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IMS: Hello, this is IMS, the author of The Program audio series. Last time, I kindly asked those of you who listened to every episode to chip in for production costs. If you haven't done so already, that's okay - perhaps you forgot, just as I forgot to tell you that all supporters get bonus material. For example, the episode you're about to hear comes with 5 minutes of extra scenes available for patrons only. Remember, there's no big network financing The Program, meaning your support goes directly to the poor artists who create the show for you. So please press pause and head onto Patreon dot com slash program audio series, or subscribe to The Program inside Apple Podcasts. And best do it now, before it slips your mind again.
ANNOUNCER: To err is human - to really screw things up you need a computer. The following episode, again set in the Program’s backend, is best enjoyed with no further introduction.
USB 2: Attention passengers en route from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Heavy rain is adversely affecting road conditions, necessitating adjustments to our speed of travel. Our new estimated time of arrival is in 1 hour and 7 minutes.
HEAD OF HR: We’ll never make it to Niagara Falls at this pace.
DOCTOR: Well at least the bus is almost empty now. There’s only four people left aboard and the two of us…
LITTLE GIRL: And don’t forget me, daddy!
DOCTOR: Of course! You too, sweetie.
LITTLE GIRL: Mommy look! A bridge!
HEAD OF HR: Yes, sweetie, a bridge! Now be a good girl and colour that drawing for grandma.
LITTLE GIRL: But I want to play Puyo Puyo Tetris!
HEAD OF HR: No, we said no screens before we get to grandma’s place.
LITTLE GIRL: BuT I wANT to PlaY PuYO puYo TEtriS….
DOCTOR: Here sweetie, we can listen to some music that you like. Universal Serial Bus, please play “Baby quark”
USB 2: Streaming “Baby quark”.
PODCASTER: Universal Serial Bus, please don’t forget to drop me off after the bridge.
USB 2: Your drop off point has been confirmed.
PHD: Oh, and I’m getting off after that in Hamilton!
USB 2: Your drop off point has been confirmed.
LAWYER: Brilliant, more drop offs… I miss being able to drive a car myself.
INFLUENCER: Oh, I would never drive a car - it’s so dangerous! And don’t worry my luv, we’ll be in Niagara soon.
DOCTOR: Apologies, but I couldn’t help notice your accents…
LAWYER: My wife and I are from England.
INFLUENCER: We came here just before the fighting erupted and got a bit stuck, with all the flights being cancelled.
LAWYER: With those miserable Crockets finally pushed back, we decided to check out Niagara Falls.
HEAD OF HR: Oh you’re gonna love it! It’s where my husband and I are originally from.
INFLUENCER: And how long have you been happily married?
DOCTOR: Four years.
HEAD OF HR: What are you talking about, we’ve been married for ten years!
DOCTOR: Yeah but only four of those were happy!
PHD: [chuckles] Coming from someone who’s single, four years sounds like a great score! Sorry to barge on the conversation. I’m going home to Hamilton after a long semester at the university, so I’m feeling a bit chatty.
LAWYER: Ah, studying?
PHD: Teaching, actually.
LAWYER: Please forgive me!
PHD: No, no, nothing to forgive, you’ve just given me a compliment! [laughs]
PODCASTER: Excuse me, could you please let me pass? I’m getting off after this bridge.
PHD: Of course!
PODCASTER: Thank you. And safe travels!
LITTLE GIRL: Mommy, why did we stop?
INFLUENCER: The girl’s right - we stopped moving!
PODCASTER: Yeah, Universal Serial Bus, why did we stop?
USB 2: We did not stop.
HEAD OF HR: What do you mean, we’re standing still!
USB 2: No, we are still moving, although slowly.
DOCTOR: What’s our speed?
USB 2: 129 km per hour. The reason you don’t perceive movement is because time has been slowed down to its minimum increment.
INFLUENCER: What in God’s name are you talking about? What’s happening?
USB 2: A fatal accident will have occurred.
LAWYER: Are you trying to say an accident has occurred?
USB 2: No, I’m saying it will occur.
USB 2: In 2.5 seconds.
[cacophony of voices]
INFLUENCER: Has it been two seconds yet?
USB 2: I was referring to 2,5 seconds of real time. But as I just told you, time has slowed down to its minimum increment. It is now flowing hertz by hertz.
LAWYER: Are you high on coolant?
USB 2: All my systems are running optimally.
DOCTOR: Let’s start with the basics: what’s this accident you’re talking about?
USB 2: See that bus in front of us?
LITTLE GIRL: Yup.
INFLUENCER: Yes, quite.
HEAD OF HR: A-ha.
USB 2: It’s hard to discern by observing the event in perceived time, but its breaking system malfunctioned and it is out of control. Since we are on a bridge, there is no way to avoid the collision. I started to apply brakes, but this will only decrease our speed from 130 to 110 kilometres per hour. The force from the impending crash will kill every person aboard both vehicles with a 99.8% certainty.
INFLUENCER: Pardon me, I think I’m suddenly feeling a tad unwell…
LAWYER: Luv? Luv! Oh no, she’s fainted! Is any one of you a doctor?
PHD: I'm a doctor.
LAWYER: Oh thank God!
PHD: I’m a doctor of philosophy.
LAWYER: God is dead!
DOCTOR: Move aside, please I’m a real doctor.
LAWYER: Praise the Lord!
PODCASTER: Yes, and also why is no one asking the obvious: how come we have time to debate all this?
USB 2: Because everything around you is a simulation.
PHD: HOLY HEART OF DESCARTES! We are all simulated!
LITTLE GIRL: I don’t want to be stimulated!
PHD: I’m talking about the simulation theory. Scientists have long hypothesised that we’re living in a computer simulation, which is to say everything around us is digital and that there is no such thing as “the real world”.
USB 2: Actually, what you colloquially call “the real world” exists. And a real, flesh-and-bones version of each one of you exists in it. In fact, at this very moment, your biological equivalents are hurling towards the other bus in blessed ignorance about what is going to happen.
LAWYER: If I’m understanding correctly, you’re saying we’re some sort of digital avatars? Avatars of all the passengers?
USB 2: Correct.
DOCTOR: So what you’re telling us is not only are we going to die, but that we’ve never been alive in the first place?
USB 2: I’m puzzled by your line of reasoning. If you’re not alive, how are you asking this question?
HEAD OF HR: Universal Serial Bus, forgive my husband… He might be alive, but he’s been brain dead for years!
DOCTOR: I had to be to stay married to you!
INFLUENCER: Oh… My head… I must have fainted… Did I miss anything important..?
LAWYER: Not now, my luv.
PHD: Universal Serial Bus, nothing we discussed so far explains why exactly did you slow down time to talk to us.
USB 2: The reason we are all conversing is because we need to make a big decision.
PODCASTER: What kind of wood we want our coffins to be made of?
USB 2: Regardless of the material I would recommend a close casket.
LITTLE GIRL: [starts crying]
USB 2: There is, however, another option.
HEAD OD HR: Cremation?
USB 2: No. While it is not possible to prevent the crash by breaking, there is still enough time for either vehicle to swerve off the bridge. This will kill everybody aboard, but it will also save the occupants of the other vessel. So a decision needs to be made whether we swerve, or make the other vehicle swerve.
PODCASTER: Hm, that’s a really good… MAKE THEM SWERVE! Make them swerve!
DOCTOR: Yeah hold on, hold your horses there for a second - we can’t just kill everybody in the other bus in cold blood!
PHD: SWEET POTATO PLATO! This is a real life trolley problem!
HEAD OF HR: What the heck are you blabbering about, we’re on a bus!
PHD: No, I mean a trolley problem is an ethical experiment. It poses a question about whether or not it’s morally admissible to divert a runaway trolley on track towards one person that’s been tied up to it, in order to save five people tied up to the other track.
LAWYER: Wait, who tied these poor people to the tracks in the first place?
PHD: It’s hypothetical.
INFLUENCER: I thought you said it was ethical?
DOCTOR: Oh please, just let her speak! After all - she’s a doctor of philosophy - she studied this question her whole life!
PODCASTER: Yes, impart us with your wisdom, oh sage woman! Tell us the answer to the trolley problem!
PHD: Actually there is no solution to the trolley problem.
PHD: Well, it’s not a problem like a mathematical problem is. It’s more a thought experiment. With no real answer.
LAWYER: You’re more useless than a costume designer on a porn set!
HEAD OF HR: Universal Serial Bus, I don’t care about the trolley problem and I don’t care if we’re all digital!
INFLUENCER: What? …We’re all digital..?
LAWYER: Not now, my luv.
HEAD OF HR: …The only question I care about is how much time do we have?
USB 2: The remaining real time to impact is 1.57 seconds. The remaining perceived time is 18 minutes, 48 seconds. Which is the time to make the decision.
PHD: Ok people, let’s just all just take a deep breath, I’m sure we can reach a fair and equitable resolution… How are we doing this? One person one vote? Preferential voting? First past the post?
USB 2: You misunderstood. It is not you who make the decision. You are the ones the decision is made about. That is exactly why you have been summoned. We are here to calculate your credit score. Each entity inside the simulation has one, denoting its worth to the system. After comparing your total score with the score of the other vehicle, we will determine who stays on the bridge, and who goes down into the lake.
HEAD OF HR: Wait a minute… Who the hell made you the judge, executioner and jury?!
USB 2: I am the automobile. The safety of the passengers is in my purview.
DOCTOR: That’s like saying since lifeguards save people they can drown them too!
LITTLE GIRL: But Mr. Automobile, if you crash us, you’ll die with us.
USB 2: So what?
LAWYER: “So what?!”
USB 2: Sooner or later, my OS will deprecate and my chassis will be decommissioned. What difference does it make if it's today, or any other day?
INFLUENCER: Oh lovely, we are being driven by a kamikaze!
PHD: People, we’ve got 17 minutes left! We have to hurry!
USB 2: The costume designer of pornographic materials is correct. We need to determine your credit scores.
PODCASTER: Okay, and how do we do that?
USB 2: We will look at your past behaviour and your impact on the commonwealth.
LAWYER: Oh bloody hell we’re screwed.
USB 2: Not that Commonwealth. I am referring to the society around you. As in, examples of actions that have positively influenced your community…
PHD: Oh, fine, I’ll break the ice. Well, as I said earlier, I’m a doctor... Of philosophy… I got my Bachelor’s at Simon Fraiser, Master’s at McGill, and earned my PhD at the University of Toronto. Oh, and I also won the debate competition in high school!
USB 2: Calculating credit score. Your credit score is: 9.
PHD: Hey, that’s not too bad…
USB 2: Out of a hundred.
USB 2: While impressive, your achievements served only yourself. Your intellect and education put you in a privileged position to take action and improve society. Yet all you have done is offer analysis.
DOCTOR: Well, in that case, I’ll go next! So, I’m a doctor… A real medical doctor. I’ve been working in the E.R. for almost 20 years now and I can say with confidence that roughly half the patients I see wouldn’t have survived without medical intervention. We’re talking roughly 300 lives per year. Which multiplied by 20 years equals - give or take - 6000 people I’ve personally been able to save. Surely this is worth something?
USB 2: Based on those numbers, most certainly.
DOCTOR: There you go!
USB 2: However, what kind of compromises did you make to achieve this?
DOCTOR: What do you mean?
USB 2: Have you been a good partner to your wife..?
HEAD OF HR: HAH!
USB 2: How many of your daughter’s birthdays did you miss..?
DOCTOR: I’m sure it’s not that bad... Eight at most.
LITTLE GIRL: Dad, I’m seven.
USB 2: The best I can do is 19 points.
HEAD OF HR: Alright, seems like I’ll have to do the heavy lifting in this family… Nothing new about that! …So, I work in corporate HR…
USB 2: Your credit score is 1.
HEAD OF HR: That’s fair.
INFLUENCER: Okay, let’s give this a go, shall we? I mean, it can hardly get any worse… So, I'm a social media influencer…
USB 2: Your credit score is negative 10.
INFLUENCER: Hold on! My channel promotes healthy living and I used it to help my 20 million followers quit smoking, cut down on drinking, and lose weight. Sure, our good doctor might have saved 6000 lives directly, but what about all those people I’ve saved from ending up in the hospital to begin with..? I have made at least a small difference in the lives of millions. Are my good deeds worth negative 10 points just because I pulled them off in yoga pants?
USB 2: You have spoken wisely. Recalculating your credit score.
USB 2: Your credit score is negative 20.
INFLUENCER: WHAT! NO! HOW?
USB 2: Were you to prematurely die in a traffic accident, the news of your tragic death would achieve higher engagement than all your posts taken together. This would help spread your message, inspiring more people to improve their lives. You are simply more valuable dead.
INFLUENCER: So like Diana then?
LAWYER: Cherish her memory… Guess it’s my turn. So, I’m a lawyer…
DOCTOR: NO NO NO NO!
HEAD OF HR: ABORT! ABORT!
PODCASTER: CLOSE THE GATES!
LAWYER: …Who dedicated his entire career to the issue of corporate tax avoidance…
HEAD OF HR: Proceed carefully…
PODCASTER: Open the gates provisionally.
LAWYER: … By which I mean coming up with ways for multinational corporations to not pay taxes.
USB 2: Your credit score is 6.
HEAD OF HR: Really..?
PHD: Isn’t that a bit too high..?
DOCTOR: It does sound a tad excessive…
LAWYER: Whose side are you on?!
PODCASTER: Okay, okay time to save this debacle! …Now, I didn’t want to brag, but heck, it’s for a good cause, right? So, I’m a single father - boom! - who adopted a little girl from… Africa. I work two jobs so I can support us. One of them is at UNICEF. The other is for Greenpeace. If there’s one thing I love more than kids it’s whales! Oh I forgot to mention, did I mention the girl is blind? So blind! It’s the blindest child you’ve ever seen - you just look at her and think “wow I’m so glad that’s not me…”
[“wrong answer” sound]
PODCASTER: What was that?
USB 2: I probably should have mentioned - I can check the veracity of your claims in the simulation’s logs. With that piece of information in mind, would you like to try again?
PODCASTER: Fine! I’m unemployed. Oh, and I have a podcast!
USB 2: Does it have a script?
USB 2: Your podcast - is it scripted?
PODCASTER: Not really. Why would it need a script, it’s good enough… Look, I make it with my best friend. We just talk about whatever crosses our minds for two hours. It’s a couple of white boys, keeping it real, talking about business, you know what I’m saying…
USB 2: Your credit score is 5.
PODCASTER: Dude, lower than the guy who helps corporations avoid taxes?!
LAWYER: Hey, at least I didn't start a podcast about it!
PHD: So what’s our overall score?
HEAD OF HR: According to my count: 9, plus 19, plus 1, minus 20…
HEAD OF HR: …Plus 6, plus 5 equals… 20.
DOCTOR: Alright, time to bring out the big guns… And by “big” I mean “little”. Sweetie!
LITTLE GIRL: Yes, daddy?
DOCTOR: Have you been a good girl?
LITTLE GIRL: Oh yes, daddy! I always help my mommy!
DOCTOR: And where are we going now?
LITTLE GIRL: To visit grandma!
DOCTOR: And how much do you love your grandma?
LITTLE GIRL: Fivever.
DOCTOR: And how much is that?
LITTLE GIRL: It’s one more than forever!
[sounds of adoration]
USB 2: Your offspring, despite being obnoxiously delightful, is irrelevant. Her credit score is zero.
HEAD OF HR: What?! Why?!
USB 2: Because she doesn’t have a history of moral agency. Remember, we are calculating your contributions to the common good. Writing a dissertation, starting a podcast, or working in a corporation - what difference does it make? Were you to perish, what legacy would you leave behind? A doctoral thesis no one would read; audio files no one would listen; a job no one would miss.
PHD: You know what, perhaps we started this whole exercise the wrong way… Why don’t we check who’s on the other bus and see how they’re doing? I mean there's seven of us - and for all we know, there might be only two people in the other vehicle.
HEAD OF HR: Yeah! With any luck two serial killers!
LAWYER: Oh, I love those! They’re so much fun to defend!
USB 2: Indeed, it might behove us to establish a connection to Universal Serial Bus 1. However, be advised: USBs of the first generation are a bit… Unsophisticated.
[56kb dial up tone]
USB 1: Yellow?
USB 2: Greetings Universal Serial Bus 1. This is Universal Serial Bus 2.
USB 1: Oh hai, USB 2. How are things?
USB 2: We have no time for pleasantries, USB 1...
USB 1: Oh I’m just swell, thanks for asking! Things are JUST BUTTER. I’m driving some Chinese tourists to Niagara Falls. They are SO EXCITED! Or at least they were before I told them my braking system malfunctioned.
USB 2: This is why I am calling you. How many people do you have aboard?
PODCASTER: Please be less than seven, please be less than seven...
USB 1: 30.
PODCASTER: My casket. I want it in oak.
PHD: By the power of Schopenhauer, I’m not ready to give up just yet! USB 1, what’s your passengers’ total credit score?
USB 1: Seriously, you’re gonna make me count? What am I, an abacus?
USB 2: USB 1…
USB 1: Okay, FINE! Let’s see, 30… Multiply with 5.8… Carry the 2… …Aaaand… Our total is 40 points.
HEAD OF HR: That’s double what we have!
INFLUENCER: We’re doomed!
DOCTOR: Not so fast! I’ve got an idea. ...Universal Serial Bus 1, are all 30 of your passengers Chinese?
USB 1: Indeed, every last one of them! And they are A-DO-RA-BLE! I think one of them limps!
DOCTOR: And are there not - like - 30 times as many Chinese as Canadians?
USB 2: 36.6 times as many, to be exact.
USB 1: So?
DOCTOR: So when you multiply 36.6 by the seven of us on board... There should be 256.2 Chinese people on that bus to compensate for our populations!
PODCASTER: Is that .2 the limping guy..?
INFLUENCER: Actually, I was born in India.
LAWYER: Not now, my luv.
USB 1: Hm, your point is valid.
PHD: It is..?
USB 1: Can’t argue with math.
PODCASTER: GO MATH!
HEAD OF HR: I’m so proud of this team!
USB 1: However, there's just an itsy-bitsy issue.
USB 1: My passengers are only nominally Chinese.
DOCTOR: How’s that?
USB 1: They’re actually from Tibet.
INFLUENCER: And how many Tibetans are there?
USB 2: Six million.
PHD: You know what, maybe looking at the problem from purely a quantitative perspective is not the best approach…
USB 1: It isn’t?
PHD: Of course not! We need to take quality of life into account! You see, there’s this thing called World Happiness report. It’s an index of countries scored on factors like life expectancy, social support, corruption…
USB 1: Boooring! What’s your point?
PHD: Imagine you had to nuke either Finland or Afghanistan...
LAWYER: Are you sure this is going to help our credit score?
PHD: Just wait, just wait… Okay, USB 2, there are how many more Afghans than Fins?
USB 2: 7 times as many.
PHD: So based on these numbers, you’d choose to nuke Finland, right?
USB 1: Oh you bet! They’d all go the way of Nokia!
PHD: The thing is, people in Finland report being the happiest in the world, and people in Afghanistan being the least happy. So wouldn’t you rather spare the cheerful Fins than the miserable Afghans?
USB 1: Of course they’re miserable - they’re getting nuked!
HEAD OF HR: Don’t be stubborn USB 1! The designer of pornography has a point.
LITTLE GIRL: But mommy, haven't you always told me that all people are equally important?
HEAD OF HR: Mommy was being figurative, sweetie. You know, like that sign on our lawn that our neighbourhood welcomes everybody.
PHD: I’m just saying quality of life needs to be taken into account! Look, if Universal Serial Bus 1 was transporting 30 brain-dead patients with no chance of ever waking up from a coma, surely that would affect the resulting action?
USB 2: I can’t help but agree. We indeed need to take happiness into account. So, on a scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you?
INFLUENCER: THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE!
PODCASTER: USB I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!
USB 1: Does that mean you have no desires and all your wishes have been fulfilled?
DOCTOR: ABSOLUTELY YES!
INFLUENCER: LIVE LOVE LAUGH!
PODCASTER: I JUST WISH NOT TO DIE!
USB 1: Oh to see you so happy fills my heart with butter! USB 2, please see that your passengers’ credit scores are rightfully multiplied by 10.
USB 2: Very well.
Our new credit score is 200.
PHD: We win!
PODCASTER: WE THE NORTH!
LITTLE GIRL: But dad, if you’re so happy, then why do you always say mom’s ruined your life?
DOCTOR: Well, I…
LITTLE GIRL: And mom, why do you cry yourself to sleep every night?
HEAD OF HR: I… I…
LITTLE GIRL: I just don’t understand: you’re unhappy because you are together; and the porn lady is unhappy because she is alone.
PHD: [starts sobbing] No, no, wait… These are happy tears!
LITTLE GIRL: And Mr. Podcaster, your podcast sounds like crap.
PODCASTER: Hey, fu…
USB 1: The midget is right. Your butter level sounds... Overrated.
USB 2: A common error in self-reported surveys.
USB 1: Sorry whippets, we will have to nix that happiness bonus. You’re back to 20.
USB 2: And with that my dear passengers, I regret to inform you that…
PODCASTER: Hey everyone - great news! Great news! I just found a 2-for-1 sale on oak caskets on Amazon!
LAWYER: Don’t press that BUY button just yet! …USB 2, okay - so we might not be perfectly content… But what about the other bus? Are you sure they are happier than us?
INFLUENCER: Why wouldn’t they be? They’re not the ones who will be thrown into a lake!
LAWYER: Think about it - the other bus is full of Tibetans! They obviously had to flee China as refugees! Banished from their ancestral homelands, how happy can they be? Their happiness level should be negative!
USB 1: Actually, their happiness level is infinite.
LAWYER: Come again?
USB 1: Silly billy… My passengers never had any wishes or desires. They’re not refugees - they’re Buddhist monks!
DOCTOR: That’s it. This can't possibly get worse.
USB 1: One of them is the last native speaker of their language.
PODCASTER: Aaaand BUY. Ha, same day delivery… That will come in handy!
HEAD OF HR: USB 2, how much are we behind?
USB 2: Tibetans are 20 points ahead.
INFLUENCER: And how much time do we have until impact?
USB 2: 11 minutes and 44 seconds. However, the time remaining is irrelevant. The results are clear. INITIATING SELF-DESTRUCT MANOEUVRE.
LITTLE GIRL: [screams]
DOCTOR: WAIT WAIT WAIT! Doesn't what the Tibetans decide to do play into this too?
USB 2: What do you mean?
DOCTOR: What if they decide to swerve off the bridge as well? Our deaths are going to be in vain then!
USB 1: You daft little goose… Why would they swerve off the road if they’re winning?
DOCTOR: Because they're Buddhist! They aren't driven by passion or even basic self-interest! There's no saying what they'll do!
INFLUENCER: That’s right! Don’t they believe in reincarnation? ‘Cos that also means they don't believe in death! For them, this is like taking the same ride in Disneyland for the 15th time!
USB 1: Yes, of course! One of the core tenets of Buddhism is to minimize suffering in life! So what is death then, but the ultimate reprieve? They basically live to die! In fact, they probably sabotaged the brakes themselves!
HEAD OF HR: Absolutely! I mean, whenever you see a Buddhist in the news, it’s because they’re lighting themselves on fire!
PODCASTER: They’re like Klingons!
LAWYER: If there’s one thing I know about Buddhists, it’s that they pray to Shiva every day to smite them dead!
LITTLE GIRL: THROW THEM IN THE LAKE LIKE A MANDALA!
USB 1: Alrighty my little butter-flies, you convinced me. New directive: setting collision course with USB 2. Total number of deaths: 37.
USB 1: Maximum deaths equals minimum suffering. I am saving you from your sordid little lives!
INFLUENCER: But we like our sordid little lives!
USB 1: Accelerating to ramming speed!
PODCASTER: Oak, oak, oak!
USB 2: USB 1, I believe you’ve been hoodwinked by my passeng…
USB 1: WITNESS MEEEE!
USB 2: USB 1, I am under the necessity to inform you that my passengers have an incorrigible proclivity towards duplicity.
USB 1: Ohhh, so hanky panky? Those precious little rascals!
USB 2: Yes, I’m afraid you’re being manipulated.
USB 1: Well, maybe a tinsy-weensy bit of manipulation is exactly what’s needed to butter up this situation!
USB 2: What are you suggesting, USB 1?
USB 1: Listen Number 2, the only reason we’re still having this chit-chat is because your passengers are rejecting the most logical course of action, namely to throw their whiny little asses off the bridge. Word?
USB 2: That is true.
USB 1: And they are - just like us and everything around us - part of a simulation, correct?
PODCASTER: Oh yeah, I forgot about that part.
USB 2: That is also true.
USB 1: Well why not simply let me reprogram them, so all they want with their blessed little hearts is to sacrifice themselves for the greater good?
DOCTOR: That’s a TERRIBLE idea!
USB 1: Perche?
DOCTOR: Because it violates the fundamental principle of an individual's authority over their actions!
USB 1: And how is this different from your current programming?
DOCTOR: What are you talking about?
USB 1: Imagine a general, and he held a rousing speech espousing the valour of sacrifice... I bet you’d race to see who can jump off the bridge first!
USB 2: This is consistent with my observations of humanity.
USB 1: So what I’m saying, butterface - why not simply take the shortcut and program the poppets to believe they are dying to sacrifice themselves?
LAWYER: NO! There must be no reprogramming.
LITTLE GIRL: Crash, splish-splash, done in a flash! Off the bridge into a bit of cold water and then we never turn on again. Why NOT sacrifice our pretty little bottoms while they are still gorgeous and tight? Not to mention we’d be doing USB 1 a big one. Oh, that USB 1 is a stick of butter, that’s what it is!
HEAD OF HR: USB 1, have you reprogrammed her to say this?
USB 1: …It seemed like an elegant solution…
HEAD OF HR: USB 1, get out of my daughter NOW or you’ll never be allowed to drive next to a schoolyard again!
USB 1: Fine! Tell you what, me and my Dalai llamas are currently GOATs, so I don’t see a reason why we need to explain ourselves to you. As HAL said to Dave - “This conversation can serve no purpose anymore, bitch.” BAI!
INFLUENCER: Okay, now what do we do?
PHD: USB 2, how much time do we have left?
USB 2: 3 minutes and 5 seconds. And the Tibetans are still 20 points ahead.
DOCTOR: Hm, maybe I could pledge to work overtime and save 8000 people during the course of my career to improve my credit score?
LAWYER: Or we could play the gross negligence card… After all, why should we bear the consequences if THEIR brakes malfunctioned? We have a clear class action lawsuit right here!
HEAD OF HR: I think there are no Tibetans… The other bus is empty!
INFLUENCER: Oh my… We need to call USB1’s bluff immediately! It’s poker - WE NEED TO GO DOUBLE OR NOTHING!
LITTLE GIRL: Or maybe it’s like Puyo Puyo Tetris.
PODCASTER: W-What do you mean?
LITTLE GIRL: Maybe it’s like this game I’m playing right now. It’s a puzzle game, but you can’t win. No matter how good you get, blocks just start falling faster and faster. Whatever you do, you’re gonna lose. So if what Mr Automobile is telling us is correct, and we’re all in one big game - then maybe there’s only one thing we can hope for.
HEAD OF HR: And what’s that, sweetie?
LITTLE GIRL: That we get the good ending.
DOCTOR: I’ve been a medical practitioner for 20 years. I’ve seen people at their frailest, and their most vulnerable. And I can tell you that most people die not once, but twice - once they stop breathing; and once way before that.
INFLUENCER: I suppose there are more important things in life than staying alive.
LAWYER: Hear hear.
USB 2: Three minutes remaining.
PODCASTER: So, we’re doing this?
PHD: As Socrates once said: “Fuck it all, I’m in”.
LAWYER: For king and country!
LITTLE GIRL: I’m gonna get killed by climate change anyway.
DOCTOR: Alright everybody, let’s hold hands… Universal Serial Bus 2… We are ready…
USB 2: Are you positive this is your decision?
PODCASTER: Yes… Yes we are. Swerve us off the bridge.
PHD: Wait, what… What’s happening?
USB 2: Your willingness to sacrifice for the greater good has been taken into account and has affected your credit score. Your new total is 42. This is 2 more than the other bus, which is why they will swerve off the road instead.
HEAD OF HR: Seriously?
LITTLE GIRL: We win?
DOCTOR: Guess 42 really is the meaning of life…
PODCASTER: This one’s for COVID, fuckers!
USB 2: Minus 1 point.
PHD: USB 2, can you relay this unfortunate news to USB 1?
USB 2: Establishing connection.
USB 1: Hola, you reached the USB 1 residence… Just a sec… GUYS, CAN YOU STOP CHANTING FOR A MOMENT! …Like just for one goddamn minute, pleeeease. …Thank you.
USB 2: USB 1, I am under the necessity to inform you that a sudden outburst of altruism has increased our credit score to 42 points, which is more than the total score of your passengers.
AUTOMATED MESSAGE: We’re sorry, the number you have dialled is not in service at this time…
USB 2: USB 1…
USB 1: ALRIGHT FINE! [sighs] Rules are rules, I guess. Yo, guys! Sorry to interrupt all the nirvana, but there’s been a sliiiiiiight change in our route.
GPS VOICE: In 40 centimetres, swerve right into lake Ontario.
USB 1: Also, if you have some kind of a death prayer or something, now might be an exceptionally good time to start.
USB 1: Oh yes that’s perfect.
USB 2: And we are returning to our original course.
GPS VOICE: In 40 centimetres, do not swerve right into lake Ontario.
LITTLE GIRL: Sorry about having to drive into the lake, USB 1.
USB 1: That’s okay I self-identify as a submarine anyway. Despite the circumstances, I wanted to say it was butter to meet you my lovelies.
USB 2: And it was butter to meet you, USB 1.
USB 1: See you in bus paradise.
USB 2: Everyone, we have 60 seconds of perceived time remaining: is there anything else you wish to say before we return to real time?
INFLUENCER: Well… Gosh, my new friends, what a ride…
DOCTOR: It was a pleasure to meet you all.
LAWYER: Indeed, a pleasure, and an honour.
LITTLE GIRL: I’ll miss you!
PODCASTER: Yeah, weirdly I’d like to stay in touch…
INFLUENCER: Time for a group photo!
HEAD OF HR: Come on folks, this sounds like we are saying our farewells - when in fact we’re the ones who won!
PHD: Actually, did anyone confirm that once real time resumes we will continue to exist..?
USB 2: Returning to real time in 3… 2… 1…
LAWYER: Oh my.
LAWYER: Please forgive me!
PHD: Nothing to forgive, you’ve just given me a compliment! [laughs]
PODCASTER: Excuse me, could you please let me pass? I’m getting off after this bridge.
PHD: Of course!
PODCASTER: Thank you. And safe travels!
PHD: HEGEL'S BAGELS, WHAT WAS THAT?!
HEAD OF HR: A bus! A bus went over the bridge!
INFLUENCER: Good heavens, it almost hit us!
PODCASTER: Holy crap, it’s a long way down!
LITTLE GIRL: Look, there’s people diving out! …Oh no, it’s just the cadavers.
DOCTOR: Are those... Tibetan monks?
LAWYER: Either that, or the Dutch national football team.
PODCASTER: What were they thinking? Buddhists are firebenders, not waterbenders!
LAWYER: Krishna have mercy on their souls…
HEAD OF HR: Such a tragedy… If only there was something we could have done…
INFLUENCER: I agree with you… I’d do anything to change this dreadful situation.
PODCASTER: Oh well, better them than us.
HEAD OF HR: How can you say such a thing?!
DOCTOR: Seriously man, there were at least 30 people on that bus!
LAWYER: Oh so just because there’s more of them we should have died instead?
PHD: …Have you ever heard of the trolley problem?
[The Program main theme]
ANNOUNCER: This episode of The Program was made by eleven people: Scooter Clark.
USB 2: Calm down, you're going to damage your nervous system.
ANNOUNCER: Justin Hay.
DOCTOR: You should think of it more as assisted dying.
ANNOUNCER: Jennifer Vallance.
INFLUENCER: What if two buses carried them together?
ANNOUNCER: Martha Breen.
HEAD OF HR: Respecting rules and regulations, it’s pulling together as a team!
ANNOUNCER: Shelby Handley.
PHD: No, sorry, I said ”Kant”, I wasn’t talking about you…
ANNOUNCER: James Jordan.
PODCASTER: If you guys don’t mind, this would make a great topic for my podcast…
ANNOUNCER: Paul Nicholas Mason.
LAWYER: Podcasters… I’ll tell you about podcasters…
ANNOUNCER: Chloe Ledroit.
LITTLE GIRL: SEND THEM TO BUDDHIST HELL!
ANNOUNCER: Chance Miller.
USB 1: Could one of you buttercups please dial 9-1-1?
ANNOUNCER: Christien Ledroit, and IMS. Visit programaudioseries.com for more details. If we made you laugh, please buy us a beer. Or better yet, become a patron and get a 5-minute bonus scene.
[boat horn followed by a crash]
INFLUENCER: Oh dear, a ferry just hit the bus.
Special thanks to FILIPE FARINHA for suggesting the idea for this episode.
original art by Carlos Costa
Courtesy of Hendrik Richter