Professor Y is trapped in a virtual reality. The VR is running on accelerated time to the point where he can live out millions of lifetimes in a real-life day, basically giving him immortality within the VR world. He also has godlike powers within the world, as he is a sysadmin. His goal is to escape. He has two options:
- Use his sysadmin powers to terminate the world. However, because of the nature of the accident that trapped him, he is 99.9% certain this will kill him and anyone else who happens to also be trapped (he doesn't know how many others there are).
- Wait for a very specific set of circumstances to be true, which will allow him to end the world safely and get everyone free.
Y would obviously prefer #2. However, the circumstances required are exceptionally precise and rare; it requires a massive amount of random events to be just so. There is no risk of him missing the opportunity if it does pass, but if something doesn't work out, he has to wait several thousand virtual years for the system to do its regular reboot so he can try again. In fact, probably 90% or more of the iterations won't be anywhere close to having the necessary circumstances. Think of it like repeating human history until you get a world where the first man on the moon is named Jeff Bulliord and has three kids (one of them adopted), plus several dozen other such statements that must also be true.
Y is aware of what the necessary circumstances are, and he can use his godly powers to try and push events in the needed directions, but he only has an average person's sense of the butterfly effect. Only once things get very close is it reasonable to expect his actions to to more good than harm. Otherwise, he's going to spend several million lifetimes sitting around waiting for the next iteration of the world to begin because this one didn't work out.
Obviously, Professor Y isn't going to remember a lot of this. He's only human, and the system isn't going to help him remember things. I'm interested in how long it's going to take for him to forget the most important things, such as:
- his name/who he is
- his goal, or the reason behind his goal
- the fact that he's a sysadmin in a rebooting virtual reality, and not an actual god in a cyclic world
Additional notes prompted by comments:
- Professor Y might have some godly powers, but if were to just throw them around on a whim he'd almost certainly mess up what he's waiting for (and possibly turn the world against him). He has to be more subtle.
- Professor Y's persona in the world is ageless, though he can make it appear to age as necessary so he doesn't attract attention. He begins each world iteration just as he finished the previous one.
- The system reboots at a predictable interval. Once rebooted, the starting state is exactly the same every time, but with a different randomization sequence; compared to the length of an iteration, it doesn't take long at all for the "new timeline" to become incomparably different than the previous one. Professor Y can't do anything about this.