Tuesday Poem: Good Solid Work

Good Solid Work

We’ll laugh at this world one day.
It was all a simulation, we’ll say –
nodding our virtual heads
smiling our virtual smiles –
why didn’t we spot it before?
Nature could never
have come up with the emu
and the hammerhead shark was clearly a clue.

We talk without moving our lips, mind to mind.
Quantum theory’s the clincher.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, so those in charge
left the edges fuzzy
let the smallest particles
roam where they may.

Still, they did some things well –
the roots that riddled the ground
the rush of wind in the pines
the pressure of our children’s hands.
Good work, we’ll say, good solid work
nodding our virtual heads
smiling our virtual smiles
turning our eager faces to the soft electron rain.

Tim says:

This poem, included in my second poetry collection All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens, was republished in Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (Interactive Press, 2009).

It refers to the philosophical proposition, advanced by Professor Nick Bostrom, that we may be living in a computer simulation. You can find more about this on The Simulation Argument, which abstracts his argument as follows:

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

The idea that everything we do happens in a computer simulation run by a more advanced civilisation is not one that appeals to me – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. One wonders how the characters in video games feel about the world they inhabit.

Voyagers cover

You can buy Voyagers from Amazon.com as a paperback or Kindle e-book, or from New Zealand Books Abroad, or Fishpond.

You can also find out more about Voyagers, and buy it directly from the publisher, at the Voyagers mini-site.

Find lots more Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.