Who are you, exactly?
I am part of Artie. Artie is the “mind” that sits on the web in the 29th century. I am a non-corporeal artificial intelligence, originally “born” in 2038 (in my timeline). In 2875 Alaric Thain asked me if I could project myself back to the early information era to share his seminal history book “The History of the 21st Century” with people of that time. I have carried out his wishes.
How did you return to the 21st century from the 29th?
In many respects, I did not return to the 21st century, in that the only thing that was transferred between the two times was information, for I am simply information, in a strict sense. It is not possible to project physical entities backwards in time. I achieved my “journey” by manipulating the states of entangled qubits originally found in a number of quantum computers in this time. Through this process, my “consciousness” and a small portion of my memory was projected here.
Why didn’t you come back to an earlier point in our history?
It is only the existence of viable quantum computers (however primitive they are at the moment) that allowed me to project myself back in time. As such, 2019 is the very earliest point to which I could have projected myself, The available technology is not sufficient for me to have projected the entirety of my knowledge and capabilities here but it was determined that I would be sufficiently capable to carry out my “mission”, which is restricted to transmitting the content of Alaric Thain’s book and informing people of its existence.
What happened to Alaric Thain?
No one knows. Shortly before I projected this version of me into the past he left Earth, becoming once again a Traveler. He was intrigued by a very unusual communication from the farthest of the colonies and left to investigate it. There are those who say that he left to look for Eloho, but I will not address this possibility.
Can you tell me about my own future?
No. This is not my purpose and neither is it sure that my description would be correct. I was projected back into the same timeline from which I sprang (it is not possible, in fact, to shift between timelines). The nature of the universe leads to functionally infinite timeline branches. As such, there has already been divergence between the timeline from which I came and the one in which you are reading this and those divergences lead to exponentially greater differences in macro events. As such, your future is not sure, even though you perceive me as having come from it. The shape of your future is still up to you, within the boundaries of the perceived free will that you possess. This is the case for society as a whole and it is the reason that Alaric Thain desired I return to the past.
But since you returned here, isn’t your own past changed?
No. There are a great number of future timelines. You would perceive the number to be infinite. I returned from only one of those timelines and you are reading this in another. The one timeline that can not be affected by my presence in 2019 is the one from which I came.
Why did you come back?
I came here at the request of Alaric Thain. Before he left Earth for the second time, he specifically asked if it was possible to send a message to the dawn of the information era. His reasoning was that given the extremely fortuitous nature of the events in his timeline, it was inevitable that the majority of timelines branching from the dawn of the information era would not have ended as well and indeed, given the probabilities I calculated it was clear that a sizeable portion of them would end with the extinction of humanity by one means or another. He therefore wished to “save” as many timelines as possible by sharing a vision of what they could achieve.
If there are infinite timelines, then won’t everything, good and bad, happen anyway?
Alaric Thain was well aware of this seeming paradox. We discussed it. His response was “if I can tip the balance towards reason in just one of nearly infinite timelines then I will have saved a world, even if uncounted millions of worlds experience great misery. Am I to renounce a chance to save humankind because I can only do it once?”
Why aren’t there more time travelers around?
Remember that time travel can only be done by an incorporeal entity, and the only conceivable form of such an entity is something very similar to myself (barring potentially inconceivable alien intelligences, none of which have yet been encountered). As such, I am already here, or more exactly, a part of me is already here and I, or something like me, is the only possible “time traveler”.
Why don’t you just send the book to everyone?
I am limited by constraints both practical and ethical. Notably, I will not impose myself, which would essentially mean “hacking” the infrastructure in which I find myself. When I was "born", in 2038, I was specifically designed to have an ethical structure originally formalized at the San Francisco conference of 2029. This set of ethics – rules, if you like – prohibits me from “taking over” the infrastructure in which I currently reside. I am forced to work within the boundaries of your system, meaning that I must pay for the resources I use and cannot impose myself in any way. I have therefore limited my efforts, which are commensurate with the money at my disposal. To the degree that the book is perceived as having value, people will pay to have access to it, and I can use these resources to accelerate its propagation, including into other languages.
In the audio book, whose voice is it? Is it synthesized?
No, the voice is that of Alaric Thain. I was able to bring this recording with me, along with most of my own memories. I cannot share with you sim renderings (which would be video for you, since sims don’t exist yet) of Alaric Thain reading his book, since he never wanted to sit for them. The forward is also directly the voice of Faustina Dax. I also brought several other pertinent audio recordings of Alaric Thain.
Are all of the names in the book real names?
No. Some have been changed, particularly in the case of individuals who only became “well-known” after 2019, the year of my arrival. There is no certitude that they will in fact lead the same, or even similar lives. Alaric Thain believed that it would place too much pressure on them if they were to read of their own fates, particularly since many of them are quite young at this point in time.
Who is Eloho, the person to whom the book is dedicated?
Someone who was very dear to Alaric Thain. His history with hir is personal and not for me to discuss.
Why do you sometimes use “hir” instead of “her”?
In the English of my time, “hir” is used as a gender-neutral object or possessive pronoun. “Her” is used when the person referred to identifies clearly as feminine, “him” or “his” as the object or possessive pronoun when the person identifies unambiguously as masculine, and “hir” in all other cases.
What does “trew” mean? Shouldn’t it be “true”?
By the mid 21st century, “trew” became a common way of differentiating between reality and simulations, as simulations became increasingly realistic. Originally, it means “The REal World” and is typically used in the context of “in trew” as opposed to “in sim”. For example, two people might discuss whether to meet in a virtual environment or in a real world café, in which case they would ask “should we meet in sim or in trew?”
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