philo's picture

I'm really liking the build

I'm really liking the build up here. Only suggestion would be to come up with a thesaurus list for 'simulacrum'...fun to type, easy to tie the tounge! Looking forward to reading the next post!

Great concept.

looking forward to how it plays out. Have you considered
putting this concept in a domestic setting?

every wall collapses, given enough time.