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The Tinkered Mind
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September 11th, 2022
Lucilius and the rest of humanity was now spending almost all of its waking existence in a simulation of one sort or another. In fact, many people never even left the host simulation which functioned as a gateway to nearly all the other simulations. There was something for everyone, and everything for anyone: Hyper realistic video games that merged the old entertainment of movies with the agency of RPGs. There were learning simulations and therapy simulations, but in all, nearly every simulation that humanity now indulged with was simply an iteration on community.
Lucilius was soaring through host simulation, scanning the possibilities when he noticed something he’d never seen before: a warning notification. He zoomed toward the simulation node and entered the simulation antechamber - a kind of welcome room to learn about what was on offer. An attendant materialized behind a desk, its feet already propped up, reading a book - an ornament of the antechamber, and a generated program that could answer Lucilius’ questions.
“What’s with the warning notification?”
“Memory erasure required for this one?”
“Like, a full memory wipe?”
The attendant, now resigned from the task of being distracted from their book, looked at Lucilius. It’s a luddite simulation.
Lucilius was aware of the word, but didn’t understand.
“Like a hippie paradise or something?”
The attendant wagged its head unconvinced from side to side.
“A bit more extreme.”
“Hunter gatherer extreme,” The attendant said, raising its eyebrows.
“Oh neat. How long does it last?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well I assume it’s story line?”
The attendant shook its head. “Nah, this simulation starts in batches, and most prefer not to do a time toggle.”
“Most? So how many groups or batches are there?”
“About two dozen.”
“And how many people are engaged?”
“A few thousand per, usually. Just enough so the simulation’s genetic program can run without too much risk of malformations.”
“Wait are you saying people are having kids in there?”
“What happens when the simulation ends?”
“Only one has ended.”
“Holy, so all the other batches, these people have been in there, for what, years? Decades?”
“And what happened with the one batch that has finished? Did they have a strange time reacclimatizing? Did any of them forget what the real world is like?”
The attendant smiled. “That batch was time toggled.”
“Ok, so how much time did they experience?”
“What?!?” Lucilius exclaimed. “What do people do in a hunter gatherer simulation for a quarter million years?”
The attendant smiled. “They went because they yearned for a simpler time, a simpler life... but eventually they forgot why they'd gone in the first place and they invented civilization, and they progressed technologically until they too began to build simulations in order to escape their world, their reality. Yearning it seems, always, for something simpler, something other than the reality we're given.”
“A simulation inside a simulation in order to escape the simulation.”
The attendant nodded.
Lucilius rolled his eyes. Unimpressed. But a question gathered in his mind around an incongruity.
“Wait you said that batch finished.”
“Mmhmm,” the attendant sounded.
“But you said they built that simulation inside their simulation. That doesn’t add up, how did it all end? You said batch was done with their hunter gatherer simulation.”
The attendant smiled and then looked around.
“Where exactly do you think you are right now?”
Lucilius looked around. He was in the host simulation. But he clearly remembered the real world. The history that lead up to it. The technological progress, the creation and adoption of simulations. He looked back at the attendant.
“And where exactly do you think you came from?”