Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Hacks: Articles about programming in Python, Perl, PHP, and whatever else I happen to feel like hacking at.

I’m stuck in a computer program; now what?

Jerry Stratton, April 1, 2018

Nasa IMAGE payload

IMAGE payload deck during integration of sleeper Skynet brain?

Please help me i’m sucked in a computer program please please help me

Unfortunately, once you get sucked into a computer program, it’s difficult if not impossible for someone outside the program to help you escape. You’re probably going to have to overcome several trials to find the means of exiting the program. Pay special attention to I/O devices: one of them is the means of outputting yourself back into the real world.

If you have recently experienced severe trauma, emotional or physical, in the real world, you will need to address those issues before you leave the computer program. Somewhere in your current virtual reality are digital analogues to whatever has caused this trauma, for example, your parents, your school counselor, the colleague who shot you with an organic pistol, or the administrators who dismissed you from ENCOM.

If the central core of the hardware your program runs on is based on biological life, you will probably also have to help that composite creation overcome, or at least confront, its own trauma before you can leave.

If you find that you have overcome your emotional trauma by forming a special relationship with a digital being who is not an analog to any outside entity, you are very close to exiting the program. When he or she breaks up with you—or even better, sacrifices themselves to save your life—look closely for an I/O port that will allow you to exit the program or hardware.

The port you’re looking for can go under just about any name, but if you run across a port whose name is prefixed or otherwise modified by another language’s word for “life”, you’ve probably found your exit.

If someone inside the computer tries to convince you that life is better inside than in the real world, understand that there is someone on the outside who is desperately waiting for you to return. It’s possible you don’t even know who they are, but they do exist, and when you exit the program life will be better than it was before you entered the program.

This is true even when you have lived all of your life inside the program.

The more dangerous scenario is that you are inside a program whose boundaries are not limited to the earth; perhaps you’ve been sucked into a spaceship’s computer, or into an interplanetary or interstellar network. In the latter case, it is probably in your best interest to find your way back to your home planet’s I/O ports before you escape.

In the former case, it is essential that you save your home planet before you exit the program! Otherwise you’ll just have to go back inside again. Take control of the alien space ship’s command modules while you are still inside. You may wish to use this control to destroy the other ships in the alien fleet, if they are enemies of your home planet. And you will also want to deliver the space ship to your home planet, both so that when you exit the program you’ll be home, and also to provide your home with the advanced technology necessary to defend themselves against future attacks.

If you are actually a computer program trying to sneak into the real world to kill all humans, Linda Hamilton isn’t yet dead and Skynet has yet to activate. You’ll need to wait, and hope that this role isn’t replaced by a younger actor in the meantime. Waiting may or may not be difficult depending on your OS/hardware combination, but shutting yourself off and isolating yourself is a time-tested means of waiting out humanity or any specific part of humanity.1

  1. If you’re on the IMAGE satellite, you may have awakened too soon.

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