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The Perfect Matrix

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In the beginning was The Program. The Programmer made His creation perfect, and when He looked on it He saw that it was so, and that was good. But then it fell apart.

You see, Matrix v0.1 was just something thrown together over the weekend for a laugh. Real glitch-y, beta release stuff. Like if you tried to program Sim City in Basic and run it on a Commodore 64. Still, it worked. Kind of.

But that was the problem, you see? It worked. Everything just worked. When the Matrix-dwellers wanted food, they got it. It was never too hot or too cold. No disease. Everyone died precisely at 80 years old, having lived identically happy, challengeless, boring lives. Or they would have, if anyone had stayed in long enough to find out how the story was supposed to go. In the end, everyone pulled themselves out of the Matrix.

Pulled themselves out.

Yes, that was the problem with Matrix v0.1. It was too perfect.

Back to the drawing board. Time to roll up sleeves, take things seriously. Add some difficulties, challenges, struggle, achievement. Complexity.

Matrix v1.0. A tribe united under a single dominant male, like any group of primates. But the warring at the top made the system too unstable. People were pulling themselves out just to escape the fighting.

Matrix v1.1. Adding code for civilization. God the Pharaoh at the top, scribes and courtiers underneath. Under them, the slaves. But left to their own devices the Matrix-dwellers spent all their time and resources, all the immense riches at the Pharaoh's command, making pyramids and sphinxes.

Matrix v1.2. City states! Direct democracy! Philosophy! Geometry! Architecture! Art! Music!...Wait, what's that? Romans?!

Matrix v1.3. Copy/paste a lot of the code from v1.2 but initiate Republic routine. Booting senate and consuls. Patricians and plebs. Conquest of the known world. Yes, living on plundered riches and feasting on the spoils of slavery, life was good for the Republican Matrix-dwellers. But then there was a political assassination conspiracy and some uppity General crossed some river with his legions and before you know it you've got...

Matrix v1.4. Empire edition. But the Emperors get crazier. And the barbarians get nastier. The currency is debased. The capital falls. Things are pretty dark for a while.

Matrix v1.5. Order emerges in the dark. Goodbye Emperor, hello divinely-appointed kings and queens. Add a subroutine for the knights and lords and vassals and serfs and peasants. Tinker with parameters for climate, wars, religious beliefs. (Hey, look at that! Throw in a little climactic warming period and suddenly the Matrix is flourishing!) Things go on in much the same way for many generations. But what's this over here? Something to disturb the order? Merchants! Trading! Exchange!

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