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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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vCity 1.0
Chapter 33

"It is believed by some that modern society will be ever changing its aspect; for myself, I fear that it will ultimately be too invariably fixed in the same institutions, the same prejudices, the same manners, so that mankind will be stopped and circumscribed; that the mind will swing backwards and forwards forever, without begetting fresh ideas; that man will waste his strength in bootless and solitary trifling; and, though in continual motion, that humanity will cease to advance."

-- Alexis de Tocqueville --

An old NASA buddy, Rick Erickson, called me on the phone earlier this morning. I knew Erickson when he was just a tadpole working on the Freedom space station program back in the 1980s. Now he is director of the Earth Space Alliance Lunar Colony Initiative, Inc.

"We’re setting up a program to build a real lunar colony," he explained. "The gist of it is that we’ll be using telerobots and nolos in Phase Two. Probes, seekers, miners, diggers, refiners, constructionbots, the whole schmear. Launch costs will be defrayed by subscription and time-sharing. The main objective will be to capture and store oxygen, build underground tunnels, and look for water."

"Rick," I responded laconically, "LunaCorp has been trying to do something like this since 1989. What makes you think you will succeed where they failed?"

"Well, as they say in the business world, a good idea ahead of its time is a bad idea. They knew that VR telepresence was the key, they just didn't have the infrastructure then. And they couldn't find enough investors for that reason."

"Why are you telling me all of this?"

"Well, we need someone to organize the colony."

"What you’re saying is, you want someone to organize people on Earth?"


"That’s a fool’s errand. Dictatorship doesn’t work very well any more, Rick."

"No, no, no. We don’t want a director, we’re looking for, well, sort of a mayor for a lunar city. For the virtual lunar city."

"You have governments' approvals for this?"

"More or less. We’re promising them a guaranteed revenue base."

"Taxes, in other words. Despite that, you have transnational corporate backing?"

"Oh, absolutely. $500 million at least, more on the way."

"Half a billion? Really? From whom?"

"Can’t mention names. Let’s just say that there are corporations who want to try out some new AI and robotic technologies for high radiation environments."

"Geez. I think this is how the Terminator timeloop got started, isn’t it?"

"C’mon," he pleaded, sounding desperate. "I’m serious. We’re talking a salaried position here, benefits, everything. You have the background. You even wrote your dissertation on colonial history, didn’t you?"

"I’ll think about it," I said.

The Wheel turns. The huddled splinters remain what they have always been, and yet their pattern is always changing. They reflect each other.



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