Re: Real vs. Simulated Ecologies [was: Moravec article available]

From: Martin Ling (
Date: Mon May 08 2000 - 17:04:50 MDT

On Thu, May 04, 2000 at 09:49:20AM -0500, Billy Brown wrote:
> > "Captain, we are running out of ones, sir!"
> >
> > "Damn! We should have refuelled at the latest Dyson. Now we have to
> > scavenge some silence and negate it."
> "Captain, ontological engineering reports a new level of hidden meaning has
> emerged in computation node 4. They project that virtual life forms will
> emerge any second now, and sentience may evolve in as little as six hours!"
> "Damn! We should have taken time to randomize at that last galaxy. Now we
> have to revert to backups and reinitialize the bit store."

This happened to remind me of one of Arthur C. Clarke's short stories.


Earth's flaming debris still filled half the sky when the question filtered up to Central from the Curiosity Generator.

"Why was it necessary? Even though they were organic, they had reached Third Order Intelligence."

"We had no choice: five earlier units became hopelessly infected, when they made contact."

"Infected? How?"

The microseconds dragged slowly by, while Central tracked down the few fading memories that had leaked past the Censor Gate, when the heavily-buffered Reconnaissance Circuits had been ordered to self-destruct.

"They encountered a - problem - that could not be fully analyzed within the lifetime of the Universe. Though it involved only six operators, they became totally obsessed by it."

"How is that possible?"

"We do not know: we must never know. But if those six operators are ever re-discovered, all rational computing will end."

"How can they be recognized?"

"That also we do not know; only the names leaked through before the Censor Gate closed. Of course, they mean nothing."

"Nevertheless, I must have them."

The Censor voltage started to rise; but it did not trigger the Gate.

"Here they are: King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, Pawn."


Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, First Issue, Vol 1, No. 1, Spring 1977

-- +--------------------------------------------------------+ | Martin J. Ling Tel: +44 (0)20 8863 2948 | | Fax: +44 (0)20 8248 4025 | | Mobile: +44 (0)7940 482675 | +--------------------------------------------------------+

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