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The Lifecycle of Software Objects

Ted Chiang

Book describes world where you can buy digients - digital organisms that 'live' in various parts of Data Earth. Narrator joins a company making digients which can learn like human children.

Problem arises when the company decides it can't make enough profit to maintain the particular world and so shuts it down. The community of 'parents' keeps it up, but needs finance to port their digients over to newer environments. One company offers to fund it, but wants to clone them for sex.

"... our ideas of what constitutes healthy sex have always broadened over time. People used to think homosexuality, BDSM, and polyamory were all symptoms of psychological problems, but there is nothing intrinsic about those activities that's incompatible with a loving relationship. The problem was having one's desires stigmatized by society."

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