Tuesday, July 31, 2029

Begging for Bucks

Well our presentation for a second round of funding from Greystle finally happened. Only 5 or so months late (oh but they’ve been good months).

We need more horse power and we need it fast. We want the servers to keep Alpha going, but also to take our simulations program to a whole new level.

We were not going to grow just another planet, we were going to grow an entire solar system. Start with just the “star stuff” and see it form a star with an accretion disc. Watch the planets form and jockey for position, watch life occur not just once but perhaps multiple times in multiple places in our new solar system. We’d learn incredible amounts about our own sol system and even about the Milky Way. And we’d stare at the beauty of our comets whizzing by our planets.

Greystle wanted to give us the funding; they were positively excited on that count. They just didn’t want to take the project in the logical direction that we had planed (and documented and charted and diagramed), they wanted to go a different way. A way that kind of freaks me out, though an interesting freak out.

They want to make history diverge. They want to take a snapshot of Alpha, put it on a new server set and run it from the time of the snapshot but with just a modest variation. They then want to see how the two Alphas become different from each other.

They want to see how they diverge, how quickly and how much. They didn’t seem interested in us discussing the lack of real science at play here and how this takes the project from observation to manipulation.

Our project is now taking an almost philosophical path now, where we actively play God. This new direction for the team didn’t go well in the staff meeting, but there was the unspoken understanding that if we didn’t take the money then Alpha itself would be turned off. Then someone said we were taking blood money, but that was met with groans. I can safely say that no one is happy about this.

Though I know I’m not alone in also thinking this will be kind of cool.

Friday, July 27, 2029

A new member of our motley crew.

Today I interviewed the soon to be newest member of Adit’s software team. He's a freak and will fit right in.

Stan Chen is a theoretical physicist. Alpha though isn’t theoretical nor is the software that runs it. No, we need Chen to work out the physics of Alpha in even more detail; really we need to know better about what we can hide.

Alpha is possible with our equipment because of Jack and Adit’s “quantum compression” that renders information only when needed. This could be because of us wanting to see data on what is happening in Alpha or something interacts with something else on Alpha.

Since for millions and millions of Alphan years the interactions on Alpha were simply physical (volcanoes, cooling plates, ocean waves, etc) and mathematically predictable this tactic saved us a lot of horse power.

But as Alphans appeared, be it slime, bugs, or mammals, our rendering has been continuous as all these independent beings interact, observe, and evolve. Our rendering speed has gone from millions of years or more a day to less than a few hundred thousand a day (at the most).

We need to come up with more efficient rules to save on cpu queries. Chen could let us use the latest theories on the behavior of macro and micro physics (we have got Newton covered) and basically come up with ways for us to cheat. Because the day is coming when we’ll have animals that might notice more than just the movement of the sun and stars but perhaps study them and we’ve got to make sure we have a bit more there… there.

Chen’s CV is perfect but I had heard that he hadn't been able to hold any one position for long. The fact that he'd found other projects to work on after being kicked off of others is an unfortunate proof of his abilities.Chen seemed to be relieved that I had asked so bluntly about his problems holding down a job. He blamed it on his episodes. Every few weeks Chen loses a day of work because he has had a temporal lobe seizure. He is epileptic. The “episodes” as he calls them only last a few minutes but the experience wipes him out for at least a day. It drains him physically and mentally, and he pretty much has to sleep the day away.Previous employers refused to accept this excuse because Chen himself refused to take medication. Without going into detail I assured him that I was very understanding of those who wanted to avoid medication and as long as Adit’s team’s work wasn’t hindered by his occasional absences then there shouldn’t be any problem with him joining us on the simulation projects. And then he pushed it and explained why he doesn't take medication. And if I had any doubts about him before this, this put them to rest. This guy was a nut but the type of nut that would be perfect for this project.

He didn’t believe he had a disease per se, but rather he was somehow wired differently and that allowed him to occasionally crossover into other universes. Seriously.

When he has an episode he has brief flashes of memories of things that did not actually happen. Not wild dream like scenes, but realistic scenarios of trips with friends or dinner at certain restaurants. But he also consciously knows as he experiences these memories that they are not actually his. The experience he has is disconcerting, confusing, and physically draining. Déjà vu with an attitude. But he doesn’t think these are just false memories that are a byproduct of a bunch on neurons firing randomly but that they are real memories. Memories from a different him.

Chen is a strong proponent of the multiverse theory where our reality is actually just a small sideways glance at what truly exists. Our universe is just the view from one point on the shore of an infinite ocean. And infinite other points of this shore are infinite other versions of our lives, even our lives without us. Chen goes so far as to believe that every probability created from the movement of an atomic particle exists. An infinite number of universes with Earth, an infinite number with Earth but not me (sucks to be me), an infinite number with me but with me still having my beard. Etc. An infinite number of infinites.

With all these universes occasionally energies can cross over and be detected, though not necessarily understood. It could be the Voyagers mysteriously slowing down as they left our solar system or it could explain the nonexistent mass that is dark matter and even dark energy. Or, as Chen explains to me, it could be thoughts that occasionally cross over from different versions of yourself. Memory leaks (now I know he’d be perfect from software design).

He calls this phenomenon a Mental Teseract. I tell him to keep it himself for now.

That said maybe when things calm down around here his idea will be a great dinnertime conversation piece.

Wednesday, July 25, 2029

Tatoos and Memories: Relationships

Alice has upgraded her NetTat so that she can update the imagery via a contact lens interface.

She's using it like a mood ring.

Sometimes there is a happy kitty on her arm, next razor wire around her neck, then a simple tear drop on her face. And yes I actually saw that progression today, all within an hour. She must be exhausting in a relationship.

And relationships are something I'm starting to get back. I feel like I'm friends again with everyone here. It isn't like it used to be but it is getting better. I have hope again, hope that we will again be a family.

Luckily the us vs. them mentality here has really made getting back into the fold fairly smooth. The Greystle folks keep to themselves, and we keep to ourselves.

Ned is almost officially a Greystle employee at this point. He is now known as "Ned in Bed," because he is basically a Greystle lackey and will always take their side in any argument.

One relationship that hasn't been restored is the only real relationship I had. Janice is keeping me at a distance. I've lost her trust. She's coming to me about Alpha related issues now, so that is an improvement, but she doesn't treat me like a friend... yet. I hope I can type yet.

One blessing is that I think the whole situation was kept from Sally who is the only person who treats me exactly the way they always had. She is a great kid. How a girl can be so normal with only geeky adults for friends is a mystery. But even she knows her mom and I are no longer together, but she never asks. Its like she just wants to be a kid and doesn't want to know.

Now Kaitlin and Adit. That is a relationship that seems to be going well, and seems to be pretty public knowledge by now, especially since I'm asked about it by someone at the Coke machine every time I'm there. Which, now that I'm back to traditional caffeine for my sleep denying needs, is someplace I am often at.

Kaitlin actually opened up to me a little about the relationship. She told me how proud she was of Adit to even be in a relationship.
"He's not like you and me Rob. Every time he sees me every memory he has of me is retriggered. There is no distance and no priority based on time. He remembers everything and forgets nothing. He remembers how he felt when he met me, how he felt when he touched me, he remembers how I looked on every day he saw me. My bad hair days, my inside out shirts, and every runny nose I had."
I didn't really get the significance until she hit me over the head with it.
"Rob, if I yell at him he will remember it forever. He will be both hurt and angry forever. Not only will it never be forgotten, it won't weaken. It'll be like it just happened. And every moment of anger towards me will always be there making him both angry and ashamed forever. You see Rob, by getting together with me he's really put his heart on the line.

It's weird. I feel a pride in having someone risk so much for me, but god Rob there is also this wall I have to have, a circuit breaker that is always there because there is this responsibility you know. I could hurt him forever."
I would risk anything for Janice, and I feel like it'd risk everything. But Adit, he has no choice, he really is putting everything out there.

Though I have to say I feel like I'm just as ashamed whenever I see Janice now as I was six weeks ago as I stood there watching her look at the floor instead of at me as all my failings were aired. And for now I want that shame to feel fresh. I deserve to feel it.

Sunday, July 22, 2029

Catching up 2 - POV

When I got back to the office I thought the first thing I'd hear about was the status of Alpha, but instead it was about the subject I dread: Politics

There is some kind of court case against President Prescott going on and that seems to be the new excuse for an increase in crime in town and even in the green zone. The thing Adit and Kaitlin wanted me to know was that there was a curfew now in the green zone. They figured I wasn't aware of that and I wasn't.

The campus security is also especially twitchy now.

More importantly though Adit and Kaitlin let me in on their little secret: Using the tech that keeps Adit… umm… Adit (and not Rasa), they are able to share experiences.

They started working on this right after Adit got his upgrade.

If you want any proof that Orexinal was affecting my performance I think you need go no further than the fact that my two main technical resources had basically been working part time on the alpha project and full time on their own experiment, and I had no idea.

Much like how Kaitlin and Adit upgraded Adit so that all electrical activity is recorded and “played back” to trigger his memory, they now can record the specific frequencies of each brain reaction to stimuli and compare that to how another brain reacts to the same stimuli. They can then create a mapping table between the two.

The program would learn how I see blue, and it would learn how Adit sees blue. Then I could look at blue, and record my brain looking at blue and then upload that recording to Adit. He’d then see the blue. It isn’t a recording of the blue or even my brain’s reaction to the blue. It is my brain’s reaction to the blue mapped to Adit’s brain’s reaction to blue. It would be what I saw as if he saw it.

Adit and Kaitlin mapped different sensory experiences. Their reactions to colors, shapes, smells, sounds, lights, all were mapped. Then touch. And as they are intimate now… all touch. They can really “share the experience.”

So besides transsexuals it looks like if Hera and Zeus ever get into an argument about sex again they can ask Adit or Kaitlin rather than just relying on the answer Tiresias gave. And no, I did not ask either Kaitlin or Adit which sex enjoys sex the most. And given the difference in anatomy and thus the difference in neuron wiring to respond to feedback from said anatomy the shared experience can really only ever be an approximation.

Actually all sensations through this tech will just be approximations, but according to Adit even just watching TV from the point of view of the person sitting next to you blows away any sense of “self.” And coming from a man whose every memory is triggered by a computer program that is saying something.

Over some beers we discussed what to call this and though I personally thought Perceptitron was cool and retro, in the end we decided to call the tech POV (Point of View) and we decided not to tell Greystle… or anyone else.

Thursday, July 19, 2029

Catching up.

Adit asked me today if I had been posting anything here, and I realized that since I woke up I hadn't.

I guess with learning that Adit had discovered this blog took away a little of the fun for me. And now that it's just on this old tablet it seems less like a blog and more just some text file.

But reading it over from the beginning earlier today made me realize I wanted to continue posting. I don't want to forget these days working on Alpha.

So let me catch up: I'm awake now (sleep typing not being one of the side effects) and at night I go to sleep. Seems simple enough but just a few weeks ago that scenario terrified me.

The first "night" I slept for eighteen hours. When I woke up I was hungrier than I had ever been in my life. I rushed around eating every scrap of food I could find. When I sat down after eating I felt increasingly tired and worn. The idea of going back to sleep again and so soon was frightening. I began searching for some Orexinal. Instead all I found were notes from Adit listing all the things I now owed him.

"Sorry Rob, but I found them first. You owe me a coke - Adit"
And
"Nope - you owe me a weekend without you guys calling."
Etc.

I basically am going to have to take Adit out to the nicest restaurant in the green zone

I quickly gave up searching and headed towards the bed. I barely made it.

Sixteen hours later I was awake again and starving.

Having no food left at my place I headed down to the campus cafeteria. As I walked to a table I passed some guys from Alpha's geology team and they grew quiet as I walked by.

I was devastated. I think that was when I realized how much damage I had done to myself and to the project as a whole. I wanted to lead more than a team; I wanted the team to be a family. My family. Adit could be my brother. Janice could be my wife. Sally my daughter. But at that moment I realized that instead I was the drunk dad who almost ruined it for everyone.

I went straight back to my room. I was already having trouble walking and my head hurt. I was getting tired again, but I made sure to search everywhere to make sure every stash of Orexinal was found and flushed. I checked between the cushions and under the desk, I didn't want one of those damn pills around.

As I start to drift off I left a semi coherent message for Adit asking him for yet one more favor. To search my office and make sure there weren't any pills there for me to find.

And I told him I'd be in the office the next day ready to work a full day.

I was there the next day but a full day seemed beyond my abilities for nearly a week.