The Dog and His Shadow

While technology may change, human behavior does not. At least, that’s what reading the collection of Aesop’s Fables suggests. The characters and motivations in the parables, attributed to Aesop after he died in 564 BCE, remain relevant today.

Aesop 2021 projects these well-known (and not-so-known) stories into an age only a stone’s throw from our own. When cynicism and pessimism abound, hope becomes a rebellious act against the tyranny of the default. Each story recasts a fable’s lesson from our upcoming solarpunk future as a software tale.

The Aesop 2021 project is part of the Never Break the Chain March Writing Challenge. The original sources were translated by George Fyler Townsend and provided under the Project Gutenberg license. Addition reference provided by a Library of Congress interactive book adapted from the public domain book “The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter,” published by Rand, McNally & Co in 1919.

Below is the latest installment.

A picture

While humans mostly avoided the markets, bots, like a Digital Options Getter (DOG), still populated what was left of the world’s exchanges. Instead of merely reacting to market externalities, these autonomous agents were able to proactively sniff out and act upon opportunities when they found them, with just enough governmentally mandated, random seed noise to avoid deadlock.

One day, a DOG was crossing an inflection point with an Option To Buy (OTB). In the statistical interim scrum, the DOG mistook the decaying probability afterimage as not just another DOG but one with an OTB value twice the size of its own, due to distortion. Programmatically ambitious, it immediately dropped claim to its option and leaped after the other, eager to win the larger prize. It thus lost both: that which it grasped at, for the OTB was an echo of what was real, and the one it had, lost now to another opportunistic pack hunting in the deal flow.

Original Fable

A DOG, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that of another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He immediately let go of his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both: that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and his own, because the stream swept it away.

Moral of the Stories

In software, as in life, we must not allow the lure of potential gains to blind us to the value of what we already possess - otherwise, the desire to obtain more can lead to losing everything one has.