The Vastness of Thinking

(Follows on from this.)

Vontok System
Former Republic Stargate, Maintenance Access Four
Probable Technologies Forensic Eschatology Team (subcontracted by Ring Dynamics)

“Kanaze, we’ve got a subsumptor amok in fifthspace.”

“Shut it down and blacklist that port sequence. We’ll spin up a new sim with the next test set.”

“Will do, es-”

* * *

One Simulation Level Higher

“Kanaze, we just lost a second-level sim; excursion at 5.4 megaseconds. Looks like a poison angel was guarding their access route.”

“Do we have a line on the vulnerability?”

“At their level it looked like a port guardian, but if we cross-hash it with evidence from the other sims, this whole approach is looking fundamentally misguided. I think we’re being spoofed.”

“Affirm. Let’s close down this approach. Archive the sim, and reseed a couple of fresh ones with its conclusions incorporated: we’ll try the timing-channel attack on one, and the reflective merkwelt in the other.”

“We could up the chances of success if we could borrow some hypercomputation for the TCA. Any chance, estrev?”

“That… may not be possible here-now.”

* * *

One Simulation Level Higher

“Kanaze, we lost the main thread. Looks like a self-reflection/simulation awareness cognitive hack.”

“Damn. And their approach was probably the most promising, too. Roll it back to the best previous snapshot we have, patch that me’s response seed, and we’ll try a rerun.”

* * *

One Simulation Level Higher (Base Reality?)

“Looks like we’re getting some useful results out of the first-level simulations, now.”

“Useful results, maybe. That last excursion penetrated too far up the stack. I’m inclined to pause the whole probe and restart with an extra layer of simulation spaces and gatekeepers, maybe two.”

Trope-a-Day: Possession Implies Mastery

Possession Implies Mastery: Generally averted, as the very large pile of incomprehensible elder-race artifacts sitting around in museums and the vaults of companies like Probable Technologies, ICC would demonstrate.  Some of them have been there for centuries, or even millennia, and are still no closer to being understood.

Played straighter with many items of Imperial technology, which tends to come with built-in diagnostic equipment and users’, maintenance and repair manuals, technical specifications, and a full schematic all stored on the device itself, readily accessible via v-tag.  But then, their manufacturers know they’re selling to customers who like to tinker.
It’s not instant mastery, but it sure helps with getting there.

Aftershocks (2)

Vontok System
Former Republic Stargate, Maintenance Access Four
Ring Dynamics Transition Team

“I don’t like it.”

“It’s going well so far. The interface layer reconfigured cleanly to accept standard blue-box protocol.”

“That’s why I don’t like it.”

“Because it reconfigured cleanly?”

“Because it reconfigured too easily. This thing was ripped out of a dead god’s brain with stone axes. That shouldn’t make it user-friendly.”

“Maybe it was built for them.”

“Okay, then, how do you explain the computronium stacks? Big and clunky this isn’t; it’s just got far more parcycles and dataspace than the stargate manager needs. What are they for – and don’t say nothing, and before you answer, remember dead god’s brain.”

“…that’s paranoid.”

“But am I wrong?”

“No, I can’t say that. What are you proposing?”

“I’m proposing we get this meme-gapped and rig the best emergency-destruct package we can that won’t risk kernel integrity, then call in a Probable Technologies forensic eschatology team. And that we shut down all our probes and mapping operations. It’s one thing if the gate goes diagnostic on us; it’s quite another if our pokin’ around wakes up a poison angel or triggers a prompt intellect excursion, and worse yet if it’s a strongly connected one.”

Trope-a-Day: Ghost Planet

Ghost Planet: Quite a few of them, in various locations – the Galaxy is veritably knee-deep in elder-race litter; as mentioned elsewhere, this gives the existential-threat people something to worry about, and also enables companies like Probable Technologies, ICC to make an entire industry out of archaeology.

(Since I oopsed and didn’t post one yesterday, this is the first of two tropes-a-today.)

Trope-a-Day: Black Box

Black Box: Quite a few of them lying around in the form of leftover elder race artifacts and other archaeological recoveries.  Sensible civilizations and corporations (like Probable Technologies, ICC) really hate this, because they know exactly how Sealed-Evil-In-A-Can dangerous that sort of thing can be, and the likelihood of unknown side effects, and decline to extensively use or commercialize any of them until they’ve figured out not only how to reproduce them, but also just how, exactly, the things work.  Very minor, very benign examples may be sold off to collectors, but no-one’s making them a part of their infrastructure until they know all about it.

There are, of course, plenty of sense-challenged people out there.

(On a lesser scale, there are some other examples: the secrets of stabilizing wormholes and building stargates, for example, are both a state secret of the Voniensa Republic and the highest possible grade of commercially-sensitive information for Ring Dynamics, ICC, for reasons in both cases less about maintaining their monopoly and more about wanting to discourage people from screwing with the infrastructure of their really expensive interstellar transportation system – so while the rough details of how they work are known to any schoolchild, that’s about it.  Likewise, the algorithms for producing recursively self-improving AI seeds are generally considered proprietary and closely held by informal agreement [the “Corícal Consensus“] of the people who have them, due to the tendency of amateurs to do really stupid things that Go Horribly Right.)

[Of course, in fairness to everyone else, it’s not like in their universe they ever ran into a recovered Black Box that was quite so all-fired useful as, say, Mass Effect‘s mass relay network.  On the other hand, I am fairly certain that, while the Imperials might have been unable to resist the urge to put that one into immediate operation, they also would have been sure to find a less important one somewhere that they could take apart to figure out how the damn things worked…]

Headlines: A Day in the Worlds

The Imperial Infoclast
Supplementing Your Memeplex Since 2042

EMPIRE

Sidar Colony Celebrates Ecopoesis Bicentennial
The Sidar Colony in the Principalities will celebrate the 288th anniversary of the initiation of its ecopoesis program next month, with a series of low-lying valleys being opened to habitation for the first time by unmodified colonists.

Eleven Temporarily Killed In Solar Sailing Accident
This year’s Meridia Cup ends in tragedy as an unpredicted coronal mass ejection wrecks five of the competing solar sailers.

WORLDS

Presidium Condemns Trikhad Conquest
The Presidium of the Conclave has unanimously condemned the military expansion program of the Trikhad Conquest in the Tanion Wilds. Sources close to the Presidium suggest that containment action may be in preparation.

Piracy Again Rising In Dark Sea Constellation
Unusual shipping movements around the ruins of Litash may indicate a rebirth of the pirate syndicates that once controlled the area, INI warns.

Republic Delegation Protests Uncontrolled Exports, Smuggling
In a now annual tradition, a delegation from the Voniensa Republic protested the uncontrolled filtration of technologies and other artifacts across their border with the Associated Worlds. The protest was heard by the Conclave, who expressed sympathy but regretted once again that the situation was beyond their power to address.

BUSINESS

A Probable Discovery, or A Probable Bubble?
Shares in Probable Technology, ICC (ticker: PROBL) jumped 21 points on the Seranth Exchange today based on unconfirmed rumors that their relativistic xenoarchaeological expedition beyond the rimward Periphery has reported a major find. While the company itself has refused to comment on the rumors, many usually knowledgeable investors seem unusually bullish on this stock today.

ENTERTAINMENT

Anticipation Rises As Aelaviel Fashion Show Opens
Expectations are high on Seranth this week as the 187th Aelaviel Fashion Show opens in Mer Dinévál, especially since last week’s leaked news that several major fashion houses have contracted vector control engineers and swarm roboticists. Join the Infoclast’s memeweaves for real-time, on-the-spot, full-sensory reporting!

“Ah, Yes, The People”, Triumphs, Flops
As expected by most critics, the palace farce which mercilessly satirizes galactic politicians from core to rim, while a runaway success in the Accord’s most notoriously libertist polities, freesoil worlds and independent drifts, proved unpopular elsewhere.  Nevertheless, after pulling in 3.9 billion exvals in its opening week, the producers are laughing all the way to the bank.

TECHNOLOGY

Cognitech, ICC Announces Breakthrough In Bulk Mnemonesis
New advances in axiom feeds and neural imprinting may double the speed of synthetic learning.

OPINION

Point: It’s Time To Crush The Militarists
“The recent expansionism by the Trikhad Conquest only goes to reinforce that we, as the responsible members of galactic civilization, simply can’t afford to let these dangerous idiots and the rest of the Interstellar League of Tribal Chiefdoms run around loose.”  Cail Amanyr-ith-Velcyr, doyen of the belligerati, makes the case for preemptive action to prevent the wars that always seem to accompany the introduction of certain types of society to the galactic neighborhood.

Trope-a-Day: Living Relic

Living Relic: Quite a few, including some cryonauts and other last-survivor types, but the most common form of these is still-readable archives left behind by dead civilizations.  Many of which archives include suspended mind-states – sometimes biological but more often AI – or recipes to create AIs, as part of their contents.

While some of these are, indeed, lights flung into the future or bearers of the ancient wisdom of forgotten civilizations, enough of a minority of them are examples of the kinds of dangers I’ve mentioned under Gone Horribly Right or will later mention under Sealed Evil in a Can that blithely cooking up recipes you dug out of ancient archives is something you should approach with approximately the same caution as poking Cthulhu with a stick.

(Nonetheless, there are major commercial entities – say, Probable Technologies, ICC – who make a living doing it.  So it goes.  They also make a living selling spin-off technologies with names like “meme-gap archive recovery systems” and “broad-spectrum gigaton-range autodestruct protocols”.  So that goes, too.)