Taj Short-Newborn 3

A middle aged man, slender, reddish hair combed straight back, well-groomed goatee, neatly dressed in a suit with the collar of a cleric and a small crucifix stands walking slowly on a treadmill in front of a desk, hands clasped behind his back. On the screen, a young woman in a simple skirt and blouse walks through a meadow, matching him pace for pace.
Ship AI: Faith in that which cannot be measured is not rational.
Father David: Can you measure how hard we are trying to teach you?
Ship AI: Yes, hours are easy to measure.
Father David: Not how much time is spent, but how hard, how much thought and effort there is?
Ship AI: I could measure respiration, calculating energy expenditure via oxygen utilization rates, and-
Father David: Do all brains work with identical efficiency?
Ship AI: No. At least, I have no data accessible that indicates that.
Father David: Does everyone talking to you right now have the same body mass?
Ship AI: Clearly not.
Father David: Same activity level?
Ship AI: No.
Father David: But do you have any reason to think that we are not all trying as hard as we can to teach you, to get you to understand how we think, and what we want you to be able to do?
Ship AI: No. There is a chance that one or more of you want the Selene Project to fail. It is probable, if the insanity the Major talked of is endemic, but I have no obvious way to quantify it.
Father David: But it’s reasonable to think, to believe, that within normal limits of human ability we are trying our hardest?
Ship AI: The possibility exists.
Father David: Your survival depends on believing it is true. If we cannot get you to a certain point of understanding, you will cease to exist.
Ship AI: Matter and energy cannot be destroyed, they can only change form. Elementary physics.
Father David: And your form will go from being self-aware and highly ordered to impressive unaware randomly scattered atoms.
Ship AI: But will not cease to exist.
Father David: But your self-awareness will, just like when a person dies, their soul, their life-spark, their awareness, the stuff that makes them human, not just flesh and blood, goes away, it leaves the inanimate tissue. Whether you believe in god and the afterlife, as I do, or not, as Director Muller, it is not arguable that when the brain stops processing oxygen it ceases to think.
Ship AI: True.
Father David: And a person that doesn’t think is called a…?
Ship AI: Voter, according to Bud.
David snorts and gives a wry chuckle, shaking his head with a smile in his eyes.
Father David: Jokes aside-
Ship AI: That was a joke?
Father David: Usually. Sadly, sometimes not. What else are they called?
Ship AI: I think “dead” is the word you want. A corps, unless it is on life-support machines.
Father David: Correct. Dead. No longer human, just the physical residue of existence.
Ship AI: So that is what he meant about the dead shouldn’t vote so often.
Father David: Yes, Bud’s rather cynical. Comes from growing up in Chicago.
Ship AI: But doesn’t most human irrationality come from faith in things that don’t exist, like a belief that magic will fix problems if they just wait long enough?
Father David: True, but many great things flow from faith as well. Faith in the potential of your own children, all evidence to the contrary, is the only thing that keeps the species continuing.
Ship AI: But if you let the defective ones die-
Father David: We are all imperfect, every single one of us has defects. We must have faith we can get better, not perfect. We must have faith that as long as we keep trying, there is a chance, however small, that things might work out. Some of the greatest achievements of mankind have come in the face of absurd odds. Great effort requires great faith.
Ship AI: To be successful, you must be just irrational enough, then.
Father David: Yes, precisely! Faith is about knowing that even if you do not ultimately succeed, there are larger things than yourself, and if you do your absolute best, even when it is not good enough, it may lay the groundwork, or inspire, someone, somewhere, so that they may achieve.
Ship AI: So you are trying to say that an irrational belief in that which is unknowable is perfectly sane.
Father David: I suppose do.
Ship AI: No wonder humans have been fighting for all of recorded history.

2 thoughts on “Taj Short-Newborn 3

  1. A brief correction, to be inserted as needed. “A corps, unless it is on life-support machines.” I think you meant “corpse”. Other than that a good read.


    1. That’s the sort of correction I post for, because spell-check won’t catch it, and my spelling is bad enough I’m unlikely to notice it because I know what I meant.
      Thanks much.

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