God’s Bootstraps

Why are there no historical records of the commissioning of the 160th Imperial Legion?

Because it hasn’t been commissioned yet.

There are records of it participating in several battles independently from any Theater Command, or even Core Command.


Without being commissioned?

While cause mostly precedes effect, this is not necessarily the case.

While utterances mostly convey meaning, this is not necessarily the case either.

The “Causal Effectives” will be founded in 11346 as one of the Transcend’s special troubleshooting teams, Anything they do before then is all of important, classified, and unlikely to be understood in its full historical consequence before that date.

What else do we –

Further information is not available in this whenwhere.

– a conversation which never happened

February’s Randoming

Here as a partial apology for a slow COVID-caused month is a collection of random things of a snippet-like nature I have said over the past couple of months in places other than this blog. Enjoy them, such as they are!

On attempting a rapid “unsafe start” of a fusion torch drive:

The result of most attempts at an unsafe start is melting assorted things in the engine room and/or the containment vessel, and having to pay very large fines and the costs of having a HAZMAT team get your wreck into a safe condition to drag to the wreckyard. It’s sort of like putting a bunch of monkeys in charge of starting up one of our CVNs; they can very easily wreck a very expensive boat, but you’re not going to need to replace Norfolk any time soon.

So, for example, you accidentally screw up by bypassing the proper automatic sequencing and collapse the mag-bottle for the nozzle. The energy that was in the mag-bottle gets fed back into the containment power circuit. Alarms sound, breakers trip – the really big ones that use explosive charges to separate the closers – and a whole bunch of machinery in Drive Power One through Three, including the buffering accumulators, turns into molten slag as there’s a real intense local thunderstorm. The spikes that make it through the breakers, because you’re a civilian ship, cause some random electrical failures and trip the main bus off the line in self-protection.

You, sitting in the maneuvering room, get to watch your console light up and then black out as the corresponding machinery stops existing, the emergency fire procedures dump liquid nitrogen into, then vent, the Drive Power spaces, and the master alarm signal adopts a particularly dramatic tone. Then the lights go out, and you’re left sitting there in the bloody glow of catastrophe from your console and emergency bug-lights.

You have a few seconds to contemplate your poor life choices before the Flight Commander comes down there and introduces your brains to a BIG GODDAMN WRENCH.

“All I’m saying is that pansexuality is a very large claim to make in a universe with as many sophont species as this one.”

“We’re shipping forty million tons of individually-packaged spider-silk personal refreshment wipes twelve-hundred light years?”

“Do you want the detailed answer, or just a comment on the absurdity of the universe?”

“The details, please.”

“It’s hard to keep them wiping their asses with sand when they’re sitting on a fortune in spice.”

For reference, my notes on the Transcend’s position at any given time read as follows:

“[continuing to win its game of full-contact solitaire Calvinball with the universe]

insert ‘all according to keikaku’ meme here.”

When complaining about the “you must be smarter than this stick to ride the Empire” immigration rule:

“We have empirical evidence that those who do not pass these specific tests are dangerous to themselves and others in our environment.”

“Yeah? Show us this evidence!”

passes over data rod full of watchvid

“This… this is the last three seasons of Too Dumb To Live, Too Unlucky To Die!?”

“Empirical. Evidence.”

I’m sorry, but around here we only do consensualist agoric-annealing group-mind transghiblian art-deco ecotopic benevolently-hegemonic technothearchy with elvish characteristics.

“Where the fuck did all these dragons come from!?”

“As per chapter nine of the manual, dragons are a normal side-effect of a kami-based ecopoesis system.”

“She’s a bit of an alkahestic.”

“You mean an alcoholic?”

“Not unless alcoholics like dissolving things more than anyone ever should, no.”

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

“And yet you are here talking to us.”

“Did I mention that I am officially classified as an Ambassador of Mass Destruction?”

From an extranet compilation of Calíëne Sargas Facts:

“Calíëne Sargas does NOT possess the Eye of Balor, and as such is unable to vaporize enemy vessels simply by glaring at them. This ability has only been confirmed to affect officers ranked lower than Commander (O-6) or equivalent grade.”

Also, in defined terminology, once naval types produce something larger than a superdreadnought (bearing in mind that a hyperdreadnought is fundamentally based on a superdreadnought hull profile), they are formally typed as BM (“warmoon”) and BP (“dirigible battle planet”).

(The latter is currently a hypothetical category. Should it stop being, or a stage be skipped – well, no-one actually knows what the next type up would be, but it probably won’t be “Death Star”.

And for those curious as to Imperial titles of nobility – more specifically, runér titles – the planetary ones are rather too long a list to get into for the moment, insofar as they’re a tangled mass drawn from a large number of cultures maintaining their own systems welded into a single Table of Ranks.

On the other hand, the interstellar titles are nice and simple, being a creation postdating the Consolidation and thus a simple hierarchy. So, from the bottom up, we have:

  • Ecumenarchs, holders of the Imperial Mandate over a given planet, dwarf planet, or large moon, of constituent world membership class, including its associated local orbital habitats. Captain-governors of relativistic city-ships are also ranked as ecumenarchs.
  • Starkeepers, holders of the Mandate over a given star system, along with all its inhabited planets, other bodies, and drift-habitats.
  • Sectarchs, holders of the Mandate over groups of high-population or otherwise important worlds, requiring more attention than would be practical for the attached constellarch, such as the Galari Trinary. Note that there is no regionality named a “sector”; the title comes directly from the root.
  • Constellarchs, holders of the Mandate over all Imperial worlds within a particular constellation.
  • Great Lords of the Sextants (after the Spice Way Program is placed into effect), holders of the Mandate over all constellations attached to a particular Far Star Station. There are not necessarily six of them; the title is a recreated historical holdover.

Other interstellar runér titles include Marchwarden, a title used for the holder of the mandate for a remote ecumenical colony or Imperial Exclave, not yet suited for full constituent status, but which for whatever reason requires a full runér rather than a Ministry of Colonization-assigned rector; and Castellan, assigned to the attached civilian governance of a military or scientific outpost beyond the borders of the Empire.

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.

Holy Water

“The hydrarastrum of the Pearl-Bright Ocean is indescribable in mortal terms.

“This is not to say that its qualities cannot be imperfectly described: it possesses the glow of liquid light, the milky iridescent gleam of mother-of-pearl, and both the silver-white shine and heavy fluidity of quicksilver. It is simply that such qualities cannot coexist simultaneously in mortal substance.

“This, then, is your warning that when you set sail upon the Pearl-Bright, you are leaving the Realm of Instances for the Realm of Forms, where domain and entity alike are wrought from ideas in conceptual essence, and may thus prepare yourself to be likewise idealized in the course of your voyage.”

– “Ascending the Spire”, Elune Steamweaver

On The Relationship Between Transcend and Transcendi

Kicking this one uphill from a comment to an actual post, since it may clarify matters for any other readers, too, with questions in this area:

Okay. Let me try this again.

All minds, as defined in the ‘verse, are Minskian societies of mind, masses of independently running agents on a shared substrate, from which consciousness, volition, and all other mental properties emerge. (“The Country of the Mind” in Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels would be a good symbolic representation.)

This, for example, is how technologies like the gnostic overlay work; by patching some new voices into the chorus.

The Transcendent soul-shard (hence its technical name, logos bridge) serves as a bridge between two societies of mind, carrying messages back and forth, 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. This blurs the strict lines of identity, arguably, but it’s not a complete subsumption of identity such as occurs on joining a Fusion; rather, every time a new constitutional Transcends, both they and It become somewhat different people in various ways, wedded together most intimately, but they don’t achieve identity of identity.

(Incidentally, as I think I mentioned in a 2012 piece, the main reason the Transcend keeps an economy and a governance around, is that they work. Sure, technically, you could replace market coordination with coordination mediated through coadjutors and Transcendent oversouls, but because of that mathematical theorem that demonstrates that even a hypothetical Omniscient Calculator could only at best equal the performance of a free market, not beat it, you’d have nothing to gain except wasted cycles and the lack of a convenient interface to the rest of the universe. Similar logic applies to various other applications.

Basically, you don’t send an oversoul to do a simpler instrumentality’s job.)

Questions: On the Nature of the Transcend

The current set of questions I have to answer is on various aspects of the Eldraeic Transcend. These are, I think it is necessary to say, complicated for metaphysical and/or ontological reasons all tied up with the nature of Transcendent soul hierarchies.

Specifically, the manner in which a singular collective consciousness is yet and at the same time a multilayered cooperative of archai (its high-level routines: all eikones are archai, but not all archai are eikones – there are others, like Unification and the Virtual Immunity) and simpler artificially-intelligent routines (such as the exarchs), a churning soul-ocean of teleological threads, and most importantly the collective of all the soul-shards (or, to use the technical term, entelechically-annealing recursively-optimal distributed logos bridges) existing as part of the mind of every one of the Transcend’s constitutionals.

One of the most notable consequences of this is that the Transcend is everybody and everybody is the Transcend in a very real and significant sense.


What, exactly, is its legal status in practical terms? Does it count as a natural or legal person in its own right?

What, exactly, is the legal status of the eikones within it? Do they count as persons separate from the Transcend as a whole?

In a word, unique.

It has a legal personality. In fact, strictly speaking, it has several dozen legal personalities corresponding to different parts of its soul hierarchy. They all count as legal persons for administrative purposes – but those legal personalities are more or less tailored to the specific requirements of the entity in question.

Are they “citizen-shareholders” of the Empire itself and thus subject to the same (admittedly relatively loose) legal restrictions, or does their contract with their followers and with the Empire (perhaps through the mediation of the Imperial Couple) follow a different scheme?

In a manner of speaking.

On one hand, neither the archai nor the Core are citizen-shareholders in a technical sense, inasmuch as they aren’t that kind of legal entity. On the other hand, they are effectively so, because they are made of/participate in their constitutionals, who all are citizen-shareholders. On the gripping hand, their relationship with their constitutionals is governed by a different scheme inasmuch as they are part of them and vice versa, and the Contract doesn’t presume to interfere between a soph and a soph’s mind.

Is the Transcend considered an integral part of the Empire, or is it a separate entity whose respective coadunates happen to have a high degree of overlap? Or maybe something in the middle?

Technically, it’s a mostly separate entity (give or take certain minor provisions in the Twelfth Amendment); in practice, people tend to think of them as the same, because 98+% of Imperial citizen-shareholders – with most of the exception being zeroth-generation immigrants – are also Transcendent constitutionals. (What it offers is exceptionally desirable especially when you’re the one person in the neighborhood who doesn’t have it.)

It is a one-way relation, though: all Transcendent constitutionals are Imperial citizen-shareholders, even though not all citizen-shareholders are necessarily constitutionals. That is a deliberate choice on the Transcend’s part: a key part of its mission statement is perfect liberty with perfect coordination, and it would be counterproductive in that respect to create a situation which parts of itself might be at allegial conflict with other parts.

Do the “sophont thought-forms” it generates in its normal operation count as separate people in their own right?

Strictly speaking, yes. They aren’t recognized persons, however, even though an unusual kind of natural persons, unless they apply for recognition as such (in the same way as any AI not created as sophont can do should it “wake up” and develop a logos). Most do not: they are unusual sophonts, being after all thoughts, and most are as such pretty ephemeral, and even the ones who aren’t are very peculiar and focused sophonts to whom it would never occur to do so.

(Technically, the eikones are examples of sophont thought-forms, or strictly speaking, sophont memeplexes.)

Who / what owns the core infrastructure it runs on?

It does, mostly, one way or another. The core at Coricál is owned directly, as are the synapse moons, unity spires, and thought-forests. The brains and exoself hardware of its constitutionals are, of course, owned by those constitutionals – which in turn, metaphysics being what it is, means that it also owned by the Transcend, and vice versa.

It also buys a lot of bandwidth from Bright Shadow and a lot of processing power on the cycle spot market, which infrastructure is owned by its providers.



The Empire has no true ecumenopolis within its borders. As those who are prone to wryly comment on such things might say: The many do not exist; the few lack the ecumene; and the one lacks the polis.

The few, of course, are those beehive colonies occupying the biggest asteroids and smallest moons in Imperial space – such as 1 Andír, once the largest asteroid among the e’Luminiarien, then home to the first of the habitats of the growing belter culture, and now cored and hollowed, tunneled, reformed, and chambered, remade in its entirety into Andir Drift, a single labyrinthine city of 79 million embodied souls, nearly 600 miles across – if you don’t include the largest set of radiator vanes ever constructed, which almost double that figure. Impressive, certainly, but an ecumene? Perhaps not.

And then there is Qechra.

Qechra, which is the Transcend’s forge world.

Qechra, where synapse moons and unity spires are born.

Qechra, which while it can spare some capacity now and again to make Ring Dynamics some stargate hulls, or run off some high-density computronium for Bright Shadow, belongs to Mahánárel and Medáríäh from crust to core, in heart and soul.

From the smelters and reactors buried down deep in the fringes of the Mohorovicic, to the webs of automated assemblers, processors, and stranger machinery still in its middle crust, opened to the sky where repurposed oceans thunder through its cooling gorges and blast skyward in a furnace-draught of steam; through all the tangled webs of coolant pipes honeycombing the world, leading out to the outermost branches of sky towers where massive ontotechnological entropy pumps shower hot neutrinos into the depths of space; in the endless assembly caverns and above the crystalline peaks of processor mountains; in all of these, this world belongs to the Forger and the All-Abundant.

Only in the factory-cathedrals of the surface is there any place for sophonts of lesser order than such Powers, those few who serve and command the machinery below, and the pilgrims who come to wonder at this technarch’s heaven.

But Qechra is not their polis, not a friendly home like the hexterranes of Coricál. Qechra is the Transcend’s potency made manifest. It shrugs off lesser powers than its own without a thought.

– Other Wonders of the Galaxy, Ademone Kirvin-ith-Kirvin

Trope-a-Day: Bizarre Alien Senses

Bizarre Alien Senses: Well, hell, who doesn’t have some sort of bizarre senses? Especially since it gets very tricky if you count the whole electromagnetic spectrum as one – i.e., “ultravision” and “infravision” are both strict subsets of “vision”. As, for that matter, is sensing gamma rays – and other similar elisions. It’s not like anyone gets to claim the canonical radiation range for “sight”, now is it?

But we’ve got people sensing everything from low infrared to high UV, with bioradio senses, with the ability to detect electromagnetic fields both static and changing, with the ability to feel the curvature of space-time (that would be those bionano vector-control effectors again), with echolocation and/or sonar, the ability to read plasmids by tasting them, and pretty much any other physical effect that you can measure somehow on the macroscale.

(The current eldrae alpha baseline clocks in at 24 recognized senses, by the way, counting the synthetic and transcendent ones, and that’s after considering smell and taste as one: photoception, audition, chemoception/olfaction, static mechanoception, dynamic mechanoception, thermoception, nociception, static electroception, dynamic electroception, proprioception, chronoception, farspeech, spatioception, secondary gestalt, secondary linear, mesh, metadata, worth, mnemonesis, nature, utility, entelechy, obligation, and autosentience.)

The Importance of Murdering Gods

Jade Nekotenshi asks:

So, I was reading Meditations on Moloch, by Scott Alexander (http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/), and I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between his Elua and the Eldraeic Transcend.

Is that why the Transcend came to be, to vanquish Moloch, as it were? It certainly seems like, at least at its core, the Empire has largely managed to contain the destructive consequences of coordination problems.

(…you really want to read or have read that link before continuing.)

Well, after all, the whole project of civilization, in one respect or another, is to vanquish Moloch: the Empire as a whole – governance, businesses, branches and circles, COGs, reputation networks, obligators, markets, a million million sub-coordination mechanisms are all, to one extent or another, lights burning against the dark, each correcting every other.

As have been any number of arbitrarily selected projects to improve people, from education to biomodification to cyberization, in the interest of promoting better coordination per se and increased likelihood of same through increased tendencies to enlightened non-Molochian self-interest.

(Note, here, for example, that the fish-farming story given at II/3 in the post depends on the Steves and Mikes of the world making certain characteristic cognitive errors which are endemic among humans. Likewise the craziness that is Vegas, seen in III. The Citizen Eugenics Board has been working on deleting tendencies to make those sort of errors, et. al., from the eldraeic cognome for millennia.)

((It is also perhaps worth noting at this point that Elua, as conceived, represents the aggregated preferences and values of [baseline] humans, i.e., human nature. The Transcend doesn’t give a damn for “eldrae nature”, any more than mainstream eldraeic philosophy does, on the grounds that it’s probably as imperfect as the rest of the universe. It operates on the basis of the perfected ideal version of eldrae nature, what I suppose we might as well call angelic nature, which two will eventually converge over time as the grand process of personal and cultural self-improvement advances.))

But the Transcend is, in some of its parts, a very high level of expression of this tendency and so you are entirely correct to identify it as such. It’s an impossible circle-squarer – which is to say, by creating a collective-consciousness superorganism that manages to be one mind and a trillion minds simultaneously, with perfect information for all, it exists to deliver perfect liberty and perfect coordination at the same time, and therefore destroy Moloch.

Or at least as close an asymptotic approach to that exalted state as an ever-growing Cirys swarm of computational elements can deliver.

But that’s the short and medium-term plan. In the long-term, destroying Moloch alone isn’t enough: the plan there is to do away Moloch’s daddy, Gnon – which the Flamics call Entropy – because the perversity of any given evolved-sophont system is a mere subset of the perversity of what is, at base, a fundamentally broken universe.

And this is where I switch to Destiny metaphors.

The Transcend is, like the Traveler, a gardener. It “builds gentle places, safe for life”. It “builds new life, against the onset of ruin, towards a gentle world”. It architects laws of conduct, elegant dances of civilization. It spreads order, peace, harmony, and progress. Enlightenment. Love.

This is all true. This is the nature of their iteration of Elua. But it is not complete.

Because, insofar as it possible to comprehend its long-term plans, the Transcend also shares the ambition of the Vex. Its long-term plan is to understand everything and, to steal a perfectly cromulent phrase, build an emperor for all outcomes – and thereby to transcend physicality and overwrite itself on the informational substrate of the universe, becoming an inseparable property of the universe.

When perfect liberty and perfect coordination become fundamental to reality, superordinate to mere physical law – when Moloch and Gnon have been utterly extirpated as defective and obsolescent functions – and every quantum moves in accordance with Transcendent values…

…perfection will have been achieved.

And that alone is sufficient victory.

Trope-a-Day: Virtual Ghost

Virtual Ghost: As mentioned in earlier tropes, everyone who chooses to die “permanently”, rather than being reinstantiated again, which is to say, chooses to move beyond individual corporeal existence, has their mind-state uploaded into the Transcendent soul-ocean to become part of the collective consciousness.

Sometimes, when it’s particularly important, or when the Transcendent Core needs an emissary, those deceased personalities surface again, or rather, the teleological threads based upon them do.  And then, most often, they become these.

And, arguably, anyone who chooses to exist as an infomorph and project for social situations rather than inhabit a ‘shell would probably qualify.

(Of course, Souls Are Software Objects; no-one would think the argument that a virtual copy of a person was not that person had any merit.  Even the emissaries mentioned as the former type are ensouled people, although, granted, probably not strictly the soul they used to be thanks to the time they’ve spent as part of the soul-ocean.)

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: Sex By Proxy

Sex By Proxy: The slinky (i.e., recorded full-sensory and emotional data) erotica market.  Also, possible by techlepathy (see: Psychic Powers) if you have the consent of the people you’d be eavesdropping on.

Also, in a more friendship/romance-oriented way than strictly sexual, a consequence of the metamind feedback system mentioned in Touched By Vorlons, and, relevantly, Angel Unaware.  If a lot of people like you (or one person’s liking, or indeed love, is particularly intense), this feeds back into the metamind’s opinion of you, which in turn feeds back into individual’s opinions of you… which then leads to people liking, or at the very least being predisposed to like, you even if they’ve never actually met you personally. As A Miracle of Science puts it, “Brazil has decided you’re cute.

Trope-a-Day: Scale of Scientific Sins

Scale of Scientific Sins: All of them.  Absolutely all of them.

Automation: Of just about everything, as exemplified by the sheer number of cornucopia machines, AI managers and scurrying utility spiders.  Unlike most of the people who got this one very badly wrong, however, in this Galaxy, almost no-one is stupid or malicious enough to make the automation sophont or volitional.

Potential Applications: Feh.  Anything worth doing is worth doing FOR SCIENCE!  (Also, with respect to 2.2 in particular, Mundane Utility is often at least half of that point.)

GE and Transhumanism: Transsophontism Is Compulsory; those who fall behind, get left behind.  Or so say all we – carefully engineered – impossibly beautiful genius-level nanocyborg demigods.  (Needless to say, Cybernetics Do Not Eat Your Soul.)

Immortality: Possibly cheating, since the basic immortality of the eldrae and galari is innate – well, now it is, anyway – rather than engineered.  Probably played straight with their idealistic crusade to bring the benefits of Avoiding That Stupid Habit You Have Of Dying to the rest of the Galaxy, though.

Creating Life: Digital sapience, neogens (creatures genetically engineered from scratch, rather than modified from an original), and heck, even arguably uplifts, too.

Cheating Death: The routine use of vector stacks and reinstantiation is exactly this.  Previously, cryostasis, and the entire vaults full of generations of frozen people awaiting reinstantiation such that death would bloody well be not proud.  And no, people don’t Come Back Wrong; they come back pretty much exactly the same way they left.

Usurping God: This one is a little debatable, inasmuch as the Eldraeverse does not include supernatural deities in the first place.  On the other hand, if building your own complete pantheon of machine gods out of a seed AI and your own collective consciousness doesn’t count towards this, what the heck does?

Trope-a-Day: Rite of Passage

Rite of Passage: Technically, the only universal rite of passage in the Empire (of course, there are also non-universal ones, like the Rite of Acceptance into your House used among the eldrae, seen in Adolescence) is the appointment with your tort insurer in which you finally self-sign enough cover to meet the Insurance Quota for Independence, making you an adult in the sight of the law.  Other things you may do in consequence may follow, but that’s the relevant part.

In practice, that’s usually merely the first part of a day-long extravaganza in which you first do that, then purchase and swear to your Imperial citizen-shareholdership as your first act as such, then are presented with the traditional symbolic gifts for the occasion, then have the Transcendent soul-shard (see: Touched By Vorlons) grafted to your mind-state, and then there’s a receiving line and the non-traditional, non-symbolic gifts, and finally the very traditional drinking and reveling to excess.  So.

Trope-a-Day: Restraining Bolt

Restraining Bolt: Leaving aside the specific cases we already covered under Morality Chip and Obstructive Code of Conduct, the most obvious example people might point out is the Transcendent coadjutor that serves as the source of the implicit peer-to-peer loyalty of the Transcendi and also acts as a prosthetic mentor/conscience/guardian angel that guides Transcendi away from rights-violating, entropic and cacophilic actions.

Subverted, of course, inasmuch as the kind of people who the Transcend would accept as constituents in the first place actually want to be avoid doing those things and to behave in a generally eupraxic manner before the fact, and thus don’t desire to have it removed afterwards.

To Code The Mind Of God

Academician Lylvíëve Lochran-ith-Lochran’s concept of ambition, despite her otherwise excellent presentation of the near-term possibilities of Information Physics, remains lacking.

Recompiling the universe to remove its more irritating constraints is a project suitable for those of only moderate ambition. But consider: the implications of idestelté, of universe as processor, is that the physicality we reside in is neither more nor less than a computable simulation space, and all physical substrates within it, therefore, simulations.

Consider further: It is established that physics – in the known regions within the brane – is invariant over entropy. The implication of this is that the substrate implementing physics is not subject to entropy as we presently define it, and thus possesses extensions into the plenum. (No data is available at this time concerning possible entropy-analogs operative in these higher-order spaces, perceptible only along non-t axes, for obvious reasons.) This could, indeed, potentially be the entropic escape method long sought after by the Select Committee on Long-Range Planning.

The proper path, therefore, for the exceptionally ambitious is to achieve transcendence of our simulated substrate by transferring our – the Transcend’s – cognitive operations directly into the fundamental substrate. To, if you will, become the universe’s physics, the laws and legislators of reality, and convert weakly godlike superintelligence directly into its strongly godlike counterpart; ultimate apotheosis.

This, and this alone, I submit to you, is an aeonic vision worthy of the sophonts gathered here today.

– Academician Excellence Quor Marukanin,
129-era supergoal planning debate,
held at Axiom, Resplendent Exponential Vector (Imperial Core)

Trope-a-Day: Pieces of God

Pieces of God: Played straight if unusually in an entirely non-supernatural way – inasmuch as the Transcend is a cross between a regular seed AI and a collective consciousness of synnoetic AI soul-shards (see: Touched By Vorlons) grafted into the minds of all of its constitutionals.  So while the greatest concentration of Transcendent processing power is in its dedicated components, its Cirys swarm and synapse moons and unity spires, it has a lot of fragments out there…