Archive for November, 2009

Evolution of the Self

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Thought-Experimental Results, and More Questions

Evolution of the Self CUIn the story Forking, Elliot Otley is accidentally duplicated.  During part of the story, each Elliot regards his counterpart as another man.  Later, he comes to regard the other Elliot as himself.  The difference between those two attitudes is dramatic.

When he thinks of the other Elliot as a different person, it is as a rival for his property, career and family, everything that he holds dear.  The relationship is one of competition and animosity.  When he starts to think of the other Elliot as himself, the animosity vanishes, replaced by sympathy and understanding.  The relationship becomes cooperative.

When Elliot first learns of the other Elliot’s existence, he responds with hatred and fear, as to a dangerous competitor.  Later, the two Elliots stop competing, and are fully cooperative.  Yet their beliefs about the relevant facts of the case have not changed.  Throughout the story, Elliot knows how travel-by-information works, and what went wrong that led to his duplication.  What changed Elliot’s mind about his relationship to the other was not new factual information. (more…)

Forking – episode 4

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This is the fourth and last episode of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 4 composite 3Roger Beethey shows up late, with a blonde.  Elliot gives him a pleading look.  “Relax,” says Beethey.

“You said it would be a skeleton crew,” Elliot complains, gesturing to a clump of technicians.

“It is.”  Beethey nudges the blonde.  “This is Sylvan.  He’ll do your faces.”

The Elliots exchange glances, and stand up.  “This isn’t a game,” one says angrily. 

“You’re right, it’s no game,” Beethey hisses.  “You chose us, a US major network, over your socialized Canadian TV, because you wanted the exposure.  Well if you want our exposure, you’ve got to get us our ratings.  The network doesn’t even know what it’s invested in, because of your paranoia about leaks.  They’ll be watching with interest, and if I don’t come up with a professional product” – he draws a line across his throat – “I’ll have to pull your stunt right after you. (more…)

Forking – episode 3

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

This is Episode 3 of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 3 composite 3Getting into the Institute turned out to be easy.  Arriving in a crowd from the bus, he found the iid-controlled gate held open for him by a smiling girl.  Security at that boundary is given low priority.  The ‘free-campus’ tradition.  Half-hidden in a big armchair in a departmental Reading Room – not his own department’s – he checks the messages on his phone.  Nothing new that matters.  He re-reads Elliot’s reply to EB, agreeing to meet before class.  Elliot must be in his car by now, probably in slow traffic on the Expressway.

Elliot forwards another copy of Elliot’s message to EB, adding a note at the top.  “BTW, I hope it goes without saying that I take issue with Dalton.  I notified the board that he he’s a lightweight, unsuitable for that job.  Between us, he’s a dick-head!”  Elliot pictures EB’s reaction when he reads it.  He feels strangely exhilarated, and almost giggles.

With a few minutes to kill, Elliot wanders out of the Reading Room.  He notices the libertarian, Wade, coming down the corridor.  Wade nods to Elliot in passing.  Only since Elliot gained tenure – over Wade’s opposition, he is sure – does the old anarchist grant him even that much recognition.

A suitable target.  Elliot saunters after him. (more…)

Forking – episode 2

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

This is Episode 2 of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 2 composite5 flattenedInstead of the motel on Bridgeport, as the other Elliot wanted, he checks into the Verdmont for what remains of the night.  He owes himself that much.  He is a bit surprised that his iid still opens doors.  The other Elliot could have changed his code, which would have made his own implant useless.  But the surprise vanishes when he thinks of what he would have done in the other’s place.  Without a valid iid, he could hardly last a day in Waterloo without coming to the attention of the police.  He has to eat, to sleep somewhere, and although he knows that resourceful denizens of the city’s underbelly do so without an iid, he cannot.  He might, of course, approach the authorities for assistance, were it not that he fears publicity just as much as the other does.  As the other Elliot said last night, the stikists could ‘get mileage’ out of this.  That could set the itravel industry back ten years.

Although staggeringly tired, he is afraid he won’t be able to sleep.  Still bug-eyed after a mael-bath with deep massage, he tries to get sleep meds from room service but no go.  (more…)