Trope-a-Day: Depopulation Bomb

Depopulation Bomb: Two, in eldraeic pre-history: the asteroid impact preceding the Winter of Nightmares, which wiped out almost everyone, and the Gray Wasting, a Precursor bioweapon that got out of its bottle a couple of hundred thousand years later and only managed to kill one-half to two-thirds of everyone. There are also some ruined planets out there to remind everyone that this is not a local phenomenon, either.

In the modern era, this is why people are encouraged to be careful with their bio/nanoweapons, because it’s frighteningly easy to create one of these by accident.


Today’s relevant shout-out goes to Destiny: Rise of Iron for its depiction of a nanotech bloom as something other than the traditional (boring) homogeneous gray goo:

Meet SIVA:


So many of the probable phases, all on display: the hard-shelled geoms (which I conceive of as processing nodes) and bundles of organic-looking transport/processing motile cables, both growing together and through other objects; hazes of foglets, both being excreted by other constructions and moving independently; and (not pictured), streams of liquid nanite soup glowing lava-like with the radiant heat of active [dis]assembly.

If you’re looking for a visual reference for what I envision rampant nanite blooms to look like in the ‘verse, you could do a lot worse.


Trope-a-Day: Death of Personality

Death of Personality: The techniques used to flush the brain of a ‘shell when its current occupant mindcasts out of it…

(Be it the relatively simple job of a cerebral bridge in resetting a Universal Noetic Architecture-compliant brain, biological or digital, to the Minimal Maintenance Architecture, or the rather more complex process of scrubbing a regular, evolved bio-brain, which starts with neural-pattern dissolvers and proceeds through a number of steps to reformat it with the Universal Noetic Architecture.)

…would do this if the body owner didn’t mindcast out first. Well, technically, it does it anyway, but a voluntary copy-and-delete is a move in law, belike.

Technically, it would be considered equivalent to any other kind of capital punishment: simple cognicide. In practice, it’s not used for that purpose, as the only reason to use it is if you wish to salvage the body, and there’s functionally no market at all for most ex-criminal ‘shells. Even if temporary financial embarrassment keeps you away from that new-body smell, there are plenty of rental vatjobs out there without icky histories attached.

A Place Where Renegades Come From

See this?

Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg. Your plan to put an end to disease is a sickeningly bad idea

Well, one place where Renegades come from is when, having read too much of this kind of disgusting ephemeralist agitprop, and noting that advocating for prohibitions or even prohibitionary attitudes on life extension and its related family of technologies amounts to conspiring to murder everyone, forever, they conclude that while it’s not the common interpretation, it’s not really stretching the Right of Common Defense all that far if they go forth into the greater galaxy and cleanse it preemptively of would-be mass-murdering fuckheads, belike.

(While passing sardonic comments about the stubbornness of ephemeralist death-worshippers when it comes to running away from the unbeing they deify.)


Snippet: Non-Identical Values

“The greatest and most misleading heresy of my field is the conflation of value with exchange-value.”

– Academician Teidal Ellestrion,
Economist Excellence,
Imperius Professor of Fiscal Econometrics (Commercial University of Seranth),
Director of the High Guild of Coin and Credit,
Aurarch Emeritus of Éävalle


Question: Good Economics

Out of curiosity, what would be the eldraeic critique of the idea of “Good Economics” as expounded on in the Book of Life, particularly as contrasted with Classical Economics?


It’s a category error, plain and simple. Ironically, a lot of the things they complain about are examples of the exact same category error.

Economics, saith the Academician, is a science. It is to the laws governing utility, value, and exchange-value as physics is to the laws governing gravity, electromagnetism, color, and flavor. It’s a purely descriptive discipline, which is eo ipso amoral, in the same way that while how you use electricity or gravity may involve ethical choices, neither Newton’s nor Faraday’s laws have any ethical significance per se. Is, not ought.

What they’re talking about, with regard to making judgments of worth and dignity and so forth, with regard to what people want, what people want to want, what people ought to want, and what people ought to want, is the province of various other fields, like ethics, and aesthetics, with a side order of culture and religion, and whole bunch of bare-assed personal preferences on the side… exactly none of which goal-driven behaviors are economics, any more than all the ways sophonts have found to move mass and charge around to useful ends are physics, because neither of them talk about goals. They’re about how, not about what.

…and the irony is that when they talk like this:

But if next year, the wrestling society spends a record 11 billion, it is cause for praise: demand is growing, which is always good, irrespective of what it is actually demand for.

“Work is regarded only with respect to its financial status.”

Profit is, too, assessed only in terms of quantity. So long as one stays within the law, classical economics is neutral on the issue of how it is produced. To make profit from running a casino is no more or less admirable, no better or worse, than to make it by designing and constructing  beautiful streets of small houses.

The classical view is neutral about GDP. A society as a whole is assumed to be doing well so long as GDP is growing irrespective of the kinds of activity that lead this to happen. People might be working endless hours, the beauty of the countryside might be despoiled, but all that counts is whether the financial numbers are going up; anything else is irrelevant.

…this is the same category error ascribed to the “classical” side, in which people are assigning ethical and aesthetic qualities to phenomena which no more have them than gravity does. To say that increased demand for X or the greater profitability of Y is good or bad or better or worse in an ethical or aesthetic sense (vis-à-vis a limited utilitarian sense) is the same kind of damn nonsense as saying “more things falling down is (morally) better”.

(Of course, we have the whole mess called normative economics, which an Imperial economist would consider nonsense on stilts.

To such extent as it is merely a discussion of what one ought to want, it isn’t economics, as above. To such extent as it isn’t, it makes about as much sense as writing down your idea for how gravity ought to work and expecting results. You don’t get to have normative views on natural laws unless you’re in the reality-construction business, and if anything, the laws of economics are probably less tractable than those of physics that way.)