The third Cirys sphere in the known galaxy, unless you count the one the Photonic Network have under construction, is to be found in an unconnected system, perhaps twenty light-orbits to nadir of the Qulomna Maze. A computronium matrioshka, this is the “homeworld” of the Sleeper Estivation, one of the better-known of the elder races. Not that that’s saying much.
It can even be visited. There’s a dedicated lighthugger route out of Empta (Qulomna Maze), along which Equivalent Exchange makes a run every fifty years. At no charge to her typical half-dozen or so passengers, moreover – the crew are paid well in high-level computation or fragments of forgotten lore, enough to make them wealthy beyond the dreams of antimatter merchants.
And why would you want to take five decades out of your life to visit it? Well, because the Estivation has an offer for you. No strings attached.
They will tune your mind. Submit a copy of your mind-state to the Sleepers, and they will return you better. Able to think faster, and more clearly, creatively, intuitively, incisively. More perfectly attuned to your goals. The you that you wish you were. (People have investigated many of these copies for hidden traps over the centuries, and none have ever been found.) And finally, since it’s a copy, not a live edit, you don’t have to replace yourself with the new, improved you unless you think it really is an improvement.
Everyone does, of course. The Sleepers are very good at what they do.
And the price? Ah, there’s the catch — you let them keep a copy of you.
Hopeless optimists like to think the Sleepers are bored and lonely, and want company in their virtuality. Less naïve souls assume that the mind-states are being strip-mined for knowledge about the state of the galaxy, amusing memories, or software components. Or, if you listen to the cynical, there’s nothing to say that they aren’t being used in societum simulations, as sophont gamepieces or creativity farms, turned into infovore chow, or brute-force simulated across a trillion death-cubes by postsophont scientists caring nothing for lesser minds.
But then, that’s someone else’s debt to pay now, isn’t it?
Man, turn a copy of yourself over as what is in all likelihood a slave, in exchange for a perfect you who can leave. I’m not sure what I would choose.
“I’m not sure what I would choose.”
Ain’t no way I’d agree to such a thing.
That copy (old ‘me’ or revised ‘me’) ‘is’ me, yeah?
I know ‘me’ and ‘I’ would take a dim view of bein’ ‘sold’, so: i’m damn certain the copy wouldn’t think kindly of me if I did it to him. Last thing I’d want is ‘me’ comin’ after ‘me’, lookin’ for revenge.
Seems to me: a being that self-values would take a dim view of such shenanigans.
‘Seems to me: a being that self-values would take a dim view of such shenanigans.’
And that’s it in a nuthshell, isn’t it: any being willing to endure half a century of travel to revise themselves can’t rank real high in the self-valuing department. Profound self-dissatisfaction.
My theory: the very process of “building the better you” is actually done by the atrocity techniques that the cynics fear.
I have to wonder. Wouldn’t anyone who undertakes the trip be considered a pariah at best and a slaver at worst? Anyone taking advantage of the Sleeper’s Deal has failed the ethical calculus of infinities and asymptotic infinities per, for example, On the Nonjustifiability of Hells: Infinite Punishments for Finite Crimes, Samiv Leiraval-ith-Liuvial, Imperial University of Calmiríë Press, no? How can such a sophont openly return to civilized society?
Alternatively: an ancient race of in-all-likelihood-weakly-godlike intelligences of not inconsiderable power and knowledge is unlikely to find you interesting enough to be worth doing all those things to.
Similarly, if they were actively malicious and did find all those things interesting, your own stellar-englobement projects would have found themselves on the wrong end of a nicoll-dyson beam and your brain would have been already eaten by self-replicating horrors.
So, there’s probably nothing to worry about, for the individual.
Yeah, no-one from any of the young, naive, trusting races have found anything suspicious in the workings of the great old ones? Well, gee, it must be safe then.
Are any of the upgraded folk wired up to the transcend? Maybe when there are enough of them, you’ll discover the scale and subtlety of the whole thing and surprise! Your posthuman intelligence web is now my posthuman intelligence web.
Please do not fraternize with happy fun eldritch immune/reproductive system.