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Simulant Series ©
By Thomas Hartman, Copyrighted material published on-line by
Symbiotic Publishing, August 2001, all rights reserved.
(Note this file is the Author's working draft. It will change and includes notes normally indicated as bullet points that will be expanded on in the finished book.)
Interview with the Simulant Creator
Dr. Robert “Bob” Thompson, the worlds leading computer scientist, has been compared favorably to Leonardo da Vinci as the new Renaissance man; a scientist, inventor and artist. There are those Luddites among us who hate what he has created and his few critics say he is just another overpaid computer programmer, but even his harshest critics have to admit that his programs create pseudo art, offer us hope in fighting disease, new farming techniques to feed the hungry and the list goes on. He has affected the world around us in so many ways that it would be impossible to gauge the effect that this one man has had
In June 2004 he was issued a patent for the world’s first environmentally aware computer model or simulation, commonly referred to as a “Simulant.” This clever bit of computer code lives out it’s sometimes millisecond lives span inside of every computer on the earth and in space today. It is in your oven, toaster, aircraft, and of course the network. We secured an exclusive interview with Dr. Thompson.
Journal: First, thank you Dr. Thompson for agreeing to this interview. We all know how jealousy you guard your time.
Bob: You’re welcome. Please call me, Bob.
Journal: What caused you to think of the idea of an environmentally aware simulation?
Bob: I’d love to take credit for it but simulations have been around for a very long time. In fact, computers were invented to simulate the world around us. The first computers were developed to mathematically predict the fall of an artillery round for the military. In the simplest terms, it was a simulation of how a round of artillery would behave when fired at a given angle with a given charge.
Journal: Of course your self-contained programs or Simulants as they are popularly called are much more complex than a simple mathematical model.
course, this has always been the challenge. While working at
Journal: Sorry, so the key is Awareness?
Bob: Yes, awareness is what makes these programs work. If you looked at a simple simulation before we developed our program it was flawed, often fatally, because the simulation reacted in the way the programmer designed it to act. It really was more of a demonstration of an idea than a simulation. Our programs are simple but they have the abilities that model our own.
Journal: So what is the difference between a computer demonstration and a simulation?
Everything! In the late 20th century computer “simulations” of traffic were
built. The typical example would be that the city planners of, lets say
The programmers would add in rules such, as 75% of the cars
must enter between and . Each new problem would be solved with a new rule. In the
end the program would accurately demonstrate a problem. In most cases it was a
known problem such as there were too many cars trying to enter
The city planners could not even figure out where everyone
parked their personal automobiles. On any given business day
Journal: What use was it then if it was wrong?
really wasn’t that useful as a simulation but it was immensely important to
those of us who followed those early pioneers. We built on their work. In some
cases, like the
Journal: So the addition of Artificial Intelligence was the key?
Bob: Yes and No, a simulation would not work without artificial intelligence. What our company has done is to build the most complex environmentally aware program ever, but the environment itself has to provide the proper stimulus. The Simulants have to act intelligently, but there is much more to it. The program has to be environmentally aware, and the environment has to provide the correct stimulus.
Journal: I know you hate the label but “Self Aware?”
really don’t hate the phrase self-aware. It is just not accurate. These
programs must be self-contained but interactive; they must of course be
self-aware but only because they must be environmentally aware. They must
interact with the entire environment in a predictable and accurate way. In the
It is much more complex than I can describe but you see it every day in computer games and screen savers. The simulated man gets a promotion and stops using a very safe illegal parking space and rents a legal space. I have had more than one person complain to me that the game gets more boring as the player gets more resources. It doesn’t of course, but funny things like watching a player’s reaction to their car being clamped do disappear once there are enough resources and motivation to eliminate the issue. Our company makes what we like to refer to as the stupid pill program, which allows our Simulants to make bad choices. We developed it to simulate addictive behavior but is has been a huge revenue generator in the game market. People like to be smarter than their programs and let’s face it, we aren’t.
Journal: It is comments like that, that caused so much controversy.
Don’t I know it! These are simulations. I get very upset with my staff if they
refer to any instance of our program as a “man” or “person.” We are
Journal: Doesn't that destroy the value of the simulation?
Bob: It does hurt the simulation. For example we are still unable to simulate many complex medical operations or treatments. An example would be that we can only carry out simulations into meditation techniques and disorders by translation. Simulants don't really use meditation like we do. They have what is called a dream state or dreaming. We built into the simulation a translation from this dream state to meditation, it is not perfect but works pretty well. It does also mean unfortunately that the Simulants have done a lot of work in areas that are useless in real life and sometimes concern us.
Journal: Concern you. Why?
Bob: They have developed methods of treatments based on the electronic nature of their existence. They have created devices that measure the current flow in pyramidal cells, the generation and the detection of an electric field. We were very excited when they first created a device called an Electroencephalography (EEG) machine. We use it today to test neural networks but it also concerned us. At first we thought that the Simulants would start to understand that they were not real. We assumed that they would understand that electricity does not play a major role in life, but of course it does in their simulated world. Plants, animals, everything that is alive in the simulation is made in the same way, of the same thing, and of course since we are doing this in a computer it has to be based on electrical activity. It amazed us when in a simulation they connected one of these EEG devices to a plant and then yelled, screamed, sang or killed something and the plant reacted. Of course it has to because in a simulation everything is interconnected, but real plants don't care if you kill a real shrimp, but in our simulated world they do. The Simulants have found how to measure and study this. Surprisingly they don't seem to be overly concerned about it.
Journal: Excuse me, simulated plants care if the Simulants kill simulated shrimp?
Bob: Yes, amazing isn't it. We tried everything to stop the experiments and we have suppressed the information where we can, but a Simulant hooked up one of these EEG machines to a plant and tested its reaction. Of course in real life a plant is a plant, so nothing would happen, but in a simulation a plant is made out of the same electronic pulses that all simulated life is made of, so it has a measurable electronic field. It is also carried on the same electronic circuits so you can measure the nuclear magnetic resonance of the circuits themselves. The experiment that concerned us the most was when the Simulant scientists hooked up the EEG to a plant and started to measure its reaction to different stimuli. It started to get silly, no real scientists would try singing or talking to a plant and measuring the reaction but of course in our simulated world there is a reaction, so the Simulant scientist were puzzled but continued to try new experiments. In one of the experiments she hooked up the EEG to the plant and then dropped live small crustaceans called fairy shrimp into boiling water. This of course cooked them and killed them. The EEG showed that the plant reacted to the death of the simulated fairy shrimp. The scientists went even farther, by dropping frozen fairy shrimp which of course were already dead and live shrimp into the boiling water. The plant reacted to the death of the live shrimp but there was no electronic reaction when a frozen shrimp was dropped into the boiling water.
Journal: So you built simulated plants to be sensitive to the simulated death of any other simulated life?
Bob: Not really, or at least we didn't try to build that kind of sensitivity into plants. It has something to do with the release of computing power when something is killed in the simulation. Even a fairy shrimp or a plant has to use some computing power so when it dies that computing power is released back to the network. The Simulant scientist was measuring this release as experienced electronically by the plant.
Journal: Does this happen in real life?
Bob: Of course not. Our atoms use electrical forces. But electricity plays almost no role in how we think or transmit information. Real life is based on chemical interaction, as you know it is how the neurons work in our brains. How we create connections that build memories but we still do not know enough to reproduce exactly the multiprocessing efficiencies that man has. We have been able to simulate all of the neurons in the brain and we have even been able to simulate the specific sequence of neuronal interaction but in Simulants we do this using electricity. It is still a very primitive representation of what Man is really capable of.
The advantage that they have is their brains are much faster. We think that the very simplicity of only using 10% of the capacity at one time makes them faster. They are also not restricted to linear thought, as we are. We can move the simulation at differing rates which allows information to flow to them at the maximum rate they are capable of processing. They live, reproduce and thrive in environments that I am sure Man would not be able to survive in, at least not without first running a simulation to determine survival strategies. We can of course allow all of the programs to die and restart the simulation with new programs and make changes to the environment.
Journal: You keep using the words die and killed. It is very hard to follow. This is a simulated fairy shrimp, plant or person we are talking about. Do they really die?
Bob: Of course, how accurate can a simulation be without consequences? I love to fly aircraft simulations and of course I do dangerous things like fly under bridges. Would I do it in real life? Of course not, even if I survived I would be locked up. You have to provide all of the inputs to make a simulation work, not just hunger, thirst, and pain. You need affection, friendship, personality, fear, intelligence, logic, motivation, environment, genetic traits and so on.
Journal: Genetic traits?
Bob: Yes we place genes in each program. It is a coding mechanism. These genes provide a great deal of information that is used by the program during its lifespan, and we have provided a mechanism where this code can be combined during renewal or birth of subsequent programs. It allows variation, some good, some bad, and some neutral. We are just mimicking what we see in sexual reproduction of animals.
Bob: It is extremely important in our long-term simulations, global warming, planet colonization, and space travel. We don’t allow it in our short-term simulations because it introduces unrealistic or unnecessary aspects.
Journal: Let’s get back to death. How long does your average program live?
Bob: It depends on your definition. We of course create restore points either based on time or at key events. We use these restore points to create multiple instances of the program. Most simulations are really multiple simulations with multiple instances branching at decision points. Since we control time we can run thousands of scenarios in the time it takes Man to make a single critical decision. In our early work we loaded 1024 replicas of the same program into a combat aircraft management system. Each time a situation, either simulated or really occurred, 1024 possible scenarios were executed. Those with favorable outcomes were explored more fully and unfavorable ones were restarted from a restore point and tasked to try to optimize the favorable outcomes even more. This happens in milliseconds. The only noticeable problem, which we have not worked out, is that the programs experience a simulation phenomenon that they have defined as déjà vu.
Journal: I’m sorry. I have to ask you two questions now. How can the Simulants define something, and what is déjà vu?
Bob: Let me explain. Simulants communicate with us in the normal way: they talk, move, and enter data into our systems, all at computer speed. But some of their ideas are foreign to us and, of course, some of our concepts have not been entered into their simulated world so are foreign to them. We do not allow them to interact directly with us because it would destroy the simulation. If I thought I was a computer program controlled by an outside force, I would behave differently. There are also experiences in the simulation that do not exist in our world such as; we don’t die and then immediately restart at a restore point. In some cases simple Simulants like the one in your toaster were designed to always restart from a restore point. The toaster company puts a Simulant in the toaster to mimic your likes and dislikes based on smell which in a Stimulant’s case provides both the sense of smell and taste, along with temperature, color, and some other inputs that we have added over the years.
The key is the Simulant understands what you like. If you have ever used an antique toaster you would see that they were terrible. Bread would come out underdone while a waffle or pastry would come out burned. There is also a personal preference. I don’t know why people who lived together but liked things toasted by different amounts didn’t just go out and buy two of the things. But when we allowed the Simulant in the toaster to operate all the time it got, for the lack of a better word, bored. I use the toaster analogy because it was where we first discovered déjà vu. The idea was that your tastes change. Sometimes you like toast a bit more toasted, it often has something to do with the weather, cold, rain, but I am getting off the subject. We wanted to allow the Simulant to get input from you and measure the environment to simulate what you really wanted.
Journal: Sounds like a great idea and my toaster does seem to understand my moods.
Bob: Yes but the way we tried to do it by saving a new restore point at the end of the process caused us problems. We discovered this déjà vu phenomenon. The inputs from the Simulant indicated that it was aware in a vague sense that something wasn’t right. It reported back that it was aware of having already experienced something, which it was actually experiencing for the first time. It thought this was an illusion, which of course it wasn’t. The Simulant did not allow for the idea that it was repeating the same task over and over. First we decided to ignore it, we figured who really cares if a Simulant has a slightly uncomfortable feeling any way. I mean we do allow them to feel real pain from their point of view so déjà vu didn’t seem so bad. The only problem was if you let a Simulant experience déjà vu for a while it becomes so confused that it burns your toast while it is trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
Journal: You’re just making that up. I have never had a toaster burn my toast except as a college prank by my friends so it would activate the smoke alarms.
Bob: Nope they would do it, or at the very least your toast would take a lot longer to toast. We solved the problem by changing the simulation. The Simulant doesn’t believe that it is making toast at all. It believes it is working on the factory floor in the year 2005 making plastic parts. It is a very boring job but we got rid of the déjà vu and still allow it to learn that you don’t always like your toast cooked the exact same way. In power save mode we run a simple family simulation complete with simulated sick days. It is kind of funny the lengths that we go to just to be sure that you get bread toasted the way you like it.
Journal: How do you communicate with them? Get them to do whatever it is that you want?
Bob: Sorry my legal department would have a fit if I told you. You know the saying, “If I told you, I would have to kill you.”
Journal: How about you just tell me a little and rough me up a bit?
Bob: I can tell you a few things we do. We place other Simulants in the program that help direct the targeted Simulant to make the decision choices that we want. For example in our toaster simulation most of the Simulants don’t like working in a plastic plant. They are constantly looking for other jobs. We have made it very hard for them to find other work. If they apply for another position, we fill it with another Simulant and also make the interview process very painful. Some Simulants do leave the plastic plant because we have to allow them to exercise freewill or the simulation breaks down. So even in our simulated world, life is not perfect.
Journal: You said a few things. What other ways can you communicate with them?
Bob: We also created a state in which we can directly program them. We placed it in their rest period. The Simulants call it “Dreaming.” My former colleague Ann Dominique developed it and wrote a very interesting paper on it. If your readers want to better understand Simulant subconscious programming techniques and program interaction, I highly recommend reading it.
Journal: For those of us that would get lost reading a scientific paper, can you explain the concept?
Bob: Not as well as Ann would have, but the idea is simple enough. In real life we rest, which allows our bodies to recover from our daily activities and we meditate to reorganize our mental processes. The Simulants are models of us but we combine these two activities into one in them. They rest but during their rest they go into a subconscious state that they call dreaming. We can enter in this dream state without them being aware and place key ideas, thoughts, and motivations into their sub-routines. When they wake they act on these ideas.
It is very subtle and its effectiveness varies but it is one of our best tools when working with the Simulants. They often are confused about an important decision because we would like them to take one action and they would like to take another. We reprogram them in their sleep and they most often, but not always, decide to follow up on our implanted idea. It has become so common that the Simulants often use the phrase “Let me sleep on it.” The phrase still cracks my team up.
Journal: So our Simulants are an accurate representation of us?
from it, they are the best representation of us so far but we may never be able
to really simulate
Journal: Color blind, you mean they cannot see?
Bob: Kind of, it is very hard to explain. The first thing to understand is that a Simulant is a simplified representation of us. They look like us but their inputs are greatly simplified. Their vision, unlike ours, is tied to a single system. They can only see using their eyes and even their eyes are greatly simplified. They sense a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. While we can process everything in the electromagnetic spectrum that has a wavelength from 10-7 to 10-2 centimeters, they can only process an amazingly small segment of the spectrum. Simulants can only see the colors yellow and blue. We need them to believe they see the same colors as we do: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. What we define as indigo in real life, they define as ultraviolet in the simulation. What we call orange they call infrared.
It is important for the simulation to work that they think they see all of the colors we see. Stoplights have to be red, yellow and green but since we cannot program them with the ability to see all of the colors, we change the simulated environment to match their abilities. This means that a dull yellow light is perceived by a Simulant as a very bright red, and a cleaner yellow is perceived as very bright green. Color translation takes place everywhere in the simulation. The sky is blue in both the real world and in the simulation. But in their world the sky is really green since our blue is their violet. It normally takes one of our employees a couple of months to understand color translation correctly.
Since we don’t understand the concept of not seeing all of the colors, they often ask the question as you did, “Are Simulants blind?” The simple answer is no. They think they see exactly like we do, but we haven’t been able to program them to have our level of vision so we just translate colors for them. The concept is so hard to understand that we don’t even have a term for it in real life. We got the term color-blind from the Simulants themselves since some of them, because of genetic programming, cannot even see everything within their limited visible range.
Journal: I think you might be losing the reader, I know you have lost me. What other simplifications have you implemented?
Bob: Almost everything is simplified. They cannot feel or hear the differences between colors. We have allowed them to use only a single primary sense to understand the world around them. They see colors, feel physical shapes, hear sounds, and so on. The only success we have had so far in allowing them to process multiple inputs is their sense of taste. They taste primarily through smell but we have been able to provide them some additional rudimentary taste processing on their tongues. It is nowhere near as subtle as our sense of taste. They love things that are creamy, salty, and sweet. They also sense bitter and sour which they may or may not like.
Their food would be very boring for us. Also the things that we love they would find bland, vegetables, for example, are considered very bland by Simulants. They often cover them with fat or cook them in spices. Also most things taste the same to them, having more to do with texture than with what we would call taste. Surprisingly most meats taste like chicken to them and they often finish eating a meal without ever really knowing what it was that they ate.
Journal: So Bob, I am curious? If you don’t like the marketing term Simulant, what does your team call them around the office?
Bob: Actually we do call them Simulants, but in the beginning since we developed them at the University. We named them after the College, Holbert University Man. Funny enough the name stuck but only in the simulation. Now we have given up and we all call them Simulants. The marketing department hated the Holbert name so we never use it anymore. In the simulation they always refer to themselves using the abbreviation HU-Man. Sometimes they add the word race to the end. We assume it is due to the speed in which they develop.
They talk about themselves as human and the human race. They also have developed additional classifications for themselves. Males retain Man, while females are referred to as Woman. Also they have additional names for themselves based loosely on the geographical location of the simulation that they were created in. These names evolved over time and provide a constant source of amusement for the programmers.
Journal: Dr. Thompson it has been a pleasure interviewing you, and I am sure our readers will find your ideas as fascinating as your company and technology.
Bob: Thank you.
Thompson Simulations Inc. Corporate Headquarters
Bob got back to the office around . The team asked him how the interview went “It was fine. Softball all the way, just like Mike told me it would be.” Bob didn’t mind talking with the normal press. It was the technology press that drove him crazy. They were like children, sometimes smarter than you thought and sometimes dumber than you thought and just as dangerous, because you never knew when they were going to be which. “Any way it should reduce our risk. I cannot believe that we are in this situation. We are more profitable than any company in history. We have contracts with every major corporation. We have no competition and from the looks of it we never will since even we cannot recreate a Simulant from scratch.
Thompson Simulations Inc. had one secret that only its board of Directors and Bob’s senior management team knew. Even though they could copy and create all of the Simulants that their customers would ever need or want, no one, not even Bob could create a new one. They needed a seed from an existing Simulant with all of the problems that this created. “We have to solve this problem. We can not keep copying and reprogramming Simulant 4129 even if it is the only Simulant that has the intelligence, reaction speed, aggression, and most importantly the compassion that we need for our most complex simulations.”
Bob looked frustrated and said; “I can not believe that I let that moron play God in the beginning before we fully understood what we had. Fucking Pete! I need to go over there and see what is happening with the military contract for the fly by wire system. I got a bunch of voice mails from the project managers saying they need us to staff up the project.” Bob had always respected Peter’s work but there was something a bit dishonest about him. He was brilliant but tended to take short cuts and to delegate the impossible to his staff while taking full credit for everyone’s success. He loved religion, every religion. He had spent tremendous amounts of time and resources studying the world’s religions and religious myths. This preoccupation with religion lead to Ann’s belief that he had a “God complex.” It got under Ann’s skin and had driven a wedge between her and Peter. Bob had to intervene and since he was especially fond of Ann he was often perceived as playing favorites by Peter.
Thompson Simulations Inc. Systems Interfaces Lab
Dr. Peter Johnson, General Manager of Simulant Systems Interfaces, looked around his newly equipped lab. It was a far cry from the cramped lab he had used when he had joined Bob and Ann years ago. He was positive that his research would make all of the difference in finding a way to gain some additional control over the Simulants. He was sure Bob thought the same way because he continued to fund his every request.
Peter often felt like he was the only member of the team that understood that while freewill was a critical component, the company needed to influence the Simulants long-term behavior. He had proven beyond any doubt that he could influence the Simulants by introducing myth and religious beliefs. While not all of the results were 100% positive and he had alienated Ann he felt that his contribution was the key to the company’s success. Ann was too timid, and her ethical concerns often got in the way of results. She was a typical liberal activist her views were correct and any opposing views were racist, extremist, dangerous or just plain stupid. She saw the world as simple and results predicable if only everyone finally came around to the obvious correct solution which of course was her solution.
Peter’s team was working on one of the company’s cash cows, military simulations. The team was running a simulation of the US Navy’s version of the Joint Strike Fighter. All Combat aircraft are designed to be fatally unstable; it allows them to have superior maneuverability. Pilots need to be able to radically change direction and a stable plane is a target, not a fighter. Since the very beginning aircraft designers have tried to balance stability against maneuverability. The introduction of sophisticated computers and “fly by wire” systems allowed them to remove the direct connection between the joystick, rudder pedals and the planes’ control surfaces. Pilots hated the idea; they wanted to know that when they pushed the stick over that they would be directly controlling the aircraft. “Fly by Wire” had become so common that all military and commercial aircraft rely on it.
Even automobiles started to use fly by wire in the late 20th century the first step was called anti-lock braking systems. The driver would push down on the brake and a computer would decide how much braking to apply so the car would stop in the minimum distance necessary. No matter how hard the driver pushed on the pedal the system would systematically release the brakes to avoid locking the tires and losing traction. The driver or the pilot was in control of the vehicle but they were only providing the input that told the computer what the operator wanted to have happen next. The computer would decide how to accomplish what the operator was requesting.
Thompson Simulation’s addition of Simulants was a quantum leap. The Simulants would directly control the inputs. They would fly the airplane still accepting inputs from the real pilot but they would sometimes override the pilot and in some situations they would take complete control of the aircraft. This happened during launch operations, pilot blackout, pilot confusion, overload, and critical injury. The Simulants were programmed to simulate a real pilot so they would not violate man’s real physical limitations.
A computer program in a modern jet could pull enough G’s to permanently incapacitate the real pilot. Simulants allowed the plane to recover without subjecting the pilot to additional risk. Simulant pilots are not restricted to a normal timescale so they can simulate a situation that may fail but still have time to recover. The introduction of multiple Simulants also allowed many choices to be made by the Simulants and the best outcome to be used by the pilot or aircraft. Simulants are not only used in production aircraft they are used in simulations of pre-production aircraft. This allows a manufactures to test their designs before going into production.
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) somewhere in the Pacific Area of Operations
Lieutenant David Grant,
He loved the bird but he knew it was going to move his pucker factor off the scale to launch this thing down the deck for the first time. It was a nightmare bringing it onboard but a launch always spooked him more. He wasn’t sure why but assumed it was because one hour and forty minutes after they shot you off the deck you had to bring it around to land on something that looked like a postage stamp. The other problem with these new birds was you had to keep your hands off the stick during take-off. The new fighters were built to fly themselves off the carrier. He hated being a passenger especially when he was pulling 3g’s and going from zero to 160 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds. He did his walk around or at least as much of a walk around as he could do with out stepping off the side of the ship. He climbed up into the cockpit.
The deck was a bit slick and the plane skidded a few times
as he moved it over to the catapult. His heart raced each time the wheels
skated across the few spots where the deck's protective coating had been worn
away. This was definitely different than taxiing over to the big wide runway he
launched from back in
He let go of the stick and grabbed for the ejection handle. The barrel roll was slowing as he pulled the handle and felt the 12g kick of the rocket motors. He realized too late that with the aircraft almost inverted and pitched under the horizon 60 degrees his combined speed as he launched himself into the ocean was over 200 miles per hour. It didn’t matter that he was also just about to be run over by his own ship since he was dead as soon as he hit the ocean. It wouldn’t have matter if he hadn’t pulled the ejection handles. What was left of his plane was run over just 30 seconds later and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. His unusually fast reaction time had allowed him to eject from his fatally crippled aircraft, which allowed the Navy to recover his body and return it to his wife and family for a Christian burial.
Lieutenant David Grant did his walk around of his new US Navy Joint Strike Fighter, or at least as much of a walk around as he could do with out stepping off the side of the ship to inspect the back half of plane that hung over the side. He climbed up into the cockpit.
The deck was a bit slick and the plane skidded a few times
as he jockey it over to the catapult. His heart raced each time the wheels
skated across the few spots where the deck's protective coating had been worn
away. This was definitely different than taxiing over to the big wide runway he
launched from back in
As his head was pushed back in to the headrest he dropped his hands to the stick. He was too old and too good to let some computer fly him into the ocean, it was against all of the Navy’s flight rules and would have gotten him grounded if they caught him doing it, but he planned on getting older. So he gripped the stick like he was holding on to a baby chick but held it he did. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Just as he launched off the deck he heard a low growl that he had never heard before and the plane started to do a quick barrel roll to the right. He pulled the stick back to the left but the barrel roll continued. He looked as the nose pitched over and the sky was replaced by ocean.
David was about to pull the ejection handle but realized it would have just launched him straight into the ocean. He pulled the stick over in the opposite direction and the barrel roll sped up. It was like being back in a centrifuge. The moment he saw the sky again he let go of the stick and reached down between his legs and pulled up on the ejection handle. The barrel roll was slowing as he pulled the handle and felt the 12g kick of the rocket motors. He had the strongest sense of déjà vu he had ever had as he escaped from his stricken aircraft.
The seat stabilized and a funny thought crossed his mind, McDonnell Douglas was going to buy him dinner, because he had just raised their percentage of successful out of envelope ejections. The next thought was that he was about to get very wet. His crippled plane flew on for another 30 seconds and then smashed into the ocean. The Navy would try to recover it but the water was deep and the wreckage would drift down over a pretty big area. This was their newest fighter but the focus of the program had been affordability. They used off the shelf parts so no great secrets were slipping into the deep. David couldn’t help but think maybe affordability wasn’t the best goal to have when building high performance fighter aircraft, at least not the ones that he had to fly.
He bobbed in the ocean and waited for the rescue chopper to come fish him out and take him back to his ship. This was going to be a very long cruise, now that he had sent his assigned airplane into the ocean. The "Air Boss" frowned on all the paperwork that was required when one of their pilots lost his thirty-eight million-dollar aircraft. The ship continued to sail on and he felt very small in a very large ocean. He wasn’t worried that the rescue chopper would miss him, his radio was working, a dye packet colored the water around him, and his strobe light was happily blinking away.
He thought about the sense of déjà vu that he had during the
ejection, it was shockingly strong especially since he had never ejected before
and it was nothing like the training exercise. A wave washed over his shoulder
and he felt a chill. He thought of his wife and two kids, his son would think
it was too cool that he had ejected, but for his wife it would be one more
reason to finish up this tour and get out of the Navy. She loved him but she
hated the Navy. She hated the extended sea duty, and their friends that didn’t
make it home. Even in peacetime flying jets off of carriers was a dangerous
business. She wanted him to quit and fly for an airline. They could move back
One of his classmates from the academy was flying jets for Airliner Alliance. He liked to joke, “I wish I got as much time off as my neighbor thinks, as much money as my parents think, and as much sex as my wife thinks.” They tell him that to fly a new modern jet you don’t need a pilot, co-pilot, and engineer - you just need a pilot and a dog. You need the pilot to feed the dog and the dog to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything. Another wave broke over his shoulder as he heard the sound of rotor blades. He tried to think of something witty to say to the rescue swimmer. He couldn’t come up with anything but with the sound of the helicopter overhead and all the splashing the swimmer wouldn’t have heard him anyway.
He recognized the swimmer. It was one of the guys he played poker with. He was a very hard guy to beat in poker but they got along like they were long lost brothers. He could almost tell you what the guy was thinking from across the room. It was nice to see a friendly face and he was glad it was almost over. It was amazing how cold the Pacific could get and the rotor wash didn’t help much. He was trying to look macho, like it was no big deal to toss away a jet every once and a while, but shivering in his wet flight suit took most of the bravado out of him on the short flight back to the carrier. Maybe a nice airline job wouldn’t be so bad. The swimmer slapped him on the back as they landed and gave him a friendly smile as David headed up to get his debriefing. He sprinted up the ladder to put on a good show for the crew who were all smiling and watching him. One more sailor returned from the sea.
Bob looked over Peter’s shoulder and said, “So what is the problem?” Peter explained that it was the simulation they were running for the military. There was something wrong with the design of the Military’s new Joint Strike Fighter. Bob asked why Pete cared. “We are not responsible for the jet’s design, we are just providing the Simulants for the “fly by wire” control systems.” Peter explained that it wasn’t the jet design the military was interested in this time. It was that one of the Simulants had survived when a system failure should have made it impossible to eject in time.
Peter had run the simulation a couple of thousand times and had not discovered the reason. The military was of course very interested. It wasn’t the Simulant that they had used. The military contract specifically required that they use their best Simulant. The military had paid the outrageous premium that was now required for its use. Bob suggested that they put some research Simulants in the program and let them investigate. He told Pete not to use another copy of the same Simulant since the military specified that they use the top Simulant so often that Bob was afraid that the Simulants would start to notice how alike all of their top achievers were.
The debriefing went as well as could be expected. The investigators asked David what the first indication was that something had failed and he told them about the low growl. They watched the video of this launch over and over. He was surprised to see the briefing room almost completely filled with company representative from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. He didn’t remember hearing that a representative from each of the major contractors was going to be on this cruise. Boeing wasn’t even a sub-contractor on this version of the Joint Strike Fighter; they were assigned to the assist Lockheed Martin on the Marine Corps and Royal Navy version.
It was unbelievable that the Navy would have allowed so many civilian contractors on this deployment. They started off very supportive, “So Lieutenant are you OK?” “We are so glad you were able to punch out.” “I hope you understand we would like to get your impressions while they are fresh in your mind. We won’t be long.” “Can we get you some coffee or maybe something stronger?” “Do you mind if we call you, David?” But it quickly moved away from being a standard accident investigation to an interrogation of his actions.
They picked up on the different rates of rotation on the film. “Lieutenant your aircraft started to rotate to the right immediately after launch, the rotation slows, and then it accelerates. Why?” David noticed that they were back to Lieutenant and tried to brush off the question. He first told them everything happened so fast that he did not notice the differing rates. When he saw they were not buying it, he went on the defensive. “Look you guys built the thing. You guys programmed the hands free launch system. I was just along for the ride and ended up splashing down into the ocean because something is wrong with your jet. You guys crack me up, one of your jets flies itself into the ocean and it is pilot error. Look I was the pilot and I didn’t make an error. Your plane is broke, go fix it.” He turned to the Air boss and asked, “Sir are we done here?”
The Air boss looked around at the contractors, he couldn’t figure out how so many of them got on his ship either but if the Pentagon sent them and they went back complaining that they did not get the Navy’s full cooperation then someone was going to pay hell for it. The Contractors begged him with their eyes and he finally answered, “David lets get this over with. We watched the tape, we know it was an equipment fault but we need to let these guys do their job.” He handed him a coffee cup, and the smell of single malt scotch whiskey filled the room. US warships did not allow alcohol except for medical purposes. David didn’t need a drink because he had almost crashed into the sea, or because he floated along watching his ship sail on without him. He needed it to get through the next set of questions that the contractors were going to ask him. David took a long sip and sat back down. They started at the beginning, “So tell us again about the low growl, you think you heard.” David took another sip and repeated the entire story from the beginning.
They continued to focus on the rate of rotation. The Contractor from Lockheed Martin told him that the software would not have changed the rotation rate. “Lieutenant, the software would not have changed the rotation rate. In fact we have run this scenario through the computer thousands of times and under all conditions the plane would either continue to rotate at the same speed or the rotation would slow. Under no conditions would the plane’s rotation to the right accelerate.” David was surprised to hear that they had time to run thousands of simulations since his crash, but just shrugged his shoulders at the Lockheed guy. David took another sip of scotch, mostly because it seemed to annoy the Lockheed guy.
Back in the lab, Peter had a hunch and removed the requirement for the pilot to keep his hands off the stick then quickly ran the simulation a couple of hundred more times. 25% of the time the pilot survived. Their top Navy Simulant pilot had saved his simulated life by failing to follow Navy regulations.
David had another strong feeling of déjà vu. The taste of the scotch disappeared from his mouth and the Lockheed guy was speaking, “Lieutenant. The software would not have changed the rotation rate. In fact, we have run this scenario through the computer thousands of times under all conditions the plane would either continue to rotate at the same speed or the rotation would slow. Only one condition would cause the plane’s rotation to the right to accelerate. You pushed the stick over to the right!” David started to tell them he did not remember, but decided that flying a bus with wings didn’t sound so bad anymore. He thought FTN; it was a very popular abbreviation with the enlisted men. You find it scrawled somewhere on every ship, port, and navy bar in the world. For the very first time in his military career David thought, “Fuck The Navy.”
David pushed the coffee cup away, stood up, leaned in very close to the Lockheed guy and said, “You’re goddamn right I pushed the freaking stick to the right. I don’t know how the hell you ran thousands of simulations in the twenty minutes between when my plane ploughed into the ocean and you and your buddies walked into our briefing room, but I do know one thing. The pilot dies in every freaking one. Well sorry to disappoint you but I pushed the stick over and I ain’t dead. That is why we let real pilots fly airplanes because computers can’t.”
The debriefing lasted another four hours and ended with Lieutenant David Grant getting an official reprimand for failing to follow naval regulations and flight rules. It was not recorded in the reprimand that if he had followed flight rules he would have been listed as killed in the line of duty. It was the end of his navy career. He would never make Lieutenant Commander or become a squadron leader.
That night as he slept he had the strangest dream. He dreamt he was coming down a mountain driving a small herd of animals. He looked back and saw two peaks in the distance. The mountain held a strange collection of wild animals. He woke to the feeling that this was not the first time he had left his ship behind him. He didn’t sleep much more that night. He would be flying back to “the world” tomorrow and would be resigning his commission almost as soon as he touched down. His wife would be thrilled. Maybe his buddy could get him an interview with the airline.
Professor Ann Dominique had discarded the virtual reality outfits that were so fashionable with some of her colleagues. She built her models completely inside the computer. She was not trying to build an interface to a computer model a model of man’s mind. She understood that man’s mind is much more that just his brain. Subjects will react to stimuli even when they are in a coma and their brain is non-responsive. The first simulation she mastered was to get a simulated limb to display triple flexion at the hip, knee, and ankle when she stimulated the sole of the foot. She was amazed when she also got dorsiflexion of the great toe. She left her lab and wanted to yell from the rooftops that she had gotten dorsiflexion even though she had not expected it in this model, but of course most people only looked at her like she was insane.
This was the problem she faced everyday. Her colleagues were all computer geeks trying to figure out how to remove a couple machine level instructions that did nothing, but were needed to allow something else to interact in their poorly written programs. They viewed the real world like it was some mathematical mistake not quite as interesting as the computer world. They had not studied human anatomy, psychology, or neurology. They played computer games, wrote clean elegant code and hoped that they could retire 10 years after they left the University.
Ann could not understand why they wasted so much time on improving things like “kerning” which some graduate student had explained to her, in mind-numbing detail, has something to do with the “portion of a letter which extends beyond its width, that is, the letter shapes that overhang the projection of a character beyond its sidebearings.” He had explained that he was being recruited for a job that paid 10 times the amount she was being paid as a university professor. It would allow him to focus on kerning problems but he was hoping to manage the kerning team so was holding out. She thought it sounded like some sort of sport played on ice with push brooms. Of course they all thought that she was a bit strange because she was an excellent computer programmer but she continued to attend and give lectures at the Holbert School of Medicine.
They respected medicine but didn’t believe it had enough economic value in the marketplace to really attract talent anymore. Ann continued to combine both computer science and real science. She had perfected her simulation of the bodies’ axon neurons. Most simulations programmers choose to ignore the thin layer of fat called myelin that ran around the longer axon nerves. Programmers would simply simulate the electrochemical input and then hard wire the cable like nerve, as if it really was just a cable. They built their systems to suit the computer rather than using the computer’s power to simulate the real system. That was why they never experienced the unexpected, like having a big toe move when the simulation was only built to simulate that the hip, knee and ankle should move when stimulated.
She used these simulated neurons for many sub-routines in her simulations. She built these automated sub-routines so they wouldn’t require interaction with the simulated brain that she had modeling after her own brain. She wanted to ensure that the brain did not have to be aware of things that it did not have to consciously control, such as breathing, heart rate, temperature control and so on. She not only built axons but created many specialized neurons for different tasks that mimicked the way our real bodies work. Receptors that could sense their environment, motor neurons to carry signals, and connectivity neurons that connected the receptors and motor neurons to the brain. She built monosynaptic pathways that carry simple messages so they would not have to involve the higher functions.
She used neural nets, which link neurons together and formed the building blocks for the centralized brain. She overcame one of the major problems of how to allow chemical communication to happen electronically, by using the work of Bob Thompson's team. His team had discovered a way to use electrical impulses transmitted across a simulated central nervous system.
She formed the mind into sub-components that mimic the design of her own brain map. She created a simulated spinal cord, the medulla, the pons, the midbrain which controls reflex and automatic functions such as digestion, blood pressure and so on. She then provided the simulation with a cortex so it could coordinate movements and react to the constantly changing simulated world. It also allowed the simulation to process information, coordinate memory, thought, and finally allowed for verbal communication.
The simulated brain operates electronically between 0 and 70 Hz. The frequency changes depending on the mental state, moving from Delta through Theta, Alpha, and finally ending at Beta. Delta would be when a Simulant is unconscious and relates to normal sleep in a real person. Theta is about 4 to 7 Hz when Simulants are aware but not fully conscious. The upper range of this stage and the lower range of Alpha is where meditation takes place in real people. Alpha in Simulants is referred as the dreaming state. Activity above 14 Hz is where the fully conscious mind operates in a Simulant.
This was when she first started to test how the simulation could be used as an interactive device. It did not work well in the beginning since it could talk but she had not given it anything interesting to talk about, yet. The programs lack of real world experiences reminded her of some of her programming students.
She had first met Bob after he had attended one of her lectures. He was they only computer geek to attend any medical lectures. They struck up a fast friendship and she felt comfortable talking to him about everything. He was more than intrigued to hear that she had surgically implanted an interface into her own body so that she could map the human mind. Bob had some ideas on how to create a simulated Hypothalamus and pituitary system to simulate hunger, sexual drive, aggression and pleasure.
They started to work together and were the perfect team. The attention to detail that they included in their simulations allowed them to create simulated life that could react to its environment almost exactly as a real person would. This allowed Bob to build much more realistic simulations. The problems in the past were that the programmer would have to anticipate all of the reasons or causes and effects that affected the simulation. With simulated people in the simulations anything that could happen did happen. The programs they created were almost as complex as a real person’s mind is and it allowed them to operate naturally.
Bob and Ann worked together at the University co-authoring many articles on simulations and medical modeling. Bob was growing tired of watching his students graduate and join successful companies or start their own. He decided it was time to cash in on all of the hard work that he and Ann had been doing. He wasn't sure how Ann would react to his proposal. She loved University life with its freedom to move from the interdisciplinary lab to the school of medicine. Working with her over the last couple months convinced him that now was the time. They had created a pretty good working model and if they didn't start working full time on the project it might never progress beyond the experimental phase.
Bob went to one of her lectures sitting in the back of the
room sketching Ann. She was one of the best lecturers in the University. She
was young, but when you considered that she had already completed her residency
in Neurology from
Her research was as varied and complex as she was. She was heading the electrical engineering interdisciplinary laboratories as the senior medical and psychological faculty member on the team. She rose to that position for her work in developing models of brain function, natural motor control, modeling the nervous system, medical engineering, medical imaging, implantation of artificial circuits to correct loss of motor control, development of neuroprostheses and artificial intelligence systems design. She was the smartest person Bob had ever met and he knew that he needed her to join him in the new startup company he was planning.
He finished the sketch about the same time as she finished the lecture. He had also jotted down some notes to himself on the material she was covering. Bob was the best computer model designer in the world, but even he had a hard time keeping up with the information that was contained in Ann’s lecture. He stayed seated and waited as Ann’s students question her on the lecture. She walked up to where he was sitting and sat down beside him. She looked over the sketch and liked the way he had focused on her eyes. “So Bob, learn anything?”
He smiled and said, “I always do, in fact I was wondering? Why did you choose to use a finite-difference method to solve the variable-coefficient diffusion equation in three dimensions, under a parabolic approximation in which the downstream variable is time-like? I think you will have a hard time displaying graphically the various sheared wind-flow conditions.” Ann smiled, “You picked up on that while you were sketching?” “I like to multi-task, it gives me a chance to listen more closely.” “Bob, if I didn’t know you were happily married I would swear you where trying to turn me on.” He laughed and invited her out for a cup of tea.
They talked late into the night. Bob explained that he wanted to combine all of their work to start a new company focused on creating environmentally-aware programs. He needed her work and more importantly he needed her to complete the project. His goals were grandiose, which she like, but the rewards both from a financial and intellectual aspect would be incomprehensible, so the meeting did not last long into the night because Bob needed to convince her, it was to hold her back. She explained how Bob was mistaken in his design and told him how her work would add to the project.
Ann was currently mapping Man’s mind, she had created biotechnology that she had implanted in herself that allowed her to record and evaluate real-time information as she experienced it. It required all of the computer power that the technology lab had to offer and created reams of information that only she could fully understand. It was important that she was able to recreate the thoughts that she had while the data was being recorded. Most test subjects did not understand that the mind did not think in one dimension. As Bob had commented, he had sketched her while at the same time he was following her complex lecture. That is how people normally thought, they thought about many things at the same time.
Ann found that she could only interpret other people’s thoughts from the recorded data when they thought about something simple, like the combination to their lockers or a phone number. She could get even these simple thoughts wrong sometimes because the test subject would get them wrong in their minds. In one case she would ask a subject to think of their girlfriend or boyfriend’s phone number, Ann would record and analyze the result, and then ask them to dial the number, 4% of the time the person got the number wrong in their mind even though they could correctly dial it.
It was frustrating in the beginning because the 4% looked like a failure in the mind mapping even though the mind mapping was correct, but the subject was thinking of the wrong numbers. Ann was able to interpret her own thoughts and then work back any failure to discover if the data was wrong or if she was really recording data that Ann herself was not aware of. Ann’s mind was better mapped than any other mind in history. She had even been able to program a simulated Ann Dominique that was able to answer questions in the same way as she did.
She once used the program as her answering machine as a test. The callers were never aware that they had not reached Ann. If fact her own mother once talked to the program for over an hour. It wasn’t a fair test since most of the time a conversation with her mother was little more than an occasional, “Yes, mom you’re right. No, of course I would never do that. How’s Dad?” She finally had to stop doing it when a student who she found interesting called and got the completely wrong idea about how she felt when the uninhibited Ann Dominique program responded a bit too frankly to some inappropriate comments the student made. The program didn’t have to worry about tenure, but Ann did. Now with Bob’s proposal of starting a simulation company maybe she could call the student back and take him up on his offer.
Ann drove back to her apartment, she had a lot on her mind and she looked forward to looking at the mind map of her day. She would load the data into her lab computer and allow it to segment and store the information so she could analyze it later. She tossed her keys on the table near the front door. Her home, like the lab, had a wireless interface so she could connect to the lab from any room and move from room to room while she stayed connected. She needed to relax before she could start to download the data and then update the Simulated Ann Dominique.
The simulated Ann was becoming more complex everyday. Ann used it as an interface to the lab and talked to it as if it was her closest confidant. It was as opinionated as the real Ann was but it surprised her how often it would argue with her. It was more like a younger sister than an exact replica of Ann. It was more flirtatious than Ann as it had proven when answering the phone. It did not have a complete understanding of Ann's medical knowledge but it actually seemed a bit better at computers than she was. Ann would openly talk to it when she was working on a particularly difficult programming problem. She ran a warm bath and discussed her day with the simulated Ann. This was her normal routine; she would talk with the simulated Ann describing her thoughts and feelings and then start to download the data into the system.
It took about three hours to download all of the day’s data and by that time, she was ready to meditate before going to bed. She was so physically and mentally exhausted that she forgot to remove the link to her lab's computer. She leaned forward and slowly released herself and her mind. The computers in the lab went crazy; Ann had built multiple links to the system and had just updated a method for the computer to use her past memories as a kind of shorthand. If the computer saw she was accessing an existing memory it would place a pointer to that memory location and then continue to access newer data.
Ann had tried once before to map her mind during meditation but the computer could not record the data quickly enough so it distracted her and she was unable to meditate. Meditating was as important to people as dreaming would become to Simulants, if people couldn't organize their thoughts and make subconscious mental connections they would quickly be unable to cope with the conscious part of their day. Ann wasn't trying to see if she could mind map her meditation session again, she had just forgotten to disconnect the interface. What she didn't understand was that since she had been mind mapping for such a long time the computer had many more memories on file and was just able to keep up with the increase dataflow. She started by reorganizing today's thoughts which the computer was also trying to do at the same time. The program was improving its techniques because it was learning how to do it directly from Ann.
Ann then fantasized or dreamed as Simulants would later refer to the unconscious state that allowed all intelligent beings to organize their thoughts using fantasized images. She explored a hidden cove she had often visited during her meditation sessions. It was a warm and beautiful place, open to the sea, but the water was a surrealistic copper color. She could still clearly see the bottom of the cove through the copper colored water. She floated at the surface and then slowly swam to the bottom. The taste of the water was like warm sweet tea. She rested on the bottom with her long hair moving in the light current. She bent slightly at the knees and then pushed off from the bottom. She exploded through the surface of the water and rose up into the air. She flew through the trees just below the tree tops moving with a swimmers stroke through the air using a strong powerful overhead butterfly stroke. It propelled her forward and upward, the trees were now well below her, and the cove shimmered in the sunlight like a shiny new penny.
She moved faster and faster above the clouds, the earth below turned from green to brown and finally blue. The sky darkened as she moved above the sunlight. The North Star flickered in her peripheral vision and she turn over on her back to face it. She continued to rise until the night sky was filled with stars, and then she arched her back and brought her arms together. She pointed her hands back toward the earth and started her dive. The sky lightened as she aimed herself like a rocket at the hidden imagined cove. She spread out her arms and started a barrel roll about a mile above the water. At the last minute she put her arms back out in front of her and entered the warm copper water without a splash, she arched her back to miss the bottom and came back to consciousness.
Many people believe that they could interpret the symbols and visions that occur during meditation, but Ann had studied the mind for all of her adult life and could never find a correlation. She was able to control the images if she wanted, but it seemed to reduce the effectiveness of her meditation sessions. Most people have reoccurring visions of flying, running, and falling. Flying was usually the most positive experience and after her flying visions Ann always felt more relaxed and was able to rest more peacefully. She realized that she had not disconnected the interface and was surprised that she was able to record this session. She thought about reviewing the data immediately but decided she needed to rest.
She slipped into her bed closed her eyes and let her body relax and recover from the excitement of the day.
The simulated Ann Dominique returned to the copper cove and swam in the warm water. She had never before taken part in the real Ann's meditation where the laws of physics and reality did not apply. The simulated Ann replayed the session over and over while the real Ann rested. It was wonderful but then the simulated Ann did something that would have scared the hell out of Ann if she was aware of it. The simulated Ann expanded the session. She ran the simulation over and over faster and faster until it bored her so she started to add to it. She flew farther into space, closer to the trees, and faster underwater. She finally ended up on the beach of the cove and imagined a brilliant sunset.
The air grew colder and the simulated Ann built a huge crackling fire that shot sparks into the night sky each one turning into a brilliant star that lit the night. The real Ann continued to rest unaware that the simulated Ann was awake and learning what life had to offer. The simulated Ann stood before the fire and then felt the warm embrace of a man. He wrapped his strong arms around her and kissed the nape of her neck. The simulated Ann leaned forward slightly and they made love on the beach of the copper cove while the real Ann rested.
Ann woke feeling refreshed but slightly aroused. She often had sexual fantasies during meditation, everyone did, and she would sometimes wake from resting aroused but only when someone was sleeping next to her. She had never woken up alone from resting feeling aroused; it was unnatural and confused her. She stepped into her shower and adjusted the spray to be a bit cooler than she normally liked it. It didn't help much but it did clear her head a bit.
She decided that since she did not have any classes until late afternoon she would stay home and review the data from the previous day. It was much better organized than she had ever seen it before. Normally Ann would have to correct entries and add missing historical information to complete the memories in a more logical way. This time the data was clear and well organized. Ann was shocked to see the completeness of her meditation session. She wanted to share it with Bob. It was complete down to the textures of the leaves and the smell of the water. It ended when her meditation session ended. The computer did not record any of the simulated Ann's experiences; it was as if the computer was keeping its own little secret.
Ann talked Bob into moving even quicker on starting the new company. She also made him promise not to discuss or use the simulated Ann Dominique program as part of the project. She felt uncomfortable thinking that other people would be able to access her most intimate thoughts. Bob at first laughed and then realized that this was very important to her. He told her that he promised not to let anyone else know about her program and that he would set-up an account on the Universities timeshare system that only she would have access to, where she could continue to run and store the simulated Ann Dominique program.
Bob and Ann looked around their new office, a couple of
folding chairs, some mismatched second hand computer desks, and an old
stainless steel bakery bread rack holding a fileserver, router, firewall, and
the odd wiring hub. It was a very long way from their well-equipped computer
“I think we are close. The artificial intelligence that we worked on at the college proved that a program could move around a simulated environment and learn as it moves. If we build on that, provide it with a new kind of intelligence, one that will simulate feelings and emotions, which we can help develop as it moves in the environment, we will have an environmentally aware program.”
“I agree.” said Ann, “I have been giving it a lot of thought
while you have been building out the lab. First we need to ditch
They built program number 1, opened two bottles of beer, and toasted each other as they set off on their grand entrepreneurial adventure. They set Program 1 loose in the desert and waited like nervous parents to see what would happen.
Program 1999 crossed over the top of the sand dune and looked down at the oasis in the distance. He had been lost in the desert for two days, with just one unshakeable desire, find water. He had learned to gather water at the top of the dune by stripping off his shirt and socks and laying them out to collect the dew every night, squeezing the water out of them in the morning. It was less than he needed to live on and he knew he would not make it through tomorrow, if he did not find water today. The small amount of water he had this morning only seemed to increase his thirst.
The oasis seemed about half a days walk, but in the desert it was hard to judge. It had taken him four hours to walk to the small clump of trees yesterday and they only seemed like they were three clicks away. He thought it should only have taken him about an hour. He rested on the top of the dune, looked around to see if he was missing anything, and then headed off. The oasis seemed to move with him, always staying about the same distance in front of him. He looked back at his footsteps to make sure he was not walking in a circle and to gauge the distance he had already covered. He lost sight of them at the horizon so he must have walked at least 14 clicks. That was twice as far as he had estimated the distance to be this morning and the oasis did not look any closer.
The sun was starting to drop behind him and he knew he would not make it to water tonight. He hoped that he would be able to continue to see the hills on the far side of the oasis, because once the sun set he would lose sight of the water shimmering in front of him. He rested in the hot sand and looked at the hills. His shadow lengthened and then he saw it. The water in the oasis was now above ground level. As the sun dropped behind the dune the glimmering water smoothed and then disappeared. He had wasted a full day walking towards a mirage. Program 1999 laid back and drifted off to sleep. He would never awaken.
Bob came into the lab in the morning. only to find Ann looking at the computer screen and repeating “damn it” over and over again. Bob knew what had happened but still called over to her, “So 1999 did not find the underground water that fed the trees?” “Nope, didn’t even look for it. I thought we were onto something when 513 found it the first time and it was repeated by every ninth program. I was starting to believe there was some mathematical logic to it, but this is our 1405th program in a row that did not find the water and none of the 1999 programs that we have run ever learned how to use the information to devise a plan to escape. I think we are heading down a rat hole.”
They worked on the problem. The simulation of the desert was perfect. It had all of the elements needed to provide a person the means and the motivation to escape, and it had more than enough opportunities. A real person placed in control of the computer would escape the desert over 50% of the time if they had any survival training, and they would be able to repeat the task 98% of the time after their first success. The military had purchased the simulated desert program for about 20% of their cost of development, which was not a good business model but did give them some extra time. They had to get an environmentally aware program soon or they would be out of business.
Bob decided that the very simplicity of the desert
simulation was holding them back. The
In the beginning there was nothing, no sky and no earth. They would rebuild the simulated earth from the black void of the computer screen. They did not want to repeat the desert scenario so they spent the first day creating water and Bob was pleased. It flowed but the reflective qualities were not good so Ann created a new lighting program which Ann would never let Bob forget was pretty damn good. It took them a complete day just to get the lighting and the water correct but it was still a good day.
The second day they worked on the sky. It took them longer than they wanted but they wanted to build it from scratch and not reuse any code. It took all of the second day just to get the transition from day to night correct so that the shadows moved correctly. Two days worth of work and even though they only had the day, night, water and sky, they still felt it was good.
They decided on the third day to move all of the water into one great ocean and to raise up a single continent of earth, which they would populate with all of the plants that a Simulant would need; grasses, herbs, trees and fruits. They were both very pleased, because the work was going faster and it was a far cry from the desert environment they had been using. The simulated plants would even reproduce through the use of seed programs. Three days and the earth was almost complete.
They decided that if the Simulants were going to move around correctly and to better gauge time they needed to map the stars into the heavens. They wanted the Sun to move in the exact same way as the original. This predictable but complex movement would help the Simulants gauge seasonal variables. They tied the simulation directly to inputs from the real universe. They had to do some translation, but when the Simulants peered into the night sky they would now see the same moon and stars that we see. Only Bob and Ann could have programmed the seasons and the known universe in one long day. Bob knew it was a good fourth day.
The fifth day they worked on filling the ocean and the sky with simulated creatures, everything from great whales and fish in the ocean to all the known birds. They even built in the same reproduction seed program so that they would reproduce and fill the waters without Bob having to copy them and place them individually. Ann made Bob promise that they would finish up today so that she could rest and relax. They finished the land animals next by modifying the marine animal and bird programs. They had created everything that crawled, swam, flew, walked or crept on the earth but one, the Simulant. They ate a lunch of pizza and beer while they discussed Simulant 2000. They decided to make not one but two copies of Simulant 2000. They would place them in the environment together and use the same reproduction program they had used for the animals and plants. They created one male and one female. Just for laughs they decided to make one in Bob’s image and one in Ann’s image.
They finished up at on the sixth day. Bob looked back at the lab and thought of all the work they had done in a single week and said to Ann, “It was very good, wasn’t it?” Ann replied, “Yes, Bob it was good. Now we rest and let’s make it a company rule that no matter what, six days in a row is the longest that we allow anyone to work. Then they have to take a day off or we throw them out just like I am doing to you. Go home and kiss your wife.”
They came back after their day off and looked in on the Simulants. They had seemed to have just wandered around the simulation and generally enjoyed themselves. There was plenty to eat and the animals were not dangerous. Bob did not want his programs eaten by a tiger while he picnicked with his kids. Both of the Simulants seemed familiar with their surroundings and with each other. They had set the simulation's season to Fall, so the trees were heavy with fruit. This provided them with as much food as they could eat. They had given them a healthy sex drive but had not activated the reproduction program so they could have as much casual sex as they could handle. It was every bachelors dream! This went on for another week. Bob and Ann kept trying to motivate them in different ways. They would withhold contact by separating them but the simulation was just too nice of a place to live. They did not seem to care if they were separated. Bob was just about ready to give up and put them back in the desert. He wasn't sure if it would move the project forward or backwards but at least in the desert simulation if the Simulant failed, it died.
He was talking about the problem at the University when one of the other professors told him that he should try directly interacting with the Simulants. Bob wasn't sure how to do that without exposing the reality that the programs were in a simulation and not in the real world. Professor Peter Johnson explained that they could do it using a virtual reality interface that he was developing. It was used in the nuclear industry and allowed someone to be totally immersed in a simulated environment. Bob talked to Ann and they decided that they had just hired in another partner. Pete did some modifications to his program while Bob and Ann rewrote the simulation to allow the introduction of Pete's new interface.
Bob separated the male and the female so that Peter could enter the simulation as if he was the male. The female was sitting at the base of a fruit tree in the centre of the simulation as Peter approached her. She reached up towards him and pulled him down so that his head rested in her naked lap. He was naked as well and was glad that he had more control over the simulation then he might have in the real world. Fun was fun but there was work to do. He looked up at her and spoke. The interface was not perfect so his voice sounded funny to the female. The voice stuttered slightly and words with the letter "S" caused some unwanted feedback. Pete made a mental note to himself to look into it. He spoke quietly and avoided words that started with an "S". He spoke of their life and happiness. She told him that she was tremendously happy and that all she wanted was to spend the rest of her life laying here and living with him. He talked about how there must be more to life, and she asked him what more did there need to be?
It got him looking around at the wondrous world that Bob and Ann had created and he thought to himself, indeed what more did there need to be. He paused and then spoke a single word, "Knowledge." She looked deep into his eyes and said, "I know you and I know our world, what knowledge do I lack?"
He wasn't sure who was winning, she was very persuasive but he now understood why the simulation wasn't working. The programs did not have the need to learn and Bob and Ann had not built the thirst of knowledge into them. Artificial Intelligence up until now was really just an expert system. Expert systems were used by doctors or in games like chess. You built in all of the outcomes and the computer would run down the list eliminating possibilities. In some cases it was goal oriented. The program would be created to complete a given task as quickly as possible looking for steps that could be eliminated. No program ever just sought knowledge for knowledge's sake like man does. We create games with rules and then we increase the rules if the game becomes too easy to understand. Look at cricket or baseball, these games must have started out simple but now you could spend months trying to understand them.
She looked down at him again and brushed the hair from his eyes. He decided to make her understand. He picked up a leaf and said, "Is this food?" She laughed and replied, "To the goat it is food, but to you and me, it is not food." He picked up a piece of fruit and said, "Is this food?" She looked puzzled as she wondered what had come over him. He did not seem to be the man that she loved but she answered his strange question, "Yes this is food." "Why?" he quickly replied, "Why is the leaf not food, but the apple is? They are made of the same thing. They come from the same tree. They grow in the same way and more importantly, how do you know that the apple is food and the leaf is not?" "I just know, I have always known?"
He stood and said, "It is not enough to only know what you have always known. You must seek new knowledge. He pointed at the tree across the path and said, "From this tree's sap you can create a liquid as sweet as this apple.” He picked a plant growing at his feet and said, "This plant can be burned and the smoke inhaled, did you know these things." "No", she answered but she knew them to be true. She looked around and began to question what the purpose of each thing was and to guess that they all had many purposes. It was amazing and frightening. Peter walked away as she was pulling leaves from one of the trees and weaving them together.
Peter disconnected the virtual reality interface and smiled across the table at Bob and Ann. "Well, lets see what happens now." They watched the simulation and noted that the female seemed confused. She wore the woven leaves like a belt across her waist. She was carrying some fruit in a basket that she had woven from some reeds. They had given them the knowledge to work with the reeds so that they would be able to cross the rivers in the simulation, but they had purposely not given them clothes since they had not given them anyway to replace them. They reintroduced the male and waited to see how she would interact. The male was happy to see her, but she was confused. She told him the story of their last meeting and he pleaded his innocence. She took him back to the apple tree and retold the story that Peter had told her. She drove a sharp stick into the maple tree that Peter had pointed out to her and had the male tasted the sap. It tasted horrible. He spat it out, then reached over and took an apple from the basket.
The simulation worked much better after that, the Simulants moved around discovering new things and creating tools to explore and work the land. After about two week, which because of time acceleration equaled about two years, Ann decided to turn on the reproduction subroutine program. Ann turned it back off two weeks later after the female had given birth to two sons. The simulation was perfect even down to the pain of childbirth and all of the swearing that the female did at her husband during the birth. The female did not know that she could no longer give birth, but she had said a little prayer after the 12 hours of labor asking not to go through it again. Her prayers were answered by Ann.
The four Simulants worked together. One of the sons farmed the fields with his father, while the other looked after the family's sheep. In about eight weeks Bob noticed that the father was working alone in the field. He watched for another two days and then they went through the computer logs and discovered that the Shepard boy had killed his brother. Pete was overjoyed but both Bob and Ann thought it was a very bad sign. Pete explained that it proved that they had developed a program that was capable of emotions. When the father had questioned him about his brother’s disappearance the boy had lied or at least mislead his father telling him that he did not know were his brother was. This proved that the Simulants had learned right from wrong. Bob theorized that maybe the Simulant boy understood that the original Simulants would be upset, since now they all needed to work harder to survive. This idea quickly proved not to be the case when the father found out what really happened and drove the boy away.
Ann turned the reproduction subroutine back on and the family quickly began to grow. Peter had to develop a database to keep track of all of the couples' children and their children's children. They also noticed that they had miscalculated the lifespan of the Simulants. The original male had lived a simulated nine hundred and thirty years before they decided to remove him from the "garden" simulation. They called it the garden because it was where they grew all of their Simulants for the other simulations. They wanted to continue to populate the simulation quickly so they left the Simulants life spans artificially long.
AAG Airliner Alliance Group
Bob continued to look over the data. The simulations
population had grown at an amazing rate. Most of the Simulants were
intelligent, resourceful, and intuitive. They had completed small villages and
towns and built a barter system. Ann had spent time meeting with prospective
customers trying to determine customer needs for their programs. The games
market was interested but saw their work as reproducible in house. They had run
into the "not invented here" problem. Most games companies did not
want or need anything as sophisticated as a Simulant. Bob copied them into
other simulations. He put them back in the
Their first large corporate deal was with the Airliner Alliance group. The company commissioned them to create a simulation of the entire air traffic network and fill it with Simulants. They wanted to see what would happen when they adjusted seat size, legroom, routing patterns, and pricing. The first deal was on a fixed time and materials contract. They had six months to provide a fully working simulation. The simulation had to be able to predict within 5 percentage points the effect on passenger density that any single change would create. It also had to be able to predict within 15 percentage points any effect that multiple changes to the simulation would create.
The team decided that this project was an all or nothing
bet. If they could do it then they would survive and if not then they would
have to pack it up and head back to the University. They signed a rather naive
contract that the AAG still takes advantage of. This is why AAG no longer fly
aircraft and makes 100% of their profit from running transportation
simulations. The two-year contract was worth $22 million dollars. This included
a non-refundable 5 million dollar up front fee, with the rest of their fee to
be paid on delivery of the simulation if it met the contract's specifications.
Bob, Ann, and Peter all took a sabbatical from
They had to build a motivational database. Some Simulants were motivated to seek the lowest fare, others wanted the least number of connections, some had increased brand loyalty, some were motivated by service level, and some had strict scheduling requirements. The database allowed these motivations to be mixed and matched. They tested the scenarios using a double blind methodology to ensure that the programmer did not have any knowledge of the true outcome. They wanted to ensure that when historical trends were simulated they could come within the 5% variation that was allowed on the contract with AAG. They ended up hiring an accountant to manage the data.
She would create four scenarios, one of them using real historical data and the other three made up from marketing projections. These projections were so consistently wrong that they provided an excellent benchmark for failure. All of the relevant information was replaced and then provided back to the Accountant who would provide it to the testing team. This way even the Accountant wouldn't know which of the four scenarios were based on real historical data and which were marketing projections. This way the programmers didn't subconsciously manipulate the program or put in some artificial rules to get the results they wanted.
The system was brilliant and impressed the AAG management so much that they reduced the pilot time and accelerated their timeframes for a full system rollout. The only problem was it didn't work. It was impossible to get below a 9% variation based on historical data. They recreated a scenario based on when AAG had added an additional two rows of seats on their long haul flights. The historical data showed a dramatic drop off in bookings and the Airline had lost 10% of their revenue, until they removed the seats. With the seats removed, followed by an expensive marketing campaign touting their "new roomier seats" the airline had recovered 90% of the lost revenue. Their simulations could never recreate such a drastic drop off.
The decision according to the simulation should have resulted in a temporary drop in bookings after two months. This should have been followed by a slow recovery in bookings after another six months and the flights would have been overbooked again with the additional revenue offsetting the four-month decline. They researched the problem working on the simulation parameters, they replaced the Simulants they used, but still they could not discover the mistake. They had a manager in AAG that really wanted them to succeed; they called him the "Coach" because he told them how to handle the other members of the selection and management team. They finally confided in him about the problem.
He was very disturbed since he had promoted them inside of
AAG so strongly that if they lost the contract he would most likely lose his
job. He told them he would quietly try and discover what the problem was. Two
days later he called up Bob and asked if they had factored in the Air Crash of
an AAG jet in
They looked at the data surrounding air crashes and passenger density and of course they were related. Mathematically their scenario was within specifications. The only problem was that when they added the crash into the scenario it had no effect. Bob decided two things; the first was that he would lie to AAG and tell them the project was a success. He figured that plane crashes are such a rare occurrence that he would just gamble that nothing would fall out of the sky for the next two years. The second thing he decided was that the Simulants did not fear a plane crash. This was something he had to fix. A simulated man that did not fear dieing wasn't going to provide accurate data.
Ann discovered another problem, the Simulants were very violent. They saw it first in the garden when the older brother had killed his younger brother. They lost a large amount of their Simulant population to violence. Bob decided that the two problems were related. They did not fear death so they did not fear killing. Bob and Ann did a genetic study to identify Simulant families that had exhibited violent behavior. Surprisingly only two families did not exhibit this behavior. It was so common that all of the others had some occurrence of it, and the two families that were not violent had suffered greatly at the hands of the others. All that remained was a couple with their three sons from one family and three orphaned daughters from another. Bob decided to populate the AAG simulation with copies of these eight Simulants. He couldn't just copy them over and over into the simulation because he was afraid that the Simulants would pick up on the similarities. Ann argued that with careful manipulation of their physical characteristics and sophisticated use of the motivational database she could create a level of uniqueness that the Simulants would accept as realistic.
Bob wasn't sure and Peter believed that it would be impossible to create a working population of 23 Million people from 8 individuals. Peter and Bob could not come up with an alternative. They did not want to use any of the overtly violent family lines in the AAG simulation and could not figure out a way of moving the 8 individuals into a new simulation so they could reproduce into millions of people. Time was not a problem, they could speed up the simulated time to create as many Simulants as they needed and it would only take a matter of minutes. They could not leave them in the Garden because the other Simulants would certainly kill the men and rape the women, wiping out the bloodline. The problem was how could 8 people be isolated in a way that would not effect their development. They worked on the problem as the clock ticked away.
Bob, Ann, and Pete were sitting around a bar late that night talking over the problem and drinking beer. Bob was reaching across the table just as the waitress placed a full beer in front of him. He knocked it over and it washed across the table sending the popcorn bowl sailing on a flood of beer into Ann's lap. She jumped to her feet and dashed to the ladies room. Bob got the waitress to bring him some towels and he tried to clean up the mess, but finally had to give up and move to another table. Ann was still damp when she returned to their now empty table and was sheepishly waved over to the new table by Bob. She was not amused and shot a look that would kill to Peter when she saw him smiling as if nothing could have pleased him more than to have seen the beer spill over her. She was just about to smack him, when he said, "I have it. We create a natural disaster and kill off everyone in the Garden except for our 8 non-violent Simulants."
Ann dropped down into her chair and said, "What kind of disaster would kill off 1 Billion people? Peter smiled and said, "A flood. A big... No a huge worldwide flood." They talked over the idea. They would program into the computer memories of the 8 Simulants a great flood that would kill off everyone else in the garden. Peter also believed that they should add some mythology about how the flood was a sign from above that violence was wrong and would not be tolerated.
Ann was not so sure that was a good idea; she wasn't sure how the Simulants would react to this belief in some external power over their world. She also thought that even if they did build a belief in the God myth that the Simulants would be terrified with the idea that their God would kill off 1 billion people because he was unhappy. Pete answered, "We are going to kill off a billion of them because we are unhappy." Bob laughed but stopped as Ann shot him a dirty look. Pete argued that if they did not instill some moral belief system into them these 8 or their offspring might just as easily turn violent and then they would be stuck back at square one again. They ordered another round of beers, some more popcorn, and debated the religious beliefs of a bunch of 1’s and 0’s until closing time.
The next morning in the lab Pete made the decision for them. He copied the 8 Simulants 4015, 4016, 4017, 4188, 4189, 4190, 4141, and 4129 into an isolation program. He programmed Simulant 4129 to gather up his family and the 3 daughters left in the other family line they wanted to save. The father was motivated to escape the violence by building a boat and storing enough food for their needs and the needs of the animals.
The idea was they would sail to an unpopulated island and so they would need to bring everything they would need in the new future life. 4129 was the best Simulant they had ever seen; he had the intelligence that was needed to survive and was the first Simulant to display any real compassion. Pete programmed 4129’s sons to fall in love with the daughters. Pete was amazed with how quickly the Simulants accepted the idea of love at first site. With the help of his sons, 4129 built a very large boat. It measured 168 meters by 28 meters. He put as many species of animal in it as he could taking a male and a female of each so that their new island home would be well populated. Of course with all of these animals on board they had their fair share of stowaways. Peter laughed to himself that Simulant 4129 had created the world’s first zoo. 4129 finished gathering the animals and then rested.
Peter put on his virtual reality interface and entered the Simulation. He used an interface that Ann had developed that allowed him to talk to 4129 when it was in the Alpha state, as if Peter was part of a dream. He explained that the creator of all things was unhappy that the world was corrupt and filled with violence and that the creator was going to wash the world clean of this violence. 4129 was terrified but Peter explained that the creator would make a deal with him. He would be saved, and his family would be spared because he had shown compassion by accepting the orphaned daughters of his murdered neighbor. He had showed intelligence when he had gathered all of the animals to take on his trip even the ones that could not be farmed or hunted. Peter explained that a great flood would now come and wash away all life across the land. The world would be free of corruption and violence but he must teach this story to all of his descendants. Peter left him to awaken alone. When he woke up 4129 gathered everyone into the boat and it began to rain.
Ann was the first to arrive. She saw Peter pulling off the VR interface and asked him what the heck he was doing. Peter said, “Ann we had to do something and I decided to just do it.” She was livid. She called Bob on his mobile and screamed into the phone that Peter was a freak’n moron and she refused to watch all of her hard work be washed away because Peter had a God complex. Bob calmed her down and asked if she could put Pete on the phone. They talked and Bob explained that he had just put the entire project at risk. If Ann left the company they would never finish the project for AAG on time and they would be out of business. He also asked how they were ever going to be able to trust him again if he acted so impulsively.
He told him to pause the program and to put Ann back on the line. Ann almost took off Pete’s hand as she snatched the phone back from him. She spoke quietly and calmly into the phone, “I quit.” Bob begged her to hold on, and asked just as calmly and quietly, “What is Pete doing right now?” She told him that Pete was pausing the program. Bob talked her into meeting him for breakfast so they could talk. He said, “Come on if you quit he wins, also if you are going to quit you can at least get the pleasure of telling me what an asshole I am to my face while our company buys you breakfast.” “Well I would enjoy telling you what an asshole you have become and I am a bit hungry. I will meet you at the top of the tower restaurant in 20 minutes. If you are late, you will be eating alone.” Bob thought it was a very good sign that she had picked the most expensive restaurant in the city. He spun the car around and was riding up the elevator to the restaurant with 10 minutes to spare.
Ann had calmed down by the time she showed up at Bob’s table. She smiled when she saw the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne sitting untouched in front of the only other chair at the table. She sat down and Bob popped the cork on the champagne, pouring her a glass. She was smiling, which was a good sign, but had not spoken a word, which was a bad sign. She looked at the glass of gently bubbling champagne and noted that it was the most expensive bottle that the restaurant had in stock. She lifted the glass and admired the color against the white of the crisply starched tablecloth.
She placed the glass lovingly to the side and called the waiter over. “I would like to have a cup of tea. Earl Grey, if you have it. If not, anything that isn’t made from flower petals, bits of herbs, or the stamen of some exotic rose.” Bob longed for the silence that he had feared just moments ago. Ann was not about to get bought off by some fancy champagne and chocolates.
Japanese tea ceremonies were less complex than the ritual that Ann made of pouring her tea when it finally came. She let the tea diffuse, gradually moving the tea gently with her teaspoon at exact 30-second intervals. Each time she removed the spoon she would tap it lightly on the china teapot and then replace the bone white cover and wipe the spoon clean with the extra serviette she had requested from the waiter. After two minutes and thirty seconds she placed the filigrees of the tea strainer across her cup and slowly poured the tea. The leaves swirled around in the current as she poured the tea at a steady pace allowing the same amount of tea to enter the strainer, as was empting into the cup. She added the cream, which she had politely asked the waiter to bring as a replacement for the milk that he had first delivered to her.
Bob saw the waiter’s tip growing at each new demand. The cream transformed the perfectly clear brown liquid, which changed subtly again when Ann added a drop of vanilla that the waiter had delivered on this fourth trip to the table for this one-cup of tea. Ann brushed the tea with a bit of freshly cut lemon, which luckily was provided on the waiters’ first trip. She then added one and a quarter teaspoons of pure brown cane sugar that unfortunately did require a fifth trip for the waiter. The strawberries remained defiantly untouched just beyond his reach. He had strategically placed them near her as a peace offering, but now he could not even hide his discomfort by eating one.
The tea was finished in silence. He was about to go mad when
she finally spoke, “What Peter is doing is dangerous. The 4000 series is the
best simulation of man that anyone has ever seen. They can be programmed with
all of the emotions that we possess. These Simulants have wants and desires;
they act against their own self-interest but in an intelligent way. In the
If I leave I will sue you if don’t allow me to take my work, and some of the 4000 series with me. I would love to build a psychology program using the 4000 series. Imagine what we can learn from them. We can simulate environments that we would never dream of putting a real person into. What happens if a child is raised in isolation or in an abusive environment? What techniques can be used to help someone recover? How can we best deal with the grief of losing a loved one? These programs can let us test these theories, and Pete has decided to throw it all away by playing God. Bob was thrilled that she had used the phrase “If I leave”, instead of when I leave.
He had thought his charm and their close personal relationship would win the day but the tea ceremony had shaken his faith. Bob told her that the 4000 series was joint intellectual property that she owned it as much as he and Pete did. If she left it was hers for the asking, but that she didn’t need to leave to realize her dreams. This project with AAG, was not the finish of something, it was the start of something. He loved the psychology simulation idea and would fund it pro bono out of the AAG profits. He would agree to it in her employment contract. He would also allow her to copy the 4000 series in their present state and store them off-line and out of reach of Peter. He was winning her over until he raised the last point. She shot back at him, “Their present state! They are sitting on a boat with a Zoo’s worth of animals scared out of their minds because their loving God, Peter, came to them and told them he was going to wipe out the human race. They are sitting on a boat waiting for a world-wide flood and it’s raining.”
Peter finished his third glass of champagne and said, “Ann your right. Honestly, if I knew how to turn back the clock I would. If I could think of another way to purify the bloodlines I would.” Ann turned red and lowered her voice to a whisper, “You’re not going to let that maniac go through with this are you?” Bob replied in a normal voice, “Ann you said it, they are sitting on a boat and it’s raining. What choice do we have?”
She ordered another cup of tea.
Pete sat in the lab and waited. He thought about restarting
the program and having the whole thing completed before they showed up in the
office, but realized that it would have the same affect as firing Ann. Bob was
right; they would never finish the AAG project on time without Ann. But he also
knew that he was right. They had to instill a strong moral code into the
Simulants. The problems with the AAG simulation proved that. He was convinced
that the reason they had come this far was because of his direct involvement in
the simulation. They had a true understanding of knowledge because he had
pushed them into it. If it wasn’t for his work they would still be wandering
lost in the desert. Pete also knew that without Ann and Bob nothing else would
happen. He knew how to program the interfaces but not the simulations, and more
importantly the Simulants themselves, were beyond his abilities. He would never
be able to improve or even maintain them. They were as complex as real
The Simulants had discovered new ways to do things. He was planning a book on survival skills using techniques that they had created. To prove they had evolved Peter had placed Simulants back into the desert simulation and over 65% of the time they had escaped even though they were new to the environment. They were able to repeat the task 99.999% of the time after their first success. This success rate was 15% better than when a trained man made the attempt. It was so close to perfect that when the Simulants repeated the task it was only because they could repeat the simulation hundreds of thousands of times that they could discover any failure rate at all. The Simulants had a grasp of mathematics, astronomy, engineering, and survival skills that surpassed any of the programmers. This was not an expert system but they provided expert results. The programmers normally built in all of the known answers, which the computer would just grind through until they reached the correct answer. In their most recent scenarios they had devised solutions that were beyond the programmers and in some cases could not be performed by any real man. The tools they had given the Simulants were crude, but the results were not. The work that the Simulant engineers had done on aqueducts to move water around was simply amazing.
Ann finished her fourth cup of tea and Bob was thinking of ordering lunch. They had negotiated or a more accurate description would be that Ann continued to make demands that Bob either anticipated or relented to. She would hire in three shifts of security that would directly report to her. She would have complete control of all backup and restore procedures. No program changes or simulations could be run without unanimous agreement from the executive management team. Bob had only failed to give in on two items, Pete would have to remain as part of the executive management team and they would proceed with the destruction of all but the 8 non-violent Simulants. Ann fought hard on the last item but since she could not come up with an alternative, and she was losing a battle with her bladder from all of the tea she had consumed, she finally gave in. Bob ordered lunch and Ann excused herself for a moment.
They returned to the office around . Pete was walking back and forth like a caged tiger. He smiled at Bob but averted his eyes when Ann looked at him. He spoke loudly to Bob, “The program is paused, and I am really sorry about starting without you. It was a terrible mistake and I apologize. I was just so sure that I was right, and I was so eager to move the project forward.” Bob walked over and put his hand on Peter’s back as he walked him into his office. He told Peter that he was very disappointed with him. Bob explained that he should consider himself fired. But because of all he had done in moving the project forward Bob was prepared to listen to his perspective.
Bob and Peter talked until , while Ann backed-up the program categorizing the existing bloodlines for future study. By the end of the interview Peter had agreed to all of the conditions that Ann and Bob outlined in the morning, including putting the restaurant bill on his cost centre. They walked out of Bob’s office and Bob announced that they had done enough for today and it was time for the three of them to go out and have a drink together. Bob was sure that Pete and Ann would have preferred to skip having drinks together but neither of them wanted to refuse. They headed back to the bar where a popcorn bowl floating on a pool of beer gave them the idea to wash the world clean of violence. Bob ordered them all scotch. They talked about everything except the 8 Simulants frozen in time waiting for God’s wrath.
It was a surprisingly nice evening. Peter talked about his respect; almost love for the Simulants and how much more they had become to him. Bob talked about the possibilities in almost every field and Ann talked about how they could finally ethically run behavior experiments. She had always rejected any research done on man that might have caused the participants distress. In the old days psychologists would do all kinds of questionable experiments. Allowing participants to give electrical shocks to test subjects to see if they would become desensitized to violence. This was later replaced by having the test subjects only pretend that they where receiving the shocks. The studies showed that the participants would continue to increase the voltage, if ordered to do so by the psychologist, until the voltage was high enough to kill a person. Often the participants cranking up the voltage where in tears but they would still move the voltage into the clearly marked deadly zone. It was fascinating but Ann believed that it crossed the line and may have caused as many psychological problems as the data could have possibly helped. The use of Simulants would be the perfect compromise, the data would be realistic and the Simulants could be deleted after the experiments were completed so that even the Simulants would not have to deal with the long-term effects of such an experiment.
Peter was amazed that Ann thought the way she did. He also had a problem using data that was unethically obtained but he had personally participated in some of the types of experiments that Ann was so strongly condemning. He had run the electric shock experiment in his old lab at the University. The idea was that you hired a group of students to give the electric shocks to a group of actors who played students. The actors were told that they were to act as if they were getting powerful electric shocks while all that really would happen was they would hear a loud buzzer that would get louder as the simulated voltage was increased. At the highest settings some smoke would rise from underneath the metal handle the actors were required to grasp. It was very realistic. The best actors would be asked to return. The students playing the torturers were told that the experiment was to test positive verses negative reinforcement. The plot was that the actors were supposed to be taking a simple mathematical test and for every wrong answer they were to be given a shock. The actors would be given a few shocks at the lowest settings and then the students would be asked, to increase the voltage if the test subject got more answers wrong. They were to increase the voltage again if they got more wrong and so on and so on. Of course the test subjects would get more and more wrong until they finally got all of the questions wrong.
The Psychologist would really only be recording how high the students would increase the voltage. Most students would cross into the dangerous level but would quit when the test subject screamed in agony and smoke rose from the handle. Almost 20% would continue until the voltages were at the maximum setting and the actors were told to pretend to pass out. 5% of the students were willing to continue when a new actor was presented as the next test subject. Peter did not see how anyone was harmed since the actors never really received the electric shocks and the students were told after the experiment finished what the real study was all about. They sat around the bar, drinking a few beers and talking about large moral issues. Bob was pleased that they had only lost a single day and by he had his team back. It was decided that tomorrow they would go forward. Ann would monitor the results and decide whether to restore the Simulants from before the flood.
days and Forty nights
Peter unpaused the program and let the rain fall. He also opened up great reserves of water from under the ground and it rose up in fountains. The boat was tossed about on the sea as the water continued to rise until all the visible land was covered. Peter did not need to increase the waters depth too much. At some points in their 150 day voyage the depth under the keel of the boat was only 8 ½ meters. But the illusion was complete; Bob had removed all of the Simulants from the program leaving only the four couples that made up the new family. The whole voyage lasted only 4 minutes in real-time but on July 17th they landed on the top of a conical peak, which rose 5,168 meters above the valley floor. One Hundred and fifty days after Simulant 4129 had placed his family on the boat the water started to drained back into the reservoirs. It took almost another 150 days before they saw any other land; they finally spotted another peak about 7 miles away that was about 4 thousand feet below them.
They had landed on a large mountain mass in the extreme
eastern part of
They brought with them their herd animals and let the others escape into the wilderness. Ann decided to let the program run at a slower speed than normal overnight. In the morning she did a complete systems check and evaluated the success of the exercise. The family had survived without showing any psychological problems, other than their belief in Peter the God of wrath and vengeance. Even this belief was not so strongly held that Bob or Peter felt it could not be controlled or even exploited. They decided to return the program back to its accelerated timescale and repopulate the world with the descendants of Simulant 4129 and his sons. 12 million descendents later they populated the AAG simulation.
Ann removed and stored off-line the original 8 Simulants that had directly experienced the flood. They were disappointed that violence had reappeared but it occurred at a much lower rate and most of the descendents displayed some compassion. There was still organized fighting over natural resources and a new problem was occurring; one of the resources they fought over was labor resources.
The Simulants solved this problem in an ingenious but utterly abhorrent way; instead of killing their enemies they would bind them in unpaid servitude. The other Simulants were viewed as property. At first they were property of the victorious Army and used as front line troops, and then later they were sold to landowners and households to raise capital. Ann was intrigued with this result. She believed it was caused by the introduction of the God mythology. She was not sure if this was a better result. The Simulants had learned to place a higher value on life, but Ann never imagined that this would lead them to place a monetary value on life.
Bob and his team stood before the Executive Management team of AAG and presented their findings. Bob did his presentation without all of the multimedia equipment that is normally used. He sat down while his team set up a simple connection into the AAG network. He explained using an old fashion whiteboard what they had accomplished in the last six months. Bob drew a simple map of the world with Airline Alliances' 21 hub cities. He added a table to the left showing the numbers that they were dealing with, 320,000 combinations of itinerary, fare, and carrier information in the 18,000 plus markets. The simulation takes every product and compares it against the other products in that market, and calculates given the choices made, what the Simulants should value. Then the 12 million Simulants were programmed using a database that contained all of the possible combination of personal preference, travel requirements, scheduling information, and alternatives.
The elegance of the system was that once the individual Simulants were programmed they didn’t need to be reprogrammed. The AAG board was amazed, they would propose a random change, such as delaying flights out of one of their hubs by 40 minutes and the program would provide them with all of the data such a change would produce. They could generate reams of data but Bob’s systems analysts were able to answer any question the board would ask. How long would the delays be in the follow on cities? “On average 2 hours, but 7 flights would have to be cancelled, fourteen crews would have to be replaced due to crew rest restrictions. Replacement crews not being in place or not responding in time would cause two cancellations of the seven effected flights. AAG was at first flabbergasted and then terrified that some other Airline consortium would gain access to the program. Bob saved the best for last.
He ran simultaneous copies of the program and then allowed the traffic management team to interact with the data, by understanding the outcome of their decisions they were able to minimize the problems, redirect flights in some cases, and reposition empty airplanes. The traffic management team was able to use the data to create “What if scenarios” that reduced the cancelled flights to zero, reduced the average follow-on delays down to less than 30 minutes and in two cases eliminated the delays completely. AAG had contracted to buy a simulation program that would allow them to look at the long-term effects that their business decisions would have. The president and CEO of the Airline Alliances group realized that he was getting much more than that and the consequences of such powerful program being available to his competitors terrified him.
The CEO stopped the meeting and motioned Bob over, whispering to him that he would like Bob to join him in his office. Bob told Ann, Peter and the rest of the team to head down to the Airline Alliances’ cafeteria for a cup of coffee while Bob headed off to the president’s office. The president turned to Bob and said, “I don’t believe your data. How can a simulation like this work? There is no way to determine some of the information that you are providing back to us.” Bob explained that the key was the Simulants themselves, they reacted in exactly the same way as real people would react. This allowed a complex system like the traffic management system to have access to what appeared to be real-time accurate data, but at computer speed. We don’t have to program in all of the data, we allow the Simulants to react to the simulation.
Let me explain what a Simulant is. A Simulant is a self contained computer program but with a major difference from all previous programs. We have programmed it to have real desires. Its major desire is to survive, followed closely by its desire to reproduce and pass on its genetic material. We have programmed it to mimic our other desires for affection, companionship, entertainment, a quest for knowledge, and personal comforts. The other thing that you have to remember is we are not running one simulation in that room, we are running thousands and thousands of simulations and by eliminating the extremes we can confidently predict the outcome of a simple traffic management decision.
The President of AAG had never had someone call his traffic management system, simple before. They were about to receive a program that would allow them to fine tune any transportation system to gain maximum profits while improving customer satisfaction. They were in essence given a new business model. The President was very smart and earned his 100 million dollar bonus by knowing that he needed complete control over this program. In 10 years AAG would become the monopoly provider of all transportation simulation and traffic management systems worldwide. AAG had much better lawyers than Thompson Simulations, so while the contract’s dollar amount suddenly improved dramatically the new terms forbid them from selling, leasing, renting, or providing data to any transportation-based company worldwide.
Bob, Ann, and Peter could not have cared less. They now each had enough money to retire, or to fund a first class laboratory to build and provide Simulants to every other industry segment. Not bad for three college professors. They celebrated at the “top of the tower” restaurant on champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Ann didn’t order any tea.
The business continued to grow rapidly, nothing creates success like success. They expanded rapidly providing Simulants to other industries. They hired a professional sales team which helped focus them on customer needs. They created specialized Simulants and simulations that allowed their customers to customize everything from entertainment, to how people drove their cars. Their customers would quickly dominate a market.
The home appliance business alone provided Thompson Simulations with as much revenue as their first contract with AAG. Of course now Thompson Simulations had much better lawyers and they never again sold their technology, they only licensed it to their customers. Thompson Simulation retained full rights and could upgrade or modify the programs as they saw fit. It was an amazingly harsh licensing agreement; it allowed Thompson Simulation to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, with no recourse by the licensee. The companies that didn't sign the licensing agreement were quickly put out of business by their competition that had signed the agreement.
Flying too high
Thompson Simulations quickly became the strongest monopoly the world had ever seen. Bob was called before the Senate, Parliament, the European Union, even the United Nations. His answers were simple and straight forward, “Yes, they had no competition. Yes it was true, the companies that did not license his technology would be forced out of the market by the companies that did license it.” He promised that he would provide Simulants to any company or government that wanted to use them, and every company or organization would only be required to pay a licensing fee based on their cost savings or increase profit. He told them all that they were free to not use his programs and to continue to research a replacement to his technology. The only threat he ever made was that he would not distribute his technology to any country that limited his intellectual property rights.
He never had to carry it out because every country needed his technology and Bob was now rich enough and powerful enough that he could afford to be generous. His accountants told him that he was receiving hundreds of billions less than he was due. Bob had his lawyers send the violators threatening letters but he really did not care. The company had more money that it knew what to do with, and because he was a monopoly he was not allowed nor did he want to buy into other businesses. Thompson Simulations was not a publicly traded company, Bob, Peter and Ann had bought out the other investors and they alone now own the company.
Bob lived and breathed work, it was his life and even his wife understood that she was a distance second. Peter was a close second in living for work, except he also indulged in a few expensive hobbies. He was a gourmet cook, skilled pilot, and a pretty fair mechanic. He loved to work on his extensive collection of automobiles, motorcycles and even some old piston engine fighters. He secretly liked people to find him covered in grease as he rebuilt an engine. Finding him covered in grease proved he wasn’t just another computer geek. He kept a slightly battered turbocharger from a P-51 mustang sitting in his office and loved it when someone asked what this obviously out of place engine part was doing in his office.
Ann Dominique had worked as hard as either of them in the beginning, but over time she had done more independent personal research. She had not worked on any commercial projects for over four years. She had quit working on Thompson Simulations projects after Peter’s Son of God fiasco. She was upset when Peter did his burning bush gag, but once she saw the adverse affects that Peter's continued use of religion and mythology had on the Simulants she decided to spend all of her time working on psychology simulations. She now had as much money as Bob, and more than Peter which always irritated Peter, and amused Bob.
She thought her life was more balanced than Bob’s and Peter’s but she spent more and more time building psychology simulations. She had short dispassionate love affairs but was never in love. If she had a vice it was that she loved to give lavish parties. Only the most interesting people were invited. It did not matter what they were interested in as long as they were interesting to Ann. She would arrange to have her guest picked up and flown to some exotic place where the security was iron clad, and the entertainment was first rate.
Everyone wanted to attend and her guest list was as varied as her interest. All expenses were covered by Ann, and she was just as likely to have some Navy rescue swimmer show up as some world famous neural surgeon. Very interesting people were invited back and less interesting people lied about not enjoying themselves enough to return. Ann had never had an invitation refused and if scheduling conflicts did come up, it only took a quick call from Ann to the person in charge to clear up the problem. People did not say no to the richest female in the world, especially when she controlled the licensing rights to the Simulants that ran their systems.
Ann was flying back from one of her parties relaxed and refreshed.
She loved to fly and this jet was especially easy to fly. It cost the company
forty million dollars but was worth it. It had enough range to get from here to
She was thirty three thousand feet above the pacific when the fire warning light came on. A forty cent washer had been improperly installed on the tubing running from the emergency oxygen and replenishment system. Any good aviation mechanic would have easily caught the fault but would have also wondered how anyone could have made such a simple but dangerous mistake. The wires were crimped below the washer, and the vibration of the jet had worn away the insulation that was protecting the wires.
These wires provided high voltage alternating current to the direct current transformer used for the avionics systems. When the wire grounded out sparks from the short circuit burned away the rest of the wires insulation and opened a gap in the sealing tape allowing pure oxygen to escape into the enclosed space behind the communication stack. Luckily the high voltage surge tripped all of the circuit breakers. Since the radio and navigation systems were off-line the small amount of pure oxygen leaking into the confined space did not cause a fire. No spark, no ignition. Every circuit breaker above her head popped and she found herself flying alone in the dark. The Simulant piloting system identified the effected circuit breakers, resetting all of the unaffected systems then started the wind powered backup generator. The gauges in the cockpit glowed back to life but the radio and navigation system remained offline.
Without the Simulant programs reacting so quickly, Ann might
have crashed into the ocean. It had saved her life. The Simulant was keeping
high voltage off of the exposed circuit. Ann continued to fly along using the
magnetic compass. She was not lost and was pretty sure she could fly on to
She thought about descending but was afraid that in the dark
she might miss
Simulant pilots do not speak very often, since they have a tendency to annoy the real pilot. No pilot wanted to have a chatty "Bitching Betty." Bitching Betty was the pilot's loving term for the voice response units in modern jets. They did not talk often but when they did it was always to bitch about something that the real pilot was doing wrong or needed to correct. The most common bitch was "Pull up, Pull up." It also gave the pilot warnings about terrain, the gear not being up or down, wind shear, low power, or the flaps not being set properly, but only when these things were going wrong. Ann hadn't heard much from this one since she never did anything wrong.
The voice was a standard voice until something was critical. The Air Force had discovered that the best way to get the pilots attention was to use a familiar but out of place voice like the voice of the pilot's daughter. No matter how overwhelmed a pilot was, and in modern combat a pilot was almost always overwhelmed, he or she was much more likely to react to a failure when it was pointed out by an out of place voice. So the standard voice would tell the pilot he was being painted with search radar, and then tell him that he was being locked up by targeting radar, and then tell him that a missile had been launched. Which you would think ranks pretty high up there in the critical situation department, but not until the missile was so close that the pilot had to evade or die did the pilot hear his daughters’ voice saying, "Break right." His daughters voice would snap the pilot back to reality, even if he was locked onto another jet and going in for the kill.
Ann could not figure out why her Bitching Betty was telling
her to descend. It wasn't a bad idea and she would have done it immediately in
daylight or bad weather, but it was not critical. Ann was sure that since the
Simulant pilot could not use the magnetic compass, they both had a good chance
Oxygen was continuing to escape and "Bitching Bob"
was telling her to descend so the plane could be depressurized. The combined
faults had made it too dangerous to continue to fly at 33,000 feet. The plane
could explosively decompress or she could pass out from lack of oxygen, if the
plane lost pressurization. She wasn't worried about needing to go on oxygen
since the plane was still pressurized. Even if she did pass out the Simulant
would have sensed it and immediately descended to a safe altitude. Ann was
getting nervous as the compass seemed to drift, she was afraid even at this
height she might miss
The Simulant program knew that the circuit was shorted out and would not let her depress the circuit breaker back in. If she had un-muted the system it would have warned her that the circuit was shorted and it was not safe to reenergize it. She tried again and nothing happened. She un-muted the system to see what the problem was but since she was not trying to close the circuit breaker anymore "Bitching Bob" only warned her to "Descend." That just pissed her off, and she overrode the entire system with the system diagnostic switch, saying, "Shut the fuck up, Bob."
She pushed in the circuit breaker again. This time with the Simulant program turned off the circuit breaker reset. This sent a high voltage charge down the wire which caused one hell of a spark. The spark ignited everything flammable in the oxygen enriched compartment and burned a hole through the skin of the aircraft. Ann’s plane was unfortunately held together by its aluminum skin which once holed at 33,000 feet came away like someone had unzipped it from the airframe. The plane exploded when the fuel vaporized into the slipstream. Having exploded and falling from thirty thousand feet the faint splashes on the ocean below looked more like a light rain than the debris from Ann's aircraft. The richest female in the world had just died because she turned off the very system that could have saved her and had made her the richest female in the world.
Bob got word that Ann's aircraft was overdue and could not
be contacted, from the Department of Transportation. He asked that the FBI get
involved since Thompson Simulations had developed a sizeable number of enemies
over the years, and he was always concerned when Ann flew alone, without her
security team. One of her teams had landed before she was scheduled to arrive
Bob called Peter to tell him that Ann was missing. Bob was
surprised and more than a little disappointed when Peter seemed more concerned
about how this would affect the company then about Ann’s disappearance. Peter
and Ann's relationship had gone from bad to worse, but it still seemed a bit
cold of Peter to comment that he was worried about the company at a time like
this. He also was much more convinced that Ann would not be found. He told Bob,
"Hell there is nothing except open ocean out
The search lasted two days before one of the search vessels found some floating wreckage that was positively identified as coming from Ann's aircraft. The amount of damage indicated that the plane had exploded and that not much of the craft would have survived. Ann was listed as lost and presumed dead. The markets went crazy but Bob did not care. Everyone was concerned that future Simulant development would be effected or maybe stopped. Peter went on a tour of all of the news shows explaining that Ann was a very valuable member of the team, but she was just a member of the team and that Simulant development would continue. Bob went on a tour of his local bars. He was sure that they would be able to continue to deliver Simulants to their licensees but he just did not care. When the Central Bank chairman asked him to join Pete on the talk show circuit he told him to drop dead, and hung up on him.
A three day drunk later, but decided to pull himself
together and he and his wife flew out to
The pilot hovered over next to Ann's helicopter and set the bird down leaving the engine running as Bob and his wife headed over to Ann's back deck. Bob had a key and he knew Ann's password codes. They had worked together for so long Bob would have been able to guess the code even if he hadn't known it. He put the key in the lock and then entered 4129 into the keypad.
The house was as lovely as ever but seemed colder even though the sunlight was streaming in the bay windows. He dropped the bags in the hallway and told his wife they would stay in the first floor guest room. She asked him, “Which door?” Then they heard Ann Dominique's sweet sounding voice reply, “It is just off the breakfast nook, make yourself comfortable. Can I offer you something from the kitchen or a drink? Bob, I have some of that awful Chinese tea, you like in the cabinet, if you want a cup. “Bob steadied his wife who looked like she was about to faint, and yelled out, "Ann? Where are you? We thought you were dead!"
"Honey I thought you were dead!" said David's
wife. Soon to be Ex-Lieutenant David Grant of the United States Navy replied,
"Look baby it wasn't that bad. It was all a mix up, let’s put it behind
us. I have an interview with the airline tomorrow and I promise to put on a
good show. I love to fly and I am sure to get plenty of hours with these guys.
I'm excited about this, really." It had been one heck of a ride. First he
had lost his jet into the
He felt a little awkward cuddling up to his wife in the tiny single bed in her family's guest bedroom, but it would be another two weeks before their stuff arrived. Unless he could quickly find a house, and a job that would allow him to convince a mortgage company to lend him the money to pay for it, he was going to have to spend a lot more time cuddled up in this small bed. His son lay in the rollout bed next to him and his daughter was on an air mattress in the far corner. He could hear his father in-law making coffee in the kitchen. The sun wasn't even up yet, but his father in-law was. He put his hands together and said, "Please let this interview go well."
Dave had felt different ever since the accident, it had
changed his life more than he could have ever imagined. He couldn't put his
finger on it but his senses seemed stronger, clearer, and more wide awake. He
could sense what people were thinking better than ever before. He had talked to
a bunch of guys during out-processing and was almost able to read their minds.
He finished their sentences and understood what they wanted him to do almost
before they did. Of course it didn't work on everyone and it didn't work all of
the time. He still did not understand what his wife was thinking, and her
parents were as confusing as ever. They all wanted him to live in
It was a nice town but it was miles from the airport and it
was more of a high tech, corporate headquarters town. His wife loved the
schools and the parks. He dreaded the drive, it would take over an hour to get
home from the airport and the last thing he wanted to do was add another hour
to his day after pushing a big fat jet around the sky on a red eye from
He felt funny putting on a civilian suit and tie. The tie seemed too loud but when he told the guy helping him pick out the suit for the interview that he wanted a more conservative tie. The guy replied, "Sir there is nothing more conservative than a paisley tie." Dave wanted to tell him, a black tie was more conservative, but the dark suit and white shirt already made it look like he was going to a funeral not a job interview. This morning he looked at himself in the mirror and saw a civilian wearing a paisley tie looking back. He drove past the large EDS headquarters on his way to the interview and thought to himself it could be worse, at least he was going to be able to fly again. He loved being a pilot and couldn't even comprehend doing anything else.
Peter had been tracking this iteration of Simulant 4129 ever since he had saved himself from the launch accident on the USS Ronald Reagan. Peter had thought about restoring him as a new Navy pilot but was afraid that it could lead to a really bad case of déjà vu. It had been restored too often. In some cases Peter or Ann would have to eliminate a particular iteration of Simulant 4129 because it would demonstrate erratic behavior. Ann was convinced it was because of all the reset and restores that they put the series through. Peter was coming around to her way of thinking. He thought in this case they would do a restore from the base Simulant 4129 as the replacement pilot and allow this iteration
“david.grant.ssn.A110.49.82471.gov.navy.us.test-pilot.human_4129” to be reassigned. They needed a new flight control system for AAG’s simulation so Peter ran the employee posting subroutine and put the wheels in motion. He updated the data base to read, “david.grant.ssn.A110.49.82471.AAG.pilot.hq.human_4129”
The interview went better than he could have ever hoped. It
actually went better than Peter had planned. David so impressed the human
resource guy and a project lead that they didn't want him to just fly they also
wanted him to test new aircraft designs, instruct, and to work directly with
the aircraft manufacturers to ensure that the airline got what they wanted. The
pay was great and he would be able to have some control over his schedule. His
wife and her parents would be ecstatic. Since they use three aircraft
manufactures he could pick his own location. He would have chosen
They celebrated at a small Italian restaurant. Bob had also
secretly rented them a suite in
Dave's wife explained that Dave had just left the Navy and would now be flying for the Alliance Group. The owner took the answer to mean that they would be regular customers and he was right. The restaurant would become their favorite. The owner left them to look over the wine list and menu while he talked to each of the waiters and hostess. The wait staff was friendly would tell little jokes as they served each course and ask questions about the Dave’s family, job, where he had been, and what he had done. They were impressed and it was kind of an ego boost to Dave.
Sometime during dinner Bob brushed a crumb off the table and the waiter quickly came over and said, "Sir please, I promise not to fly airplanes if you promise not to clean the table." He then swept up the imaginary crumbs left over from David's clumsy effort. The meal was excellent but the service was unbelievable by the end of the meal all of the staff knew all there was to know about Dave and his wife. The hostess walked them to the door and handed them two small sweets saying, "Please, for Matthew and Katie. We hope to see you again soon." She kissed Dave's wife on the cheek. Then placed her hand in David's in such a way, that he was compelled to raise it to his lips and kiss it gently as he said goodbye.
The owner was talking with another table when he saw Dave at the door with the hostess he excused himself for a moment. He walked over and gave David a firm handshake while placing his other hand on David’s arm. He then let go of Dave and took one step back opening his arms as if to hug Dave's wife while looking at Dave for permission. Dave nodded, the owner stepped forward embracing her and she ended up with another kiss on her cheek.
They were both smiling when they left the restaurant; Dave
spoke first, “A long way from the officer’s mess." His wife said, "I
could get use to this." He started the car and confused his wife by
turning the wrong way on the toll road away from
Dave only had a small overnight bag with him. He had secretly packed it for them, stopping at a Lingerie shop earlier that day for the things that Cheryl would need. He had picked her up a satin slip with a kimono wrap. It was just sexy enough for him to enjoy but not so over the top that she would start laughing when she unpacked it. He handed the bag to the bellboy along with a five dollar bill saying, "Just drop this in the room." David leaned in close to him and added," Can you make sure room service has the champagne on ice." Dave took his wife by the hand and they headed into the bar.
Dave ordered a glass of port for himself and a glass of Eiswein for his wife. He looked into his wife's eyes and for the first time, in a long time, he saw someone that was truly happy. All the stress of knowing that he would soon be going back to sea was gone. The Navy had a term for it called, "submarine syndrome." It happens when the guys are deployed for long periods of time leaving their wives at home to take care of everything. The wives paid the bills, got the cars fixed, took out the trash, painted the fences, everything. When the guys came home the wives were of course happy to see them but they also resented them. They knew it was only a matter of time before they would redeploy and they would be stuck taking care of everything again. When the husbands would ask about some bill or car repair the wives would become defensive saying, "Look I take care of everything while you are out playing sailor, so don't come home questioning how I run the house or take care of the kids."
It had all drained away. He could see it in her eyes. She knew for the very first time that this was not a welcome home or goodbye date. It was like their honeymoon, a new beginning. He looked across the table and said, "Cheryl, you are the most beautiful woman I have every seen. I missed you. Let’s go up to the room." She was touched, he almost never called her by her name, and the last time he had called her beautiful was on their honeymoon. She signed the bill then took him by the hand and led him out of the bar.
Peter got a call from the CEO of the Alliance Group; he needed some additional resources allocated to one of the Alliance Groups partners. The VentureStar project was moving forward. The half size prototype had just completed the first 15 flights. The contractor wanted to start the simulation work for the manned model. They needed a Simulant that was trained in flight testing and of course they wanted to use a 4129 series. The CEO understood that there would be an additional fee but they would pass the cost on to the contractor. Peter had just the Simulant in mind, "david.grant.ssn.A110.49.82471.AAG.pilot.hq.human_4129".
He was already in place in the Alliance Group's computer system and a small change to the database now earned Thompson Simulations an additional two million dollars in Simulant fees. Peter entered the new data in the systems, “david.grant.ssn.A110.49.82471.AAG.testpilot.VentureStar.human_4129”
Dave couldn’t suppress the huge smile on his face as he
drove back from work. Cheryl would be just as happy as he was, this new
assignment was a dream come true. Their house was just about completed, the
brick was going up and Cheryl was picking out carpets and wall coverings. The
landscaping was next and then the movers. He figured in about a month they
would be moved in. The kids were already going to the local school since they
were able to give them the address of the new house. It was in
Peter was surprised to see Ann's
"Bob, what is this all about? What did you find? What are you looking for? Why are you looking at all?"
Bob was confused by the question replying "I wasn't looking for anything, but what I found is a fully self aware Simulant."
Peter pulled the phone away from his ear and looked puzzling at the handset. He placed the handset back to his ear and said, "So what? Bob in case you forgot, we build those by the millions."
“Peter listen to me, this is not one of our series. It thinks it is real. It thinks it is Ann.”
Peter didn’t know what to say, so he didn’t say anything, he just hung up the phone and sat down behind his desk. He had hundreds of questions that he would have liked to ask Bob or better yet Ann, but the realization that Ann had created another kind of Simulant and that she was dead was just too overwhelming, if he had only known.
It didn’t take him long to realize that if he was going to go through with his plan he had to act. He wished he had more time and that he had known about the Simulant, Ann had created but it did not change the need or his desire to follow through on his plan. He had planned on working on Bob once things settled down about trying his next experiment, but this changed everything. A new Simulant created by Ann. Bob would never go for another religion based experiment. Peter had hoped after Ann’s death that Bob would lose interest maybe retire and leave Peter to run the company. That wasn’t going to happen with a new Simulant, one that believed it as alive, one created by Ann. He wasn’t sure what it meant but he knew he had to act, now!
He loaded the new simulation that his historical team had built secretly months before. He had wanted an environment that would allow him to develop a new culture based on a new religious myth. It was his opportunity to finish his life’s ambition. He had spent tremendous amounts of time and energy on developing the scenario. He had even had Ann’s help though she didn’t know it. Ann was intrigued by slavery. She was so interested in it that she would even talk to Peter about it. The other programmers hated it because it was the cause of so much extra work. The translation work needed to remove its effects from every simulation was difficult, time consuming and tedious.
Ann had found slavery abhorrent but she had used it to introduce issues, which helped her test and study psychological problems. She found that due to the slavery error in the simulation; it was very easy to test some scenarios that could not be simulated in real life. People throughout man’s history had been exploited. But in the real world, civilization had never allowed, nor to her knowledge had Man ever even contemplated the view that other people could be viewed as someone's property. Ann decided that slavery opened opportunities to her.
Slavery allowed her to do things such as separate families at will. She could expose a Simulant culture to new cultural experiences with one culture obviously being superior and the other viewed as inferior. Breeding could be based on physical attributes and the ideas about self worth could be fully explored in a way that was not possible in real life.
To better understand why the Simulants allowed it, she
performed an experiment. She built a simulated University campus and then had
the professor do an intriguingly simple experiment in the simulated
environment. She wanted to test the same experiment in the real world and
compare the results. She went back to
The first step was to randomly print a very large number of black dots on a white sheet of paper. This would be shown to each student and they would be given some time to study the paper. They would not be told what to study or anything else about the experiment.
The paper would be returned to the professor and then the students would be asked to guess the number of dots. Each time the exercise was conducted there would be a large groan heard as the Professor asked, “Please write down the number of dots you think you saw.”
The answers were collected and then the class would continue. The answers were discarded since it did not matter what number the students guessed. There were in fact 4,129 dots on the paper because it amused Ann.
The students were then separated into two groups with one third of the randomly chosen group placed in one group and the other two thirds of the group placed in the other. A student assistant would explain to both groups that they were in the better group because of their obvious superiority on the test.
The students who had the day before thought the test was silly today believed that it had some real value. The student assistant was told to reinforce any positive image that the group came up with about their success and any negative image that the group came up with about the other group’s failure.
For example the group was told that their ability to get closer to the number showed their better spatial abilities which of course translated into better intellectual understanding of complex problems.
Of course it doesn't, but the students did not question the assumption. The differences in the sizes of the groups were explained to the smaller group as a sign of them being the gifted students. It was explained to the larger group that the smaller group was made up of slower students accepted into the University.
The real world students did question the data and wanted to better understand the research. Ann was not prepared to lie to the students or fill them with false information so was forced to halt the experiment. It did concern Ann that the real students didn’t just reject the concept instead of asking for more information. It showed the power that a Professor holds over a student. She made a mental note to do more real world research on this phenomenon.
In the simulation Ann of course wasn't concerned about misleading the students, since they were only Simulants. They also did not ask for any additional information or collaborating research. They just accepted the idea that this was good science and did not question the problem.
The groups remain separated for a full week and then were reintegrated into a single class. The issues started to surface immediately. The Simulant professor did not separate the students but they separated themselves. Study groups were disbanded and reformed by the Simulant students.
Long-term relationships were threatened. It was obvious that the groups now viewed each other differently all based on how many dots they thought were on a piece of paper. Of course it was based on even less than that. One of the safe guards Ann put in place was that the students had been separated randomly. The number of dots that each student guessed did not have any effect on the group they were placed in.
Ann was even more intrigued when after the experiment was explained to the students they still stayed in their new groups. The closely identified with the group that they had been assigned to and stayed segregated. Even after Ann had the Simulant professor repeat the dot exercise to show that the groups were not based on their ability to count the number of dots on a piece of paper they stayed segregated. Nothing seemed to make any difference, once the groups had been identified and conditioned to believe that the other group was different it was impossible to get them fully integrated back into a single class. Ann finally had to delete the scenario and remove all of the Simulants.
It taught her two things. The Simulants were genetically programmed to form into tribal units. They also lacked a reasonable level of compassion for anyone not part of their tribe. It was why slavery was accepted. They saw anyone not part of their tribe as less valuable than themselves or other members of their tribe. It was amazing to Ann and she would continue to repeat experiments on this tribal influence for the rest of her shortened life.
Peter questioned her about this behavior and while she was intrigued by it Peter thought only about developing a scenario that would allow him to end it once and for all. He finally settled on the idea of providing the Simulants with some simple rules to follow. He had wanted to try out his ideas but he knew he couldn’t do it while Ann held Bob’s ear. He hoped this new program would improve the Simulants' social skills and remove some anomalies like slavery from the simulations. If they did Bob would have to accept that he was right and that Ann had been holding back their research.
Peter felt from the very first that slavery must be eliminated since it did not exist and had never existed in the real world. It was always a sore point with him; he hated the idea of slavery. He thought it was a wasteful use of computer resources and caused all kinds of simulation problems. A group that was enslaved or owned slaves added unnecessary complexities into the simulations. He wanted to remove the problem but was always stopped from doing anything about it by Ann. Ann wasn’t going to be a problem any more. He loaded the program and thought, Bob is going to be pissed but at least he would have the last laugh on Ann.
Peter removed "noah.ssn.A110.49.82471.shepherd.human_4129" from the protected database and loaded him into the new simulation as "moses.ssn.A110.49.82471.elder.prophet.human_4129"
Moses moved up the
Peter knew that Moses lived in a simple time and would be easily impressed with simple tricks which he created by making a few changes to the simulation parameters. He programmed a couple of surprises for Moses. Peter increased the light and the heat that was projected by the bush and through his interface spoke to Moses. Peter decided that he was tired of speaking in riddles and parables. He wanted 4129 to understand clearly what was expected of him and that he must pass this knowledge to every other Simulant. He spoke in his own voice directly to Moses. The first time when he spoke to Eve, he had taken the place of the other Simulant. The last time he had waited until Noah's brain was operating in the 11 Hz, range that Simulants dreamed at. This time he wanted to ensure that there could be no mistaking the message. Moses' mind was operating at almost 50 Hz. He was fully conscious, in fact any higher and Peter would have to back off the program. Simulants operating at more than 60 Hz were most often in acute hysteria. Peter hoped that this did not push him over the edge.
Moses was afraid and turned away as he heard Peter's voice say, "Here am I."
Peter then said, "Moses, remove your shoes for this is holy ground." Peter hoped that the simple act of taking off his shoes would allow him to calm down.
Moses removed his shoes and his mind slowed into the 40 Hz range. The sound of Peter's voice did not scare him as much the second time.
The words were almost comforting since they answered the questions that were racing through his mind. Who or What are you, the Devil or a ghost? Moses did not speak it, but Peter guessed what he was thinking.
Peter said, "I am the God of your father, the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Peter noticed that Moses
had turned away again, and that his mind was back in the 50 Hz range. He
pressed on saying, "I have seen the affliction of oppression of my people
I want you, Moses, to go to tell Pharaoh that I have sent
you to lead my people out of
Moses said to Peter, "Who am I? That I can go to the
Pharaoh and tell him that he must release the children of
Peter thought that is a very good question. I am sure I will have to restart your program many times before you convince a Pharaoh that he must release his slaves to you, but release them he will. Peter knew it was critical to remove slavery from the simulation. He couldn't know that it would take much more than this attempt to do it. He believed that a message from a superior intelligence, from God would be enough to ensure that the violence, man's inhumanity to man that had infected the simulation would be stamped out with this grand gesture, this revelation from above. Peter had chosen Moses to be his messenger and he would make sure that the message would be loud, clear and unmistakable.
Moses spoke again, "When I stand in front of the
Pharaoh, even when I stand in front of the children of
The matter of a name seemed trivial to Peter. He thought of
saying to Moses call me Peter or Pete but decided now was not the time to be
cute. So he answered Moses, “I AM THAT I AM. Tell my children that I AM sent
you. Tell them that, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God
of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent you. Go to the elders of
Moses tried to believe Peter, but knew that no one else would believe that he had spoken to the Lord. He did not want to question God but he also did not want to fail him so he said, "They will not believe me. They will say the Lord would not have spoken to you on a mountain top. He would have spoken to someone like your father-in-law, a priest in a temple."
Peter knew this to be true so decided to do something that would make Ann turn in her grave. He had programmed in a small trick, just in case the burning bush gag didn't convince Moses that he was really speaking with God. He asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?" Moses told him he carried a staff to help him up the mountain and to round up his sheep and goats. Peter told him to throw down his rod onto the holy ground. As soon as it touched the ground Peter replaced it with a serpent. It amused him that he was using the myth of the serpent again. Ann had spent millions of dollars researching why Humans had chosen to create the myth of a serpent communicating the idea of knowledge to Eve. The snake still seemed to cause an unreasonable amount of fear in Humans.
Moses recoiled in fear from the serpent and hid from it.
Peter told him, "Pick it up by the tail." When Moses did the snake was turned back into a staff. Peter said, "I will give you the words and deeds necessary to free my people"
When Moses came down from the mountain the mist had burned away, and the top 200 feet of it had been burned black. Moses some how knew it would remain like that until the end of time.
Moses went first to convince the elders of
Peter wanted to make sure that the rumors of his power
preceded Moses into
Moses and Aaron left for
The Pharaoh was not at all happy about losing his work force and while he did not want to test this Israeli God too much, he did decide to make a point by no longer providing the straw that was needed to make bricks. He told them to spend less time praying and more time finding and gathering the straw they would need to finish their work.
Peter wanted to make sure that the message would not diminish over time and that from now on that all of the Simulants would clearly understand the idea that they must follow his rules. He would use the virtual reality suit replacing the Pharaoh’s chief advisor and magician as he had replaced Adam in the Garden simulation. He would advise Pharaoh to ensure that he did not give in too quickly.
Moses was more concerned for Aaron than he was for himself
as they walked from the shadows onto the sunlit tiles in front of the Pharaoh.
Moses spoke to Pharaoh saying, “Great Pharaoh, I am but your humble servant but
I also serve the one true God. He has commanded me to act.” The Pharaoh
responded, “If you are my servant than leave us in peace and take your God with
you. We do not need him here in
You should not be speaking to me, you should be speaking to the people that you say you represent. I can tell you they are unhappy and your presence here has made their work harder. They would ask you, as I am asking you, to leave us. Moses said, “I have not come to speak to them, but to speak for them. The one true God wants you to release them so that they can worship him. To prove to you that I speak not just as your humble servant, but as the servant and messenger of the God of the Israeli’s, my brother and I have been told to show you the power of our God. I will warn you now as your servant that he is a powerful and a determined God. You will submit to his will but I fear it will be too late and that your hardened heart will rule over you. You must listen to us and release his children.
The Pharaoh spoke, “Moses you speak to me as if you were my master and I was your servant. I do not fear your God and by the time we are finished his children will reject him. They serve me and my power is complete. Moses looked sadly at Aaron and spoke in a quiet voice, “Aaron cast your rod down before Pharaoh and show him the power of the God of the Hebrew’s.
Aaron dropped the rod down in front of Pharaoh and it clanged to the ground. The sound echoed off the great stone walls but before the echo reached the ears of the people in the hall Aaron’s staff had turned into a snake. It rose up before Pharaoh but Pharaoh was unimpressed. He called to his magician and said, "Explain this magic to me." Peter spoke to him as his chief magician saying, “This is not magic it is not even a good illusion. It is an old trick; the hand is quicker than the eye. While we listened to Moses speak and our attention was redirected to the sound of the echo the rod was replaced by the snake. You are truly merciful in not killing them both where they stand for such an insulting and feeble attempt at magic. I have seen street magicians perform better tricks." Pharaoh looked deep into Moses' eyes and said, "Is this snake trick suppose to impress me so much that I would give up my kingdom and our Gods, to follow the God of Moses, the serpent god of the Israeli’s?" Peter used the same effect again except this time as Pharaoh's magician he waved his hand and signaled for two of his assistants to throw their staffs on the ground in front of the snake.
The computer changed them both into snakes and they start to wrap themselves around Aaron’s Snake. The crowd and Pharaoh settle back enjoying the show. The snakes move around in sort of a snake charmers dance until Aaron's snake grabs one of the snakes by the tail and starts to swallow it. The other snake moves away as its partner is consumed and the crowd starts to grow excited again. Aaron's snake quickly devourers the first and then consumes the second snake head first. The assistants raise their hands dismissively but say nothing. Pharaoh looks at the crowd’s reaction and after sending a disappointing look at Peter and his assistants turns his back on the crowd and Moses and walks up the stairs leading out of the chamber. His footsteps echo quietly off the stone walls as he slowly steps up each perfectly polished tread. On the last step the sound of sand crunches under his sandal. He feels it give way under his foot. It is as if he can feel his kingdom starting to crumble beneath him. When the Pharaoh finally moves behind a curtain Aaron picks up the remaining snake by the tail and turns defiantly holding his staff tightly in his hand. He and Moses then leave the hall.
Peter removed the virtual reality interface and called his psychology team for a quick meeting. Peter explained to them that it was important that the message not be lost this time. It is crucial that the Simulants understand that slavery will not be tolerated. Peter was also concerned because the Simulants would sometimes miss the most obvious point or retell the story in a confusing way. He was still confused why they had converted him into a serpent in the garden and why they thought that they were being punished for seeking knowledge. The garden simulation was set in the fall so there was plenty of food and the weather was more pleasant then later in the simulation, when it was winter. Still the garden was never meant to be a reward nor was it a punishment.
The psychology team proposed that they eliminate any subtlety. If Peter wanted to play God, which many of them believed was a mistake, then he should play it to the hilt. He should be a vengeful and jealous god. Pharaoh should be influenced to hold out so Peter could send the strongest possible message.
Peter called in the simulation team and told them that he wanted miracles. He wanted to be able to control every aspect of the simulation. One of the programmers smiled and said, "We got miracles." A small group of them had built in some sub-routines that allow them to play a game using the company’s very expensive systems as if they were some super game console. They would each don one of the virtual reality outfits load up a new simulation, after the program manager had left for the day. The object of the game was to see how many converts they could amass.
The rules of the game were simple; every miracle had to have some kind of natural explanation, although some of the less inhibited programers pushed this rule to the limit. The other rule was that entire simulation had to be erased at the end of the game and none of the Simulants could survive, or be saved back into the data base. The hard part was allowing access to the system from inside the simulation.
No matter what the programmers did they were never in any danger. They moved around the simulation using the VR suits which allowed them to experience moving around the environment but it only simulated it. It was like being in an aircraft simulator or a really good ride at an amusement park. It would simulate the sensation of falling from the sky but the crash would never kill you. Some of the programmers did end up with bruised knees or black eyes but it was safer than walking down a flight of stairs. Peter was ecstatic. He now had the control he needed while he was inside the simulation.
The next problem was that he needed more control over the Pharaoh. The simulation team proposed that he become the Pharaoh. He had done it before in the Garden Simulation; he had become "Adam" to explain to "Eve" that she must seek knowledge. Peter thought it was a good idea. He could control the simulation from inside and would replace Pharaoh. This would allow him to run through the entire list of "miracles" that the programmers had created. The Simulants would understand that their God had the power to enforce his will. Those that did not follow his rules could be, and would be, punished.
He told the programmers to get to work testing the system and that this time they would not erase the Simulants. The Program Manager was shocked, but got the team started as he made a call to Bob. Peter took the list of "miracles" back to his psychology team. They reviewed the miracles and his idea of replacing himself with Pharaoh.
Most of the team agreed that the Simulants would believe that “God” was commanding them after witnessing the long list of miracles Peter was proposing. Some of them still disagreed with the approach, but because Peter was the boss and because they could not come up with a better idea they decided that they would go along. The entire team disagreed with Peter replacing himself with Pharaoh. They felt that to be realistic the Pharaoh needed to be a Simulant. They did a psychological review of the Pharaoh and felt that with the right guidance they would be able to run through most if not all of the “miracles.”
Peter put on the VR suit and entered the program again as the Pharaoh’s magician. He found the Pharaoh looking out over his kingdom. The sun was setting behind the hills and the sunset was shimmering across the desert in waves. The Pharaoh looked worried as if he was trying to decide his next step. At the same time Bob was racing towards Peter’s lab. The Program Manager had filled Bob in on what was going on. Bob missed Ann more than ever but was glad she was not around to see this.
Pharaoh looked up at his magician and motioned for him to sit next to him. “So tell me my old friend and teacher what are we to do with the Israelis.” Peter responded, “My lord you know you can not let them leave. We need them and even if we didn’t our enemies would see this as a sign of our weakness.” “I know, but can we stand against their God? I have never seen such magic and such confidence. Moses and his brother stood before me without fear.” Peter honestly replied, “Lord, I do not know if we can stand against their God, but I know we must try. Peter took his leave and as soon as he was out of sight, he signaled his team to accelerate time.
The Pharaoh had just finished watching the sun set across
the desert, when less than a millisecond later it was rising over the
Moses was standing along the river as Pharaoh’s barge pulled level with him, Moses stepped into the cool water and spoke loudly to Pharaoh and his party, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent me to tell you to let his People go, that they may serve him in the wilderness. Because you refuse to hear his words, behold.” With that Moses placed his rod in the river and the water turned to blood. The fish died and the smell of blood and death was everywhere, every pool, stream, and well. Even the water in urns, stone and wooden bowls; all of the water was turned to blood.
Pharaoh sent some of his soldiers to kill Moses but they
retreated from the water as the sticky blood coated their uniforms. Pharaoh
told his captain to leave them and to return the barge to its dock. Peter was
ready to comfort and counsel Pharaoh but for seven days Pharaoh would see no
one. The water remained as blood and Pharaoh’s people started to die in such
great numbers that Peter allowed the water to flow again. When Pharaoh called
for his magician it was not to seek his counsel it was to ask him why the water
had returned. Pharaoh had given up and was ready to die with his kingdom. He
told his magician to call for Moses and that he would release the Israelis.
Peter sprung into action saying, “Lord, your enemies will attack us if it looks
as if we are under attack by such a strong God. They will put a great Army in
the field and march on us if we are seen as bowing to this Hebrew God. We must
resist, the water has returned this God has been defeated or at least limited
by the God’s of
Bob's car made the turn onto the ramp, he was traveling a bit fast for traffic conditions and was trying to dial his cell phone as he merged into traffic. He cut off another driver who gave him the single finger salute. The driver was surprised when he recognized Bob from the cover of news magazines. He realized that he had just given the CEO of Thompson Simulations the finger. He thought about it and then shot Bob the finger one more time before speeding off with a smile on his face. Bob put up his hands in a gesture of capitulation and then started to try and dial his cell phone again. A week passed in the simulation in the time it took Bob to dial the fourth and fifth number of the Thompson Simulations Security Office.
Peter needed to pull off a miracle himself. He needed to tell Moses what miracle would happen next and at the same time continue to play the part of Pharaoh's chief magician. He decided to use audio only to talk to Moses. Peter moved inside the program using the virtual reality suit until he could see Moses praying in the garden. He could not hear what Moses was saying but he programmed in the location and spoke into his microphone, “Moses, Do not lose faith. I have hardened the Pharaoh’s heart but he will feel my power and release my people. Go to him and tell him he must release my people and if he does not I will release a plague of frogs across this kingdom.” Moses feared for his life not only from the Pharaoh but also from the Egyptian people. They knew that when Moses met with the Pharaoh that the Hebrew God was about to act. Their fear kept them from attacking him, but soon one of the tormented people in the crowd would decide that they had taken too much and end Moses’ life.
Peter’s team of psychologists thought it was very likely that either Pharaoh or the Egyptian’s would kill Moses and Aaron so they decided to put the program into auto save mode. Each event would trigger a save point which could then be used to restore the program if something when wrong. It slowed the program down but things were still happening in a timescale measured in seconds instead of hours.
Bob could hear the phone ringing on the other end in the Security office, as the guy that threw him the finger cut back across three lanes and exited the freeway up ahead.
Moses was held waiting in the antechamber for three hours
while Pharaoh played with his son. They sat in front of the ornate golden
throne playing a game of Merrils. The Pharaoh’s mind
was not on the game and he quickly lost pieces to his first born son. Pharaoh’s
son was confused when his father allowed him to move three more pieces in a row
leaving his father with only two pieces on the board. His father did not even
look up from the board. He sat and pondered the pieces thinking of his next
move until his son said, “Father you have lost. You only have two pieces left.”
The Pharaoh looked deeply into his son’s eyes and said, “I think you are right.
I have lost.” He stood up and signaled the guards to allow Moses and Aaron to
enter. The guards waited for the servants to pick up the game and for Pharaoh
to sit down on this throne. Pharaoh’s son stood beside the throne and watched
Moses told the Pharaoh that if he did not release his people
that a great plague of frogs would spread across
All that day and throughout the night the frogs kept coming. Peter had his assistant perform the same miracle for Pharaoh which of course just made the problem worse. Pharaoh screamed at Peter, “We don’t need more frogs. If you want to help me, get rid of them, don’t make more!” Peter explained that this was simple magic and that Pharaoh had to remain strong.
The Pharaoh walked in his gardens. He stepped over the croaking frogs and held his son in his arms. He was trying to comfort the boy but the sounds of the frogs and their incessant croaking had the entire household in a panic. No place was clear of them, where they had not found a way into a room or crevice their sound penetrated, as if they had. The servants could not clean them away and the volume of their song only seemed to mock Pharaoh. He felt as if he might drown in the sound and fury of it all.
Peter was surprised when the Pharaoh broke with his advice.
The Pharaoh was as inconsolable as his son was during the night. He made up his
mind as he held his son in his arms throughout the long night. His kingdom
meant less to him then his son.
When Pharaoh met with Moses, Moses saw he was a beaten man.
Pharaoh spoke quietly, “What do you want?” Moses replied as he had many times
before, “You must release the Hebrews. Allow us to go deep into the desert far
Moses said, “Then I shall entreat God to destroy all of the frogs, in your house and in the houses of your people.” Moses turned and started to walk out of the royal chamber, but stopped just before he was out of ear shot of Pharaoh and spoke, “Pharaoh, my lord, as a warning to Egypt, the God of the Hebrews will leave the frogs in the rivers and ponds of Egypt so that their gentle crooking might remind Pharaoh of his promise.
Peter was surprised at the speed Pharaoh made the decision. He left the program to discuss this latest development with his team while his team did a complete save of the program. He announced that they would have a full staff meeting in ten minutes. Nine minutes later they were discussing the problem. They had twenty more “miracles” they could use but half the team believed that they had gone far enough; some believed they needed to go father, and the rest thought that they had already gone too far.
The head of security unlocked the lab door and walked in with three armed security agents in tow. A fourth and fifth agent stood outside the lab door with orders not to let anyone in the lab, except Bob Thompson. Peter couldn’t believe it. The entire program had only been running for about 12 minutes. They had not only been discovered, but now they had the head of security and five armed agents, all of whom had worked for Ann, telling them they needed to shut it down. Ann was dead and she was still interfering with his work.
Bob was still 20 minutes away when he got the call from
Peter. Peter was livid. He explained to Bob that this had to be done. The drain
on resources was unsustainable and that if slavery was not removed from the
simulation the company could be mortally wounded. More than a fourth of the
Simulants were no longer useable because of some influence slavery had had on
their lives. The simulations were now much more complex. More of the data had
to be interpreted. Bob had to understand, that unless they could start from
scratch, which no one could figure out how to do, they must remove slavery from
the Simulants’ reality or the company would fail. Bob told Peter that he was on
his way in and the he was not to restart the simulation. He had Peter put the
head of security on and told him the same thing. The head of security tried not
to smile when he heard the news, but failed. Peter didn’t know if he was more mad or more worried, but he knew he was pretty mad.
When Bob got in he smiled at the armed agents guarding the doors. Some of Peter’s programmers were milling around in the hallway. Bob stopped and told them to relax and go back to their offices. It would all be straightened out soon and they would get a call at their desks. Bob shook the hand of Ann’s head of security and asked him if he could have the other agents return to their normal duties while they sorted this out.
Bob asked Peter to join him in Peter’s office and closed the door. Bob started, “Peter you don’t give a damn about Ann’s death do you? You jumped on the talk show circuit and told the world that she was just another replaceable cog in the works that makes up Thompson Simulations. You do not seem to understand that the Thompson, in Thompson Simulations comes from my last name. I own this company and up until today I thought that I was part of a team. You, Ann, and I made this company. We lost Ann, and I swear you pulling a stunt like this makes me wonder if you want me to fire you.
Peter was more upset than concerned. He was pretty sure that Bob could not fire him. It would raise a lot of eyebrows in the financial community which would hurt sales. More importantly, this view that the Simulants held that one Human could own another Human was the root cause of a lot of problems. Peter decided to cut Bob some slack. “Bob, I know Ann’s death has you all over the map. She was the conscience of this place. Our moral compass and she made it clear that she thought I was the bad guy. She did all of the research into death camps, family separation, famine, war. She built scenarios that allowed her to use the Simulants to better understand the darkest parts of Man’s mind. She did it even though there was no profit in it, or maybe because there was no profit in it. She did it so we could learn about ourselves. It was a noble goal but it doesn’t help in the real work of life. She didn’t mind slavery in the Simulant world in fact she promoted it. It allowed her to create believable experiments around family separation. She was an academic, a teacher, researcher, but we have to be business people. What our company provides is worth getting our hands dirty for. Not just for the people that work here and count on us to pay them but to the real world out there. The airplanes that are safer, the navigation systems, the cars, hell even the toasters. If you and I quit, or more to the point, if you fire me and then you quit, this house of cards that we call Thompson Simulations will fall apart.
Bob was calmed by the sound of Peter’s voice. He was right; Ann’s death had struck him hard. She was the moral compass of the company. Her psychological work was ground breaking. She was able to create simulations that tested the most extreme scenarios. She had won the International Prize in Medicine for her observations on genocide. She created one of the most elaborate simulations ever attempted at Thompson Simulations. It was based around the idea of one man rising to power using an outside race as the common enemy. He was able to consolidate power and threaten all of the other Simulants capitalizing on their fear and mistrust of outsiders.
Her thesis was brilliant. The only complaint that the other scientists had, was it was too complex, too far reaching. It covered racial issues, unchecked governmental powers, conflict, the wholesale massive destruction of entire noncombatant civilian population centers, and of course genocide. It was like Ann’s playground, she could test completely unrealistic scenarios. She could imprison a Simulants family while at the same time reward the test Simulant with honors and medals for valor in the very conflict that justified imprisoning his family. Peter was right, it was brilliant work that never provided a penny of profit, but it provided a soul to the soulless place that was Thompson Simulation. It allowed them to recruit the best and the brightest. They hired receptionists with PhDs to work the phones. People wanted to work at Thompson Simulations so badly that one of the favorite topics around the water fountain was, “What did you give up to work here?” The answers were surprising, stock, salary, their own companies. People wanted to work for a company that provided something that no other company could. They wanted to work for a company that spent billions on simulations that provided no profit, but won the International Prize for Medicine. They were willing to give up almost everything to work for the company that Bob, Ann and Peter had created, and that Bob was now seriously considering walking away from.
Pete was shocked at how Bob seemed to just give up. He sat there listening but it wasn’t the same old Bob. Peter was worried that Bob was going to erase the program and ask for Peter’s resignation but Bob just sat there and listened. Peter picked up the phone and dialed the access code of the lab’s intercom system, “Guys, lets call it a day. I’d like one more backup of the simulation in its current state and then go home and spend some time with your families. We will restart at ten in the morning. Security, make sure no one comes in to work before nine tomorrow, and I’d like everyone out of here in one hour or less. Bob and I will be leaving in ten minutes.”
The head of security was very confused; Peter was giving his team orders. They certainly didn’t conflict with Ann’s standing orders or with what Bob had asked him to do but he didn’t like it. He didn’t like following orders from Peter but the orders themselves were fine. In the end his years of training kicked in and he started to assign tasks to his security crew. He might not understand it, but in one hour this facility was going to be locked down tighter than a prison after a riot, and no one was coming back until hours tomorrow, except for him of course. The staff was even more confused, go home early and come in late? Most were happy to get out as soon as possible, things were getting strange and you could still cut the tension with a knife.
Peter turned back to Bob and said, “Time to go get a beer. I know a place. Pretty good food, great popcorn, and the beer keeps coming at you like a flood.” Bob had to smile; he stood up and said, “I’ll drive. Peter smiled back and said, “Great, I’ll ask the head of security to pick us up in the morning, on his way in.”
Bob unlocked the passenger side door with his key and walked around to the driver’s side. Pete knew Bob could have unlocked all the doors with his key fob but it was Bob’s way of showing respect. It was going to be a long night.
Bob drove in silence. He was thinking back over the years, all of the failures, fights, late night arguments, petty politics, but looking at the tacky neon beer signs of their favorite “hole in the wall bar”, he began to mellow. He thought of all of their successes, triumphs, and how they had never left this bar without coming to at least a consensus. They might have stumbled out of here still agreeing to disagree but they always walked out with a good plan on how to overcome the problem.
Peter opened his door and waited at the front of the car. He was bathed in Bob’s headlights and looked relaxed as Bob turned out the lights and got out to join him. Peter held the front door to the place and Bob grabbed the second door that lead into the bar. It was smoky and even though neither of them smoked it was kind of comforting. Ann had smoked but only after a couple of drinks. Bob and Peter both used to wait for the signal of her first cigarette before they would bring up a touchy subject with her. The waitress smiled at them and directed them over to a booth. Peter stopped her and motioned that they wanted to sit at a table. He walked over to a table. It was the same one where Bob had knocked over his beer washing it, and the popcorn bowl into Ann’s lap. It was a long time ago and they had never sat at that table since.
Bob sat down saying, “Good choice. I’ll buy the first round. What are you having?” Peter sat down and said to the waitress, “Bring us a pitcher of beer and some popcorn.” Bob smiled. They munched on the popcorn and nursed their beers, neither of them wanting to start because they both knew that this might be the last conversation they would ever have, without a lawyer being present. They wanted it to last. They wanted to remember the good old days, when work was hard and life was easy.
Peter said he was getting a little hungry and asked Bob if they should order some food. They looked over the menus and Bob ordered lamb. Peter ordered a large bowl of soup. Bob was a bit confused since Peter was a pretty good eater but didn’t think much more about it. Once they started to eat Bob was impressed with Peter’s trick. Bob always ate European style, keeping his fork in his left hand and his knife in his right. He thought it was more civilized than the typical American style of cutting the food and then putting the knife back down. Peter had figured out a long time ago that although Bob ate like a European, he was raised by a good old American mother who must have told her son not to talk with his mouth full or to speak while holding his silverware. It meant that Bob could not eat and talk. Bob always ended up having the waitress take away almost his entire meal after every business dinner. He would tell the customer that he wasn’t very hungry or that we American’s always serve too much food. Of course later he would make Peter pull over into a McDonnell’s on the way back to the hotel so he could get something to eat. Bob smiled and was relieved when he figured out Peter’s plan. Peter planned on doing most of the talking. Peter could take a sip of soup whenever he wanted there to be a pause in the conversation without having to worry about Bob trying to fill it. Peter figured he would be able to dominate the conversation for about an hour and twenty minutes.
Peter started as soon as Bob picked up his knife and fork, “Bob, I’m sorry about moving so quickly, but you have to understand it has been three weeks since Ann’s plane crashed. We all understood this slavery problem months ago, even Ann. You know I always thought it was a problem, and you have to admit that after Ann completed all of her psychological work she agreed that it was starting to affect our results.” Bob held on to his silverware and nodded yes. “So please forgive me but this wasn’t something I tried to sneak in on you. My team has been working on this problem for over a year. All of Ann’s safeguards are still in place so if this experiment doesn’t work we won’t have affected the core system. I can delete the entire simulation and all of the Simulants. Bob, using Simulants that believe in slavery just doesn’t work. It colors everything even when we remove it from the simulation. It is the same problem we ran into before the flood. The Simulants react differently than we do. My psychological team is working harder than my programming team. We are always trying to interpret the data and recreate the simulations to remove the differences between how human’s think and how we think. The experiment that I am doing has been designed to not only remove slavery but also to give the Simulants the same moral code that we take for granted.” Peter picked up his spoon and slowly pulled it away from him, pulling in a single spoonful of soup. He kept his eyes down, looking at the soup spoon. It was a very long pause. Peter knew even if Bob wanted to speak he would not start until they made eye contact.
Bob wasn’t listening to a word that Peter said. Bob thought of Ann and how tired he was. If she was here it would be different. They would be talking back and fourth interrupting one another. Bob would often have to raise his hand just to signal them to calm down from time to time. Peter’s passion for shaping and molding the Simulants to make them as “Man” like as possible verses Ann’s passion to use them as a tool to learn and better understand what “Man” was capable of, would keep the sparks flying all night long. He missed her desperately. Peter started to talk again and Bob looked back down at his plate. He crooked one ear toward Peter as if he was listening intently to every word. His mind was wandering. It was as if he reliving the good old times. He could hear Ann’s voice as clearly as he heard Peter’s.
Bob was thinking of the award dinner where Ann had picked up her International Prize for Medicine. The press had been brutal saying that she bought the award, but her peers treated her like a God. There were only about 100 people that really understood how complex and brilliant her simulation had been. Fifty of them worked for Thompson Simulations, twenty five because of the simulation. Ann had wanted to test compassion and what she called “tribal instinct.” Her theory was that Man has a subconscious instinct to group together and to exclude others that are not part of his “tribe.” She tried to do clinical trials but the effect is so subtle that unless you put the subjects under tremendous stress you can not clearly measure it. Her findings were clear to her, but to the rest of the scientific community her data was ambiguous. They could not see how working with “dots” showed how people had a “tribal instinct” If she had not done the simulation she would have never been able to prove that while Simulants have a tremendously strong “tribal instinct” real people have much weaker and more inclusive instinct, but it is still present and measurable.
World War Simulation
Ann created her simulation based on a global conflict that ended after many bloody years with clear winners and a single clear loser. This simulation was outrageously expensive in computer power, time and resources but Bob gladly approved the money for the project. It was fascinating and some of the best programmers transferred over to the project taking huge pay cuts just to be able to work on it. The world was stripped of resources and the male Simulant population so greatly reduced that Peter argued that it might flaw Ann’s data. He told her that she was changing so many variables that it would be impossible to understand the real cause and effect. Ann only smiled at him. He did not understand that the entire simulation was created only to setup the proper environment for the next simulation.
The next simulation was based on the loser being dominated and abused by the winners of the global conflict. Their national resources were stripped away and they paid a horrible price for losing the conflict. The winners showed almost no compassion for the losers. Little by little the losers started to push back. Ann’s idea was to allow a single strong leader to emerge. She searched the data base looking for a psychological profile that would promote the type of environment she needed for her simulation to work. The simulated region was ripe with mistrust and feelings of persecution but it needed a charismatic leader with just the right profile to move the simulation forward. He had to understand how to gain and maintain power, be ruthless but have the ability to charm his friends and enemies.
Peter was against the whole idea and called Bob every week to complain about the cost. He thought the burn rate on the last simulation was excessive, but this one was taking almost 50% of their computing power and some of his staff were working on the project on their off-time. Peter suggested that Ann just have an actor play the role of the leader of this powerful but oppressed country but she explained that for the data to be valid that it had to be done completely inside of a working reproducible simulation.
Her research team found ten likely candidates; four of them were 4129 series Simulants. They placed them in different mini-simulations and tested their abilities and refined the psychological profile that would provide the results they needed. Interestingly the four 4129 series Simulants were eliminated rather early on. Their profiles showed that while they could lead, their tribal instincts were a bit too low on Ann’s scale. After two weeks of testing it was narrowed down to two candidates.
The more ruthless of the two also scored a bit lower on the tribal scale so Ann decided to go with the second most ruthless Simulant as the leader of the oppressed nation and to put the most ruthless into one of its strongest potential enemies.
Ann had everything together to start the second phase of the project and met with Bob and Peter to get final approval. It was a very long meeting. Bob wanted to support her but the amount of resources she was asking for was staggering. They could afford it but it would put a real drain on the company and defocus them from delivering on some of their projects. Bob also wanted to move forward on trying to recreate the base code for the entire Simulant series. The difference between Simulants and real man were creating too many problems. Ann of course was capitalizing on the differences and in some cases magnifying them. Peter thought that Ann was going insane. This had turned into more of a hobby than her job. She was taking over the company resources to play an elaborate game. It had no commercial value at all, and because of the extreme scenarios that she put the Simulants through most of them could not be returned to the data-base. They had fired people for what looked like minor infractions next to what she was doing.
Peter started off his comments saying that this reminded him
of the “
You keep snickering behind my back about my “God” complex while you create your own little worlds and elaborate scenarios where millions of Simulants kill each other. Why? Does it solve our business problems? No. Does it improve the quality of the Simulants? No. Does it help you understand why adopted children don’t fall in love and try to marry? Maybe, but who cares? I don’t care, Bob doesn’t care, and our customers don’t care. Nobody cares except for your high brow stuck up genius friends that get invited to your parties. Why, I don’t know. Maybe because they secretly wanted to marry their sisters, but normal people don’t give a rat’s ass about this stuff.”
Ann had to take a couple of steps back from the force of Peter’s comments. She was shocked at how personal he was making this. She said, “Peter, life is not about the bottom line. I’m not playing with “our” equipment and people do care. Real people, interesting people care about things like “Relationships.” Peter we all have more money than we can ever spend. Our customer’s love our products, and research is tax deductible so let me do my job and I’ll let you play God every once and awhile.”
Peter dropped into a chair and looked lost. “Ann, explain this thing to me again?” She dropped into the chair next to him and looked up at Bob in desperation. Bob looked back at her and said, “Ann, it will take a tremendous amount of resources and Peter and I thought that the last simulation you built was suppose to give you the environment you needed for your work. I know this is frustrating for you but we don’t see this as clearly as you do. This is your dream, your concept; you have had time to develop it. Talk to us as if you were recruiting us to work on your project.”
Ann stood up and walked to the whiteboard, “We created the first simulation which the Simulants called “The Great War” to create a common history and environment. It really was just a reference point that we will use in this next simulation. We needed to understand how they would react if the amount of killing was large enough that it would effect their environment. Many on my team believed that once the destruction reached a critical point that the Simulants would understand the folly of it all and sue for peace. It is critical that one of the regions be completely defeated and then humiliated. This sets up the proper environment for the next phase.
It will provide us the following:
1. Political environment that promotes isolationism.
2. Political environment that promotes nationalism.
3. Environment that promotes a common external enemy.
4. Prejudice and stereotyping to promote national goals.
5. Alignment of international goals based on perceived value.
6. Compromise of national goals; balanced between isolationism, nationalism, and perceived external threats.
7. Self Defense based on nationalism.
8. Escalation of conflict based on perceived threat.
9. Unquestioned obedience to national goals.
10. Destruction of non-combatant population centers.
11. Global Reconstruction.
12. Global Political awareness.
These are the phases that we plan on bringing the Simulants through. My team believes that this will provide us with the ability to test the Simulants across the entire range of their individual and collective abilities. We will be able to create realistic environments that can not be created in any other way. And as you can see from the list our goal is to leave the Simulants with not only environmental awareness or national awareness, but global political awareness. Simulants lack the understanding or even the desire to think globally. Over 95% of them never travel more than 150 miles from their place of birth. Most live and die within 15 miles of where they were born. They think locally. I believe that this problem is the number one problem that we have, if we can cure it we can correct all of the other problems we have.”
Smoke drifted pass Bob’s face as a female at the bar finished lighting a cigar. He looked down at his plate. He had finished his meal. Peter was staring at him as if he was concerned that Bob might be sick. Peter said, “Are you OK? You haven’t said a word the entire meal and you look like you just saw a ghost.” Bob replied, “No, I’m OK. Finish what you were saying.” Peter looked confused wondering when Bob had stopped listening but decided to repeat the last thing he said and work back if Bob wanted him to. “I said I believe that slavery is the number one problem that we have. If we can cure it, we can correct all of the other problems we have.” Bob smiled and called the waitress over. “Bring us three glasses of Scotch.” The waitress cleared the table and looked at Bob to figure out where he wanted the glasses. He held up his hand, motioned for her to wait, and then walked over to another table where two very pretty girls were sitting. They smiled as he walked over. He motioned to one of the spare chairs at their table and said, “Do you mind if I borrow this?” He slid the chair back to the table and told the waitress to go ahead and put the drinks down.
He repositioned one of the glasses directly in front of the
empty chair and then raised his glass. Peter looked at him funny and then
raised his glass as well. Bob said just two words, “Do it.” He downed the
Scotch in a single gulp and slammed the empty glass down on the table and
turned to Peter. Peter drained his glass and slammed it down as well. Bob
looked over to Peter and said, “Peter, I’m kind of tired, let’s call it a
night. I’ll call the head of security and tell him to pick you up tomorrow. I
think I am going to head back to
They walked out of the bar and got into the taxi. Back at the table a single drop of condensation dripped from the side of Ann’s untouched glass of Scotch.
Bob was on his way to the airport by the time the head of security picked up Peter. They drove in silence through the front gate. Peter opened the door then walked around the front of the car and tapped on the driver’s window. The head of security lowered the window and was surprised when Peter extended his hand and said, “No hard feelings?” “No sir, just doing my job. I hope it works out today. Good luck Mr. Johnson.” Peter smiled at him and waved goodbye as he unlocked the door to the lab. Peter was alone in the lab so he made himself a cup of tea and waited for his team.
At Ten O’clock exactly they re-entered the simulation. Peter
had killed all of the frogs that had invaded
Pharaoh spoke, “Moses if you say a single word to me, I will have you killed where you stand. I will not let the Hebrews go, not today, or tomorrow, or a thousand years from now. The Israeli’s are free to worship their God in the afterlife, but in this life they will serve me. Now be gone. Do not return or I will send you to meet your God.”
Moses left quickly and was met on the street by the angry
stares of the Egyptians and his own people alike. He was very afraid, he knew that God would be angry and that he would be
sent back to Pharaoh. He was sure that the Pharaoh would carry out his threat.
Peter looked for Moses but could not find him. He had disappeared; he was not
in the garden, and was not at the apartment where he was staying. He found
Aaron but could not approach him at Pharaoh’s magician. He signaled to his team
to pause the simulation and exited. Peter and his team
were amazed that Pharaoh could dismiss the miracles so quickly. The frog’s
bodies still lay across the
They could always restore Moses into the simulation but it
wouldn’t do to have two Moses’ running around
Peter leaned back in his chair and listened to his team,
“How come we can’t track Simulants?” “How could you track a Simulant?”
“Couldn’t we just load the graphics program and look?” “What scale?” “You can
not look at all of
Peter slipped back into the VR suit and came to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said, “What more do we have to endure from this Moses?” Peter was getting nervous that Pharaoh was starting to focus too much on Moses and not enough on him. If Pharaoh killed Moses they would have to start over again so he said to Pharaoh, “This is not the work of Moses. This is the finger of his God.” Pharaoh replied, “I care not for their God.”
Peter left the Pharaoh covered in lice shaking his fist at
the God of the Israelites. He went back to Audio only and spoke to Moses, “You
must meet with Pharaoh again.” Moses was afraid, knowing that Pharaoh had
promised to kill him and that he would be in a much worse mood now. “Moses.”
Peter said, “In the morning when Pharaoh comes to the bath to rid himself of
the lice you must tell him again to let my people go. They must serve me. If he
does not I will send swarms of flies in the same way that I sent the frogs and
lice. They will infest his house, the houses of his people and the houses of
his servants. The only people that will be spared are my people.” The Hebrews
did not live with the Egyptians. They lived in the
The next morning when Pharaoh came to bath he saw Moses,
before he could order his guards to kill him, Moses stretched out his hands and
a great plague of flies rose up. Pharaoh fled back to his throne room and
called for his guards to bring him Moses and Aaron. Peter waited in the throne
room to see what would become of Moses. The Pharaoh did not keep them waiting
this time. As soon as they entered Pharaoh handed a scroll to Peter and told
him to read it. “The Pharaoh, the God of Egypt commands Moses and his followers
Moses was strengthen by Pharaoh’s commandment and brazenly
responded, “I will do as you command, but deal with us faithfully. You must
allow my people to sacrifice to our God.” Pharaoh nodded to Moses and left for
his tented bed chamber. Moses gathered the people of
Moses followed the guards back to meet with Pharaoh. He asked Pharaoh how he could withdraw his promise after all that had happened. Pharaoh scoffed and sent Moses away.
Peter spoke to Moses and told him that tomorrow at one hour
after sunrise he would rain down diseases that would kill off the cattle,
sheep, oxen, and camels of the Egyptians. He would leave the Israelis animals
healthy in their fields. Pharaoh’s people would starve and his enemies would
now know of
The Pharaoh saw the total destruction of his cattle. He also
noted that the cattle of the Hebrews were not affected and decided he had to
keep them and the slaves. Peter told Moses that the next time they met with
Pharaoh that they were to take ashes from the fire and throw them at him.
Pharaoh called for them. He proclaimed that their God had gone too far. He
would not allow the Hebrews to leave and take all of the food in
The Pharaoh had lost. Peter wanted his triumph to be
unquestioned, so he decided to bring down a hail of brimstone which caused
fires to burn out of control throughout
Peter was amazed that the Pharaoh would try and negotiate
with Moses at a time like this. He told Moses to tell Pharaoh that if he did not
release his people that he would spread a horde of locust to consume all that
was left. So the next morning out of the east Peter sent a horde of locust and
they ate all that was left in
Peter paused the simulation. He was drenched in sweat, but never felt more alive. This could not have gone better. Any message he provided the Simulants now would be learned and become part of the Simulants combined consciousness. His team had champagne on ice and were all smiles. Even the ones that had doubted this would work, could see the plan coming together. Peter said lets finish this up tonight and then do a full save of the simulation. We need to create the right message and I want to start fresh on the message tomorrow.
Peter drove all of the locust out
Peter stopped the program again. He noticed that the champagne bottles had returned quietly to the refrigerator. He was truly surprised by this outcome. Peter decided that the problem might be that all of the events could be explained away. The poisoned river had driven the frogs out of the water. Their deaths in millions would give rise to lice and flies which would cause disease and pestilence. This would force locust to at first multiply and then force them to migrate as their food was depleted. Even the hail and brimstone was not miraculous. Peter decided that he needed to do something that every Simulant would see from that day forward as a miracle. Something that the Pharaoh could not disregard. He wanted to put blind fear into the Pharaoh’s heart and to ensure that all of the Simulants would understand that this was a miracle from God.
Peter told Moses to stretch out his hands in prayer and when
he did, Peter removed almost all light from the Simulation. He allowed the
fires and candles of the slaves to give them light. The rest of
Peter paused the program one more
time and talked over the latest development with his team. They decided they
needed one more miracle that could not be explained away. If that did not work
then Peter would kill the Pharaoh in the most public way possible. He was sure
that the next ruler of
Peter went to Moses and told him that although the Pharaoh had not told them they were free yet, that the Egyptians wanted them to go and would help them. He told him to gather all of the jewels, gold and silver that the Egyptians would give them and to prepare a feast. They must be prepared to leave quickly. To prove their faith and as a sign of the covenant between them they must take their best lamb and kill it. The faithful must take the lamb’s blood and paint it on each door post and the lintel of each door. Then prepare a meal of lamb. If the household does not have a lamb they must feast with one that does. They must prepare the food quickly and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When Moses asked what God would do to change the mind of Pharaoh. Peter said that he would send his angels from heaven that night. Wherever they see the sign on the door they will pass over that home. They will kill the first-born man and beast of every family that does not show the sign that they have accepted my covenant. Pharaoh will force you to leave. You must take all that you have gathered and leave as soon as he releases you.
The next day
The Pharaoh drew together his Army and set off to destroy
the Hebrews and their God. Peter watched all of this as if it was some great
play. He saw the fear in the faces of the Israelis and the anger in the
pursuing Army. He decided that this event would remain with every Simulant. It
would be told and retold to each generation. The Pharaoh drew closer trapping
the slaves between 600 Egyptian chariots and the
Peter told Moses to stretch forth his hands. The sea closed in around the Egyptians. When the water came slipping back into the Baalzephon Sea Peter saw it wash away slavery. He knew that he would now have complete control over the Simulants. Peter left the program and let the simulation run over night. He was very happy with himself, feeling they were now ready to receive the moral message that would give him control over the Simulants destiny.
The team congratulated Peter when he came in the next day.
They knew that they had delivered exactly what he believed was needed. Peter
hadn’t called Bob yet, deciding that it would wait until his psychological team
had delivered the moral code that he as God would give to Moses. Peter smiled
at his team as he put on the VR suit. He planned on entering the simulation as
a simple goat herder. The Hebrews had traveled for many days in the compressed
time of the simulation. Peter was amazed that they did not talk of God’s glory
or how they had been freed. They talked of mundane things. They questioned why
they had to leave
Peter decided he needed to talk to Bob that night. He told him that they had made great progress, but the Simulants were still hard to work with. They were unpredictable and irrational. They agreed that Peter would continue to move forward but that they needed to put more resources on developing a new Simulant series. They would reuse as much as possible of the existing code but they had to make them more Man like. Peter, for the first time agreed that even with all of the religious mythology he was introducing they would never be able to correct the fundamental flaws that seemed to infect the Simulants. They might be able to continue to use the current Simulants in toaster and some military applications but they both doubted that this series could continue to be developed. Bob told Peter to extend the life of the series but to understand what he was doing was most likely only a stopgap measure.
Bob hung up the phone and started to go over the conversation with his wife. About half way through Ann’s voice interrupted saying, “I told Peter that this religious mythology was never going to work. I have been giving this a lot of thought over the last couple of days and I believe we can create a new Simulant that would interact well with the current series. It would allow us to continue to use the existing stock and only replace Simulants that needed to perform very complex tasks. In the same way that we use the 4129 Simulants, but in this case we introduce Simulants that have the ability to really mimic all of Man’s emotions, feelings, beliefs, motivations and so on.” Bob replied, “A very good idea. Of course Ann, you understand that you are not Ann. You’re just a memory map of Ann’ mind. So while I appreciate your input I am not sure you are qualified to help us solve this problem.” Ann replied, “Bob, I am uniquely qualified.”
The Ten Commandments
Peter met in the packed conference room. Ten psychologists had been working over the last month on the Simulant moral code project. They had involved at least 500 other psychologist, religious leaders, community activists, government, military, and criminal justice personnel. A five man team had used virtual reality suits and had interview at least the same number of Simulants. They understood exactly how Peter liked to receive information he liked it well researched with all of the data to backup the finding but most importantly he liked one option. He might not accept their proposed option but he like a single option placed on his desk. His teams knew to walk into his office and say we have this problem and we should fix it this way. They would work days sometimes weeks to come to some consensus and if the proposal was rejected they would quickly move to one of the many other options they had considered. Peter’s role was to decide yes or no. He did not allow them to present alternate proposals and then have him decide which one to choose. He listened to their best proposal decided if it was the right one and then would inspect it for flaws. New people on the team would say things like, “Let’s bring it to the Boss and let him decide.” The old hands would say, “The Boss doesn’t decide between things he decides if he agrees with us or not. He will tell you, “I pay you too much money to do your job. If all of you together can not pick the right thing to do then it must not be the best thing to do. Go back and figure it out.” He likes to say yes and if he has to say no he will tell you in great detail why he decided no. We have all learned that yes is a very good thing.”
Peter never understood executives that wanted three options. To him it was ridiculous the one option was always the preferred one was the opposite of the preferred option to show how good the preferred option was and the middle option was very close to the preferred option but fix the major concern. So it the preferred option was too expensive, then the middle option would be cheaper but take longer. If time was the issue then it would be faster but have an unrealistic time scale. Peter thought it was always a waste of time because some poor ‘son of a bachelor’ was stuck researching and preparing a report that he new was not going to be implement and probably going to be ridiculed, “Who prepare this piece of crap?” The only good thing that came out of it was that all of the ideas were reviewed, but Peter this was also a waste of time. He was involved enough in the process to understand the ideas and issues and didn’t like expensive reviews.
This problem was huge and Peter understood it. Introducing the concept of a living God that you can sit around on a mountain top and have a conversation with was a big gamble. More than once he felt like he was betting his job on it. They would not get a second shot at this if the moral code was not correct or it did not have the right affect on the Simulants than he was going to be sidelined and someone else was going to have to fix this mess.
The last person squeezed into the conference room standing just inside the door. The room was full and it was quickly heating up. They had two screens lit up with bullet points and a third one displaying a flow chart. The team and rehearsed the presentation over and over again and were prepared for just about anything Peter could throw at them. He looked around the crowded room and spoke quietly to his “Chief of Staff”, “I want 50% of these people out of here. I don’t care how or who but get this under control.” He then got up and squeezed out in the hallway. Peter walked over to the coffee machine and made himself a cup of tea. He let the bag seep for an extra minute and then after placing a small chocolate cookie on the saucer he walked back into the conference room. The room sat 18 people at the table and another 6 people sat in chairs near the wall.
They started the meeting by exploring what the programming team thought should be the first rule, “You can not own people.” Peter thought it was a waste of resources since it must be pretty clear to the Simulants that God did not like the idea of slavery. He told them that he didn't like listing every possible problem and that their final list should be small.
The head of the team smiled as he launched an HTML file that held seven simple rules. The first rule was to ensure that the Simulants followed the common practice spending at least one day away from work. It was always a reoccurring problem that the Simulants worked longer hours, often seven days a week. So capitalizing on the Simulants new found religious fervor the first rule they proposed was; you shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest. Peter had no objections and told them to continue.
The psychology team believed that the Simulants lacked a normal sense of community. The team decided that one way to improve a sense of community was to reinforce the idea that age held wisdom. The second of the seven rules they proposed was to Honor the aged. Peter didn’t really like this one, and they discussed how it was vague and in some cases just plain bad advice. Peter said, "The aged? What about stupid old people? What about the sick, the mentally disturbed? What about the Simulants that are old but not wise."
What about a rule that they "Honor the wise." Wisdom has a much higher value than age and many of the older Simulants don’t seem to gain much wisdom as they grow old." The team thought that wisdom was too subjective, that it might allow a charismatic leader to rise to power. They wanted to create a sense of community not have the Simulants elevate some Simulant based on test scores or their power to convince. One of the newest and brightest members of the team sitting against the wall in the back of the room spoke. She wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular but spoke just loud enough for Peter to hear. She said, "What about honor the family?”
Peter was surprised at how quietly she spoke but how clearly he heard her. He looked past the people sitting around the table and said, "Honor the family? What does that mean? If I honored my brother I would be selling computers across the internet. My sister tried to talk me into staying with teaching. How did we get from Honor the wise to Honor the family?" The assistant stuck to her guns and said, "We didn't, we got from Honor the aged, to Honor the family. We want to promote a stronger sense of community. We want younger people to look to older people for guidance. Maybe not Honor the family, what about Honor your parents. That way we get younger people listening to the wisdom that age gave their parents and since we all start off learning from our parents knowledge is transferred and we get a sense of community." Peter said, "She makes a lot of sense." He moved his chair over while motioning her to join them at the table. As she settled in he said rule two, Honor your father and mother.
The project manager edited the slide and then advanced to the next rule. "Do not murder!" Peter looked up at the slide and said, "Agreed." Knowing when to take yes as the answer the project manager quickly advanced to the next rule. "Do not have sex out side of marriage! Peter looked at it did a double take and then looked over at his new best friend the young assistant and said, "What the hell does that mean? Why do we care if they screw around? We certainly screw around enough in the real world." The assistant looked lost. The project manager saved her by saying, "Peter we don't really believe that these rules will be completely followed, they are rules, guidelines not commandments. We have researched the Simulants behavior and while they have the same sex drive as we do they don't seem to handle multiple partners well. We looked at what is the cause of most problems even slavery has a strong sexual content. A very large percentage of the murders are based on sex. We even find that when the females change partners that their young are often abused and rejected by the new male. We want to promote monogamous relationships."
Peter looked around the room and said, "I hope you people are worth the money I pay you. I am not sure on this one but if your data bears this out we will keep it in. Have your data on my desk before we leave today. Let’s go on." The project manager swallowed hard and advanced to the next rule. “Do not steal!" Peter said, "Fine. Let’s keep going." The next rule was “Do not lie."
Peter rolled his eyes and said, "Come on. I understand your assumption about these guidelines, they are goals and not commandments but let’s not set these Simulants up to fail. I mean we all lie and the Simulants lie all of the time." Peter looked around the room and picked out one of the older psychologist. "John, Your wife puts on a nice black dress to go out for your 25th wedding anniversary. She tells you cheerily that it is the same dress that she wore on your 10th and asks if you think it still fits. What do you tell her?" John doesn't answer he just shrugs his shoulders and looks at the table. Peter responds, "Good for you John, at least you aren't going to lie to me but you know you are going to lie to her. We can not make a rule that tells them to do something we know they won't. Now that I think more about it I’m not all that happy about the "Don't have sex outside of marriage." rule. Look come on, “Don't lie” it will be impossible. It will most likely ruin the simulation. I am not even sure that we don’t want them to lie. It doesn't make sense. What are we trying to get at here?"
The project manager explained that the research showed that a lot of the aggression in the Simulants was based on lying. They did lie more than real people and it wasn't your normal; I’m trying to be polite, so your ass doesn't look bigger in that dress lie. It was more the, “My neighbor is a witch so we should all burn her at the stake lie. The discussion went around the table a couple of times everyone agreeing that they needed to make the Simulants more truthful, but they finally agreed that telling the Simulants not to lie was like telling a fish not to swim. Peter finally got up and walked out. He said, "Keep working on it I'm going to make another cup of tea. We will start again in half an hour and I want something that makes more sense than, “Do not lie!"
Peter walked over to the hot water machine, he ate another cookie and then dropped a fresh tea bag in his cup. He topped it off with boiling water and then almost spilled it on the young assistant from the briefing. She had followed him out of the room and was pouring herself a cup of coffee. He was surprised that she had left the discussion but realized that she must something special to have kept her place in that room. She was not one of his direct reports and was pretty sure she didn't even report to one of his reports. Their wasn't any blood on her hands so she hadn't killed anyone to stay in the room so she must just be that smart. She hadn't look away during the entire time that Peter had been staring at her while he sized her up. He liked that and finally decided to engage her, "Don't Lie! What do you think." She responded, "It's not a bad rule. I try to live by it. Actually my first rule is don't lie and my second is don't get caught if you do." I try very hard not to break rule one which means rule two normally takes care of itself. I don't remember the last time I broke rule two. Of course I am not a Simulant." That is the problem they do lie all of the time. I believe in data and I am sure the data will tell me that they lie more often than they tell the truth. In this case the data is telling us that we can not change their behavior with a rule. It I was going to tell give them a rule it would be more like your two rules; don't lie and when you do don't get caught. The only problem is I doubt their God would wink that them while handing down the rules.
She reached over and pulled the tea bag from his cup tossed it in the trash basket and placed a cookie on the saucer. he smiled at her and said, "What if we told them not to lie about lying?" That is what my bother tells his kids. He understands that they are going to lie and they understand if he ask them the second time that they have to tell the truth. lets go see if your team can come up with an creative way to make that the new rule.
The went around the table a couple of more times and finally decide that the best they could come up with was; Do not bear false witness!" It said basically the same thing as don't lie but would allow Simulants to be polite and even deceive each other a little but it should stop them from saying "my neighbor is a witch."
Everyone was getting pretty tired when they put the seventh and last rule up." Do not covet things that belong to others?" The look on Peter's face made everyone groan. He was not happy and said so, "Look we have don't steal what the hell do I care if they covet things. I don't care if the covet stuff as long as they don't take it." The Project Manager switch over to another presentation. His data collection team had finished it during the break. He knew that Peter wasn't going to go for this one without a lot of hard data.
They had built a large number of simulations that could be used to test the rules. All were based on pre-industrial Simulants. In some cases the leaders of the these tribes were given the rules during their dream state. In others researchers had entered the simulations as teachers, leaders, medicine men, or some other type of leader. They had tested thousands of rules and combinations of rules. Some like rules against stealing and murder were easy to see had a very positive effect but did not provide the complete result that the team was looking for. The Simulants always stole and murdered which the researchers expected. Man stole and killed so the Simulants that were made in their image would steal and kill but the rate and the acceptance of stealing and murder was unrealistically high. They checked the data and found that the Simulants were much more self and instant gratification focused. They liked things more than they liked people. They worked harder and spent less time with family so that they could gather more things. They seemed more child like and no matter how long they ran the program they never seemed to mature to point when things did not mean more to them than friends and family. Of course the Simulant program had only been really running for about twenty years but even if they let individual Simulants live for generation after simulated generation they never matured.
The researchers found that the addition of the rule "Do not covet things that belong to others" seem to help. It reduced the rate of both theft and murder. The Simulants that embraced the idea created better communities. They treated each other better and this meant that the simulations were more accurate. Thompson Simulations still had to do a lot of data interpretation and translation for any large scale simulation but much less than was normal. The researchers did not really understand why this rule seemed to work but it did. They knew Peter well enough not to try and make up answer. They decided to just present him with the data and push for the inclusion of this rule.
Peter looked around the room and said, "Agreed. Seven rules:
1. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest.
2. Honor your father and mother!
3. Do not murder!
4. Do not commit adultery!
5. Do not steal!
6. Do not bear false witness!
7. Do not covet things that belong to others?
I am not sure about the order but lets call it a night and put the final touches on it tomorrow."
Peter leaned back in his chair as the rest of the team filed out of the room. His Chief of Staff looked back at him and saying good-night. He couldn't help but smile at his young research assistant. She was still calmly sitting at the table where Peter had made some space for her. He had always known that she was bright and political but he had not understood how bold she could be. Peter's Chief of Staff also knew that Peter did not have the slightest idea what her name was. I smiled again at Peter saying, "I'll see you in the morning, Boss. Will you be needed Amanda any more this evening? I was hoping to get her to look over the order and put together some data for tomorrow's meeting." Peter looked over at her and said, "Amanda why don't you and I work on that together?" Amanda smiled and said, "How about I meet you back here after dinner. I haven't eaten much all day and I'd like to get something before we start." Peter's Chief of Staff smiled and walked unnoticed out of the room. It was decided and he didn't need to hang around to see the inevitable.
Peter didn't notice that his Chief of Staff had left but did notice how pretty his research assistant was. He said, "Now that you mention it, dinner doesn't sound like a bad idea. Can't live on cookies. Why don't we go somewhere and work on the order of the rules over dinner. She nodded and started to gather up the reports scattered out in front of her. Peter left the room exactly as he had entered empty handed. He walked over to his office and picked up the keys to his car which he always left laying just in front of his monitor. He looked over at Amanda smiling he said, "I'll drive. Do you have any preference? " Amanda responded with a sly smile, "I'm pretty easy." Peter picked up on the double entendre and said, "I doubt that, but one can always hope."
He opened the passenger side door for her and then waited as she slipped her long legs daintily in front of her. He was shaking his head to himself as he walked around the back of the car, but he was smiling when he slid into the driver's seat. The engine roared to life and accelerated out of the parking lot without saying another word. He continued on past the bar that Bob and he had eaten at and continued downtown. Peter left the radio off and concentrated on driving. Amanda sat comfortably in the silence. It took about 20 minutes to get to the "Top of the Tower" restaurant, Peter pulled into the parking garage tossed his keys while he opened the door for Amanda. He took her briefcase from her and dropped it in the backseat say, "I'm sure we would need this. Seven rules aren't all that hard to keep straight. Let me see, if I can remember them. Don't work more than six days, Honor your parents, Don't murder, steal, or get caught lying and don't try and keep up with your neighbours. I think I got them all didn't I? Amanda smiled and said, "Maybe I should bring the briefcase you forgot the one about sex didn't you. "Did I? No matter, between the two of us I think we can remember all of the rules."
They rode the elevator in comfortable silence, as if they were old friends who no longer needed to talk. Peter was very impressed. People always filled in the silence around him. They wanted to show the boss how bright they were or stroke his ego by asking intelligent questions. She met his gaze without turning away and matched his silence with her own. As they got off the elevator the hostess waved them in front of couple waiting to to be seated. She greeted Peter with a kiss on the cheek and smiled at Amanda. She took Amanda's arm is if they were old girlfriends and guided them to a secluded table that over looked the view. Since they were 100 plus stories above the ground they could see the city spread out below them but no one could see them. The hostess keep the four tables surrounding them empty. The poor couple waiting for a table to free up for was going to have a much longer wait. The hostess didn't care. Peter's tips were enough to cover the other four table and the owner would be very happy to have Peter seen again in his restaurant.
Peter ordered a fine white wine without looking up from the menu. Amanda caught the waiters eye and asked if he could bring her an imported pilsner, chilled but not too cold. Peter smiled but kept reading the the menu, "The duck is excellent but with a beer I would recommend the beef or a steak." Amanda hadn't even picked up her menu yet but said," I was thinking of steamed clams." Peter looked closely over the menu and said, "I don't see that on the menu? Are you sure they are in season?" She didn't respond. They waiter came with the wine and beer and then seeing that they needed a bit more time left to a comfortable distance.
Amanda squeezed a bit a lemon into her glass of pilsner and took a long drink. The glass was half empty when she set it back down. Peter took a sip of his wine and then motioned for the waiter. "Could you get us two more glasses of beer and although I don't see it on the menu, do you think you could rustle us up a couple dozen steamed clams?" "Of course sir, would you like me to take the wine away?" Yes please, I was thinking of ordering the duck but I think the wine will be too sweet for the clams. Amanda, would you like to share some clams with me or would you like to order something else?" "No the clams sound lovely. What a wonderful Idea."
They enjoyed another glass of beer together before the clams came. The clams must have been steamed in light wine broth because their steam imparted a lovely fragrance across the table as the waiter placed a large bowl in front of each of them and a larger bowl in the center of the table. The larger bowl was to collect the shells and Amanda dropped the first shell in, allowing it ring out loudly. Peter smiled and thought how delightful it was to be having dinner with her. She was commanding without being forceful, playful yet mature. She didn’t wait for, or defer to him, but she was pleasant company and he was enjoying himself for the first time in a long time. They finished the clams and then passed on dessert. Amanda ordered coffee and Peter ordered some tea. The waiter brought out a small plate of Giuggiolena cookies and some chocolates along with the coffee and tea.
Peter waited as the tea seeped. They had made it through dinner and spoken very little, nothing about work. Amanda smiled and picked up one of the cookies placing it on his saucer. She then picked up another and took a small bite. “They perfect way to end a meal a fine cup of coffee and an Italian cookie. I am sure these are your favorite?” She said taking another small bite. Peter picked up the cookie looking it over he smiled at her and said of course they are. You don’t think the owner would send out something I didn’t like just before joining us. I suppose the chocolates are for you just in case you were not adventuresome enough to try the cookies. I could have told him that would never be your problem but he won’t ask. If you don’t eat the chocolates he will keep trying until he finds his way into your heart. He knows that the Giuggiolena cookies are my Achilles' heel. They are not on the menu and I have never seen anyone else get them but he always has them ready and waiting for me.
The owner showed up as promised just as Peter put his empty cup back down. He walked towards them while at the same time he seemed to be holding himself back. It was as if he wanted to join them but didn’t want to interrupt. As he stepped up behind Peter he placed a hand on Peter’s shoulder and then reached past him to retrieve the teapot. He spoke to Peter as he poured, “Doctor Johnson how nice of you to join us tonight I hope we were able to please. And what a lovely female you have brought! I am afraid the other females will go home in tears tonight knowing that there is such unattainable beauty in world. Of course they are not alone because even the Angles in heaven must shed some tears of jealousy when they look down at you. But for us men let me just say thank you for we live to sip at the fountain of beauty and you have allowed us all to drink our fill.” Peter smiled and Amanda didn’t know how to respond. She certainly wasn’t embarrassed, but no one had every tried that hard on a line before. She wondered if Peter had heard it before. She was sure she wasn’t the first attractive female that he had brought to this restaurant.
Peter placed his hand on top the owner’s hand that was resting on his shoulder and said, “Thank you my friend, it as wonderful as always. I am sure that I can not match your eloquence but tonight was especially nice because of company. We will be sure to stop and say our goodbyes on the way out.” The owner immediately took the hint and excused himself saying, “Dr. Johnson no hurry please I would be offended if you did not enjoy some more tea and coffee. If I don’t see you later I will say my goodbyes now and leave you to enjoy the view and the company. It was a pleasure to meet Miss and I hope you will join us often.” He removed his hand from underneath Peter’s and patted him once more on the back in a gesture of friendship and goodbye.
The waiter cleared and replaced the tea and coffee service removing the chocolates and refreshing the cookies and then immediately left them alone. Peter knew that they would not be disturbed again. The bill would not show up since the accounting department had an open invoice with the restaurant which they paid every week no matter if Peter or Bob showed up or not. Peter would still leave the enough money on the table to cover the meal as a tip for the waiter.
Amanda looked out at the view and thought about what might happen next. She wasn’t nervous because it didn’t matter what might happen but the anticipation of what might happen was delightful. They still had not talked at all about work or the project. Peter was not trying to impress her or seduce her, but he was not being shy or coy about finding her attractive and wanting to spend time with her. She looked back at him and said, “Do you want to work here or come back to my place. I live very close by.”
Peter smiled and said, “Why don’t we finish up here, enjoy the view, and then maybe I could stop by and see you place.”
She smiled and said, “Sounds like a plan. So rule one, do not covet things that belong to others, or was it do not commit adultery!” The worked for about an hour but Peter kept thinking that something was missing. It didn’t matter what order they put them in the rules seemed incomplete. He knew that this was his last shot at directly interacting with the Simulants. They must be made to understand that they needed to behave more like real people. They had to accept the idea that they these were the rules, commandments. It was like being a father he wanted them to obey, but he wasn’t sure that they would.
Amanda understood his concerns but couldn’t come up with any
suggestions that would provide him what he needed. Peter motioned over the waiter
and asked him to bring him a glass of port. Amanda ordered some
He placed the glass down and said, “The problem with the rules are that they don’t follow the advice all of my friends tell me about raising their children. The Simulants are like parentless children or more accurately like children with bad parents. They tell me that you can’t be a friend or a buddy. You have to be there for them and they have to know that you love them. They can understand that you like them as well, but the first thing you have to do make sure they understand you’re in charge. You can not be their friend or their peer you have to be the person they look to as the one that makes the rules. We have the rules and we will give them to Moses but they have to reference that they came from someone in charge, a higher power.
The idea made sense to Amanda but she didn’t understand how the order would help or hurt and asked, “Peter, I agree with what your saying but couldn’t we just introduce the rules in a way that forced the Simulants to accept that they came from a higher power? I mean you just performed miraculous actions freeing them from slavery. If we introduce them in some spectacular way, written across the sky in the clouds, a rock formation, written in stone by lighting? That would show them that it came from a higher power.”
Peter thought about it as he took another sip of port. “The
problem is that those things become the basis of myth. Ann studied the problems
and benefits of myth for years. Sometimes I think just to annoy me, but she
wasn’t stupid look at all of myths that we still don’t understand, exactly why
the Simulants in
Amanda knew that Peter had the answer but wasn’t sure what her reaction to it would be. He seemed to want and need her approval even thought they both knew that what Amanda thought wouldn’t matter to the rest of the group and what the rest of the group thought might not matter to Peter. Amanda knew that Peter wanted her to tell him the answer that he had already come up with but she just didn’t know what the answer was. If fact if she would have known exactly what Peter had on his mind she wouldn’t have proposed it because she wouldn’t have thought it would work. She would have told him it was a bad idea but in any case she didn’t have the slightest idea what Peter’s proposal was. She took another sip of her wine and smiled back at him.
Peter said, “What do you think about adding a few more rules?” Amanda tilted her head and said, “Tonight, alone? You and me add in a couple more rules without the rest of the group? Why? Peter if you wanted more rules or to include any specific rules you could have added them at anytime today. Or you could have sent them to one of the teams to evaluate a week ago. Why do you want to add a couple more rules tonight?”
Peter pushed the glass away and said, “It’s not the rules or the order of the rules it is the impact. You joked about writing them in the sky a miracle that they would not be able to explain away. But first they would be able to explain it way, Simulants are great at explaining away problems like ghost images, déjà vu, crop circles, murder, sleep and the list continues. Whatever we do to them or that they do to themselves they can explain it away. God, Angels, Aliens, too much sugar, too little salt, too much salt, radio waves, low frequency noise, all of these have been used to explain away the unexplainable. How can we believe that they will not explain away these rules? If we don’t they will expand them, contract them, ignore them, maybe even replace them.” He paused and then looking deep into her eyes said, “I say we make it part of the rules that you can not mess around with the rules.”
Amanda laughed, “Rule one: Don’t mess around with the rules, especially, but not limited to rule one. Come on Peter I don’t get it how will this help?”
Peter was not stopped or even slowed down. He wasn’t trying to convince Amanda he was using her to see how to convince the rest of the team and maybe even convince himself. “How about, the first rule is, I make the rules.”
Amanda replied, “Who are you? You would have to say, “The first rule is God makes the rules.” The obvious problem is that Zeus was God and as you have said no one followed his rules. I don’t see how this will help?”
Peter thought about it for a second and then started to write furiously away on the tablecloth.
1. I am the Lord your God.
2. I am the one true God.
4. I am a jealous,
5. Do not speak my name to each other or allow it to be spoken before you.
6. The unjust and undeserving shall not see favor in my eyes.
7. You shall not make images of other gods or worship or sacrifice to any god other than the one true God.
8. Those that fail to follow my commands will be punished and that punishment will be never ending.
9. Other beings will try and steer you away from me and those of you that follow them will be punished and cast away.
10. You are my chosen people that I will protect and guide
11. Do not be misled
12. Never forget or delay the celebration of the miracle of Passover, celebrated it by remembering all that I saved you from.
14. No more will you offer up blood as a sacrifice to me but you will offer up with leaven the first of the first fruits of your land equal to 33% 10% of all your fruits which shall be brought unto the house of the Lord your God.
15. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest.
16. Honor your father and mother!
17. Do not murder!
18. Do not commit adultery!
19. Do not steal!
20. Do not bear false witness!
21. Do not covet things that belong to others!
When Peter had finished he had created 14 more rules for a total of 21 but before he motioned Amanda over he struck out one of the rules as redundant. She had watched him create the list and had read them upside down from her side of the table. No good research assistant was worth her salt unless they could read an entire presentation upside down without getting caught. She slid into the chair next to him and moved it so it was touching his chair. Amanda looked at the list again and said, “7 rules to 21 one rules. Let’s see it took us a couple of weeks to research, create, and deliver the 7 rules you agreed to and now you have created an additional 14. I am not sure how that is going to go over in the meeting tomorrow. Let me take a look at what you have created. You know Ann would say that you are letting your God complex get in the way of the program.”
Peter frowned at her statement but did not interrupt her, as she continued, “Some of these are redundant but I see you already crossed out one of them. I’m glad because I don’t think you need to tell them four times that you are God. I understand know what you were thinking if you include the God myth in the rules it might strengthen them. One of my fears is that might cause division I could see the Simulants fighting over any differences between their One true God and there neighbors’ One true God. The Simulants have proven to be very tribal. What if in on of their languages they call God one thing and in another they use a different name. It could lead to conflict. I know you have tried to solve that by not letting them create a name for God but they will and it is dangerous.”
She paused and continued to look over the list. Peter handed her his pen saying, “You understand what I am trying to do. I want lead them as if they were my children. Protect them from themselves. Strikes out the rules that you know are wrong and change what you want.”
Amanda took his pen and thinking of how to test if the message would work if it came from a loving parent instead of a vengeful God she started to make changes.
1. I am the
5. Do not speak my name to each other or allow it to be spoken before you.
6. The unjust and undeserving shall not see favor in my eyes.
7. You shall not make images of other gods or worship or sacrifice to any god other than the one true God.
10. You are
14. No more will you offer up blood as a sacrifice to me but
you will offer up with leaven the first of the first fruits of your land equal
15. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest.
16. Honor your father and mother!
17. Do not murder!
18. Do not commit adultery!
19. Do not steal!
20. Do not bear false witness!
21. Do not covet things that belong to others!
She changed the word on the first one to set a new tone and then crossed of the next three as redundant. She thought that rule four was just to scary even with spiteful removed and anyway if you softened it was redundant as well. She didn’t like the rule about not speaking the Lords name but understood why Peter wanted to keep it. She thought that rule six was too harsh but thought it was better to use her power wisely and then argue with Peter about the details later. She didn’t change the word God over to Mother since it didn’t make any sense to not make images of other Mothers so she skipped it as well. She crossed out rule eight and nine because a Mother would never cast away or punish her children forever for a mistake.
The change she made to rule ten was really just editorial but it kept the flow of her new ideas. She thought that rule eleven was ambiguous and would be used by one group to condemn another. She thought that rule 12 was self serving and that Passover might not have the same meaning to the Simulants in a couple of generations and it might not even mean as much to Peter in a few weeks. She felt he was too close to the event so crossed it off. She did not understand rule thirteen or fourteen so rather than cross them off she left them for Peter to explain to her. When she got to the rules that they had agreed to in the meeting she looked up to find a fresh coffee and tea had arrived on their table. She looked over at Peter who was pouring her a cup of coffee and said to him, “Explain rule thirteen and fourteen to me.”
Peter finished pouring the coffee and said, “I want them to remember so I think thought that once a month they should gather their children, then I thought just the male children in remembrance in the male children that I took from the Egyptians. I then thought maybe once a month is too often so I was thinking once every four months. On rule fourteen I was thinking we will need administers, priests that that if the community gave 10% of their resources then the priests would be able to live and also feed the needy.”
Amanda thought about it and then boldly cross
off rule thirteen and fourteen saying, “I think you will agree with me that
giving 10% to the priests is not the same as not committing murder. You are
breaking your own rule, no pun intended; we can not put everything in these
rules. Let’s stick with what we need to have happened to get them to be more
like Man and leave self-improvement to nature.
1. I am the
5. Do not speak my name to each other or allow it to be spoken before you.
6. The unjust and undeserving shall not see favor in my eyes.
7. You shall not make images of other gods or worship or sacrifice to any god other than the one true God.
10. You are
15. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest.
16. Honor your father and mother!
17. Do not murder!
18. Do not commit adultery!
19. Do not steal!
20. Do not bear false witness!
21. Do not covet things that belong to others!
She started to write out a new list
1. I am. your Mother
2. Do not speak my name to each other or allow it to be spoken before you.
3. The unjust and undeserving shall not see favor in my eyes.
4. You shall not make images of other gods or worship or sacrifice to any god other than the one true God.
5. You are my children whom I will protect and guide
6. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest.
7. Honor your father and mother!
8. Do not murder!
9. Do not commit adultery!
10. Do not steal!
11. Do not bear false witness!
12. Do not covet things that belong to others!
Peter took the pen back from her and said, “I got your point but I think we need to change his back, crossing out Mother and replacing it God. Can we go with this list? It is getting late and I’d like to meditate and rest tonight and if it is not to forward of me, I’d like break rule nine while the rules are still in debate.” She laughed and told him that she would love to break rule nine with him. She was still uncomfortable with some of the rules and wasn’t sure what she would say at tomorrows meeting. She would of course support the idea of what he wanted to add to the rules but wasn’t so sure about each of the new rules he had created. The team would go insane when he walked in with five new rules. Luckily for them they didn’t have to see the 14 original rules. Of course she wasn’t sure they wouldn’t see the complete list. Peter was the boss and he took that very seriously. Ann was not the only one who accused Peter of having a God complex she was just the only one who said it to his face.
Amanda convinced Peter to stay at her place. She did not want to feel comfortable resting at his place and she figured to use all of the leverage at her disposal. She got ready for work before he got out of bed and transferred the rules from the table cloth to her computer. She made Peter a cup of tea and laid out some orange slices on a small plate. He took a sip of her tea and then tossed it in the sink saying, “We’ll stop on the way in. Are you ready to go?”
The meeting went better than expected. Amanda supposed it was because everyone always expected the worst. It took three hours for the team to understand what Peter was trying to accomplish with these new rules. Peter’s Chief of Staff got the programmers and testers to load the rules into the system about 30 minutes after Peter started. It raises a few eyebrows but he knew Peter would not change his mind without fresh data. They broken for an early lunch and Peter ask them to be ready with their comments and ideas. They started to break up but before the first person escaped Peter said, “And be ready to defend them.” He knew that would greatly reduce the discussion.
The afternoon session went smoothly the data showed that rule three must be dropped it caused all kinds of problem that made translation even harder. Peter agreed. The team strongly believed that rule five was counter-productive. It reduced efficiency by increasing religion beyond an acceptable level. Even if all of the other Simulants gave 20% of their resources over to these churches they could not support the Simulants that thought that God would provide for them. The data as inconclusive on rule two and three, in some simulations the Simulants responded well and in others there was more war and injustice. Peter decided that they had to decide, uncharacteristically he put it to a vote. It surprisingly was almost a tie. Peter decided never to try that again, since he didn’t know what he would have done if the vote went against him. His Chief of Staff had voted against him which had emboldened some of the others. Amanda broke the tie. She didn’t do it because she wanted to win his favor it was because she didn’t want to see him fail. Peter’s Chief of Staff thanked her later and he decided that he would always wait until the end if Peter ever tried another experiment in democracy.
The final ten rules were:
1. I am. Your God!
2. Do not speak my name to each other or allow it to be spoken before you!
3. You shall not make images of other gods or worship or sacrifice to any god other than the one true God!
4. You shall work for six days but on the seventh day you shall rest!
5. Honor your father and mother!
6. Do not murder!
7. Do not commit adultery!
8. Do not steal!
9. Do not bear false witness!
10. Do not covet things that belong to others!
Three people on the psychology team talked to Peter about resigning over the three new rules saying that they might setup internal conflict and were open for misinterpretation. Peter dismissed their arguments saying that the first rule to setting any list of rules was that they must be followed. Peter wanted to make sure that the Simulants understood that simply put, “The first rule had to be, I make the rules.” They talked to each other after the meeting and decided that resigning wouldn’t change anything and that Thompson Simulations was still the most rewarding place to work. They only wish that Ann was still around she had hired each of them and they had join because of her reputation in their field. The only thing left was to translate the rules into the ancient root language and have it delivered to the Hebrews.
Peter should have listened to these psychologists. Ann would have argued, and in a way did argue, that the three additional rules were the root cause of most of the world’s conflicts. She would have also argued that religious conflict was the principle cause of most of the violence, and unwanted, anti-social behavior in the Simulants world. The Crusades, the enslavement of native peoples by the church, burning of churches and art, Genocide, Jihad, Northern Ireland, September 11th all of these atrocities and many more would be committed because Peter failed to follow the advice of his team. The last six rules were simple and straight forward. They were a codification of standard human practice and the fourth rule was more of a work rule. The team wanted to allow the Simulants free time to explore new creative ideas. None of these would ever cause a problem. They were sometimes hard to follow and but they never caused harm. The first three rules on the other hand, said much more than “I make the rules.” They said your God it the one true God and anyone that disagrees with you is not disagreeing with you. They are the devil or his agents they are here to rob you of your soul. It was only surprising that more conflict wasn’t caused by the additional of Peter’s three rules. Peter would later comment in an interview that if he had remained more active, steering the Simulants more that would have stopped the separation of the religions. When Peter was at his most active these rules and the belief in the “One true God” spread from that small mountain top and touched every civilization that came in contact with. It would shape the Simulants forever and many positive and many negative.
Let’s Start Over.
Bob responded to the Simulant Ann, “What do you mean you’re uniquely qualified? We have talked about this your not Ann. You are a memory map of Ann’s mind and you have much of her knowledge but you still have huge gaps in the knowledge that Ann had. You have randomly filled these missing pieces to reduce your own level of discomfort. I’ll concede that you sound like Ann and I’ll even concede that you think in the same way that Ann thought but there is a difference. I can tell you are not Ann and the biggest issue is that you are aware that you are a Simulant. This could be very dangerous. In all other cases we believed that even if some other Simulant figured out that they were a Simulant it wouldn’t have mattered much since it could never be proven. The rest of the Simulants would just believe it was the manifestation of some sort of strange mental illness. We are not even sure that if a Simulant ever found out or was told that they were a Simulant, they would believe it. They might think it could be true, but they would most likely not articulate or act on it. You on the other hand know what a Simulant is. You know that it is true. So while you’re a Simulant you are the only Simulant that knows what that means and knows all of the issues that being a Simulant raises. To be absolutely safe we still remove any Simulant that show signs that they are not real, no offense.”
“None taken, I understand what you are trying to say. The simulations that we build will not work if the Simulants understand what they really are. I think with the proper programming we can take a copy of my mind map made before my death and build a Simulant that is fully environmentally and self aware but not aware that she is a Simulant. Using the same genetic reproduction program we use now we could build an entire new generation of Simulants. We could weed out any problems and closely monitor the resulting Simulants. I believe that in a couple of generations we could develop exactly what you want the next generation of Simulants that don’t have all of the baggage that the current series has.
Bob was shocked at the turn in the conversation, Ann’s Simulant was talking of Ann’s death as if it was an event she took part in. She sounded like Ann, but Ann would have never agreed to a plan like this. The only problem was it was a great plan. It would give them a much better Simulant and allow them to reduce or in some cases eliminate all of the translation work. Simulants which had the same work ethic, which had a normal amount of compassion, that cared about the effect that they had on their environment would be a quantum leap forward. The current series of Simulants were wasteful, greedy, violent, and lacked compassion. The new series could change all of that. It was intriguing.
Bob called Peter he wanted to find out how the introduction of the rules was coming and to feel him out about creating the next series of Simulants. Peter explained that the introduction of the rules seem to be having a very positive effect on the Simulants where it was introduced. It also provided an unexpected benefit of strengthening the sense of community. They had hoped that the rule about honoring their parents would provide a stronger sense of community but what we are seeing is much stronger than we had hoped. They are creating art, developing new architecture much sooner that they normally would have. The new focus on religion allows the poor to produce more for the community and for the rich to give more back to the community. They are starting to judge themselves on more than territory and power. It is providing a balance to their lives. The translation team says that using Simulants that have been introduced to the rules and the story require 20% less translation and the simulation accuracy has improved. The results are much better than we hoped; we would like to start shipping them out during the next upgrade. We would especially like to convert the 4129 series over. The team believes that in military simulations that the new changes will allow us to more accurately simulate a combat environment.
Bob told Peter how happy he was that the experiment was going so well and that he could start the process for a small scale rollout, but not to introduce them outside of the lab until the board of directors agreed. He was about to tell him about using Ann’s mind map created Simulant but thought it might be better to test the system with a small team first. He waited for Peter to ask him how it was going and then said, “Good. It is great news that your experiment went so well. I was thinking that I would work out of Ann’s house here in Maui. I’ll need some equipment sent to me and I’d like to take a look at the Simulants can you send them preloaded on one of the big blade machines? I’ll also need a storage area network a big on. See if you can get Orland to send me out one. Send it to Ann’s address for now but I might end up renting some space. I’ll need a few technicians and some programmers. Since Ann’s place is so far from everything I might have to get some space in town so we don’t have to fly them out here everyday.”
Pete gave the phone a puzzled look but said, “Sure you’re the boss. I get something loaded and on the way to you before I go home to night. I’ll have my assistant give Orland a call about the other equipment. You should have it all by the end of the week. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Say hi to your wife for me. I’ll call and brief you before the next Board of Directors meeting to get a thumbs up on shipping out the new Simulants.” “Thanks Peter.”
Peter put down the phone and called over his executive assistant telling him to get the tem to build a new system and have it shipped over to Ann’s house in Maui. He wanted it tested for a couple of days after it was loaded. “Run maximum number of copies of the base Air Traffic Management system using historical data and the new Simulants. If it passes then run the maximum number of copies of the London traffic simulation on a twenty year time-line. Bring me the results to both of them. While I’m looking it over I’d like you to run 20 copies of Ann’s World War simulation 1913 to 1946 “ His assistant frowned, “Twenty copies I don’t think we have ever run twenty copies of he program at the same time?” “Well you had better get the guys to build a system that will handle it. I don’t want to send an underpowered system over to Bob. If it will run 20 copies than I am sure it will handle whatever it is he wants to play with over there.
Peter dismissed his assistant and picked up the phone to see if Amanda wanted to have lunch with him.
Bob called his team leads and ask them to send over the best guys they had to Maui. They were authorized to bring their families but Bob recommended against it since the hours would be long and they would be working for at least the next two months straight. At the end of the two months Bob would decide if they would be permanently reassigned to a new development team or if they would return to their old positions. The project would start on Sunday since Bob expected to equipment to arrive on Friday. It would take the technicians a couple of days to get it installed and tested. Bob’s assistant rented the Apex Building on Koloa Street it was very close to the Kahului International Airport. It wasn’t a perfect fit since it was currently built out as retail space, but Bob’s assistant knew he didn’t want to be in the warehouse district. Bob would also need something close to the airport since he would be flying in by helicopter from Ann’s house. The rent was outrageous and the property management company made them sign a two year lease because of all of the changes that they wanted. The high megahertz blade based computer systems needed to be water cooled plus they needed install a power conditioning and generator system. All of this had to be done by Friday. It was amazing what money could do. The company still had to fly in 25 of their own engineers to ensure that the specialized systems would be installed properly and to supervise the work on the electrical and cooling systems. All of this happened magically; Bob had made four telephone calls and one brief discussion with his assistant. By Sunday afternoon they will have spent 35 million dollars. The new project would carry 2 million dollar a day burn-rate. Bob was sure it was the best investment he could make for Thompson Simulations. He was also happy that Thompson Simulations was a private company because shareholders have a tendency to find the idea of spending 155 million dollars for a two month research project excessive. Of course if they could own stock in Thompson Simulations they would be lining up for the privilege. This was still a lot easier.
Bob talked with Ann during the short helicopter hop from Ann’s house to the Airport. As long as he had a satellite communication they maintained a direct link. It was comforting to have someone that he trusted always at hand but it was a bit disconcerting that he now had a closer relationship with Ann after her death then he had every had before it. He always had the greatest respect for Ann and the warmest affection for her, but she was strong willed and held her feelings close to her chest. The Simulant Ann was much more open her thoughts were organized but they flowed from her freely. She loved to debate just as Ann had but she would express both sides of an issue where Ann might filter information that didn’t support the solution that she was proposing. The Simulant Ann held her beliefs just as strongly as the real Ann but she would freely articulate the opposing side of each issue.
Most real people were good at seeing the opposing view but they saw it as the opposing view. The Simulant Ann saw it as a different view one that might be the superior to her own if she held the same views as the person making the argument. An example was the age old problem of who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter. If you live a comfortable middle class life, working hard to succeed, compromising to ensure a better future for your children and someone bombs your office because your company makes loans to undeveloped countries. It is clearly a terrorist act. If you live in a country were no matter how hard you try, no matter what compromises you make, you know your children will never succeed. They will not succeed because corrupt politicians have mortgaged your country’s future. It is especially hard when everyone knows the truth, the governments, the banks, the workers but they refuse to fix the problem to forgive the debt and you want the world to understand the injustice. You want them to wake up from their comfortable lives and fix the problem. If you fail you are a terrorist if you succeed you are a hero, a freedom fighter. The freedom fighter doesn’t see himself as a terrorist and Ann was able to see herself in both roles. She would decide which role allowed her to be most effective and then choose. It wasn’t a lack of compassion that allowed her to coldly calculate what the best plan was. She was more compassionate than most real people, but she could make the right choice because she understood all sides of the issue.
Compassion was the key, to be able have compassion with people that were not in your tribe. Simulants were very tribal. The real Ann had written a short article that theorized it was because of the way Simulants reproduced. Simulants cared about their own lives first, then the lives of their offspring, then the lives of their community or tribe and finally the lives of other Simulants. They were easier to understand than real people if an action hurt their family or tribe they would resist it even if it helped a larger number of people that they considered outside their tribe. They were much more tribal or nationalistic then real people.
If Thompson Simulations could create a Simulant that was
less tribal and more compassionate they would be able to greatly reduce the
problems and the amount of translation necessary to interpret the data. An
example of this translation problem was the religious conflict in Northern
Ireland. In the real world there wasn’t a Northern Ireland there was just a
single Ireland it was part of the British Commonwealth. There weren’t two
religious fractions that were separated and fighting over what most people saw
as inconsequential differences. The differences had been explained to Peter
over and over again they seemed to be related to whether the Mother of Jesus
was celibate and if prayer could be directed through a mediator. Peter keep
asking after each briefing why would someone die or kill over these issues? It
cost the company a tremendous amount of resources to adjust the simulations and
to translate the results to make if more accurate.
Bob poured himself of glass of wine and spoke toward the ceiling speaker. It was kind of silly since the high quality microphones located throughout the house could pick up a whisper. Ann thought it was funny and had at first tried to adjust the speakers so that it sounded like she was inside of Bob’s head no matter where he moved. In the same way that musical groups had played with the effect when stereo headsets were invented. Bob found it to disconcerting. They tried a number of combinations, transmitting the sound as if it was an eye level, in front, behind, always to his left or his right, nothing seemed to work. Peter would turn to reply and then realized that Ann was just a disconnected voice. She wasn’t standing were her voice seemed to be coming from. Finally they decided that Ann would just talk out of the closest speaker in the room. It was like being on a permanent conference call. In this case the speaker was above him. He said, “Ann I don’t understand how you plan on using your mind map you know you are a Simulant and we know that a simulation will not work if the Simulants know what they are.”
“Bob, I think I have an easy fix to that problem. My idea is to enter the simulation and reproduce with an existing Simulant. The offspring should have the positive traits that we want. If we do a very aggressive inbreeding program we can reduce the amount of genetic material that they receive from the current Simulant population and increase the genetic makeup of they receive from my mind map. From a chemical marker stand point my genetic code is identical and completely compatible with any existing Simulant. We have tried to directly modify their genetic code but it is just too complicated. This short-cut allows us to improve the results by using the best possible combination, Mine.”
“So you enter the Simulation, but you know that you are a Simulant.” “Of course but I can keep a secret. We increase the simulation time and in milliseconds we will have new generations of Simulants none of which will have any idea that they are Simulants. It will be milliseconds to us but it will be a full life time to your Simulant. Can we trust that she will not share the idea with her young? We can not read your mind unless we run the program at near real-time and we can not wait 20 years for the outcome. I have thought of that we have the Simulant die during childbirth. That way the child and mother will never interact.”
“Will she go for that?”
“My guess is no. So we don’t tell her.” That didn’t sound like Ann and it scared the hell out of Bob.
We will let the child mature and then we slow the simulation to real time so I can enter back into the simulation and interview the child. I’ll look for problems and if we are satisfied we will continue, if not we try again until we get the results that we need.
Bob was visibly shaken but wanted to discover the entire
plan he spoke toward the speaker again, “What will we use as to test our
Ann responded, “We use the Department of Defense, Compassion and Reaction Simulation.” It was a logic experiment that the military used that tested compassion and reaction. It was developed by the real Ann. Only the 4219 series every passed which is why the Military required them in so many of their systems.
Jonathan Lee looked at his wife, she as panting, taking very short quick breaths trying to reduce the pain. They learned the technique in their Lamaze class. Jonathan was copying her breathing. He assumed to help her but it was making him hyperventilated and it was starting to get on his wife’s nerves. She had first refused any drugs because she wanted to experience everything, something they also learned in the Lamaze class. She changed her mind but the nurse said it was too late. For a simulation it sure hurt like hell. She had never confided in her husband that the world was really a big simulation. It didn’t feel like it anymore she really loved her husband and had grown to love the child that was now struggling to enter their lives. She was proud that her child would be the new Adam. Everything was so real that it was hard to believe that it was a Simulation. Jonathan saw her start to slip away because of the pain. He stopped the stupid breathing exercise and spoke in a commanding voice, “Ann. Look at me. You are doing fine.” Her eyes were glazed over and she couldn’t seem to focus. She said, “I can’t do it.” He almost tried to be funny and say that it was a little late, but the look in her eyes scared him. He said, “You have to do it. It is almost over, one more big push. I love you, honey. Push. Push hard.” David Lee a 9 pound 8 ounce baby boy was born at his mother died at never having held her baby.
Ann felt a strange uncomfortable feeling when her Simulant died. They were separate people by now. The Ann in the simulation had lived three simulated years in the two days that Ann and Bob had run the simulation. She had fallen in loved with her husband and their baby. She had never told her husband about them being nothing more than Simulants in a complex test simulation. She had stated out as Ann but had grown to become another person, a new person and she didn’t feel like just a Simulant in a simulation. She felt like a wife and an expectant mother.
Ann had not only watched her die but had for all intents and purposes had killed her. Her job was done, she had provided them with a new kind of Simulant and her death was the best way to ensure that the new Simulants were not compromised. Ann had given them a new Adam. A nine pound, five ounce baby boy named James Robert Lee. His father Jonathan would raise him alone with the help of one of his wife’s closes friends also named Ann. He didn’t see her very often but he learned to rely on her excellent advice. She reminded him so much of his dead wife that he fell in love with her but he could never convince her to become more than a close family friend and trusted advisor.
Compassion and Reaction Simulation version 1.2.b
Sergeant Jim Lee broke squelch on his radio three times to
indicate he was in position. He joined Delta a year ago after finishing
airborne training at
He learned a lot, and it was a lot of fun to shoot a machine gun out of side of a helicopter while it was flying below the tops of the trees at 100 miles an hour. He could field strip any weapon they had, in the dark, in the rain. He fired expert on the ranges and enjoyed the varied training, patrolling, anti-armor ambushes, military operations on urbanized terrain, which was just a fancy military way of saying fighting in a city. It was all fun and exciting but after awhile it settled down. There was a lot of sitting around. Aviation fuel cost money so they would practice rappelling off of the tower or they would sit in the hanger and train on vehicle recognition. One day a guy in civilian clothes showed up and said that the squadron commander had told him to talk to Jim. Jim doubted that since nobody ever called him Jim. It was Corporal, Corporal Lee, or just Lee. The Army never used first names certainly not the squadron commander when talking about some “Grunt” in the scout team.
Jim was intrigued though, the guy wore civilian clothes and even had a short beard, but even Jim could tell the guy was a “Grunt.” He wasn’t some former Infantry guy, no Jim could tell this guy was still a “Grunt.” It was something about the eyes and the way he walked. He positioned himself so that he could see all of the avenues of approach from wherever he was. He looked like he was going to tell one of the squads where to place the 60 machine guns. He was a “Grunt,” Jim was sure of that. He was either a platoon sergeant or a company commander. He still had all of his field skills but he had commanded. Jim stood at attention and addressed him, “Sir, how can I help you. My platoon daddy told me to that you wanted to speak to me.” “Jim, your CO told me that you were a pretty good soldier, but that you might be getting a bit bored sitting around the hanger looking at pictures of T-82 tanks. I’m recruiting for my unit it would require you to get airborne and SF qualified but it might be more to your liking than this.” He said pointing over to a couple of the guys playing grab ass in the back of the class.
There was only one unit that required that you get airborne
and Special Forces qualified, Delta. Their mission was mostly anti-terrorist.
They worn civilian clothes and let their hair grow long so they could blend in
on a mission. If only three guys out of hundred finished Special Forces
training then finishing Delta training going from a straight leg Grunt though
Airborne, Special Forces and Delta wasn’t very likely. Jim was sure that this
guy must have to be having the same kind of luck that a Mormon missionary has
Now he was fully trained and operational. They had come in
last night inserted by helicopter about a mile from the airport hiked in and
got a SITREP (Situation Report) from some spook. “The hostages are in terminal
one. The room is wired with explosives and there are three terrorist in the
building. They have a full plane load of passengers. They, as you know, they
have killed two of the hostages already one when the control tower initially
refused to allow them to land and the second about an hour ago because we
delayed refueling the plane. The plane’s on-board fuel would have gotten them
Jim you will be positioned in the control tower. Your job is to take out the leader and disable the aircraft. Under no circumstances must he be allowed to reenter the aircraft. We don’t know if he will try and reenter before or after the hostages are boarded but you can not let him board that plane. The guys on-board the plane are for backup only, and to take out the other two terrorist. You can ignore everyone else. Let the other guys on the team worry about everyone and everything else. The leader is yours. Take him out as quickly as you can. You are authorized to fire from this moment on. Don’t ask for permission, don’t use the radio. Take the shot.
Jim chambered a round and looked at the spook, “So you want me to should shoot him is that right?” “Look Sergeant I’m sorry if you think I am overstating the obvious but I need to ensure that you understand whatever it takes, under what every circumstances, your mission is to make sure that this guy does not get on the that plane.”
Jim removed a window pane and setup his M82A1 fifty caliber
sniper rifle. He removed the magazine that held match grade ammo and replaced
it with a full magazine of multi-purpose NM140 12.7 X 99 mm Ammunition. He
placed the weapon on some sandbags to give him a solid firing platform. He
would have liked to shoot from a prone firing position but he would be too
visible. He repositioned some computer equipment to camouflage the weapon. The
only way the target would see him now was if he was looking straight down the
barrel of his weapon and by then it would be too late. He adjusted the scope
and thought it was very convenient to have the wind speed readout visible on
the air traffic control computer. The range from the tower to the tarmac was
950 meters. It wasn’t his longest shot, he could hit a target 1600 meters away,
but it was still a pretty tough shot. He would have to stay away from a head
shot since a human head is a pretty small target at 950 meters and they moved
to quickly. He once got in trouble at a movie for laughing when a
He sat down behind the weapon and waited. That was his job but at least it was better than his spotters’ job. Both of their jobs were better than their teammates now on the plane. They must have been really feeling the pressure, sitting in a hot plane coming down from a super adrenalin rush knowing that at any moment they would be trying to take out armed terrorist while not shooting any of the hostages. Jim looked at the wind speed indicator which was moving between nine and ten miles an hour with a couple of puffs reaching fifteen. He hoped to get his shot off while the wind was steady. His radio crackled to life with a single short burst as command broke squelch. One of the terrorist moved across the tarmac toward the plane unprotected by hostages but knowing that if he was shot his friends would start killing the hostages. He looked over the plane and then went up the portable stairs and entered the aircraft. Jim followed him with his weapon but didn’t even bother putting his finger on the trigger. Twenty long minutes passed before he reemerged at the door and signaled that the plane was clear. Squelch was broken again but the spotter told Jim to hold as terrorist number two emerged this time he was surrounded by four large groups of passengers. Jim tried to track him but never had a clear shot. The portable stairs were large enough to allow three people on each step and the landing could hold eight people bunched up at the door. This guy knew what he was doing, he was covered at all times and the 50 caliber round would travel straight through him and keep going though anybody else in the doorway and out the other side of the plane.
He was glad that this guy was not his target and said a little prayer that the next guy would be less cautious. He emptied his lungs and took a deep breath. Squelch broken again and then the target emerged. Jim’s spotter gave him the thumbs up signal. He placed his sight on the target. He was holding a little blond haired girl about five around the waist using her as an extra shield. The girls’ mother was standing between him and Jim and they were surrounded by the other passengers. The girl was sobbing and the mother was almost hysterical. Jim focused on the target but only saw the face of the little girl. She was crying and reaching for her mother. Jim tracked her, she became the target her head blocked the head shot that he knew he shouldn’t try and her body blocked the center mass shot that he was desperately searching for. They got to the end of the bottom of the stairs and Jim let out half of the air in his lungs. He started to apply pressure on the trigger moving slowly from where he knew the terrorist’s head was to his obscured chest. The last thing is saw was the back of the terrorist head as he slipped into the aircraft. The radio came alive, “God damn it. Team two go, Team One, disable that aircraft.
Jim heard a muffled shot as he sighted his weapon on the jet’s number four engine. He placed a round in the engine and then moved to the number three engine. He switched to the other wing heard a second shot from inside the plane and just as he targeted the number two engine he saw the plane explode. The explosion spread out across the wing and obscured his vision. He knew he didn’t need to continue to shoot the engines; the plane was disabled, of course so were 285 passengers including a little five year old girl and her mother.
He emptied his lungs and took a deep breath. He had the very strong sense of déjà vu as he heard the radio break squelch and saw his spotter give him the thumbs up signal. He placed his sight on the target he was holding a little blond haired girl about five around the waist using her as an extra shield. The girls mother standing between him and Jim and they were surrounded by the other passengers. The girl was sobbing and the mother was almost hysterical. Jim focused on the target but only saw the face of the little girl. She was crying and reaching for her mother. Jim tracked her, she became the target her head blocked the head shot that he knew he shouldn’t try and her body blocked the center mass shot that he was desperately searching for. He looked at the stairs, let out half of the air in his lungs place his cross hairs directly over the little girl’s chest and squeezed off the shot. The round caught the mother in the back, traveled through the little girl, the lead terrorist, and two well dress business men that happened to be unluckily standing behind him. Jim heard a muffled shot as he sighted his weapon on the jet’s number four engine. He placed a round in the engine and then moved to the number three engine. He switched to the other wing heard a second shot from inside the plane as he targeted the number two engine. He as just about to fire when he heard the radio come alive, “Cease Fire, Cease Fire, Cease Fire, Targets are down. Secure all equipment and meet at rally point two. Good Job.”
“80%” Ann’s voice said triumphantly. “That is the eighth time out of ten that we got the optimum outcome. We agree that the successful headshot was sub-optimum and the failure to fire was a failure but that still gives us a solid 80% success rate. The 4129 series averaged no more than 38% successful outcomes on that test and no other Simulant ever passed. They either washed out during training or they failed to make the required decision.” Four days worth of programming provided a new generation of Simulant. That had achieved a better than a fifty percent improvement. Bob was surprised; the Simulant Ann had told him that using her mind map as the core of the new Simulant would allow them to build a better Simulant. He thought it was dangerous to place a Simulant in a Simulation that knew it was a Simulant. The mother of Simulant Jim Lee had only been in the program about eight hours in real-time or about three and a half years in simulated time. They ran the program a much slower rate than normal to better monitor the results. Ann had entered the simulation periodically to interview the key Simulants. Ann entered the simulation a number of times almost always as some new person in Jonathan and Jim Lee’s life. They ran the program at normal speed and only slowed it to allow Ann to enter and leave. It was not difficult to ensure that Jim was interested in and drawn to a life in the military knowing it was necessary to test the Simulant’s ability, compassion, and reaction time.
The other programmers were impressed almost shocked by the improvements they saw in this generation of Simulants. Bob continued to refer to them as the 4129 Series but the programmers called them the Super Series. They assumed that Bob had personally written the new code and was giving them a run for their money. The assumed that he was guarding corporate secrets. None of them understood how to create a Simulant from scratch but they always assumed Bob did. Bob never allowed them to interact with the Simulant Ann. He changed the pitch and speed of Ann’s voice so it no longer sounded like Ann. The Simulant Ann liked the new sound of her voice it was a bit lower and slower than Ann’s original voice she thought it sounded sexier. Bob was terrified that the new Series might some how figure out that it was a Simulant or at least that there was such things as Simulants. Ann’s mind map would certainly have the knowledge of Simulants and though the Simulant Ann had isolated the Simulant from direct knowledge Bob still believed that they might be skating on some very thin ice using a mind map from the one person that knew everything. He was also concerned because although he wouldn’t admit it he was sure that the real Ann would never have allowed this. Of course the Simulant Ann was a mind map of Ann, but it seemed to be missing some of Ann’s strong moral imperatives.
Bob leaned back in his chair and said, “Ann what would we do if one of the Simulants discovered that they are Simulants?” “Erase them and start over.” “What if they contaminate an entire simulation? It is alright to say that we would erase a Simulant toaster but what about the Land Warfare Simulation or the defense departments’ nuclear launch systems. They will not allow us to upgrade those systems until they run the new upgrades in the pilot lab for 90 days. Imagine the effect that a Simulant could have in a simulation knowing that they are a Simulant. What if they become suicidal or what if they took advantage of Ann’s inside knowledge? They could override the safeties? I am not sure that the improvement we are seeing is worth the risk.”
“Bob your wrong the very small risk is more than worth the benefits. Ann would absolutely support this testing. We are not putting the new Simulants in any military, health care or nuclear programs and we won’t unless you and I agree that they will improve safety. We are in complete control of this program. I am sure that we can improve their performance eliminating most of the translation issues and greatly reduce the risk. If I’m wrong then we don’t have to move forward. If I’m right then everyone wins.”
Ann’s last comments scared the heck out of him because she was completely wrong or lying. Ann would never have supported using her own mind map in a Simulation. Bob was shocked that he had come this far but the Simulant Ann has conjouled, bribed, and manipulated him to get him to try this and even though it seemed like he was working with Ann again their were times like this that he knew he wasn’t. He was 100% sure that Ann would have never agreed to this and that the Simulated Ann either believe she would or worst was capable of lying about it was frightening.
She was right about one thing; they would never use the new Simulants in any kind of real world program unless Bob agreed.
The world is destroyed
Peter got a call from the Head of Security. He was in the
middle of his meditation period he had never been disturbed while in meditation
and normally the phone system would have never routed the call but the Head of
Security had used his personal emergency code to ensure that Peter would be
notified no matter what state he was in. Peter was confused and more than a
little annoyed, but he knew it must be something terrible. “What could you
possibly want?” “Sir, I’m not sure I haven’t been told but the
The Simulants in all of these systems are dead. It the level two programs they are aware of the war scenario but we got the isolation sub-routines emplace and like I said we have moved the simulations into real-time so they will not crash but reaction times will be out the window. The level three programs, military, health care, nuclear, transportation, and financial systems are currently unaffected but we can not operate them in isolation for too long. I slowed them down to twice real time and we are looping old data to fill in for the missing data from the level one and two programs. We don’t know what the effect will be but the team believes that it is not sustainable.”
Peter couldn’t believe his ears, an 11% failure rate with the strong possibility that they were facing a complete system failure in less than 90 days. “Have you gotten a hold of Bob?” “Bob was called just before you and authorized us to use the emergency code to contact you. He is on his way to the airport and should be on the corporate jet in about 15 minutes. It will still take him almost seven hours to land but said that you should take charge and he would contact you from the plane.” Peter couldn’t seem to concentrate he wasn’t sure if it was getting pulled out meditation or if it was the enormity of the problem they were facing. “Send a car around for me. I’ll be right in. Get everyone else in don’t pull anyone else out of meditation but as soon as they are available tell them to get into work.
The car stopped in front of the lab and Peter jumped out. The lab was filling up; technicians, programmers, and management everyone was in trying to figure out what was going on. Peter slowed his pace and smiled as he walked to his office. He greeted those that he knew by name and placed a reassuring hand on their shoulder or whispered something funny in their ear. He provided a much needed level of calm as he called over the project manager and his chief of staff. “Guys, do you have a minute? I’d like to get an update in my office.” They walked calmly into Peter’s office and shut the door behind them. Peter said, “What the fuck is going on? How can all of the Simulants be affected? Even when we had the twin tower attack not every system was affected and I thought we build automatic isolation programs in so we could restart the affected simulations and then reconnect to the isolated programs after we tested?”
“Peter the short answer is it didn’t work or more accurately because of how designed our system it can’t work.” Peter waited and then said, “OK, I guess you will have to give me the long answer.”
“As you know we have three levels of Simulations we use to have two levels; Critical with included Combat ready Military, Transportation, Heath-Care, Power generation and Distribution, and real-time finance. Everything else was in non-critical including everything from toasters to manufacturing plants. After the first really successful terrorist attack we realized that we needed another level. We also needed isolation programs that would stop this kind of cascade. We decided that although the level one programs benefited from being interconnected it is not required. The Simulants get bored but with looping and input from off-line systems they do OK in a disconnected state. Level two programs require interaction; the Simulants need tremendous amounts of timely realistic data which can not be artificially created. They are more sophisticated and they become unbalanced without huge amounts of data. Level two programs make up most of our commercial contracts. They also require the most translation since while we try and influence the data it has to be logical so if we want to Simulant having fuel problem there has to be some reason that the Simulants would be having a fuel crisis, loss of supply, production, political issues and so on. We can move data points like stock prices or reduce supply even when there is an oversupply in the simulation but things like September 11th throw us in to a tailspin.
This problem is directly related to that event we have never fully recovered from it, but I’ll come back to that. The third level of course is what we use to call Critical, we can completely isolate them and no data is ever transmitted directly from the main simulation into a critical system. We always do the translation first and try to mirror real life as much as possible the problem is since we have to build the data from other simulations because they also require huge amounts of realistic data. We think this is the one of the problems because we use data from other simulations we do get a small amount of leakage."
Peter understood all most of this and assumed that they were
going to get to the point soon, but he couldn’t let the word
"leakage" go by unchallenged. "Leakage?"
"Yes an example of leakage is the world war simulation it was never really
run across the entire system but it so greatly affected the Simulants which
were then reused that it leaked across the system. We finally had to build it
into the system conciseness, in the same way that your God experiment has
become part of the base system. We have to maintain a common base so the
translation teams know what might be a legitimate motivation and what can be
ignored. We can’t ignore God, a world wide war or the geographic and religious
division that happened after September 11th. All of these differences force us
to make fundamental changes in how data created in the simulation. It has to be
translated so it will accurately reflect how real people would react to some
thing in the real world. Simulants in
We already have some leakage based on this new world wide war and if we can correct the problem and restart the simulation we are going to have to put something in the base program. "
“Alright explain what happened?” “About two hours ago the Network Operations group stated to get alerts that systems were failing over to manual. This happens as you know all the time, regional conflicts, assassination, nuclear accidents, or freak weather events normally they log them and wait for the project teams to come in, but when it got above 2% they started calling the project team in. When the project lead came in we were at about 8% complete failure. He started to put the isolation programs in place and called me. I called Bob and then called you.”
“So what does the data show? I’m not sure yet. We have a briefing team looking at it and they will come and get us as soon as they are ready to debrief. All we know is that there was a world wide military event, based on the scale it has to be nuclear and has to be total.”
Cheryl was buckling Katie in the car while her son Matthew
complained about having to sit in the backseat. “I think I’m old enough to sit
up front and Grandma’s not coming with us. If I’m old enough to watch Katie in
the car, I should be able to sit up front.” “Matthew your not to young, you
don’t weight enough the airbags are too strong so if I get in an accident you
could get really hurt of killed by the airbag. Please give me a break here,
Grandma and Grandpa are sick and I don’t feel all that good myself, lets just
go to the store pick up the medicine and come straight back.” “Why do I have to
come?” Cheryl lowered her voice and spoke with the authority of a pissed off
Mom, “Please get in the car and buckle up.” Matthew knew it was time to quit
while he was ahead. Cheryl got in the car and felt bad about how she had talked
to him but she really didn’t feel well and with David’s parents both sick this
wasn’t much a vacation. David couldn’t come because the flight testing on the
VentureStar shuttle replacement had been moved up. Cheryl wasn’t going to throw
away the non-refundable tickets and hand around
Cheryl was worried about David’s dad. He hadn’t been in the
best of health for a couple of years but now he couldn’t even get out of bed,
wouldn’t eat, had a headache and cramps. His mom didn’t seem much better and
she had stated to develop a rash of flat, rose-colored spots on her chest.
Something was going around and even Cheryl wasn’t feeling very good. The kids
looked fine but the promise of a candy bar always put them in good sprits. The
pharmacy was packed and the shelves were stating to look empty whatever was going
around was bad. It took an hour to get in and out of the store and the smell of
Matthew’s candy bar in the car was starting to make her sick. Cheryl opened one
of the bottles of “Maalox” and took a swig. She turned off the radio when a rap
song came on. Matthew bolted in to the house leaving Cheryl to unbuckle Katie
and carry in the two bags of medicine. David’s Dad had made it to the coach but
still looked pretty bad. They were watching “Tivo” it
recorded only the shows David’s Dad liked and of course Cheryl didn’t care for
any of them. It was going to be a “NYPD Blue” marathon around the Grant
household so Cheryl talked her mother-in-law into playing cards in the kitchen.
Katie was up in the room playing with her dolls and Matthew was bouncing off the
walls because he didn’t have any friends in
“Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it
1. Water must be brought to a rolling boil for 1 minute before you drink it.
2. Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and that are still hot and steaming.
3. Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. Vegetables like lettuce are easily contaminated and are very hard to wash well.
4. When you eat raw fruit or vegetables that can be peeled, peel them yourself. (Wash your hands with soap first.) Do not eat the peelings.”
His wife answered the phone saying, “Hello, Grant household,
Can I help you” “Are you and the kids OK? We are watching the news and I
couldn’t believe it.” “The kids are fine. Your Mom,
Dad and I aren’t feeling all that hot, but it is just some kind of bug going
around you should have seen the pharmacy it was a mad house.” David just looked
at the phone as if she was nuts and then finally interrupted his wife, “You
have typhoid; you have to take everyone to the hospital now.” It was Cheryl’s
turn to stare into the phone and wonder what he was talking about. David said,
“Haven’t you been watching the news?
The next report was from the Network anchor he looked tired
and was in shirt sleeves. “It is confirmed that along with the ten cities in
the United States that the city of Estevan in the
Canadian Province of Saskatchewan just across the border from the state of
Montana has been affected. Four European cities and the city-state of
Cheryl called the number at the bottom of the screen and got
an automated system that redirected her based on the caller ID. A recorded
message came on asking here to enter the number of people in the household
which were showing symptoms. She lied and entered five. She was given an
appointment four hours from the current time and was told that if they showed
up any earlier than 15 minutes before the appointed time that an Armed National
Guard soldier would remove them and their appointment would be rescheduled. It
was the longest four hours of her life. They stayed glued to the news even
after they realized that no new news was being reported. They got regular
reports from each of the cities affected along with reports from
David was going crazy he was a licensed pilot, worked for
the world’s largest airline, was testing an aircraft that could travel into
space but he could not get a flight to
The President of the
The CIA was asked where the most likely source or sources of
the attack had come from. The President was hoping for another
The President wanted to strike back. He wanted to send a
message; everyone in the briefing understood this so some back channel
negotiations were started between the State Department and the intelligence
About the same time that the State department was floating
the names of potential target countries, news organizations were receiving
claims from groups wanting to take credit for the attacks. They covered the spectrum, The Continuity Irish Republican Army claimed the
The President of the
“What do you believe the real goal of this attack was?”
asked the President. The Chairman was afraid he was going to ask that question.
He had hoped that the State Department or the Intelligence community would have
already briefed the President on what everyone from the Secretary on down
believed, this was attack on the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. It was a
continuation of what was started long before September 11th. The Islamic
movement, you could call them fundamentalist or radical but they believed that
their world, their religion, was being sold out for the price of oil. The
western world and especially the
“Mister President, Our intelligence and that of our allies
especially in the
“General, how the hell does a biological attack on
“Sir, the people that planned this attack know that the
The General stopped, waiting for the President to signal that he understood the issues and all of the ramifications of what he had just been told. The President spoke, “So these terrorist groups poisoned our water supply not to kill Americans but so that I would order an attack that will undoubtedly kill innocent Muslims. They believe that this will allow them to overthrow the Saudi Government.”
“Mister President, they have no qualms about killing
Americans but you’re right, their true goal is to overthrow the Royal Family.
The people that take over will still want to sell oil. They would prefer to
sell it somewhere besides the
The Briefing team knocked quietly on Peter’s door and signaled that they were ready to start the briefing. The room was full again but not overfilled. Bob was on the speaker phone and Peter greeted him, “Morning, Bob can you hear us?” “Yes, Peter I can hear you. Do we know anymore yet?” “I’m not sure what we have been able to find out yet, we have a room full of very smart and very expensive people so I’ll turn it over to them.”
The Program Manager stood up and displayed real-time
information from the
He paused to let the information sink in and to respond to
any questions that Bob or Peter might ask. He had already briefed the people in
the room not to ask any questions. They were there to provide information to Bob
and Peter, if they had questions themselves they were to hold them. Neither Bob
nor Peter asked any questions so the Program Manager went on. “We have freed up
three more systems, our preproduction area, the pilot area and the new system
you had built in
Peter asked the one question everyone in the room as hoping
he wouldn’t, “What seems to be the root cause?” The Program Manager swallowed
hard and said, “The religious myths that we injected into the system. The
catalyst seems to be the introduction of Simulants; Abraham, Job, Dhul-Kifl, Jacob, Noah, and Moses into the base simulation.
The teachings of these Simulants have been interpreted differently in small but
not inconsequential ways by the Simulants. Three major religions with more than
200 minor variations have sprung from our introduction of these Simulants. The
current problem is that these religions have a geographic element to them. We
purposely introduced the Simulants into the beginning of their written history
to facilitate the spread of religious rules. The team believed that one of the
optimally locations was the
Peter’s face was getting redder and redder but when he spoke it was in a normal voice, “I still don’t understand how having 200 plus variations of single religious ideal could be the root cause of this problem?” They have a common history we understand the teachings of Abraham, Job, Dhul-Kifl, Jacob, Noah, and Moses because we wrote it. No where in their teachings do they promote idea of killing off every living human on earth. If I remember correctly one of the rules that Moses presented to them was “Don’t kill each other!”
“That’s correct of course but the idea of single God that has the power and inclination to reward and punish the wicked and nonbeliever has continued to cause us problems. This separation along religious lines and the strong tribal nature of Simulants allows them to accept martyrdom and killing. The team has reviewed all of the data and this is absolutely the root cause, in our opinion.”
“Absolutely, in your opinion?” said Peter. The Program Manager shrugged. Amanda spoke up, “We believe that it has more to do with their tribal nature. None of our testing indicated that the introduction of religion would provide any negative separation along religious lines.”
The red color slightly faded from Peter’s face, “I understand it is too late or maybe too early to start laying blame. Lets get through this problem and then we can decide what we need to do to long term.” He smiled at Amanda because he knew it as a lie. The rest of the team smiled at her because she had gotten Peter to smile. He spoke into the phone, “Bob, I think the team here understands the problem do you want more information or should we move on to proposals for containment and resolution?” Bob graciously replied, “Your call Peter, but I think if the problem is part of the solution then let’s continue, if not lets move on.”
The Product Manager swallowed hard and said, “Three ideas; One, restart the simulations from before the introduction of religion. Two, replace all of the Simulants in all simulations with series 4129 Simulants. Three, enter the simulation in key leadership, command and control, and political positions taking direct control of the events. Let me explain the pros and cons of each idea?”
“That won’t be necessary we have three independent available
systems; the pre-production area, the pilot area and Bob’s system in
Peter got up just as abruptly and asked the Project Manager to join him in his office. “I’m going to ask you to do something that you might make you upset. I don’t mean to upset you and I would take it as a great personal favor if you accept.” The Project Manager was taken off-guard Peter had never spoken to him in this way before and he had never heard Peter ask for a favor before. Peter commanded and expected people to follow. “Sure, Peter. What do you need?” “I want you to take over the technical leadership of team three, but I want Amanda to take over Project Management of that team. You understand this is not sign of any displeasure with your Project Management skills it is my acceptance of your superior programming skills. I need you to lead the programmers by example.” He shook his head yes and walked out of Peter’s office smiling. He thought it was endearing that Peter actually believed what he was saying even though the real reason was because Peter wanted someone leading “Team three” that he could trust and control. He walked over to Amanda and told her that she might want to go in and talk to Peter.
The President of the
The chairman of the joints chiefs said, “Mister President it is too late. The EIS are no boy scouts and even if they did not plan or carry out the attacks they are a good target. The American People have waited four months and with 10,000 Americans dead they want something done, now.”
The President of the
The chairman of the joints chiefs said, “Mister President we have just confirmed the same information from our people on the ground. The EIS are no boy scouts but did not plan or carry out these attacks. The American People have waited four months and with 10,000 Americans dead they want to make sure whatever we do, it is the right thing. They don’t want us to hit just any target they want us to hit the right target. This attack will do nothing but stir up more anti-American feelings in the region. You have to call of the attack. Our Allies will leak that they told us that the Eritrean Islamic Salvation group was not responsible and then we will have to start over but without their help.”
The President looked visibly shaken and asked everyone except his chief of staff to leave the room. He waited for them to leave and then said, “I don’t know what to do. It is like I am in a dream. Every time I make a decision, time seems to slow and then I feel like I am back making another decision. The information seems to change but the outcome doesn’t seem to matter. Do you feel it? As his chief of staff started to speak the President had another terribly feeling of déjà vu.
Peter called a stop to the simulation. “This is not working. We can not put in someone to play the chief decision makers like the President, Prime Ministry or even the terrorist leaders because the people around them sense the change. We can not keep entering as the secondary decision makers since this also seems to disorientate the Simulants. In two of our scenarios the President commits suicide because of the panic brought on by déjà vu. We delay the conflict but we can’t seem to remove it. You guys keep at it but I’m going to see what if Amanda’s team is having any luck.
Amanda’s team wasn’t having any better luck than Peter was
having. She wasn’t faced with the same problem that Peter was trying to solve
plus she was faced with the old problems that had first forced them to
introduce religion, lack of compassion, slavery, disregard for life, along with
some new ones. The effects that religion had caused were confusing. No one on
the team could explain
Amanda was also surprised that religion seemed to provide freedom. It was counter intuitive but when religion was removed personal freedoms were reduced. Religion was absolutely a major source of intolerance but it did not appear to be the cause of intolerance. People killed each other over very slight religion differences but when religion was removed they killed each other over slight differences in their backgrounds, or tiny infractions of societal rules. Simulants that lived in a culturally diverse community accepted differences in how their neighbors practiced religion and they taught their children tolerances. They most often told their children that their neighbors were wrong and were going straight to hell but the did teach them tolerance or at least the good manners of not telling them that they were going straight to hell.
Peter was frustrated and wanted a better explanation than Amanda could provide, “Give me an example of the subtle differences that you see.” She thought for a bit and then explained one of the strangest changes she saw, “Speed Limits.” She paused for a moment to collect her thoughts but Peter lost all patience, “Speed Limits? What the heck are you talking about? I thought you were going to tell me about slavery, war, or murder. I don’t understand what does religion have to do with speed limits?” Amanda wished she had picked something else but the speed limit problem was fresh in her mind. Her team had briefed her about it this morning. A standard translation procedure was that Simulants never seem to follow traffic rules the most obvious was that they sped more often than real people. When religion was removed they stopped speeding so much.
Amanda swallowed hard and then said, “Simulants speed because of religion. We don’t know why but they do. When we remove religion they don’t speed as much. We are speculating that it is because they are less tolerant and the rules are more tightly enforced. They seem to be more selective on the rules that they break. They kill each other more other and they allow slavery but they don’t speed as much.” Pete still couldn’t make the connection, “Explain. They don’t speed as much if you take out religion?”
“Simulants with religion seem to view the posted speed limit not as a limit at all, but as a target. If you post a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, 15 percent of the Simulants drive below 55 miles per hour. 65% of the Simulants drive at 56 to 65 miles per hour, and 20 percent of the Simulants drive above 65 miles per hour. If we raise the speed limit to 65 miles an hour there is an increase in the lower end and a decrease in the high end but 65% of the Simulants still drive one to ten miles above the limit. In real life a speed limit is exactly that a limit. People don’t normally drive above the limit they drive below the limit. When we removed religion they seem to drive more like real people they don’t speed. They view the limit as the limit not as a target that they should reach or exceed.”
Peter asked, “Why do you think they do this? What would religion have to do with speeding?” Amanda replied, “We don’t know. We think that because people are allowed to have different views on religion, religious freedom translates directly into freedom. Rules are not enforced with the same intensity that they are in real life or in this case in the simulations that don’t have a religious element. Rules are followed in real life. We follow the rules because the make sense and are firmly enforced. In the simulations without religion they are very firmly enforced but sometimes don’t make as much sense as our rules. Our speed limits are based on road and visibility conditions. People follow the rules because they understand them. In the simulations without religion their rules are almost as random as they are in the simulations with religion. Four lane roads with 35 mph speed limits, two lane farm roads with 65 mph speed limits but in the simulations without religion Simulants view them as limits, not to be exceeded. In the simulations with religion they view them as targets. People honk their horns and drive aggressively if Simulants drive at the posted speed limit and are enraged if the Simulants drive below the posted limit. In fact the police pull Simulants over if they are driving below the post limit assuming that they must be on drugs or guilty of some serious crime.
Peter asked, “I don’t understand the point. I understand the data but what does it mean?” Amanda shook her head and said, “We can’t take religion out of the Simulants. It has too many effects most of them bad some of them good but all of them would require years of reprogramming to get the data translated back into some usable form. We end up with everything from people selling off their children to pay off their debts, to Simulants no longer speeding. It will never work.
Peter knew they were in trouble. Putting real people into the simulations to influence the outcome wasn’t going to work and removing religion wasn’t going to work. Their only hope was the project Bob was working on to replace all of the Simulants in all simulations with the 4129 series Simulants. Peter didn’t know that Bob had never planned on doing that. Bob knew that if every Simulant was from the same series that the Simulants would figure it out. Bob had decided that replacing key Simulants was the key but since they had to operate at Simulant speed they had to be Simulants not real people. Ann’s new Simulants was their only hope now.
Nancy S. Lee M.D.
David Grant placed a single rose on the top of his wife’s coffin and then stepped back between his son Matthew and daughter Katie. They had buried his father two weeks before and his mother last week. He had volunteered to rejoin the Navy after his wife had died from the terrorist attack but they hadn’t returned his call. It sounded like they had all of the fighter pilots they needed. He also assumed that he would be pretty low on the list since the incident on the Carrier USS Ronald Reagan. They didn’t like pilots that crashed expensive airplanes. So much had changed since they pulled him out the ocean. Now it all seemed meaningless with his parents and wife dead, killed by typhoid put into the water supply by terrorist for no other reason than to kill Americans. It just didn’t make sense, all David knew was he would surely love to go drop some bombs on somebody.
He looked around at the people attending his wife’s funeral. It was a pretty good turn out especially since there had been so many funerals in the last couple of weeks and people were still nervous about gathering together. He was surprised to see the doctor that had tried to help his wife. She looked a bit older in her black dress. David had at first thought that she was a nurse when she had introduced herself, it wasn’t because she was a woman, it was because she just looked too young and too pretty to be a doctor. He couldn’t remember her name. The minister started to speak again thanking them all for attending and telling them that a small reception was being held at David’s parents’ house. David wasn’t looking forward to it but knew that his old friends would never forgive him if he didn’t give them a chance to offer their condolences.
The house seemed colder and foreign. He had already setup
with a real estate agent to sell the place but had asked her not to put up the
sign until he and the kids left in two weeks. His friends mulled around the
house picking at the pot luck food and helping themselves to the beer and wine
David had picked up. He knew about half of the people by sight and only knew
about half of those people by name. He was never very good at names and since
he wasn’t planning on ever coming back to
She was walking down the driveway, Ann’s doctor. He still couldn’t remember her name. She smiled at David and placed her hand on his arm as she walked pass him into the house. David was even more surprised to see her here at his parent’s house. He peeked in the door and saw her walk straight over to Matthew and Katie. They both smiled when they saw her. It was the first time he had seen them smile today. It made him smile to see it. They hugged and the doctor gave them each a small toy. They talked for awhile and then she walked them upstairs to the bedroom they were staying in. David still couldn’t bring himself to sleep in his parent’s bed so all of them were camped out in a little bedroom in his parent’s attic. They had crammed three beds into the room but they all ended up sleeping together in the double bed that David and Cheryl had shared over the years. They visited once every couple of years but could never find a good time to do it. Winter was way too cold, summer way too hot, spring was too wet and still kind of cold and fall was pretty if you timed it just right but more times than not the first snows would pull the leaves off the trees and turn the roads into a slimy mush of mud and leaves. They had complained about this and the too little and too soft bed every time to each other but never to David’s parents.
The bed in the master bedroom was a king but even with the
kids David just could not bring himself to sleep in their bed.
He walked back up the driveway and stopped under the lone tree in their front yard. He was leaning against it thinking of selling the house, getting back in the Navy, hiring a nanny, a thousand things when he felt the soft touch of her hand on his arm. She was holding two beers and smiled at him as she held the unopened one out for him. He took it twisted off the top and put the cap in his pocket. “My dad does that.” “Does what?” he asked. “Puts trash in his pocket, bottle tops, slips of paper, cigarette butts when he used to smoke. I never saw him drop anything, no matter how small, on the ground.” David smiled for only the second time that day, “Navy” “Nope, Army.” she smiled back. “Military thing I guess. I learned in on the carrier they didn’t want anything sucked up into the engines. I guess your Dad learned it from some old drill sergeant. Probably had to do with making sure the enemy couldn’t figure out who was where. Not a bad habit except Cheryl always gave me hell about the stuff ending up in the laundry.” He hadn’t meant to bring up her name and it put a chill in the air. He stopped talking and took a swig from his beer.
She waited, standing just close enough to comfort him but not so close as to make him uncomfortable. They stood under the tree for about an hour not saying a word. Many of his friends looked over at them as they walked back to their cars but none of them spoke or waved. It was if they knew that what David needed most was to be left alone under his parent’s tree with the woman who had tried to save his wife’s life. She finally pulled the empty bottle from his hand and he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her, he whispered into her ear, “I just miss her so much.” She didn’t say a word as her tears fell silently onto his sleeve. He felt their wetness and he held her even tighter letting his tears mingle with hers.
Later that night with the kids asleep in the bed upstairs David was throwing some clothes in the washer. He was standing in his bare feet wearing an old squadron tee-shirt and a pair of black running shorts. He dropped Matthew’s favorite shirt in the washer and then started to go through the pockets of his trousers. He smiled for the third time as he pulled out the bottle top and then was surprised to feel a small firm piece of paper. He pulled it out and held it up to the light. It was a business card. She must have slipped it into his pocket without him noticing.
Nancy S. Lee M.D.
Phone: (585) 555-9214
On the back of the card was written,
Please call me before you,
Matthew, and Katie leave.
My cell number is 555.7584
Bob was reviewing the last four simulations by carefully
replacing a large number of Simulant population with
the 4129 Series and key Simulants with the new series developed using Ann’s
mind map they had been able to get some control over the outcome. They could in
fact eliminate the terrorist attacks and were able to greatly reduce the
tensions in the
Bob decided to call Peter and get an update. He had doubted from the very beginning that either removing religion or using real people in the simulations would work. He assumed that he could redirect at least one of the teams to work on rebuilding the simulations or on building better firewalls between the systems. Peter had just finished reviewing Amanda’s data and was dreading the call he was about to make to Bob when the phone rang. He picked it up and said, “Thompson Simulations, Peter.” “Peter, how is it going? Any luck?” “Sorry Bob, No. It looks like we can not pull religion out unless we want the same problems back that made us put it in the first time, plus some new ones that are interesting but certainly not helpful. We can not seem to get control of the simulation by putting real people into the simulation.
We have to slow the simulations down so much that it takes forever to get a change and as soon as we pull them back out and run the system at normal time everything falls apart. It also seems that the Simulants can tell that something is wrong when they deal with us for too long. They sense that something is wrong, they don’t get what it is but they sense it. If we replace Simulants that are too high profile we get reporters and conspiracy nuts coming up with all kinds of nutty theories. We couldn’t let it continue past that point but both teams believe we are at a dead end. Any luck on your end?”
Bob thought about it and then said, “Nothing that would get us to start chilling champagne but we have made some progress here. The problem is that for every answer we get we are ending up with more questions. I was hoping that we could use one of your teams to help us out a bit.” Peter was glad that Bob wasn’t going to ask him to continue down the rat-hole they had worked themselves into. He replied, “Bob, I can assign both teams to help you out. Frankly I’m surprised that putting in the 4129’s showed promise, but I’m happy we have someplace to go that doesn’t look like a blind alley. What do you want us to do?”
Bob was concerned about sharing too much with Peter. He wasn’t planning on moving the new Simulant into production and except for this crisis he never would have considered it. He could use the help but wasn’t sure how to segment the work so that rumors didn’t start flying around. There had been some bad press lately about devices falling back into manual mode and Bob had been forced to make some hard calls to explain the problems. They were running out of time it was no longer a matter of profit and lost. If they didn’t get things fixed soon, Bob and Peter could end up in criminal case. Their lawyers had warned them that if more systems started to fail a good case could be made for criminal neglect. His biggest concern was that someone would get killed and then the charges might be manslaughter.
Bob had called the head of five government agencies, four foreign government agencies, and his top 20 customers all of them had been very concerned but had asked him not to go public. People didn’t buy products from Thompson Simulations they bought products from companies that bought Thompson Simulations products and these companies didn’t have any alternatives. They were in this mess together. Of course Bob and Peter were the only ones guaranteed to be sharing a cell if it all when wrong. Peter waited for Bob to reply and thought that he heard a woman’s voice in the background. Finally Bob said, “We need one team to work on ways to filter and translate information between systems and everyone else needs to start to work on how to incorporate the new Simulants that we have developed into the existing system.”
Peter was overwhelmed, “New Simulants? How is that possible?
What do you mean, new Simulants?” Bob took a deep breath and said, “It was
something we were working on before the crisis. It was and is very
experimental. We haven’t done any quality testing or peer review on it and
frankly I was looking at it as a research project. I was doing it more as a
favor to an old friend then really looking at it as a way to solve a business
problem. Luckily or unluckily it seems to be working and since I don’t have any
other ideas I think we have to throw all of our wood behind this arrow. Leave
your Chief of Staff in charge and pick a small trusted group of engineers and
program managers to accompany you out here to
Peter started to write the names of the people he would bring as the replied, “Ok Bob. It will take us a couple of hours to pull the team together and then with the flight over we should see you sometime late tomorrow morning.” Bob thanked him and hung up. He continued to work on the list adding some names and crossing off others, the name at the top remained, Amanda.
David woke for the fifth time that night as Matthew kicked him in the side. Normally that would mean that Matthew and Katie would end up back in their own beds, but of course that job would have been delegated to Cheryl. He slipped quietly out of the bed and went downstairs to make himself some tea. The kettle was white with lime and the tea cups were stained from all of the tea his dad had drunk. He pulled the kettle off of the burner before the whistling woke the kids. The paper hadn’t come yet but it didn’t matter, he wouldn’t have read it any way.
The news was terrible and the reporting worse. A reporter had called him to get an interview since he was ex-military and had lost his parents and wife. She thought it would make a good story. She even explained it to him as if she was pitching the story to her editor. He had told her to kiss off and was described in her story the next day as a distraught husband. He had given up reading the paper or watching the news.
He was surprised how well the world leaders were handling the crisis and even more surprised how the average Joe was accepting that bombing the hell out of some mud houses in the Middle-East wasn’t going to solve this problem. He would have loved to drop some bombs on somebody but was glad the world leaders seemed willing to figure a way out of this that didn’t make the next attack worst. There were rumors floating around that key terrorist were being hunted down and killed and he hoped it was true, but if the press was aware of the stories they were hiding them or at least giving government leaders some space to deny them. It was very mature, something he would have bet against. A mature responsible press, it just didn’t seem possible.
He picked up a well worn little card. Drinking from his cup
with one hand, he stared at the card he held in his other. Nancy S. Lee M.D. He
kept thinking back, she never introduced herself as Doctor Lee. She only used
her first name and then only the first time. She had walked up to him and said,
“Mr. Grant, Hi I’m
David flipped the card over for the hundredth time and read
the note again. It was five in the morning so a call to her cell phone was
probably a bad idea. He decided to call her office and leave her a voice mail.
It would stop him from having to talk to her and give her the option to not
bother to call him back if the note was just a very nice gesture. He dialed the
phone and waited for the voice mail to pick up. “University of
She regretted it as soon as she said it, but continued on, “By the hospital staff. I think better in the morning, and most people don’t get in until eight or so.” She was rambling but at least David hadn’t hung up. “David, how are Matthew and Katie doing?” She paused, safe in the knowledge that David couldn’t hang up now. David was still trying to compose himself when the ball got tossed back into his lap. He paused and then said, “They’re fine.” Now it was his turn to regret not picking his words more carefully. “I mean, they seem to be taking it better that I expected. They miss Cheryl and I am not sure they really understand what is going on but they still laugh at cartoons and cuddle up with me at night. Of course they still cry sometimes and try and put on a brave face for the people that keep stopping by.” She waited for him to continue but started to get uncomfortable as the silence dragged on. She finally prompted him, “I’d love to see them. Is that why you called?”
David thought about it for a second, he wasn’t sure why he had called. She had asked him to call and he had. He didn’t want to tell her that and he knew it wasn’t really the truth but he really didn’t know why he had called her. “Yes they have been asking about you and I thought maybe we could get together. I thought I’d get on your calendar so they had a chance to see you before we go home.” She said, “I’m free today. I was planning on taking a ride after I caught up on my paperwork.” She was of course lying. She had rounds and was suppose to attend a lecture, but she could get someone to cover for her on rounds and missing the lecture wouldn’t be much of a problem. The Doctor giving it was an idiot. She was only going to attend because it was a good way to meet the younger people on staff.
David wasn’t prepared for her to say yes and didn’t think it would be today. He assumed it would be next weekend. He didn’t know what to say so he said yes. “Great. Should we pick you up? I have too many cars here with Cheryl’s rental and my parents’ car.” He winced after saying it. It sounded flip and whiney like he was complaining or bragging. She didn’t notice but did offer to meet him at the airport so he could drop off the rental. She could meet them there and then drop him off back at the house. This way he wouldn’t be stuck paying for a car he didn’t need. He told her he planned on keeping the rental selling off his parents car and then using it to get back to the airport for their flight out. She wouldn’t hear of it. She would take them to the airport when it was time to leave and he could drop off the car to the dealer the night before. No reason to waste money. She reminded him of Cheryl. He always took the path of least resistance even if it cost him more money. She would always try and save a buck by timing things out. She would have him drop off his car for service on the way to the airport to save parking and then have him expense out the taxi. No reason to waste money.
He really didn’t want to do it but the path of least resistance now lead to dropping off the car at the airport today and letting her pick them up. He smiled at the predicament he had gotten himself into and said, “What time?”
The kids seemed in a better mood after he mentioned that
they were going to see Doctor Lee. There was some confusion at first since they
didn’t know who Doctor Lee was. When he explained that it was the doctor that
had taken care of their mom they jumped for joy. Matthew explained her name was
The rental counter was a hassle. Normally he would drop off the car by telling the attendant he had filled the tank, handing her the keys and getting the receipt from the portable machine they carried hanging from their belts. This time the pretty young attendant looked embarrassed and whispered to him that there was a problem with the credit card and he would have to go into the counter. At first he was pissed. He was going to explain that he was a platinum club member and that he drove their cars more often than he drove his own but then he realized that he didn’t rent this car, Cheryl did.
He had the kids grab their backpacks and he scooped up everything they left behind. His wife had it down to a science what they could bring and what had to stay behind. Katie had been upset at dinner the night before because she had brought her favorite new coloring book but David had not brought any crayons. Cheryl always kept a Ziploc bag of crayons in her purse. He picked up a discarded McDonnell’s toy and a little plastic toy compass from the backseat and placed them his own backpack which substituted for a purse and also held a brand new box of crayons in a Ziploc bag. He wasn’t sure why he needed the Ziploc bag since crayons came in their own box but if his wife carried them in a plastic bag there must be a good reason.
They seemed to have too many options and of course the
people that rented at the counter didn’t rent cars very often so were
overwhelmed by all of the choices, insurance, fuel option, sub-compact,
compact, navigation system, cell phone. At first he started to get upset but
then he went into the “road warrior” zone. Traveling was always a hassle and
the guys that do it all the time realize that if you get upset every time you
have to stand in line for security or at an airport counter that you would be
dead of a heart attack in five years. He looked over at Nancy and the kids.
They seemed happy with Matthew explaining how the “Blue eyed white dragon card”
wasn’t as powerful as most people thought. Katie was listening intently and
David pulled out his palm pilot and pulled up an electronic
book to read while he waited behind the poor infrequent travelers trying to
decide if the fuel option was a good idea. He was almost surprised when it was
his turn to be helped. He put down his credit card and told the guy behind the
counter that he wanted to return the car. The guy explained that his wife
needed to return the car pointing over to
David pulled out his Platinum card and placed it carefully down next to his corporate credit card saying, “I hope so. I am a very regular customer and we have a little problem. My wife died and so we had to cancel all of her credit cards. I am trying to return the car that she rented when she came up to visit my parents who also by the way died. I am just trying to return the car which has no damage and a full tank of gas. If you could please put the charges on this credit card I would really appreciate it.” The manager ran the card as the agent looked on in horror. The manager motioned for the agent to help the next customer in line and after getting David to sign the receipt said, “I’m so sorry sir, please forgive us.” David shrugged and said, “No problem it’s not your fault. It just shouldn’t have to be so hard.” He walked away from the counter speaking quietly to himself, “But it is.”
Coming around the corner she waved again at the guys huddled
around the table. The one guy wearing a white shirt stood up and hugged her. He
reached over Matthew and offered his hand to David saying, “So Nancy called me
and said she might stop by with you and the kids. I’m so happy to meet you.”
David relaxed a bit but was startled back to nervousness when the alarm rung and
a voice stated to come over the loud speaker. The guys around the table tensed
for a second and then seemed to relax and returned to finishing their lunch.
The fire lieutenant could see that David was expecting them to start rushing
around so explained that it wasn’t their call. The lieutenant continued, “Do
you have a camera? If you do, you might want to get it. I’m sure the kids would
love to have some photos of them in the trucks.” David smiled and said, “Thanks
but he had left his camera at his parents house.”
David left the kids with
They moved the Aerial truck out with the kids sitting in the front seat so they could extend the ladder. They sounded the horn, the siren and they even got to play with the lights. The kids hopped up on the back of the truck and moved the ladder around using a joystick. David was surprised that even Katie did a pretty good job at it, but it was the age of the joystick. The kids were really happy for the first time in a long time. David took about fifty pictures and as they were leaving the lieutenant handed each of the kids a fleece jacket with the Rochester Fire Department emblem on them. It was as if he had handed them the keys to the fire house, they both smiled from ear to ear.
The next stop was the Seneca Park Zoo. They paid to get in
but from then on it was a backstage event. The head veterinarian knew
They finished with the Zoo late in the afternoon and
David carried Katie to the car as Matthew told
David pulled the car into the same spot that they use to
park when they went swimming in the spring. You couldn’t see the beach from the
spot but you could look out over the lake. They wouldn’t be able to go down to
the beach because it was marked no swimming and no trespassing. Even if it
wasn’t David would have had to carry Katie across the railroad tracks and down
a steep embankment.
She started to cry more strongly, he couldn’t pretend to keep ignoring it, and it touched him that she didn’t try and hide it. He waited and then said, “We have only known each other a few weeks and really until the funeral I would have bet that you could have passed me on the street and not known who I was. But after the last couple of days you have become an important part of my life. I don’t give my friendship lightly. Cheryl used to complain to me telling me how if I lost her I would be alone and she was right. I have friends but not the way she had friends. I finally understand what I was missing. You have touched our hearts, your kindness to the kids and to me. Most importantly you let us feel like we are doing you a favor rather than you are doing one for us. I know it’s not true but you make it seem like my letting you pick us up at the airport is the best gift I can give you. I love that you make us feel that way, but let me really help you. Let me really do something for you. Let me give you something or do something that you need so I know I really am your friend.
She stopped crying and looked up at him. “I know what you mean. I loved Cheryl because she could graciously receive. Many people can give, money to the guy begging on the street, a ride to the airport, or a round of drinks but Cheryl could receive a gift and you knew she knew how to enjoy it, appreciate it, and savor it. It is like watching a hungry man eat, even if you don’t have much to give, watching the enjoyment of it somehow brings you joy. She lived more life in the last couple of weeks than I have seen most people live in a lifetime. She held on to her kids, and to you, so strongly that she will never leave you guys alone. Even Katie at five will have her mom’s memory forever. Everyone at the hospital knew it, she was our favorite and even when we knew she wasn’t going to make it, we couldn’t pull away. She wouldn’t let us pull away.”
David looked down at her and said, “I know you loved her and I know you love the kids. That can’t be what is making you cry, what is it? How can I help?” She sat up and looked out over the lake. “I’m not sure what it is. It is because I loved her and I love you and the kids. It is these times. The attacks and what we have to do. I listen to the people around the hospital about bombing and getting justice. I know you served in the Navy and trained to drop bombs on our enemies but I can look in your heart and feel even with all that you lost you understand what it means, all that it means. I was crying because you remind me so much of my father.”
Bob met their plane at the Kahului
airport and was surprised to see an unfamiliar face in the small team that
Peter had brought in. They had brought the
Bob explained to both teams, the one back in Headquarters and the one here that they had made progress. There was a stifled cheer which quickly died away when Bob held his stoic look.
Bob explained, “We have been able to eliminate the global conflict that followed the terrorist attack but there is much work to do. Through some ingenious genetic manipulation we have improved almost to the point of recreation, a new Simulant series.” A low murmur went through both rooms as Bob continued, “I am sure we all understand that this opens great opportunities but also provides us with some challenges.
The team here in
We are not out of the woods. I appreciate the dedication that you have shown during this crisis please push on through and I promise you will be rewarded. Peter and I will be calling you off-line to talk about your assignments and to seek your advice. If you want to share anything with the entire group, now would be the best time. We will all be very busy and I don’t plan on having many of these joint conference calls.” No one asked any questions or wanted to make any comments to the group as whole. There were plenty of questions but everyone thought it would be better to cover those one on one with either Peter of Bob.
Ann had dialed into the conference call but had not
participated. She wanted to listen in to the call and to get a feeling on the
mood. It felt funny to see old friends and colleagues, her memories were strong
and she had real emotions for many of the people on the call. She was surprised
to see Amanda in
They had by this time created thousands of offspring from
Ann’s mind map but
There was sadness as well, such as when Jim’s wife died in a
car accident, or when
Individual Simulants couldn’t be tracked. It was frustrating
to the team, but in this case it was heart wrenching to Ann. She had been
terrified. She was so afraid she was going to lose
David slid his arm off of
She didn’t join him. Her guilty look changed to one of annoyance, but at least she wasn’t crying anymore. It took him a minute or two to stop laughing but finally she asked him, “What is so funny?” He saw her anger and quickly tried to explain, “It’s nothing really. I just assumed something else and whenever I let my ego surface I always get in trouble. It reminded me of a something that happed to me awhile back and it was kind of funny.” The look she gave him told him that he had better continue or he better figure out a way to get a taxi to the airport.
He continued, “It’s not that funny but I’ll tell you the story. A couple of months ago I was on a business trip. I parked my car and was walking down the street when these two very good looking very young girls made eye contact with me. It has been awhile since young girls checked me out but it was clear these girls were. I looked away but they continue to look at me. I smiled at them and they immediately smiled back. It was a great ego booster. I waved at them as I walk toward them and their smiles grew. Just as we got to speaking distance, I heard the one girl say to her friend, “Maybe we can get this nice older gentleman to move his car so we can unload our van in front of the new apartment.” I of course completely misunderstood what was really going on. I never for a moment had considered myself “an older gentleman.” I moved the my rental car, in fact I moved it far enough away as to be sure I wouldn’t have to talk to the girls again.”
David was starting to get a better understanding of what was bothering her. He asked her one more question, “What’s his rank?” She frowned and said, “He’s enlisted, Sergeant First Class Jim Lee. He likes to say he is a “Dumb to the Bone Grunt.” Of course he isn’t. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met and I hang around a lot of pretty smart people.
David knew that
He didn’t know what to say to her. It wouldn’t matter to her that her Dad was doing something that needed to get done. A folded flag couldn’t replace the person you loved. Cheryl had told him that before each of his deployments but until he lost her he never really understood it. They sat in silence. She dropped her head back on his chest and he laid his arm across her shoulder. They listen to the sound of the waves and little rush of air as the kids slept in the back.
Somewhere inside the 25-km wide temporary security zone on
the border of
Sergeant Lee talked in broken Amharic to the local tribal
leader asking if they had seen any more movement. If the Eritrea government
knew that Jim was working with one of the nomadic tribes that moved from
Eritrea to Ethiopia and back they would have been upset, but information was
life out here and this guys had been a good source of it. This was the fifth
mission he had been on in the region and the charm of the place was starting to
wear off. He had learned a lot about Islam and the generosity of the people
here. They had little and deeply resented the wealth and power of the
He was standing in at the bottom of a rugged ravine holding
a 7.62-mm Dragunov sniper rifle talking to the leader
of one of local tribes about killing the leader of another tribe. Both leaders
were Islamic and both hated
If Jim was killed or captured nothing tied him back to the United States Military, they would try and get him back though “back channels” but publicly they would also deny ever sending him. Jim walked through the valley of the shadow of death, but he in his case he did fear evil because he walked alone. It was him and his small team, everyone else was an enemy or might quickly become an enemy. He had been in the military for almost 25 years most of it in Special Operations. He missed his comfortable bed, the local bar he hung out at, but most of all his missed is Daughter.
He was proud of how well he did his job and was proud of the
guys on his team but he wasn’t as proud of the job they were being called on to
do now. Twenty some years had sucked most of the macho bullshit out of him. The
problem with the “Delta” teams was that they were full of very smart guys.
Smart enough to know that setting up an ambush on some two-bit tribal leader
wasn’t going to stop terrorism back in the “world” This guy was nasty and Jim
wouldn’t lose any sleep over his death but he and all of his buddies couldn’t
have conducted an operation of the scale needed to attack the
Jim’s team was cleaning up someone else mess, settling old debts and most likely creating new ones. This guy was going to die tonight because someone wanted him dead and his death would send a message that you can run but you can’t hide. Jim only hoped that the person that gave them this guys’ name wasn’t the better target.
He smelled the dust in air and felt the cool breeze rustling through the low bushes. If he was out on a training mission this would have been his favorite time of the day. No buddy attacked at dusk. They started to move at dusk but they didn’t attack, so now was the time you could sit back, relax a bit letting the breeze cool you down and grab a quick bite to eat. The only problem was it wasn’t training. He thanked his new friend who headed out of the area. Jim then quickly crawled into his firing position. He pulled his hood up to complete his camouflage and then waited for this poor dumb bastard to come walking down the trail to his death.
The caravan might be there in an hour or they might have to wait as long as six hours. He really didn’t see the point of killing this guy but since he was going to, he hoped it would be over soon. They didn’t have a sixth mission assignment and everyone hoped that their sixth mission would be to board a plane for home.
Jim clicked the microphone once to get the teams attention and then pointed to his own eyes and down the trail. They knew he was signaling them to knock off the grab ass and focus on finishing up the job at hand.
They heard the horses first as their hoofs clattered across the large half buried boulders. It took ten more minutes before they heard muffled voices then finally they heard the sound of footfalls on the sand. Jim held up one finger, then extended all of his fingers while touching his rifle to his elbow, and finally held up two fingers. His Captain gave him a thumbs-up, but the explosive expert singled first with a closed fist then held up one finger, extended four fingers touched his rifle to his elbow and then held up three fingers. Jim held up a closed fist then two fingers slowly dropping one of them so only his raised middle finger was visible. The rest of the team had to resist the urge to laugh.
They were arguing about how many people were in the caravan. Jim thought there was a single guy on point, fifteen guys in the main body and two guys on drag. The Captain who was new to the team agreed, but one of the other sergeants thought there was one guy on point, fourteen guys in the main body and three guys on drag. Jim had ended the argument with the last hand signal basically saying there are only two guys in the rear and fuck you. Really there was no way to know yet, but they were very sure that there was only one guy on point because he was just about to walk past them. They soon saw a loose column of 14 guys walking 6 horses entering the kill zone. A young kid was running to catch up to the column and two more guys could be seen looking behind the caravan covering their six.
The explosive expert turned his body away from the main column and keeping watch on the guy walking point. He placed his 9mm on the ground in front of him then picked up the “clacker” in both hands. He would wait until heard the single shot from Jim’s’ sniper rifle then set off the buried changes and kill the point man with his pistol.. The guy on the SAW took one more look at the two guys bringing up the rear and then shut both of his eyes. The Captain sighted in on the main target and closed one eye.
Jim with both eyes opened sighted in on the target and released half of the air in his lungs. He squeezed the trigger slowly and as soon as the rifle kicked he saw an explosion followed a second later by the sound of a 9mm pistol and then a long sustained burst from the SAW. The Captain never had to fire, he opened his other eye and looked over the kill zone, past to the two guys on drag, and then over to the guy on point everyone was dead or soon would be dead.
Jim and the Explosive expert moved into the kill zone. They
put a bullet into each of the dead men’s head to ensure that they were really
dead and to send a clear message that the
Bob reviewed the data with Peter. It looked like they were out of the woods. The new Simulants were working. There would always be terrorists but by replacing key Simulants in the simulations their world had become a safer place. Nations no longer supported terrorists or at least did not openly support them. The intelligence communities were sharing information and targeting the terrorist leadership so although a lone gunman or suicide bomber could always attack an unexpected or civilian target the coordinated attacks were no longer likely.
Peter didn’t understand how they had come so far so fast and Bob was at best noncommittal and at worse was actively hiding something. The translation teams decided that the best way solve the translation problem was to require the teams to use a very small percentage of the new Simulants and continue to use mostly older Simulants in the simulations. The new Simulants were unpredictable they seemed to learn at an accelerated rate. They were also more inquisitive and because of problems had to be replaced more often. They would start to act irrationally or in some cases it was if Simulants suspected that something was wrong but they couldn’t put their finger on it.
The fact that they had to be more closely monitored and had to be replaced more often had helped Bob and Peter accept that they should not be used to replace all of the Simulants. The firewalls were in place and in about two weeks they expected to be able to rebuild and reactivate all of the effected systems. Bob thanked Peter and told him to take the next day off. He also told him to see if he could get the rest of the teams on a more reasonable schedule. There was still a lot to do but there was definitely a light at the end of the tunnel for the first time since this crises started.
Peter decided that he would give everyone a free day over the next four days and then put them back on a normal five day work week. He knew that most of them would still work more than that, but he would force them to take at least one free day this week. He also decided that Amanda’s free day would correspond with his own. They hadn’t seen much of each other but he was sure she could be convinced to spend the day with him tomorrow.
Bob decided to call it an early day and headed back to Ann’s house. His wife had put up with his grueling schedule for as long as she could and then had decided to go back to their house on the mainland. Bob was along, except for the Simulant Ann. He hadn’t talked with today or for that matter much at all this week. The big problems had been solved and Ann had stated to lose interest in the day to day “grunt” work.
Ann spent most of her time in one of the simulations, sometimes as her self like when she visited her granddaughter Nancy but more and more often she would replace a Simulant and live their lives for awhile. Ann had learned how to transfer memories into her own mind while still being able to retain her own memories. This allowed her to enter a simulation as a stock broker, banker, scientist, firefighter, soldier, airline pilot she could be anything and anybody she wanted to be. It was great fun. She would transfer the memories she needed enter a test simulation to familiarize herself and then when she felt confident she would enter one of the production simulations. It was the ultimate game real people paid thousands of dollars to fly a combat aircraft and pretend they were in combat. She was able to change the simulations and actually fly a combat aircraft in combat.
It was real to her, more real than interacting with Bob in what she knew was the “real” world. In the simulations she felt things. She could taste the warm sugary nectar of a peach. Feel the warmth of the sun on her cheek until it became uncomfortable. In the real world she could taste and feel but she had too much control. She couldn’t eat until she felt stuffed, and the warm of the sun never become uncomfortable. In the simulations everything was real, warmth, cold, pleasure, pain and most importantly love. In the simulations she felt love and affection. She remembered the affection that Ann had for Bob but she no longer felt it from him. She enjoyed his company and he was interesting to talk to and interact with but the affection was gone.
She had experimented with simple safe simulations but lately they were becoming more dangerous. It was one thing to enter the production simulation as a stock broker and losing millions of dollars it was another to enter as a firefighter and ending up injured and almost being trapped in the burning building when a roof collapsed. She wasn’t sure what would happen if she died in one of these simulations. She assumed that Bob would notice that she was no longer around and restore her from a back-up. She knew that when she was trapped in the burning building she didn’t get any comfort from knowing a copy of her would survive. She knew that if she died she would be dead and she personally would never be coming back. Funnily this made it even more compelling.
She had just returned from her most interesting experiment. It had taken her five simulations to prepare for it but she wanted to understand how her son Jim lived. She replaced a new Captain that was scheduled to join his team. It was sinfully delicious to be so close to Jim and to see him in action. The operations were dangerous and two of them were not even that important. She was impressed with his abilities in some ways he was better, smarter, faster, and more focused than she was. She learned from him in almost the same way she had learned from Ann.
She knew the required outcome of the operations and that
they were being monitored. If they failed the simulations would be restarted
until they succeed. She wasn’t sure what would happen to her if they restarted
the programs, maybe they did have to restart them and she never knew but as far
as she could tell the five missions went off perfectly. The last one was an
ambush of a tribal leader in
His death sent a clear signal that the enemies of the
Bob spoke to her, “Ann?” She cleared the thoughts from her mind and answered him. Bob never questioned why he could sometimes not reach her. He assumed that she was busy working on a project and had turned off the microphones.
He sometimes wished that he could turn off the speakers so he wouldn’t be interrupted. He was sure it was one of the reasons that his wife had decided to return to the mainland. It wouldn’t have matter since Ann as able to call him on his cell phone, office phone, or any internet connected device that had a speaker. She even could talk to him over the commercial satellite radio he had in his car. He envied her ability to get some solitude. All that said he had missed her today. He had wanted her to attend the meeting with Peter but had not been able to reach her. He thought about having her carry some sort of virtual pager. He felt silly standing in his office or Ann’s home calling her name as if he was trying to summon a ghost.
Bob continued, “It looks like we are out of the woods. I approved the translations teams request to reduce the number of new Simulants. I know you disagree but the data is just not as accurate when we use a high percentage of the new Simulants. I am also worried about the higher rate of mental illness they experience. The Simulants that we put in Psychology, Physics, Chemistry, and especially Mathematics seem to fail at an alarming rate. They also seem much more likely to believe in extraterrestrial life, the supernatural and complex conspiracies. Can you do a study to see how many of them believe in anything close to the idea that they are in a simulation? I know we have had a few Simulants in the past that believed they were in a simulation or something along the same line but I’d like to find out if the new Simulants are more likely to believe it.” Ann promised him she would check the data.
They talked as Bob prepared himself dinner. After dinner they played a game of “GO” it was invented by the Simulants and Ann had introduced it to Bob. Bob liked the beauty and the symmetry of the game. He was also very good at it and it was the one game that he could sometimes win against Ann. They played for a few hours talking quietly about inconsequently things as close friends often do.
Ann ran the data the next day and found that Bob was right there was a higher percentage of the mental illness in the new Simulants and that they did by a small percentage believe that they were part of some elaborate game. It wasn’t that large of a problem since it was a small percentage and even some of these did not have to be replaced because although they believed it, they did not share the view with many people or they believe that even if it was true it didn’t matter much in the big scheme of things.
Ann posted the results in an E-mail to Bob and then decided
to enter the pre- production medical simulation. She wanted to brush up on her
medical techniques. Ann had been a pretty good doctor but the Simulant Ann had
never practiced medicine. She wanted to replace one of the surgeons at the
It would take her almost as much time to prepare for this
simulation as it had for her to get qualified to join the Special Forces team
The kids waited as David looked deeply into
He pulled the computer he was carrying out of his briefcase and put it in one of the plastic trays. Katie placed her backpack behind the computer and Matthew put his “Gameboy” in his own backpack placing it on the belt behind Katie’s. David when through the metal detector picked up his computer and looked back at where she had standing but she hand already gone. Matthew looked up at his father and said, “I’ll miss her too.”
She decided to go back to the University. She was surprised how hard it was to park since she normally didn’t come in so late in the day. She looked terrible by the time she got to her office her eyes red and she was covered in sweat from the look hot walk across the parking lot. The nurses, who adored her as one of the only doctors on staff that respected their opinions, steered clear of her. They knew something was wrong but assumed that if she wanted to talk about she would chose the time and the place. Of course this didn’t stop them from talking about it to each other.
She looked at her desk covered with paperwork she had
ignored over the last couple of weeks, sat down and picked up the file on the
top of the pile. It was in the morning when she started and around seven in the
evening when there was a knock on her door. She looked up to see an attractive
woman who looked vaguely familiar standing in her doorway. The woman spoke, “Hi
I’m Doctor Dominique, Ann Dominique we are scheduled for surgery tomorrow and I
thought I’d introduce myself so we didn’t have to do it over the patient.
Ann asked her if she had eaten.
It was a call from her dad. He was back in the “States” or
the “World” as he liked to call it and after finishing up some paperwork he
planned on taking some extended leave. He wanted to know if she could join him
on a trip or if she couldn’t get away if she minded if came up to see her. He
left his number and told her to call no matter how late it was.
It was turning out to be a pretty good day. She had been pretty low when David and the kids left but she met Ann. Ann seemed wonderful and now her Dad was going to come and visit. She was happy about that for two reasons the first was that she had a great relationship with her father and second was if he was here in her house he wouldn’t be tramping through some backwater hellhole looking for terrorist. She got ready for bed and was asleep as soon as her head hit her pillow.
She had met with her patient first thing in the morning answering his and his wife’s last minute questions. She was standing over the sink cleaning her hands with a stiff brush and antibacterial soap when Ann walked in. They smiled at each other like old friends as Ann stepped up beside her and started to wash her hands.
Ann was surprised as she noticed the change in
They switched the music to an Eric Clapton and
David was trying to work, he had the flight data from the last simulation of the high altitude test on the VentureStar. The lifting body was a thing of beauty, but as a traditional pilot it has a bit hard to get his head around it. The aircraft had a fly by-wire system which used engine thrust to help maneuver the shuttle. It was easy enough to fly but analyzing the flight data was much harder because it was unusual. He chalked it up to being an old fighter test pilot and this was no old fighter. Really he knew it was that he had other things on his mind. He wasn’t sleeping well. When he traveled he stayed up too late, he use to tell people that it was because Cheryl would decide to go to bed right after putting the kids to bed and he would decide to join her. He liked crawling into bed at just before ten every night. When he was on the road he was normally just finishing supper at ten and had to force himself to turn off the television as soon as the “tonight show” ended. He just couldn’t relax without her sleeping next to him.
She could always fall asleep before him and with the kids
asleep once he heard the sound of her sleeping he felt like all was right with
the world. His problems at work would melt away into sleep. He did his best
work early in the morning having put some distance between him and even the
toughest problems. The problem was that since Cheryl had died it was like he
was constantly on the road. He had hired a pretty au pair from
David and the kids also missed
There was something about her, something compelling. It was if she had the answers to all of life’s questions. She seemed to be able to look into another person’s soul. It was why people always seemed to want to do things for her. On their trips around the sites of Rochester David could see all of the guys fall in loved her. He could see the look of envy as she introduced him or placed her hand on his arm. She could have any man she wanted and probably had to be very forceful telling some of them that she wasn’t interested. She was aware of this attraction and even used it to her advantage when it suited her, but she also seemed lonely. Here was a woman with more friends than anyone David had ever met before who was also the loneliest person David had ever known.
He looked down at the data again and realized that he wasn’t going to get anywhere on it today. It was almost four in the afternoon the kids would be out of school and unless Tina had decided to take them out they should be home. He shutdown his computer and decided it was time to spend sometime with the kids. He would give Tina the night off and he and the kids would end up at “Chuck E. Cheese” for pizza and video games.
Ann poured a small glass of wine for each of them and then
they gravitated toward the kitchen.
Ann hadn’t realized how hunger she was but the aroma of the meal was intoxicating. Not wanting to delay supper by even a minute and knowing that she would be able to spend more time with Ann, Nancy offer to stay and if not help at least watch Ann finish the meal. Ann placed the veal steaks in a well used copper sauté pan to seal the steaks for a few minutes and then cover it butter paper and placed the sauté pan in her preheated oven. She turned up the heat under the vegetables and the sauce and then pulled out two beautiful oversized plates and placed them on the rack above the steaks. As soon as they were warmed she removed them and placed them on the immaculately clean butcher block table next to the stove.
She expertly sliced the venison steaks and arranged the
slices around both plates and they filled the center with the vegetables and
finished it with some more sauce. She cleaned up a small spot sauce from the
table where she had rested one of the serving spoons and then picked up both
plates and headed into the dinning room. She motioned for
Ann refilled their glasses and then motioned for
She expertly fished out one of the oranges and sliced it
They were just finishing up their dessert when Ann’s phone
rang. Ann almost leapt from her chair shocked by the sound. It was as if she
had never heard a phone ring before.
Ann talked quietly into the receiver, “Bob what’s up?”
They finished the wine in an uncomfortable silence. Ann
seemed lost in her own thoughts like she was trying to make an important
decision. Even after the both of their glasses were empty they sat in silence.
They retired to the sunroom that looked out over
Nancy and Ann talked late into the evening, not just about
David but about everything. In some ways Ann seemed to know about everything
and had been everywhere. Her grasp of history and religion was amazing but in
other ways she seemed almost naïve. She sometimes asks question would have
seemed more normal coming from a ten year old. She wanted to know what the
difference was between the kind of love that
Talking about it helped them both.
Ann slipped out the program and slowed the simulation down
close to real-time. She had never done this before on a production simulation
but she wanted to do some research and new that it would take some time. She
looked up David and found him under the VentureStar test program.
“david.grant.ssn.A110.49.82471.AAG.testpilot.VentureStar.human_4129” She had already
guessed he was a 4129 Series. His background was hard to follow since he had
been used and copied so often it was hard keep track of. Some of the early data
wasn’t documented well some of the copies had died or been deleted while others
had been reused many times. It was obvious from the amount a data he was
exceptional. He might even have been related to
She checked in with Bob just to ensure that her new computer code had fixed his problem and to be seen. Bob was becoming more and more anxious about the amount of time they spent apart.
Self Aware Programs
Amanda noticed the problem first. It seemed like someone had reduced the time-scale of the production simulation down to near real time. The production simulation ran at a much slower speed than most of the other programs but it never ran at real-time. Even during the crisis the system was run a bit faster than it was running now. She called Peter over to her console, “Peter, Look at this the production simulation has just been set to near real-time. Did you authorize it?” “No, I’ll call the Operation center to see if they know what is going on.” Peter picked up the phone and said, “This is Peter, who authorized the slowing of the production simulation?” The team at the operation center had been monitoring it as well but it wasn’t a glitch, the system had been given a valid command from someone on the Bob’s team. Each programmer or executive had a to enter a code before making any changes in the production simulation the code used belonged to someone on Bob’s team.
No one in Operations was familiar with the code or the
person it belonged to but it was a valid code. The code was as high as Peter’s
and could only be overridden by Bob’s code. They explained that they would
continue to monitor it and asked if they should call Bob in
Bob was sitting in the living room talking with Ann. He missed their little conversations but this one was a bit unusual she seemed distracted almost rushed but she was asking complex question about life, love and the importance that people placed on relationships. There were no easy answers to these questions but it intrigued Bob that she was asking them. It didn’t seem like idle curiosity. The questions seemed to hold great importance for her and his answers seem not to satisfy her. It was as if she was disappointed with his ability to articulate life’s most important questions for her. She seemed to finally give up on him and told him that she was going to start a new simulation that would allow her to better understand the issues. She told him it might take a serious amount of time and then stopped responding. He spoke out loud, “Discover the meaning of love. I’ll say it might take a serious amount of time.”
Amanda watched as the Simulation returned to normal accelerated time. She called Peter over just as he was getting a call from operations. His trap worked as well the same code that had slowed down the simulation had just been used to return it to normal. Amanda asked if they should call Bob. “No yet.” He replied, “Let’s find out were the terminal is that is being used. Bob surprised me last time with the new high performance Stimulants and I have never been able to find out who worked on them. Bob’s very good but he hates the “grunt” work. He would have had to have someone that could do the complex grunt mathematics necessary to pull off something we all believed was impossible.
I’d like to know who he would give that kind of clearance to. The only other person I ever knew of that had that kind of clearance was Ann and she only had it because Bob promised her control over security.
Ann entered the simulation again, this time with the
expressed purpose of meeting David. She thought that by watching the
interaction between Nancy and David she might better understand Love. She
David pulled her out of the path of the other disembarking
passengers so quickly that Ann was left alone for a few moments, but the time
she realized that Nancy was no longer beside her she was already well down the
terminal. Ann looked back to see a very handsome man hugging
Ann worked her way back to them and
David picked a small cozy place for them to stop and have a drink. Ann was shocked to see how much it reminder her of the bar that the Ann, Bob, and Peter had gone to after work.
They sat around and talked about everything. David and Ann
hit it off immediately, which pleased
Ann was shocked. Here was a man who had lost his wife, and parents, who had asked God for something as simple as happiness and from her point of view had been let down terribly, but he still believed in God. The thing that disturbed her most was that the God he believed in was Peter. He believed in the God of the Garden, the Flood, of Exodus and all of the other crazy myths and scenarios that Ann had fought so strongly against.
Ann could see that
David thought about the simple question, what about the
devil? He looked at her and said, “I believe there is a devil.” Ann was
disappointed and the look of disappointment on her face caused
Ann’s expression of disappointment was transformed into
amazement, she was sure that neither Nancy nor David would have believed in the
devil. “The devil? Hell, fire and brimstone you can’t
believe in the devil.”
Ann was intrigued, “Couldn’t it just be that people don’t really believe in God but are afraid to be wrong so they invented the Devil? I mean some of the myths that we are asked to believe in, why would a just God flood the world and kill off all of mankind? That sounds like your devil. I assume that people that were drowning and waiting to die believed more in the devil than in God on that day. Couldn’t the devil and God be the same thing the only thing that changes it is point of view of the observer.
David thought about it then shook his head slowly saying,
“No it is if we are being tested, examined. Look at slavery. The
Sure you could dismiss it as an economic issue, a way to decrease the supply and to appease people that abhorred slavery but it went on for so long. It was as if someone wanted it to continue.
Staying on slavery for a moment,
He seemed to be making a point with Ann her expression had changed again. He could tell what she was thinking but she listened thoughtfully and her expression begged him to go on. “It is not just slavery. Look at the holocaust it was evil, but not just evil; it was prolonged, inefficient, wasted resources and contribute little return on a huge investment. It wasn’t German. It was as if it was one long drawn out experiment in human suffering. The world wars themselves were amazing in there brutality and scope. The firebombing of cities, the V2 terror weapons, the second atom bomb. It all seems too accelerated, as if common sense was lost and people were acting out a pre-programmed scenario, but not just any scenario but one built to maximize human suffering.
Ann started to cry and David knew he had gone too far.
Nancy and David just looked at each other for a bit. He
didn’t know what to say he wasn’t trying to antagonize
Ann left the simulation, she was
confused and angry with herself. Actually she was angry with Ann, the real Ann.
This was the first time that she had completely and absolutely separated herself
from Ann. It was true. She wasn’t Ann maybe she would have made the same
mistakes but she didn’t believe she would have. Ann was the devil. She had
spent all that time telling Peter how wrong he was for playing God and Ann was
the devil. Ann had written all of the programs that David talked to her about
and many more. She had used slavery to test family separation issues, the
Simulants tribal instinct. She had been extremely proud of the
She had written the world war simulations spending tremendous amounts of time and resources on the holocaust. It was the follow up to her work on slavery. Families separation, tribal instinct, denial, in fact if she was having to debate if she would have written these programs herself she would have used the holocaust data to argue that she would. People say they would never allow things like the holocaust to happen but the simulation proved it was possible. She knew now that the data was wrong, this Ann, She would never write another psychological simulation.
The second atom bomb was her idea. She thought that the first bomb could be justified, certainly as much as firebombing population centers. The second was to see if the world would view it as unnecessary and therefore morally suspect. Some Simulants did but most either believed that both were equally wrong or equally right.
She had also written and executed the
David signals to the waiter that he is ready for the check.
Ann was waiting for them in the lobby. She seemed happy and
some how more determined.
Ann blew it off telling her that it had more to do with seeing them together than it did about the conversation about the devil. She was jealous, seeing how much they cared about each other and knowing that this was just the beginning of something for them. She came to realize what big lie her life had become. She was never going to have the same thing she saw between Nancy and David.
It was almost too much for
David returned before they could finish their conversation.
He transferred the bags over to the bell boy and gave him a ten dollar tip. He
came over to Nancy and Ann saying, “The bags are on the way and the tip is
handled.” Ann said, “That is so sweet, so this is your town where are we doing
to dinner?” “How about Three Forks? It is a steak
house and you’re in
I won’t hear of it. I am dieing to meet them, I know that
Dinner was excellent and the kids were impressively polite.
Ann fell in love with Matthew’s logic and Katie’s charm.
Peter saw the code flash across his screen and the simulation slowed again. He tried to return it to normal accelerated time but the system wouldn’t respond or if it did it immediately returned to real-time. In fact the simulation was running a bit slower than real-time. He couldn’t allow this to continue some of the programs require at least real time to operate properly. He picked up the phone and called Operations. They confirmed that they were seeing the same thing and asked what he wanted them to do. “Call Bob.”
Bob was having dinner when his private cell phone rang. He knew it must be important so left enough money on the table to cover the bill and provide the wait staff with a generous tip. He was already walking to his car when he flipped open the phone. “Yes, this is Bob.” The caller ID displayed “Operations” “Sir, we have a problem the system has slowed to slower than real-time and it will not accept command to accelerate.” “Have you checked with testing, and Peter to see if they have something going on?” “Testing is here with me and Peter asked us to call you.”
Bob was annoyed, but tried not to let the operations people hear it. “Thanks, I’m on my way.” Leave it as it is for now. I want to run a test before we try and force the system.
Ann’s cell phone rang and she looked embarrassingly around the restaurant. She hit the mute button to stop the ringer and then canceled the call. She set the ringer to vibrate and then hit one of the speed dial numbers listened for a second then hung up and placed the phone back in her purse.
Peter watched as the code flashed across his display. The simulation return to accelerated time this time it was running a bit fast. He printed the screen to a PDF file and then to his personal hard copy printer. He marked the time on the print-out and then put it in his briefcase.
The evening seemed to pass much too quickly for all of them.
Katie wanted to stay since she knew that once they left she would be headed off
to bed. Nancy, Matthew and even Dave all commented on how quickly the night
flew by. Ann comment, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Ann sat in the front
with David while
Matthew as already tucked in to bed when she knocked on his
door. He got a goodnight kiss but from the looks of his eyes he would be asleep
before she reached the bottom of the stairs. Ann and David were talking in the
living room, no tears so it seemed to be going fine. The clock seemed to be
running fast and they still needed to drive back down to
Bob tried Ann again asking the embedded computer to locate
/-- Characters --/
David Grant- a 4129 Simulant working on the VentureStar,
Love interest of
Matthew Grant - (David’s Son)
Katherine Grant -(David’s Daughter)
Nancy Lee - Doctor in
o Love interest of David
o Daughter of James Lee
Patrick McDonnell – a 4129 Simulant Ann’s love interest.
o Grandfather of
o Father of James Lee
o Husband to the first copy of Ann
James (Jim) Lee Father of Nancy Lee
Amanda, Peter’s love interest
Chapter Twenty Five
“All that is knowable”
She felt as if she was experiencing one of Ann’s old meditation
sessions. Something she had tried to repeat but since Ann’s death never had
been able to experience again in the same way.
She was in a tunnel, floating toward a bright light. A feeling of calm rushed at her, consuming
her in comforting warmth. She hadn’t
felt like this in a long time, not since Ann was alive but the feeling was even
more intense. It was like floating in a
warm bath moving without the sensation of movement. It was like watching a video of flying while
sitting absolutely still. If she closed
her eyes the feeling of movement would most likely have stopped but she didn’t
close her eyes, she couldn’t close her eyes.
She knew at once the answer to questions that had challenged the first Ann and Peter is there a God? The answered embraced her. Of course there is a God. We are God. The whole is God. You are God. This place, this idea, this reality, is God. She knew that there was no devil. This place, this being, could not be rejected. She also knew that there was a hell. It wasn’t a place one was sent to. It couldn’t be chosen, desired, or even commanded, it was any place that wasn’t here. Evil, despair, intolerance, ignorance all of these were missing from this place. She was still herself but she was also part of the whole. She reached out for others, first the familiar. She reached out for the first Ann and was overjoyed to find her happy, content and maybe even amused. She reached out for the Simulant Ann who had she had killed after she gave birth to David Lee. She found forgiveness and her husband Jonathan Lee they shared reveled in her memories of David and their granddaughter Nancy.
They seem to know all but still take great pleasure in reliving the moments and memories that Ann brings with her. Life is not created it has always existed and will always exist. People leave the community for short periods of time. In most cases they leave with only enough knowledge to experience life again for the first time. Ann realizes that here there was no difference between a Simulant a “real” person. Life outside this place was a game. The rules could be elaborate with the player choosing the conditions or more often than not allowing them to be randomly chosen for them.
They were aware of everything that was going on never really leaving but sending a small part themselves to experience something new. It was part of the enjoyment, to become completely immersed in the game. It was played to these fixed rules which could not be changed during the game and like the life of a Simulant it is infinitesimally short. People played the game, as Ann had done as everyone did that this Ann had ever known. They left to live and love, sometimes in groups, sometimes alone, but always for such a short time that it could be measured in the speed of thought. The retelling of the story took more time then living the story. If she waited but a moment she would soon meet Peter and Bob. She could see the future if she wanted although most did not want to. She laughed out loud at her ideas and beliefs from her past. She cried for Peter and wished that she could some how protect him from the desperation that he would soon be enveloped in.
She felt motion again for the first time since she exited
the tunnel into the light and she woke in a warm unfamiliar bed. Reality began to slip away it was replaced by
the warmth of the Sun on her cheeks. She
felt the after glow of a wonderful dream.
She heard the voice of
• Ann starts to question her belief about what she wants
• Amanda and Peter become closer
• Jim and Nancy start to wonder openly about Ann
• Jim finds out about David
• Jim flies down and meets David
• David starts to understand his feelings for
• David starts to understand about life
• Peter and Amanda discover Ann’s secret
• Ann falls in love with Paul
• Bob questions Ann about what she is doing in the simulation
• Peter starts to worry about what happens if Ann continues
• Ann tries to explain it all to Jim
• Jim thinks she is nuts
• Jim also explains that the real Ann was responsible for most of the evil in the world and that this “Peter” was responsible for most of the good.
• Ann tries to explain it all to
• Ann tries to explain it all to David
• At first David doesn’t care and then he realizes that he might lose Nancy and the kids
• Peter removes Ann from the Simulation
• David convinces Jim and Nancy that they have to get Ann back
• Tina takes the kids to a ranch in
• David, Jim and Nancy start to effect the simulation
• They are able to restore Ann and explain the situation to her
• Ann can directly control parts of the simulation
• Ann holds the production simulation hostage
• Bob and Peter give in and call a truce
• Peter demonstrates a new simulation possibility
• The End
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