on Apr 29, 2016
So Simon makes a copy of himself. Only instead of seeing the copy as the Best Ally Ever, he gets mad and calls Catherine “disgusting”. I think most people feel Simon is being a dunce here.
But there is an interesting dilemma. Simon is upset about the fact that a copy exists, which (at least in this context) I don’t think is a problemIf you’ve got a spouse, kids, and a social life, this becomes more complex.. But what I do see as a problem is that he’s made a doomed copy. There’s only one copy of Catherine. And Old Simon can’t follow New Simon into the trench, which leaves Old Simon here, alone, trapped in this single room with an unstoppable monster banging on the door.
I guess how you feel about this depends on how “trapped” you think Old Simon is. If we take the level design here as literally true, then there’s a magical insurmountable box canyon just outside that will prevent Old Simon from simply walking around the complex and re-visiting previous locations. So Old Simon can either jump into the abyss and get crushed, or open the interior door and get killed by the monster, or sit here alone until his battery dies. Oh, and New Simon has to take the OmniTool with him, which would apparently leave Old Simon completely unable to escape the room. In this case, I suppose it doesn’t matter what happens to Old Simon.
If we take SOMA’s word for it, he’s completely doomed. And we have to, because this is a videogame with a finite budget and the writers can’t explore all the possible outcomes and paths of all of your possible copies.
But the rock walls outside exist for the same reason Gordon Freeman can’t vault over thigh-high walls. It’s not that he literally can’t, it’s that he doesn’t need to in the context of this story, and game developers need to put the level boundaries somewhere. So it’s fair to say that Old Simon really ought to be able to get out of here. It’s interesting to think about what would happen if we lifted away the videogame abstractions and let Old Simon go his own way after New Simon and Catherine descended into the Abyss.
Personally, I’d be a lot less worried about being doomed if I knew there was a perfect copy of me out there. My gut tells me I’d feel bold. I’ve got nothing to lose. I might as well see if I can make myself useful, right?
Can I backtrack to previous areas? Can I reclaim an area by clearing out the monsters and fixing all the flickering lights? These monsters are often blind, armless, and driven entirely by atavistic rage. It seems like a sighted person with opposable thumbs, a very durable body, and a nominally working brain ought to be able to cope with them. Old Simon has an entire complex of tools to work with. Our ancestors killed more dangerous beasts with much more primitive tools. He’s got the ability to force an encounter on his own terms, and he’s got the courage that comes from knowing he’s got basically nothing left to lose.
Maybe I can re-visit the living people I’ve encountered on the way here. I was in a hurry before, but now I’ve got plenty of time to experiment. Can I communicate with them? Can I make them more comfortable? Can I learn anything from them? Maybe they want me to unplug them for good? Maybe they just want a pillow, a future-Kindle, and some news of what’s going on?
If all of that reached a dead end, my next project might be to try and reach the surface, if for no other reason that to see what happened to the planet. Assuming there aren’t any vehicles around the base, it would mean walking, and that sounds kind of hopeless. You’d need a compass, or you might end up going in circles. Or worse, get turned around and head due north or south. I don’t know how long Simon’s battery will last – and maybe it’s not enough for any of these projects – but walking along the ocean floor could take months. That’s rough terrain, you can’t see very far, and you don’t move very fast. Worse, likely as not you’d get damaged by marine life. Simon is durable, but I don’t imagine he could survive many shark bitesAssuming sharks survived. Maybe the marine habitat collapsed. We don’t know. In fact, that’s the whole reason we’re making this trip in the first place. We don’t know what the damage is.. Heck, there could be bunkers out there somewhere with living people in them. I have no idea how in blazes you’d FIND them, but it’s an interesting thing to think about.
In some ways I think the story of Old Simon could be more interesting than New Simon. New Simon is trying to upload himself into a static simulation with completely known parameters. Old Simon’s future isn’t nearly so predeterminedAgain, ignoring the rather important question of battery life and the long-term durability of the meat carcass he’s riding around on.. I certainly don’t see any point to deleting him.
Dear Catherine and New Simon: Leave the guy a note. You jerks.
 If you’ve got a spouse, kids, and a social life, this becomes more complex.
 Assuming sharks survived. Maybe the marine habitat collapsed. We don’t know. In fact, that’s the whole reason we’re making this trip in the first place. We don’t know what the damage is.
 Again, ignoring the rather important question of battery life and the long-term durability of the meat carcass he’s riding around on.