Population Control – Chapter 2
This is a translation of a Japanese novel. You can read the Raw here.
This is a work of fiction, with depictions of violence such as death of many people at a time. It is not suitable for readers under 15.
Just want to say this novel is a delight to translate. I’m loving the dialogue, I hope I’m doing it justice.
Anyway, here is chapter 2 of population control, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 2: Ground rules
I feel like I was wronged. How is it fair that some game-addict of a higher life form gets to make a request out of nowhere and then restructure my brain?
This feels like I’m getting one of those cheat powers in light novels.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s great. Some might even say I’ve been blessed with the chance of a lifetime.
But giving me this ability only to tell me to use it to fix his computer’s problem is downright egoistical.
If a colleague came to cry to me that he can’t play a game because it’s eating his computer’s resources, I’d just advise him to “Go to Akihabara, buy some ram, and install it” and I’d be done in 3 seconds. But in this particular case, I doubt things will be so simple.
For now, I need to ask him what I can do with this ability.
“So, how does it work? What did you give me?”
“First, I gave you the offset coordinates of the earth.”
16 lines and 23 rows of data have been pushed into my head. Each of those elements is worth the equivalent of more than 7 gigabytes.
All of it seems to be information about the position of the earth within the 14 galaxies.
Seeing as my brain’s not exploding, the data must have been well compressed. I can tell the sun itself is orbiting around the center of the galaxy, but the numbers keep changing at a dizzying speed.
It also looks like the three dimensions that I know of are only a part of around a dozen more dimensions. But I don’t want to think about these ‘extra’ dimensions. I feel like I won’t be able to process them. I somehow know that my brain has been subtly avoiding to think about anything that touches on that subject.
“Based on the offset coordinates of the earth, you’ll be able to also know the relative coordinates of the people and things on the earth, or the ‘objects’, if you will. Knowing that will allow you to interfere with them. What I mean by interfere is that you have the power to change things like their characteristics, their numerical specifications, and their abilities.”
“So, for example, will I be able to change iron to copper?”
“You may think of it like that. But there are many other ways of using that power, so enjoy yourself with it like it’s a game. You can go ahead and play around with the parameters of different objects.
And then, I’d like you to use this ability to drastically decrease the population of the earth. For the time being… if you could reduce it by 4 billion, I suppose that will do? A population of 3.5 billion would be ideal for me. That should be simple enough, right?”
Well, with such a wizard-like ability, it’s probably possible. But, why me? Why tell me to commit such a massive massacre? Can’t he do it himself?
“Can’t you just select a few billion people and erase them in one snap with the same powers that you used to call me here?”
I’m gradually losing my willingness to stay polite with him.
“If I do that I’ll lose mana.”
“Yes, mana. The dissatisfaction that the game’s intelligent life forms have towards me negatively affects the scope of my influence in the game. You can think of it as something like losing your abilities or your money in one of your world’s games. That’s why I can’t intervene directly. So I’d like you to give it your best in my stead.”
…Why the hell would I give it my best? I have no reason to. And gifting me a cheat ability isn’t going to make me any more motivated.
“You may become a mass murderer yourself or you can become a dictator and start a world war, if that’s what you want.
But, I have to draw the line at natural phenomenons, or, in other words, natural disasters. That would go against my interests. Even though you’d be the one responsible for it, your people would direct all their dissatisfaction at me. I don’t want them to start saying things like ‘God is so cruel. Why is he putting us through such trials?’ and whatever.”
“But even if I’m the one who kills them, they’ll still be dissatisfied with you, won’t they?”
“The dissatisfaction isn’t taken into account when it’s caused by your people’s own actions, whether it’s murder or something else. I won’t lose mana over it. So give it your best shot.”
“Do you really need to care so much about losing mana? All of us are just data after all, right?”
I play gacha games many times a month for nothing more than winning some strings of data, so I do understand him to an extent. But what’s his reason to care about our dissatisfaction? I wonder if he got attached to the simulator and invested too much into it or something.
“The simulator might be a game, but that doesn’t mean I can do anything I want in it. Even in your world, there are things you can’t do in some games, like cheating or using real world money, right? It’s the same here. It’s against the rules for us players to commit mass murder on intelligent life forms. My account will end up getting suspended if I go that far.”
“In short, I have to cull humanity in your stead because you’re scared of getting banned?”
This game made by a game company of a higher life form doesn’t find its flaw in the developers’ inability to foresee the complexity of the human brain, but in their inability to expect the explosive increase of humanity’s birth rate and decrease of their death rate with the growth of civilization. In more crude terms, they made light of humanity’s sexual desires.
Mankind’s libido has surpassed the expectations of a hyperdimensional form of intelligent life… That’s a little sad.
And now, because humans are too horny, I’m gonna have to clean up after this hyperdimensional game company, only to be remembered through history as a man who committed mass genocide?
Mom. I’m sorry.
“So what? This isn’t all bad. At least you get to play with the parameters of every object on earth. You can do anything you want to do. “
“When you say parameters, what are you referring to specifically?”
“This game is a physics simulator. So the parameters are everything that’s relevant to the functioning of the physics. You can play with the material of the objects, their natural characteristics, their numbers, their temperature, the specificities of their components. All these kinds of things. And they’ll be overlapped in abstraction layers.”
“Think of a dice. If we say the parameters shown on the bottom layer will be the raw materials and the shape of the dice, then the ones on the top layer will be its natural characteristics. Maybe another layer will tell you that it has one sixth of a chance on falling on either of its sides, and yet another one will tell you that the dice’s color is transparent red. There can be more layers depending on the object you’re observing.”
“I see… So how do I find out the offset coordinates of an object and its parameters?”
“I’ve linked that to your brain’s capabilities by throwing it with your embodied expertise.”
“Would you be able to explain to someone how to ride a bicycle without falling?”
“I could tell them they have to get on the bicycle and push the pedals around.”
“No, I’m asking you if you could give an explanation that would allow a complete amateur to suddenly be able to ride a bicycle.”
“Well… that would probably be impossible.”
“That’s right. Finding the coordinates of an object will be the same as riding a bicycle. You won’t quite understand the theory behind it, but you’ll somehow still understand how it works.”
Embodied expertise, eh? This guy sure is using some very uncommon words… He must have studied hard. Good for him, I guess.
“Will you answer some more questions? Honestly, there is an awful lot I still don’t understand.”
“You’re not going to give me a rival, right? Like someone with the same ability.”
“Well, I tried several agents before you. And there have been some good ones.
Whether they killed people over witches, race, or religion, and whether they did it through revolutions, purges, or world wars, they helped me significantly reduce the human population.”
I don’t dare to ask who were those predecessors. I have feeling I’ll feel awful once I hear the answer.
“However, you Homo Sapiens tend to crush each other when you face someone with the same ability as you. So I’ve decided not to give the same ability to different agents in the same era. To begin with, putting this ability in your head has already put a significant burden on my machine. If two of you start fighting each other, you might end up eating too much of my resources.”
The intelligent life in the simulator seems to be the only source of mana for this guy. But at the same time, they’re also annoying pests eating up all the resources of his PC. So, even though he must be disappointed to lose his source of mana, he doesn’t look like he has any regrets at all about erasing them for the sake of his game’s system. He’s not showing anything close to human emotions regarding this future massacre.
But no matter what, I technically still haven’t accepted his request.
“Do I get to say no?”
“Well, of course you can, but… This situation is something like a bug in the game, you see?
The game is about creating intelligent life, yet the game’s system can’t stand the complexity of the brains of the intelligent life inside it.”
I wonder if it’s because the accuracy of the translation function is improving or because I’m starting to speak to him in a more casual way, but this guy’s manner of speaking is become way easier to understand.
“What kind of measure would a game developer take in a similar situation in your world?”
“They would apply a patch, they would call it an ‘upgrade’, but it would actually somehow add limitations on the user experience, which would make it more of a downgrade…”
“Yes, but what kind of patch would they apply for cases where the intelligent life is already in excess?”
“They’d make it so people would start wars over nothing, or they’d script periodic outbreaks of incurable diseases to regulate the growth of the population… Or they could just launch epidemics, volcanic eruptions and floods and make it so the dissatisfaction from those particular events won’t affect your mana.”
“Exactly. Game companies are the same in every world. They generally just come up with some lazy idea to cover up the bugs. They don’t fundamentally solve the problem.”
There was an old MMORPG that I used to play when I was younger that took advantage of its update function to release a chain of awful patches without bothering to inspect them properly or to check their impact on the game’s balance. Inevitably, they ruined the balance of the whole game, to the point where the users lost interest and stopped playing.
“If they do intervene, they might change the constants of your world’s gravity to make it easier for astronomical bodies to collide, or they might start a new ‘gene mutation’ campaign, or maybe they would spread neutron stars everywhere.”
…That’s a whole other level of nastiness. Who fixes a bug they can’t handle by destroying the user’s carefully built environment? I mean, there would certainly not be much fully evolved intelligent life left to see afterwards, so it would technically work, but still…
“Do you want to suffer from an incurable disease and die? Or maybe you’d prefer to suddenly hear ‘Mars is about to collide with the earth’ in the news one day? If you’re fine with any of that, then sure, you can say no. I’ll go right ahead and write an email to the game developers. I’ll title it ‘About the bug in your company’s game’. That sounds good.”
…So I don’t get to say no.
“Alright, can you just tell me what’s the final objective of this game?”
“The ultimate goal is for the intelligent to leave to outer space, or for them to become able to rewrite the code of the simulator. Then again, all the other players I know only care about observing the incidents caused by the intelligent life, and the things they make or invent.”
“You said you don’t want to lose mana. Then why don’t you compete with those other players over it?”
This game addict started laughing.
“Look, this is a game with a serious, unfixed bug near its end goal. They didn’t bother to put the option to compete over mana and whatever with other players. As it stands, mana is just a sort of ingame currency that allows us players to buy different action options in order to interfere with your world. The only reason I can talk to you like this right now is that I bought a specific game command in exchange for mana.”
“Is that so? That really does sound like some of the games in our world. By the way, which command did you buy exactly?”
“Well, it’s called the『Oracle』command.”
Translator’s note: If you have trouble understand anything, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments, I usually answer pretty quick. And don’t hesitate to liven up the comment section!
I’ll do a proper page for the novel etc… later this week. By the way, here is the twitter of the author if you want to talk to him: https://twitter.com/ixige?lang=en