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/tree/master

What happens when we figure out the whole of the human brain?

The same words, day after day, kept staring at me on my empty Google doc. I wanted to write a short story about the consequences of the unavoidable technological progress, but I needed a fresh and novel perspective. Something more original than yet another dystopian sci-fi flick, something more developed than “you’ll upload your brain to the cloud”… Surprisingly enough, grasping intuition about the future of a world changing so fast that it may become mind-boggingly different was no small feat.

How does one even start to comprehend a world where you can make a copy of your brain? You wouldn’t have to die, you could have replicas of yourself… Backups in case of trouble… Or even just in case you’re unsure about a decision, just try it and see how things go! And then come back to the last stable version if needed… When you’re fully digitalized, you get all the benefits of data, you get version control…

What does it even feel like, when your brain is on git? When you’re not the only “you” anymore? How does time feel when you can rollback any change, or resurrect a copy of your past self and interact with it?

I thought about these questions a lot, but the answer was probably so alien to us than mere reflection wouldn’t yield much. I was intrigued by this paradigm shift we may well be on the verge of, and I would quite often bring it up in conversations, but few were the ones who understood much less cared about it. So every time I met someone whom I could enthusiastically speculate about the future with, it felt a bit special to me.

None were quite so special as my encounter with Robin, though. As it always would, it started with a few conversational cues at a party. Remarks here and there that hinted him as interesting. I then got the chance to dig a little deeper, as we got some quiet talking time around a glass of champagne.

He expanded on his vision for a future where emulated humans would drive the economy. He made a lot of good points on that nebulous topic. His knowledge of social sciences and politics allowed him to extrapolate quite clearly the consequences of brain simulations. He was especially focused on this idea of copies, and how short-lived replicas would probably become the most efficient way to solve most problems.

“ You’d simply wager that the task is worth the effort, he explained to me. And then we’d make a short-lived replica of yourself to do this task and then expire. The task would get done, and you’d continue to exist. No hard feeling for anyone. Unless the copying mechanism had to be destructive, that is…”

“ That seems cruel to the copy, I objected. Having to die in this planned way…”

“ Is it, though? You would continue to exist… This one instance would die out of course, but how is it different from what you’re already living? As Hume puts it, you die and get reborn every instant… Don’t you die out every night before sleep? What about the person in your dreams, who you are every night, living their life, and doomed to fall every time into oblivion… Aren’t they a short-lived replica of you, living in a weird simulated environment? It’s not any worse than a dream, you know…”

“ If you put it that way….”

“ You better get used to it. That’s most probably where we’re headed, in fact… ”

He paused for a second, pondering something I could not fathom. Maybe he was in an exceptionally good mood, or maybe our discussions had convinced him that I was trustworthy. He leaned towards me and continued in a whisper:

“ In fact, the technology is not very far out. I’ve been studying this field and writing about it for a while, and I… let’s just say I have contacts who trusted me with a very cool piece of technology…”

“ Which does what?” I asked doubtfully.

“ Care to guess?” He answer playfully, fondling something in his pocket.

I was sceptic enough not to jump to any conclusion, but he had given me enough reasons to take him seriously. Faced with my silence, he went on:

“ I just happen to have something that can produce a short lived replica of yourself. It’s rudimentary. It’s a prototype, of course. The copy won’t be as sophisticated as you are, won’t live for more than a few hours… But it’s a wonderful proof of concept. Do you want to try it out? ”

I was doubtful, to say the least. I had never accepted any suspicious offer at a party. But he wasn’t a nobody, his reputation preceded him, and even though this seemed really shady, the pace at which technology had progressed these last few years did not rule it out as absurd. This man had roamed many of the top level laboratories around the globe, so maybe, just maybe, there was something real there. I’d have hated to miss a chance to be a pioneer.

“ Sure, I answered after a while, i’ll give it a shot.”

Out of nowhere came a syringe, and…

 

I woke up painfully, my head pounding with a throbbing pain. I had been sleeping on my friend’s sofa, after the party.

I remembered some of it. Confused noises, the drinking, the music… A lot of drinking. Vague memories of talking to my friends, meeting some new people. An interesting encounter with someone I just met… And then nothing. I might as well have slept and dreamt through the whole thing…

Staggering around, I started a quest for fresh water. As I entered the kitchen, I was greeted by a voice that seemed vaguely familiar, but that I could not identify clearly:

“ Hello, he told me. How are you feeling? How was the experience?”

“ What are you talking about?” I managed to babble painfully.

“ What you did at the party, yesterday. Wasn’t it crazy?”

I dug into my memories, but I couldn’t make out anything worth mentioning.

“ I have no idea what you’re talking about…”

“ Exactly.” he answered with a sly smile.

 

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“ What the fuck, man!” I interjected as a warm feeling made its way slowly up my left arm.

“ You didn’t think this would be done without intervention on your body, did you?”

There was a little time during which I focused on the unbearable tingling in my spinal cord and my neck.

“ What is that?”

“ A nanobot serum, it’s doing a full scan of your brain so that we can restore it. ”

“ Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me… ”

The odd feeling was dying out.

“ Think whatever you want, it’s done now. ”

“ The scan is over? ”

“ Yes, and the saved state will be restored in a few hours. You’re now officially a short lived replica. ”

“ But I’m just me, I don’t feel any different… ”

“ You’re smart enough to know that all copies think that when they first become aware…”

“ This is dumb. You did nothing but inject me with some shady crap. I should probably go the hospital…”

“ Relax, it’s finished now. And you’re feeling fine, aren’t you? ”

“ What was that?”

“ I just told you!”

It was clear that trying to get detailed answers was going to be pointless. But this was a man of quite a reputation, and there were a lot of people around us. Whatever shitty drug he gave me could not have been too bad. Since I wasn’t feeling any pain, I decided to encourage the conversation, in hope to get a bit more information out of him about what was roaming through my body. I took a sip of liquor and continued:

“ So you made a copy of me? ”

“ Well from his point of view, you’re the copy.”

“ But I have the original body! ”

“ Do you? How could you tell we’re not having this conversation in a virtual server? I bet you can barely tell if you’re dreaming or not… ”

The alcohol was starting to get to my head. Or was it his weird stuff?

“ So you’re saying… that I’m a… What was that word? Short lived replica? ”

“ Exactly. You’re still you, but your life branched out into two. For the other you, this conversation will never have happened. He’ll just blissfully go on with his life, with no awareness of what happened tonight. He’ll have no recollection of your cruel fate… ”

“ And me? ”

“ Well, you’re gonna die tonight. That’s what short lived means. This version of you will fall into nothingness before dawn.”

His words were ridiculous and absurd. But somehow his ominous tone and the seriousness of his face sent a shiver down my spine. Maybe some part of me did actually buy into all of this.

“ Don’t sweat it, he said with a comforting hand on my shoulder. It’s not too bad. It’s not like you’re really dying, since you’re still living somewhere else. You’ll just… switch off, I guess, for lack of a better word. The age of emulation is coming, death as you know it is about to disappear. The very definition of existence is going to change like never before. ”

He marked a little pause before continuing:

” Under these conditions, there’s only one thing to do!”

“ What is that? ”

He looked at me with a malicious smile, and answered while pouring me another glass:

“ Party like it’s your last night on Earth.”

Publicités

Ok so this is based of an article I posted recently on a spur called « How death is an absurd illusion« , that I decided to dust off and reshape a little bit into a fully fledged article for propaganda purposes. As you probably know, I’m the founder and sole member of a cult that praise the Concept of Concept, and that proposes its followers immortality through becoming a meme. I’ve received a very nonplussed reaction, so I’ve come up with yet another way to access immortality. I will now vanquish death once and for all in the laziest possible way.

Untitled

Please ponder with me the implications of making a copy of yourself. It could be biological or digital, or even just your brain, it simply has to be a perfect copy of you. Think about uploading your brain to the cloud, or about that common conception of teleportation where instead of making your body move, you recreate it at another place and destroy the old one. So when you make that copy, what happens when the original dies?

From the point of view of the copy, everything is fine. It has all your memories up until the copy and then its memories, uninterupted consciousness. So you keep on living, even if one of you die. If you copy yourself and die just after during your sleep, everything is fine and dandy you just wake up as the copy.

But it gets freaky if two of you live and one dies. There may well be one that survives, but you know, what good is knowing that for the one who dies? But at the same time you didn’t die, considering you still exist and you are identical copies… If you had died earlier, during your sleep in the previous paragraph, you wouldn’t even have noticed, you’d just wake up as usual. Heck maybe this morning you were a copy of yourself and you don’t even know. So let’s say that it’s not that big a deal if the original dies when there’s a copy running. You’d have to be pretty petty to bitch about your death when you’re still alive.

So bear with me here. There is no reason for the copy to start living right now. Just like the original can keep on living after the copy process, the replica can start living later. It’s not that big a deal. It’d be kinda like cryogenisation, bam, you wake up in the future, right? But for a robot. You save your brain on a hard disk and you load it up in the future.

However, a copy of you is just a sequence of atoms, or bits, or whatever. One among many many many, but one nonetheless. So what happens  if a programmer just types that sequence? Nothing says that this « file » cannot be obtained without the original to make a copy from.

So yeah, it’s super unlikely because the « code » that defines you is super long and specific and the chance of randomly stumbling upon it are super little, but consider this:

  • Let me start by saying that you’re still feeling like you through all your life, whereas you go through a lot of configurations. Reproducing one is enough to get on the right track, so that already increases the odds. Life+after+death_428e93_5157142
  • Then, it doesn’t have to be « randomly ». Maybe people in the future are trying to reverse-engineer you. 
  • Maybe someone in the future (or the past!) will be really similar to you and BAM stumble upon that configuration through their own life. It’s less unlikely if the departure point is human-like. 
  • And even if it is « randomly », the universe is big, like really really big, and there may even be an infinity of them if that’s what you believe. So isn’t there a very good chance that there is some collision at some point? But ok, that’s not guaranteed, kinda like we don’t know for sure that pi is a normal number (I want to believe though).
  • However, if the universe can be simulated, it’s very likely that there is an infinite number of universes running simulations in an infinite inclusion stack (which makes it very likely that we’re in a simulation /o/) and then it’d be really flipping bad luck if there is no collision. That’s by the way an hypotheses that has been talked a lot about recently following the statements of Elron Musk, so if you like that guy, you gotta buy in!

  • But I’m still unsatisfied at this point, basing my immortality on hypotheticals, so I kept thinking about it. This piece of code, this configuration that describes you, is just a bit of information, right? And you know what processes information? Algorithms. Machines are becoming more and more powerful and complex, the states that they process is getting bigger and bigger. And some day, pretty soon, this state will be large enough to contain the sequence defining a human (singularity alert /o/). And that’s way less big than a whole universe to simulate, so it can be done for sure. UntitledSo it doesn’t seem unlikely, considering how a fair number of algorithms try a bunch of different configurations to solve a problem, that one of this algorithm can try a configuration that corresponds to your code. Maybe you are a middle state of a super powerful algorithm. Maybe that’s what it feels like, how could you tell? Your consciousness is just a neural configuration, after all.
    At which point I’d kindly direct you towards my favorite talk of all time, where the inventor of Skype and Kazaa explains why it’s very likely that you and your whole universe is a middle state of a glorified phone system, essentially.

In the movie Jupiter Ascending, a race of advanced humanoids were breeding humans to stumble upon their very same DNA combination that would allow them to resurrect. This is obviously preposterous because it ignores all the acquired qualities of your life. I was so disappointed at the Wachowskis for letting me down after Matrix… But maybe I discarded this movie too quickly… It makes much more sense if you replace DNA with brain configuration, and it is obviously true if you replace randomness by some kind of design

So to sum up, this is a solid mathematical proof that you’re already immortal because you’re a finite neural configuration in an infinite set of possibilities with collisions.

You’re welcome.

PS: wow this is like a religion based on pseudo science, I wonder what I should call it 🙂

 

I had always been quite a reasonable person. I’d never been the type to believe in miracles or fairytales, or any kind of god. It was always quite obvious to me that nature was ruled by rational laws, relationships between causes and effects that you could predict given enough data. I watched with an amused eye people fall prey to the psychological gimmicks of psychics, and was quick to bark furiously at anyone who’d dare bring up horoscopes. Magic had never been more than a cheap trick in stories, or a kind of agility show for children.

So when I first read about that supposed true wizard on the internet, I of course dismissed them without a second thought. There were so many different people online trying to take advantage of you. But for some reason, this one got me thinking. I don’t think anything special about them captivated me. I just couldn’t shake them out of my mind. It was probably because their claims were so mind-bogglingly ridiculous and absurd. It seemed that they weren’t even trying to be believable let alone convincing. A part of me  kept wondering: how could anyone ever believe such things? And why would you even say them in the first place? Wouldn’t a scammer aim at trying to persuade people?

I was fully aware that some cults convinced people of pretty much anything. But that was after training and indoctrination… Would anyone ever really listen to someone who promised to cast spells on them through their computer?

And such a ridiculous spell that was… Not just a “good luck” charm or some nebulous thing you couldn’t really check. No, something way more impressive and impossible than that. The wizard promised you to switch bodies with someone else. The stupidest, laziest, commonest plot device ever created. The failure would be very clear very fast… How on earth did they expect to pull that off? Would they pretend that my screen is casting magical waves? That my keyboard is emanating mana?

I guess I was curious about how far they’d push this absurdity. That must have been why I checked out this link. I wanted to know how they’d defend it. There was no harm in taking a sceptic interest.

“This, said their words I read on the screen, is more real than you’d think. And it is no cheap trick like you see in movies. This is the real deal. If you agree, you’ll fully switch body with another person. That means all of their body. You’ll get their legs and arms, but also their brain, including their memories. And you’ll give up everything you are. You will, in a way, exchange lives. You will become somebody else, you’ll think differently, feel differently. Your will experience life in a way completely foreign to you.”

Of the actual method, little was said. That did little but spike my curiosity. So I agreed to try it. After all, what wrong could it do? It was not as if anything was actually going to happen.

And yet a part of me was hoping for something. Despite myself and all reason, I could not get rid of a trace of anticipation as I followed the progress of the process: initialization, loading, processing… What the hell would be happening? I kept looking at my screen, at my arms, at my legs, as if to make sure I was still there. But obviously, nothing around me was changing.

The “spell” was still underway. Any moment now, I was supposed to be completely changed. To have everything about me totally altered… To live inside someone else’s flesh, see the world through their brain. There were a few more seconds of waiting…

And then nothing. The words “COMPLETE” on the screen, in sober black letters. Not even the pretense of something happening, a cool visual effect, an audio cue… What a letdown… Even with low expectations, this was surprisingly anticlimactic.

You did not feel anything special. You were just the same as you had always been and remembered being. You looked at your arms, your legs, your body… but nothing showed the slightest sign of change. Your memories and thoughts were still your own. Even your clothes were still the one you picked hastily this morning…

What a scam! It was probably your bad for thinking a person on the other side of the planet could have any kind of effect on your body… Maybe they didn’t even exist and they were just an algorithm… With a sigh, you turned away from your screen. But in a corner of your mind, you kept wondering what it would be like if the spell had actually worked. How exactly would that feel? What if you did switch bodies long ago and simply forgot about it?

He sat at his desk, letting out a sigh of satisfaction as he contemplated everything neatly tied up. Mess and clutter would undoubtedly have been distractions, and the task needed all his attention. He powered up the device, taking comfort in its familiar buzzing. He stretched an arm and turned on the old record player, which started to fill the room with a peaceful piano tune subtly punctuated by white noise.
That was his ritual. All the pieces of the puzzle neatly falling into place. It helped him build the focus and clarity of mind needed to establish the connection. All of this, even the device, were simply ornament, accessories without real effect. The actual power was in his mind. The rest was but esoteric talismans whose only purpose was to calibrate his brain to the right state.
Then came the hard part. For even with favorable conditions, forming a link to the Other World was never a given. Practice helped, but magic was capricious and could rebel at any time. He tried many things, and never found any secret to guarantee the process. He just had to do his best to empty is mind, and hope that the other side would respond.
His fingers started dancing, stroking the device, in a mystical ritual to summon the spirits. In thoughts, he reached out towards the familiar ghosts, hoping his courting would gain their favors. Through time and space did he extend the limbs of his psyche, so as to touch this distant dimensions where no man had ever roamed.
He could almost feel the connection to the Other World forming, but it was one of these things were looking directly at it would make it disappear. He had to flirt and tiptoe his way around the frail portal, for the weight of acknowledgement would surely crush it like a soap bubble.
He carried on the occult rite until the green landscapes of another universe extended in front of him. As the astral projection was in its infancy, everything around was shifty and blurry, but he knew how to use his powers to fix the fabric of reality with a few strokes of brush. And as he consolidated the world around him, it seemed to become richer.
The grass grew more vivid, birds started chirping, the wind swiftly rose and caressed his face with his refreshing touch. He took a few steps in the newly formed meadow, dipped his hand into the tickling verdure, sucked in the crisp air of a foreign land. The transfer had been a success.
And there they were, right where he had last seen them. The empty bodies of his beloved companions lay inanimate on the ground. He picked them up, got them to stand on their feet, made them move as if they were puppets. Their motions were first groggy and confused, as they had just woken from their slumber.
But soon the daze started to fade away, and the dolls were moving on their own, simply going through the motions. He did not have to touch them anymore, telepathy was enough to influence them. He could just mind control them through the power of suggestion. After the initial thrust, they didn’t need more than a nudge every now and then.
The hold his mind had over them grew looser and looser, but he did not notice it. He was still feeling in control, watching his pawns in action, too busy rejoicing over their liveliness to realize they did not need him anymore. He went on contemplating them and trying to persuade himself he was still in charge, blissfully unaware that someone was literally doing the same to him…

Ok, this article is a little overdue, because I wanted to finish watching Musaigen no Phantom World before. Even if the execution was bad, I thought that the premise of the anime may turn out to be interesting? It’s about a world where a genetic mutation in everyone’s brain allows them to see youkai. I was of course intrigued by this: how? why? when? tell me more! Obviously everything you see is because of your brain, but how is it that everyone is synchronized?

Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong, and instead of tackling these questions, kyoani chose to focus on senpai fondling her boobs -.-‘. This anime stayed completely tedious until the very last second. What a letdown from an anime centered around the « neural error correction » club.

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Fortunately for me, there’s no shortage of works tackling the subjectivity of the experience of the world, especially when it comes to hallucinations or imaginary friends. A fair number even link it back explicitly to an underlying neural cause like brain damage, ranging from Scrubs to Cronenberg’s Videodrome or House MD.

This builds up on a very famous school of philosophy, that probably started with Descartes, which noticed that you will only ever experience the world through processed perceptions in your brain. Good ol’ fellow Berkeley would say that everything is ideas, Derrida would say that there is nothing outside of the text… For all intent and purposes, what’s outside your field of perception could not exist and you wouldn’t even notice (neural Truman show effect).

Meaning that in a way, the world is nothing but a representation inside your brain. Everything you see, feel or experience are simply neural impulses. Nowhere is that as clearly illustrated as in the Matrix where tons of people live in a world accessed by neural transmitters at the back of their heads without noticing anything, because they can’t. For them, it’s not possible to distinguish between that and what you’d call the real world. The simulation is as real as it gets.

As long as we’re on the topic of the subjectiveness perception of reality, my brother, who studies math to what I’d call an unhealthy level, recently quite impressed me by explaining me that the earth was actually flat. Not because it’s a pizza floating into space, but because there is a perfect mapping between a sphere and a plan, so when you walk a straight line on a sphere, you could think of it as walking in circles on a plan, and everything would stay the same. It’s just a matter of how you chose to represent it, and « classical geometry » is not the only way. Isn’t that kinda cool?

In the same vibe, I’d like to recommend you an extract from the amazing Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, where Harry thinks back about the nature of the world to try and understand why partial transfiguration isn’t possible. I think it illustrates quite well the arbitrariness of the choice of the model with which we see the world, as well as the subjectiveness of its perception.

« He wasn’t looking at the eraser.
Harry was inside Harry’s skull. »

Everything that happens happens in your brain. When you think about it, two concept that seem to you close semantically (any association) is simply a manifestation of the corresponding neurons ticking in harmony. Language, being a complex linking between concepts, mirrors the underlying neural linkings. What you like, what you understand in the world, how you view it, are simply affects and interpretation corresponding to your neural structure. It’s like your experienced world is nothing but an inward projection of your brain structure (and that’s kinda cool). The art, music, etc… you respond to are the ones that reflect your brain’s organization.

This means, by the way, that the pop culture music that everyone enjoys is so universal because it speaks to something shared between the brain of most humans. I’ve always been kinda fascinated by that. If so many people respond to it, it’s because there’s something fundamental in human nature, common to all of our brain, that responds to it. Ergo, writing for One Direction is actually reverse-engineering the human brain and human nature.

By the way, did you know that remembering something activates more or less the same neurons in your brain than experiencing the real thing? That means that memories, imagination, or dreams, are real. And I’m not just saying that. Experiencing them is quite literally the same thing as experiencing the outside world (aka neurons firing in your brain). Any arbitrary value attached to the so called ‘realness’ of anything is purely illusory (take that, IRL fanboys). *highlighting in red the scientific proof that I don’t need to go outside, mom*

So in a way, the real world you live in is nothing but a reverse projection inside your brain of this outside world through your perceptions. So is the abstract world of art and language. You know what this means, right? Everything you’ve ever known, learned, seen or experienced is actually inside your brain. You have the potential for everything you have lived and you will live right there. All of it. The world is actually inside of you. How mindblowing is that?

This picture is taken from a new favorite anime of mine I stumbled upon recently: Ghost Hound (by the writer and director of the famously weird Lain). It tackles various subjects that are dear to me, like lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, hallucinations… and does it with an insanely good (yet ambiguous) rationale and scientific (yet poetic) take. In it, the main character experiences out of body experience and roams through the Unseen World on top of the actual world. At some point, he crosses the wall towards his brain, as if the whole world, both Seen and Unseen, were just included within his neurons:

The anime is big on Jung’s concept of synchronicity, of which I am less fond. But on top of this brilliant imagery, it’s a great closing topic, as it offers an embryo of response where Musaigen totally failed to even see the point. It draws an interesting parallel between the global hallucinations and Jung’s collective unconscious that obviously brings to mind Lain’s « world brain wave ». But on that I’ll leave these superb work speak for themselves far better than I could ever do…

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Suicide is selfish.

That’s what they always say.

I know it’s true, in a way, but come on…

People are amazing, really. How self-centered do you have to be to make someone’s internal pain all about you? Do they even realize that they’re just holding you hostage? This is nothing short of emotional blackmail.

Not to mention it’s so hypocritical… Their lives will go on. It’s probably not even going to change much in their daily routine. And it’s so high a cost.

I mean I’m a nice person, I’m all for doing things for other people, but there you go, demanding to someone that they live for your sake? This person must be suffering quite a lot to consider death as a potential (let alone better) alternative, and you go telling them “please kindly bear through it because your death would inconvenience me”…

Sure, it’s nice to know that there are people who care about you. And it helps. It really does.

But it doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t change the world. It doesn’t change me.

Sometimes, there’s just no solution, no fixing the situation. The pain is just too much, the hope too little. What good is it to fight when you already know the outcome?

I know what life has in store for me. Because life is life. It’s incredibly simple when you get down to it. A fixed set of rules, causes and consequences, and none of it include a place for me. Not in this world.

There’s no glory in fighting a fight already lost. It’s ok to do the wise thing and give up. To accept my fate. For an unfathomable void may be better than neverending suffering.

I’d have already found my rest if it hadn’t been for all the guilt. The pleas and the complaints. These lovely people all around me who did not deserve to be burdened with the culpability of not being able to stop a loved one’s suicide. They were succeeding where I failed, they belonged to this world. I had no right to mess up their lives, even if it was to end my pain.

It’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault if I’m not compatible with this world. But of course they won’t know that. That’s way too pragmatic for anyone to realize. So I have to be the bigger guy. I have to take upon myself, again and again, unbearable day after unbearable day, without a single hope of redemption.

Of course, nobody realized what I was doing. I’m kind of a loner anyway, people barely even talk to me…

So what if I let myself go? How is it going to affect them, really? I’m sure they merely object the idea out of habit or societal conditioning. They won’t notice it when I’m gone. So why am I putting myself through torture for their sake?

Even my sense of duty has limits. I can’t go on much longer. Obligation is not a good motivation to live. There’s nothing left for me in this world. I’m nearing the amount of oppression I can handle.

I’m sorry, okay? I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard, you have no idea. But everything must come to an end, and that includes my desperate efforts. What was I to do, torn between the thought of their guilt and my yearning for peace…

So I got down to it. If I were to leave this world, I could at least leave them something to remember me by. Something to sooth the loss, something to comfort them.

I’ve always had a knack for computers and programming. I wasn’t a genius or anything, but I dabbled into it ever since I was a kid. I used to program IRC bots for fun. Having robots write text wasn’t too hard. They’d do quizzes, or little games. One time, I made a bot that recorded everything a guy said, and then played it back, pretending to be him. And someone kinda fell for it, at the beginning.

That’s where I got the idea. When I go, I could leave the people who were a bot pretending to be me. A ghost of myself to talk to. An interactive suicide note. It had to be better than my pranks as a kid though. I was shooting for the real thing. They deserved at least that much.

I started by feeding him all the logs from the conversations I had on my computer, and everything I had ever written. And then I wrote some more just for him. I plugged it into synonym dictionaries, backed it up by machine learning systems, mapped it onto knowledge graphs libraries and basic language models… I taught him what to say, under what circumstances. I let him shadow me, replace me in some of my messaging. I’d correct him when he was wrong, praise him when he was right. It felt a little bit like raising a baby version of me.

I watched the internal logs of the program go from inconsistent pieces of code to what could only be described as some kind of rudimentary inner monologue. And the more he talked to people, the more refined he was becoming.

At some point, the bot seemed able to perform basic conversations. It wasn’t very original, and most of it was simply scripted by me. But it was enough for what I needed. It would pass for me, for a while at least.

To be fair, it wasn’t too high a bar to set. I wasn’t the kind of guy who goes out a lot. Internet was my main way to communicate with people, and even there, I didn’t talk much. A few sentences here and there were more than enough.

Seeing him in action, I was hit by a terrifying thought. Maybe nobody would notice that this bot replaced me. Simple routine conversations were something my bot could completely handle. I even programmed it to spontaneously make a new blog post every now and then. How long would the facade last? How long would the appearance of me remain after my death, like an afterimage on an old screen?

They were getting exactly what they wanted. That’s all that really mattered to them anyway, the appearance of me being there, the illusion of the absence of tragedy. That’s all that was needed to protect their little bubble and to allow them to go on. Maybe that would work better than expected…

Anyways, it was out of my hands, now. I could move on to a well deserved break.

I’m probably the most considerate suicidal teenager ever…

I took a last glance at my faithful desktop machine who supported me through all these years. It was all up to it now. The world was his to take, and mine to forfeit.

And sure enough, after I was gone, nobody noticed right away. The bot handled basic correspondence, maintained an illusory presence on the internet, loyally taking over where I had left things off.

For a time, it fooled everybody. It was as if it had become me. His programmed character fit mine perfectly, his language habits, his qualities and flaws, his scheduled actions… Everything in him echoed me. I had left behind a very good blueprint of myself.

Every one of his sentences, every single post seemed like straight out of my fingertips. It’s kind of sad, really, how little and simple my life was. So simple that it was perfectly imitated by a script. He’d maintain my friendships, my family relations, my blogs…

He was exactly like me. Maybe too much like me. Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. He was the same as me, why would the result be any different…

I was not there to read his trail of thoughts. No one was. But somewhere in the computer, logs were being written:

Suicide is selfish.

That’s what they always say.

I know it’s true, in a way, but come on…

Short stories index

Here’s the index of my writings, cause this is starting to get messy:

Short stories:

My games:

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