Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

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Zen Shooter Zen Shooter's picture
Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Here are two ideas for why PCs might go adventuring inside a simulspace. Please discuss.

One, an infomorph who resides inside the simulspace might only be accessible for interrogation by tracking them down and apprehending them inside the simulspace.

The second idea is not strictly supported by the canon, but what if someone built a back door into a system in a simulspace somewhere? For example, you go through a closet door in a particular house in the simulspace, and you come out into a Cognite VPN?

Of course, you could build a tiny habitat just big enough to hold the necessary computers to support a simulspace in which the infomorphs who populate the habitat live. That's an interesting idea for a setting.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Zen Shooter wrote:
The second idea is not strictly supported by the canon, but what if someone built a back door into a system in a simulspace somewhere? For example, you go through a closet door in a particular house in the simulspace, and you come out into a Cognite VPN?

This is how I set up the "Your mission, should you accept it" initial scene when Firewall contacts the PCs. They get an invitation to some game or art simspace, and inside there are hints leading them to a part that is actually a conference space linked via The Eye. To an outsider it just looks like they are playing.

Sometimes the simspace is also important as a meeting place. You might not be able to get anywhere close to a rich guy in the real world, but he happens to play a MPORG...

One idea I really want to use sometime is dream simspaces: you can have firms customise your dreaming by running it in a simspace while you are asleep. Of course, this places important demands on security, neutrality and their skill in giving you good dreams. And infiltrators like the PCs might do strange things there.

Extropian

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Inception-style dream simspaces would be very interesting, I agree.

Personally, I love simulspaces, but they are quite difficult to envision reasons for the PCs to get into. One very interesting method might be to have the PCs attacked by a group of assassins using chem-weapons to paralyze them and/or knock them unconscious. When they wake up, they're recovering in nanovats, being debriefed by a fellow sentinel, who informs them that his war-bots managed to get to them just in time, as their stacks were about to be popped. They are then asked to go and contact their handler to get their next assignment.

As they go to do so, hints are dropped that some things are not quite right (unusual occurrences, like seeing the exact same thing happen twice in succession; Deja Vu to a new level). When their handler doesn't show, they're asked by their fellow sentinel, the one who rescued them, if they know any other handlers or how to contact them.

Eventually, the PCs find any attempt to leave the station, or even a certain portion of it, stymied (think Truman Show) by convenient circumstances. If they do eventually get suspicious and, say, hop a police barricade, something very odd tries to stop them or they just find empty, deserted, non-descript parts of the city.

Soon, it's apparent that they're really in a simulspace, being brain-hacked. The "sentinel" is really just one of the hackers trying to get information out of them about Firewall. The trick revealed, they have to find a way to disable the program from within, wake up, and save themselves.




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The Green Slime The Green Slime's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Quote:
The trick revealed, they have to find a way to disable the program from within, wake up, and save themselves

You mean save their morphs?

I don't think there would be much of a distinction at all in the transhuman mind between meatspace and simulspace, any more than there is a present-day distinction between talking to someone in person and communicating with them via phone or internet. Transhumans will be raised in a world in which transmission of their entire sensorium between digital realities is a completely trivial matter, and with ubiquitous AR even the concept of one communal, consensus reality that is somehow inherently more authentic and worthwhile than simulspace would be quaintly archaic. Particularly in the farther-flung habs, spacecraft and outer system areas, I see simulspaces as the primary mode of living - visiting the Saturn system without jacking into its simul-life would be the equivalent of taking a tour of Europe via the sewers.


Time will perfect matter.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

I'd argue that, in many ways, simspace and meatspace are synonymous in terms of describing a place, in the same way the nightlife of a district is synonymous with it, or its architecture, or what-not. However, I would argue in turn that there is still going to be a strong distinction between meatspace and simspace, being in that, in meatspace, there is no guarantee of respawning, no unlimited resources, and no universe bending to your imagination.

Meatspace is reality, and reality is uncompromising. We all live there, even if our sensorium is occupied by simulspace. As a result, I would imagine that, for just about everyone, meatspace will always be seen as the "more authentic" reality.




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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I would imagine that, for just about everyone, meatspace will always be seen as the "more authentic" reality.

Except for informorphs. And minds suffering from ontological confusion, who can no longer tell what feels real.

Simspaces might be supervenient (ah, what a wonderful term) on realspace objects (the hardware, power etc) but they are not necessarily less important. After all, most of the things we value in the world supervene on the physical world but form their own domains - money, consciousness, fictional worlds, our cultures.

An interesting adventure might involve the PC "getting in behind the scenes" of an important simspace trying to solve a crime or figure out how to stop one. "Halting State" by Charles Stross has a great depiction of this - it begins with a robbery in an in-game bank, drags in the real-world police, and soon escalates to a mixture of investigations in real and virtual worlds.

Extropian

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Arenamontanus wrote:
Simspaces might be supervenient (ah, what a wonderful term) on realspace objects (the hardware, power etc) but they are not necessarily less important. After all, most of the things we value in the world supervene on the physical world but form their own domains - money, consciousness, fictional worlds, our cultures.

More importantly, as time goes on many of the things we value in the world are already beginning to dip into the virtual... the largest majority of currencies in the world are traded in a non-physical way, as it is with music, movies, and soon-to-be books. As time goes on and computer technologies improve, we will likely see more things that will transition into digital forms. In a world where simspaces are a possibility, virtual landowning will become very popular in places where physical space is a premium commodity. The amount of virtual land one can have is only limited by the processing power needed to sustain it.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Decivre wrote:
The amount of virtual land one can have is only limited by the processing power needed to sustain it.

And the design effort going into it. Sure, a fractal mountain range with clip-art trees is trivial to make arbitrarily large... but a real cityscape with plausible and elegant details, interesting neighbour bots, dirt and an overall sense of presence, that takes a very expensive designer.

Extropian

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Arenamontanus wrote:
Except for informorphs. And minds suffering from ontological confusion, who can no longer tell what feels real.

Well, I meant more that meatspace objectively IS more important, in the sense that even infomorphs need meatspace computer servers to run on. I don't doubt that simspace is important in the sense of culture, enjoyment, ownership, etc. I just argue that, in the sense of survival and reality itself, meatspace is much more limited.

I can imagine habitats with community building projects on the scale of crafting whole worlds (a bizarre mixture of From Dust and Minecraft to the next level), where people spend time building wonders and living out fantasies more defining to their personalities than their real forms (and I can see this being especially common in areas like the Titanian Commonwealth)... But people still need servers for such things, and such realities will still come second to maintaining your meatspace form.

Your simspace self might be more the real "you" than your meatspace one, but it will be much more important to your existence the maintain the latter than the former.




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root root's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

root@Adventuring Inside Simulspaces


If you were born inside a simulspace and had no concept of meatspace, then the simulspace is as real as anything else. It may have a server running in a different dimension that is the actual source of the simulspace, but the idea that reality is only a dream we are having from some higher dimension has been with humanity for quite some time. We have no better claim that meatspace is the fundament of reality than a digital person would have claiming that their server is the "true" reality.

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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

The fundamental difference here, Root, is that we have no proof of a "higher reality" where all of this is the dream of some greater beings. It's a neat idea, but we have no evidence.

When you can look at the reality above your own with a thought, that's quite different, especially when someone there can destroy your reality with ease.

I'm not saying that simspaces aren't just as, if not more, real in terms of experiences and such. I'm just saying that meatspace is more important as this is where you actually live. Even if you experience simspace, you very much live here.




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Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
The fundamental difference here, Root, is that we have no proof of a "higher reality" where all of this is the dream of some greater beings. It's a neat idea, but we have no evidence.

When you can look at the reality above your own with a thought, that's quite different, especially when someone there can destroy your reality with ease.

I'm not saying that simspaces aren't just as, if not more, real in terms of experiences and such. I'm just saying that meatspace is more important as this is where you actually live. Even if you experience simspace, you very much live here.

To play devil's advocate, a being trapped within a simulspace that has no knowledge of the real world would be making the same exact argument that you do at this moment, about their own reality.

That said, I would argue that importance is dictated by role rather than any position of heirarchy, real or otherwise. A virtual entity is only less important than any other thing if it plays less of a role. For instance, the stock market is now a completely virtual entity, yet I would say it is overall more important to the existence of our society than any one person, despite the fact that people are real things (albeit I wish it was less important). By proxy, while the continued existence of a virtual world relies on continued survival of the physical system it runs on and the power supply that sustains it, one could argue that the physical system and the power supply are only important because of their attachment to the virtual existence they continue, not the other way around.

It's a paradox of reliance: a bodyguard is hired to protect a king, and is told that he is the one and only person trusted to ensure the king's survival. Because the king's survival relies on the bodyguard, does one argue that the bodyguard is more important than the king, or is the king most important and the bodyguard's importance only to sustain the king?

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

It might be worth pointing at the "dust theory" in Greg Egan's "Permutation City" (great novel for infomorphs). It is entirely plausible that infomorphs might come to believe it, in which case they will not care what you do to their servers - they have reason to believe that the only thing that happens when you turn off their server in your vaunted "real" world is that they lose contact with it. Nothing more. Of course, "real" people say it is the poor infomorphs who eventually go crazy with functionalist speculation.

Of course, then there is Eliezer Yudkowsky's "The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover"
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5389450/1/The_Finale_of_the_Ultimate_Meta_Mega_Crossover
which brings the dust theory to its logical conclusion.

"You had a copy of my entire home universe?"

Extropian

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Decivre wrote:
To play devil's advocate, a being trapped within a simulspace that has no knowledge of the real world would be making the same exact argument that you do at this moment, about their own reality.

How often does that happen, though? And, from their perspective, that's entirely valid. It's just entirely wrong too. If we were really just a small part of a grander consciousness, inserted into this world, it might make that higher reality more important too.

Decivre wrote:

It's a paradox of reliance: a bodyguard is hired to protect a king, and is told that he is the one and only person trusted to ensure the king's survival. Because the king's survival relies on the bodyguard, does one argue that the bodyguard is more important than the king, or is the king most important and the bodyguard's importance only to sustain the king?

I get the idea; the thing sustaining it is only important because of what it sustains. The thing is, in the digital world, we have ultimate control and any scarcity there is very much ultimately artifical. It is only limited by meatspace, what with transmission lag and server speed/space controlling that. Since everything in simspace is ultimately controlled by meatspace, I'd say that meatspace is ultimately always going to be a concern. Nothing in simspace can get by without meatspace. The inverse is not true.




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Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Adventuring Inside Simulspaces

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
How often does that happen, though? And, from their perspective, that's entirely valid. It's just entirely wrong too. If we were really just a small part of a grander consciousness, inserted into this world, it might make that higher reality more important too.

We wouldn't know how often it happens... that's the point. :D

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I get the idea; the thing sustaining it is only important because of what it sustains. The thing is, in the digital world, we have ultimate control and any scarcity there is very much ultimately artifical. It is only limited by meatspace, what with transmission lag and server speed/space controlling that. Since everything in simspace is ultimately controlled by meatspace, I'd say that meatspace is ultimately always going to be a concern. Nothing in simspace can get by without meatspace. The inverse is not true.

Neither is true. The system containing the simspace could run any number of other types of software, meaning that the simspace within is not so important in context; it is a computer system, capable of running any program... and is therefore important to those who need to run programs.

In that same vein, the simspace itself is software, that could be run on any number of other systems. It's existence is not confined to any single system, and it could easily be transferred to any other system. It only has importance to someone with a system capable of running it (or someone who has access to that system).

Both system and simspace's importance is attributable to a sort of symbiosis... a computer system is only important if it is running vital software, and software is only important if it is functionally running on a system. If separated, one becomes an inert machine of no function, while the other becomes a jumbled mess of useless code.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.