Trope-a-Day: Inside a Computer System

Inside a Computer System: Well, yes, this is how virtuality works; the computers simulate the entire environment in full fidelity – which, I hasten to add, means even more when you have to come up with appropriate outputs for all possible sensory ranges of your polyspecific clientele – and then your sensory-link implants substitute this input at the sensory center of your brain.  Old technology – safe, reliable, boring, been around for millennia.

Does not, I repeat, not move your consciousness anywhere – it remains in the gooey paste inside your skull, or whatever else you happen to think with.  That’s what differentiates virtuality from uploading (which in any case requires quantum processors, which is by no means all of them), or voodoo – but see below.

Digisapiences, and other native digital sapients, don’t actually dwell in virtual spaces inside computers, I hasten to add.  They’re programs; their senses aren’t like ours, and don’t need concepts like “space” and “shape” and even occasionally “time” to work.  They inhabit the processors raw.

Finally, while it’s not technically within the meaning of this trope, most people are at least partially within computer systems at all times, mostly because – once you get into the habit – most people’s minds are too big to fit in their brains any more.  Most people in advanced societies live their lives surrounded by an exoself, a sort of computational fog of data and software agents and thought-threads and daemons and suchlike doing auxiliary cognitive tasks, and since there’s only so much computational power you can cart around personally, a lot of them offload the less important parts of their current thinking to processors out there, somewhere, in the cloud.  (A bit difficult, of course, when abroad – hence, the existence of, among other solutions, thinking-brain dogs.)

This Is Your Brain On Data


A mental condition caused by intelligence enhancement, infostarvation is the result of the capacity of the mind to process information exceeding the bandwidth available to it to access information, leading to, in effect, intense boredom – if not of the whole mind, at least of part of it.

While this was not unknown in the early days of intelligence enhancement, it is rarer in modern times which permit additional I/O bandwidth to be added to the brain, often in the form of dataweave connectivity; and which permit parallel metacortical threads and exoself agents to be spun-down as needed. However, it remains possible for infostarvation to be triggered by travel to areas either of constrained bandwidth or lacking in network connectivity, since it is easily possible for modern core intellects to exceed the capacity of natural sensoria.


A morbid or pathological fear of not knowing things, commonly experienced by members of cultures in which use of group shared-memories, mnemonic interfaces (permitting one to remember reference material as if it was part of one’s own memory), neural interfaces, or even wearables is widespread upon visiting less developed cultures where compatible V-tags and reference databases for everyday objects and individuals are not available; the phobia itself is triggered upon encountering unknown individuals and non-described objects. Specific symptoms include compulsive memorization of any available reference material, undue social and technical awkwardness, denial, and flight response.

– Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed.