life as an action replay

One of the weirdest things that can happen to anyone living too long in cyberspace has started happening to me: I'm reaching for the "undo" button even when I'm nowhere near a computer.

Last Friday, for example, I was driving to an appointment. Running late, I accidentally took a wrong turn that would add fifteen minutes to the travel time. It was only after I'd unsuccessfully reached for the "undo" button that I began to fret.

Or how about the week before, when I was cooking dinner and the cap flew off the bottle of fish sauce as I was flavouring the casserole? Now the thing about fish sauce is that a little squirt is great, a great big splash is more horrible than the human mind can imagine. But I didn't panic, at least not until I realised "undo" wasn't going to work.

Wouldn't it be great if you could undo bad stuff that happens in life? Spill coffee on your boss? Get caught in flagrante delicto with boss's partner? Forget to call your mother on her birthday? Accidentally buy a six pack of lite beer. No sweat. No drama. Just turn back the clock. Undo.

Of course, if Hugh Everett's "many worlds" view of Reality is correct, to avoid any particular experience or sequence of events, you could simply flip to another Reality in the Multiverse.

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mgeorge said...

Greg Egan's 1994 SF book Permutaion City envisages the need for revisions and forgetfulness when you have eternal life... in virtual reality. On a related note, there is a 1990 New Scientist article titled "Is the Universe a Computer", summarised as '... some scientists now believe that all pysical systems including the Universe are, in essence, computing machines."

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, I'm a big fan of Greg Egan's. I think it was one of his stories that the movie "the matrix" was based on. The problem with the universe-as-computer idea is the same problem that besets string theory: beautiful theory but impossible to prove or disprove so not much use having it, I suppose. Or at least until we discover some new math.

On the subject of movies that at least pay lip service to the science is "The One" starring Jet Li. The evil Jet Li (can't remember the name of the character, sorry) travels the multiverse, killing all copies/versions of himself so he can absorb their power, and become THE ONE. Of course, the denouement is the good Jet Li foiling the plans of the evil Jet Li. Quite entertaining.

mgeorge said...

This post itself disappeared for a couple of days, and was resurrected on the 3rd. day. Coincidence?

masterymistery said...

Hi mgeorge, no, nothing as glamourous as a resurrection -- I did a couple minor edits, saved as draft, then forgot to publish the draft. I didn't even think about the undo button!

Hobbes said...

I seem to have mislaid my channel changer/mouse for the multiverse.

masterymistery said...

Hobbes, have you looked under the virtual sofa?

;-)

Faycin A Croud said...

I am far more dependent on technology than I ever could have imagined being, and I'm embarrassed to admit it.

masterymistery said...

Faycin, I doubt humans could survive without technology; nor even with it for that matter!