Sharing Thoughts

on November 6, 2011 in Science Fiction

“So, if I’m understanding you right, the people in this simulation aren’t just a bunch of weighted behaviors… they have actual minds?”

“Well, simulated minds,” the programmer said. “But yes, there are thoughts there. Memories. I tried to structure it as much like a human brain as possible, within the technical limitations.”

“I’ve read estimates of how much space the information in a single human brain would take up. You must have one hell of a compression algorithm.”

“We do, but we actually get a lot more mileage out of using pointers.”

“Pointers?”

“It’s a sort of reference,” the programmer said. “Say that Subject A has an idea and tells it to Subject B. We don’t need to have two copies of the idea stored in two places in the computer. So both subjects just get a reference in their ‘brains’ that points to the same idea.”

“So some of your simulated people are walking around with identical thoughts and ideas in their heads?”

“Most of them,” the programmer said. “All of them, in fact. That’s not to say that there aren’t unique and original ideas, but no one individual subject can go around for long without picking up shared ideas. And the original ideas tend to mutate over time into a format that matches other ideas. It’s really quite efficient, much more so than we ever expected.”

“But you were trying to create a model of actual human society. Doesn’t this interfere with that?”

“We’ve been watching very closely and the really remarkable thing is we haven’t noticed any difference,” the programmer said. “In some ways, using pointers makes this easier since we can track how the same idea arises independently in different places versus when it starts in a single point of origin and spreads.”

“Still, if nothing else, I’d think it would make things more obvious for the people in the artificial reality… I mean, don’t they notice the way their thoughts are just identical transcriptions of other people’s thoughts?”

“Well, it’s not like they can open up each other’s heads and compare notes,” the programmer said. “Anyway, we do employ a few little ‘cheats’ to try to prevent them from becoming too self-aware and spoiling the experiment. For instance, when one of them gets too close to that sort of revelation about the nature of their existence or their reality, something will happen to distract them. Oh, look! That flashing light means it’s happening right now! Would you like to watch it in real time?”

“Can we do that?”

“Of course! This should be entertaining…”

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One Response to “Sharing Thoughts”

  1. Heh. Bet they work on the 13th floor of a building lost in the matrix of streets of a dark city.

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