Object 93

How to get Posthuman Friends

2062, Sol System

An excerpt from the popular self-help guide, “How to Get Posthuman Friends”:

You've always liked posthumans — enough to want to become one. But no amount of Ceretin or cram sessions have helped you qualify for the transition centres. You didn't get into Undhagen or the IIS or Clavius. You spent a long time revising, training, trying — and failing. You took all those magstim therapies to boost your scores, at great risk to your own health, and all of it was for nothing.

One day, you think, they'll regret holding you back. The PHs will deal with those petty, corrupt humans barring your way to transition. If only they'd let you through!

As a backup plan, you thought about becoming an Amp, but then you heard about the weird groupthink and the Aragon incident, and you decided better of it. Maybe the PHs will fix all of that as well, but you aren't holding your breath.

There is a consolation prize: you can still mix with the PHs, even if you're using year-old generic lenses and a basic lace. You can still become their friend. Sure, the ones who slow themselves down for our benefit might not be the very best PHs, but we should all be grateful that there are any at all who still care about us.

Here's your plan. You will attract the attention of the PHs who are into programming. It's not the sexiest of fields, but that's the point — you won't have to compete hard.

You need to act the part. PHs get hassled all the time by people asking for solutions to tough metaphysical or ethical problems. Don't do that. Start off by offering to help them talk to other humans. Consider spending some time to train up a specialised mimic agent. Use your imagination — that always impresses PHs.

You'll want to work out what exactly they're interested in. PHs often like toys and oddities such as self-referential games or open-source code that's accreted over decades. But even if you can't stand programming archaeology, and you think strange loops are for dilettantes, don't let it show — just join the forums that have incomprehensible nonsense on them and get stuck in. Make an effort.

Keep an eye on what projects the PHs are up to, such as the Saddlepoint experiments or the Belt Constitution. These can serve well as conversation starters, especially if you find some way of linking them to your chosen area. PHs are always delighted, or at least amused, when they find humans who are good at joining things together. To them, it's like seeing a precocious child or a loyal pet perform a trick.

Don't do stupid things such as using the term 'subhuman AI' or expressing doubt about 'universal sents rights'. They will never speak to you again and you will be likely be downvoted into oblivion by liberal do-gooders. Try to be enlightened — it reminds them of themselves.

PHs have a lot of respect for humans who like history and can interpret it for them, so say that you are a historian of code. Let's not forget, PHs don't know everything. The P stands for ‘post’, not ‘super’.

Hide your true feelings when they say things like, “How do you find it, everything being so slow?”, and “Do you think there is a God?” Smile and shrug. Don't let the anger reach your eyes.

Never, in a moment of frustration, talk about becoming a PH. They don't want hear from yet another person complaining about how unfair the transition centres are. Why else do you think they employ humans to run the tests? Once they’ve climbed the ladder, they think that anyone else who can’t manage it doesn’t deserve to join them. Pretend that you couldn't imagine anything better than being a normal human.

Don't beg for favours such as personal life extension. It looks desperate.

PHs can be very touchy about intimate questions such as, “Who were you before you went up?”, or “Where are you actually located?” But if they ask you personal questions, don't be offended; try to answer them honestly. If they're inclined to, they can easily find out if you're lying.

Follow these tips, and soon you'll have enough PH friends that you might receive gifts from them. Gifts so strange and useful that they'll quench your desire to become a PH, at least for a while. They might even wonder whether the transition centres were wrong, and bless you with a free pass upwards.