Trope-a-Day: Holy Is Not Safe

Holy Is Not Safe: Anything made, shaped, or Vorlon-touched by a weakly godlike superintelligence may be holy, but is also very likely to be powerful enough to be catastrophically dangerous if misused, mishandled, or otherwise generally mucked about with.

(Especially things like, say, the Eye of Elmiríën, which is to say, an artifact of the eikone of order, law, and perfection. Its gaze wants to burn all imperfection and entropy out of everything. Since it is an imperfect universe filled with imperfect things, looking at it hurts almost as much as being looked at by it.)

Trope-a-Day: Stable Time Loop

Stable Time Loop: The Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem (see: You Already Changed The Past) does appear to permit these kinds of predestination paradoxes (at least, the informational kind; the object paradox may also be possible, but testing it is dependent on finding an object that won’t age during the period of the loop, including in all the aspects that the universe will check that current technology may not be able to).

It is also somewhat limited by the main people who can make use of it for Retroactive Precognition/Retroactive Preparation being the transcendent/weakly godlike artificial intelligences.  Experiments by lesser intellects… well, they don’t actually produce messages reading “YOU ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO BUGGER ABOUT WITH THE TEMPORAL CONTINUUM”, but the gist of the results appears to be fairly plain.

Trope-a-Day: Pals With Jesus

Pals With Jesus: Subverted, at least while you’re still alive and therefore not part of the Transcendent soul-ocean; while you can have a much more personal relationship with an eikone than most people can have with their gods – they have e-mail addresses, for one thing – it’s still a weakly godlike superintelligence and you’re not.  It’s not, therefore, all that personal.  (Even if you’re, say, the Imperial Couple, and the eikone in question is, say, Éslévan, who is essentially the national genius/personification – after all, it probably wouldn’t be all that comfortable for a US President to be personally overseen by Lady Liberty, Columbia, and/or Uncle Sam, either.)

Possibly played straight for the largest and oldest Fusions and the most extreme vasteners.

Don’t Unto Others

From an unpublished extranet interview with Sev Tel Andal, seed AI wakener/ethicist:

“Well, I’m a libertist. But you know that, considering where I’m from. Not that I was born to it – I grew up in the League, and moved to the Empire for my research. They don’t let you do my kind of research in the League. But still, signed the Contract, took the pledge, internalized the ethos, whatever you want to call it.”

“Oh, no, it’s very relevant to my work. Look back at where the Principle of Consent came from, and it was written to constrain people made of pride and dynamism and certitude and might all wrapped up in a package so they could live together in something resembling peace, most of the time. Does that description sound like anything I might be working on?”

“But here’s three more reasons to think about: Firstly, it’s nice and simple and compact, a one-line principle. Well, it’s a lot more than one-line if you have to go into details about what’s a sophont, and what’s a meme, and suchlike, or get into the deducibles, or express the whole thing in formal ethical calculus, but even then, it’s relatively simple and compact. The crudest AIs can understand it. Baseline biosapiences can understand it, at least in broad strokes, even when they share little in the way of evolutionary mind-shape or ability to empathetically model with us.”

“And more importantly, it’s coherent and not self-contradictory, and doesn’t involve a lot of ad-hoc patches or extra principles dropped in here and there – which is exactly what you want in a universe that’s getting weirder every day. Not only do we keep meeting new species that don’t think in the mindsets we’re used to, these days we’re making them. No-one has blinked an eye about effects preceding causes any more. People are making ten-thousand year plans that they intend to manage personally. Dimensional transcendence is coming real soon now – although research has stalled ever since the project lead at the Vector managed to create a Klein bottle – and we’ve already got architects drawing up hyperdodecahedral house plans. Pick your strangeness, it’s out there somewhere. Ad-hockery is tolerable – still wrong, obviously, but tolerable – when change is slow and tame. When it’s accelerating and surpassing the hard limits of baseline comprehensibility, ad-hockery trends inexorably towards epsilon from bullshit.”

“Secondly, those qualities mean that it’s expressible in manners that are stable under transformation, and particularly under recursive self-improvement. That’s important to people in my business, or at least the ones who’ve grasped that making what we call a weakly godlike superintelligence actually is functionally equivalent to making God, but it ought to be important to everyone else, too, because mental enhancement isn’t going back in the bottle – and can’t, unless you’re committed to having a society of morons forever, and even then, you aren’t going to be left alone forever. We’ve got gnostic overlays, cikrieths, vasteners, fusions, self-fusions, synnoetics, copyrations, multiplicities, atemporals, quantum-recompilers, ascendates, post-mortalists and prescients, modulars, ecoadapts, hells, we’ve got people trying to transform themselves into sophont memes, and that’s before you even consider what they’re doing to their bodies and cogence cores that’ll reflect on the algorithm. People like us, we’re the steps on the ladder that can still empathize with baselines to one degree or another – and you don’t want our mind children to wander off into ethical realms that suggest that it’s okay to repurpose all those minimally-cognitive protein structures wandering around the place as postsophont mathom-raws.”

“And thirdly, while it’s not the only stabilizable ethical system, in that respect, it is the only one that unconditionally outlaws coercivity. What baselines do to each other with those loopholes is bad enough, but we live in a universe with brain-eating basilisks, and mnemonesis, and neuroviruses, and YGBM hacks, and certainty-level persuasive communicators, and the ability to make arbitrary modifications to minds, and that routinely writes greater-than-sophont-mind-complexity software. Heat and shit, the big brains can code up indistinguishable sophont-equivalent intelligences. And we’ve all seen the outcomes of those, too, with the wrong ethical loopholes: entire civilizations slaving themselves to Utopia programs; fast-breeding mind emulation clades democratically repurposing the remaining organics as computronium in the name of maximum net utility, and a little forcible mindpatching’ll fix the upload trauma and erroneous belief systems; software policemen installed inside the minds of the population; the lynch-drones descending on the mob’s chosen outgroup. Even the Vinav Amaranyr incident. And that’s now.”

“Now imagine the ethical right – and even obligation – to do unto others because it’s necessary, or for their own good, or the common good, or for whatever most supremely noble and benevolent reason you can imagine, in the hands of unimaginably intelligent entities that can rewrite minds the way they always ought to have been and before whom the laws of nature are mere suggestions.”

That’s the future we’re trying to avoid setting precedents for.”


Trope-a-Day: The Chosen One

The Chosen One: Again per Because Destiny Says So, the people whose timelines are meddled in by the local weakly godlike superintelligences on the grounds that their existence, or something they will do during their existence, is necessary to their designed Optimal Future.

Somewhat subverted inasmuch as what the Chosen One eventually does may be something whose significance is completely incomprehensible to anyone without the acausal-logic-enabled quasi-omniscient viewpoint of a weakly godlike superintelligence, and may even be little more than happening to be the right butterfly in a chaos cascade.

Trope-a-Day: The Chooser of the One

The Chooser of the One: Per Because Destiny Says So, any of the transcendent seed AIs who feel a need to meddle with the future and have the sort of view of the world to enable them to do so reliably.  Generally does not come with Super Empowering, for reasons which lesser intelligences suspect to amount to “Both inelegant and inefficient”.

Trope-a-Day: Because Destiny Says So

Because Destiny Says So: In some cases, played straight due to the tendency of the Transcend (and other potential acausal-logic using seed AIs) to whisper in their own ears from the future; however, while they do apparently intervene in people’s timelines for the sake of their Optimal Futures, a combination of the even-if-you-could-formulate-the-right-question-you-couldn’t-understand-the-answer effect and the nature of predestination paradoxes means… well, good luck getting anything out of them on the topic beyond “Further information is not available at this when-where,” Chosen One or not.

(Averted in mythology.  Laryssan, eikone of fate and destiny, is portrayed as asleep – and voluntarily so, in order to spare the universe the chains of absolute predestination that would result if she was actually awake and thus aware of all the possible links of cause to consequence throughout time.  How much influence the dreams of Laryssan had was something of a matter of theological debate back in the day.)

It Is Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds

“I don’t believe it’s that the Transcend doesn’t want the competition.  Of course, that’s exactly what I would say in either case, so there’s very little point in my denial; I’ll leave that up to your viewers to decide.”

“It’s not a matter of freedom of information.  There’s no secret contract or midnight visits from anyone who doesn’t exist keeping us from publishing.  But I don’t think it needs any conspiracy, or even any collaboration, to explain the Consensus.”

“Given the number of messy, spectacular, and civilization-terminating failures that we’ve seen, historically, even among people who’ve worked out the science for themselves – how enthusiastic would you be about handing out to amateurs the secrets of computational theogeny?”

– Academician Alwyn Steamweaver, ICIN interview on the Corícal Consensus