The Everett Arbitrage

The place is an old-fashioned coworking space, poorly maintained. About two dozen men, most of them in their forties and wearing faded crypto t-shirts, wait as a presentation adjusts itself to their psychological and semiotic profiles.

It chooses something resembling 2D slides. While a deep, confident voice offers uninspired commentary, pictures pass by showing quantum processor farms, exponential time series of the Pharma Four revenues and stock prices, and deliberately ambiguous pictures of what might be network gear somewhere that somehow looks like a cave somewhere in New Zealand without it actually saying so.

A pause timed to the millisecond, and then a deepfaked cat, just unreal enough not to risk mortality salience, is shown entering voluntarily into a box. The box blurries into a superposition with itself, and then there are two boxes. The camera focuses on the one a living cat comes out of.

There are some references to recent Nobel prizes and space-based gravitational wave observations only some physicists and most programmers pretend to understand. According to the black box sales model running the presentation, this part could be removed with very small impact on metrics - this is an audience that grew up with multiverses a more solid cultural reference than liberal democracy.

Now two cats leave each a can of tuna in a pile and enter separate boxes. The boxes become hazy, the screen splits, and two cats leave the boxes, one on each side, each standing in front of two cans of tuna.

The background music is one shade short of triumphal as the screen splits again and again, and cats carrying increasingly large amounts of tuna pile them together, enter a box to split the universe, and leave each of them twice as rich as they entered. There's a universe for every cat, and a fortune in each in tuna cans shaped as parallelepipeds cartoonishly labelled in letters of gold.

An organizer passes around a pill-shaped device with a bra symbol on one side and a ket on the other. The newbies take it nervously, looking as the more experienced hands take and swallow them first with the luxurious practice of people twice as moderately wealthy as they were last quarter, and sure (but for an unavoidable quantum of doubt) that their smarts and willpower have put them on a path to capital-w Wealth.

After everybody has taken the pill, sat, and transferred their fees to the common account (gold certificates only, that's the rule for this particular crowd) the organizer presses a button on a controller shaped like a silver coin. Everybody had closed their eyes. Half of them open them back and checks their gold holdings without looking at anybody else, alive or not. They leave quickly.

In most universes they'll be back.