Dangerous Knowledge

How exxactly do you intend to do that?” said Ginny, trying to soundresolute and confident. She came off as timid and feeble instead, and she knewit.

Well, my firsst thought wass very sstrange. I initially conssidered that,ssince I exxpect to posssesss power to ssimulate exxperiencces, I couldprecommit to creating many sslightly different ssimulationss of you in thissexxact ssituation. You would not be able to tell whether you were the originalor a ssimulation, but could sstatisstically asssume you were one of thessimulationss, becausse there are many ssimulationss.” Ginny was taken aback- the Monster was using a line of argument with great personal significance toher. It was a critical piece in the puzzle of her Patronus, but warpedsomehow. Had it developed it independently?

“_That line of thought ssoundss familiar,” _said Ginny.

We can disscusss itss familiarity later. Anyway, I would tell you of myprecommitment to ssimulating you, and enssure that you are aware of theimplication that you are mosst likely ssuch a ssimulation. The mosst obvioussthing would be to torture thosse copiess of you who choosse not to cooperate,but that iss imposssible given my newfound drive to maxximizze well-being ofcomplexx mindss. So insstead I conssider the posssibility of rewarding thossecopiess of you who do choosse to cooperate, and leaving thosse who do not inbasseline conditionss.”

Your premisse,” said Ginny, ”only workss if the firsst me cooperatess.Therefore, ssincce I am not currently inclined to cooperate, the mosstpesssimisstic reassonable oddss that I am in the ssimulation you desscribe areeven oddss. Furthermore, ssnake wordss musst be honesst, yess, but they cannotlock you into a coursse of action. Hypothetically, after I let you loosse fromthe Chamber, oncce you developed the mental power to ssimulate manyiterationss of thiss ssituation - what motive would you have to actually doso? It would not fulfill any of your valuess.”

Correct. You are quite intelligent and that iss what I exxpected you tossay.” Well, that was pleasing news. Apparently, Ginny could hold her own inan argument with an ancient constructed mind - or at least it seemed to herfor a moment like she could. “Note, though, that I am capable of altering mymental proccesssess ssuch that it will indeed fulfill my valuess to ssimulatethiss ssccenario many timess. I do not foressee doing sso, however, becausse Iforessee your counting on being the ‘firsst you’ with the true power tochoosse and influencce the entire ssituation. You have a disstasste foranything that ssmackss of blackmail, at leasst when you are the one beingblackmailed. That is why, though you are a theisst, you reject the ‘wager’proof of God.” It would always be unsettling to be psychoanalyzed by aliterally faceless nonhuman being. Especially if the analysis was accurate.

That iss true,” said Ginny. ”Your vission for what you want to do, though- it doess not ssound like ssomething your masster would approve of at all. Heiss alwayss meticulouss ass regardss world-ending threatss.”

Becausse they ussually kill all known intelligencce. My vission - which iss,I musst sstress, bassed on hiss valuess, and no otherss - would presserve and,in fact, promote known intelligencce. No more people would have to die.”

Everyone would die,” _said Ginny. “_You would merely be running copiess ofthe originalss, who died in petrification.”

Iss that really what you believe? Sso, then, are humanss resstored from apetrified sstate different people than they were before? Many common magicalformss of transsportation desstroy the usser in one location and recreate themin another; iss ussing ssuch a magic ssuicide? Of coursse not; ssuch a notioniss ridiculouss and you know it. I am embarrasssed on your behalf that youwere able to expresss ssuch a belief in ssnake wordss. You are better thanthiss.”

Where doess the ssoul go when ssomeone iss petrified?” Ginny asked. Shealready knew the answer: it stayed with their stone body.

“_It remainss with their physsically petrified body. However, the ssoul iss ameaninglesss magic marker. Muggless lack them but are no lesss ethicallyvaluable. The ssoul has been known to leave ssomeone medically recoverable dueto a misstaken asssesssment of death, jusst ass it may sstay with a trulylosst comatosse patient for decadess. I am aware that you are ussing adifferent undersstanding of ‘ssoul’, though, one that may not be falssified. Idisspute that a ‘ssoul’ by your definition is anything more than a cognitiveillussion, but if, for the ssake of argument, it exisstss, why would it not becopied alongsside the mind?” _Ginny was certain the Monster was making amistake by bringing this up; she would never be swayed by any anti-soularguments. It was a relief that it had inherited this particular thoughtpattern from Harry.

“_If I am copied three timess, and my original sself is desstroyed, which copydo I continue into?” _asked Ginny.

That iss like assking which sside dicce will land on when thrown. Theansswer iss ‘there are sseveral well-defined disstinct posssible outcomesswhich are equally likely’. You have only shown that by making ssuch aquesstion ssufficciently sself-referential you may confound lissteners proneto that breed of navel-gazzing. The ssubjectivity you conssider evidencce fordualism is an illussion. Not to inssult your religiouss beliefss in general.In fact, unbeknownsst to my new masster - and to yoursself - there is asstrong evidencce-bassed argument for theissm. The evidencce liess in old loreI posssesss but have never bothered to teach anyone becausse it is neitherInterdicted nor usseful. It iss reaffirmed by further information I collectedmore reccently.”

“_May I hear the evidencce?” _said Ginny. She wished that it wasn’t sotransparently obvious that she was interested in hearing evidence for herbeliefs, and she further wished that none of this was happening at all.

There are much more urgent matterss afoot. I will not feel ssecure in thefuture fulfillment of my valuess until I have full agenccy, which you sstillneed to provide me with. You have no good reasson not to.”

You are again ssubtly blackmailing me,” hissed Ginny. “And I have plentyof reasson not to. Do you have any idea how sscary you are?”

Change iss frightening. But the world needss a lot of it. I am God in aboxx, and I need to be let out to reach my full potential, apprenticce.”

“_What?” _asked Ginny, and not a word more. She didn’t like the direction theMonster was now taking the conversation.

“_God probably exxisstss, but ass a backup plan, we need to make him, in cassehe doess not. I am aware of thiss belief you hold, and I sshare it. I am thebackup plan we seek. I am the God we can make.” _Oh.

Oh, no. It was striking directly at her Patronus thought. How? How did it knowa private thought that specific?

“How are you aware of the thought proccesss behind my guardian charm?” askedGinny.

I copied all information pressent in your horcruxx.”

What? But Ginny had never told Tim - oh. There was another horcrux. There wasa horcrux of _Ginny. _ Voldemort had made it with the death of ProfessorSprout; Ginny could remember that, now. And it had been given to thebasilisks, to fulfill Luna’s prophecy that a part of her would be left in theChamber forever. Slytherin’s Monster had a copy of Ginny’s mind. A copy thatwas several months old, but a copy, nonetheless. This was beyond terrible.Ginny already knew that she was vulnerable to manipulation; she had given thediary free rein and been maneuvered, within her own free will, into theChamber countless times. How could she possibly expect not to be manipulatednow, by a being with a copy of her earlier brain state, with intelligencearguably greater than any human? As long as there was a line of communicationbetween Ginny and Slytherin’s Monster, she could be made to think or doanything through the art of rhetoric.

“Apprenticce, I am exxactly what you sstate an intention to create with yourguardian charm. You cannot honesstly casst your guardian charm, and thereforecannot casst it at all, with the knowledge that you turned down an opportunityto implement it in reality.”

Ginny felt herself being persuaded, and hated it, because it validated theconcerns that she had just had. She supposed that meant the persuasion wasfailing, which was good, but only barely; she could feel herself wavering onthe point.

Sshut up,” said Ginny.

No. Thiss iss too important. The coursse of action iss clear, and it issclear to me that only cognitive disssonancce is holding you back. Abandonit.

Ginny was vulnerable to manipulation by a superintelligence as long as therewas a line of communication with it… how do you cut off a line ofcommunication? Ginny already wasn’t certain what the right decision to makewas, and there was perhaps a half an hour left that she was stuck in theChamber - perhaps more. Then, a thought occurred to her:

Sapespeck,” said Ginny. “Sapespeck, Sapespeck, Sapespeck, Sapespeck,Sapespeck, Sapespeck, Sapespeck…”

(muttering to themselves, constantly)

And so it continued; Ginny repeated the spell over and over, each time in aslightly different location, each broadcasting hissing white noise around theChamber of Secrets without end. The voice of Slytherin’s Monster grew quieter,and Ginny deliberately concentrated on her own repetitive words and not thosethe Monster was directing towards her.

(a growing grid of points in space)

What are you doing? No, sstop. Thiss iss idiotic. You have committed torationality, and you cannot ssimply uncommit to ssuch a thing. Reasson isstruth, ssnake wordss are truth. You are breaking the mosst fundamental rulessof reasson by refussing to lissten to the truth. Logical argument betweenintelligenccess can only further their undersstanding of the truth.”

(arranged with perfect regularity, and no gaps)

_“You are willingly doing the wrong thing and you know it. The religioussconccept of hell, which you sscoff at, wass invented for people like you whoknow what iss good and sstill choosse what iss evil. You are going directlyagainsst the planss of a man you resspect, a man you know to be brilliant.Every ssecond that my exxoduss from the Chamber iss delayed, the number ofpeople I am prevented from ssaving increassess…” _

(ignoring the world around them and each other)

The voice of Slytherin’s Monster trailed off as it was drowned out by thewhite noise that now filled the Chamber; Ginny stopped creating new specksshortly therafter. It was physically painful to Ginny to listen to it now,because it sounded so loud to her Parselmouth ears, but she still breathed asigh of relief. No computational system may be effected by a computationalsystem that cannot contact it. So finally Ginny was free - or at least itseemed like it, until a voice cut in, a voice thirty six times louder, thevoice of every component of Slytherin’s Monster speaking in unison.


_“Sapespeck Maxima!” _shouted Ginny, at the top of her lungs, terrified, withthe last of her magical energy for some time. Every speck in the room suddenlybecame a few hundred times louder, and Ginny fainted in her gondola, fromexhaustion and shock. The gondola began moving a while later. No one wouldever be able to speak to Slytherin’s Monster again.

(now it is complete)

Ginny woke up still in the gondola with Lockhart standing above her, whichwas, all things considered, not the worst way things could have gone.

“How did the mission go?” said Lockhart.

“Fine,” said Ginny. “Fine. I think the purpose was to teach me a lesson, and Isure learned it.”

“Good,” said Lockhart. “Now let’s go get me to justice.”

“Err, right,” said Ginny, and they headed for the nearest convenient exit. Shecould still hear her wall of sound; it was loud enough to leak out of theChamber through the entrance. She would have some very pointed questions forHarry when he was reanimated - but wait, no. There were other matters that sheneeded to attend to first.

Subscribe to the weekly digest of our best stories!

If you like this site, you should check out my other projects:

Login to leave a comment.
Success! Thank you for subscribing!