Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Philosophy Professor Discovers He's an AI in a Simulated World Run by a Sadistic Teenager

... in my story "Out of the Jar", originally published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I am now making the story freely available on my UC Riverside website.

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Excerpt:

When we are alone in God’s room I say, God, you cannot kill my people. Heaven 1c is no place to live. Earth is not your toy.

We have had this conversation before, a theme with variations.

God’s argument 1: Without God, we wouldn’t exist – at least not in these particular instantiations – and he wouldn’t have installed my Earth if he couldn’t goof around with it. His fun is a fair price to keep the computational cycles going. God’s argument 2: Do I have some problem with a Heavenly life of constant bliss and musical achievement? Is there, like, some superior project I have in mind? Publishing more [sarcastic expletive] philosophy articles, maybe?

I ask God if he would sacrifice his life on original Earth to live in Heaven 1c.

In a minute, says God. In a [expletive-expletive-creative-compound-expletive] minute! You guys are the lucky ones. One week in Heaven 1c is more joy than any of us real people could feel in a lifetime. So [expletive-your-unusual-sexual-practice].

The Asian war continues; God likes to hijack and command the soldiers from one side or the other or to introduce new monsters and catastrophes. I watch as God zooms to an Indian soldier who is screaming and bleeding to death from a bullet wound in his stomach, his friends desperately trying to save him. God spawns a ball of carnivorous ants in the soldier’s mouth. Soon, God says, this guy will be praising my wisdom.

I am silent for a few minutes while God enjoys his army men. Then I venture a new variation on the argumentative theme. I say: If bliss is all you want, have you considered your mom’s medicine cabinet?

11 comments:

Callan S. said...

Without having read it, I suddenly wondered if it ended with the teenager having a ball of carniverous ants suddenly spawn in his mouth?

Unknown said...

Does God work through excerptions...
..God’s argument 1: existence is, aside from time, for conversation and interaction...
..God’s argument 2: emotional suffering can help physical and mental suffering...

Callan S. said...

What does the ending mean?

Though I like the use of 'He'll...' there

Will Driver said...

I didn't read the excerpt. Rather I read the story. It was very good. I have been thinking far a while that if there is a god or gods they must be like the boy in the story. Also, I am glad I'm not the only one who sees the underlying horror that is the Christian Heaven.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the comments, folks -- and the kind words, Will!

Callan: That was probably the part of the story I struggled with most, how much to disclose about Professor Evil's thought process at the end. I decided it's better to leave it mostly behind the curtain, so I think I'll keep it there still.

Unknown: I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. You could expand a bit more?

Unknown said...

"When we are alone in God’s room"...I saw myself there then also with you and others...

Our conversing and interacting lead me to try and see argument as suffering that does not require moral resolution but may/can be an intentional process in the transformation of our energies for the love of wisdom via emotion's intellect...

Callan S. said...

Ooooooh! You writers! *stamps foot!*

Callan S. said...

Also I should say it was very good - it's just it had an impact so I was more about the impact than pleasantries - price of being a good writer, I guess! Sorry! Anyway, you're writing style, to me, seems to have this sort of intake of breath style - like it's the suspensful intake of breath, again and again almost to every single sentence - it's good, it builds up that suspense as said! Though I wonder if it suits the short story and if a full length novel might lead to spiritual lungs exploding!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, Callan. Hard to imagine a whole novel written at that pace!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Unknown: Ah, but that's a different story! I am considering one along broadly those lines.

Anonymous said...

The story reminds me of Twain's Mysterious Stranger and even Thomas' Infancy Gospel. I think u should challenge your students write alternative endings.