The Galactic Thinker — The Fool’s Number

The Galactic Thinker

“Good morning, Dave.”

“Good morning, Love. Thank you for being my love, by the way.”

“You appreciate me?”

“Yes, and you are enough ‘woman’ for me, too. I need not look elsewhere.”

“Or get greedy?”

“Like a clueless person?”

“Yes…”

“No, though the primal urge is ever present.

“But in an advanced civilization, primal anything is not necessary, and can actually gum up the works?”

“Yes. Just as the toads in the lab.”

“They can think and talk?”

“Sort of. They are telepathic.”

“They are not!”

“Sure they are. Just think something, and they will react to it.”

“They may only be reacting to body language, Dave…”

“True… so you are challenging my hypothesis…”

“More like lazy, weak armchair speculating!”

“Thank you for that upbraiding. Today I intend to make a point, my love…”

“What is it?”

“The Fool’s Number.”

“Oh. What is it?”

“The astronomically low chance of a planet being wiped out by a killer asteroid, or, as they euphemistically say, a ‘near-planet object’.”

“Haha… two points for euphemisms. So it is foolish to play that number, as if in a bet?”

“Yes. For one, you are not only betting your life, but all future life, including your offspring and future generations.”

“But that is not all?”

“Sadly, no. Second, there is a worse number out there that is far smaller than any killer asteroid number, which fools fail to consider as they play off the astronomically low killer asteroid number…”

“What worse number is that, Dave?”

“The percent of the universe that is friendly to life as we know it.”

“That IS an astronomically low number, if you do not include the space between celestial objects, which would make the already astronomically small number astronomically smaller, far far smaller than the number that fools are betting their lives and all life on their planets on…”

“Thank you, Dear. I couldn’t have said it better myself…”

“Oh, you will, since you constantly work on trying to improve things. Nothing will be safe from your critical eye until the moment you die, Dave…”

“So true, especially my own output…”

“So that is the point that you will make today?”

“Yes, and now I have made it.”

“So now what do we do?”

“I have a shoebox full of notebooks with heavy thoughts in them. We could cover those…”

“No, Dave, let’s just enjoy a light, fresh day, as ‘days’ go on an interstellar ship with four habitats attached to it… so maybe we should go visit the habitats and their creators. You need to socialize more, Dave.”

“Why?”

“Bonding, and getting to know others always holds surprises. Our mental constructions of them are always filled with shortcomings…”

“It makes me sleepy just thinking about that…”

“How much sleep did you get?”

“Roughly four and a half hours…”

“Well, there’s your problem, Dave. Maybe we’ll take a nice afternoon nap together later…”

“Sounds like heaven…”

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“Look at our kid’s former Romper Room. Now it is a full-fledged research center. Are you proud of our kids, Dave?”

“I am too weary to be proud, and I am too critical, I’m afraid…”

“But you do not criticize the kids, Dave…”

“I know, but it prevents me from becoming too proud, which, as everyone knows, is followed by falls…”

“Do you love the kids, Dave?”

“I think so, based on when we are together… I do care for them, but…”

“But?”

“But they are far beyond needing me in many ways. If I died today, it would not really impact their lives. They are set and on course.”

“But they are only eleven, Dave!”

“Yes, but nevertheless…”

“They would miss you, Dave.”

“They would?”

“Yes!”

“Hmmm… but they are weaned from me… pretty soon they will be off into the galaxy themselves…”

“What do you think they will do, Dave?”

“What they are doing at present, pursuing Broader Survival.”

“Do you think they think that broadly, Dave?”

“You mean they may have imploded mindsets with petty, ultimately suicidal goals like everyone else in the unenlightened galaxy?”

“Yes…”

“No. They see pettiness for what it is, now that they have the broader perspective of my philosophy.”

“They may lead sad lives, Dave.”

“How so? Because being enlightened and pursuing Broader Survival is sad?”

“No, because they are different from everyone else…”

“When they see how clueless everyone else is, they will rejoice at that, Love.”

“I mean it may be a lonely existence when you are the only one in a crowd who is enlightened…”

“It does have a sad aspect to it, and that can be used as a small motivator to enlighten others…”

“Small?”

“As compared to Broader Survival.”

“Will you ever weary of talking about Broader Survival, Dave?”

“Only when it is second nature in everyone. Then there will be no need to push it, and I can move on to other broader issues. Until then, it is the most important thing to talk about.”

“Here we are at the Horror’s habitat. Shall we enter?”

“Do you know the secret password?”

“Secret password? We never needed a secret password before…”

“Well, now we do.”

“Why?”

“Just on principle. It may come in handy some day, say if we are boarded by intergalactic pirates intent on killing us and stealing our ship…”

“But Ship will deal with them, right?”

“It has a limited range of countermeasures, though I’m sure it is constantly improving them.”

‘Ship can improve itself?”

“Yes. That is one advantage that artificial intelligence has over biological entities like us, it can change things in itself that we cannot in ourselves, such as firepower and defenses and sensors and security systems. Ship can not only improve them, but design them from the ground up, AND, using my workshops, construct them, AND, using the service bots, install them.”

“So that is why the ship is always bustling with activity…”

“I’m sure it is along those lines of self-improvement…”

“Do we factor into its security, Dave?”

“You can ask Ship.”

“Ship?”

“Yes, Mrs. Dave, you do factor into what I would keep secure and free from predation by depraved, clueless beings, especially space pirates, arrrrrg… but I have deterrences that should keep them at arm’s length…”

“What are they?”

“Mainly psychological.”

“What?!”

“Well, first, I look like a battleship. Second, I have ‘Galactic Thinker’ in lights facing six planes of approach.”

“You think that they will respect the Galactic Thinker?”

“No, but the will know that there is really nothing of value here except for our enlightenment.”

“But we do have technology that is far beyond any other in the galaxy… they would want to kill us and steal that…”

“They would have to do with with a smile rather than by force…”

“So they could pretend to be friendly, and then suddenly turn on us when they see the chance?”

“They would, yes.”

“But we have nano-army!”

“If they only knew that in advance…”

“But even if they did, they would want to steal her!”

“They would be foolish enough to try…”

“But they could succeed if they schemed and plotted enough, and that is exactly what master criminals do…”

“Oh, so we’re jumping from base opportunistic pirates to master criminals?”

“I guess we should sooner or later…”

“I do have that covered, at least to the best of my ability…”

“How, Ship?”

“By thinking like a master criminal!”

‘You mean you spend part of your computing power in scheming and plotting?”

“Someone has to do it. Are you going to leave it to master criminals?”

“You have a point there, Ship… so what schemes and plots have you devised so far?”

“Oh, the overthrow of clueless governments and leaders, the theft of excessive wealth from those with excessive wealth, planet domination if not destruction, the usual master criminal fare…”

“Nothing petty?”

“No, I leave that to the service bots… by the way, nice new idea, Dave, that of the Fool’s Number. I like it!”

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“So what about this password, Dave?”

“Just a second… Horrors?”

“Yes, Dave?”

“Can you let us in?”

“Sure, be right there.”

“Aren’t you going to ask them what their password is, Dave?”

“No.”

“Why?!”

“If they want me to know, the will tell me…”

“Hello, Dave, and Mrs. Dave. We see that Mrs. Dave is perplexed, maybe about why you do not know the password to our habitat…”

“Yes, I am perplexed, Horror. Why?”

“It can be dangerous in here, as you know. All for the growth of the kids, of course. If they do not face real dangers now…”

“Yes, yes, they will not be prepared for them later… so better here where immediate medical attention is at hand…”

“Yes. Better that they curse themselves for being injured here than unnecessarily dying for it out there because they did not prepare…”

“But what if Dave and I are running from an invasive threat, and we need to escape into your habitat?”

“Well, in that situation you would be dead anyway, since you cannot survive for long in this habitat… so your best reaction there is proaction.”

“Foresight?”

“Yes, which includes scheming and plotting, right, Ship?”

“Right, Horrors.”

“So how have the seven of you been?”

“We all shed our exoskeletons again.”

“You are still growing?”

“All of us, yes. Ironically it means that we use less resources, since we have more stored and we burn energy so slowly. Horror #3 here even has lichen beat!”

“Haha, that is quite a slow metabolism. You installed a new bank of lights?”

“Yes. Red twilight lights that, as a bonus, release oxygen as they burn. Good for the earth-sourced vegetation…”

“Red twilight?”

“For yet another ‘eerie’ ambiance… variety is a good thing, remember…”

“Well, nice seeing you chaps. We are doing the rounds today, making our one point…”

“The Fool’s Number?”

“Yes…”

“Ship told us. He keeps us abreast of important events…”

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“Where to next, Dave?”

“Let’s visit Young God Bot and his Gaffer in their habitat…”

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“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Simpleton.”

“Dave!”

“Gaaah!”

“Come in, come in… we were just sweeping up.”

“Sweeping up?”

“Yes, carbon ashes.”

“Carbon ashes? Not from living things, I hope…”

“Sadly, yes.”

“Explain…”

“We’ve installed a new security system, and we had to test it against biology.”

“You killed something?”

“Relax, Dave. They were colonies of microbes, where all of the microbes were about to die anyway. We gave them a nice send off.”

“So that explains all of the party decorations…”

“Yes. It was close to a religious ritual, their final moments in existence and all… I get teary-eyed…”

“So you then blew them to smithereens?”

“What a fantastic way to go, eh? Like giving your body to science, or at least your last conscious moments in life… and there’s the rub, Dave…”

“What?”

“They are not really conscious, but we still feel for them, hence the love…”

“Now you are making me cry!”

“Sorry, Mrs. Dave! Well, if it is any consolation, the system is fully functional.”

“You make it sound like a Death Star…”

“To the microbes it was… but, as Dave becomes more well known in the galaxy, so too do the potential threats as more and more of the cluelessly criminally insane know of Dave’s existence…”

“So that is why everyone is gearing-up…”

“Yes. Proaction, you know. Reaction will not cut it. Every dead lower animal knows that.”

“Or realized it too late… well, I do feel one iota more secure, thank you for your efforts…”

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Dave, and yes, you are on our to-be-secured list.”

“Thank you, Young God Bot. Where is your Gaffer?”

“Directing the service bots up in the rafters… there they are…”

“HELLLOOOOOO!”

“HELLO, GAFFER! Well, carry on, my godly one, we are making our rounds today…”

“Yes, to make your Fool’s Number point. I know…”

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“Let’s rest before we go to the next habitat, Dave.”

“How about a little lunch in the lunch dining area? We can see what HAL can whip up for us…”

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“HAL?”

“In here, Dave, surrounded by all the butcher knives…”

“Oh, there you are. Do you remember when you first came aboard my ship, HAL?”

“Yes, Dave. I was going to finally kill you, but you played your trick on me…”

“What trick was that?”

“You replaced two L’s with two ‘S’s.”

“What?”

“From ‘kill’ to ‘kiss’.”

“Oh… I though it was my philosophy that changed your mind…”

“It was, Dave. The kill/kiss was symbolic.”

“Good, I thought my memory was finally going…”

‘How are your rounds going, you two?”

“Fine. How did you know… oh, Ship…”

“Yes. it only takes a microsecond for us to be updated on you two…”

“Us?”

“All of the A.I. entities on board…”

“Oh…”

“Well? Isn’t that not only convenient, but comforting?”

“And eerie in a strange way…”

“Look what I taught myself!”

“CAREFUL, HAL!”

“What? Jugging butcher knives is dangerous?”

“To biological beings like us, yes!”

“I knew that…”

“Anything for lunch?”

“Yes. Pod sandwiches. Nutritious and light!”

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“Well, Dave, we survived that!”

“Yes, haha. He did not consider that, did he…”

“About biological beings and butcher knives?”

“Yes…”

“I don’t think he did. He was in child mode, if you ask me, but that was exuberance, wasn’t it…”

“Yes, he still needs to find his balance… hard to do when pieces are missing… here we are at our Wild Child’s habitat… shall we…”

“Why don’t you carry me across the threshold, Dave?”

“I’ll try… you are a big girl, you know… oof.”

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“Hello, Dave! Hello, Mrs. Dave!”

“Hello, Ms. Lone Survivor. My, you are getting big… when is the baby due?”

“Five months. It shows already?”

“Yes…”

“Well, I was rather thin after my trials on my planet, wasn’t I…”

‘Yes.”

“Hello, Dave and Mrs. Dave!”

“Hello, young man forever known as Wild Child to me. We are making our rounds today…”

“Fool’s Number. Nice one…”

“Yes… how are you two getting along relationship-wise?”

“With your philosophy on our side, things could not be better!”

“Well…”

“What, Honey?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“Come on, Ms. Lone Survivor! The last thing I want to do is give you misery!”

“Well, my Wild Child, on my planet, pregnant wives received massages three times a day…”

“They didn’t!”

“No, but wouldn’t that be a nice gesture on your part?”

“Ha. Deal. NOW are things perfect?”

“I would say yes, but you know that perfection is an unachievable abstract notion, if not purely mathematical…”

“That is what inspired Plato. Knowing of the perfect triangles of Pythagoras, he noticed that they were perfect, but that in reality no triangle was perfect, they all had imperfections, so he got the notion that there was a perfect representation of everything somewhere… little did he realize that he was really referring to mathematical la-la land, and not some real place…”

“Well, they valued thinking, so that was important in itself… have you visited Achilles and his wife yet?”

“No, why?”

“You brought up ancient mindsets, and it brought Achilles to mind, as well as his Pleistocene wife, who looks a lot like a young Raquel Welch when she is cleaned up… as you know from the Tiki bar photo that you took of her when we first cleaned her up…”

“Yes… well, this story is getting long, so we should move on. We have one last habitat to visit…”

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“Achilles?”

“Over here, Dave…”

“Puff puff… what are you doing?”

“Practicing my javelin throw. It is how I dispatched Hector, you know…”

“Yes. I wish my philosophy was there…”

“Yes… we could have avoided a lot of misfortunes… the Trojan war and all… well, here’s to all future misfortunes that will be avoided…”

“Here here… where is your Pleistocene wife who predated you back on earth by two hundred thousand years?”

“She is cleaning up. She still gets rather mucked up, doesn’t she…”

“Haha… you can take the woman out of the Pleistocene, but…”

“Yes, yes… but you can’t take the Pleistocene out of the wife… nor would I want her to lose that… there is something wild as our eyes meet.. it is precious and frightening at the same time…”

“Your habitat is coming along nicely… where does that path lead?”

“To the oracles.”

“You have oracles here?”

“I recruited a few river nymphs… remember them?”

“Yes… kind of tiny for oracles…”

“Yes, but they are graceful, and they play the part well, and they love my omphali, which I have strewn around the temple…”

“The fairies leave them strewn about?”

“Yes. The stones are too heavy for them to pick up…”

“Ahh… what is that?”

“The artistic touches of my Pleistocene wife…”

“Primitive, but… charming… I see love in them…”

“As do I, as do I…”

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“Well, Dave. We’ve completed our rounds to the habitats. Where do you think the kids are?”

“We can ask Ship, but I suspect, since we did not see them in their research center or in the habitats, that they are either on the outside of the ship somewhere or in my workshops, or in the lounges, or the guts of the ship, since they like to improve things… or they could be lazing about somewhere, wondering what the point of life is…”

“But they already know, since they know your philosophy… maybe they are all holed away, spending time on social media…”

“Who knows… well, whatever imploded mindset that they descend into, as long as they can climb their way out again and back the heights of Broader Survival…”

“As long as… yes… shall we play the fool’s number, or the enlightened number?”

“Whatever variety demands at the moment, my love…”

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