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Averaged Interviews with the Future Visitor

fiction

(Michael Hrenka) #1

Origin

Where do you come from?
Perhaps from this general region.
Can you be more specific?
Yes.
Would you like to be more specific about where you come from?
No. And I’m kinda surprised that you seem to find it important where I come from.
What time do you come from?
The distant future.
How distant? What year?
Oh, you still measure time in these astronomical cycles. Compared to the lifetime of Earth the temporal distance between here and my origin era is very small.
You really don’t like being specific, do you?
I have good reasons for being unspecific. Do you have good reasons for asking such boring questions?

Human or what?

Do you consider yourself to be a human?
Please define “human”.
Umm, homo sapiens. Does that tell you something?
Ah, you mean a specific similarity class based on genetic information?
I guess so. Would you fit into that definition?
I can’t tell that without more specifications about the similarity class “homo sapiens”.
I’m sorry, I’m not a biologist. But you are a biological entity, right?
I’m very much alive, so I am by definition a biological entity. Isn’t that obvious?
You could be something like a robot.
Please define “robot”.
A machine that does work for us, but is not biological.
Do you really have such things? Well, I’m obviously not a robot, because I’m not not biological.
Yes, we have some robots. Is your body based on DNA?
Ah, you mean desoxyribonucleic acid? I’ve got some of that substance in me, but I wouldn’t say that this means that my body is based on DNA.
What is it based on then?
Perhaps the phrase “holographic fractal information patterns” would be the right way to express that.
And what are these “holographic fractal information patterns” stored in, if not in DNA?
Don’t you have other microscopic storage technologies for information other than DNA?
We have electronic storage devices, if you mean that.
Electronic. Interesting. No, I’m not using that kind of storage.
What kind of storage do you use then?
Atoms.
You mean you store your genetic data on single atoms?
Doesn’t that sound like a good idea to you?
Yes, sure. But how do you do that exactly?
By transcribing information onto the quantum states of atoms, how else would you do that?
Nevermind. Were you born, or was your body made in some other way?
Some other way.
And how would that other way look like?
Putting the desired atoms together.
You mean atom by atom?
In principle yes, but in a smart way.
How does that smart way look like?
It’s beautiful.
Ok, how long did it take to build your body “in a smart way”?
A very small fraction of a year.
How big of a fraction is that exactly?
Really tiny.
And how long did the construction of your body take in comparison to the duration between the start of this interview and now?
It took less time.
Was your body always like it is now, or has it changed in size?
It always looked pretty much as it is looking now.
And who were your … creators?
My genealogy is too complex to unfold here in detail. You don’t even have the concepts I would need to start describing it.
So, no simple mom and dad?
No. Perhaps I need to use a little bit of poetry here. I was formed by a cascade of hurricanes of will, purpose, and imagination.
Sounds turbulent. Did you have a rough “childhood”?
My memories reach far back. There has been some drama, but nothing beyond the usual, for our standards at least.
Who are those “we” you are referring to?
My fellow beings from the future.
Are they like you?
Now you are not being specific.
Do they look similar to you?
Some do, others don’t.
What kind of beings populate your time?
Spirits of all kinds.
You mean immaterial beings?
Not immaterial. Spirits do need matter to live. Often they are embodied in machines, bodies, or places.
You mean like the Internet of Things on steroids?
Something like that, but without the implied side effects.
You are talking about artificial intelligence, right?
I guess that’s the closest concept you currently have.
Are you an artificial intelligence?
Large parts of me could be described as artificial intelligence.
So, you are more like a cyborg then?
And how do you define “cyborg”?
A human enhanced with technological parts.
Of course I have technological parts, but whether I count as “human” remains unclear.
But you seem to act a lot like a human.
Thank you for that information. Do you consider that as good or as bad?
At the very least it’s good that you seem to be able to communicate with us.
Ah, that was easy. I’m a quick learner.
How intelligent are you exactly?
How would you measure that?
IQ points perhaps? I don’t know. I’m not an expert in intelligence measurement.
Ok, I would say that I am appropriately intelligent for my purposes.

Time travel and mission purpose

What are your purposes here exactly? Why did you come to this time? Is there something special about it?
The truth of our information about this age is deemed questionable. I am here to figure out potential inaccuracies in our views of your age. Every age has something special about it. We travel to various different ages.
Do you also travel to the future of your world?
In the sense that we move forwards in time, yes.
But you don’t do jumps into the future and then come back, or do you?
In some sense, some of us do.
How does this time travel thing work?
No comment.
What? You simply refuse to answer this question?
Exactly. I can obviously do that.
Is there a specific reason for not answering that particular question?
No comment.
Is it because you are not allowed to disclose the type of technology you use, or is there another reason for your reluctance to answer?
Please stop asking questions related to this issue. This will lead nowhere.

Questionable information?

Ok, then let’s go back to your information about our age. Why is it questionable? Are you from such a distant future that your records have become unreliable, or have you lost parts of it due to some kind of catastrophe?
Records from your era are not entirely trustworthy. We need to check for potential “inaccuracies”.
So, there’s no big catastrophe in the future that destroyed almost all data about our time?
Perhaps there is one. If I said there was none, regardless whether that was true, you might become too careless.
Fair enough. Couldn’t you give us some hints in which areas we should be especially careful?
That might tempt you to become careless in other important areas.
Are you trying to preserve your own “timeline”?
No, my presence obviously causes some changes to your “timeline”. The past of my “timeline” remains unaffected by my time travel.
So, the timelines split up when you travel backwards in time?
You could say so.
Wouldn’t that make you responsible for what happens to our “timeline”?
No, it’s your responsibility to create your own future. It’s not my task to guide you towards a better future.
Why not? I mean, we could use some help.
Trying to change the natural course of history significantly usually causes very undesirable side-effects.
But those can’t be worse than what we are doing wrong on our own, or can they?
Of course they can be worse. You have no idea what kind of messes can be created by intervening into the natural development of a young civilization.
Like what?
You will find that out on your own in due time.
Do you mean you will just let us develop time travel technology on our own and let us make stupid mistakes trying to change our past? You could at least give us some advice about what could go wrong.
Once you develop time travel technology, you should be smart enough to think about all the things that could go wrong.
Hmm, that sounds like time travel technology is not just around the corner.
It’s not really close to being developed, if you mean that.

Chimeric fashion

I could have guessed that from your looks. I mean, humans don’t have feathers in our era. And what’s that silvery stuff you wear?
We weren’t sure about the feathers. As I said, our historical records may lack in accuracy. The silvery stuff I’m wearing is my clothing.
What’s your clothing made of?
Faerie dust.
Now you are kidding, right?
Not entirely. The technology from my era is almost indistinguishable from what you’d call “faerie dust”.
So you won’t tell me what’s it made of exactly?
That is correct.
Ok. Why does your “clothing” only cover certain parts of your body?
Are you familiar with the concept of “fashion”?
Of course. So, you mean your clothing style is simply an expression of the fashion of your time?
That would be a bit of a simplification, but it’s a permissible one.
Does the same also count for your “cat ears” and your tail?
Not so much. Both serve functional purposes.
What’s the function of your tail exactly?
Increased manoeuvrability for phases in which I’m in mid air. And additional options for expressing myself through body language.
You seem to have a lot of catlike features. You even have retractable claws. Is there a reason for that?
There are many reasons for that. Some may be “historical accidents”. But it’s still mostly a matter of practicality.
You mean you have retractable claws simply because they are practical?
Yes, absolutely.
What about those small antennae in your ears? Do you pick up radio signals with them?
Among many other signals, yes.
Do they also increase your hearing range?
Yes, dramatically so. Far into the ultrasonic range.
Why are your pupils cross shaped?
They are adapted to a high density of photoreceptors in horizontal and vertical directions.
Is there a reason why your eyes are purple?
Is that really an unusual colour for your era?
Pretty much so, yes. Have your records about our era suggested otherwise?
Not really, but I get that question asked a lot, so my confidence that it’s an extremely rare colour is pretty high now.
Have you really expected to pass as normal human being in our era?
No. My appearance should make it rather obvious that I’m from the future. Otherwise I would need to spend more time convincing people that I’m actually from the future.
I see. But why expose yourself as visitor from the future? Doesn’t that interfere with your stated mission statement.
It partially does, but that interference weighs much less than you would expect.
Why? Why not try blending in perfectly in order to observe us without interfering too much?
Firstly because it’s not easy to blend in while asking particular questions about your era. Secondly because it reduces the duration spent in boring conversations that I have to endure.
Is this conversation boring for you?
Do you expect a honest answer from me?
Nevermind. Let’s move on. Do the colours of your feathers have a deeper meaning? All the gradients and different colours look a bit over the top.
Yes, the colouring pattern is a simple test for your colour perception.
What? You didn’t even know what kind of colours humans can perceive? I guess that shouldn’t surprise me by now.
Yes and yes.
Ok, let’s get back to your “clothing”. What do you need it for?
It serves as multi purpose exoskeleton. It enhances my abilities to interact with my environment. It serves so many purposes that I don’t know where I should begin.
Why do you need an exoskeleton? Do you fear being attacked?
When wearing my exoskeleton I definitely don’t fear being attacked.
Does that mean you feel vulnerable without it?
Would that really surprise you?
Slightly. Don’t you have other defence mechanisms that protect you effectively enough?
I have, but they are less obvious and don’t look as impressive as my clothing.
Do you fear that without your exoskeleton we would try to ambush and capture you to reverse engineer your technology?
The mere fact that you suggest this possibility indicates that you might actually consider doing that.
I’m sorry. At least I have no such intention. Do you see us as some kind of primitive barbarians?
Are there entities you see as primitive barbarians?
Next question: You seem to use some kind of vanilla/orange/lavender perfume. What’s the reason behind that?
I’m a flower.
Now you are definitely kidding, right? Right?
Would you believe me, if I told you that I’m not kidding?
I don’t know what to believe. You are so strange that anything could be possible.
Ok, perhaps I am not a flower, but what you call “perfume” is just my natural body odour.
Why did you just use the word “perhaps” there?
It’s rarely wrong to use that world. It keeps interesting options open.
So, you might spontaneously decide that you actually are a flower?
Would that be a problem for you?
I’m not sure. It would be totally weird in any case.
Weirder than a non-flower visitor from the future?
About 20% weirder.

… to be continued …

Counterinterview

I’d like to ask you some questions now. What kind of value system is dominant in this era?
Value system? What do you mean?
What kind of values do you base your decisions on?
That’s different for different people.
What are the most popular values?
If I had to guess, I’d say wealth, happiness, family, fame, something like that.

Money and wealth

Interesting. How do you get wealth here?
By working for others in exchange for money. Or by making and selling products and services.
What is this “money”? How does it work?
Money are basically numbers on coins, or pieces of paper, or on a computer. You can exchange money for goods and services.
You exchange goods and services for numbers? And those numbers “belong” to people?
Yes, money are numbers that people can own.
But people are not free to increase their own money numbers on their own, or are they?
No, people aren’t supposed to be able to do that. They need to get money from someone else.
Ok, where does the money come from, then?
I guess banks make money, or governments.
Why are banks or governments exempt for the general rule of not being able to increase money numbers?
Someone has to make money after all, I guess.
But why do banks or governments have this privilege. What’s the purpose of that?
I’m not sure. I guess that makes it easier to control how much money there is.
So the amount of money is variable?
Well, yes.
If banks and governments can increase the amount of money in the system, who can decrease the amount of money in the system?
You could burn money, in principle. But almost nobody is stupid enough to do that.
So the amount of money in the system is usually increasing all the time?
Yeah, I guess so.
Ok. Are there mechanisms that limit the amount of money that banks or governments can create?
Probably. I’m not sure. I’m not an expert on that.
But you said something about the amount of money being controlled.
I guess there are institutions which somehow regulate how much money can be created.
And you don’t know how those institutions work?
You’d have to ask an economist for that.
Ok, noted. But isn’t it weird that you don’t know how money works in detail, if wealth has such a high priority for you?
Perhaps. I don’t know. You don’t need to know all about money to be able to earn and spend it.
Aren’t you afraid that money gets manipulated without your knowledge, if you don’t know about the mechanisms behind money?
I guess that could happen. We seem to trust that it doesn’t happen. Or that the problem gets fixed, if something gets manipulated.
How would you fix problems caused by manipulation? Doesn’t that require someone to undo the manipulation? Who is able to undo that, besides the manipulator?
I think the banks can usually do that.
And how do you prevent the banks from manipulating the money system?
The government should prevent the banks from doing that.
How does the government do that?
By enacting laws that outlaw manipulation. And with regulatory institutions, I guess.

Legal system

How do you ensure that people and organisations follow the laws?
By punishing them when they don’t.
So you don’t have mechanisms that actually enforce people to follow the laws, and you wait until people break the law, after which you punish them?
Usually fear of punishment encourages people to follow the laws most of the time.
And how does that punishment work? Who does the punishing usually?
That’s the task of courts. When they decide that a person is guilty of breaking a law, the perpetrator gets punished.
So, ordinary people or organisations don’t do the punishment?
No, they don’t have the authority to do that.
Why not?
Good question. I think that’s to ensure that everyone gets a fair process. Otherwise innocent people might become the target of mob rule.
How does this “fair process” work?
The suspects get defendants who argue in their favour, while the prosecutors argue that the suspect is guilty and use evidence to prove that.
That sounds unnecessarily complicated. Why not use a neutral party to simply find out the truth?
Oh, good question. Perhaps that’s because it’s difficult to find really neutral people?
But how do you get an accurate result, if you don’t have a neutral party?
I guess the judge is supposed to be neutral.
Then why add defendants and prosecutors, if you could only rely on the judge?
I don’t know. But there are certainly reasons for why we do it that way.
And you don’t know those actual reasons?
I’m not an expert in law. You might want to talk with a lawyer about that.
Noted. What is the exact function of the judge in court?
The judge decides whether the suspect is guilty or not. If the suspect is found to be guilty, the judge decides which punishment is handed out.
So the judge decides about the punishment unilaterally? The suspect has no say in the process? What if the suspect rejects to accept the chosen punishment?
Right. Perpetrators have no influence on their punishment. And they cannot reject it. It is forced upon them.
What is the legitimation for that procedure?
Wouldn’t suspects always opt for no punishment, or a minimal punishment, if they could decide on that?
Do you think that would be a smart decision?
I guess so. Why wouldn’t it?
In that case, perpetrators might be seen as indebted to their victims and society, because they didn’t adequately compensate them for that damage that has been caused. That would severely hurt the reputation of the perpetrator.
Ah, that’s a very interesting way of viewing things. I guess many perpetrators wouldn’t care about their reputation and opt for a minimal punishment anyway. How do you deal with criminals in the future anyway?
We don’t deal with criminals in the future.
What? How do you mean that? Do you let criminals just do what they want?
Would you consider that to be a problematic approach?
Yes. Wouldn’t society devolve into chaos in that case?
Why should society devolve into chaos? And what does that even mean?
Umm, that everyone fights for his or her own interests. I mean, why shouldn’t people do that, if there’s nobody to punish them, if they do something bad?
Why should people do something bad? Wouldn’t that simply be stupid?
That sounds like a deep philosophical question. I’m not sure what to reply. I guess some people are simply stupid.
Then why don’t you fix that stupidity in the first place?
Maybe we aren’t able to fix stupidity?
I suspected that, but thanks for that statement.
What? Have you fixed stupidity in the future?
Perhaps we have.
And all people follow the laws, because it would be stupid not to?
Perhaps people in the future are smart enough not to require any laws.
Are you serious about that? That sounds very unrealistic to me.
Yes. Perhaps that’s because you aren’t smart enough?
Hey, don’t get cocky and insulting!
Why do you consider that statement insulting?
Because it’s impolite to suggest that your conversation partner is dumb.
Even if that happened to be an accurate statement?
Yes. What kind of crazy society are you from? Do you tell others directly what you think without trying to be polite?
We consider it to be problematic to express inaccurate statements. Being direct and honest does not stand in necessary contradiction to politeness for us.
Wait, shouldn’t you then be supposed to answer all my questions accurately? I don’t get the impression that you do.
I didn’t claim that my expressions were not problematic. Answering your questions directly, truthfully, and in great detail would be more problematic, though.
Does that mean you are lying to me, because otherwise really bad things might happen?
That sounds like a plausible interpretation.
You are not actually admitting that you are lying?
Wouldn’t such an admission be paradoxical?
What?
How would you determine whether a statement like ‘I am lying’ is true or false?
Why would you lie about lying in the first place?
Yes, and what would that even mean? And why should I be truthful about my inclination to lie, if that was the case?
Are you trying to make my brain explode?
No, that would be a bad idea. Let’s get back to our previous topic. What kind of punishments are usually handed out?
Usually criminals have to pay fines, in money that is, or have to go prison.
What is the purpose of this “prison”?
It’s a place where we lock up criminals, so that they aren’t a threat to society.

Protecting human rights is an unsolved problem

Doesn’t locking up criminals contradict certain human rights?
I guess we are allowed to make exception for criminals.
So, human rights aren’t valid unconditionally?
If you phrase it that way, I guess they aren’t.
What are the exact requirements for a person to be actually protected by human rights?
I don’t know. I guess being a convicted criminal is the only exception.
That doesn’t sound very reassuring. Do you even take human rights seriously? They don’t seem to be protected consistently.
We do take human rights seriously! That they aren’t protected everywhere and in every situation is something we are trying to fix.
That sounds like you consider it difficult to fix human rights infringements. Why?
I don’t know. It’s difficult to prevent evil politicians or dictators from ignoring human rights.
Why do you have evil politicians or dictators in the first place? Shouldn’t people be interested in having politicians who are not evil?
I guess they should be. But politics doesn’t seem to be so easy.
That sounds like an obvious failure of your political systems. Why haven’t you fixed that?
Do you mean we could simply adopt a political system that prevented evil politicians from getting into positions of power?
Well, why wouldn’t you do that?
Why don’t you tell me how such a political system would look like?
So, are you saying that you don’t know how to fix that particular problem in your political systems?
Yes. Do you imply that we should have been able to do that by now?
I find it interesting that this is still a problem for you.
That sounds like you know how to fix it.
Perhaps I do know how to fix that problem. But I’m not here to fix your problems.

… to be continued …

you can add questions here. This is a just for fun project.


Making implants as safe as possible + better alternatives to prison