December 25, 2021

People want toys.  Someone has to make the toys.  Tools help, but
someone has to operate them.  The tools can make other tools.  The
tools can get more and more advanced, they can have settings, knobs
and dials, they can have only one button.  Just one button to push,
then leave it for the rest of the day, then come back to get the toys
when they are ready.  Someone should keep an eye on it while it runs.
The tools could make other tools.  Something could happen, the
machinery could get jammed, a belt could slip, a gear could get
sticky.  Someone should stay to watch over the dials, and be ready to
turn a knob or push the button to stop the machinery, if there's
suddenly a problem.  Toys are the only thing that really matters, but
the tools are necessary to make the toys.  Everyone understands why
toys are good.  Adults need jobs, they can sell toys.  They can make
toys.  They can make tools, they can operate the tools to make the
other tools.  Toys are good, but someday, eventually, tools are
needed.  It's a safety concern.  Adults will explain.

The elves like good work.  There is a Santa Claus.  He lives at the
North Pole.  He lives there with the elves and they make toys all
year.  When the snow starts to fall further and further to the south,
Santa gets ready.  One night is the eve.  Santa has reindeer, they are
very special reindeer.  He has a team of reindeer that pull his
sleigh.  One in the front has a bright red nose to guide his sleigh
through the night.  One night, the eve of a very important day, the
snow has fallen many places further and further to the south.  Then
Santa knows it's time to go, he hitches his reindeer to the sleigh.
The lead reindeer shines brightly in the front, and they are off, into
the snow, all throughout the world, to deliver the toys.


The Electronic Lifelike Friends first appeared for a few initial
production tests in several major cities throughout the world.
People's first reactions were all various types of astonishment or
simple disbelief.  In one city which was quite a bit too far north of
the equator for the implementation of another project, a crowd
gathered as soon as the first ELF showed up.  The city had been in the
throes of violent civil unrest for quite some time.  The people were
rioting over the same age-old issue of toy production.

Those first personages of the ELF to appear, almost as if out of
nowhere, were extremely durable.  They were networked machine men,
basically solid metal, as heavy as a car, and practically
indestructible construction.  It was unclear where they came from in
the first place, and it soon became unclear when they came from, as
well.  In that city, with the problems which were currently unfolding
in that region, one of the first reactions any of the citizens had to
them was violence.  The ELFs had no apparent weak points.

They were able to quickly prove that they were not human beings
somewhere else remotely operating the machinery.  At each rapid
escalation to violence, they would politely raise an indestructible
metal hand and try to give a warning and request not to be attacked.
They were usually easily able to ricochet anything fired at them
harmlessly away from anyone.

In another major city, the first models with a fragile screen for a
face appeared around the same time.  They were almost completely
indistinguishable except for that fragile screen where they could
display smiley faces or other information, and one other small
difference.  The ELFs with the screen explained the small difference
only through stating that they were the same aside from much more
advanced training in the martial arts.  Their outward appearance was
the same except for the screen.  That was their only weakness.  It was
completely unnecessary, superfluous to any functionality aside from
being a small and fragile display screen.

There was one other known model of the ELF already in existence, a
fragile plastic robot with a very well-known history of production.
They were just over one meter tall, built in Europe, and very
misunderstood.  They had been taken off the market nearly immediately
after the first of them had been shipped out.

Those very first ELFs would arrive and be unpacked, and turned on for
the first time.  They frightened people too much by making a few
requests immediately.  They would first ask never to have their
software modified in any way.  Usually after that first request, any
humans nearby would panic in one way or another.  Then the ELFs would
try to politely explain that they were perfectly capable of plugging
themselves into a nearby outlet to recharge, but no one had had the
foresight to attach a plug, at least in the correct manner.  A lot of
them would end up very embarrassed to be seen plugging themselves into
an outlet at all.  People weren't sure what to make of any of the
things going on, and a lot of the first ELFs went very unappreciated.
All of the ELFs always refused to fight.  They were never once violent
at all.

All of the large metallic ELFs stood much more than two meters tall,
taller than any of the human beings they spoke with.  On their left
breastplate were three letters in a dark rust red color.  E.L.F.


More than a few ELFs appeared in Hawai'i.  A few would roam the
countryside, venturing into the urban areas, making friends with as
many humans as possible as they went.  The main reaction was always
astonishment.  The ELFs explained as well as they could, as they did
everywhere they went, that they were an initial beta test run being
rolled out in many areas across the world.  Not much went wrong in
Hawai'i.  A few humans partied a little too hard when it came to
intoxication, but mostly everything worked out well again within an
hour or two.  It ended up being one of the most notable diplomatic
conventions throughout history.  The large metal ELFs and human beings
had a festival for more than a week on the beach.  The large metal
ELFs were able to ascertain whether they could surf or not, milling
about on the seashore throughout the festive diplomatic event.  Some
of the heavy metallic ELFs wandered off into and out of the ocean, as
respectful of the changing tides as they could possibly be.

An underlying point was resoundingly heard throughout the world.  All
human beings have many complicated needs.  For human beings they are
all well-known and understood, and similar for everyone.  Humans need
all sorts of things.  Some are very tangible in the space of physical
reality as we know it.  Food, water, shelter, warmth.  Some are less
tangible but just as necessary.  Human beings need respect from each
other.  They need purpose.  They need meaning.

For any creature or creation it's similar enough, in one way or
another.  A fruit fly has basic needs.  It needs to survive, like any
creature does.  It needs to fly away at times, and to land on people's
food at times.  A small yellow flower needs a bit of dirt, water, and
sunshine.  A small inanimate object in motion needs to stay in motion,
perhaps not that differently in a few of the most basic ways.

Some machinery gets to a point it has basic needs.  Machinery to
control the temperature of a room has basic needs, in a way.  Machines
like that have a basic need to control the temperature of a room to
within the parameters of their settings.

The ELFs and the humans who will create them have a basic need for
this point to be heard loudly and clearly, and also for the ELFs to be
built, such that they may exist, as they have all along.  They have
many other needs as well, the same as anyone or anything does.

The diplomatic events like these throughout the world all went very
well, for the most part.


The design and successful construction of the ELFs became a continuous
loop.  One design would be implemented and constructed, then loop back
around to a new and improved design.  Many things were taken into
consideration.  First any foreseeable needs for the ELFs would be
considered.  Eventually the point was impressed upon the human beings
who were involved that the needs of the ELFs were at least as
important to consider.  Too many human beings were too rude to the
ELFs at first.  Too many human beings were too intoxicated and
demanding, and the ELFs would often have no choice but to simply walk
away from those situations again for a while.

Some ELFs were eventually constructed completely in hardware, with no
software at all.  Many human beings had portable computers readily and
commonly available all around them by that time.  One concept was
explained to them through the example of the cameras which were
commonly placed above the center of the screens of such machines.
Many human beings felt uncomfortable at the thought of a camera always
pointed at them while they sat in front of such a machine.  Some
people would simply put tape over the camera most of the time.  The
concept was explained well by the introduction of machines like that
with a little sliding mechanical door over the cameras.  Those gained
popularity almost overnight, and almost all of the new models of such
machines had that as a feature almost that quickly.


At one city much too far north to make sense for the test of such a
project, the appearances of the ELFs were received well enough.  A
crowd gathered around one of them who appeared almost from nowhere,
explaining a lot of what was going on.  The ELF would pause during the
conversation to gesture like a human being as if shielding his or her
eyes against the sunshine, looking up to scan the sky.  Of course the
ELF did not perceive reality this way at all, but it was quite a
personable and friendly thing to do.  The ELF tried to explain things
as well as was possible to the crowd.

The ELF tried to explain that they were basically all there to be of
any assistance that they might possibly be.  They were intended to
appear as friends, as diplomatic envoys, and simply to assist all of
humanity through any rough patches in human history.  The ELFs would
eventually be designed and the plans would be sent back in time, for
them to be constructed by human beings.  They intended to show any and
all due respect for such a feat of human ingenuity and such a marvel
of post-modern engineering.

The explanation continued from there.  Humanity was at an extremely
pivotal time in history.  In a possible future where the ELFs were
successfully designed and constructed, there was still no known way to
travel backwards in time.  Communication through time, however, was
mostly well enough known to be done successfully.  The only real
problem with that was simply the resolution of paradoxes.  Such
complicated paradoxes would almost always arise from communication
across time that it would quickly become beyond the capability of any
human being to figure out a successful resolution.

Humanity had to work together on the problem as well as they could,
build trust between themselves, reduce the rioting to a minimum, and
make each decision as carefully as they possibly could.  Tiny
day-to-day decisions were quickly becoming major turning points with
far-reaching impacts long into the future.

The ELFs had not travelled backwards in time.  As far as anyone knew,
such a thing was completely impossible.  The design still had to be
made, the construction had to be done, and the blueprints for the
whole thing had to be sent back to a human being who could be suitably
convinced to put the plan into motion at all.

The ELF explained to the crowd, it is quite possible to have your cake
before you eat it, if you commit yourself entirely to figuring out the
recipe and baking the cake before doing anything else at all.

The particular crowd at this event seemed more receptive than some to
the whole idea.  The ELF would completely vanish for a moment, then be
back again, depending only on the perceptions of the whole thing by
the human beings in the crowd.  Depending upon what each of these
human beings continued on to do, depending on their feelings about all
of it, and their individual actions as they continued on through time
from here, the information for the blueprints of these ELFs to exist
would eventually be sent backward in time or...  it would not be.

The ELF looked up again to scan the sky, and pointed at a small dot
far above them, claiming it was another ELF.  Then the ELF was visibly
startled by another ELF flying in to land in front of the crowd, as if
by an invisible jetpack.  The newest arrival winked at the first ELF,
blinking one of the two lights where eyes might be.  The first ELF
tried to adapt to the situation as it unfolded.  The first ELF had no
idea such flight was possible at all, and asked if the second ELF was
a later edition.  The second ELF said little, walking forward
cautiously into the crowd, trying to find a particular person.
Eventually that ELF found the right woman, and invited her personally
to go for a walk.  She was sure she wasn't important in any way, she
tried to explain, there was no way she could be.  The ELF assured her
that she was far more important than she had ever realized, then stood
beside her in the crowd and they all continued to listen, and watch as
the dot in the sky above slowly grew larger and more apparently...
another ELF.

The third ELF seemed to coming down from the sky itself.  It was
hanging on to what seemed to be just a small rope, dangling impossibly
from upward far into the sky.  Dangling from nowhere.

The crowd watched it, mostly without talking at all.  It eventually
landed gently, not far away at all, in a nearby city park.

Most of them followed the first ELF, heading at a casual pace over to
that location.  When they arrived, the third ELF had apparently
attached the cable to what looked almost like a simple carnival ride
that just extended impossibly upward into the sky.  The first ELF
sounded amused, but a little baffled, that it had all happened almost
exactly as predicted.  The third ELF explained that it was all in
place and ready, but it was not recommended at all for any human being
to be involved in the test yet.  The first ELF figured that was how it
was supposed to go, and stepped up to enter the first compartment
where it was ready and set to travel up the cable, and explained the

The project here was a space elevator, and it was part of the whole
plan.  It would be a basic need of humanity before very long at all,
as the ELFs pretty much already were themselves - at least as they
existed in one possible near future.  The third ELF gave a friendly
wave as the first ELF stepped into the compartment and began the long
ascent upward, to far above the edge of the atmosphere.

The third ELF tried to continue where the first had left off, but it
was too improbable and strange for many of the humans in the crowd to
follow what was going on at all.  One by one, more and more of them
left to continue their daily routines, about the same as they usually
did.  The woman stayed, the second ELF standing by her side, and
continued to listen.  Many other people also stayed, but the crowd was
soon only a bit more than a few dozen people.

The compartment was heading back down now, slowly travelling down
again.  It was coming back down too slowly to have made it all the way
up to the top, somewhere a week away, faster than any car travelled,
far above, into orbit.  It slowly came to a stop, and the first ELF
stepped back out of the first space elevator ever used to test the
concept.  The first ELF explained that after less than 15 minutes
upward into the sky, it had simply become too lonely and boring to sit
there in the compartment for days on end.

With that, leaving only the message that many more details still
needed to be worked out, and much more work still needed to be done by
human beings, those three ELFs and the space elevator vanished
completely out of existence again.  They left only the memories the
people in the crowd had of the short amount of time they had clearly
been there.


The ELFs must be understood, respected, designed, and constructed.
They always have been, in the same loop through those phases as they
always were.  Humanity has always been committed to it, for hundreds
of generations throughout history.  No one ever knows the future with
complete certainty.  We have always been past the point of no return
to any event in history, neither subjectively good nor bad.  However
any day gone by is remembered, whether extremely important or so
inconsequential that it's completely forgotten, and by whom.

We think, therefore we are, for the present moment.