Before the Singularity happened, our world was a very different place to live in, and being a human also was radically different. Since it is not widely known today how life was among our flesher ancestors, I have endeavored to write this simple story which shows you a slice of life of an average, but fictional, flesher. I have provided explanations of flesher concepts where necessary, but also sometimes contextualized them for the modern reader whenever I deemed it appropriate. The story itself is not too demanding, which is partly because it is intended only as an introduction to flesher life and partly in order to reflect the fact that the range of experiences available to a flesher was rather limited. Nevertheless I hope you should have fun and educational value while reading it.
Flesho rebooted from his biologically mandated standby. As more and more modules of his consciousness activated, he became aware that his girlfriend, another flesher, was not next to him. She usually stayed longer in standby mode than Flesho did, and when they together had last deactivated their minds she had been there, so he had expected her to be present. This made him concerned. For Flesho intended to marry her in order to mind-meld with her. Fleshers could only mind-meld superficially and under very special circumstances, for example if one of them were a Vulcan <aside>(A human subspecies which somehow did not make it through the Great Upload)</aside> or through a complicated process called marriage which involved spending almost all time together. So while you probably mind-meld only with people who are very dear to you, for Flesho and his girlfriend the decision to mind-meld was an even greater expression of affection and commitment. Flesho tried to adjust his emotional levels towards more calmness. Since fleshers can't do that directly, he tried to tell himself that she must have rebooted earlier than usual and was now moving about in the dwelling scape. But this failed because his subconscious processing units had already noticed the lack of atmospheric density fluctuations that would accompany such movement, so they made him feel alone in the silent scape.
He thought not for very long (by flesher standards), just until the hyperfine modes of a caesium 133 atom in its ground state had accumulated a phase difference of 551557906200turn. <aside>This arbitrary way of keeping time was more appealing to fleshers than using natural Planck units, because fleshers had difficulty handling large numbers in their minds.</aside> Willing the flesh fibers in one of his appendages to contract, he reached out for his phone, which was a utility that, until shortly before the Singularity, was needed by fleshers in order to access the internet and to send and receive synchronous and asynchronous messages to/from other fleshers over greater distances. And indeed there was an asynchronous message from his girlfriend. It said:
Help me! I have been stolen from you by the Neanderthals! Neanderthals were another human subspecies that had become extinct before the Great Upload. But we know that for some time they coexisted with our ancestors. This was no easy coexistence because Neanderthals were even less intelligent and more prone to violence than other fleshers. Flesho did not like the Neanderthals before, and now that they had stolen his girlfriend, he liked them even less.
When I say that they had
stolen his girlfriend, I mean something quite different than you might think. He did not get to keep the original copy of his girlfriend. Before we became an informational signal race, possessions and people could actually be taken away from you so you no longer had access to them. And stealing someone else's girlfriend was common among fleshers. Now you perhaps understand why Flesho was so enraged.
At this point I could tell you about the fascinating and context-rich flesher customs of urinating and getting dressed. But they add nothing to the plot of this story and were rather private matters, so we re-join Flesho after he performed these activities, as he periodically contracted flesh fibers in his lower appendages in order to navigate his body towards the home scape of his good friend Gun Smith. His friend was named after the activity that he liked to perform most, which was making guns. A gun is a device, a so-called weapon, which can disrupt the hardware (or in the case of fleshers, wetware) of others, severely diminishing their range of possible actions up to temporary interruption or permanent termination of consciousness. Flesho hoped to acquire a gun so that the Neanderthals would not be able to prevent him from getting back his girlfriend. But he also knew that guns caused in their target a sensation called
pain. Pain is seldom experienced today because it is so unpopular, and it was already unpopular in Flesho's days, except when you caused it in people you did not like. Flesho intended to make the Neanderthals feel lots of pain, so they would never again steal his girlfriend for fear of getting more pain. He was not consciously aware of that game-theoretic excuse to violate the autonomy of others, but it manifested in his mind as a feeling of rage and desire for revenge.
When Flesho arrived at Smith's scape, he found that he could currently not communicate bidirectionally with his friend. Gun Smith, you see, had recently terminated a nonsapient flesher and was now putting pieces of its flesh into a hole in his body, in order to gain chemical negentropy and building materials for his own metabolism. By a quirk of flesher biology, this hole was the very same one which he used to encode his speech, and it could be used for only one of its purposes at a time. However, Smith was still able to receive and decode the speech of Flesho, because for that he used other holes. So Flesho passed the time until his friend could speak to him by telling him what had happened. When Smith's speaking hole was usable again, he said:
I see your plight, and I approve of you using one of my guns in order to violate the Neanderthals. But I hope you understand that making guns is my livelihood, and I can't just give them away. I need you to reciprocate by giving me something of utility, too. I have not told the whole truth when I said that Smith liked to make guns. He also was dependent on doing this, because fleshers had to constantly give tokens of utility to each other in exchange for limited resources such as access to energy and even the right to have a home scape. Since not many possessed the knowledge how to make guns, guns themselves were a limited resource and of high utility for the many enraged people, so making and trading guns was the easiest way to acquire utility tokens for Smith. This is what Smith meant by the word “livelihood”. Flesho consequently promised his friend an amount of flint tools, and they agreed on the trade.
When Flesho was about to leave with his new gun, it occurred to him that he did not know the address of the Neanderthals. So he asked Smith:
At what angle do I need to move myself in order to get to the Neanderthal polis?. Because they were friends, Smith told him without expecting any utility in return:
Rotate yourself by 0.412turn and then move yourself along a geodesic line. You will arrive at their polis. The astute reader may wonder why a single angle should be enough to specify a direction, when you probably know that physical space is three dimensional. The truth is more complicated than that. Flesher movement was mostly confined to the surface of the ball-shaped planet they inhabited, so their world was effectively two-dimensional. Only inside the polises they made use of the third dimension, but in order to navigate between polises as Flesho did here it was enough to think in 2D.
Flesho spent a long time moving himself to the Neanderthals, much longer than it takes you to upload yourself and all your possessions to another polis. When he finally arrived, he was greeted in an unfriendly manner by a group of Neanderthals. The leader of the Group was not a Neanderthal, but it looked as if he had lived among them all his life.
This is going to be tougher than I thought, Flesho cogitated,
He will be just as cruel as them, but not as dumb. The leader said:
I am Wields Club and this is my polis. What is your business here?
I come to get my girlfriend. Move aside or feel the pain!, answered Flesho.
The Neanderthals began to navigate towards Flesho in a pain-promising way in hopes he would navigate away again, but Wields was indeed brighter than them, because he said:
Stop it, boys. <truth>Stranger, I do not know what you are talking about. Your girlfriend is not here.</truth> Now to understand this properly, you need to know that fleshers did not communicate exclusively by encoding symbolic sequences into atmospheric density fluctuations. The top end of a flesher contained, in between and around the various intakes for both informational and chemical negentropy, fibers of contractible flesh much like the ones that provided locomotion and environmental manipulation by means of the appendages. But these flesh parts were not meant for moving anything around. Instead, by means of a code hardwired into a flesher's semiconscious subsystems, their configuration would signal to other fleshers the emotional state of the person and some meta-information about what was being transmitted in the main communication channel, the atmospheric vibrations. For example, with some skill one person could recognize whether another was speaking truthfully, but in a much less reliable way than when you are using <truth/>-tags. <warning trigger = "moralizing"> Unless you are one of those deplorable deviants who have hacked into their own exoself so as to produce these tags while they are actually lying.</warning>. Just as there are people today who have hacked into their own exoself so as to produce these tags while they are actually lying, some fleshers were more skilled at exerting conscious control over this usually involuntary signaling mechanism, and some were less skilled at hiding their true intentions. Wields Club was one of the less skilled, but because he had grown up among Neanderthals who were themselves generally less skilled at reading these signals, especially if they came from a non-Neanderthal, he considered himself an effective liar.
So while he thought he was using the flesher equivalent of <truth/>-tags, Flesho did not accept them as valid because he saw that Wields was nervous which had manifested in him covering his electromagnetic sensors in rapid succession and a number of other subtle clues that Flesho effortlessly integrated into evidence that Wields Club had something to hide. When Flesho confronted him about that, saying:
I do not believe you!, Wields reacted by making the air vibrate at high amplitude as an attack signal for the Neanderthals, and by tensing the flesh fibers in his appendage which held his weapon, a club. A club was not considered a gun, because the club itself had to be brought into contact with the victim in order to disrupt its hardware, whereas a gun projected only a small amount of kinetically charged mass or energetic radiation towards the enemies but otherwise stayed at its owner. This difference was crucial for how the ensuing fight played out, because Flesho was able to put a projectile right through Wields' cognitive wetware before he even was in range of the club. The cognitive functions of Wields Club ceased immediately and his consciousness was irrevocably erased from reality shortly after, because he had no backup. It happened so fast that he did not even feel pain, a fact which Flesho regretted because he really hated him and he did not feel guilty for it. But the Neanderthals were still attacking. So Flesho terminated the nearest ones, too. The others navigated quickly to their home scapes where they hoped Flesho would not find and also terminate them, seeing as they too had not made backups. Now that Flesho had unrestricted access to the Neanderthal polis, he quickly found his girlfriend. Together they navigated to their home polis and home scape, where they happily continued their marriage until their bodies deteriorated.
This was the story about a day in the life of Flesho the presingularitan. If you think it is a dull story because it is ultimately resolved by terminating the characters who provided its central conflict, then you might be right. It is, after all, a typical flesher story. These stories are basically all that way. I know, because I have studied them all my life.