EIGHT - JANE SOUTAINE VI
"That would depend on how you define God," the Traveller smiled. "But one thing that I am very certain is, I am omniscient and omnipresent. I experience many things in a same instant. Not bound by physics constraints and constants. Not bound by the speed of light. I became limitless."
"The grids... you are standing at all of them?" Jane asked.
"No, not all of them, silly. My smallest indivisible units are limited. But yes, I can feel everything around me."
"Where were you that time?" Jane asked.
"I want to see that mirror you claimed you stepped on," Jane requested. "I wonder how such a mirror could fall from the sky and make you live in fantasies."
"Do you know anything about artificial simulation?" the Traveller asked.
Jane nodded. She wanted to answer but the ground was shaking at a very high frequency. "What is going on?" she managed to squeak like a rat.
"We are switching engines. We are moving to a much better regime," he replied.
"Where are we going? It's almost two millenia and if we were already moving the moment I was - what - a cryogenic angel, we should reach at least nineteen hundred light years away from Earth," Jane said.
"We are still near Earth, but we are moving into something far stranger that light years would not be the best measure to measure distance. Fear not, it would take another thousand of years to move," the Traveller said.
"You still haven't answered my question: where are we going?"
"You will get to know soon," he replied. He conjured a dashboard from the ground. It rose from that seamless tiled floor and opened into an array of controls. He ran his fingers on the screen and turned the screen off. "Where was I?"
"Artificial simulation," Jane said.
"Ah yes..." he paused. "I am not sure how to put it in an orderly manner, but I hope you can follow me."
"I am okay with it."
"What is the fastest computer in the world?" the Traveller asked.
"Quantum computer, maybe in the future we might forge a neutron computer, or a quark computer. Or as my speculation goes right, we might also have a singularity computer which permits information to trap between past and future states."
"Actually those computers are already made," the Traveller said. "Now ever remember a movie franchise from the 21st century? Something about machine intelligence take over humanity and with those martial art skills the heroes try to liberate the controls by the machines?"
"Something called the Matrix, I think," it was such a long time ago. Jane could hardly remember even the cartoon she had watched when she was a girl. She stopped. "Wait, are you telling me that I am living in an artificial simulation and we are controlled by machines?"
"No, no, no," the Traveller laughed. "Now, evolution of life from 4.6 billion years ago till now, life as ascended from the most primitive and sessile form to the most agile and intelligent ones. We, being the superior organism, begin the understand everything around us, acting like we are on top of the animal and plant kingdoms. But what is it that is so different from us to the unicellular microbes?"
"We being intelligent?" Jane suggested.
"Define intelligent. You have the machine to detect sentient or sapient life. How do you detect them? It is the brain, Jane. The brain and its discrete components that occupy the grid. The more intelligent you are, the stronger the chain your mind can connect to things. Like the apple and orange. If the orange is in another room, the apple cannot affect its behavior, unless the apple has a mind that deepens the groove of the grid, making a canal to the orange. Our mind is like that, Jane."
"Okay, so our mind has a significant 'mindprint' on the grid and send vibration shocks throughout. At a certain intelligence level, the vibration can be picked up, for example, by our machines here."
"Yes, now that means the microbes have very very weak chains between them and the grid, but that didn't stop them. Throughout geological timespan, the new and improved breed always takes over the poorly managed one. And it was as though we are the apex. The tip. The tip of everything else." The Traveller made some subvocal commands to his bracelet. In a short moment, two drinks were set up. "Have a drink, it's going to be a long chat."
She took the drink and as though the room knew her needs, a red cushion rose from the grey ground, like liquid solidifying. She sat down and sipped her drink. Orange juice. "If you theory is correct, then each of us have a very deep or thick chain connecting our minds together."
"Precisely! I am proud of you Jane. You are really a genius!" the Traveller exclaimed. "So, may I ask, what do Men do?"
"Live and die?" she answered after giving it some thought.
"They comunicate with each other. They transmit messages. They show emotions. They write. They work. Even dying will send vibration shocks to other minds to react accordingly. So basically, what they do, is still like microbes, which microbes live, feed, mate and die according to the surrounding."
"So there is not much difference in defining intelligence, is there? It's just how thick the chains are between... things," Jane said.
"Yes, yes!" the Traveler laughed. "It's like you cannot define what's cold and what's hot. It is just a temperature with various degree. You might say the sun is hot, but there are stars which are thousand times hotter! It's a relative comparison, you see!"
"And does this have to do with artificial simulation?" Jane asked.
"A little," the Traveller replied with a slight nod. He conjured a plate of chocolate chips cookies on the table. "Here, help yourself. I bet you are hungry."
"Thank you," but she didn't take. "Can you just... ask anything from this ship?"
"Yes, but with limits, of course. The Spire cannot grow you a sun if you demand it!" the Traveller said.
"Wait, wait," Jane nearly choked on the chips. "You mean we are now at the Spire? The Spire in Singapore? The hotel? The driver took me here?"
"Yes, it's a camouflage ship built by someone not of Dave's men," the Traveller replied.
"Dave..." she echoed.
"We'll come to that soon. But first, remember what's 42?" he winked.
"Again that number..." Jane sighed.
"Yes, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything..." the Traveller said.
"It's not just that..." Jane said.
"Yes," he agreed. "It's not just that."
He sipped a red juice that looked like blood.