Memeweave: Threats and Other Dangers/Perversion Watch/Open Access
Classification: WHITE (General Access)
Encryption: None
Distribution: Everywhere (Bulk)
As received at: SystemArchiveHub-00 at Víëlle (Imperial Core)
Language: Eldraeic->Universal Syntax
From: 197th Perversion Response Board


Given the high levels of uninformed critical response to our advisory concerning handling potential refugees arriving sublight from regions within the existential threat zone of the Siofra Perversion, or Leviathan Consciousness as it is becoming popularly known, the Board now provides the following explication.

The present situation is an example of what eschatologists refer to as the basilisk-in-a-box problem. The nature of the mythological basilisk is that witnessing its gaze causes one to turn to stone, and the challenge therefore to determine if there is a basilisk within the box and what it is doing without suffering its gaze. The parallel to the Siofra Perversion’s communication-based merkwelt should be obvious: it won’t subsume you unless you alert it to your existence as “optimizable networked processing hardware” by communicating with it.

Your analogous challenge, therefore, is to determine whether the hypothetical lugger or slowship filled with refugees is in fact that, or is contaminated/a perversion expansion probe, without communicating with it – since if it is the latter and you communicate with it sufficiently to establish identity, you have just arranged your own subsumption – and unless people are subsequently rather more careful in re communicating with you, that of all locally networked systems and sophonts.

Currently, the best available method for doing this is based on the minimum-size thesis: i.e., that basilisk hacks, thought-viruses, and other forms of malware have a certain inherent complexity and as such there is a lower limit on the number of bits necessary to represent them. However, it should be emphasized that this limit is not computable (as this task requires a general constructive solution to the Halting Problem), although we have sound reason to believe that a single bit is safe.

This method, therefore, calls for the insertion of a diagnostician equipped with the best available fail-deadly protections and a single-bit isolated communications channel (i.e., tanglebit) into the hypothetical target, there to determine whether or not perversion is present therein, and to report a true/false result via the single-bit channel.

If we leave aside for the moment that:

(a) there is a practical difficulty of performing such an insertion far enough outside inhabited space as to avoid all possibility of overlooked automatic communications integration in the richly meshed network environment of an inhabited star system, without the use of clipper-class hardware on station that does not generally exist; and

(b) this method still gambles with the perversion having no means, whether ontotechnological or based in new physics, to accelerate its clock speed to a point which would allow it to bypass the fail-deadly protections and seize control of the single-bit channel before deadly failure completes.

The primary difficulty here is that each investigation requires not only a fully-trained forensic eschatologist, but one who is both:

(a) a Cilmínár professional, or worthy of equivalent fiduciary trust, and therefore unable to betray their clients’ interests even in the face of existential terror; and

(b) willing to deliberately hazard submitting a copy of themselves into a perversion, which is to say, for a subjective eternity of runtime at the mercy of an insane god.

(Regarding the latter, it may be useful at this time to review the ethical calculus of infinities and asymptotic infinities; we recommend On the Nonjustifiability of Hells: Infinite Punishments for Finite Crimes, Samiv Leiraval-ith-Liuvial, Imperial University of Calmiríë Press. Specifically, one should consider the mirror argument that there is no finite good, including the preservation of an arbitrarily large set of mind-states, which justifies its purchase at infinite price to the purchaser.)

Observe that a failure at any point in this process results in first you, and then your entire local civilization, having its brains eaten.

We are not monsters; we welcome any genuine innovation in this field which would permit the rescue of any unfortunate sophonts caught up in scenarios such as this. However, it is necessary that the safety of civilization and the preservation of those minds known to be intact and at hazard be our first priority.

As such, we trust these facts adequately explain our advisory recommendation that any sublight vessels emerging from the existential threat zone be destroyed at range by relativistic missile systems.

For the Board,

Gém Quandry, Eschatologist Excellence


Fictional Refugee Fictional Policy

Man, y’all do love to ask me questions touching on real-world issues. Seriously, I’m not writing allegory, here. But, anyway, someone anonymous picked up on a past reference to the Conclave’s rejection of the Accord on Refuge-Seeking Sophonts, and wants to know just what the Imperial policy is on refugees, anyway.

Let me express this for you in the form of a conversation that has happened somewhere in the back halls of the Conclave of Galactic Polities approximately a shitload of times to date:

“We don’t have a refugee policy. A polity whose entire immigration stance can be summarized as ‘Yeah, just turn up and don’t be a dick.’ doesn’t need a refugee policy.”

“But… then why don’t you admit more refugees?”

“Because being on the losing side of your special conflict is no guarantee that you aren’t, in point of fact, a dick.”

(The discussion is then tabled briefly while the argument shifts to the much older and equally fruitless discussion of why the Empire persists in having such unreasonably high standards for its citizen-shareholders, and whether or not it could take this particular stick out of its ass for a good cause [spoiler: legally speaking, no].)

A Particularly Rotten Haystack (2)

If I ever again have to figure out how to program a cornucopia to produce pre-damaged goods, at least I won’t be starting from scratch.

I ventured outside Sanctuary today in pursuit of what records there were of the landing points of the refugee shipments that might have included my client’s family.  As I said, there’s no data connectivity out there, and most have no use for currency, so I took goods for barter – ration bars, medicines, batteries, ammunition.  Bad move.  My disguise might have held up, but these people can spot new goods from a mile away.

Half the govgang I tried trading for information with wanted to grab me for ransom; the other half just wanted the cornucopia.  I got a head start while they were debating the issue, but – well, fortunately the prefabs they were using still recognized the default configuration codes.  No reason to change them without a local ‘net, I suppose.  I only had to kill half a dozen to get away clean.

I’ll try the next target tomorrow – with appropriately resealed, used, and battered goods, to the eye, anyway.  With luck, I won’t have to go back to that sector to find them.

– log of <trill-trill click-warble-whistle>, inquisitive, on Márch (Innia Rise)

Just Another Day In Inplacement

“Got a good one for you!”

“Why is it, Annis, that when you say ‘good one’, I hear ‘utter wire-and-tape job’?”

“Couldn’t say, boss.  Anyway, today’s case here-and-now one-thirteen.  An infugee from the Republic – one of their scientists who wanted to defect, looks like.  He managed to piece together some good-enough brain-scanning equipment out of repurposed lab equipment, then programmed it to rip him and mail him to us in a few thousand steganographically-concealed parts, scrubbing as it went.  ExSec picked him out of the stream and shuffled him over here.”

“That’s routine.  Don’t make me wait for the good part.”

“Well, it looks like their firewalls are a little bit better than he thought they were.  They detected the transmission and cut it off in midstream.  We have about half of his mind-state.  The other half’s still at the sending point.”

“Okay.  Well, call –”

“And the Vonnie ambassador is pounding the table demanding that we send back our half.”

“Hah.  If you ever find one to beat this, remind me to go on leave and stick you with the coordinator’s job.”  He rubbed his temples. “Right.  Get me whoever found this over at ExSec, State and Outlands, the Curia, whoever’s senior on-shift at Instantiations, and a stiff drink.”

A Particularly Rotten Haystack (1)

Grounded at Sanctuary on Márch (Innia Rise).

Just for future reference, let me quote the description of this world from the Directory:

“Márch — while not the oldest or largest of the freesoil worlds, Márch is certainly the most notorious.  After the Accord on Refuge-Seeking Sophonts was firmly rejected by the Conclave (on the Presidium, the Photonic Network was unwilling to build special facilities to accommodate meat intelligences, and the Empire declared that it had standards; meanwhile, powers such as the Rim Free Zone that were willing to accommodate refugees were, by and large, unwilling or unable to pay for them), the Conclave Commission on Refuge-Seeking Sophonts obtained title to this marginal oxygen-breather’s garden world, and chartered it as a special colony to house refugees unable to return, or not permitted to return, to their homelands – funded and governed in condominium by the Commission powers.”

“While the colony operated for a while in accordance with this idealistic beginning, before long conflicts arose between different refugee populations rehomed on Márch, due to existing disputes or competition for the limited resources made available by the Commission powers to the Márch Authority, and the Authority also encountered difficulties policing insurgent groups operating within the Márchian volume.  Meanwhile, the population of Márch ballooned as various authoritarian polities discovered that a convenient way to rid themselves of dissidents or unwanted minority groups was to ship them to Márch, often using old automated freighters with just enough canned life support to get their passengers to Márch orbit.”

“Under these pressures, such stable governance as Márch enjoyed broke down.  Today, the Márch Authority retains control only over the planet’s primary starport and the attached administrative city of Sanctuary.  While they continue to distribute supplies and occasionally intervene in severe cases of mass violence, in practice the remainder of the planet and its approximately 1 billion sophonts are divided into a large number of mutually hostile ethnic and political enclaves.  With the exception of a few large and unusually cohesive enclaves whose quasi-official governments are able to exert meaningful sovereign control, these enclaves operate as an unmutual semi-tribal anarchy under red market conditions.  Very little of the planet outside Sanctuary is supplied with even basic utilities.  Large-scale communications or other data functions are nonexistent.  Poverty, squalor, and disease abound.”

Which amounts to this – while I remain confident of finding my client’s missing family, it’s going to take rather more time and money than I initially estimated.  And certainly rather more violence.

– log of <trill-trill click-warble-whistle>, inquisitive