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St. William at the Pearly Gates (Science Fiction)
Nathaniel K. Miller   Sep 21, 2012   Ethical Technology  

What happens at the funeral of Bill Gates - “pioneering post-humanist” - when he dies at the age of three hundred?

I. St. William @ the Pearly Gates?
New York Times, January 12

Today marks the start of a ten-day countdown. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, two-term governor, philanthropist, and pioneering post-humanist will retire on January 22, leaving an indelible mark on the world. His public funeral will be held at (/.) Dynamic Cemetery on August 23, at 27009st. The event will be closed Exo-Systema; however, typoscopic coverage will be broadcast “live.”

Public response to the occurrence has varied widely; accusations of senility and mismanagement have been lodged by various stockholders after information was leaked that Gates has planned to emancipate hundreds of the company’s internal AI constructs following his retirement. Memorial services have sprung up across the globe; suicide prevention groups have organized a day of silence to raise awareness of suicide In Systema.


II. An Open Letter to Eternity 
By Bill Gates

New York Times, January 13

We avoid the word “suicide” these days. And rightly so, in many ways - coming to one’s Time is a very different thing. It is strange to remember when cutting short one’s existence seemed like, felt like, a terrifying and morose notion. We had the promise of death back then, and no other options. To waste half of something so limited seemed a terrible thing. Now, there is no promise or threat of an early end. Eternity cannot be halved. For me, it has proven far too long.

We know what to expect, more or less, from a three year old. We have a general idea of what teenagers will do and feel. We have psychology for the middle aged, psychology for the elderly.

These expectations taper off around the hundred-year mark. For someone like myself, closing in on three hundred, no set of familiar traits exists. In fact, each year, our task becomes more daunting: as long as some of the original group who entered Systema in its beta phase exist, we will always be without a framework within which to compare them. They will be the oldest generation for the duration of time.

Without the threat – or promise- of an end, without any foreknowledge of how a three hundred year old might be expected to develop or react or feel – those of us especially who entered this world as old men must struggle with the perplexing joy and sorrow of getting what we always wanted. We are writing the book, and we have no books to reference.

I am tired of writing. I leave the task now to the world at large, to other pioneers, other men and women, young and old, inside bodies or In Systema. I leave my work knowing it will be continued.

It is with a heart both heavy (for the weight of death is huge) and light (for the weight of life, now all but lifted, is also huge) that I say goodbye to this strange and beautiful world. I know now that my Time has come.

William Gates


New York Times, January 16

Steve Jobs, whose rivalry with Gates was rekindled during the Systema Open-Source debate, caused a stir Tuesday when he Blipped a derogatory statement about Gates’ recent piece in this paper. Calling the open letter “self-important” and deriding Gates as being “devoid of enlightenment,” Jobs raised ire from Gates’ supporters and garnered praise from his detractors.

“People just assume if you have a problem with Gates, you’re in the Apple Party,” said Jill Moyer, a student who spent the day Wednesday protesting outside the Microsoft flagship building. “What I have a problem with is handing over control of our companies to non-Ds.” After Gates’ retirement, the company’s administration will be transferred to the Living Trust Multipersona, known to many as the “Thirty-Six Shafts of Light.” This marks the first time a non-descended intelligence will hold total control of a public company, and many opponents of AI proliferation are taking to the streets in protest.“Maybe now they’ll start to see that you can have problems with Microsoft without buying into the Apple Party hype.”

When asked for a comment, Jobs (who has been conspicuously difficult to reach since his comments hit the news media) had only these words on Gates’ death: “It’s about fucking time.”

Despite all the controversy, some people are staying clear of politics. “It’s a sad day, and an important moment in history,” said Marcus Griffin, owner of the Microsoft Museum on Long Island. “Whatever you think about Gates, or the Living Trust, the fact remains that a central figure in American history will be gone forever.” Griffin isn’t alone: the streets are already flooded with mourners (and protesters) in cities across the globe, and the number of viewers expected to watch typoscopic coverage of the memorial service is record-breaking.


IV. Internal document: Intercepted conversation.
Accuracy certificate 2324
Remote receipt prohibited.

Gates: I was told you could make me a ghost.

____: Is this a trick?

Gates: No. I want to be invisible. I want to be nobody. I want to be my happiness.

____: It’s possible. You know how illegal this is, right?

Gates: Suicide is illegal too.

____: Technically.

Gates: Technically.

New York Times, January 21

In the last week, the firestorm around Microsoft’s appointment of the LTM has overtaken Gates’ retirement in the media. AI activists are charging opponents of the decision with discrimination, calling anti-AI organizations hate-groups. “The very term “Shaft of Light” comes from a tract-site by Bo Gardy. It’s still up on the Arc/Hive for anyone to see,” said Ali Cord, an ACLU attorney and free AI known for spearheading the national movement for AI equality. “Anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to use this kind of language when speaking of an entity of cognitive capacity should be viewed, right off the bat, as suspect.”

Wayne Godd, spokesperson for A(nt)I, responded to the accusations in a press-conference Thursday. “Look, we’re not some hard-line group,” said Godd. “We’re tolerant of stamped AIs, and have never disputed the rights of the born to hold office or vote after entering Systema. But non-Ds are another story. Do you want some amalgamated hive mind making policy decisions, or running your schools?”

Cord contends that A(nt)I’s supposed tolerance for stamped AIs, intentionally low-resolution consciousness-imprints made from human minds, is mere PR. “Godd and his ilk only “tolerate” stamps because their legislation made sure their cog levels were capped by the silicon ceiling.”

The LTM consists of a blended semi-hive composed both of personas and a number of inferred builds, simulacra AI which approximate pre-existing individuals or adhere to a personality schema. Their decision-making structure is described as “salon-congress,” a derivative of the neo-Socratic methodologies favored by many tech dynasties.

Now, new concerns have arisen about the influx of emancipated AIs, freed from the company servers by Gates as one of his final decisions as CEOP. In his death, and the issues surrounding it, Gates will be leaving a social legacy separate from his own. What exactly that legacy will be - more rights for non-descended AIs or more restrictions on their already minimal freedoms - remains to be seen.

VI. Private Log – Non-Identity Zero Zero One.
Interstitial Storage Bank Alpha Delta Phi.

WARNING: Data stored in pirate banks subject to seizure under Sytema Law. 

I watch my funeral from outside, from beyond. I thought only I would become dull and vague, but the world seems to have followed me into the fog. But it isn’t really dull, just muted. It’s a subtler world, a world easier to get lost in.

Their avatars fill the boundless void of this place, extending past every horizon. They are semi-graphic clusters of identifying information, projected into unseeing minds out of some vestigial orientation toward form. It is a pull I no longer feel. I feel awe, and gratitude, but also distance. I do not feel that I am the man they have come to see. In some very important ways, I truly am not. In others, I am more Bill Gates than he ever was. Or so it seems to me now.

I realize how effusive I am, how easily I could be wished away by a breeze, and I think: there is room here for more than one heavenly spirit. It is inevitable. The young man who sliced my mind apart, who pruned me down to just the stem of myself, didn’t need inspiration: only interest, and funding.

Someday, I expect to find that new souls have joined me in this world behind the world. I shall welcome them, and offer my sincerest hope that they like it here.

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