Friday, January 23, 2009

Sleeping On It

Candidates for Conversion to Robot Status Must First Walk Through Big Iron Pipes

Written 9 December, 2009

Sleeping On It

I’m a believer in the subconscious, and specifically in my own. So I almost always go with my gut—even when rationally it seems wrong.

I’ve never EVER regretted listening to my intuition. My only regrets come from the times I disregarded my instinct and went with the supposedly reasoning part of my mind.

I’m convinced we work problems through in our sleep. The report we can’t quite write comes easily after we’ve let it lie for a week; the prim we can’t twist to our will is easily bent after we’ve slept on it. And so I sleep on things. When I get up, they almost always go easily.

A large part of my little vacation from creativity last fall was, I’m certain, due to my brain running through and discarding hundreds of potential ways to route the pipes that lie under the main floor of the robot sanitorium.

It’s not quantum theory, but it was a complex problem. Two sets of pipes had to run under the main floor, staying within the confines of the building and avoiding the oil pools and the shafts of the mechanical lifts. The pipes had to be big enough for avatars to walk through without getting their cameras trapped, and bends were restricted for the same reason. The paths had to be logical, and they had to tell a coherent story as they were traversed.

For months I’d been working like crazy on the robot sanitorium—but after a couple of weeks spent wrestling with pipes, I stopped building. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the sanitorium.

Ordinarily, setting a problem aside for a few days will give me an insight— the seed of a plan that will allow me to complete a project or realize a goal—but in this case it required two months.

And why did it take so long? Because there was absolutely no way to build what Sweetie and I had talked about building. It would have been in one way or another unworkable—too tight for the Second Life camera, too claustrophobic, too clunky. And it took my poor old brain a good while to work through all the possible ways of doing it and decide it just couldn’t be done.

But it COULD be done if I would give up on our plan to do the human-robot conversion within the pipe system. The answer was to drop the applicants for conversion to an unused lower level.

And that’s just what we’ve done.

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