Everything’s Shiny, Not to Fret

CALMIRÍË, ELIÉRA – The new composition of the Chamber of the People following the 7124 reselection has had little effect on the balance of the Senate, indicate the latest declarations of branch affiliation reported by the Scrupulous Monitor of the Will of the People.

The only statistically significant shift identifiable in the data is a 2.4% shift (0.8% overall) towards Status Quo, which gained 14 out of the 576 Senators up for reselection, these gains coming at the cost of no particular branch. Inasmuch as the Status Quo branch’s platform is one of steadfast opposition to shifts in established policy, it would appear that the Empire’s citizen-shareholders once more continue to be comfortable with the present state of affairs.


14 thoughts on “Everything’s Shiny, Not to Fret

  1. You know, it strikes me that a highly advanced, hypersophont intelligence with the ability to whisper into its own ear from the future and could potentially stack the deck the deck in its favor so that any sort of “random” selection procedure would not only get the results that it wanted, but could do so in such a way that is virtually undetectable except to another similar intelligence that knows what to look for.

    Which leads me to the following questions:

    First, is the stochastic mechanism the Empire uses for the Senate’s sortition truly random, or merely convincingly pseudo-random?

    Second, if the latter, what sorts of mechanisms are in place to make sure it stays that way?

    • There’s no practical way to stop a strongly superhuman intelligence having its way with you, your culture and the rest of your species, if it had the urge to. See also, Canute, holding back the tide, etc.

      Moreover, if it didn’t want you to notice its interference, there’s a reasonable chance that you’d be entirely incapable of doing so. You may as well just carry on as you were, because your own (or collective societal) judgement is inadequate to the task of solving this problem. That’s probably why you bootstrapped your godling(s) in the first place, right?

    • Well, that would all be a bit circular, wouldn’t it?

      Since the Transcend derives its imperatives from the coherent extrapolated volition of its constitutionals, if it were to do that, it would be stacking the deck such that its constitutionals would implement the coherent extrapolated volition of its constitutionals, with total effect close to null.

      (Well, technically, it would be implementing the volition of the best possible version of its constitutionals, but effecting the better angels of one’s nature is a design feature, belike.)

      As for the source of randomness, it’s physically-generated randomness purchased from Practical Noise, ICC, purveyors of random bits and one-time pads made from genuine uncoordinated stellar activity.

      Anyone who really wants to really wants to check on the Transcend’s honesty, of course, is welcome to instantiate themselves into the Shadow Realm, cross the Pearl-Bright Ocean, enter the Twilight City, climb the Grand Celestial Mountain, and read the core imperatives directly from the parchment skin of Mirith, The Words That Bind The Throne…

      …but most folks find it easier to take their own word for it.

  2. Since the Transcend derives its imperatives from the coherent extrapolated volition of its constitutionals, if it were to do that, it would be stacking the deck such that its constitutionals would implement the coherent extrapolated volition of its constitutionals, with total effect close to null.

    I’ve always been a little wary of the idea of coherent extrapolated volition as something that’s actually workable without fundamentally impinging on free will. One could make the case that the you who “knows more, thinks faster, is more the person you wished you were” that a Friendly AI is working with is not actually you in the sense that really matters, even after factoring in pattern-based identities rather than continuity-based ones — you can’t know those things yourself because you can’t be that person without actually making yourself more knowledgeable, faster-thinking, etc., so by relying on a Friendly AI to do that for you you’re essentially surrendering your volition to it so that it can tell you what your volition should be.

    Even if the designers of the FAI are themselves honest, upright, and trying to be objective, and even if the FAI itself is designed likewise, even relatively tiny differences in the variables or the granularity of the computing processes might result in wildly divergent pictures of the final CEV.

    I suppose the fundamental question I’m asking is this: Your current, unmodified volition goes into “the box,” and your coherent extrapolated volition comes out. How do you know if this is really what you would have wanted if you were able to do all the thinking for yourself, and not something that has been incepted into your head based on something fundamentally extrinsic to your actual self, whether accidentally or deliberately?

    • Mu.

      Which is to say, you’re assuming a dichotomy that doesn’t exist. Remember, as I said in answer to an earlier question, 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.. It’s a collective consciousness, like Mars, at its base, not a several system.

      You are the Transcendent soul-shard just as the reverse is also true; its cohereing and eudaimonifying of your volition no more overrides your volition than your superego does when it vetoes your id, or any other such internal transaction. It’s just another part of the internal chorus – one which does, in fact, make you better, faster, smarter, etc., by its presence…

      (Man, this is hard to express adequately in plain English.)

      • (Man, this is hard to express adequately in plain English.)

        “But once I’ve attached this high bandwidth network connection to your corpus callosum you’ll realise how silly all your objections were!”

      • But, by the principle of transitivity, wouldn’t that essentially mean that you (as a constitutional of the Transcend) are also identical to every other member of the Transcend as well?

        And if so — if “your” identity is sublimated and diffused within the greater whole of the Transcend — why maintain the illusion that each constitutional is a separate entity in the first place? Wouldn’t that implicitly mean that all property held by a constitutional of the Transcend essentially becomes “common property” of the Transcend and all its constitutionals? Why do individual constitutionals still treat one another as distinct persons with distinct identities, make explicit contracts with one another, make money transfers, etc. when all of that would be superfluous because the essential functions of such a thing could just as easily (and perhaps more efficiently) be handled through the mediatory influence of the Transcendent overmind itself? Is it all just a comforting charade carried out for the benefit of those who still have reservations about joining? A ritual of some sort? A set of behaviors that are still maintained out of habit or for sentimental reasons?

        Or is there some essential factor that I’m missing here that should help weave together the apparent discrepancies I’m seeing?

          • “If A stands in relation to B, and B stands in like relation to C, then A stands in like relation to C.”

            Or, more specifically with relation to equality: “If A is equal to B, and B is equal to C, then A is equal to C.”

          • I am aware of what transitivity is, I’m just wondering why you think it applies to this particular situation. A component of a whole does not necessarily have to take on the form of the whole or any of the other components. We are subject to group/cultural normalisation, but we still influence the groups and culture we are part of and we’re hardly homogenised, are we?

          • It applies because we’re dealing with something rather more fundamental than simple outward conformity to a common group identity. Most group/cultural normalization processes that us baselines are subject to don’t involve introducing an entirely new component to our minds that actually alters the way we think and perceive ourselves.

            Furthermore, my initial question was predicated on the idea that the relationship between Transcend and constitutional is more like that of a subsidiary entity to a parent entity. Alistair’s “false dichotomy” statement — unless I’m interpreting it wrongly — seems to imply that what’s going on is more like a consolidation of two entities into one.

        • Ugh.

          Okay. Let me try this again.

          All minds, as defined in the ‘verse, are Minskian societies of mind, masses of independently running agents on a shared substrate, from which consciousness, volition, and all other mental properties emerge. (“The Country of the Mind” in Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels would be a good symbolic representation.)

          This, for example, is how technologies like the gnostic overlay work; by patching some new voices into the chorus.

          The Transcendent soul-shard (hence its technical name, logos bridge) serves as a bridge between two societies of mind, carrying messages back and forth, allowing both the participation of the constitutional’s agents in the Transcend’s mentality and the participation of some of the Transcend’s agents in the constitutional’s. This blurs the strict lines of identity, arguably, but it’s not a complete subsumption of identity such as occurs on joining a Fusion; rather, every time a new constitutional Transcends, both they and It become somewhat different people in various ways, wedded together most intimately, but they don’t achieve identity of identity.

          (Incidentally, as I think I mentioned in a 2012 piece, the main reason the Transcend keeps an economy and a governance around, is that they work. Sure, technically, you could replace market coordination with coordination mediated through coadjutors and Transcendent oversouls, but because of that mathematical theorem that demonstrates that even a hypothetical Omniscient Calculator could only at best equal the performance of a free market, not beat it, you’d have nothing to gain except wasted cycles and the lack of a convenient interface to the rest of the universe. Similar logic applies to various other applications.

          Basically, you don’t send an oversoul to do a simpler instrumentality’s job.)

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