Sidebar: Fixed Wormholes

(An in-universe explanation as to why the Empire, et. al., prefer to use their special – i.e., yes, per here, space-magic enhanced – wormhole technology.)

A common question among newcomers to the field of spacetime engineering, especially as it applies to wormholes, is the reasoning behind our use of dynamic wormholes (i.e., those that are created, used, and collapsed in the course of a single gating) rather than static wormholes, permanently inflated to allow passage and held open by exotic mass-energy “frames”. This seems, to these questioners, more elegant: being less wasteful in terms of energy (although the cost of maintaining the unstable exotic mass-energy frames should not be undercounted; the analogous Andracanth ram is not designed for continuous operation), and requiring nothing on the part of transiting vessels.

Sadly, this is prevented by the interaction of static wormholes with relativistics. Transporting a wormhole end incurs the time dilation of relativistic flight, such that one can travel through the wormhole to the destination system, in the reference frame of the transported end, years or decades before the wormhole end is delivered in the reference frame of the sender; sometimes, indeed, while the linelayer would still be visible leaving the origin system! This means, in effect, that outgoing travelers through the wormhole are stepping years or decades into the future, while returning travelers are likewise passing into the past, vis-à-vis flat space-time.

While this has interesting astrophysical and galactopolitical consequences (amply dealt with elsewhere), it alone does not cause issues from the point of view of infrastructure; since a return through flat space-time must require (per the Luminal Limit) more time than the wormhole’s time differential, the block universe is preserved.

However, it is easily demonstrable that the only topology which guarantees this is a pure directed acyclic structure, or tree, in which only one path is available to outgoing and returning traffic.

This is undesirable from an infrastructure point of view, since it greatly limits the capacity of the network given the bottleneck links near its core; forces all otherwise cross-link traffic, even between nearby systems, through a single distant core node (likely to be, as a strategic aside, near to if not within the builders’ most important star systems); and causes both of these issues to expand geometrically with scale.

More importantly, while there are a few primarily theoretical exceptions, almost any alternative structure containing cross-links (and therefore cyclic structures) enables certain routes to function as closed timelike curves, allowing particles, even virtual vacuum fluctuations, to return to their origin point at or before the time of their entry into the route. Such a path doubles the intensity of transiting particles with each retraversal (which all occur effectively instantaneously), thus creating arbitrarily high peak intensities, in turn resulting in the catastrophic resonance collapse of at least one of the wormholes along the critical path. Quite apart from the loss of route, the energies involved in this collapse along with those likely to be liberated from damaged stargate systems are such as to pose a significant hazard to the systems containing the mouths of the collapsing wormhole.

(This is also, as we will see later, perhaps the most important reason for the Imperial Timebase system being intertwined with stargate control systems at a very low level, and for the various sequencing and safety protocols encoded therein. While the wormholes used for gating are ephemeral, it would be possible – without coordination – for a simultaneous set of openings to form such a closed causal loop, which would then undergo such catastrophic collapse.

Bear in mind that, while we are able to lock the emergence of dynamic wormholes onto the empire time reference frame, the natural phenomenon of drift (q.v.) along t axis guarantees nonidentity, and as such this does not immunize loops of such wormholes from the catastrophic resonance collapse phenomenon.)

Since the point of collapse is controllable to a limited extent by the “strength” of the links along the CTC route, this effect is also weaponizable by hostile powers with wormhole capability (a causality attack, recognized by the Ley Accords as one prohibited form of causal weapon).

For these reasons, Imogen Andracanth’s team considered the static wormhole to not be viable as a large-scale interstellar transport technology.

 

– The Stargate Plexus: A Journeysoph’s Guide

On Free Will and Noetic Architecture

Another little note on identity, following on from here:

On the whole, do eldraeic mainstream views on free will, determinism, and the possible interactions between the two run more towards compatibilism or incompatibilism?

While ideas vary as ideas always do in the absence of proof one way or another, the mainstream position – certainly among sophontechnologists, who have the greatest claim to knowledge on this point – is incompatiblism, and specifically a variant of that form of it that goes by the name of libertarianism; i.e., that free will is true, and determinism is in certain ways, false.

(This is, of course, purely a coincidence. Heh.)

To explain why that is requires delving a little way into my Minovsky cognitive science, which explains how minds work for the purposes of the Eldraeverse. Since this attempts to explain how minds work in the general case, regardless of species, origin, or substrate, it’s rather different in any case from the kind of cognitive science that concentrates on the specific case of human brains, even before we must point out that I’m pretty much pulling it out of my ass.

So what is a mind?

Well, to a large part, it’s a Minskian society of mind. Which is to say that it’s a massively parallel set of personalities, subpersonalities, agents, talents, memes, archetypes, models, animus-anima pairings, instincts, skillsets, etc., etc., etc., all burbling away continuously alongside each other. None of them can strictly be said to be the mind; the mind is none of them. The mind is, to a large extent, the emergent chorus that results from the argument of all of them, or at least the currently dominant set, each with the other.

(This, incidentally, is how gnostic overlays work. By grafting some voices into the chorus while suppressing others, you can add to, shade, or suppress some elements of that emergent chorus without replacing the basic personality.)

It has, however, two identifiable centers. One of these is the consciousness loop, which is a special cognitive entity present in conscious/autosentient beings whose job is to organize the output of the chorus into a narrative thread of consciousness, a.k.a., that little voice you hear when you think out loud. (It’s important to realize, of course, that despite being the part of your cognition that’s visible to you – assuming, gentle reader, that you are in fact conscious – it has no claim to be you, or indeed to play any particular part in controlling what you do. The most accurate analogy for what it does is that it’s the mind’s syslog, recording everything that the other bits of the mind do, and which they can in turn consult to find out what’s going on. It’s also important to realize that it’s not actually necessary for it to be associated with the mind’s own self-symbol, or indeed for it to exist at all, whatever the most common naturally evolved mental architectures might have to say on the matter.)

The other one is the logos, or personality organization algorithm, which is the weird fractal algorithm sitting in the middle of sophont minds, and only sophont minds (i.e., both autosentient and volitional). It’s also the only part of the mind that isn’t computable at all – vis-a-vis being only computable much more slowly – on a standard computer, requiring a quantum processor.

But none of that is the weird thing. The weird thing is this.

It’s empirically nondeterministic.

More to the point, it’s not nondeterministic in a physical sense, dependent upon its substrate; it’s nondeterministic in a mathematical sense. However you choose to compute a logos, you will never get a perfectly consistent result in an arbitrary number of trials. You will never get a statistically consistent result in an arbitrary number of arbitrary numbers of trials. Except that occasionally you will. It’s funny that way, and it’s definitely not simply random or chaotic.

Now, sure, say the physicists. The observable physical universe is deterministic. And chemistry is deterministic, and biology is deterministic, and computation is deterministic, and thus the 99.99% of mental operations in which the logos takes no part are deterministically determined by the rest of one’s society of mind, because free will or no free will, sophonts don’t actually seem to exercise it that often. (Although the exceptions – chaotic clionomic excursions, say – are suggestive.)

But there’s this THING that shows up in sophont minds.

It’s very poorly understood around the edges – enough to clone and modify and seed with it and understand some of its typology – and not at all understood, pretty much, in the middle. It might mean nothing. It might just be some artifact of the underlying cosmic metaphysics that the ontotechnologists play with, of no real significance in this debate.

But, say the mainstream sophontologists, that’s not the way we’re betting. That’s your free will, your volition, right there, in that tiny little mathematical corner peeking into the universe. That minuscule cog of the engine of creation that runs on paracausality, not causality; where will defeats law.

The Flame.

Also, I’m not quite sure how to reverse-engineer the proper philosophical position from the analogy in sensible words, but: Would a drawing of a Kanizsa triangle count as a real triangle?

Well, I wouldn’t say that it is a triangle (but then, I wouldn’t say that about a simple drawing of a triangle either); but I would say that it represents the concept of a triangle. (Along with various other things; most physical objects represent/instantiate/make use of several concepts. To re-use a precious example, Elements of Arithmetic, Second Edition, 1992 can represent any of “arithmetic”, “book”, “textbook”, “paper”, “cuboid”, etc., etc., depending/instantiate/make use on the context you look at it in.)

 

Trope-a-Day: Temporal Paradox

Temporal Paradox: It’s a block universe; the short form would be to say that predestination paradoxes are permitted (although the non-informational kind are tricky) and grandfather paradoxes are not, since even though you can violate local causality, global causality is always preserved.

And if you find yourself caught up in one of these, You Can’t Fight Fate.  You may, however, be able to cheat, if there’s a chance – and there usually is a chance – that what you thought happened first time through might will be not have been what actually happened.

Trope-a-Day: You Can’t Fight Fate

You Can’t Fight Fate: According to everything known about temporal mechanics, the universe is a block universe – which is to say, while local causality violations are possible (effects can, sometimes, precede causes), global causality violations are not (effects, nonetheless, always have causes).  Or to put it another way, while predestination paradoxes are permitted – and enforced – grandfather paradoxes are not.  The probability of any event-chain that might lead to a global causality violation is always zero, and anything which happened in the past, even if it involves the future of your personal timeline, will necessarily happen.

You can sometimes fiddle fate, because what you think you know about the past is not always what actually happened in the past; but you can’t fight it head on.  Free will may be stronger than destiny, but it’s not stronger than causality.

it’s a big stick

Gal-sabra (Falish Traverse) System
Peremptory-class diplomatic cruiser, CSS Occasionally Transigent

Lei’hudal, vizjeri,” Ambassador Cíën Lochran addressed her visitors, “be welcome here. May I offer you some refreshment after your flight? Something to eat, perhaps?”

“No, thank you. Time is pressing: let us get down to business. You said that you had received a communique from the Spire?”

“Very well. Indeed, I have received such a communique. Their Divine Majesties instruct me to inform you that the Empire, as a polity, takes no position on the current or future activities of the Theomachy of Galia.”

The Galian delegation looked at each other.

“No position?”

“Quite so.”

“We find that rather hard to believe. The Empire will make no response to anything we –”

“That is not quite what I said.”

“May I ask you to clarify, then, this lack of position?”

“With your permission to be undiplomatically explicit?”

“If necessary.”

“Their Divine Majesties do not believe that it is their place, nor yet the place of their Ministries, to dictate to sovereign realms or sovereign individuals what they may or may not do. We exercise no force majeure veto; we set no rules upon the non-consenting. You may do as you will and as you must without our constraint.” She leaned back comfortably, and continued. “Of course, in response to your actions, we reserve the right to also do as we will, and as we must, possibly with a fleet task group or two – but that should be by no means interpreted as a threat, since we have demanded of you, and will demand of you, nothing. It is merely the inevitable unwinding of certain branches of the causal graph.”

Trope-a-Day: Never the Selves Shall Meet

Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted.  While it’s difficult and expensive – to understate the case radically – to meet yourself (albeit less difficult, although no less expensive, to send yourself a message) in the past, and it comes with a host of annoying limitations concerning boundary conditions and suchlike, there are essentially no consequences for doing so.  The universe is block – various chronology protection theorems point out that the probability of any event-chain that will create a global causality violation is zero – but it only cares about global causality violations, which is to say, as long as there are no uncaused effects or effect-free causes out there, it doesn’t care about the order they come in. You can create predestination paradoxes (with certain difficult-to-manage limitations; for example, looped objects cannot age, otherwise the loop loses end-to-end consistency and becomes impossible) all you want.  It does, which is rather more annoying to the naïve user, mean that you can’t change the past – whatever present you are in incorporates the consequences of whatever changes you made in the past even before you reach the future in which you travel to the past, so nothing can be changed since you already changed it, if you did.

More sophisticated users, which mostly means those weakly godlike superintelligences again, make great use of the ability to whisper instructions in their present self’s ear from the future via acausal logic processing, but it’s still imperfect and of limited bandwidth, so it’s not actually the quick ticket to omniscience it might seem like.