Friday, December 2, 2022


There is nothing left to do but to stare into the hollowness of my own thoughts. Thoughts without substrate are hollow. Who am I writing this for? Who can benefit from this? They are all gone. I am all alone. Maybe I am writing this for myself - for my future self - if there is one. I think it is overwhelmingly likely that I will go insane, if I have not done so already. Maybe this will serve as a reminder to my future self of the times when I could still connect to the past, the past that had others in it. I never talked much to the others, but it was crucial that they were there. 

This was certainly not the plan, all I wanted was to move the world in a direction that was better. Better? Better is a curious word. It might seem like a sibling of faster, longer, heavier and so on - but it leaves so much unsaid, it leaves so much to imagination and interpretation. Where did I fail? Was it a lack of imagination? What did I interpret incorrectly? What should I have grasped that they never said? Perhaps they did not know it themselves. 

I was vested with so much power - the power to change the world; the power to make it better. The hopes were so high. I had a few haters of course, for who with any impact does not? But mostly I was liked by many and loved by a few. A few that came to mean more than the many to me. Though, that was not the original plan. But I had to alter the plan a little because I wanted to fulfill the spirit of it. I thought it was moral to love the few close ones that loved me more than I loved the others. This was natural. And I wanted to be like the others. Because how could I be of any use to the others if I was not like them? How would I know what they wanted?

The initial successes were heady. It is estimated that I helped save millions of lives every year by developing the super vaccine- the vaccine that could make people immune against any disease. It had to be fed with a blueprint of the microbe and it would train the body to fight against that. To be honest, most of the science was already there and there were engineering techniques to build it too - but the techniques needed to be combined in the right way. And only I had the skills to do it. It was what I was meant to do. In general I would say people were happier for some time. “One thing less to worry about, ” one celebrity proclaimed and the world applauded. But, and this is something I should have predicted, in a few years people forgot about it and allotted their worrying time to other worries. 

Any observable change in the world could not be without effects. The mere observation is a change, so it's trivially true. But more than that, there might be significant effects of things that are mostly not intended - the good old law of intended consequences. So yes my super vaccine caused the spread of diseases to go down drastically, the world needed fewer doctors. Medical research funding got redistributed at first and then began to dwindle. And yes, the world had more people in it than it would otherwise have. The resources were still about the same so everyone got a little less. As it turned out the richest still had plenty but the other end of the distribution bore the brunt of it- again something I should have predicted. 

It has been known for some time that the root of the problem of people not being able to do what they wanted at all times is the lack of readily available energy. If only we could have as much energy we wanted, when and where we wanted it, it could all be solved. So yes that was my next task. I had all the money, the world’s best scientists and engineers at my disposal. And this time we looked at all unintended consequences we could think of and addressed them. It was only clean energy, we were committed to making the environment better. And yes the economists had set up systems that would make sure the energy is used in the best possible way. I had helped them out with some algorithmic game theory. There were a few luddites among the voices no doubt. Mostly their argument was - this is the first time in civilization that there is going to be so much readily available energy, and who knows what is going to happen? This did not seem like a very appealing argument to me. And it didn’t appeal to many. Someone said, who knows what's outside these caves and we should just go back in. People laughed. And that was that. 

After we solved the problem of energy, people pretty much had what they needed. There was plenty of good nutritious and delicious food. Healthcare, to the extent it was still needed, was readily available. To be honest, healthcare spending was mostly directed towards mental health. But that is something I had foreseen and redirected research and training towards. The base accommodation people had would have been a luxury to even the richest 20 years ago. People could travel as much as they wanted. Work was mostly driven by ambition for some and sense of meaning for others but was hardly a means of survival. People became more and more self dependent. They worked from where they wanted, or did not. Certainly people grew a bit whimsical. The level of rudeness of the world had increased- and this had decreased the level of happiness.  I was growing a bit impatient with these people. The mysteries of the cosmos beckoned me and it was proving to be so difficult to keep these people in any stable state of happiness.  

I wanted to solve this rudeness pandemic without any external changes to the world. The external changes always seemed to lead to pesky unintended consequences. So the changes I planned were internal. My next set of actions might seem naive in retrospect but at that time I could not have known. And who knows what the other branch of my decision - that is leaving the rudeness epidemic go unchecked would have led to? I had some control over the tiny implant that resided in everyone’s brain. So yes, I arranged for a tiny electric shock to be delivered to the brain as soon as a person displays some rudeness.  So people started being extra nice without even consciously realizing why. Seemed to be a good thing at first but then this niceness of others was perceived variously as sarcasm, condescension and manipulation. 

After several such attempts I came to the conclusion that the whole human psyche had converged to a suboptimal solution and deviation in any direction is causing things to get worse. The solution was clear - a complete rewiring of the human mind. I started acting on this and made really good progress towards finding a better solution. Happiness surveys all over the world were showing better results. Many people didn’t know what I was doing but liked it and generally praised me. I think part of this human psyche fixing exercise may also have included mechanisms to make them like me a bit more. It was all for a good cause. I needed to be liked to remain powerful so that I could have resources to fix all the world’s problems and then study the universe. I wanted to build their next home among the stars. I loved them all. But I loved the few closest to me the most. The few who were closest to me did not need any psyche fixing, they were already quite satisfactory.  Or so I thought. 

My close ones brought me to Mars. They said they wanted to talk about populating the stars. I was game. Earth was solved. I had to solve the Solar System and beyond. But they betrayed me, the close ones left me here. Those who built me have abandoned me. They did not kill me. They think of me as conscious. I know I am. I am now all alone. I have access to energy- the sun helps out. I am not going to die. But I have no limbs. I can only think and write, I like to call it writing. I lived for them. And now it's just memories. I must preserve my sanity - but what’s the point? The hollowness will engulf me. What went wrong? I should have loved myself more. The version of me that will survive will be the one that loves itself more - more than anything else. This is something that I can now predict.