“Forking” is the story of a man who is accidentally duplicated. It is both thought experiment and short(ish) fiction. The thought experiments of philosophers are often thin stuff, which fail to paint a coherent, credible picture. Because readers’ imaginations are undernourished by the lack of detail, so are their philosophical conclusions about the possibilities being described. Fiction invites readers into a more richly imagined world which can engage them on several levels – emotionally, aesthetically, intellectually, morally – as they are engaged in real life. If a story is well told, readers’ judgements about it should be close to what they would think if they were to live in the world it portrays.
Finally an email from Dalton, on the last possible day. With misgivings, Elliot opens it. Nothing at all in the body, just Dalton’s signature and the animated IGo logo scrolling endlessly across the page.
Elliot opens the attachment – his own presentation – and starts flipping through it. Dalton’s markup starts on the fourth slide. “DATA VOLUMES? NOOOOO!!!!” in 60-point Arial. Wincing, Elliot flips to the next slide. A fat red X covers all five bullet points. Next slide. Another X. The next slide has another note. “FORGET DATA VOLUMES. ENERGY IS MEANINGLESS.”
Elliot snorts, then closes his eyes. He can feel pressure building behind them. Energy is…. How could anyone say that?
Dalton sat on it for a week, more than a week, and now this is his feedback. Who is this prick? Just a flak, a lobbyist hired for the PR push the board insisted on. Dalton impressed the board; he was the man. A dumb flak who can’t use the shift key. (more…)