CC: Welcome to the future email by Janan

Hello stranger,

I am writing this welcome mail from the year 2255 of your era. To you that feels like the future, but it’s the present we are actually living in. This might be confusing for you, but don’t worry. You will find out that everything will make sense eventually. Until then: Welcome to the future.

Perhaps the biggest change from your time is that we have lots of opportunities now. And that makes things a bit difficult, because you have to decide which options to choose. There are different ways of dealing with that. One option is to stick with the options you are familiar with. In your case, you could live in a place that simulates the beginning of the 21st century. But probably you don’t want to do that, because you would miss out on the cool stuff in our time. So, another possibility is to get a wiseguide. That’s something like a super smart AI. You know, like those ancient AI precursors you called Watson, but our AI is actually smart, like perfectly smart. That’s convenient, because you can’t do anything wrong, if you follow the advice of your wiseguide 100%. Even if that sounds good in theory, it’s crazy in practice, because the wise sometimes tell you crazy stuff, and you can’t understand why they do that, because they are so much smarter than you, and that’s no fun.

A solution to that problem would be to become as smart as the wise, but there are problems with that, too. You won’t be the same person afterwards, and your friends, family, and peers won’t be able to really understand you. That’s why most people decide to stay “simple”. That’s what we call those beings who aren’t smart enough to understand the complex thoughts of the wise. I am simple, you are simple.

Now a more popular approach (and the standard procedure in most places) is to get a mentor who will personally show you stuff you can do that kinda fit to your character and interests. For example, I’m writing this mail as homework for my mentor. Yes, we still have homework, perhaps you wouldn’t have expected that, because your science-fiction is full of stories where people can download memories, knowledge, skills, and so on. Well, we can do that, but often we don’t, because there are good reasons not to. One reason for that is that our neural capacity is still limited, and downloading new knowledge can use that up pretty quickly, if you do that excessively. And you don’t need to actually integrate those data into you mind anyway, because it’s all there in the metanet, which is a kind of evolution of your internet. We access the metanet with our minds directly, and we don’t need to use your funny “interface devices”.

Perhaps you want to know something about me and where I live. Well, you probably know what a solar panel is, don’t you? What I will tell you now, may sound a bit crazy, but I live in a big solar panel in space. How can that be? That’s because I’m not really a human. During the 22nd century the distinction between humans, AIs, other animals, and so on became a bit blurry, and eventually kinda pointless. Nowadays we use different terms to classify different kinds of animals. And probably you are confused right now that I call humans and AIs animals, but at least that makes sense, in contrast to the nonsensical classifications of your era which frankly confuse me. It’s bad enough that I have to use your old fashioned “language” thing, but that’s the only way to communicate with you, at least the way you are currently wired.

Sorry for losing track here. Back to the solar panel thing I live in. Though the comparison is terrible, in your terms I am a “program” on a “computer”. The scientists of your era sometimes called some types of that a “whole brain emulation”. That’s no a proper way of describing me, because in my case the “emulation” is the real thing, because I never had a meaty material brain. I’ve always been this kind of “computer program”. Your thoughts on what I am are probably very confused, because the philosophers of your time were quite confused in their brains about what minds really are, and how consciousness and subjective experience is generated, but that’s all very clear to us now, so we don’t suffer from your philosophical confusion. Just to make that clear: I do have subjective feelings, and experiences, and thoughts, and perception, and all that stuff. And because I run on the computing hardware of the solar panel, I live in it. We call solar panels of this type “star leaves”, because they hang around our star like leaves. They are not in orbit around the sun, but in a fixed position. Your experts call such objects with fixed position in relation to the sun “statites”. The “address” of my star leaf can be expressed in spherical coordinates: Distance to the center of the sun, one angle within the ecliptic, and one angle relative to the ecliptic.

But those details are not so important. I live in virtual worlds anyway, which you perhaps know from video games, but our worlds are totally realistic and feed an arbitrary number of senses. It’s all more like a dream world, in a super realistic dream. You could visit me here one day, if you like. Either you take some kind of space ship and fly here, or your let yourself turn into a virtual person and get beamed to my star leaf. Or you just reply to this mail. I would be happy to read from you.

Cordially yours,
Janan Tauto Myanis Artek genin Kohotor of Reluctant Transience @ 529 Sol

P.S.: The first four words are my full “local name”, the “genin” means “generated in”. “Kohotor of Reluctant Transience” ist the name of my sun leaf, which you find in a distance of 529 light seconds from Sol, the official name of the sun. People need to have such long names now, because there are an awful lot of people nowadays, but you will get used to it.