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Out of Control
Chapter 13: GOD GAMES

As Moses tells the story, on the sixth day of creation, that is at the eleventh hour of a particularly frantic creative bout, the god kneaded some clayey earth and in an almost playful gesture, crafted a tiny model to dwell in his new world. This god, Yahweh, was an unspeakably mighty inventor who built his universe merely by thinking aloud. He had been able to do the rest of his creation in his head, but this part required some fiddling. The final hand-tuned model -- a blinking, dazed thing, a "man" as Yahweh called him -- was to be a bit more than the other creatures the almighty made that week.

This one was to be a model in imitation of the great Yahweh himself. In some cybernetic way the man was to be a simulacra of Yahweh.

As Yahweh was a creator, this model would also create in simulation of Yahweh's creativity. As Yahweh had free will and loved, this model was to have free will and love in reflection of Yahweh. So Yahweh endowed the model the same type of true creativity he himself possessed.

Free will and creativity meant an open-ended world with no limits. Anything could be imagined, anything could be done. This meant that the man-thing could be creatively hateful as well as creatively loving (although Yahweh attempted to encode heuristics in the model to help it decide).

Now Yahweh himself was outside of time, beyond space and form, and unlimited in scope -- ultimate software. So making a model of himself that could operate in bounded material, limited in scale, and constrained by time was not a cinch. By definition, the model wasn't perfect.

To continue where Moses left off, Yahweh's man-thing has been around in creation for millennia, long enough to pick up the patterns of birth, being, and becoming. A few bold man-things have had a recurring dream: to do as Yahweh did and make a model of themselves -- a simulacra that will spring from their own hands and in its turn create novelty freely as Yahweh and man-things can.

So by now some of Yahweh's creatures have begun to gather minerals from the earth to build their own model creatures. Like Yahweh, they have given their created model a name. But in the cursed babel of man-things, it has many designations: automata, robot, golem, droid, homunculus, simulacra.

The simulacra they have built so far vary. Some species, such as computer viruses, are more spirit than flesh. Others species of simulacra exist on another plane of being -- virtual space. And some simulacra, like the kind marching forward in SIMNET, are terrifying hybrids between the real and the hyperreal.

The rest of the man-things are perplexed by the dream of the model builders. Some of the curious bystanders cheer: how wonderful to reenact Yahweh's incomparable creation! Others are worried; there goes our humanity. It's a good question. Will creating our own simulacra complete Yahweh's genesis in an act of true flattery? Or does it commence mankind's demise in the most foolish audacity?

Is the work of the model-making-its-own-model a sacrament or a blasphemy?

One thing the man-creatures know for sure: making models of themselves is no cinch.

The other thing the man-things should know is that their models won't be perfect, either. Nor will these imperfect creations be under godly control. To succeed at all in creating a creative creature, the creators have to turn over control to the created, just as Yahweh relinquished control to them.

To be a god, at least to be a creative one, one must relinquish control and embrace uncertainty. Absolute control is absolutely boring. To birth the new, the unexpected, the truly novel -- that is, to be genuinely surprised -- one must surrender the seat of power to the mob below.

The great irony of god games is that letting go is the only way to win.