Eldraeic Words of the Day

grangár: to consume, to ingest, (alternative) to eat

glágrang: intemperate consumption, gluttony

alathglágrang: (“knowledge-gluttony”) intemperate absorption of knowledge; essentially, the tendency to disappear into the library and not be seen until days later, passed out on a heap of books, having succumbed to the irresistible temptation of so much knowledge collected in one place.

alathglágrandár: one who indulges in, or is prone to indulge in, an alathglágrang. In theory, a pejorative term; in practice, no-one acculturated to Imperial norms will think too badly of an alathglágrandár in general, only inasmuch as doing so can on occasion be a damned inconvenience.

súnashír: (from súnar “brilliant, shining” + sashír “glamor”) awesome

andrakith: (from andra “fire” + ankithel “emotion, passion”) inspired; possessed by inspiration

trasúnashír anandrakithef: the state or quality of inspiring others with the aura of one’s personal reputation, deeds, qalasír, etc.; inf. “awesomeness”

argylayékith: (from argyr “merit” + layés “longing” + ankithel “emotion, passion”) a manner of carrying oneself such that other people wish to be more like one; inf. “coolness”

dísgalith: (from dísil “difficulty, challenge to be overcome” + galith “challenger; to attempt”) daring

traqanédaëljír dísgalithef: (from qané “a little” + daëlin “probability” + jír “choice” and dísgalith “daring”) willingness to attempt deeds that few would consider; inf. “radicalness”

It’s Not Quite a Smeerp

So, some worldbuilding notes on the nature of greenlife…

It’s easy to make the assumption that it’s just Earth-life in every way, especially since I tend to use the Earth-parallel names for things to create a sense of familiarity.

But a thing worth bearing in mind is that the Precursor genetic-distinctiveness harvesting vessel Incomprehensible Draconic Screeching collected its samples of Earthly life, the ancestors of Eliéra greenlife, around 360,000 years before present time.

This is, in short, before the domestication of anything, plant or animal, a process which has a lot to do with how modern plants and animals appear and, in some cases, behave. So while greenlife is from the same biochemical family as Earth life, it’s been through various different paths of descent that often result in a rather different organism.

Let’s talk some examples, starting with plants.

  • The múleth, or apple, is actually one of the least odd-looking cases, even though it wasn’t domesticated here on Earth until 10,000-4,000 years ago, mostly because it was being domesticated for many of the same traits. Thousands of cultivars exist; it’s just that none of them are the same cultivars. The most obvious thing, as you would see upon picking up a children’s book which includes the equivalent of “A is for Apple”, is that the modal Eliéran apple isn’t green; it’s golden. Green apples are a small minority among the cultivars. There are also more than a few purple apples, which while they do exist on Earth, are confined to one rare cultivar from a particular Tibetan region.

  • Oranges, on the other hand, don’t exist. The sweet orange as we know it today is the product of a deliberate post-domestication cross between the mandarin and the pomelo, and doesn’t show up in our history until a couple of hundred BCE, in China, not making it to Europe until well into the common era. Naturally, they have a whole lot of fruits bred out of the primordial citrus they did have (given that the genus Citrus is infamous for its hybridization), but while there is a rubescent citrus serelléth (“bloodfruit”) that is very popular in the fruit dishes and juicers of the Empire, it’s not a direct counterpart of our sweet orange. The closest direct counterpart you’ll find is something like a pinkish mandarin.

  • And then to grains. There is corn (by which I mean maize), but it wasn’t domesticated until around 10,000 years ago in Mexico, and even then, it looked nothing like the fat yellow kernels found in your local grocery store, which are entirely an agroindustrial creation. While the maize that was developed on Eliéra by the Aictectep shares some of the traits of our cultigen – insofar as those traits were necessary steps in turning it into a useful food plant for a civilization – the red-and-purple spatter-patterns, etc., of the primordial teosintes it was developed out of are retained in the Eliéran version, for example. (You can see a particularly good example on the planetary crest of Ponratectep (Talie Marches), being rather more prominent than even that world’s famed fire opals.)

  • One of the most immediately recognizable grains to our eyes would be rice, among other grain crops. It is, after all, amazing what grass varietals can do, and how robust they are. It is not as close a cousin to Oryza sativa as it might appear – and it is often rather more colorful that we could expect, compared to most of our commercial rice – but it’s very close to the same grain.

    What we might not expect as the number of cultivars of an offshoot species which has developed salt sensitivity to the point where it can be grown in, and even prefers, coastal salt marshlands and even floating seawater paddies.

    (And, of course, in very familiar-looking grasses, there is dyanail (“bamboo”), although the number of cultivars and engineered varieties in the modern era would be quite something to see.)

  • Coffee, on the other hand, does not exist either (it doesn’t appear in Earth records until the 15th century or thereabouts, unless you credit the 9th-century attribution of the legend about Kaldi’s buzzed goats). Esklav, while drunk like coffee, isn’t coffee; while Esklavea sendaren probably does share part of its ancestry with Coffea spp., they’ve both diverged a lot since then. It also has qualities that suggest a partial ancestry descending from Theobroma, but since the closest relation that bears to Coffea is that they’re both eudicots, it suggests someone’s been mucking about in their genomes along the way, and that’s not just the radioactivity.

    At least some cousin of Theobroma cacao managed to make it through close enough to be recognizable, even if the product doesn’t taste quite the same and is somewhat lighter in color.

  • And now to animals. Let’s start with man’s best friend, the dog, who might kind of be the same as eldrae’s best friend, the bandal.

    Well, sort of. See, the dog was domesticated in human history no later than around 15,000 years before present, but no earlier than 40,000-30,000 years before present, which is the point, we believe, at which they diverge from their now-extinct wolf ancestor (not the grey wolf). This ancestor doesn’t turn up in the record until around 129,000 years before present, which is still a good long way from 360,000 years.

    So while Bandal vocíëvis is definitely a wolf-like canine (family canidae, subfamily caninae, tribe canini, and probably-mostly subtribe canina, despite some likely admixture of Aenocyon dirus), you could make some interesting arguments as to whether it is or is not technically a member of the genus Canis. (It probably is; after all, Canis spp. were around well before the genetic harvest, and it is probably interfertile with C. familiaris, C. lupus, C. latrans, etc., because the Canis species are like that.

    In any case, they’re very good boys. Yes, they are. Even if they’re second or third cousins a couple of times removed.

  • “You think that’s cow you’re eating now?”

    If you order a steak *there*, you’re getting quebérúr. Now, quebérúr is delicious red meat, to be sure, but it’s doesn’t come from the domestic cow (first seen in the form of the zebu, maybe 8,000 years before present), or indeed from anything in the genus Bos, although it is one of the Bovina. The closest relative of the quebérúr on earth is its distant cousin the bison (Bison bison), as you might be able to tell from its distinctive humped back, but their common ancestor is back in the now-extinct megafauna. It is, in fact, a bloody big piece of pot-roast on the hoof, given that the typical quebérúr is around 3,500 lbs and 7′ at the shoulder; also known for their sharp, downturned horns, and thick, shaggy – like Highland cattle – black coats.

    Guess the radiation was good for them, huh?

  • The sevesúr isn’t exactly a chicken (domesticated about 8,000 years ago), either. Or a turkey. Or even a guineafowl. They’re certainly order Galliformes, superfamily Phasianoidea, and maybe even family Phasianidae, but further taxonomy is not available at this time.

  • And finally, we get to horses (domesticated on Earth on the Central Asian steppe, about 5,000 years ago). Well, sad as it is to say for would-be equestrians, none of the common riding animals on Eliéra are equines, or indeed greenlife. There are the cerrúr and the certárúr, both of which are bluelife hexapeds. The latter is a rather dull, plodding creature which one might consider analogous to a bluelife ox – mostly kept as heavyweight draft animals, and for leather and parchment, which can be repeatedly harvested from the skins they shed in spring; the former, while a intelligent and agile riding animal, has more in common morphologically with some of the larger species of deer than with horses, and is not terribly suited for any but light draft work.

So, this has been your quick trip into just how variant Earth-descended life got when you take it early and abandon it on another planet for a few millennia. Hope it was a somewhat interesting peek into the process of making exotic worlds a little more exotic.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: fanc

fanc: (pron. “fansh”) a flaw or defect; an imperfection

from which

talifanc: (from talis “truth” + fanc) an imperfection whose presence indicates authenticity; examples would include inclusions in natural gemstones, grain in natural wood, and unintentional variations in hand-crafted objects; compare Jp. wabi.

and also

lin-fanc: the Flaw; entropy.

Gender Transition

So, I have received some questions and noticed some little curiosity recently about what the process of gender transition/sex reassignment looks like in the ‘verse, or since that is highly variable, in the Empire.

Well, it goes something like this – and this is the procedure and the whole of the procedure, which requires no permissions or approvals from anyone:

You pay a visit to the local branch of Novacorpora. (This will not be difficult. They’re everywhere – basically the Starbucks of bodysculpt parlors.)

You say, “I can haz new [appropriate-sex] body?”

They say, “We can haz deposit?”

You give them the 12%. (It is slightly higher in some cases – such as female-to-male, for humans – because you don’t have the relevant chromosome and they have to synthesize a compatible one. But that’s just an implementation detail.)

You stick your hand in the fancy laser-genetic-sequencing-machine when they ask you to. It goes beep, and then there’s a brief discussion (and possibly some holography) of any non-genetic features you have that you want preserved in your new body.

They ask you to come back in a week. (Unless you feel like paying over the odds for even-faster-than-regular-forced-growth cloning rates and went to a different store in the first place, but we’re assuming the default consumer version here.)

You come back a week later. They usher you into the changing room at the back, where you get to stare at an [appropriate-sex] version of you in a forced-growth tube. They cough to get your attention. You stop ogling yourself. (They laugh, and say that everyone does it the first time.)

They set up the cerebral bridge to put you into your new body. (There is a brief discussion of animus/anima/animua/animin remapping, but as you are what Earth would call a trans person, you don’t need that particular service.) You change into a medical coverall and sit down in the chair.


You wake up. By the clock on the wall, a couple of hours have passed, but right now you’re busy coughing growth-tank fluid out of your lungs. They hand you a towel. Your eyes ache in the peculiar way of eyes that have never been used before, but it soon passes. You look over at your old body, now running the Minimal Maintenance Architecture. It’s breathing, but it looks comatose.

They help you over to a chair and help you dress – well, unless you were good at guessing your new sizes and brought your own, help you dress in a fresh new set of GenericWear™. You’re hungry. Food is provided, all food you can eat with a rubber spoon, but in fairness you have to learn how to use a brand-new nervous system. There’s not enough of it, either, but they gently remind you that your digestive tract is new to all this, too.

Part of the forced-growth process involves teaching your new cerebellum how to operate, so it’s not as bad as it could be, and an hour or so of practice has you able to manipulate objects and walk around without falling over. They suggest that you wait a few days before operating heavy machinery anyway, just in case, as recommended in the pamphlet they hand you, Care and Feeding of Your New Body.

There’s a little legal paperwork to read through, details of the Identity Tribunal confirming that you are, in fact, still you and updating all the relevant records with your shiny new Body Identification Number so that all the biometric stuff in the world still works. That uses up another few minutes; the Imperial Service is efficient.

You pay at the desk. They ask you what you want done with your old body – they can ship it to cold storage for you, or put it up for resale, or arrange for biowaste disposal (i.e., euthanasia and incineration). It’s up to you – it’s still your property, even if you’re not living there any more. You ask them to keep it on site for a couple of days while you think about it. It’s not a problem.

You’re done here, so you go about your day. You catch sight of yourself in the store window as you leave. Damn, you look good.

Sketchy Orions

Hello, and welcome once again to Truly Awful Whiteboard Pictures season, as I present to you the basic workings of a nuclear-pulse Orion drive, Empire-style. Or at least Empire-of-the-Spaceflight-Initiative-Era style. Mostly so that I can refer to it later and y’all’ll know what I’m talking about.

Behold ye first (and note that I’m not really getting into explaining the Orion drive itself at this point: for that see here, which should give you an idea of what I’m riffing on) an exceptionally crude and simplified illustration of the mechanics of the drive itself:

A crude diagram of the mechanics of the Empire's nuclear-pulse drive.

The way this works as part of each firing cycle is approximately this:

  1. A pulse unit, taken from the magazines, is fed by the loader into the breech/spinner and magnetically suspended there. The “spinner” spins it up for the purpose of spin-stabilization, as later in the process, it will be vitally important that the coaxial firing laser be able to lay a beam on the lens at one end of the soda-can-sized pulse unit.
  2. The irises (both the primary one built into the pusher plate, and the secondary one at the end of the coilgun, snap open to let the pulse unit pass.
  3. The coilgun throws the pulse unit out and down towards firing position.
  4. As the pulse unit reaches firing position, the firing laser delivers an ignition pulse to it (right down the now-empty bore of the coilgun). The pulse unit does its prompt critical thing.
  5. Immediately afterwards, before the plasma from the pulse unit detonation can reach the pusher plate, the primary and secondary irises snap closed to protect the firing mechanism from the detonation.
  6. And repeat for the next cycle.

As for the pulse units themselves, they look like this. Very roughly, as I’m eliminating all the complexity that goes into making them Happy Fun Shaped Charges as well as streamlined, spin-stabilized projectiles. Conceptual only:

Crude sketches of fission and fusion pulse units for 'verse Orion drives.

The upper one is the old-style fission-based unit. Basically, it’s a laser-triggered fission bomb. The firing laser hits the beamcatcher lens, which splits the laser impulse into many beamlets proceeding along optical fibers, which are set up so that the laser impulselets reach the various explosive lenses surrounding the pit at the same moment. Implosion, prompt criticality, and fission pulse proceed to happen.

The lower one is the new hotness fusion-based unit. It’s a laser-triggered pure fusion bomb. In this case, the beamcatcher lens focuses the considerably more powerful laser impulse onto a parabolic mirror and needed secondary mirrors (not shown), for the purpose of delivering the laser impulse to all sides of a fusible pellet at the same time, even as the mirrors themselves are busy vaporizing. Fusible pellet hits inertially-confined criticality, and fusion pulse proceeds to happen.

The important thing to note here is that as much of the complexity as possible has been offloaded from the pulse units to the drive, inasmuch as you might want to knock a quick thousand pulse units out in the field with a relatively crude shipboard machine shop, which is not something you would expect to be able to build the drive.

Smol But Effective


Operated by: The canine orbital mechanics of regular orbital mechanics.
Type: Orbital transfer/service vehicle.
Construction: Horizon Cageworks, ICC

Length: 2.2 m
Beam: 1.7 m
Dry mass: 784 kg

Gravity-well capable: No.
Atmosphere capable: No.

Personnel: 1 smart dog (prosophont bandal partial uplift)


  • Propulsion Dynamics, ICC HX-3 Husky low-thrust orbital maneuvering engine
  • Propulsion Dynamics, ICC cold-gas reaction-control assembly
  • Horizon OrbitSpace, ICC reaction wheels

Propellant: Liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen mix.
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 0.25 g
Δv reserve: 1,350 m/s


  • Orbital Positioning System
  • Star tracker
  • Passive EM array
  • Short-range collision avoidance and docking radar
  • Transponder

Other Systems:

  • Cognitech, ICC/Family of Species, ICC “Radio Sniffer” audio-olfactory merkwelt translation system
  • Cognitech, ICC/Family of Species, ICC “Starlight Barking” multimodal communications system
  • Exogenesis, ICC AI pilot-assist and remote override system
  • Omnidirectional radio transceiver
  • 3 x Extropa Energy, ICC accumulators
  • Systemic Integrated Technologies radiative striping/solar power collection systems
  • 1 x Extropa Energy, ICC hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell
  • Canned (non-regenerative) life support; CO₂ scrubbers
  • High-intensity LED work lights
  • 4 x fixed-point multipurpose, interchangeable-tool work arms (Horizon OrbitSpace, ICC)
  • optional satellite servicing kit, tool platform, and component rack (Horizon OrbitSpace, ICC)
  • optional interchangeable drop tanks for use with refueling probe
  • optional debris-collecting shield, basket, and tow cables


The Gerraway-By-class of “micro” orbital service vehicle was a unique oddity brought to life by the circumstances of the early space era, and a chance meeting at the Look Out Below Café and Bar. Specifically, a wide-ranging discussion over several beers between some of the celestime architects from Horizon Cageworks, a number of gentlesophs working in various orbital industries, and a trainer of working bandal – and more specifically their “smart dog” variants who had undergone stage one uplift – who happened to be visiting the platform at the time. The topic was the increasing amount of grunt work – refueling satellites, performing basic maintenance, debris collection – that maintaining orbital industry required, and how inefficient it was to continue carrying this out by hand.

The result, a design outline found scribbled on a pile of napkins delivered to the Horizon offices the next morning, was the Gerraway-By.

In its essentials a shrunk-down version of the Minnal-class workpod – refactored so that one or two Gerraway-Bys could be carried by a Minnal, or several by an OTV – the Gerraway-By was intended as a means to bring our old friends with us into the space age. While AI was not quite ready for independent use performing the necessary tasks, it was more than capable of operating in conjunction with a well-trained working bandal, and their eldrae supervisor, to command a small service vehicle operating from a larger ship.

Combined with the work into uplift carried out by Family of Species and Cognitech’s beginning research into merkwelt translation easing interface difficulties, the timing was perfect for an entirely new kind of spacedog to take their place shepherding Eliéra’s increasingly crowded low orbitals, and a new era of partnership was born.

(Not) Eldraeic Word of the Day: Oolkor Voäin

oolkor voäin: A gutterspeak corruption of the Low Eldraeic, and Trade, phrase ulquor vohaïnár, literally “no brawl (is present herenow)”. (From ulquor, zero degree quantifier + vo, second size prefix + haïn, battle + ár, predication affix, in this case creating an observative.)

Unlike the original phrase, which is not used in this sense by civilized speakers, the gutter form is often heard grunted as a greeting and farewell by the less reputable sort of mercenary, pirates, slavers, street gangs, and other assorted lowlives and scum of the galaxy, indicating a lack of desire to fight at the present time and place and a hope for its reciprocation.

It reflects a surprisingly sophisticated sense of irony that the traditional response, “ankan voäin”, is a likewise corrupt form of anqan vohaïnár, meaning “just a little brawl”.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: cla-elén bríäz jé elén duenissí

cla-elén bríäz jé elén duenissí: (literally “without blades or maidens¹”) an ancient idiom, this phrase provides a way of discussing dangerous or forbidden topics.

If all parties to a conversation (or other means of communication) agree on discussing a matter “without blades or maidens”, the conversation may proceed without concern that offense will be received (or at least that such will not give rise to a cause of action, although it is courteous to refrain from receiving offense insofar as such discussions are often invoked to cover potentially offensive yet necessary subjects) or that the subject will pass before the ears of those who should be spared its ugliness.

When the conversation is complete (or when a party to it withdraws their agreement), it is not done to resume discussion of the matter at any time not without blades or maidens.

  1. While the choice of word here may seem unusual for eldraeic sensibilities, the reader is reminded that this is an ancient idiom, and one imported from a language (pre-Imperial era Chresytani) in which the word commonly translated “maiden” was routinely used to describe those possessed of a certain quality [not generally sexual] of innocence, regardless of their actual gender.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: ulargydar

ulargydar: (from ul, negation + argyr, worth + daráv, person or sophont) Usually translated “nithing” or “nihility”, ulargydar literally means “worthless person”, used to describe the worst miscreants. The implication is that Entropy has devoured all the worthy qualities and virtues present in the ulargydar‘s soul, leaving behind only a nothingness in the shape of a man.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: kaälath

kaälath: (from “ka”, present time marker, and “alath”, wisdom) context-uncoupling or dehabituation, that state of mind in which one experiences everything as removed from its context and from the normal state of affairs. In the state of kaälath, one is able to experience all things as fresh and new, despite that one may be accustomed to them by long experience.

Learning to achieve kaälath is not only a core part of objective-perception for rationality training, but is also considered one of the keys to ethical maturity, unlocking the ability to be aware of the unique value of all things, and thus to not take those things one meets and makes use of every day for granted.

Eldraeic Word of the Day: anála

anála: (from anás, a monad, and alath, knowledge); a concept.

Specifically, anála refers to an entity of the conceptual plane; for example, a philosophical form, a geometric shape, or mathematical concept, such as the computed value of π. This specifically excludes any knowledge-monads which are contingent upon the material plane, such as physical concepts or laws – including things such as the speed of light, or the measured value of π – which are determined empirically and which may vary between localities or universes.


It’s about divergences in computer technology —

Or in other words, some conversations elsewhere have made it evident that it would be useful to have some of these things out here for discussion, and since this is going to involve comparisons to Earthling ways of doing things, it’s going to be a worldbuilding article rather than an in-universe one.

Some of this has been implied previously – for those of you who remember the little piece I wrote on programming languages in particular, in the opening phrase “The typical computer in use in the modern Empire remains the parallel array of binary-encoded Stannic-complete processors that has been in use since the days of the first settled Stannic cogitator architecture”.

So what does that actually mean?

Well, it means that while the individual elements of computation would be familiar to us – if you are reading this, you are almost certain to be doing so on something describable as a binary-encoded Stannic-complete processor – how they were arranged took a sharp left turn way back in the day.

Most of our computing is fundamentally serial. We may have fancy multicore processors these days, but we’re still pretty much scratching the surface or real parallelism; most systems are still operating in a serial paradigm in which you work on one task, switch to another, work on that, etc., etc. If you write a complex, multithreaded program, it may look like things are happening in parallel, but most of the time, they won’t be.

For various reasons – which may have something to do with the relative ease of adding power to the old brass-and-steam Stannic cogitators by adding more processor modules vis-à-vis trying to get faster reciprocation and higher steam pressures without exploding; or it may have something to do with older forms of computation involving hiring a bunch of smart lads and lasses from the Guild of Numbers and arranging them in a Chinese room; or… – once they got into the electronic (and spintronic, and optronic) era instead of trying to make faster and faster serial processors¹, designers concentrated on making processors – with onboard fast memory and communications links – that could be stacked up, networked, and parallelized really well, complete with dedicated hardware and microcode to manage interprocessor links.

(You could look at something like Inmos’s Transputer as similar to early examples of this.)

Open up an Imperial computer, you’ll find a neat little stack of processor modules meshed together, working away on things in parallel and passing messages back and forth to stay coordinated. In modern designs, they share access to a big block of “slow memory”, possibly via one or more partially-shared caches, just like here‘s multicore processors do, but that doesn’t change the fundamentals of the parallel design.

And this architecture doesn’t change with scale, either. From the tiniest grain-of-rice picoframe found in any living object (three processing cores for redundancy, maybe even only one in the tiniest disposables) to the somewhere-between-building-and-city-sized megaframes running planetary management applications, they’re all built out of massively parallel networks of simple processing modules.

[Digression: this is also where the gentle art of computational origami comes into play. In the magical world in which the speed of light, bandwidth, and information density are conveniently infinite, you could fully mesh all your processing modules and everything would be wonderful. In the real world in which light is a sluggard and bit must be it, you can only have and handle so many short-range communications links – and so computational origami teaches you how to arrange your processing modules in optimally sized and structured networks, then stack them together in endless fractal layers for best throughput. More importantly, it teaches the processors how to manage this environment.]

[Second digression: having spent a lot of time and effort producing simple, networkable processor cores, this also rewrote a lot of how peripheral devices worked – because why would you waste a lot of time fabbing specialized silicon for disk controllers, or GPUs, or floating-point units, or whatever, when you could simply throw some processing cores in there with some “firmware” – for which read “software flagged as tied to hardware feature flag foo, instance bar” – and get to the same place?

So, for example, when you think “printer”, don’t think “dumb hardware operated by a device driver”. Think “processor that knows how to draw on paper; all I have to do is send it a picture”. Pretty much every peripheral device you can think of is implemented in this way.]

This has also had rather a profound effect on how everything built on top of it works. I spent quite some time discussing how programming languages worked, along with MetaLanguage (the bytecode that these processors have more or less standardized on speaking) in the above-linked post, but you may note:

Polychora: a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language designed to support object-, aspect-, concurrency-, channel-, ‘weave-, contract- and actor-oriented programming across shared-memory, mesh-based, and pervasively networked parallel-processing systems.

…because once you grow to the size – and it doesn’t take much size – at which programming your parallel arrays in relatively low-level languages similar to Occam begins to pall, you start getting very interested in paradigms like object/aspect/actor programming that can handle a lot of the fun of massively parallel systems for you. This has shaped a lot of how environments have developed, and all the above language environments include compilers that are more than happy to distribute your solution for you unless you’ve worked hard to be egregiously out-of-paradigm.

And the whys and hows of WeaveControl, and the Living Object Protocol.

This has also, obviously, made distributed computing a lot more popular a lot more rapidly, because having been built for parallel operation anyway, farming out processing to remote nodes isn’t all that more complicated, be they your remote nodes, or hired remote nodes, or just the cycle spot market. Operating systems for these systems have already developed, to stretch a mite, a certain Kubernetes-like quality of “describe for me the service you want, and I’ll take care of the details of how to spin it up”.

In accordance with configurable policy, of course, but except in special cases, people don’t care much more about which modules are allocated to do the thing any more than they care about which neurons are allocated to catch the ball. In the modern, mature computing environment, it has long since become something safely left to the extremely reliable optronic equivalent of the cerebellum and brainstem.

Now as for how this relates to, going back to some of the original conversations, starships and AI:

Well, obviously for one, there isn’t a single computer core, or even several explicitly-designed-as-redundant-nodes computer cores. There are computers all over the ship, from microcontrollers running individual pieces of equipment up – and while this probably does include a few engineering spaces labeled “data center” and stacked floor to ceiling with nanocircs (and backing store devices), the ship’s intelligence isn’t localized to any one of them, or couple of them. It’s everywhere.

If your plan to disable the ship involves a physical attack on the shipmind, you’ve got a lot of computing hardware to hunt down, including everything from the microcontrollers that water the potted plants on G deck to the chief engineer’s slipstick. You have fun with that. Briefly.

As for AI – well, digisapiences and thinkers operate on the same society-of-mind structure that other minds do, as described here. When this interrelates with the structure of parallel, distributed computing, you can assume that while they are one data-structure identity-wise, the processing of an AI is organized such that every part of the psyche, agent, talent, personality, subpersonality, talent, mental model, daimon, etc., etc., etc., is a process wrapped up in its own little pod, off running… somewhere in what looks like a unified cognitive/computational space, but is actually an arbitrary number of processing cores distributed wherever policy permits them to be put.

(If you choose to look down that far, but outwith special circumstances, this is like a biosapience poking around their brain trying to find out exactly which cells that particular thought is located in.

Said policy usually mandates some degree of locality for core functions, inasmuch as light-lag induced mind-lag is an unpleasant dissociative feeling of stupidity that folk prefer not to experience, but in practice this non-locality manifests itself as things like “Our departure will be delayed for 0.46 seconds while the remainder of my mind boards, Captain.” Not a big deal, especially since even protein intelligences don’t keep their whole minds in the same place these days. They wouldn’t fit, for one thing.)

But suffice it to say, when the avatar interface tells you that she is the ship, she ain’t just being metaphorical.

  1. Well, sort of. It’s not like hardware engineers and semiconductor fabs were any less obsessed with making smaller, faster, better, etc. processors than they were here, but they were doing so within a parallel paradigm. “Two-point-four-billion stacked-mesh processing cores in a nanocirc the size of your pinky nail!”, that sort of thing.

Thematics: Delicious Ideals

Herewith some thoughts on thematics, inspired by today’s quest for matcha-flavored Pocky, a fine and delicious product of the Ezaki Glico Company, Limited.

I observe, on their corporate web site, the slogan “Pocky is about sharing happiness and bringing people together.”

And I observe introspectively just how very much I want to believe that in an entirely unironic fashion.

That when you look at the multinational candy industry, and scrape away the layers of issues caused by terrible legal and regulatory environments, and dipshits who practice clichéd dark-side capitalism, and dipshits who accuse everything of being clichéd dark-side capitalism, and get right down to the core of things, the Founder, CEO, and Etc., really did start out as a small boy who grew up with a dream of being Willy Wonka and bringing truly awesome chocolate to the world, and held hard to that.

[And, y’know, apply liberally and literally across all other industries. I’m not just talking about chocolate, obviously.]

How is this about thematics, I hear you cry?

Because this is the universe where – because the people thereabouts take ideas seriously, and thus take ideals seriously – such quaint notions are literally true.

(And where bitter postmodern cynics will be beaten with delicious chocolate-coated biscuit sticks until they give in and acknowledge that actually, they do spread happiness after all.)

Eldraeic Word of the Day: méshválar

méshválar: (from mésh, a tile or plaque, and válaras, name, itself from val, personal pronoun, and laras, word); a name-tile.

The origin of the name-tile is in the simple courtesy of not bringing moisture or road-dust into the home. Imperial houses are normally constructed with a caráhan, an entry room, which serves the purpose of containing outside dirt and providing space for visitors to prepare themselves to enter the house proper, as well as for requesting permission to enter the house proper from its hearthmistress or her proxy. Such a room therefore often contains amenities such as a small fountain for personal refreshment and cupboards or chests for visitors’ shoes, travel clothing, etc., that they do not wish to bring with them into the home, as well as the traditional welcoming display.

The méshválar, a thin porcelain tile bearing its owners name and sigil, serves two purposes connected with this room:

For visitors, the méshválar is placed upon the cupboard or chest in which they have placed their effects, signifying their ownership of the contents. In some caráhan, associated with commercial buildings rather than homes, these containers lock, and once the key has been withdrawn, the méshválar is placed specifically over the lock, but this would not be seen in a private home. The strength of the custom is more than sufficient to guarantee privacy; indeed, should a guest depart without being able to collect their effects, it is usual to ship the entire chest, unopened, to their home.

Meanwhile, when at home, it is customary to place one’s méshválar on a rack located within the caráhan, thus allowing arriving visitors to know who is currently at home before requesting entrance.

Aperture Linguistics

(Originally titled Eldraeic Word of the Day: asírdaëlíthal, but come on…)

asíran: power; note: not coercive power, the power of compulsion, which is korás. Rather, the ability and means to act upon the elements of the world towards a defined end. (See also the kinds of power, here.)

daëlin: probability, chance.

asírdaël: (from asíran + daëlin) opportunity; that is to say, a possibility (probability) which exists because of one’s possession of the power (agency) to take advantage of that possibility; that which can be realized through action.

íthal: object, thing.

asírdaëlíthal: (from asírdael + íthal) an opportunity-object; an item created for no reason other than that one possessed the power to create it. The end product of such philosophies as “because it’s there“, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, and “we do what we can, because we must”. Existence/possibility as imperative.