Pick your science fiction idea here: Simulation

Some notes I had written previously about William Gibson’s book Idoru: how comes that in so many books and, especially, movies people assume that the computers of the future will have three dimensional interfaces which we will try to manipulate the way we are currently manipulating our physical environment?

As it happens, every time we try to implement a three dimensional interface, we fail in a most miserable way. At the same time, our user interfaces have standardized on the overlapping windows, menus, buttons approach – and this will not change in the foreseeable future.

Idea for science fiction authors: we are a simulation on somebody’s computer. Our attempts to build computers are just an incremental attempt to simulate the computer on which we ourselves are simulated. The fact that we are converging towards a windowing system only shows that our underlying OS is also windowing based. We are simulated in a future version of Windows! Bugs introduced today might be still present in the future version. Apocalyptic scenarios involving time travel and applying patches to operating systems in the future which simulate their own past ensues.

For the film version, this idea can be developed with appropriate amount of romantic complications, car chases, expensive computer graphics etc.