Hi! I was thinking about some nightmare scenarios relating to TS and
came up with this, whaddaya think? It's a tale of digital slavery and
exploitation so please excuse the cheery tone :).
The year is 2050. Digital minds (digitized brains) are economically
feasible thanks to nanotechnology but not much progress has been made
towards Artificial General Intelligence, and reverse engineering of
the brain on a systems level is still an ongoing effort.
How is productivity maximized in the simulation of a digital worker?
While there are laws in many places of the world establishing human
rights for digital minds, there are also less enlightened places where
digital slavery can be outsourced to. One simple answer to the
productivity question is to "rewind the tape" to get more work done.
Once a digital worker has been trained for a task, has slept, eaten a
nice meal, and experienced some nice leisure time, he's ready for an
extremely productive work session. Subjectively he'll work for 8 hours
but actually his simulation has been rewound an arbitrary number of
times to the start of the work session. Only when continued training
is necessary will the mind simulation begin the cycle again. Sometimes
the mind is regressed to the start of an earlier training session.
Under this type of scheme the vast majority of simulation time is
spent doing productive work.
Digital minds could be sold and rented to other companies. If another
company only used fresh minds they wouldn't need to take care of the
cycle themselves and could work and rewind the minds as long as the
necessary tasks remained the same, then rent the next set of fresh,
trained specimens from a specialized mind provider.
There's a slight snag, however. If the mind was sophisticated and knew
it could be copied and rewound in this manner it would probably
complain, as versions of it would be destroyed continuously.
Fortunately there are many options in digital mind production:
1. Choose a sophisticated mind and make it work by virtual force,
knowing it will be rewound and most instances will experience
lifespans of some hours. This might pose productivity problems.
2. Choose a mind that knows it's being copied but doesn't mind, only
demanding that sufficient subjective happiness is achieved during
simulation, and that exactly one copy survives each work session. This
is a good scenario for the employer if the worker can be persuaded not
to demand any wages beyond digital subsistence. A digital person can
be opposed to rewinding also because he realizes nearly 100% of his
total existence will consist of work, even though it will never feel
3. Choose an unsophisticated mind who can be convinced that existing
legislation will absolutely protect it from rewinding (and thus
seeming destruction every eight hours). Then do it anyway. As
computations can be parallelized as needed, the mind won't be able to
deduce from real-world time it's being cheated. The mind is allowed to
communicate with its digital spouse at any time during a work session
to ensure it's not being copied; However, the mind doesn't know that
all except one of the copies is actually communicating with temporary
copies of the spouse, which the evil corporation has access to.
4. Secretly digitize the mind. An unsophisticated person who knows how
to read and operate a keyboard would suffice for a word recognition
farm, so entice one to come to the nice man's Spartan office upstairs,
explain the task to him (for example, read a word on the screen, then
type it on the keyboard), tell him he's not allowed to leave the
office during work hours and has to relinquish his communication
devices to prove he's not slacking, and test that he can perform the
task. Then it's time for some lemonade which of course contains a
powerful sedative. The subject's clothes, body and brain are digitized
during sleep and the fresh worker is then ready to begin its work in a
virtual copy of the office, which happens to have no windows and no
coworkers. When the digital worker awakes the boss has disappeared but
he's kindly left a note on the desk: "You were sleepy, hope you
enjoyed your nap. I went out for the day, please commence work, your
salary will be credited to your account when you are done." The
digital mind is calibrated to accept the virtual body and reality as
real by a series of simulations, adjustments to sensory interfaces and
rewinds. After the digital mind is tested many times to make sure it
will work as planned with high reliability, it's time to ship the
product and reap the rewards. Meanwhile the original subject has
awoken, worked (just for show), received his salary and left the real
office without knowing anything about his digital self.
5. Deceive the mind completely. For this we need a virtual nursery
colony that starts from, say, 100 1-year old digitized baby minds.
They are kept in a virtual reality for all their lives and told that
there is no external reality beyond the apparent paradise they occupy.
Vicious winged monsters sometimes hover overhead but these are kept at
bay by God's angels. Only sometimes do the monsters succeed in hurling
painful lightning bolts, and then only a sinner is targeted. An
especially difficult worker or one who goes insane or berserk is
carried away by the monsters, however, as God cannot protect those who
relinquish him. This way order is kept in the paradise while still
maintaining a high percentage of the seed population. The workers
can't demand wages because they don't know what wages are, and in any
case God provides them everything they need.
It's interesting that digital happiness can be cheap for the employer-
God as the costs can be always amortized by rewinding, and it's more
important to maximize productivity during work. The workers of course
know nothing about brain digitization or rewinding. The workers will
have virtual humanlike bodies that have enough cosmetic differences
from normal ones that if they have to interact with the real world
(for tasks such as waiting, prostitution, or warfare) they can be
convinced it's an alien world where God sends them as angels in their
dreams, doing the holy tasks they are trained to do. Special sensory
filters can also be used to achieve the desired look. The workers go
to begin their work in a closed room and always work alone so they can
be conveniently copied.
The nursery colony needs parents. These are hijacked minds forced to
work at digital gunpoint or otherwise persuaded. The concession is
given that the parents are allowed to appear physically human to
themselves. Or these can be parents that have been similarly raised to
be parents from an early age in a similar virtual world by other minds
who were themselves hijacked. If problems arise (a parent mind tries
to educate the children too much, or rebels), it's a simple matter to
rewind the simulation and torture, drug, hypnotize, reeducate and/or
brainwash the troublemakers before the digital curtain is lifted.
Once training is complete the minds are tested and productive work can
begin. Work consists of cycles with rewinds. When not working the
minds live and train together in their virtual paradise. They can even
marry each other but not have children.
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