“Next week is the midterm,” the computer ethics professor Dr. Bevin said. “There is no exam.” He cut off the collective sigh of relief with a sharp gesture. “No, instead you have to break your world.
“All of you have been observing your custom world simulators for eight weeks now, or 20,000 years in-program. Unless you have a world that is already a nuclear wasteland—Jared—I want you to write the inhabitants a message. From you. Ask for suggestions on how to make things better. Write an essay giving the results and what you think the impact of those changes might be.”
There was a stunned silence, then a phalanx of questioning hands. Dr. Bevin dismissed them all. “That’s all. You figure out the rest.”
That night, Ben opened the program and rewound to watch the last four centuries that had progressed during the day. A lot had happened; way more than he could take in. There were 12 billion people now in his little world, spinning through the cosmos that was the class’s shared universe. Some of his classmates wanted to help their people explore and find each other’s planets, except that Dr. Bevin forbade any interference.
It took Ben five minutes of coding to set it up. He hated to do it. It would wreck everything, but in the end, this little world was just a Petri dish, a place to play around with issues in the safety of a computer. He sighed and hit Enter.
* * *
On the planet of Geral, a man named Hyerai was walking home from work when he looked up at the moon. Slowly, lines of fire appeared on its surface, forming into words. He gaped. They said, “HI, I’M BEN. ANY SUGGESTIONS?”
March 2nd, 2015 at 12:40 am
I am so intrigued right now.
March 2nd, 2015 at 6:49 pm
🙂 It is an intriguing idea, to be sure.
March 2nd, 2015 at 1:33 am
I really enjoyed this story. It is very well written, makes points effortlessly without disturbing the narrative flow and winds up nicely. Regards. Chris
March 2nd, 2015 at 6:49 pm
Thanks Chris. I’m glad you liked it.
March 2nd, 2015 at 2:51 am
So this is what you do when you’re not feeding Rochelle. I should visit more often. 🙂
March 2nd, 2015 at 6:48 pm
Sure, stop by any time! 🙂 I’m always busy on here, making up crazy new things, not just on Wednesdays.
March 2nd, 2015 at 9:57 am
Wow! So creative – I loved it. I cannot even imagine how I would feel if this message came across our moon. 😮
March 2nd, 2015 at 6:47 pm
Yeah, really. I can’t imagine either. It would be a world changing discovery, to be sure.
March 2nd, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Yes, it would!
March 2nd, 2015 at 5:16 pm
A fine way to say; “Share an Idea” –
I thought the birds were pigeons… and I just took the word frozen to heart.
March 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 pm
Can we read more of this? I found myself hating the word limit when i reached the critical moment. So good David. Are you still living in South Korea?
March 3rd, 2015 at 9:08 pm
Thanks so much, Joe. Actually, I have an idea for a longer story based on this idea, since yes, it has a lot of potential. I’ll put it on the list of projects. 🙂 Actually, I’m in Iowa now, teaching at a university. I moved back last summer from Korea. Thanks for asking.
March 4th, 2015 at 4:36 am
What are you teaching? How is Iowa’s climate different?
March 4th, 2015 at 8:16 am
I teach ESL here. Iowa is very flat, so it’s very cold and windy in the winter, although we don’t get a ton of snow and out on the plains, it often just blows away. I’m liking it here though
March 4th, 2015 at 4:01 pm
Haha And we thought Moses had it rough. 😀
March 4th, 2015 at 10:05 pm
March 22nd, 2015 at 12:10 am