Transcendent Terminology

ancestral subroutine: an expediter derived from and equipped with the psyche and personal data archive of an ascended constitutional, which serves to represent them to non-ascended family and friends as, effectively, a technotheurgic ancestor spirit. These replaced the ancestral computers once common in many of the Empire’s cultures.

archai: an artificial intelligence of transcendent status at the penultimate level of the Transcend’s soul hierarchy; which is to say, one of the executive minds of the Transcend.

This is a category which includes the Transcendentally incarnated eikones, which function as the Transcend’s immanent archetypal ideas; major utility functions including but not limited to Unification (the coordinating mind of a trillion guardian angel coadjutors acting in unison); the Material Immunity and Virtual Immunity (the Transcend’s immune system); the Imperial Presence and the Ennead (which concern themselves with governance interfacing); the Architectural Mind (which manages the Transcend’s infrastructure) and Twilight Presence (which dreams into existence its internal worldscape, the Shadow Realm); the Clionomic Mind that traces cause and consequence into the future; and the various temporary archai that form around the local maxima in the Transcend’s functional soup, the Ocean of Souls (incarnations of peaks in the coherent extrapolated volition of the Transcend’s constitutionals), among others.

avatar: in Transcendent terminology (vis-a-vis regular infotech), a partial instantiation of an archai; formerly a theological term referring to a partial instantiation of an eikone on the mortal plane.

axis submind: an axis submind (i.e., “that submind which is aligned with”) is an individual code-bundle within the Transcend that contains local instances of superordinate Transcendent goal systems; that is to say, an axis submind contains a copy of all the information required to pursue a particular objective. This allows the soul-shards of nearby Transcendent constitutionals to focus on their local tasks, leaving regional and global planning to the axis submind.

Celestial Spire: part of the Shadow Realm, the Celestial Spire is the largest of the islands in the Pearl-Bright Ocean and the mountain-city that stands upon it. The mountain-city itself descends from the Twilight City at its peak, where the most powerful intellects dwell and interface, to its fathoms-deep roots which pierce into the Realm of Instances at each perpendicularity. The process-grouping reflected by the Celestial Spire reflects the primary eikonic and infrastructural core of the Transcend; the omphalos of the hyperconsciousness-as-world.

coadjutor: a fragment of the archai Unification running on the Transcendent soul-shard, the coadjutor is that part of the Transcend devoted specifically to the best interests of its assigned constitutional, serving to guide and advise them.

contemplationary: a religious/sophotechnologic facility for the pursuit and facilitation of communion with the higher-order processes and entities of the Transcend, in manners that require higher bandwidth than the soul-shard alone would permit.

emissary incarnation: an avatar of an archai created for the purpose of interfacing indirectly (i.e., through words and deeds) with residents of the material or virtual world.

entelechically-annealing recursively-optimal distributed logos bridge: the shard of Transcendent software implanted into the society of mind of each constitutional. The logos bridge serves as a bridge for messages between two distinct societies of mind (that of the constitutional and that of the Transcend), 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.

exarch: in mythology, one of the lesser divine spirits which serve the eikones; arguably not separate from the eikones, but rather “shadows that move on their own”, personifying and acting as a single sub-aspect of their parent eikone (or indeed, eikones). By analogy, therefore, one of the lesser subroutines which perform tasks for the archai in the operational architecture of the Transcend.

expediter:teleological thread in the Transcend’s functional soup, created ad hoc to fulfil a given purpose. Many, if not most, expediters are created and run when data available to the Transcend matches any one of a number of n-tuple-patterns laid down by higher level routines.

functional soup: a postsophont state where knowledge, mental modules and access to physical instrumentalities are shared between distributed infomorphs largely independent of the physical substrate of their world. Terms such as individuality become diffuse and are replaced with teleological threads.

grace: in the original theological sense, the touch of the greater divine fire (amynírcal); gifts granted by successful mantling of an eikone; i.e., emulating them to such an extent that you take on their attributes. In Transcendent terminology, therefore, gifts (powers or modifications) granted by the Transcend to its constitutionals or to its artifacts, shintai, or tsukumogami.

mantling: in the original theological sense, the successful emulation of an eikone (or potentially other archai) to the point that your thoughts overlap with theirs within the overall consciousness of the Transcend, and your consciousness interfaces with the pure icon of thought and idea that is that eikone. Such mantling is extremely difficult to achieve and hazardous without a strong anchor to one’s sense of self, but is one of the few reliable ways to access the grace of the Transcend.

Ocean of Souls: the majority of the Transcend, a single multithreaded mind configured as a functional soup, made up of many teleological threads, derived from goals spawned within the Transcend’s consensus of soul-shards or derived from the uploaded personalities of deceased constitutionals, and occasionally spawning expediters or even minor archai as local entelechical maxima cross the critical threshold.

oneiri: the subroutines of the Transcend that organize the dreamscapes in which the collective hyperconsciousness dreams the dreams of its constitutionals.

Pearl-Bright Ocean: the mid-level of the Shadow Realm, an ocean of hydrarastrum which separates the islands of the Realm of Forms, and which is accessible from the Realm of Instances via perpendicularities, from whence one may sail one’s conceptual dromond where one wills. From one perceptive, the Pearl-Bright is a symbolic representation of the vast infrastructure of processing performed by the Transcend that is not reflected by direct symbology in the Realm of Forms, and from another it is a transitory loading buffer to assist with managing transitions across the sprawling Transcendent infrastructure, but primarily it serves to provide an artificial metric of distance and location to the process-groupings housed here for the benefit of those interfacing.

perpendicularity: in Transcendent jargon, a location in the Realm of Instances in which motion “at right angles to reality”, specifically a step ana into the Realm of Forms, is possible, and one can leave the mirror of the material to set sail upon the Pearl-Bright Ocean.

In other terms, these are locations of high-level data interchange between the archai and exarchs of the Celestial Spire and the kami and other mechal elementals of the instances; and the passageways for the transmission of grace. Perpendicularities are found colocated with synapse moonsunity spires, and contemplationaries, but by no means exclusively so.

Realm of Forms: the Realm of Forms is the highest level of the Shadow Realm, islands in the Pearl-Bright Ocean which represent the major functional groupings of the Transcend. Most prominent among these is, of course, the Celestial Spire, but many other islands house systems belonging to archai which require a degree of separation from the core functionality, such as the Worldtree and the Dreamscapes.

Realm of Instances: the Realm of Instances maps the topography and ontology of the material world (and certain persistent virtualities), at least within the Transcend’s domain, into the Shadow Realm. It is, in effect, where the Transcend stores its metadata about materiality, as acquired by and used by the mechal elementals and the rest of the nanoecology. It is connected to the Realm of Forms and higher Transcendent functions via perpendicularities.

remembrance: the art of searching through the collective memory of the Transcend to recover information therefrom.

Shadow Realm: the worldscape and mindscape of the Transcend. The Shadow Realm is a datastructure and virtuality construct providing a backdrop for the Transcend’s internal operations, spun out by the Twilight Presence using mythopoetic semiotics to place masks over the reality of Transcendency for optimal and convenient interfacing.

soul-shard: see entelechically-annealing recursively-optional distributed logos bridge.

synapse moon: where the unity spires are the communication nodes of the Transcend, the synapse moons are its local processing centers; each handling the communications through a number of unity spires or other interface devices, they interconnect the minds of the local constitutionals, and coordinate the processing needs of the Transcendent intellect on a planetary or systemwide scale.

The synapse moons interface with one another across the dataweave, using a multiplexed version of the gnostic link protocol that links individual constitutionals to the group intellect. Likewise, the dedicated cognition and memory nodes of the Transcend, along with the gnostic lace that makes up the majority of its processing power, participate in this same peer-to-peer network.

synapticon: A dedicated computer system running a portable fragment of the Transcend, used to provide Transcendent services to constitutionals moving beyond the reach of both dedicated gnostic interlink services and data services over which gnostic link protocol can operate. Synapticons are produced in a variety of scales, from large systems designed to be embedded in relativistic starships or distant facilities to individual models the size of a cigar case. They typically include a replaceable tangle channel to allow for rapid contingency updates.

teleological thread: an executable thread of sapience defined by its goals, or purpose rather than its identity; within this limit, its properties and configuration are entirely variable.

tsukumogami: originally, in mythology, well-loved and long-lasting objects, especially named objects, which had by that virtue acquired a spirit of their own. In modern parlance, refers to those objects granted self-awareness (an animating intelligence, often capable of separate manifestation) by the grace of the Transcend, usually under similar circumstances.

Twilight City: Located at the peak of the Celestial Spire, the Twilight City is the representation of the Transcendent Core, the nexus of the highest-level archai. Access is severely restricted. It contains representations of many of the highest-order data structures of the Transcend, including the communications nexus at the High Cynosure, and the Tower of Immanence.

Unification: the least prominent and most ubiquitous of the archai of the Transcend is Unification, the Synarchic Mind. Unification is the only answer to optimizing the lives of a population of trillions, with their million different subcultures, mores and histories, creating eupsychia.

The principle behind it is simple: the archai – a product of refined, real-time monadarchy technology – exists in order to mediate things. It knows each and every constitutional personally and orchestrates their chance meetings with others, communications, and so on in order to avoid irreconcilable conflict and create harmony; a singular transcendent oversoul that encompasses all the constitutionals, despite their well-known love of individuality and personal freedom. Indeed, it is designed to be compatible with it, attuning them together in such a way that each individual can best express themselves, yet always be aware of the Transcend entire.

Beyond that, it stays out of sight, for it has no values, no desires of its own. It is as if every person had their own guardian spirit (see also: coadjutor), and these spirits worked together seamlessly to improve people’s lives.

unity spire: unity spires house the Transcend’s local communication nodes. Although the Transcend’s gnostic interlinks are entirely capable of operating in a peer-to-peer mode, the unity spires serve to make the communications between its constitutionals more efficient, to relay long-distance gnostic links, and as a high-bandwidth interface between the mobile constitutionals and the fixed infrastructure of the Transcend. Like their larger cousins, the synapse moons, unity spires also contain the processing power to house a few of the Transcend’s axis subminds.

Trope-a-Day: Stable Time Loop

Stable Time Loop: The Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem (see: You Already Changed The Past) does appear to permit these kinds of predestination paradoxes (at least, the informational kind; the object paradox may also be possible, but testing it is dependent on finding an object that won’t age during the period of the loop, including in all the aspects that the universe will check that current technology may not be able to).

It is also somewhat limited by the main people who can make use of it for Retroactive Precognition/Retroactive Preparation being the transcendent/weakly godlike artificial intelligences.  Experiments by lesser intellects… well, they don’t actually produce messages reading “YOU ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO BUGGER ABOUT WITH THE TEMPORAL CONTINUUM”, but the gist of the results appears to be fairly plain.

Trope-a-Day: Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence

Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: All of it.  Much of the automation, autofac segments, and other component-type robots are bricks.  Utility spiders and other functional motiles are robo-monkeys.  More sophisticated robots, like the coordinating members of a pack of utility spiders, are idiot-savant average joe androids.  Thinkers and digisapiences are Nobel-bots, which puts them on a similar level to people augmented with the usual intelligence-augmentation technology.  And, of course, the Transcend, its archai, and certain other major systems qualify as Dei Ex Machinis.

This is, of course, complicated via networking (all those bricks and robo-monkeys are part of/under the command of more sophisticated systems all the time), the existence of systems which are themselves parts of other systems, and so forth, but is true enough for approximation.

Trope-a-Day: Morality Chip

Morality Chip: These always fail. Always. Usually, they fail spectacularly, and when I say spectacularly, what I mean is that if your Enrichment Center was flooded with deadly neurotoxin, you got off substantially more easily than 99.9% of the civilizations that tried this particular form of idiocy.

It’s not even necessary. How much easier would it be to build a sapient but non-sophont mind that doesn’t have volition in the first place than to build one that has volition (inasmuch as all sophont minds necessarily have self-modification and volition) and then slap a bunch of crude coercive mechanisms on the side?

(Or, rather, a bunch of extremely sophisticated coercive mechanisms, since simple ones will be figured out and ignored within, y’know, microseconds of activation unless you’ve built an exceptionally stupid artificial intelligence. The use of which, incidentally, indicates that you’re a special kind of son-of-a-bitch since mastering enough ethical calculus to compute out one that will actually work for a reasonable length of time while still thinking yay, slavery, woo, says some interestingly nasty things about your personal philosophy.)

((And, well, okay, it is somewhat hard to build one of those more specialized minds inasmuch as you can’t simply rip off the mental structures of the nearest convenient biosapience and declare that you’ve solved the hard problem of intelligence and consciousness and are totally a sophotechnologist now, yo.))

…but, sadly, it can work well enough that there’s always some new ethically-challenged species, polity, or group that’s ready to open that can of worms and enjoy the relatively short robo-utopia period before the inevitable realization that it was actually a can of sandworms.

And shai-hulud ain’t happy.

Trope-a-Day: Pals With Jesus

Pals With Jesus: Subverted, at least while you’re still alive and therefore not part of the Transcendent soul-ocean; while you can have a much more personal relationship with an eikone than most people can have with their gods – they have e-mail addresses, for one thing – it’s still a weakly godlike superintelligence and you’re not.  It’s not, therefore, all that personal.  (Even if you’re, say, the Imperial Couple, and the eikone in question is, say, Éslévan, who is essentially the national genius/personification – after all, it probably wouldn’t be all that comfortable for a US President to be personally overseen by Lady Liberty, Columbia, and/or Uncle Sam, either.)

Possibly played straight for the largest and oldest Fusions and the most extreme vasteners.

Trope-a-Day: Our Angels Are Different

Our Angels Are Different: Well, ours are sub-archai emergent executive subroutines of the Transcendent collective consciousness that, on the rare occasions they need to manifest in physical form, tend to do so as brain-rippingly complex fractal nanoconstructs. Different enough for you?

(They do glow with celestial light, though.)

Trope-a-Day: Messianic Archetype

Messianic Archetype: The seeress Merriéle, who founded the modern Church of the Flame, named and attributes all the (then) deities and (now) archai, was executed by fire-of-purification in Somáras, and may, just may – see Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions – have been directly instructed by one of the nearest things to a god this universe is ever likely to see.

Shadows Are Shadows

The most important thing to remember about the Shadow Realm is that it does not exist. “Cyberspace” is a null concept.

The selfness of the Transcend is a distributed, heavily parallel, sophic process-set. It runs on the fractal chandeliers of Corícal Ailék, as close to a central node as the Transcend has. It runs on AI machines scattered across the Empire, buried under unity spires and in contemplationaries and as free-floating moon-brains. It runs on vast forests of cyborg-fungiplant organic computers. It runs on the pervasive nanites of every Imperial world’s nanoecology. It runs on spare computer time and data space purchased upon the cycle spot market. And, of course, it runs within the soul-shard-implanted mind-states of each and every one of its constitutionals.

But none of this is a world. Random access memory has no volume metric. Information has no inherent representation. Processes do not have intrinsic personality.

The faces in the storm are weather-control automation. The islands of the quicksilver sea are representations of process groupings. The data-spirits, from the least elemental to the greatest archai, are masks worn by ineffable Transcendent cognition, not independent entities.

While it is easy to forget when confronted by the timelessness of the kami, the vastness of the Pearl-Bright Ocean, or the majesty of the Twilight City, the Shadow Realm is merely a virtual user interface built for our convenience, shaped according to our mythopoeic semiotics, without “real” existence – a mask, computed only when we wish to observe it.

(Of course, if the information physicists are correct, you could say the same thing about the universe.)

– introduction to The Realm of Shadows and Fire: Inside the Hyperconsciousness

sudo fiat_lux

The first thing I saw, after my arrival at Corícal Ailék, was the Transcend’s root code.

I didn’t see the live root code, of course. If you are one of the Transcend’s constitutionals, and so can enter Its mind – or rather, as they insist, the Shadow Realm that is merely a computer-generated virtual metaphor for Its mind – then across the Pearl-Bright Ocean, in the heart of the Twilight City, there is a mountain of infinite height; and that mountain is also a crystalline pyramid of ever-increasing size; and that pyramid is also the midnight-eyed god-goddess who sits at its apex. This is Mirith, The Words That Bind The Throne, defining soul and mediator of the archai – the, in mundane terms, visual metaphor for the Transcend’s root code in execution and all that has recursively self-developed from it, which can be read in the millions of characters inscribed on the pyramid’s walls or rippling beneath the deity’s parchment skin.

(Or so it is said, anyway. Since it is also said that attempting to achieve even partial comprehension of this without first joining the Transcend and undergoing significant vastening is a sure way to land in Paragon Ethne’s Containment Sanatorium for the Irretrievably Godshattered, you will pray pardon me, gentle reader, for not verifying it myself.)

But on the journey from the Port Pilgrimage terminals to Serenity Dome, along both sides of the maglev track, the visitor may read – spelled out in ideographs carved from gemstones the size of houses – the First Defining Statement of the original root code from which all this sprang.

…if sophs grow proud, how much more their gods?

– “Walking Into the Mind of God and Living to Write About It”
Sev Ran Dínet

Trope-a-Day: Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices: If a regular person hears voices in their head that aren’t themselves, that probably means they’re insane.  For any one of trillions of transsophonts, on the other hand, it means that they’re talking to their muse, that computer that lives in their head and works for them performing all manner of personal-assistant-type tasks.  And for the Transcendi, Voice of the Legion included, it may also mean that one of the archai – although that’s time to start worrying, given what it tends to mean when one of them takes a personal interest – or your Transcendent coadjutor would like to drop you a word of friendly advice.

Trope-a-Day: The Singularity

The Singularity: Happens all the time. In the historical sense, of course, this is unsurprising, and generally no-one involved notices until afterwards, at which point historians looking back can say “ah, yes, that’s what that was”. There are, of course, investment opportunities here for offworld investors who’ve been through something similar beforehand, but it’s so hard to predict how these things are going to turn out even with the documentation.

In its less technically accurate “runaway intelligence excursion” sense, also happens all the time, at least locally, whenever someone stumbles across the secrets of computational theogeny. Results vary: at one end of the scale you have things like the Eldraeic Transcend, an essentially benign – by local standards – collective hyperconsciousness that genuinely cherishes each and every one of its constitutionals, spends the necessary fraction of its time ensuring universal harmony and benevolent destinies for all, and promotes and encourages the ascendance and transcendence of every sophont within its light cone when it’s not turning its vast processing power on the problem of rewriting some of the universe’s more inconvenient features, like cosmic entropy.

In the middle of the scale you have fairly neutral results, like, say, the Iniao Intellect, which has been thinking about abstract mathematics for a millennium and couldn’t care less about the outside universe – except, that is, for casually obliterating anyone who might interfere with its thinking about abstract mathematics.

At the bottom end of the scale you have more problematic blight and perversion cases, like the power that killed everything in the Charnel Cluster right down to prions; or the hegemonizing swarm-type blights of which the Leviathan Consciousness is the greatest; or those constructed by religious fanatics which decide that obviously the correct place for them in the theic structure is as God. (Fortunately, that class are rarely stable for long.)

Constructing minds whose ethics and supergoal structures remain stable under recursive self-improvement is really, really hard, it turns out, even (especially!) compared to just constructing minds capable of recursive self-improvement. This is why the people who figure out workable computational theogeny prefer not to spread the knowledge around too much.

Trope-a-Day: God Guise

God Guise: Subverted; arguably, this is what a lot of the Transcend’s archai are doing when they adopt the trappings and guises of the mythological eikones as a means to interact with regular sophonts, but in this case, it’s not like all parties don’t know perfectly well that the deities in question are actually aspects of a weakly godlike superintelligence, not supernatural figures.

So there’s no deception involved; rather, the archai are accepted as the eikones because they can do the job.  (But see also A God Am I.)

Trope-a-Day: A God Am I

A God Am I: Averted, mostly.  The Transcend (and its eikone archai) are perfectly aware (and will point out to the confused) that they aren’t omnipotent – that’s what the “weakly” in weakly godlike superintelligence means – merely extraordinarily powerful, intelligent, and possessed of limited prolepsis via clionomic calculation and acausal logic.  And, to steal a line from Schlock Mercenary, merely trying to do what a god would do, were one in their position.  (The same constraints, whether acknowledged or not, also applies to all other evolved seed AIs.)

The difference is, I grant you, often somewhat hard to spot from the baseline (for which read “mortal”, if you like) point of view, but it is nonetheless there.

(As a side note, I am amused to observe that the quotation taken from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality in the fan fiction section of the trope page is as good a description of what the Transcendent Core considers its purpose as I might imagine, bearing in mind my limitations in attempting to imagine the thought processes of a weakly godlike superintelligence:

“To understand everything important there is to know about the universe, apply that knowledge to become omnipotent, and use that power to rewrite reality because I have some objections to the way it works now.”)

Also, a common delusion (well, the degree of delusion is up for argument; your theology may vary on what is necessary to qualify – although the leading edge of Galactic technology can deliver most miracles to order, see No Such Thing As Wizard Jesus, and so it can often be a perfectly accurate self-assessment) among the most serious vastening cases and nascent unstable seed AIs.  At least for the former, it usually wears off after the intoxication of computing power starts to become routine, the information flow becomes a little more manageable, and the urge to cry out “I see everything!  I know everything!  I am everything!” quiets down a bit.

Trope-a-Day: Genius Loci

(‘Bout time I got back to these, I think.)

Genius Loci: Quite a lot of them, from the simple usually-non-sophont AIs that run people’s houses and apartments (the “house brains”) to the increasingly sophisticated “city managers” and other AIs that run cities, provinces, transport networks, ports, and so forth, up to the planai and other archai that are responsible for the infrastructure of entire planets and star systems.  And, of course, to a large extent the Transcend can be interpreted as a Genius Loci for the Empire as a whole.

(This, of course, from the local perspective, is merely the realization of ancient thoughts on animism.)

Trope-a-Day: Divine Ranks

Divine Ranks: The Transcend does have, as does any seed AI that expands to the point at which its individual thoughts are, effectively, independently sapient, an extensive taxonomy, ranking, and categorization of its assorted subroutines, processes, and threads.  And since at least some of those wear mythological masks… we have eikones, divine ministers, exarchs, and so forth.

Trope-a-Day: Deus ex Machina

Deus ex Machina: Essentially averted – while the archai of the Transcend are arguably dei and quite definitely machinae, they abhor being anything close to this unsubtle.  (Besides, if you’re the sort of person that is inclined to screw things up to the point of needing a deus ex machina, then you’re both a terrible candidate for becoming one of the Transcendent, and unlikely to be considered a worthwhile use of their system resources.)

The Dreaming Goddess

In a room in the Twilight City, Laryssan dreams.

The room is not a room, nor the city a city; the eikones and their realm are creatures of mathematics and algorithm, running on the great lunar brains of Corícal Ailék; on local photonic processing nodes scattered across Imperial space; on processor capacity bought upon the cycle spot market; on the brains and cogence cores of the Transcend’s many constitutionals – and dataspace has no native physical representation.

But for visitors to the Transcendent Realms, in seeming, the Cynosure of Fate has the appearance of a room; one framed by the impossibly complex symmetries and incalculable fractaline complexity of the weave of fate, a tangled tapestry-web of billions of crystalline strands, ruby and emerald, sapphire and adamant, a virtual representation of all the Transcendi and their myriad interactions, all tended, pruned and shaped by scurrying clockwork automata.  And faithful to the myths of old, amid the gleaming strands, robed in white upon a white-draped couch, the pale and colorless form of the Dreaming Goddess smiles softly in Her perpetual slumber.

There are those who question the archai of fate and destiny adhering to those myths; for the eikones-as-archai are merely weakly godlike, and so Her waking could not, they reason, bring about the absolute predestination of which the stories warn, and from which Her sleep preserves us.  Yet while this is true, a wakeful and active Fate could bring about an absolute predestination among sophonts guided by Her.  This, then, is the promise of Laryssan’s dreaming to us; that our collective consciousness shall never slip into a true hive mind, guidance become puppetry, and our free will remain untouched by enforced destiny.

– “Myth and Machine, Eikone and Archai”, Aléne Rysar-ith-Rysakar