Lizard Voting

From the tree we could see the lizards gather up the flat stones. They placed the stones in front of the various elders. Two stones in front of one, three in front of another.

Janice was right: this was an election. These lizards had a representative democracy.

Thank god the animal I was in didn’t get something to eat while we were online. Poor Adit was the one who needed a bucket after this POV visit.

After rinsing out his mouth he grabbed some used coffee grounds from the filter and gargled with them and some six hour old coffee. Seriously it couldn’t have been that bad. I never thought of Adit as a drama queen.

Though I admit I don’t think I’ll remind anyone that I haven’t had taste mapped yet.

After Sam Larson’s anthropology team discovered the rudimentary tool making quasi-primates, Janice has had her team scour the data from Alpha to find other examples of individual intelligence. Janice couldn’t let her team’s record of having the coolest discoveries upped by another team, especially not anthropologists.

Alpha has many thriving examples of group intelligence, my favorite being the elephant sized jelly fish like creatures that live in one of the rain forests that ring the northern tropics. These jelly elephants stack their dead on the dirt at the edges of their swamps. The dead creatures dry out and collapse forming a thin paper like husk. Eventually with body after body stacked on top of each other the compacted husks form walls that are as strong as concrete. Creatures as dumb as ants thus create barriers that protect their “stomping grounds” from storm surges. While an amazing example of emergence, this feat of civil engineering is just one of many. Alpha is full of it. It seems that any piece of data we pore over reveals something fascinating. But individual intelligence is truly special. What individual intelligence will give us is the potential to see cultures emerge perhaps even communities. You can’t have those things without a sense of other and thus a sense of self.

With this group of politically active lizards we jumped into something we didn’t expect so early on. It looks like we’ve got ourselves a society here.

Janice brought the lizards to our attention in today’s morning meeting. She announced to all that in the deserts in the southern most continent of Alpha were reptiles that though don’t yet have tools, have an amazingly complex social structure. Including something that looks almost like a democracy when it comes to the selection of leaders. We had some arguments over that last point in the meeting. Leave it to Alice to say that from a distance America looks like a democracy too. That was met with laughter and grimaces. Guess which came from the Greystle folks.

Yes, there are Greystle representatives in our official meetings now. Thus there are now regularly scheduled unofficial meetings

Thanks to POV we got to watch the election first hand. Yes we could render it and watch from any angle in the main lab, and we will tomorrow with as many of the team we can get in there, but seeing it first hand, from up on that tree, made it so real. It made it alive.

I hope we can come up with a good name for these guys because some here are already calling them Reptilians and that just don’t feel right.

Living in the basement

I used to joke how our team was just a bunch of basement dwellers, of course there were less of us then, but we didn’t live in a basement. But you know. Times change.

They’ve got a huge kitchen/dining area in our new basement campus and have even brought in some pretty good cooks. Though part of me misses the roach coach lady.

We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner there, and we eat in shifts. Not sure if that is really because there are so many folks living in here now or if Greystle want us to think there are.

The place just feels so large now. There are people on the staircase and in the halls that I don’t recognize. I have no idea where they came from or where they go during the day.

Janice, Kaitlin and Adit certainly have their ideas but I’ve pretty loudly told the teams the best thing for us is to just keep working on the project and let the world figure itself out.

Narcissistic? True, but giving basement dwelling nerds permission to live only in their world and not the real one is what I needed to do. Nothing good is going to happen if we get involved. And what could we do anyway. What should we do?

Besides, the project is the only thing that is really joyful in here. Well that and Sally. She’s taken to this so well, though she is definitely getting a little stir crazy. If it ever feels safe enough to pull POV out again I’d love to find some nice field or beach for her run on.

They’ve got some great horse like creatures in one of the southern continents. Sally would love to be one of those.

Sally’s also got the beat theories as to what is going on. Mostly they have to do with aliens.

7 millimeters

Today was the day. The alpha team decided what they would use as the divergent event. And it pissed off the Greystle folks in how minor the change would be but we reassured them that this was a good starting point to test the full system and If they didn’t like the results in a week. We’d see about making another start.

So we’ve slowed Alpha down to the slowest it has ever run. It’s running real time. Every second for us is a second for them.

We got a full instance of Alpha set up on Tangent based on this morning’s snapshot and ran Tangent at a slightly faster pace until both Tangent and Alpha were in sync.

Weird thing one: our read out of divergences looks like a heart monitor. We have countless routines running that are basically generating random numbers that feed into Alpha that are used in daemons that control the atmosphere, magnetic strength and location, weather, waterfall – you know, everything (creation comes from chaos after all). So there is explosion of minute divergences as Tangent and Alpha have developed different sets of random numbers, but almost immediately these divergences cancel each other out. Out of the randomness, the pattern of existence on alpha and Tangent become synced.

By afternoon we have finished marveling at this (actually if we had our way we’d have marveled at just this for weeks, but Greystle was watching and they seem to be on a schedule). We set about to get ready to start the change.

On an island closely off the coast of the largest continent there are some intelligent apes that have been preparing for war. They have built fortresses. They have built ships. They’ve even gone to the mainland and abducted other apes to use as slaves.

Not fond of these folks.

Pretty much why we choose these guys to mess with.

We waited until their nighttime and in the cover of dark moved one of their fortresses 7 millimeters to the left.

And bam – our read out of divergences exploded like a firework display. We pinched down the scale as we no longer cared about the minutia and began to watch the divergences on a macro scale.

Tangent and Alpha definitely are no longer in sync.

Weird thing two: We saw divergences immediately clear on the other site of Tangent. Insignificant, and nothing (yet) on a macro level, but much more dramatic than the heartbeat randomness of earlier. These changes occurred faster than it would take the light from the fortress to reach across Tangent to where the divergences occurred. The changes happened outside the cause and effect window. It would be impossible for any effect from the change to have occurred on the other side of Tangent by then. Spooky action at a distance indeed.

Now I’m crashing from the high. I almost feel let down now. Like somehow I was instantly going to see a dramatically different reality on Tangent? Like somehow Germany would have won World War II and big dirigibles would now roam about the skies.

Post partum depression?

Meet the new boss

Unlike every other multinational Greystle still seems to be agile, I’ll give them that. They can turn misfortune to their advantage. Well they can turn the misfortune of others to their advantage.

I had been feeling like we were a bunch of wage slaves for Greystle. We either worked for them on what had once been our project (a project of discover for discovery’s sake) or we could be let loose into the wilderness to search for employment that doesn’t exist. Though being near both Alpha and Janice is a joy.

Now the slavery is a bit more literal. The list of charges was ridiculous, our lawyer pathetic, and the sentence was draconian. Prison time for everyone.

Janice wouldn’t be free in time to see Sally graduate high school. I wouldn’t be out in time to see her graduate college. But longest sentence of all was for Alice who wouldn’t be out in time to see Sally’s children graduate. The judge and prosecutors didn’t take kindly to her being a black belt and actually inflicting at least a few damage points to some soldiers.

But was most impressive about our collective railroading was that it was collective. You didn’t even need to have come to our little riot to get sentenced. If you slept through it you still got 4 years. Being on staff or a grad student was enough. What few undergrads we had were expelled.

And then the white knights of Greystle arrived and all would be forgiven with such magnanimity that they believed they deserved another tax break. Actually Greystle didn’t look at this is an opportunity for good PR, corporations stopped worrying about that years ago. No Greystle now has a guarantee – none of us will go work elsewhere.

We can’t.

None of us will ask for a raise.

We can’t.

And we can’t seem to get a straight answer on how long our servitude will last.

All I know is that I’m not going to prison, Adit isn’t going to prison, Kaitlin isn’t going to prison, Alice isn’t going to prison, and best of all, Janice isn’t going to prison. We all can watch Sally grow. And be free. Though that word is a bit vague these days.

Oh, and I’m not doing my taxes on time this year. What are they going to do? Arrest me?

First day at the office

Wow, it’s amazing how spreadsheets can bring you back to reality.

Today I learned where the sacred form is. There was a stack of them in my office. Now I can requisition anything from toothpaste to all the computers we’ll need for the team. In fact I can request more forms with the form.

Today Stan Winston escorted me and Adit to the Simulations lab. I guess we work weekends. Abzu is a surprise behind every door. Down one flight of stairs and down yet another identical hall was a door labeled “simulations” (yes – in lower case). You open the door and zoom you are in a glass corporate office building, without the windows to the outside world. Rows of offices with glass walls, a cubicle farm that went on and on to the point of parody; this was going to be big.

“Welcome home,” Stan said with all honesty. I think I had just witnessed some kindness. I was allowed a few minutes of acclimating before the rest of the team showed up: Janice, Alice, Kaitlin, Erik, Chen, everyone.

In the middle of the cubicle farm there is a clearing and a sunken open space. Though there are meeting rooms, this is probably the only place large enough to hold all of us if there is a team wide meeting.

I introduced everyone to where we would be working and I showed them the sacred form from which all things derived. The assignment over the next couple of days was to fill out the forms for everything they needed. Each group was to get a meeting with me to go over their needs (and their forms) and I’d approve them. We were starting from scratch. Most of the cubicles had no chairs and none of the offices had desks (which made the chairs seem so lonely).

There were lots of questions I couldn’t answer, the most important being of course how we were to access the server farm or if there even was a server farm or were we to spec it out all over again. Other questions centered on how to get Alpha back up, did we have any access to earlier backups of the Alpha code with which to jump start this project. And of course, my favorite: What the hell was this project. I didn’t know that either.

I did have one piece of hardware though, and it held the only piece of information I had. Stan gave me a laptop with access to my corner of the Abzu grid. Nothing there except a meeting on my calendar for Thursday to discuss servers. Hopefully that will answer some of these questions.

The highlight of the day was the mess hall on the simulations floor. It was massive and had an Italian Market theme, and it was the first time we got to “mingle.” Yes, we got to mingle with other inhabitants of Abzu. In fact Stan instructed all of us as to the importance of this. This cela was the ultimate think tank, and information, thought, and retention only grows when it is expressed face to face.

A nice theory and the people I met seemed nice, but very reserved and cagey about what they were working on. It actually was pretty uncomfortable. Hopefully communication and sharing will gain with time (as will our access to other research areas). Maybe to increase mingling we should have a mixer. Deck out the mess hall with ribbons and mirror balls. Serve bad punch. Bring up the awkward another notch.