Saturday, January 06, 2007

Setting Things Straight in Owenia

I recently received feedback on one of my PhD papers I'd submitted to a journal. The paper was about my simulation environment, which I discussed in an earlier post. One of the problems that the reviewer had identified with my model was a rule in my simulation which implied cannibalism. Basically, when an agent in my simulation dies it's health is recycled back into the local ecosystem to be reused as an energy source. My thinking was that this implies cannibalism in the same way that eating food fertilised with manure implies eating shit.

Anyway, I was thinking about this problem in my simulation late into the night. Long after Jodi and Gypsy had gone to sleep I saw strange lights shining though the window from outside the house. I went to investigate and there was Windy Pop, my friend from the planet Flatulon-Nine, whom I'd thought I'd only dreamt. Windy Pop told me of this place he visited called Owenia. I have no way of accounting for it, but it would seem that by some strange cosmic phenomena the world which I created in my simulation had become actualised as a real world, some twenty thousand light years on the far side of galactic central point. The occupants of Owenia, the Owenians, celebrated effigies of me, referring to me as the Designer. Now, I'd be inclined to say that this type of thing is an inevitable consequence of living in an infinite universe, something we all just have to accept and deal with, but the stories Windy Pop told demanded affirmative action. I had designed the inhabitants of Owenia to be capable of competition and reproduction, thereby evolve-ability. Although they were capable of evolving certain forms of biological altruism, such as aging, they weren't able to act in a cohesively social manner - apparently they just weren't made of the right type of stuff. The horrors Windy Pop recounted to me included the sins of necrophilia and cannibalism. Clearly it was my duty to visit this world I was responsible for creating, so that I may provide some higher order moral guidance.

Initially, Windy Pop's main method of transportation around the universe was via space taxi, but this proved problematic as it is very hard to find a space taxi without an air-freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, which, as any Flatulonian will tell you, is the root of all evil. But thanks to invaluable advice from a wise sage about the magical properties of Santa's reindeer wee, Windy Pop devised a method of interstellar astral travel between planets by consuming copious quantities of reindeer wee. Unfortunately this had an unpleasant side effect of dizziness, so I only vaguely remember the trip. I do remember first seeing the torus shape of Owenia in the distance. (A torus is a ringed doughnut shape. This seemed like a convenient shape for my simulation world, which is essentially a square grid with the edges wrapped around and connected. Try it yourself with a piece of paper).

Once I got to Owenia I refrained from revealing myself to the Owenians. Instead I selected a special group of people, who were currently enslaved by a selfish group of Owenians, to be holy agents. I also selected, from among them, a special one, named Mooses, who I spoke to in the form of a burning bush and told to lead the holy agents into an empty cell patch called the promised land. I gave Mooses special powers allowing him to part the seas, which defined the borders of the cell patches, permitting the holy agents to pass. After the holy agents were freed of their captors, I called Mooses up to a nice grassy knoll where we had a nice picnic of baguette and dessert wine, and I gave him the rules by which to live in the promised land - the Ten Commandments:


joel said...

Haha, funny stuff! Did you get some positive feedback on your paper as well?

~Joel -- aside_the_line

Owen said...

Thanks for the comment, Joel. In fact, the reviewer is very sympathetic to my topic, as it is very close to his own. Unfortunately, I fear there is going to be a little who-got-here-first politics, which is too complicated to explain in comments.

s said...

Hi Owen,
Cannibalism aside, though I don't doubt that it is an important topic that could be debated until the elastic Phd brain ties itself up in knots.. Happy New Year ! I heard Alasdair joined the clan for xmas.
My Alli just got on the plane but sends her love. Might get round to a Melbourne trip before July..Keep in touch


Alice said...

too many references to santa and/or his reindeer!
Its starting to creep me out!
Otherwise, congrats on the paper submission!:)
Hopefully, many more to come!
(even if you have to play dirty with the compition...;)