[ExI] Diaspora

Anton Sherwood bronto at pobox.com
Sun Aug 23 21:20:00 UTC 2020

How about a new subject?

«Diaspora» by Greg Egan is among my favorite fictions.  The setting is 
several centuries after most humans uploaded to supercomputers buried in 
permafrost.  (It is hinted between the lines that this Introdus was 
driven by, and the cure of, an eco-collapse.)

When I'm waiting for sleep, I often think about designing the virtual 
environment.  Each citizen has a private "scape" and there are also 
public "scapes".  I imagine my home as a terraformed asteroid (where the 
laws of physics are fudged as necessary!), with a door to a public 
promenade loosely modelled on some old city.  An irregular asteroid 
ought to have some nifty microclimates.  I'd also have several 
experimental mini-scapes with exotic geometry.

Some public scapes are realistic, some cartoony, some look like 
Impressionist paintings.  In one it's customary to wear a superhero 
costume of your own design; some are explicitly heraldic (and I 
sometimes hesitate about how to translate from a shield or flag, a flat 
surface with an edge, to a skin with no edges).

It's mentioned a few times that minds can be copied and merged, but the 
story doesn't make much use of merging (apart from one poignant scene). 
Unless it's very costly, wouldn't you want a spare self to answer the 
doorbell while you work?  (Your memories merge when you sleep, let's 
say.)  Also: sex; "go fuck yourself" might be very good advice.

I recently thought of another application.  To learn another language as 
a native, you spin off a version of yourself with the language lobes 
reset to infancy, and that one goes to live in another community; you 
regularly absorb "its" memories, but "it" remains separate and does not 
import from "you" until you decide you have learned enough.

*\\*  Anton Sherwood  *\\*  www.bendwavy.org

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