Theories by Bell-Chan.
The Subnet Is A Hyper-Expanding Input-Driven Pocket Universe (debunked)
The Subnet Is A Hyper-Expanding Input-Driven Pocket Universe
I remember hearing discussion about if the Subnet was or was not made by human hands, and one or two postulate that a lost civilization once was or still is within the Subnet somewhere. Some point to Subnet travel as a work of human hands, which seems well and good with knowledge of Murtaugh and Elizabeth, and that common consensus seems to lump in Karma and Submachine travel points as one system, with Karma a far more advanced version of the terminals Subnet travelers are thus familiar with.
The Edge, The Core, and the Sub-bots suggest major infrastructure that can only be found within an extremely advanced civilization, and yet we also encounter ancient ruins and old buildings in disrepair, as well as the rather drab, featureless area seen in sub1. Why the discrepancies in technological level and appearance? And why is everything suspiciously operable by human hands, understandable by human eyes and brain...suspiciously compatible with you, who is ostensibly a human wandering the Subnet?
I point to a sufficiently-advanced human civilization, but it would be all too simple to say the Subnet is the product of human hands; it explains far too little. There are many questions that are raised upon suggesting that, such as "who are they," "where are they," "how come we never see any of them," and so forth. However, the first question that would hop into my mind is, "how advanced?"
They would have to have been the creators of Karma and the Subnet travel terminals, which use an easy-to-fathom X-Y-Z coordinate format, of which we have explored comparatively little as our knowledge of each coordinate stretches only from 0 to the positive digits 1-9. Karma, however, would appear to be a product of the Subnet itself, and necessary for this advanced alternate human civilization to travel the ever-growing Subnet.
Allow me to explain. The fact that the Core and the Edge are so technologically-advanced and apparently the center of the Subnet suggest that before anything else, these were placed here first, and the Core was probably around for quite a while longer than the Edge and its Defense System. The purpose of this was, as far as I can theorize, for spacetime travel at a personal level, without need for special vehicles, time machines, or the like. In order for this alternate-universe human civilization to crack personal dimensional travel, they needed a testing ground: a place that they could bend to their wills as a model for travel in between dimensions. This would make sense from a safety standpoint: you wouldn't want to try this sort of thing for the first time and, say, blast your first explorer right into the vacuum of space, crush them in the bottom of the ocean or toss them right into the jaws of a T-Rex. You would want to test such things under laboratory conditions. So, this civilization created laboratory conditions in a dimension under their control, a subsystem to the system that was, and still is, their reality: the Subnet.
The Subnet is a purpose-built pocket universe which works very much like a laboratory simulation, except everything about it is real: it is a real pocket universe which is used to test personal dimensional travel and alteration. It works under a sort of mental operating system, the very physical rules of the Subnet, to which Karma is a sort of console interface and source code, all in one. The user of Subnet specifies what they need before they enter the Subnet, and they receive it as they enter. Because utilizing Karma removes the need for a physical console, the physical portal terminals we are meant to utilize are an older, yet more reliable system, intended to create a network for travelers who do not have the time to be taught how to operate Karma. The fact it took Murtaugh a while to figure out what he was doing with his Karma arm speaks to the relative simplicity of using a portal as opposed to being trained in the usage of Karma.
In the beginning, the Subnet was probably just one Submachine: the Core, accessible during its construction only by way of the terminals. This was first explored by expendable, unmanned probes: the very first Sub-bots. These would then give way to manned experiments. Eventually, as their exploration into dimensional travel became more frequent, it was deemed necessary to protect their laboratories from any meddling, and so The Edge was created to guard The Core. More advanced Sub-bots were utilized for maintenance and protection, and more frequent manned presence led to the relative ease with which areas of the Subnet can be traversed by a human.
This would explain the level of advanced technology witnessed in The Core and The Edge, but what about elsewhere? The ancient ruins and old buildings are not accounted for. These can be attributed to areas of the alternate universe human's home dimension, utilized as destinations for the first personal dimensional travel runs. They would have been purposefully chosen for their out-of-the-way locations so as to not suddenly spring upon an unsuspecting public and pose a danger that way in any manner of imaginatively gruesome spacetime-bending ways until more goof-proof dimensional travel was mastered. Additionally, spacetime travel, naturally, traverses time as well as space: it could also be very well that these travelers land in other time periods as well, also chosen by the experiment organizers and perhaps Subnet itself to some degree to avoid potential alteration of their home dimension's timeline, if the many timelines theory of time travel proved to be incorrect and time loops proved to be unstable.
This explains the juxtaposition of the hi-tech and the ancient, but one or two wrinkles still remain. The Loop, for example. The Loop is explainable as a buggy area of the synthetic Subnet. Someone must have ordered up a Submachine for experimentation in fast, Karma-boosted travel and system access within Subnet itself and forgot to set the proper boundaries for this specific Submachine. The result was a set of endless identical rooms one after the other with only the most rudimentary systems within. Each puzzle acted as a sort of CAPTCHA to authorize movement between test areas which were all otherwise absolutely identical to one another and equally endless due to this particular gaffe, and only by one of the latest iteration of such a test area was the idea of an escape mechanism finally proposed and approved in the creation of an authorization key in the shape of a leaf. It was stumbling upon this that allowed Murtaugh to get out, as predictably, Karma-boosted travel in the Loop would only put someone in another place in the Loop. Then there is the area from the very first Submachine, which is seen again in a sort of unfinished/disassembled form. It is too featureless to be anything else but a minor test area: probably for training of new lab workers in the ways of the Subnet.
A major gap then starts to come into play in between those who have mastered Karma and those who are very new. This gap is closed for trainees and rookies by the usage of machinery run by the Wisdom Crystals, which were originally power sources bespoke for these specialized machines. Originally some kind of specialized design made outside The Subnet and therefore originally costly and rare to produce the first ones were brought to The Subnet, but eventually as more Wisdom Crystals were made to feed more machines, creating Wisdom Crystals switched from an exo-Subnet activity to a purely intra-Subnet activity, where those skilled in Karma could create Wisdom Crystals as needed. This explains why one never hangs onto Wisdom Crystals after any trip into Subnet. They became a purely Subnet-specific construct and thus simply don't come along for the trip outside areas subnet can touch.
The final piece of this puzzle of what the Subnet is and how it works is the human infestation: Murtaugh's subnet travelers and anyone else who can hop into The Subnet for some reason or another. As I explained before, Subnet creates what the traveler needs, and ONLY what the traveler needs! It demands the traveler knows PRECISELY what they want on the other side, so if a traveler stumbles upon the Subnet without any idea what they need or want on the other side, save for to not die, they create unneeded environments. Their exploration and confusion corrupts the Subnet environment without them doing it on purpose. The unauthorized Subnet explorers are the infestation, which the Core and Edge acknowledge but aren't sure what to do with. This keeps the Subnet getting more and more complex without increasing its population at all.
The Subnet, already large, expands at a terrifying rate due to the infestation, which started with Murtaugh, and perhaps Einstein as an anomaly, perhaps the creation of a creature which an eccentric Subnet researcher wanted to bring along for long stretches into Subnet at a time. Murtaugh only wished to explore and master Subnet, and without any set destination in mind, Subnet just started making things. Anything and everything, starting the initial explosion in Subnet's size, and his followers then worsened the already rampant expansion of Subnet from travelers who only stumbled upon Subnet by accident. Once Subnet's secret was out, the original researchers were scattered, lost in their own creation as the entire universe changed over and over again and became impossible to navigate. Everyone simply got lost as the researchers went elsewhere, the Sub-bots tried to maintain the increasingly complicated universe to no avail, and the whole place went into a form of suspended animation as it became impossible to use properly, and as its original creators left it to grow without their input and they moved their experiments elsewhere. With the alternate reality humans alternately stuck or abandoning the Subnet for their new work, the only individuals left are Murtaugh's followers, Murtaugh himself, and Elizabeth. With The Core unaware that it is now out of a job, it keeps on keeping on, with The Edge running as planned, or at least until sub7.
What is the eventual fate of this Subnet? It is basically left to decay and left to be overrun by the explorers, its new inhabitants left to wander its now-empty depths. Someday, the original creators might come back to reclaim Subnet, but that perhaps is a tale best left for a story outside the tales told in the ever-growing Submachine series.