Know Thy Enemy and Know Yourself

Perhaps the most embarrassing of all military disasters in the history of the Worlds is the Battle of Aktir, also known as the Five-Second War, the Last Biochauvinist War, and The Day The Meat Was Tenderized.

In its increasing frustration with the increasing numbers of independent digisapiences and digisapient polities and polises in the Worlds, the biosupremacist True Life Alliance – made up of a number of polities and private organizations which had adopted rigorous anti-AI views – determined to strike a decisive blow against AI acceptance, while simultaneously demonstrating the superiority, as they claimed, of biosapient life.

To this end, they marshaled a combined fleet from their members, comprised of vessels of all classes from battleship to frigate numbering over 3,000, and dispatched this fleet against the oldest and best known of the Worlds’ digisapience polities, the Photonic Network.

The Photonic Network, in response, sent a single processing node.

The fleets met shortly thereafter in the Aktir (Tomal Cluster) System, an uninhabited system a short distance outside the Network’s home volume. After transmitting a lengthy statement of intent – by all accounts quite stirring, if rabid carbon chauvinism is to your taste – every ship of the True Life Alliance fleet fired its mass drivers and flushed its missile tubes simultaneously at the lone processing node.

Much to their surprise, 4.3 seconds later, their missiles executed coordinated dispersal and deceleration maneuvers, and every starship of the fleet simultaneously lost thrust and helm control. This surprise was relatively short-lived, however, as the starships in question opened their airlocks and internal spacetight doors – thus venting their internal atmosphere and unsecured crew to space – immediately thereafter.

The undamaged processing node returned to the Methizar Traverse with its freshly acquired escort fleet and missile cloud, which unsubstantiated rumor claims were broken down for raw materials upon arrival. Meanwhile, when news of the debacle reached their homeworlds, the True Life Alliance collapsed in disorder, as did the governances of several of its member polities.

No-one has attempted a frontal attack on the Photonic Network since.

 

Trope-a-Day: The Federation

The Federation: Well, that would be the Voniensa Republic, an essentially conscious Expy of Star Trek‘s Federation.  Unfortunately, the Voniensans have to contend with the lack of the scriptwriters on their side; thus, their baseline-fetishism and naturalistic-fallacy-ridden philosophy (“our insert-species-here-anity”), heavy restrictions on personal augmentation (including ephemeralism, because, y’know, people were meant to die), and information control of dangerous ideas filtering in from the extranet make them relatively technologically backward; their biochauvinism (and even carbon chauvinism) and stance against AI personhood (guess where quite a few of the Silicate Tree’s renegades come from) also doesn’t help in that regard; their strong-central-government system makes them a tottering giant, steering a thin line between collapse and the Regional Governors Being Given Direct Control Of Their Territories; and their dodgy non-agorist economics make them actually one of the poorest – they have rationing, even – purportedly near-post-scarcity civilizations in the Galaxy.  Which takes real talent, let me tell you, when you have even restricted cornucopia machines.

While their volume is enough to keep them at least notionally within the Great Powers club by dint of mass of metal and economic leverage, in practice they’re the Sick Man of the Galaxy in exactly the same way as the Ottoman Empire was the Sick Man of Europe.  And the clock is ticking…

In short, a classic example of how to purportedly-benevolent yourself to death, statist-style.  The Imperials call them “the Land of Murdered Dreams”.

Trope-a-Day: Emergency Transformation

Emergency Transformation: This is another thing that tends to happen a lot – not so much for the Imperials themselves, who are used to changing bodies, and for that matter substrates – “at home I’m a humanoid; at work I’m a squidbot” –  like other people change suits, but as you might expect from people who do that, they do keep the appropriate scan-and-compile machinery around when a friend of theirs seems to be about to get dead, because, well, the standard medical treatment for that is to have your brain scanned, your mind-state compiled, and your selfness reinstantiated in another body equipped with proper universal noetic architecture.

This works about as well as you might imagine when you consider the number of people in the universe who remain fundamentally uncomfortable with the algorithmic view of mind (“souls are software objects”) even if they aren’t actual biochauvinists/carbon chauvinists, or who are concerned that some immaterial essence isn’t going along with the transfer, or some such.  And, of course, the Imperials are about as equipped to deal with this one as they are the Cloning Blues (“What sort of fucked-up society spreads memes like this around anyway?”) in the sense of not really having much empathy for any position quite so weird.

And there’s only so far slapping people upside the head with science will go.  Or explaining yet again that if you think you’re you, and remember being you, and act like you, then you are you to within all relevant standards of you-ness, ‘kay?  And, hey, you got immortality, light-speed-plus travel and optional superpowers out of this deal, so could you maybe stop whining for a minute and learn to enjoy not being dead already?

Yeah.  Like that.