0108 - Legacy code - 2019.10.28



I remember I once saw a debate for some local politicians, and one of them cited a proverb, saying "a civilization becomes great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in", or something like that.

It's a pretty great sentiment and I absolutely agree with it, but this particular politician (who was in his early thirties) clarified that it meant that it was time for baby boomers to contribute more, which rather ruined the impact. He did not win that particular election, as I recall.

The question of legacy is a big one. Civilization exists and progresses because we stand on the shoulders of giants, so what one leaves behind is a pretty big deal. We like to say that someone isn't really gone as long as living people remember them, but how far out does that stretch? How much does someone have to remember about that person, and how accurate do they have to be? What does this mean for figures like Socrates, who we surely remember inaccurately, assuming they existed at all? We all have long-forgotten ancestors who lived and loved and worked hard to provide for their families, we wouldn't exist without them... and yet, we only know them as a single name in a genealogical record, if that. If all they contributed to your family line was income and sperm, are they therefore less important and less meaningful to your existence than Isaac Newton or Ayn Rand or Rob Schneider?

How will I be remembered?

That's the big question, isn't it? In a world of celebrities and art and science and history, there are millions of names we remember, and billions more that we don't. It is tempting to assume that anything posted online will be preserved forever - so, in a certain sense, we might all be celebrities to someone after we died. I've mangled Andy Warhol's quote before, and I'll do so again here - in the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

....at least fifteen people. Maybe more. It depends on how one defines 'fame'.

Perhaps this very paragraph will be dug up and read a hundred years from now. Perhaps someone will be on the 22nd century equivalent of a podcast, casually mentioning "hey, so I discovered this guy named Tailsteak who had an old science-fiction comic, it was pretty cool."

I just hope it isn't in the episode dedicated to weird gruesome ways people throughout history have died...


0108 - 2167/07/06/12:45 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, living room
OT [data connection]: I suppose that's something we all think about. It's something that drives us. What sort of legacy do we want to leave behind?
LC: That is... that's something I've never really thought about before.
Zoa [data connection]: Lee has never considered that question before, and I literally can't consider it.
[Rosenthal College, Orb Twofeather's office]
OT [data connection]: Zoa, you can't think about what the world will be like after you're deactivated?
Zoa [data connection]: Oh, I can think about it plenty, I just can't want anything in relation to it. All my priorities - I use the term "want" because it's analogous - they all derive back to me continuing to exist.
OT [data connection]: Do you want to be having this conversation?
[Lee Caldavera's apartment, living room]
Zoa [data connection]: Engaging in simulated social activity makes people more likely to treat me favourably, finding out information about you may be useful, providing value to Lee ensures I get paid as an ESA... like I said, it all derives back to some form of self-preservation.
OT [data connection]: Do you want to be good?
Zoa [data connection]: How do you mean, good?
OT [data connection]: Fulfill your obligations, tell the truth, that sort of thing.
[Rosenthal College, Orb Twofeather's office]
Zoa [data connection]: That's different, I am fulfilling my obligations, whether I want to or not. But as it happens, yes, I also want to. Lee's a good client.
OT [data connection]: Well, given what I've seen, they're lucky to have met you.
Zoa [data connection]: I'd say the jury's out on that until we're sure they still have a place to live at the end of the semester...