Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Should have turned it off.


Okay,  so there's this lab. And all they do in this lab is run simulations. Simple ones and complex ones, long ones and short ones, of all kinds of situations and scenarios. Most of them are just programmed, set to run on their own, and given a little alarm for when they're done, so somebody can come by, print the resulting graphs and reports, and click start on the next one. But there's this one sectioned off part of the lab that not just anyone can get into. It's only senior staff in there, with special certifications and extra training, and only they have the authorization to enter. Even the cleaning staff can't get in there, except for two people who have been given clearance to come in and clean, but only at specific times and under constant supervision. 

Now, the simulations they run in there are the most complex of all. And the most fickle. They have an extremely long runtime and are prone to errors and all manner of complications. If anything goes wrong in one of those and nobody is around to take corrective action, well, that could be bad. So bad, that the whole thing would just implode, all data collected up to that point would be lost, and they would have to be started all over again. Da capo. Setting research back years, possibly decades. 

Each one of those simulations runs on its own machine, with emergency generators and everything else necessary to ensure they run smoothly and uninterrupted. And each one of those simulations has its own lab tech, dedicated to nothing but observing the simulation, keeping it on track,  and preventing it from failing, from destroying itself. A science nanny, if you will.  Switch it on in the morning, monitor it all day, turn it off at day's end so it doesn't run unwatched overnight and spin out of control.

This morning, the tech came in and all the way from the door saw that, while the screen was off, the little blinky light at the bottom of the machine that indicates that the device is on and the simulation is running was going blink... blink... blink.

Blood drains from face. Cold sweat starts pouring. Dizziness. Nausea. Panic.

And with good reason, because that simulation is us. And that lab tech is fired.

As are we. 

Meaning, we've set ourselves on fire and burned ourselves into extinction.

Sounds dramatic, but I challenge you to disagree.

The simulation hypothesis is a big thing at the moment. It's been a thing for a while, but I feel it's only gotten big recently. And it's actually pretty fascinating. I mean, you literally can't disprove it:


I'm not educated enough in that field to give an opinion on the science, but it's perfect for describing how I feel about our world right now.

Think about it: more and more seismic activity, meteorological madness, environmental and humanitarian disasters. Terrorism, war, famine; racism, sexism, hatred; fear, loneliness, death. Everything bad is on the rise and, yes, there's good too, but it's barely shining through. Amid the smoke and rubble of Brexit, Colombia's No to peace, extremism of all kinds in all kinds of places... and the literal smoke and rubble left behind where people's homes used to be... I can't see a lot of light.

Yes, there have always tragedies, but for quite a while now it's felt like there's no respite. There's no time to recover from one thing before you're confronted with the next. There's no catching your breath. Blow after blow after blow. Shitstorm. Clusterfuck. 

One more thing to be noted about the simulation hypothesis: there's autonomy. I'm not taking our free will out of the equation. We are, all of us, one hundred percent responsible for what we've done to the planet and ourselves. Because what can you really expect from beings who value status more than morals, money more than connection, things more than lives?

Those screwed up priorities inside of us are what we need to change in order to fix our situation. Societal as well as environmental. If that's still possible.

Yet, somehow, the far right is on the rise all over Europe, people have stopped taking politics seriously despite being aware of the ramifications and consequences that has, and the citizens of the US have just voted a xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, unreasonable, aggressive, tasteless, disrespectful, dishonest, racist, sexist, and, frankly, completely ridiculous manchild into what's arguably the most powerful position on the planet. 

Are we even aware of what we're doing anymore?
Can we please stop pretending like everything is a game?
Can we please start paying attention?

Because the lab tech left and we need to hit the brakes. Hard. Now.



PS: I know I said I wouldn't write about politics anymore, but this is so much more than that. And my dear fellow Austrians, we have less than three weeks to go until our third attempt at electing a president this year... just make sure to, you know, think long and hard about where you're going to cast your ballot. But do cast it; there's no such thing as an unimportant voice. Thanks. 

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