“Reinstalling Eden”

by rsbakker

So several months back I was going through my daily blog roll and I noticed that Eric Schwitzgebel, a well-known skeptic and philosopher of mind, had posted a small fictional piece on Splintered Minds dealing with the morality of creating artificial consciousnesses. Forget 3D printing: what happens when we develop the power to create ‘secondary worlds’ filled with sentient and sapient entities, our own DIY Matrices, in effect? I’m not sure why, but for some reason, a sequel to his story simply leapt into my head. Within 20 minutes or so I had broken one of the more serious of the Ten Blog Commandments: ‘Thou shalt not comment to excess.’ But, as is usually the case, my exhibitionism got the best of me, and I posted it, entirely prepared to apologize for my breach of e-etiquette if need be. As it turned out, Eric loved the piece, so much so he emailed me suggesting that we rewrite both parts for possible publication. Since looooonnng form fiction is my area of expertise I contacted a friend of mine, Karl Schroeder, asking him what kind of venue would be appropriate, and he suggested we pitch Nature – [cue heavenly choir] – who has a coveted page dedicated to short pieces of speculative fiction.

And lo, it came to pass – largely thanks to Eric, who looked after all the technical details, and who was able to cajole the subpersonal herd of cats I call my soul into actually completing something short for a change. The piece can be found here. And be warned that, henceforth, anyone who trips me up on some point of reason will be met with, “Oh yeeeah. Like, I’m published in Nature, maan.”

‘Cause as we all know, Nature rocks.