Perfectly Informed

When Rebecca Steiner wakes up every morning (her present is our possible future, several decades hence), a persistent feeling of wrongness nags at her: the sun doesn’t hang at the right angle, her husband’s lips taste of mud, a forkful of French toast leaves a soapy aftertaste. A tragic event that occurred two years previously might account for her existential discomfort; she harbours a cloud of guilt over her potential responsibility in its aftermath. However, Rebecca is haunted most not by the accident, but by the other subject of her husband Philip’s devotion. 

Philip, a theoretical physicist at a university in New Jersey, wants to create a “causality violation device (CVD),” a project that exiles him to academic pariah status. After eight years, he has yet to obtain any evidence of any such causality violation; that is, time travel. Obsessed with the prospect of scientific iniquity, Philip blinds himself to the reality beyond his laboratory: the fragmentation of his relationship with his wife. All the data he accumulates does not buttress his psyche – or hers – against potential unraveling.     

Much of our modern faith in technology stems from its reams of data: that if only we had enough data, we could somehow discern “fundamental truths” and chart the right course for humanity. Version Control raises important questions about this belief: what happens when the supposed truth becomes the pattern we project onto the data, rather that what it objectively tells us? At what point does the data we share about ourselves cease to be connected to specific people, and transform into unmoored (but still monetizable) digital detritus? Most of all, if given the chance to go back to correct a past mistake – with seemingly godlike omnipotence – would we, even if that correction erases the memory of the future self that made that choice?  

  • Jennie has a degree in animal biology, loves learning unfamiliar words, and is extremely fond of God’s gift of chocolate. She lives in Zeeland, MI.

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