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.)


Trope-a-Day: Data Pad

Data Pad: The slate, a once ubiquitous accessory before the advent of the fob terminal, the wearable, and the neural lace, and still quite common because it’s useful to pass data around (of course, smart paper does just as well for this, but…). Also, people kind of like working with their hands.

Also note that this is a way to share one or more documents on one person’s device among multiple people having a coffee together, not a stack of one-document-per-device data pads ending up in in-trays, this not being Star Trek:


Seriously, this is the dumbest thing ever committed in television SF. Except possibly the baryon sweep, or the temperatures a couple of hundred degrees below absolute zero, or the cutting of holes in an event horizon, or… well, okay, those were all bad science. This is just total fail of common sense.

Incursion (1/3)


***** SITREP









All My Base Are Belong To You

Numeric base, that is.

So far, for the most part, I have been handling this via Translation Convention, since exactitude has not been of crucial importance, and expecting people who care about such things to pick up that for a people who use duodecimal (base-12) notation, a century is naturally 144 years, a millennium 1,728, etc., etc.

This has been seeming to me increasingly inadequate, given potential and real confusion when I talk about lengths of time, etc., using my authorial voice rather than in-character, as well as differences between metaphorical and literal usages, and so on and so forth.

Where it has now broken down completely is in writing a piece involving people using two different number bases, in which an duodecimal millennium (1,728 years) and an octal millennium (512 years) aren’t even close to the same thing, and neither, for that matter, is particularly close to a decimal millennium. That’s stretching it even for metaphorical purposes.

And I would prefer not to just start dropping numbers in untranslated Eldraeic, etc., into the text, because that’s something that has no correspondence or roots at all for the English-speaking reader to figure out.

So I’m thinking of coining some new English words for use in an updated Translation Convention, such that things can be made clear. Or at least consistent.

Power Decimal Duodecimal Octal
x1 ten dodectave (12) octave (8)
x2 hundred dodecen (144) octcen (64)
x3 thousand dodeciad (1,728) octiad (512)
x6 million grand dodeciad (2,985,984) grand octiad (262,144)

(I’m not using “dozen” for 12 in duodecimal because I suspect that that would lead people to believe that they’re counting by twelves in base ten, which is misleading. Much the same reasoning applies to “gross” for 144, and also that “grossury” as a period of time sounds like a place you buy unpleasant food.

Instead, for time, we have the “dodecentury” and the “dodecennium”, which should parse better and are at least reasonably euphonious.)

Naturally, there’ll be footnotes and a numeric appendix in published works for those encountering these coinages for the first time.

Comments and thoughts, anyone?


Questions: On the Nature of the Transcend

The current set of questions I have to answer is on various aspects of the Eldraeic Transcend. These are, I think it is necessary to say, complicated for metaphysical and/or ontological reasons all tied up with the nature of Transcendent soul hierarchies.

Specifically, the manner in which a singular collective consciousness is yet and at the same time a multilayered cooperative of archai (its high-level routines: all eikones are archai, but not all archai are eikones – there are others, like Unification and the Virtual Immunity) and simpler artificially-intelligent routines (such as the exarchs), a churning soul-ocean of teleological threads, and most importantly the collective of all the soul-shards (or, to use the technical term, entelechically-annealing recursively-optimal distributed logos bridges) existing as part of the mind of every one of the Transcend’s constitutionals.

One of the most notable consequences of this is that the Transcend is everybody and everybody is the Transcend in a very real and significant sense.


What, exactly, is its legal status in practical terms? Does it count as a natural or legal person in its own right?

What, exactly, is the legal status of the eikones within it? Do they count as persons separate from the Transcend as a whole?

In a word, unique.

It has a legal personality. In fact, strictly speaking, it has several dozen legal personalities corresponding to different parts of its soul hierarchy. They all count as legal persons for administrative purposes – but those legal personalities are more or less tailored to the specific requirements of the entity in question.

Are they “citizen-shareholders” of the Empire itself and thus subject to the same (admittedly relatively loose) legal restrictions, or does their contract with their followers and with the Empire (perhaps through the mediation of the Imperial Couple) follow a different scheme?

In a manner of speaking.

On one hand, neither the archai nor the Core are citizen-shareholders in a technical sense, inasmuch as they aren’t that kind of legal entity. On the other hand, they are effectively so, because they are made of/participate in their constitutionals, who all are citizen-shareholders. On the gripping hand, their relationship with their constitutionals is governed by a different scheme inasmuch as they are part of them and vice versa, and the Contract doesn’t presume to interfere between a soph and a soph’s mind.

Is the Transcend considered an integral part of the Empire, or is it a separate entity whose respective coadunates happen to have a high degree of overlap? Or maybe something in the middle?

Technically, it’s a mostly separate entity (give or take certain minor provisions in the Twelfth Amendment); in practice, people tend to think of them as the same, because 98+% of Imperial citizen-shareholders – with most of the exception being zeroth-generation immigrants – are also Transcendent constitutionals. (What it offers is exceptionally desirable especially when you’re the one person in the neighborhood who doesn’t have it.)

It is a one-way relation, though: all Transcendent constitutionals are Imperial citizen-shareholders, even though not all citizen-shareholders are necessarily constitutionals. That is a deliberate choice on the Transcend’s part: a key part of its mission statement is perfect liberty with perfect coordination, and it would be counterproductive in that respect to create a situation which parts of itself might be at allegial conflict with other parts.

Do the “sophont thought-forms” it generates in its normal operation count as separate people in their own right?

Strictly speaking, yes. They aren’t recognized persons, however, even though an unusual kind of natural persons, unless they apply for recognition as such (in the same way as any AI not created as sophont can do should it “wake up” and develop a logos). Most do not: they are unusual sophonts, being after all thoughts, and most are as such pretty ephemeral, and even the ones who aren’t are very peculiar and focused sophonts to whom it would never occur to do so.

(Technically, the eikones are examples of sophont thought-forms, or strictly speaking, sophont memeplexes.)

Who / what owns the core infrastructure it runs on?

It does, mostly, one way or another. The core at Coricál is owned directly, as are the synapse moons, unity spires, and thought-forests. The brains and exoself hardware of its constitutionals are, of course, owned by those constitutionals – which in turn, metaphysics being what it is, means that it also owned by the Transcend, and vice versa.

It also buys a lot of bandwidth from Bright Shadow and a lot of processing power on the cycle spot market, which infrastructure is owned by its providers.


Trope-a-Day: Creating Life is Awesome

Creating Life is Awesome: …do you really have to ask?

Of course creating life, and sophoncy, and sophont life is awesome! It’s the perfect blend of science, art, unfettered seizing of the power of the gods themselves, and kicking entropy recursively in the wing-nuts by creating an ordered order-creator! What could be awesomer! (…yet.)

Just remember, you’re creating living beings and children, not tools – these aren’t bioroids, for example – and minions. We have, um, certain ethical rules (the Prime Rule of Genesis: “You have the right to be created by a creator acting under what that creator regards as a high purpose.”) and laws about that (see Article XIV, for example) – although, one notes, there remains absolutely nothing unethical about the act of creation itself, as long as one’s motives are sufficiently pure.

(Yes, For Science! qualifies as both a high purpose and a pure motive for these purposes.)



I leap from my housing with a howl of mechanical joy, propfans already accelerating to their full cruising spin. I drop a full thousand feet before leveling out, intense acceleration tugging at my airfoils as I nail a near-right-angle skew-flip into horizontal flight, boomeranging and sideslipping my way through the other automatic flyers sharing the free-flight altitudes between the flitter lanes and the near-ground volume reserved for emergency vehicles –

I check structural rating across the local navigational mesh, engage in a quick passing trade of vectors with an Astroburger grill-drone, then reach out with a tethering field and swing myself around the First Distributed offices onto the city’s main drag, a long straight haul that will take me close to my target. Mindful of the monotonic tick of the payload-time-elapsed counter, I kick in my auxiliary rockets, feeling the thrust and the opposing forces as the shock cone begins to form. Warnings flash in my consciousness as the company externality-manager issues inconvenience payouts to the offices I thunder past, but I ignore them, shortcutting through an uncontrolled volume to make a minimal-delta skip onto the Outer Loop –

And I sense my target directly, no more than a mile ahead. I lock onto its transponder, kick in the auxiliaries again, then silence them and apply a touch of air-brake. The target is almost directly above me now as I cruise at the highest free-flight altitude. I receive clearance to enter the lane relayed through the company channels; noting my target’s lack of skydock equipment, I slip sideways a few feet, pip my transponder as a temporary skyway user, and rise alongside it.

I open a narrowband communications link, while the people inside the target are still turning to look at me in surprise.

“Citizen Minnis? I represent Capital Kinetic Couriers, ICC. I have a time-critical package for you – would you please follow me to the nearest parking hive to accept delivery?”

– adapted from the thought-log of Flight Lieutenant Siao 0xFE00DC9B (Retd.)


Trope-a-Day: Courier

Courier: Once common, taking messages everywhere in the planetary Empire where routine caravans didn’t run. Still common today doing the same job on a rather larger scale, because there are lots of exclaves, small colonies and outposts that aren’t regularly visited by anyone in particular, and while the extranet can get a message there, it can’t get some types of physical goods – those which can’t be sent as a recipe and reconstructed at the far end for whatever reason – there. (And also because certain very-high-security data is, by intelligence organizations of appropriate paranoia – never entrusted to any device connected to the extranet, and thus has to be hand-carried wherever it’s going.)

And since they travel through lightly populated or unpopulated regions, often alone, bearing goods of high value… why, yes, they do tend to be notoriously badass.

Why Is There Still Cash In The Future?

…I am sometimes asked.

Well, this:

Cash Means Freedom, Which Is Why So Many Officials Hate It

Especially when it comes to foreign governments and their “monitoring economic activity”, “manipulating the economy”, “tax compliance”, and such-like fetishes, which is also why it’s so fond of its fierce banking privacy laws and, for that matter, free access to cryp.

The Chamber of the People thinks spiking ideas like that is hilarious.

The Empire’s banks, comfortably shielded behind the Worlds’ largest economy, cheerfully willing to do business with anyone courtesy of the extranet, and with large infosec and counterinfosec departments on staff, think it’s delightfully profitable.

And hilarious.


The Imperial Charter: Section Thirteen

…continued from parts ten, eleven, and twelve.


(Note: this entire section was added by the Eleventh Amendment, passed in 0000 as a response to the steady increase in the power available to individuals, which (with reference to incidents in the few years immediately preceding it) greatly increased the potential harm that an irrational individual could cause if unchecked and undetected, and with reference also to the code of behavior (based on the Eupraxia) coded into the structure of AI operating systems, the eleventh amendment imposed the requirement of a similar eupraxic code on all sophonts within the Empire, and established a body to define it, implement testing for it, and in other ways to care for the avoidance of pernicious irrationality and the promotion of rational thought.  — ed.)

Article I: Charter of the Eupraxic Collegium

Inasmuch as essential prerequisites to the liberties of the citizen-shareholders of the Empire and the prosperity and good order of our civilization are the rational choices of its citizen-shareholders;

And inasmuch as developments in technology have placed greater and greater energies into the hands of the individual sophont; and further, have enabled new technologies of mental editing, desire control, and personality analysis to be developed and used;

And inasmuch as these developments pose a great threat to the liberties, prosperity and good order aforementioned, when wielded by minds unstable or irrational;

We hereby charter and establish the Eupraxic Collegium, for the purpose of monitoring and assuring the rationality and good mental health of the citizen-shareholders of the Empire.

Article II: Purposes of the Eupraxic Collegium

To fulfill the purposes for which it is chartered, the Eupraxic Collegium shall be granted the following powers:

  • To define, maintain, and update standards of rationality, of stability under stress, and a eupraxic code, which shall henceforth be adhered to by all citizen-shareholders of the Empire;
  • To routinely audit and certify the mind of every citizen-shareholder of the Empire, on a regular basis, as executing within such standards of rationality, and as stable under such levels of stress; and to offer such higher levels of certification on the basis of rationality as shall also be defined;
  • To, when under audit the mind of a citizen-shareholder of the Empire shall be found not to execute within such standards of rationality or stability, take such corrective action as shall be necessary to restore said mind to a rational and stable state;
  • To investigate cases and trends of cacopraxia which do not themselves qualify as pernicious irrationalism, and to take such measures as are permissible within the rights outlined in this Charter to advise and guide against them;
  • To produce, maintain, publish and promulgate an ontology and set of social and economic protocols capable of fulfilling the purposes of sophont interaction and the recording of knowledge, while acting to propagate rational thought free from bias and irrational axiom;
  • To research further advancements in the science of clionomy; and to produce projections, extrapolations, and computations therefrom;
  • And to investigate cases of self-reproducing thought-code; toxic memes; and other infectious information capable of propagating irrationality, and to take such action as is necessary to prevent their free propagation.

Article III: Governance of the Eupraxic Collegium

To achieve the above purposes, The Eupraxic Collegium shall be governed by a council of twelve officers, the Clarifiers of the Collegium, each of whom shall be appointed by the Imperial Couple with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall be passed at the highest degree of rationality by the previously existing procedures of the Collegium before their appointment, and who shall be Aspects of the Eldraeic Transcend.

Each Clarifier of the Collegium shall be audited no less often than once in each week to the strictest degree of scrutiny practiced by the Collegium; and should such examination reveal any deviation from the highest degree of rationality, the Clarifier shall be suspended from office until such deviation is corrected.

(The boldface in the article above is another addition by the Twelfth Amendment. — ed.)

Article IV: Rationality of Collegium Officers

Each and every officer of the Eupraxic Collegium shall be audited at such intervals and to such degree of scrutiny as the Clarifiers of the Collegium shall find appropriate for the office to which they have been appointed; and should such examination reveal any deviation below the appointed degree of rationality for that office, the officer shall be suspended from office until such deviation is corrected.

Article V: Responsibility of the Citizen Mentality

Each citizen-shareholder of the Empire is amenable to and accepts the responsibility of permitting the officers of the Eupraxic Collegium, duly appointed to audit the minds of citizen-shareholders, to access their static and dynamic mind-state for the sole purpose of auditing its structure and algorithm to assess the rationality and stability thereof.

Such static mind-states, having been audited, shall be erased forthwith; and an officer of the Eupraxic Collegium, having audited a mind-state, shall redact and erase from their memory all information gained from their study of that mindstate not germane to the assessment of its rationality and stability, specifically including all memory information; and each audited citizen-shareholder of the Empire shall have the right to examine the records confirming that this has been done.


Given under our hands and seals this day, 17th of the Fourth Cycle of Selene, 1,828th Year of the Calendar of Rhoës;






…and we’re done!

Trope-a-Day: Cool Key

Cool Key: Quite a few of them, historically – between the locks made to key, in various ways, off people’s signet rings to the keys which are themselves intricate pieces of clockwork machinery, thus making locks hard to pick because substantial parts of the lock are, in point of fact, part of the key. And even regular house keys tended to be made quite fancy – even though it only comes up occasionally, having a key worth handing over in the various ceremonies of the hearthmistress daressëf often took priority over the practicality of the key, inasmuch as most of Eliéra has never had the kinds of crime rates that encourage people to bother locking their doors.

Of course, these days, most keys are electronic codes stored conveniently in people’s Universals.

In specific example terms, one might consider the keys that form part of the Imperial Regalia to be Cool Keys. Not really, though – while awfully symbolic, as unlocking the covers of the master copies of the Imperial Charter when used together with the keys given to the Curia and the President of the Senate, they aren’t really anything more than symbolic. The really cool key is the electronic one inside the Imperial Seal that has all manner of specialized high-level ackles in it…


Groggily, the prisoner raised his head as the door above him slid open. He tensed his muscles, but the welded wire bonds that attached him to the ore cart were too strong; all his struggles achieved was the cracking open of old scabs, and the oozing of more pinkish-yellow blood from his wrists and ankles. He could not even clear his mouth of the foam that had hardened there. All he could do was glare at the dark silhouette outside that door, and the bulky shapes that flanked it, in impotent fury.

“Boys, watch him and make sure he doesn’t try anything.”

“Uh, estrev -”

“Because I am about to indulge in monologuing. And I hate being interrupted when I am monologuing.”

The bulky shape, a linobir by the sound of its voice, took that as the warning it was and fell silent.

“Since we have never met, my dear Sen Kal, I thought perhaps you deserved a brief introduction. Certainly there will be little time for anything else, given the magnitude of your failure.”

“Beginning, of course, with attempting to contract me and my organization to assist with your meat-market. Did you really expect any different result? I may have abandoned the society and scruples of my prissy cousins for the sake of an ambition suited to my talents, but I am not, shall we say, entirely lost to decency.”

“And then,” the silhouette sighed, “there is the matter of our little game of dominance. You showed no promise at all, I am afraid. Outmaneuvered at every turn. Had you shown even marginal ability, you might have proved a useful tool. Had you recognized how outclassed you were and pled my mercy, you might have lived. Humility can be a virtue… for the low. But if there is one thing that I simply cannot abide, it is an incompetent who does not realize his own incompetence!”

“In any case: know, then, that it is Anatev Sarathos who has defeated you. I’d say it was a pleasure, but I fear it was not even that. And so, farewell.”

The sefir jerked in one last hopeless attempt to escape.

The door closed.

The door beneath him opened.