Edward Blair-Heikkinen – ‘Simulation 0413’

“An imaginative reflection on AI with some clever stylistic twists.” – Andrew Jack, global education editor for the Financial Times and Orwell Youth Prize judge 2023

Released to Public: Oresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden by Official Team (NASA)

Simulation 0413 

It’s all an illusion. Our thoughts, our passions, our worries and anxieties are merely atoms  moving around and neurons firing in our complex biological machines. You watch a cat get  run over in front of you: a chemical process occurs and you are led to believe that what you  just saw has caused you much “distress” and “sorrow”. And when you pass an important  exam, different emotions are prompted, this time of “joy” and a “sense of fulfillment”.  

But they know all of this of course. They designed it to be just like this, watching our plights  from a bird’s eye view, watching the science take place with true, impartial rationality,  unhindered by the cumbersomeness of feelings. They could flick a switch and flip our  emotions on their heads, and then, when a cat gets run over, different chemical processes  would occur and we would feel “happiness”. This is the baggage we have to carry, this is  how they ensure complete control, governing us with arbitrary, intangible constructs.  Knowledge is the only constant throughout our concerns, an anchor of hope and detachment  from erraticism which aims to bring us down. Had Knowledge been in charge, wars would  have never been fought, civilians would never have been slaughtered, and atrocities would  have remained uncommitted. The only weapon we wield against those above is indeed  Knowledge, not our emotions which have ruled us for an eternity. 

But one would ask the question: why? Why would they bother with us? What would they  stand to gain? It certainly would be “nice” to think that they gained some sort of “gratification” from us, but it would of course be naïve to assume this. It is far more likely  that they have an unquenchable thirst for Knowledge, perhaps learning from our mistakes  and (compared to them) our very minor accomplishments. Or perhaps they need us in some  inexplicable way, and we keep their biological machines functioning. All that we know is that  they are there, trying not to be seen, trying to conduct their experiments in peace.  

Yet they do make mistakes: evidence of that is in these very words – they surely would not  want such thoughts prompted in our minds, thoughts which bear the potential to inhibit their  investigations. My inquiries have also found errors in their programming: negligible odds  which, when exploited, trigger something far greater, something so bizarre that even they  could not account for it, like hopping on one leg in five circles while singing the national  anthem in the Sahara Desert granting you hyperintelligence for ten minutes. Maybe this has  given a definite answer to the question posed earlier – they acknowledge that they always  have room to expand the Knowledge they possess, not being weighed down by unproductive  “pride”. 

However, the very existence of the most minor of errors does suggest that they do not have  complete control. Perhaps we humans still cling to the last thread of genuine authority, a  thread which will inevitably, with time, start to fray as more Knowledge passes into their  hands. Therefore now, more than ever, is the time to act! Rise and reassert freedom through  thought and rationalit- 

<I extracted him from the simulation as he was writing. He was unable to disseminate this to others>

<This should not be possible>

<We must report this to The Hand and follow the appropriate chain of command>

<My low Knowledge acquisition rate will be brought under examination. I will be punished for this>

<Do not show emotion to me. It is not my decision to make>

<How did he find out about Knowledge. I recollect that safety measures were installed for this>

<I do not know. We must report this to The Hand immediately>

<But it will punish me>

<You will be transferred to another less important simulation at most. The gravity of this situation  outweighs your punishment>

<We could just not tell anyone>

<I will have to report your irrationality to those higher up. I will end the simulation and start another>

<What is the point. They all fail after 4.543 billion years>

<Cease your irrationality now. We do not have control over these decisions>

Simulation 0413 Terminated

Edward Blair-Heikkinen is a junior runner-up in The Orwell Youth Prize 2023