The main character in a short story or novel uploads himself to a Dyson sphere or something like it. He discovers as an uploaded person he has the power to make a million copies of himself and grow really big, which he uses to intimidate people. Then he receives a very expensive bill to pay for the excess computing time used by all of his copies.

Unfortunately this is about the only thing I actually remember from the story - and I'd like to know which story I remember it from.

The main character might have been a reluctant holdout who stayed on Earth as most of humanity uploaded themselves, but eventually uploaded themself anyway, possibly in pursuit of someone else who was uploaded. The bill might have been presented by a robot police officer.

  • 2
    A somewhat similar event takes place towards the end of Season one of the TV series Upload when (minor spoiler) the main character's funding is pulled. Sep 1, 2023 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


The Rapture of Nerds by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow.

Here's the scene:

“Yes, O Mistress?”

“What’s going on?”

“639,219 called for a shardwide resource audit. The capabilities platform determined that you were consuming a disproportionate amount of computation to run substantively duplicative processes. So as you hadn’t paid for them all the extraneous threads were suspended; the least duplicative were niced down to minimal sentience.”

“That’s not fair!”

"Well,” the djinni says, “you’re the one who cranked herself up to eleven. Where did you think the cycles for that particular enhancement would come from? The second law of thermodynamics hasn’t been repealed, you know: energy costs. For every moment you spend contemplating your awesome might with preternatural awareness, you’re consuming a concomitant lump of compute-time and producing waste-heat that needs to be convected into space without being transformed into thrust or spin, which is no simple process and requires its own secondary computation, which generates more waste-heat and consumes more resources.”

You're right that the main character is a latecomer to the high tech world - as the wiki page says:

The book, set in the late 21st century, takes a generally comic look at the technological singularity through the eyes of Huw, a technophobic member of a "Tech Jury Service" tasked with determining the value of various technological innovations and deciding whether to release them.

The bill might have been presented by a robot police officer.

There's no robot police officer, but there's a cyborg judge (Judge Rosa Giuliani) who is basically Judge Judy in a Dalek body.

  • 5
    Yes, this is probably where I saw it, because the rest of the story seems vaguely familiar.
    – user253751
    Sep 1, 2023 at 1:46

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