Author of the Month

A Simple Explanation (cont.)
By Mike Knowles

Hubert said that another possibility was we could replay our own lives. And by doing so make certain changes, just to see what would happen. Hubert based this on his theory that the past cannot disappear into nothingness because nothingness cannot exist. So the entire past is out there somewhere. Probably contained within UCI's more than ample frame. For example, by reliving these past "games of life" we could rectify mistakes. Of course, at the level of player we'd have no memory of what had happened in our previous game. However, at a higher level of consciousness these memories would remain. And we'd be able to tap into them in a very limited way. Either consciously or unconsciously. So when we came to a crisis point we'd have one of those "hunches" about what to do next. Not all hunches would be correct. UCI needs to know everything that can go wrong as well as right. This would explain the phenomena known as déjà vu. It would also explain cases of precognition.

As for the question of good and evil, Hubert said UCI could have created a Shangri-la...a Utopia where nothing bad ever happened. But just imagine how boring that would be? "No, said Hubert, "Like it or not, in this VTR there's a constant struggle between the forces of good and evil. Some of us play the good guys, others play the bad guys. Just like in those computer games."

"Wait a minute!" I cried. "This theory of yours is just another form of creationism!"

"Of our own creation," Hubert replied. "This is what we're collectively dreaming. Not the piddling little individual dreams we have. The ones no one else can see. But the dream of an infinite amount of conscious intelligence."

"Okay, Mister Cleverclogs," I said. "What about evolution? Some scientists reckon that's proof against creationism."

"I imagine a computer can be programmed to emulate a process of evolution similar to the one you're talking about. So UCI would have no problem at all dreaming something like that up. And why? Because it's a perfect way to create a whole range of different species. Some of who will survive, others won't. Evolution is blind because it's meant to be blind."

I still looked sceptical, so Hubert asked me to imagine how evolution came about. Surely not as a result of evolution itself. Because there are far better ways of doing it. "Survival of the fittest," said Hubert. "And there are far fitter ways of doing it than to resort to evolution which is both time consuming and wasteful."

"It came about by pure chance."

"And how did pure chance come about?" asked Hubert with an impish grin. "Surely not by pure chance itself. And what is pure chance? It merely refers to something that cannot be explained. But if you had infinite knowledge pure chance would cease to exist. And so would coincidence. Everything could be explained."

"But we don't have infinite knowledge," I said. "You might, but I don't."

Hubert ignored my feeble effort at sarcasm. "But infinite knowledge is theoretically possible. That means it's theoretically possible pure chance doesn't exist. Or maybe it's our imperfect language that's at fault. And the term "pure chance" is flawed."

We were getting into deep water again. Far deeper that I liked. "I've just had a thought," I said.

"I hope it hasn't done any permanent damage," observed Hubert.

"These life games we play," I said. "Where we take on specific roles. Do we have any choice in those roles? After all, I'd hate to take on the role of some character who comes to a nasty end. And if we had no choice, that could imply we don't have any free will."

"Ah," said Hubert. "But if you believed you had free will you could fool yourself into thinking you did. And how do you prove it? You can't. At least not at this level. So the question is irrelevant. If I were to kick you in the goolies, I could say I was programmed to do that or I could say I did it just for the hell of it. The point is, free will or not, you'd still be writhing in agony."

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