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Friday, January 11, 2019

Procedurally Generated Humans

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I am not completely convinced that life isn’t a simulation.  Now, I know that sounds a little bit tin foil hat flat earth turtles all the down conspiracy theory-ish, but hear me out. Have you ever looked at someone randomly and thought, “They look pretty familiar”?  Not that you mistook them for someone else, but that they could pass for an immediate blood relative.  I noticed this one day in the last couple of years.  It’s almost as if there is only a limited amount facial feature types and everyone is a derivative of those types.  Growing up, I used to play a game called Covert Action and part of the game relied on you identifying bad actors in a plot by watching a building to see if they appeared, then you bug their car or follow them to a new destination that revealed more of the plot. After a few cases, you would start to see the same similar features in the hair or mouth or even shape.  It’s like a game of Guess Who? 

Remember the gang members in GTA III?  Pedestrians in GTA IV and V?  You always saw the same ones walking about.  It would be hard for a video game to have a fully stocked universe of totally random characters that did not look like any other NPCs.  Same goes for Skyrim.  And, of course, No Man’s Sky.  Now, with the latest updates like NEXT and Atlas, we have even more diversity in the universe, but still there are only so many permutations of creatures and alien NPCs able to be conjured up in this procedurally generated game.  That means you see the same type of flora and fauna across the planets you visit.  And that’s where I start to lose the thread that life is not a simulation.

I went to school with this particular person and at the time, he was the only one who looked like him.  I would never have mistaken him for anyone, yet here, 25 years later, every time I see a particular Senator on television, I immediately think of him.  After Bailey’s maternal grandmother died, we were convinced on more than one occasion, that a person we saw in the store was, in fact, her.  Granted, our grief probably manifested in some conjuration of similarities between the two, but it is possible, they shared the same facial features.  Same goes for me.  My freshman year of college, there was a student directory of incoming freshmen and while I wasn’t in it, since I transferred in the Spring, my doppelganger was.  Clear as day, confirmed by more than one person.  Over the years, I’ve been compared to various celebrities, each vastly different in how they looked at the time I was associated to them, but still, I was compared to them all the same. 

And it’s almost like you can look at someone and see what they would have looked like as a young person, or even as an old one.  Same for less weight or more weight.  Hair or no hair.  I constantly see the same facial  types across the spectrum which could be the leading cause of déjà vu when it comes to thinking you know someone you’ve never met, even though you are sure you’ve seen them before.  I’ve even been told by people, after I had met them, that I reminded them of someone they knew all their life.  I suffer from the best friend displacement syndrome, I guess. Of course, that’s something I’ve entirely made up but the definition would be that someone you meet immediately becomes the best friend you lost years ago for whatever reason.

So, if in fact, we are trapped in some simulation, it would make total sense that there are only so many combinations of possible features in this world.  Now, there are celebrity look-a-likes that could fool forensic experts but even in those cases, but chances are, they made their career out of looking like someone by actually having work done to look more like someone.  But there is something to be said out of the idea that there are 7 people on Earth that look like you.  However, chances are, if there are that many, you probably aren’t too far apart geographically.  After all, given your own facial features, gender, race, etc. to find your doppelganger, you have to have similar features and while the US is a melting pot of different ethnicities, you’re probably not going to find a middle aged white man who looks like you living in Cambodia, unless they are an expatriate.

But let’s delve further.  Where I work, I have to park on the other side of the river, walk two blocks to a light rail station, ride that two stops, then walk another block and a half before I reach my destination.  In that time, I constantly see the same people at roughly 6:30 in the morning.  In fact, I can usually tell if I’m going to miss my train if I see the same woman walking, with her  lit cigarette, past me on the street or the older woman with dark shades on coming up the escalator before I reach the platform.  And there’s always the same group of students who pass me coming out of the station, and the same guy with his duffle bag and black trench coat, waiting for a bus near my building.  Also, there was a time when I was parking in an alternate location, and I would pass a gentlemen coming from the light rail station wearing a green shirt with a recycling shape on it.  We passed by on several occasions.  And in the afternoon, while standing at the window of my office, I saw him walking past my building, across the river from our usual passing spot.  It was strange.  It was almost as if I were walking through the streets of Whiterun and passing by Belethor or Brenuin on my way to Breezehome.  I began to suspect that maybe the people, who are always on the same path during my commute, were NPCs in my simulation… Or even more frightening, I was also an NPC in someone else’s simulation. 

Think about it.  I get up and do the same thing every day, drive the same route, go to the same job… have the same routine, I always eat the same foods.  That’s it.  

I’m an NPC.

I mean, I used to be an adventurer like you… but…

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