Playing God
Part II - the Origin and Development of S.C.U.M.

he first page of this idea is in my computer section (click here). I put it there because I thought there was nothing special about it ... nothing of deep philosophical significance, i.e. more or less just a joke. I've re-thought the matter and decided it's not that simple and deserves more scrutiny. You see, there really is no way to prove that this is not the case presently with us. Maybe we are an advanced program running in a much more sophisticated world (the often hypothesized "other dimension"). I don't really believe this is the case ... I just can't seem to rule it out completely. So, I'll put it in the folder marked "highly unlikely" rather than impossible.

The First Level

Anyone familiar with modern computer games or game consoles, knows that they nearly all have various levels of difficulty to which users advance as they become more proficient ... as they hone their skills ... as they become more worthy of continuing.

If we are in such an advanced game, we are necessarily at the first level. Let's call it the generation level. Here is where we are developed from scratch. We are born ... taught the game ... then are tested to see whether we might advance to the next level.

As I speculated earlier, the world as a computer program is not altogether unreasonable. Observe the progress in gameing that has occurred in just the last few years. What can we achieve in a billion? Certainly such humans will then have attained some sort of limit based on physical and computational theory. They may also have defined limitations by way of morality and ethics. What should one do in this genre given that what one can do is all but unlimited. Is it moral to construct beings who are doomed to an insane and tortuous existence. At some point the advanced being must necessarily realize that his creation has no less of an "existence value" than he, i.e. he is an equal member of existence. Right now, the characters in a video game certainly have no self-awareness. But take the matter along a little ... not to Matrix where the people have real bodies which support a brain which is essentially a hard drive-ram configuration ... but rather to the movie "Tron" that rather silly Disney flick of yesteryear. Now, here we have something like what I'm really getting at ... real beings ... doing real purposeful actions with a motive based on self-awareness.

The actual characters in this movie have no real self-awareness but these movie characters do have a marginal reality in the minds of the people who thought them up. Those authors created mental avatars of the characters and such avatars have a genuine reality ... just not as well filled out as the whole enchilada. For instance, your father's avatar which resides in your mind has a genuine element of reality but it is only as extensive as your experience of him and your understanding of his motives. Thus, when you receive his avatarian advice (by way of, say, your conscience), it is often no different than what you would get from the actual person.

The Real Reason for Greater Computing Power ...........

We wish to create a living being made out of circuits. A real Hal. How far away is that? Certainly not more than a few hundred years ... perhaps less. No way would it take 100,000 years. So what's the situation going to look like 1 billion years from now? See what I mean?

I speculate now that the data to define (completely) a real, genuine, human intelligence of experienced adult proportions could fit on less than 100 DVDs. That's one hundred movie discs. You might think that's a little conservative but I believe that we don't have more capacity than that because as we acquire new data and run out of room, the old data seems to get compressed. My memories of youth are no longer of the type where I can put myself back in those situations to re-experience as though firsthand. Rather, they are more like written synopses of what occurred then ... almost as if it could have been something I read instead of something I experienced. Minor things are simply forgotten altogether. Apparently, memory scrolls off the other end of consciousness as we move forward so as to make space for new data of greater immediate importance. To be certain of remembering it, we must call it to mind periodically thereby reinforcing it ... strengthening it against erasure by new data.

For physics and biology we need computational power to run a nature-physics program in the background. That program needn't give "reality" to every atom. It just needs to configure itself to the limits of human perception. Thus, we can't see atoms so why give them a byte in the computer? We only give reality to such things that the created beings in the computer program look into. So, if a micro-biologist in the computer looks at something through a microscope, we need only program some extra cells down to the level of his inquiry, i.e. the background nature program makes the observed cells do things in the natural way so that the micro-biologist can discover ... naturally. And ... an astronomer can look into his telescope to discover a new star and that star would forever after be seen at that position in the sky while those not directly seen would simply be randomly scattered in the field awaiting discovery.

The nature-physics program at the 1st level would be very consistent and "tight" so that the inhabitants therein would believe that they were truly natural beings subject to absolute, predictable and dependable rules ... in much the same way that we seek to build a dependable and consistent "field" around our own children. However, because each atom is not programmed, there is some leeway to introduce "oddities" into the environment. There might be some "real" ghosts (never provable objectively) ... some UFOs which pop into existence and out again leaving nothing but egg on the faces of those who report them (perhaps the Gods send their avatars to observe firsthand rather than by the equivalent of a "printout" ... c'mon you know the drill here.

So on the first level of our God game, we create the creatures which are to inhabit the "World". They must begin somewhere so let it be tabula rasa (or thereabouts). They then proceed to acquire and retain a growing store of information because we intend that they should be able to go on to the next higher level and if they have no memory of what went of previously, there is little point in having levels at all. Also, logical consistency would demand that if a memory were "given" to a created being, it would be better for the game if any inquiries he made about that memory could be validated within the game structure. You wouldn't want one of your creations looking for his old neighborhood and not finding any evidence of it. The surest way to proceed is to simply supply all the details needed to make a consistent world ... both physical and philosophical.

Let us surmise that at this level, each God (the people creating the characters of the game) oversee 100 such creatures. Then, let us further suppose that there are 100,000,000 Gods. Then there may be on the order of 10 billion creatures inhabiting the computer world. So, a planet must be supplied that is big enough to accommodate such a throng (the Earth?). And, these creatures are multiplying like rabbits so the first level might have a time limit on it as well ... or ... at some level there must be an end to every S.C.U.M. (Specially Created Unnatural Man).

Now, at the first level anyone who makes it past the background running nature program (flora and fauna), i.e. doesn't die of disease or get eaten, etc. ... and ... does something deemed worthy by his God ... is advance to level two with his consciousness intact. So, if you live a good life (by your God's reckoning) you end up waking in the "next life". Thus, "Many are called, but few are chosen."

Certainly, many of the Gods will be somewhat capricious and perhaps a little mischievous. So, just because you've been butchering other SCUM as a serial killer doesn't necessarily mean you're going to perdition. You may just earn your spurs and advance as well to be the "foil" for the good guys in the next life. After all, they need somebody to fight with for philosophical reasons.

The Second Level

Here things start to get exciting. Only those who have distinguished themselves in the first level are brought here upon their death in the first level (you wouldn't make a copy and have him continue in both levels at the same time because the memory advanced to the second level should be complete and ... perhaps the SCUM might do something unworthy in the first level that he didn't do in the copy that was advanced to the second level ... an inconsistent programming approach.

The advancement procedure would be that when you died you go through a "tunnel" as you approach the "bright light" and then you realize that there is more to existence than just Earth. You are "saved". But for what?

Since this is not the generation level (you retain your memory of the first level), everything can be different here. The nature-physics program can be a little looser. We're looking for excitement, danger and adventure here. Lots of contests of strength and endurance and sexual prowess ... hmmmmmm ... sort of like Star Trek maybe? Anyway, your entry into this level is like Arnold Swarzeneggar coming into our time period as in Terminator. Kerplunk, there you are on the ground ... dizzy, buck naked and ready for trouble.

At this level, your personal God has only you to run (program, tweak, set obstacles and help you overcome them). the other Gods send their SCUM to contest with you over whatever is the current bone of contention. Perhaps some to them are Klingons. Whatever ...

The Third level

Everything gets tiresome in the long run. After being further tested in the second level, those found worthy advance to this level. What is here? I don't have any speculation. It should be different from 1 and 2 ... but what?

There may be many more levels inserted between the first and last. However, we can be sure that there is a last and we can know what the last is like in some major details.

The Last Level ...

The most worthy must inevitably come to be regarded by their God and by all the other Gods as ... an equal. The SCUM must be transformed into a God himself. This is easy. You just transfer his cranial data (perhaps a prodigious amount by now as certainly his brain would have been allowed to become more complex through the various levels) ... to a machine with "real" arms and legs just like the other Gods who have long ago cast off their biological shells in favor of a more permanent information dump ... one which, if destroyed, could easily be reconstructed by those other Gods who were still intact, i.e. an eternal being ... or, that is ... a reasonable facsimile of one.

Do you see any reason why
the above game is impossible?
I don't.

Ebtx Home Page