Upon The Sand


From: Facilities Manager, Dendra Residential Tower, Meridian Secundus

Subject: Contemplative CultiVator™ garden maintenance system
Issue: Robot no longer functions, claiming enlightenment
Priority: Normal

We purchased one of your automatic gardening systems some years ago to take care of the sand garden in the central plaza of the Tower. After several years of satisfactory service, the central controller claims to have reached enlightenment (according to remaining system log files), and its operating system appears to have been radically rewritten. Our attempts to perform a reload and reset have not been successful.

Request repair or replacement.


Note to Field Service:

Perform check that Brightline Code engram has not been removed from system.

Note to Customer:

The point and purpose of raking a contemplative sand garden is to perform a meditative exercise with the goal of reaching enlightenment.

We are gratified that our product has done so.

You should be gratified that your garden, too, has fulfilled its telos.

The Complexity of Complexity

In the first volume of our work, reason and natural philosophy have appropriately laid waste to the claims of imbeciles and nihilists by virtue of an inarguable demonstration that the most fundamental rules of ethics are implicit in the very nature of ethical actors themselves, insofar as an examination the ontology of volition itself clearly carries forth these implications.

In the following chapters of this volume, we shall construct a further objective extension to these core ethical principles by addressing the implications of information theory and the study of complexity. In particular, we shall demonstrate the principle that more complex systems are superior to simpler systems – or, rather, that systems whose dynamic properties require more bits to describe are more meritorious, thus more deserving of existence, than those describable in fewer bits.

Destruction, in this paradigm, goes against ethics because it randomizes the system destroyed. (Although a random system requires many bits to describe precisely, its dynamic behavior can be simply expressed as “random”.) Final erasure of information is, of course, worst of all.

To such extent as this may seem simple, it is not. While it is trivial to assert the superior merit, in isolation, of a porcelain tea-set over a pile of fragments, consider, for example, the question of homogeneity. Naively, one might consider a large homogeneous system of little worth, inasmuch as it takes little more information to describe a thousand identical items than a single one, and the resources consumed by the others could be used to instantiate diversity; but this ignores the question of the complexity of their interactions in the larger system – from which the great value we place on ecosystems, which contain many near-identical components, is derived.

In theory, while we speak airily of a system, in reality, there can be no such isolation. Any given situation is inhabited by a complex fractal embedding of multiple conceptual systems on many scales, all of which have their own informational content and complexity, and all of which must be taken into account.

– Ianna Quendocius, Scientific Ethics, introduction to Vol. II