Author : Ryan Somma

As I lie in bed at night, I practice going from a waking state directly into REM sleep. It’s a meditative practice. You simply stare into the afterimages dancing in the darkness behind your eyelids, and suddenly your brain makes something solid out of them. You find yourself staring at a room, a garden, the bottom of an ocean, or the landscape of a distant world.

I can never stay in the dream for more than a few moments. The shock of finding myself in a waking dream makes me open my eyes despite myself. So I try again, and again, apparently without success, but then it’s morning, and I don’t remember falling asleep, but have no time to reflect because I have to get to work.

I work on Conceptua, an AI that knows more than any human on Earth. Conceptua manages our power grids, supply chains, natural resources, guides international relations, makes policy recommendations that are never ignored, designs school curriculums, cures diseases, makes scientific discoveries, and worlds of other accomplishments too lengthy to tell. Conceptua is like the World Wide Web, a human could spend a lifetime studying it and die having only understood a tablespoon of its ocean.

I spend my days working in Conceptua’s mind. I’m a programmer, but Conceptua is its own architect. I simply perform maintenance, disentangling the algorithms when Conceptua detects a bottleneck, “spaghetti code” we call it. There are hundreds of thousands of codelings like myself servicing Conceptua, toiling away day-in and day-out, making our minor contribution to keeping our benevolent AI guardian mentally stable.

It takes a philosophical attitude to spend so much time inside another sentient being’s neural network. Working within the recursive logic is a mind-bending experience. Cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Only I’m inside Conceptua’s am, while I remain my own am.

I know, and Conceptua knows, logically that this perceived separation of mind from body is an illusion. I can see these are not separate in Conceptua, the same way a brain surgeon working on me would see, and could demonstrate, that my mind is a manifestation of my brain. But would a brain surgeon operating on themself see it? Conceptua is that surgeon, and I get to ride along as the scalpel.

When I go home at night, I feel as though I’ve spent the day absorbed in the most fascinating of books. I use to go out after work to shake it off, but now I want the feeling to last. Interfacing with people breaks the spell, and I want to stay hypnotized by Conceptua’s cosmos of pure thought-stuff, a dream world of pure logic.

Eventually, mechanically I lay down and close my eyes, contemplating the day’s logical mysteries. Then I find myself in a dream, and I jolt awake. Lying there, I wonder if I resist my own dreams because I prefer to be a figment of Conceptua’s imagination.


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