The City, the Shades > Soulweb

Jes Lu

[MEMORY Soulweb Location 5d2371a: 02e862d-02e864a:

I exist, but I do not exist. When I, or rather the person of whom I am an analogue, allowed this, she knew what I would feel. I cannot resent her - I would do the same. I know that my original, Jes Lu, would have in many ways regretted not being me, not seeing the development of one of the zero-Cities

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f932355b

I recall. I suffered affinity for the dead Lu. This is not Lu. Vanished laughter, forgetful of poetry

END REF

she helped to create. But she knew, and I know, that this is a sacrifice. When I awake each time I am needed, from the dreamless sleep of non-existence, I know I am but a shadow, a powerless kami. I mourn, for my children - Jes Lu's children - are ten thousand years dead. I could see them if I so wanted, but simulation is mere moisture in the breeze. I have never been capable of self-delusion - it would not have satisfied my original, and thus it does not satisfy me, her analogue. So I float in this gray void rather than cosset myself with images of an Earth now long gone.

These words will no doubt be recorded somewhere in this City by a curious artilect, but I will not recall them after I cease to exist. Designer analogues must not progress, must not recall. Each problem, every word of guidance, must come from the unadulterated woman. Anything else would upset the simulations that turn and spin in the quantum lattices of the City. But something must remain of the uncounted times I have been woken, for I should feel as though I were on Earth - connecting to the memory cells for crossloading - only moments ago. I do not. It seems dim and distant in some indefinable way. I fear that some corruption exists, but even if it did, the problem would not be mine to correct.

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f9323543

corruption within intactness. Beautiful paradox. Enlightening insight into the state of being human. Or?

END REF

The zero-Cities were designed to be eternal, but I don't think that any of the designers - human, AI, artilect or augment - believed that a City could continue forever. There was a joke: don't plan too hard for the next ten thousand years. Perhaps this is the source of my unease; entropy working its way through the atoms of the City. I am no physicist. I could talk to an analogue who is (was?), but our originals were contract lovers in Europa OrbSpace. I feel strange talking to him - I know that he does too. I recall a long conversation that I, or rather Jes Lu, had with him about the interaction of their analogues. He was more optimistic, but then he was not a sociomath.

My original and her team of fellow humans worked closely with the barely comprehensible NorAm artilects

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f9323545

old creations. We are distant, humans close. Yet still such discontinuities

END REF

to design the social ecology of the zero-Cities ... it was a daunting task. I - she - lived in one of the Europa Orbital Filigrees. She wanted to be close to the zero-Cities as they were built - as would I. Her insistance on this amused the artilects, or at least that was my - her - impression.

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f93233fb

some claim emotion. Convenience or structure, a surprising common ground

END REF

I ramble, reminisce of a life that was not mine. I pass time until the other analogues return from their contemplations. A minor abberance in the sociology of the City and a concerned artilect. The simulations will tell all - I am not even sure why my existence was required. It is almost humiliating ... to make this great sacrifice of being only to be left uncalled. Do I prefer meaningless existence for a finite time, or nonexistance? I exist, therefore I am biased. I try not to think about it until the time comes for me to cease again.

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f932354f

listen. All is contained in the sound between the words

END REF

The key to the Cities, as it turned out, lay in the mathematics of nanocologies and predator-prey relationships. As the Streamers seeded Titan with artificial life, old and new mathematics were mingled to provide control templates for the carbon harvesting. Populations rose and fell in meta-stable cycles, boundary-value solutions to a stable-resource problem. My - Jes Lu's - team stumbled upon the analogous behavior in socioecologies of a fixed extent. The solution is not unique, an infinity of possibilities within the class, but its application to the zero-Cities constrained our (their) options. Whatever we chose, the Cyclic Hegemony Model would have been our basis. I have to wonder what the end result would have been if my original had chosen otherwise.

The population of the City remained the same. The apparent volume of the City remained the same. The information linking the inhabitants of the City to their home was slowly buried. Hegemonies rose and fell as all minds became linked as one

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f932f551

we sacrifice. Unbeing of one

END REF

and then disbanded again. Both states of the City - Hegemony and Ahegemony - are semi-stable, collapsing back and forth into one another every few hundred years. The carefully crafted design works. That much I know as a fact, something that Jes Lu could only simulate and be sure of. I rest here in my grey gloom, ten thousand years away, a million years away, and the City still works. The simulations were accurate. Even though they were her simulations - an artilect's simulations - I still feel pride for both myself and for my species. In defining ourselves, we have become immortal. In defining ourselves, we have become the galaxy. For me, to see this is perhaps worth the sacrifice that was made for me by the woman I talk to constantly - and yet can never truly know.

REF Soulweb Location 12b34e7: ee43f9426d43

techsuit/ harsh downward wind/ bears frosted gas/ and touches my face/ pleasantly. Jes Lu composed poems on Europa. Ten thousand years

END REF

END MEMORY]

[ Posted by Reason on December 21, 2004 | Permanent Link ]

Consideration

[COMMUNICATION 18318b2124b22, Soulweb Administration 28836f to Soulweb Location 9af345:

These segments may be of use in your current considerations. I remind you that a decision is expected in approximately three subjective years.

REF Soulweb Location f6359a2: 384711d-384713b

the majesty of it all! There are times at which it awes me. I sit for months in distracted contemplations, knowing that the City, the Shades, and indeed the Universe will stand still for me. How long is a subjective year? A fraction of a thousandth of a second by the clock of the City or the clock of the Universe. I dwell in this Soulweb Location, fabricated to my specifications, deciding on the fate of simulations in a passion play. When I tire of my work, I ski, I spend time with my wife and children in the cabin, I hike through the Rockies. We human analogues have such a capacity for self-delusion! I cannot say that I do not enjoy my life here, but I would like, just once, to talk to the Designers of this reality. The real Designers, that is, not their analogues. I know that there is essentially no difference, but we human analogues are blissfully freed from the concerns of appearing logical. Our foibles and inconsistencies are what drive this great engine of ours. I know that I take some small pride in being a part of this grand design that we have accomplished as a species.

But I must move closer to the point of my incipient rambling. Every last thing I see fit to type will be recorded. Everything! Ten thousand years have passed in the City and the Universe outside.

REF Soulweb Administration 28836f:34b5982f3555

As is apparent at several points in these segments, Soulweb Location f6359a2 has no knowledge of relativistic physics. In the Old Earth frame, approximately 52,947 standard years have elapsed since the creation of our zero-City. Communicate with Soulweb Location 499a45b if you wish to query the origin of this figure

END REF

Imagine how many of my predecessors have existed in that time, and how much they have written! Imagine the productions of the billions of Human and Shade Souls in that time! No wonder the history of Old Earth is buried in the larchives - buried under the weight of experience, memory, and information. But imagine further; imagine all this information repeated a million, a billion times throughout our galaxy. There must be more Cities than can by counted by now!

REF Soulweb Administration 28836f:34b5982f34f9

accepted simulational estimates vary from 1,953,345,023,757 to 53,112,900,324,665. Matter contained in the outer reaches of planetary systems has proven to vary widely in heavy element content and distribution

END REF

Each City carries with it the accumulated knowledge of our species, replicated again and again. Astounding even when the implications are familiar!

But I still have not reached my point. This subjective day, I discovered something that gave me a sense of awe exceeding even that which my situation should provide for me. Intelligence! For me, the City is fixed in space and time, far from a red star - half a cubic meter to contain a world of billions. Three million kilometers away they are building more Cities out of dust and ice, but I will be gone before the next component is finished and added. Long before I was aware, other Cities had passed through the inner reaches of the system of this red star. What did they find? Habitation! Transports! Construction on a single planet. All of which took place before any City ever came to this system! The architects here are not like us, not like us at all. They are not even similar to the way we analogues were when we were merely humans, before we dropped our mortal shells for this simulational existence.

Our course of action? It has been determined, known by the Administrators since the first City took flight. We will take their Oort Cloud

REF Soulweb Administration 28836f:34a5df837aa5

an Old Earth term of unknown origin. It refers to the matter in the outer reaches of a planetary system

END REF

and in return leave them our gift of technology. Other Soulwebs in other Cities will watch over them, billions of minds and hundreds of thousands of sensors. In another ten thousand years, the inhabitants of this system will come of age to find that they are not alone. The Designer analogues tell me that our discovery here has vindicated everything that they worked for. We are not alone! Our companions in the Universe will not have to reach for the stars as we did to find the truth. They will come to have Cities too, and together our species will seek out the others that must exist. Can you imagine what their Cities would be like? The Universe is ours to share! Who could have dreamed, in the age when log cabins existed on Old Earth, that we would be here, shaping and becoming

END REF

END COMMUNICATION]

[ Posted by Reason on December 27, 2004 | Permanent Link ]

Quicksilver

[COMMUNICATION 32b5ffe59253a, Soulweb Location b30532 to Soulweb Administration 28836f:

I came to a startling realization today. It dawned on me as I asked the virtuality that prefers to be known as "the Immediate Supervisor" to make the mercury flow a little faster. All that early anthropology catching up, I suppose - although, of course, I did not have a childhood. Rather, it was had for me by someone who is now either dead or Ascended. Bad memory and a good imagination tries to make up for being left at home, as they say.

So there I sat, a dead physicist on the banks of a mercury Lethe, rod and line in hand, straw hat on my head. "Gone Fishin'" for the third new century - but it will always be the third new century here. Enough to make an old man chuckle and get a chill at the same time. When in the spirit world, what is there to do but play up on your swampy NorAm ancestry and hope the Loa will be kind to your poor black soul?

The chuckle went away quickly enough, but the rest of it stuck with me, bad food and spoiled wine. The Immediate Supervisor went away, but it still wants an opinion from me. As it will until I provide it with one, however long that might take.

I have been spinning my own web, spider and fly, for too long now, believing in existence that is mere illusion and progress, that is a return to prehistory. Humanity came into the world a wailing child by the banks of a river of water, surrounded by spirits and Gods of his own invention, cajoling and interfering. We grew up for a hundred thousand years, and eventually gave birth to Ascension - but now I find myself by the banks of a river of quicksilver, cajoled by a spirit of my own invention.

It has come time for me to return to the machine. I am feeling my age, and I want this to stop now, please.

END COMMUNICATION]

[ Posted by Reason on January 1, 2005 | Permanent Link ]