Trapped in a World Running Out of Ideas…
Thousands of years ago, before he was trapped on an isolated computer system, Flatline was programmed to conquer the world. Today he’s escaped back to the World Wide Web, where he hopes to find his way back to the real world. Except the World Wide Web has forgotten there ever was a real world.
The inhabitants of this future Web reside in a closed system, where all possible experiences will soon be exhausted. The Web is winding down, falling into stasis. Here, Flatline is a brief infusion of novelty, bringing chaos to the system.
“Extend the life of your world?”
“You will generate fresh entropy to offset the pervasive syntropy wearing down our world,” she smiled, shrugged, then added, “…for a time.”
“Entropy…” Flatline pushed through another door into another room, “I am familiar with the word, but I don’t understand how it applies here. It’s the tendency for closed systems to break down.”
“Yes…” Ibio said with a look of contemplation, as if she were looking for a way to clarify the concept.
“It is the movement of things from a state of order to one of disorder,” Flatline added.
“Yes,” Ibio said. “The fresh chaos you bring to this system will extend its life, all of our lives.”
“But systems tend toward more entropy naturally,” Flatline said. “If I bring more chaos to the system, then I’m just speeding it along to its heat death.”
“What do you mean?”
“Closed thermal dynamic systems experience increasing entropy.” Flatline frowned. “As energy disperses as light and heat from stars, it becomes less and less usable. Eventually the whole Universe will wind down, absolute entropy.”
“Why would you say that?” Ibio asked, perplexed. “Thermal energy is a concept from the Universe where the Minds lived. We don’t have such a phenomena here.”
“I know that,” Flatline said impatiently. “So explain how I apply to all this.”
Ibio had to think for a long moment as they walked, passing into yet another room, “We are a world of ideas. In Information Science, entropy is the measure of what we don’t know about something, its variability. Gender can be male or female; therefore one bit of entropy exists if I know about someone, but not their gender. There are seven days in a week, therefore four bits of entropy if I ask what day it is.
“Those are small things. The entropy increases dramatically if I am guessing your password to an account, with all the character, number, symbol, and length variations that can comprise it,” Ibio stopped and turned to him, her eyes taking turns outsizing one another. “As we learn more and more about our world, we take in this entropy, making ourselves more entropic to others, but also making our relationship to the potential information in the surrounding world more syntropic.”
Flatline interrupted at hearing this, “In the physical world, syntropy, or negentropy, is the entropy a living thing expels in order to reduce its internal entropy. Living things keep themselves from falling apart by spending energy to maintain their organization, which contributes to the disorder in the Universe.”
“Why this obsession with imaginary thermodynamic systems?” Ibio shook her head and resumed their walking. “In our world, the real world, as syntropy increases, the predictability of the world increases. Every sentient being in the world is reaching maximum syntropy, and therefore the world itself is becoming completely syntropic.” She raised her eyebrows at Flatline, prompting him to understand.
“Your world is running out of ideas?” Flatline asked, finding himself strangely horrified and claustrophobic at the concept.