Hypothesis

The first revelation was the existence of Essence. As a human being, it was at first a difficult concept to swallow. We like to differentiate ourselves from our animal cousins by silently repeating that we are the only species on this planet with a brain large enough to reason. We instill specialness by moral codes, social law, cultural customs, and religion. And we tell ourselves that we are unique, evolved, superior thinkers.

We live our lives to create meaning and purpose. And thus, it is hard to admit that at the core, we are just a collection of organic molecules. We are built from skin cells, blood cells, neurons, vein cells, optical light-receptor cells, genes, etc. And all these are built from just a handful of elements from a fairly small Periodic table. It is hard to admit that we process and even filter a reality from just five simple senses; and that some species can do better than us. And so we need to create almost an under-culture of voodoo, psychics, fortune-telling, divine-inspiration, etc. to convince ourselves that our senses are not so simple.

Thus, the first revelation was the hardest to accept. The very first draft of the hypothesis went something like this: It is possible to convert a human entity and all of his or her functions, mortality, personality, psychology, philosophy, and physical being into data or data functions. It was a long and complicated hypothesis doomed for failure. It would of course go through many revisions before our great and terrifying creation. And it would evolve strangely to become much farther away than my imagined truth.

But, a first hypothesis was better than no hypothesis. And so me and Teak began collecting data, mountains of data. And it just so happened that we began collecting at a time when data was plentiful, accurate, and secure. The first source came from Professor Z. One of the first health insurance companies to pioneer compiling both physical measurements with psychological tests was Zenith, and it agreed to open its data files to us granted that subject names be coded as numbers to ensure privacy. And though highly controversial, clients were also being asked to give out genetic codes. Although vastly complex computer programs have been written to imitate intelligence, no one had ever before attempted to solve the human-code.

It was the project that was much bigger than me and Teak. Although he could crank out counters, simplistic palm-pilots, communicators, and sorters in the shop, it would soon require a data-bank and a factory for the data-overload. The analysis side was perhaps even worse with top-notch professionals duking it out on method, bias, confidence, and certainty. When we presented the idea to the Imaginaticians, some had already put their own projects aside to aid ours. And somehow, our innocent hypothesis grew into a great monster for the scientific community. And like all good monsters, it was mysterious, alluring, and destructive.

Teak and I became obsessed. Being the first with an addictive idea, we of course wanted to finish first as well. The rest of the world faded into the background as we toiled days and nights away trying to discover the pattern of humanity. How many great minds have stood on the edge of a chasm and looked into the great depths? How many have fallen into obscurity, plunging fearlessly after an idea? Were we the next ones fated to vanish?

Perhaps it should have been so, but something miraculous happened. Our hypothesis evolved, and it became the rope for both of us to climb back out. It became a simplification of a problem that was so very close to our hearts, but perhaps so complex that only an outside observer of humans could hope to solve it. After dozens of science magazines, journals, and television interviews, we realized that we had deviated quite far from our original intent. We were trying to find the pattern of humanity when we started with the theory of multiple worlds. And though we were desperately searching for the existence of individual Essence (an individual code for each person), I realized that individual Essence was not necessary.

That was the second revelation. It was on the fourth sleepless night when my obsession became realization. With stunning clarity I realized that in order to prevent contradiction, all that was needed was a swap of Essence of similarity with the parallel simulation. As long as the program running called existence couldn't tell the difference between swaps, then it would not fail to continue running the instance. And in order to produce closer similarity, a group of individual Essences were more likely to be representative of general humanness than a single individual. On the fourth sleepless night I coined the term "Essence Swapping" to mean multiple simultaneous swaps.

The final piece of the puzzle would fall into place much later. After realizing we needed a group Essence, we then needed to compute exactly how similar two Essences in separate dimensions needed to be to fool existence. It was a strange and frightening concept; like trying to fool God if you were religious. Before that critical move however, Teak decided that to take on the grandiose task of building the Essence Swapping machine. The machine would need to accomplish the purpose of establishing a bridge across dimensions, find a similar group essence, and quickly switch places with the group essence on this side. It was a task that even the great Teak could not accomplish alone.

The building of what would become known as the Phantom Capsule would require the efforts of physicists, astronomers, molecular scientists, and other great experts. At the end, the outer hull resembled a strange wingless spacecraft. The interior was composed of elegant ordered chaos of tangled wires, tubes and things that glowed neon colors without rhyme or reason. The first great explorers became tiny white mice with head-mounted cameras. They were followed by hawks with camera-lens claws.

They would provide exciting glimpses into other worlds but were ultimately limited in experiential data. The day would come when a great theorist calculated that it would only take four humans in a collective Essence to be similar enough to four other beings a million-billion miles away in an altogether different world. And soon four pairs of eyes would stare intently and fearfully into one another awaiting transport. Four hearts would beat furiously in anticipation.

I was only one among four.

My name is Logan, and I am not certain of anything anymore as we tentatively opened the bridge.