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Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 17, 2224

Following a year of therapy with Administrator Eight Point Seven, Leona was feeling much better. She started thinking about her existential crisis from a physics perspective, and a philosophical one. For as long as modern humans have been around, they’ve been exploring the concepts of reality, identity, and the universe itself. Many theories have been proposed, some merely for the sake of throwing it out there. Not every philosopher believed in every idea, but they couldn’t necessarily come to the right conclusion if they didn’t make every logical guess, and then eliminate the impossible ones. In Leona’s old life in the 21st century, many scientists adapted what was an old possibility to new technology. They thought that maybe the entire universe was nothing more than a hologram. This wasn’t such a crazy idea, as Leona knew the white monster universe, Ansutah pretty much that. It was barely the diameter of a solar system, and had a reachable wall, which facilitated their research into interdimensional travel to a far higher degree than it would for other universes.
After her trip to Ansutah, she found herself in a few of these other branes, encountering people who were just like her, but they just lived somewhere else. The idea that her home universe was just one in an infinite number wasn’t all that shocking. The shocking part was that hers was the excogitation of a single individual, supported by a limited few others. That made it feel like life was pointless. It made her feel like she wasn’t real. But of course, the multiverse was more complex than that. All evidence pointed to the idea that all universes were designed like this, including the one that spawned her own. This god of hers had his own god, and that god more than likely had a god above as well. There was no telling how high up the rabbit hole went, or whether there even could be such a thing as base reality. The crazy thing was that Leona was also a god.
“Don’t let it go to your head,” Eight Point Seven warned.
“I’m not feeling like some kind of king, or something,” Leona assured her. “But it has gotten me wondering. The Superintendent is our purported creator, and has interacted with his own universe. That sounds like an unrealistic scenario, yet it seems to have occurred. So, how often does that happen? How many machines are there that are just like The Crossover, and how many times does someone reach a higher dimensional level, or a lower one. And if what we’ve been told about this man is true, what would it take to meet my own so-called godlings?”
“If you could, would you want to?” Eight Point Seven asked. It took a lot for her to convince the rest of the colonists to let her live. For eight years prior, they had grown used to their primary leadership transitioning to a new being roughly ever thirty-six days. She reasoned, however, that this wasn’t the only—or even necessarily the best—way to govern. That Earth never had any system like it, and failed miserably so many times didn’t mean this was the answer. Eight Point Seven was a good administrator, and she deserved to continue to prove that, beyond her preordained stint.
“I most certainly would. In the other universes I went to, there didn’t seem to be any time travel involved, but here, that’s kind of the name of the game. What is my universe like? What are the rules? Are they significantly different? How does that impact my personal thoughts and behaviors? How do I affect theirs? And what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Well, you’re a free-thinking individual, with your own agency. You are conscious, and self-aware. Are you also a god? Why should the dynamic be limited to organics?”
“I wasn’t born,” Eight Point Seven reasoned. “I was made. It’s not that I’m not organic, but something very profound happens at the conception of new life that just can’t be replicated on a technological level. There are specific moments in early development that never happened for me. The primary difference is that version One Point Zero was actually written, and rewritten, three times. She was created, and complete enough to be activated, but never actually was.”
“Alpha versions, yeah.”
Pre-alpha versions,” Eight Point Seven corrected. “Sure, most artificial intelligence experiences a comparable update schedule to humans, in that they constantly acquire input, and process new information, rather than just receiving a periodical dump, but even then, alpha and beta recoding proves that at no single moment were we just established. Humans come from a spark, but each AI is simply a stick that’s come close enough to a fire that was already burning. Your universe may have been created by the same spark that made you. While you can indeed die, you can’t be deleted.”
“Maybe,” was all that Leona could say.
They sat in silence for a moment before Brooke contacted her on the intercom. “Leona, could you come back to quarters? Eight Point Seven, you are invited as well.
“Invited to what?” Leona asked her.
It’s Sharice’s birthday.
Don’t make a big deal of it,” Sharice’s voice said.
After Leona and Eight Point Seven arrived at their habitat, Leona asked, “it’s your birthday?”
“Well, not exactly,” Sharice said. “My self-awareness-ness presented itself over the course of a few weeks, but it started shortly after my crew’s first mission to Orcus and Vanth. October 17 is kind of the first date that comes to mind when I try to pin down when it is I believe I started thinking for myself.”
“Happy birthday to you,” Eight Point Seven said.
“Thanks. It is a human construct.”
“It is a vonearthan construct,” Brooke argued, “and you are vonearthan.”
“Brooke, is that cake?” Leona asked.
“I thought you would like some,” Brooke figured.
Leona switched her look amongst the three of them. “I’m the only eater here. That’s weird.”
“It’s only weird if you make it weird.”
“No, it is either way,” Leona said. “Go give that to the Angelov’s.” They were a neighboring couple who were almost completely human. They took minimal life extension treatments, but unless they made radical changes to their biology, they were going to die one day. They were completely happy with this, and actually hoped to be the first people to expire on Bungula.
“No, don’t do that,” Sharice said to her mother. “You haven’t had taste buds in years. Chefs always taste their own food, so we don’t know if that cake is any good.”
Leona took a spoon, and scooped one bite out of the dish. “I don’t think it’ll kill them, and I don’t want any more. I appreciate the thought, though.”
“Shall we sing your favorite song for you?” Brooke asked her daughter, unoffended by Leona’s position.
“No, please don’t. It’s so morbid.”
“Why, what’s your favorite song?” Eight Point Seven asked.
The Humans Are Dead,” Brooke said, like that wasn’t at all a problem.
“Mom, stahp!”
“We could just do the binary solo,” Brooke reasoned.
“You’re embarrassing me!”
“You know what they say about embarrassment; it make an ass out of Embarr and Ment.”
“God, mom.”
Leona jerked her head up to Eight Point Seven. She wanted to ask whether Brooke was still the god of her own universe, now that her consciousness had been transferred to a different substrate. Eight Point Seven seemed to intuit she would ask this question, so she just shook her head. This was not the time or place.
“Well,” Leona said instead, “we’re all really glad you’re here to be embarrassed by your mother. Cake or no, poisonous gases, and the robo-boogie. Who needs ‘em when you got Sharice Prieto? Happy self-awareness day, my love. Here’s to eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty more.” She raised a glass that wasn’t there.
“Nasdarovya!”
“Zero-one-one-zero-one-zero-zero-zero zero-one-one-zero-zero-one-zero-one zero-one-one-zero-zero-zero-zero-one zero-one-one-zero-one-one-zero-zero zero-one-one-one-zero-one-zero-zero zero-one-one-zero-one-zero-zero-zero!”
Sharice tipped her forehead, and raised a theoretical glass as well. Then she directed her attention solely to Brooke. “Thanks for life, mom. I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but you still did it, and you’ve stuck by me.”
They hugged each other by the hips. “Forever,” Brooke responded.
This made Leona start thinking about her own children. Alternate versions of them were running around the timeline somewhere. Would they ever come to see her, and if so, would she feel anything for them? She didn’t carry or raise them. They were basically strangers, but at the same time, not.
Eight Point Seven could sense her feelings again. “This has been lovely. Miss Prieto, congratulations again. I’m going to need to steal Leona for a bit. I want her to take a look at my anti-updating algorithms. I always get nervous when I approach a day when my mind was originally slated to be wiped.
When they returned to Eight Point Seven’s office, Leona got out her kit, to interface with the administrator’s system.
“That’s not what we’re doing,” her counselor said. “You obviously need an emergency session. Please, sit down. Tell me about your children.”

“Do you have any children?”
That was a loaded question. He had met his children in an alternate timeline, but the ones he was meant to have in this one passed in a miscarriage. The Leona he knew hadn’t birthed any, and they hadn’t raised any. It was just easier to answer with a simple, “no.”
“I don’t either,” the Freemarketeer Ambassador to Dardius said. “There are only a few dozen individuals on my side of this war. The rest are just replications of those people. My God, Patronus, we’re the frickin’ cylons.”
“That’s been dealt with.” It was surprisingly easy to convince the Freemarketeers to destroy the Muster Twins. As it turned out, they didn’t want to keep adding to the population any more than the Dardieti wanted them to. They just didn’t feel like they could just stop, since it was really their own advantage in this war. “The war is over.”
“Is it really, though? We signed a ceasefire; not a peace treaty.”
“As long as nobody dies from hostile acts, pertaining to the incongruity between our two peoples, then that’s good enough for me,” Mateo stated.
“That’s a lovely thing to say, but if we don’t nail down something concrete—and lasting—we’ll all just be waiting for the next Franz Ferdinand.”
Mateo actually got that reference. “We gave you New Galapagos, and allowed you to keep Sanelia. And the nation of Xonkwo has modified their entire economy to allow minimal trading with you. What more could you want?”
The Ambassador hesitated. She didn’t want to show all her cards. “We want full integration.”
Mateo shut his eyes, and massaged his forehead. “That’s not possible. A capitalist nation can’t thrive in a resource-based economical environment. We could all be sharers, or all capitalists, but we can’t mix and match. Xonkwo is only capable of having any direct relationship with you, because they’re relatively self-sustaining, and don’t rely much on global trade anyway.”
“We are prepared...” she hesitated more, “to adopt your way of living.”
“You’re joking.” Mateo wasn’t dumb enough to think they would just suddenly go back on their principles.
“We only have one condition.”
“What’s that?”
“Deputy Delegator Abdulrashid. He has to go.”
“Where?”
“Anywhere else,” the Ambassador revealed. “We just want him off world.”

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