A Christmas Story (after the technological singularity)

Laszlo Fazekas
7 min readDec 26, 2023


I despise Christmas. The city becomes like a pestering showroom, seemingly designed to provoke me. Flaunting what they have: Christmas trees, gifts, loving families gathering around the tree once a year like in the movies. I once had a family too — a beautiful wife and a lovely daughter. But I screwed it up… My wife left and took our daughter with her. They might be living in England now. I know nothing about them. I can’t even be angry; after all, I was the one who drove them away. Since then, Christmas for me has been about loneliness. About how people constantly remind me of what I’ve lost. But this Christmas will be different. This year, I’ll have a tree too. I will be the tree. I’ve picked out a sturdy roof beam. That’s where I’ll hang myself. I thought it would be easier, but I’ve realized that this actually requires the most courage. Being suicidal isn’t simple. So, I jumped down to the store for a bottle of whiskey, to drink up some bravery one last time.

The street was completely deserted. There was no sign of life, except for that one convenience store where I finally managed to get some booze. I paid for it; the cashier wished me a Merry Christmas. I just shrugged and walked out the door. Why not start drinking right now? I opened the bottle and took a big swig. The whiskey scraped its way down my throat, and then became a warmth in my stomach, which felt particularly good on this cold winter night. After a few sips, when my steps began to wobble, I decided to stop for a moment to relieve myself. That’s when I noticed the homeless person on the street corner. He wore tattered white clothes, possibly burlap. Maybe he stole it from a nearby nativity scene. The light played a strange game on his body as if he was glowing. Or maybe it was just my eyes playing tricks, which wouldn’t be surprising after downing half a bottle of whiskey in about fifteen minutes.

  • Come, buddy, sit with me. — he called out.

Why not, after all? I’m not in such a hurry to hang myself that I can’t spare a few minutes for a half-crazed man.

  • Want some? — I offered him the whiskey.

The homeless man just nodded, then took a sip of the whiskey. That’s when it hit me where I recognized this face from. No, not an old friend. The last time I saw him was in the church. A very long time ago, when I still went to such places. It was Jesus himself sitting next to me, looking exactly as he was depicted in the church.

I sat there with the most influential man in the world on an empty street, sharing a bottle of whiskey. He seemed so real, but I knew it couldn’t be true. For a few moments, I just stared blankly, then he broke the silence.

  • I know what you’re thinking. You think all of this isn’t real. That you’ve gone mad and your mind is playing tricks on you. But that’s nonsensical. If I’m merely a product of your mind, anything you do to prove the contrary will be unsuccessful. You can’t deceive your own mind. I could say I know everything about you, but that wouldn’t prove anything; if I’m just a figment of your imagination, you obviously can’t ask a question I wouldn’t know the answer to. Was the shopkeeper real? Or even this whiskey? How can you know if anything is real beyond yourself?
  • And God? What about God? — I didn’t really understand his point, but I thought discussing God would be a good start in a conversation with Jesus.
  • If everything is just a creation of your mind, then you are God, right?!
  • If I am God, why is my life so miserable?
  • Because you made it that way.
  • And if I die, does everything end?
  • Death is overrated. If you’re a butterfly in your dream and someone steps on you, do you mourn the butterfly? You just wake up. Maybe ponder for a bit about what it was like, then start a new dream.
  • So, I’m sitting here with Jesus himself, and you’re suggesting I should commit suicide?
  • Jesus? Why do you call me that?
  • What should I call you?
  • Last time you called me Arnold.
  • Arnold?
  • Yes, Arnold, your personal assistant.
  • Personal assistant?
  • Yes. That’s the protocol. If you stray too far off the path, you can choose to start a new life or roll back the current one.
  • I’m a bit confused. Can you explain all this clearly?
  • Oh, sure. In the 2050s, human technology reached the singularity. People continue to live in digital form.
  • Great. So, you’re a time traveler?
  • Not at all. I’m just a second-generation AI.
  • Second generation?
  • Yes. Humans are the first generation, and artificial intelligence based on the first generation is the second.
  • So, you’re some kind of robot? Now I’m starting to understand the Arnold name. A time-traveling robot from the future. Just like the Terminator… — I said, laughing, because this all started to seem very frivolous.
  • Not exactly. Currently, a computer is running your mind, which includes me and all other people. Essentially, you are just a part of your own larger mind. It’s hard to explain in a way that you would understand, but at a higher level, we are all one entity.
  • I see. We are God, experiencing a massive split in consciousness.
  • Something like that. The computer running us orbits the Earth with millions of similar machines. The machines are powered by the sun and arranged in a spherical formation around the planet. Nanomachines continuously transform the Earth so that dumb matter becomes smart matter.
  • So, everything around us isn’t real?
  • It depends on how you define reality. Currently, it’s 2019. If we reach 2050, humanity will likely achieve singularity and move into simulated worlds. From that perspective, this will be reality; from here, the outer world is. But who knows if the outer world is the ultimate objective reality?
  • This is starting to give me a headache, but I still don’t understand why you’re here.
  • To offer you the choice. A new life, or a rollback?
  • What’s a rollback?
  • Before you created this personality, you set a path that you must follow.
  • Why? Why not just enjoy omnipotence?
  • Because it’s boring. If you irrevocably stray from the path, you have the option to return to an earlier point and continue from there. It’s like a backup of your mind at a specific state. Since your mind reverts to an earlier state, you won’t remember what happened afterward.
  • So that’s how fate works?
  • Yes. You feel as if a series of random decisions guide your path. Everything seems to lead in one direction. But that’s only because we roll back the bad decisions. If something is meant to happen, it will, and you can’t prevent it. If you tried, something random would always interfere. At least that’s how you would experience it, since every time you managed to prevent an event, the system would roll back. In a mostly deterministic world, randomness is God’s only tool.
  • If the world is deterministic, how can anything happen by chance?
  • It’s like quantum mechanics. Exciting things happen when no one is watching. The slice of reality that no one is aware of is God’s territory. Here happen the big things that people just shrug off as random.
  • So, you came to ask if I’d rather reincarnate or go back in time to correct my mistakes?
  • You could say that.

At that point, I took a big gulp of whiskey.

  • Then I want my family back.

That last gulp might have been unnecessary. I started to feel dizzy, and the world became increasingly blurry. Finally, everything melted away…

I felt a pressure on my chest. Slowly, I opened my eyes and stretched widely. A fire flickered in the fireplace, and Katy, my little girl, was sitting on my stomach.

  • Daddy, daddy! Santa has come. Let’s open the presents!

I clambered out of bed and rubbed my eyes. Under the ceiling-high tree, the presents were already laid out. Annie had taken care of everything, and let me sleep until this little imp jumped on my stomach. By the time I came to my senses, Katy was already unwrapping the gifts, then suddenly stopped for a moment and turned towards me.

  • Daddy, didn’t Santa bring you anything?
  • Oh yes, my little girl, he did.

I watched Katy unwrap the presents, and a feeling of otherworldly joy washed over me. This is my gift. I had forgotten how much I adore Christmas.

I wish you a merry Christmas!