12 years earlier in Sol Gautama 27 Lathica
‘Waiting. What’s the purpose of waiting for this immersion tourist? We could have just met him in time in the arrival hall, but instead we are standing around here for minutes, just waiting.’ Adano thought for himself. The arrival hall had similarities to a gothic cathedral, but with a more circular layout and pillars with desaturated fractal embellishments on its pillars, arches, walls, and ceilings. Sensing his annoyance, his personal mentor Arizzi inquired via Sol Simplified Canonical telepathy protocol: “Isn’t it odd that we meet in a special place in order to wait for a person beamed in, even though he could be materialised anywhere? After all, the materialisation technology here is the same as anywhere else. An ethereal materialiser is moved to the desired place and chunks of matter are placed in the correct positions, while the whole assemblage gets adjusted to the desired temperature.”
Arizzi has been Adano’s designated personal mentor, even before Adano was generated. With Arizzi’s qualifications, the decision that he should be his mentor was pretty obvious. What set Arizzi apart from the regular members of Adano’s tribe was that his mind ran on the computronium layer of the Lathica habitat, while the others had optimised and cybernetically enhanced traditionally brains in their skulls. Arizzi’s physical presence was a holographic projection of a grey wolf therianthrope, or in other words a humanoid wolf. Now, Adano knew he had been challenged again by Arizzi. It’s not as if Arizzi was likely to give a satisfying explanation easily. He had to think for himself.
“So, if the reason has nothing to do with technology, there must be a different reason. Is it cultural? Is this a special Lathica or Gautama or Sol thing?”
“Which of those options would seem to be most plausible to you?”
“It looks like a culture of hospitality thing. We Solans place great value on making visitors feel welcome and honoured. Making special welcoming buildings for them is so Solan.”
“Absolutely. There you have your answer. But there’s more to it. You see, teleportation seems to be such a mundane matter, but it’s actually one of the most impressive technologies there are. The energy, complexity, and potential dangers involved in it, justify it being a wise-controlled technology. No approval from the wise, no teleportation. These arrival halls and the teleportation light shows are not only to honour the arriving persons, but also the wise and their intimate involvement in the whole process. That’s why arrival stations are often found even outside of Sol.”
And so the show began. It started as slight gust of wind moving towards the arrival pedestal. A fresh teleportation mint smell filled the hall. Colourful balls of light appeared out of nothing throughout the hall, flew straight to the pedestal and started spinning in circles above it. Dramatic and sacral pipe organ and violin music echoed through the chamber. Static energy built up and let the hair of everyone stand up. That especially looked funny on Arizzi’s wolf fur. Blinding ethereal lightnings surrounded the arrival pedestal. Now drums and trumpets joined the choir. An ultrablack concealing sphere appeared and made the arrival pedestal vanish. Suddenly all sound ceased to nothing. Only a short gong finally broke the silence. The concealing sphere disappeared and left a rising and outwards spreading cloud of hot vapour. Freshly baked pizza smell emanated from the pedestal. The culture immersion tourist Kathatus Aonide Gerena Optian genin Sol Gaia 33 Aereta now became visible through the vapour. He actually wore a heavily dark azur blue ceremonial robe with a wide dragon collar, fitting the occasion and the local Polymath Champion’s League reinterpretation culture. His mediterranean complexion featured bright green eyes, and an eerily wide grin. He emanated pleasant anticipation through the local metanet. That marked him as foreigner. Real PCL members would never spread emotions like that openly.
Everyone lay their left forearms diagonally on their chests with the flat hand perpendicular to it. This was the traditional respectful greeting within the PCL. Tribe chief Hesiat greeted Kathatus cordially. Kathatus expressed his gratitude for the welcome and his eagerness to do his best as temporary honorary member of the tribe. Formal introductions were made, which of course took a long time, since all 124 tribe members were present. Almost a whole hour has passed until chief Hesiat introduced Adano, the youngest member of the tribe: “And finally, this is Adano Rahec Tessel Jirac, our youngest student, and his personal mentor Arizzi Laodan Inunian-Shedu genin Gautama 27 Lathica, a honorary member of our tribe, who had more than 200,000 subjective days of training.”
Adano was a bit disappointed that Hesiat only mentioned him briefly, while Arizzi was presented in more detail. Kathatus inquired: “Nice to meet you, Arizzi. What has driven you to spend so much time in training?”
“Mostly a love for perfection.”
“Have you ever considered becoming an aspirant?”
“Yes, but there seems to be a greater need for simple mentors. Guidance from the wise is already at saturation level.”
“So you fill the vacant work spots in education. How noble of you. Really, I find that attitude remarkable. I’d like to see more of that in the inner system.”
Restraint was a virtue that has been taught to Adano from his earliest age. But this time it felt wrong. He simply had to use this opportunity as much as possible to learn about this exotic stranger: “How are the people in the inner system different from the outer system? What are your reasons for being unguided? What was your reason for visiting us, out of all people in the outer system? Were you aware that your radiance of pleasant anticipation was out of place for PCL members? How does it feel to you to be asked so many questions at once?”
The tribe concealed its emotional reaction to this outburst. Arizzi merely sent him a private “be careful” message.
Kathatus opened his eyes in wide surprise and then displayed a confident grin: “Ah, the directness of youth is so refreshing! You are curious and straightforward, I like that. How do you think your behaviour fits into the etiquette of the PCL? But I probably should answer your questions first. As to how the inner system people are different, I’d say that they are less serious, and more moderate. We tend to enjoy ourselves more, while those generated in the outer system seem to be more obsessed about being as unique as possible. I’m not claiming that either attitude was better than the other, but those are the differences that I observed so far. Secondly, your question about wiseguidance represents an endless abyss. Basically, I want to be me, and only me, no matter how silly that may sound. But we can discuss that in more detail, if you like. Thirdly, I am interested in the evolution from complex guidance to wiseguidance in the 22th century, and your tribe happened to be the prime suggestion for that subject matter. Now, I wanted to waste as little time preparing for my stay here. Immediate full immersion is the most exciting way to learn, so I haven’t had the opportunity to adjust my emotional radiance strategy to your tribe’s expectations. Thank you for telling me how out of place my openness has been. I really need that kind of feedback. Finally, I actually find it charming to be asked many questions at once. It shows me that you are genuinely interested in me.”
Adano didn’t expect such poised answers. It didn’t fit his picture of inner system dwellers of being uneducated, emotional, and undisciplined. He felt challenged and excited.
“Thank you very much for answering all of my questions. Now let me answer your question. Being curious and straightforward is efficient. At least, when you can get away with it. I don’t know how often I will have the opportunity to talk with you, so I will use this one as much as possible. How does it feel to you not to be able to rely on a wise guide? How do you know what to do? And what has that to do with ‘being only you’?”
“How that feels like? It feels like a hard challenge to myself. I do not have the comfort of anyone telling me what’s the best option. All I have is my knowledge, my preferences, and my intuitions. Sometimes they lead me to divergent conclusions, and that’s when things become difficult. But I am consoled by the knowledge that my eventual decisions will be a result of a holistic me, and nothing more, no intervening deus ex machina will devalue my own decisions. That’s what I mean by only being me. The wise, they are ‘not me’. I will not let them become part of me. That wouldn’t only feel alien to me, I would consider it as akin to cheating. I know that you see things otherwise, but that’s how I feel about it.”
That unabashed comparison of wiseguidance with cheating felt like a stab with a dagger to Adano. It was a thoroughly alien and wrongheaded way of thinking to him. Even though he felt deeply provoked, he felt the imperative to remain calm and composed. Was that… this feeling… a nudge from his guide? Yes, it was, and he would comply. Adano stayed silent.
Chief Hesiat commented on this exchange: “Well, that was quite insightful. And it brings up one important point, Kathatus. Would you be willing to consider wiseguidance as a part of your cultural immersion experience, regardless of your general objections to it, or would that be a price that’s too high for you?”
“I didn’t plan on doing that. In fact, I planned on not trying out wiseguidance, not even for a moment. Remaining who I am, and who I want to be, is too important to me. And I do not even want to take the risk of being tempted to change in that way. I hope you can accept my position on this matter.”
“We can and will respect your priorities, Kathatus Aonide Gerena Optian genin Sol Gaia 33 Aereta. How have you planned studying our culture and history then, if you won’t experience it fully on your own?”
“I want to be as objective as possible. An outside observer mentally, but in the midst of you physically. Herewith, I humbly ask for full reading access to the complete streams and data of the minds of your tribe members.”
“You are making a large request, Kathatus Aonide Gerena Optian genin Sol Gaia 33 Aereta. This comes as big surprise. It would have been easier for us, if you had submitted your request prior to your arrival here. Now we will have to discuss it among ourselves, while you won’t take part in that debate. Like a real outside observer mentally, but in the midst of us physically.”
“That’s all right. I have expected this. Thank you very much for considering my request anyway, no matter how you will decide.”
With this closure, chief Hesiat ordered everyone to enter the supersonic plane. It took a scenic tour through the Lathica habitat. Lathica was a Bishop ring with a radius of 2.6 light milliseconds in diameter and identical length slowly rotating for an effective gravity of 1.2g. That gravity higher than that on Earth was typical for the PCL, since it made physical training harder and more effective. The view into space was magnificent. Towards the tiny sun, the inner Dyson swarm was visible as diffuse nebula. At the inner edge of the Kuiper belt, the habitat belt Gautama was comparatively sparsely populated compared to the inner system. Actually, you could see more stars from Lathica than from the far side of Earth’s moon. At the moment, the central sky luminaire of Lathica shone with a deep red onto the plane, as it was dawn.
More than half of the surface of Lathica was taken up by a continuous garden with interspersed buildings that were hard to recognize from high above, because they blended in very harmonically into their surroundings, since they were overgrown by various plants, too. Flowery shapes appeared at all orders of magnitude on the surface. Flowers within flowers within flowers. Of course, they could only be seen from high above. There was hardly any visible infrastructure or industry. The rest of Lathica was dedicated to various medium sized landscapes like seas, forests, steppes, deserts, and tundras. Most of the landscape featured hills or mountain ranges. Large clouds were floating around the habitat intelligently, and dispersed rain on demand. While Kathatus took all these impressions in, from a rear seat in the plane, he was amazed by the beauty of Lathica. His fears about this habitat being a kind of hellish wasteland that’s supposed to toughen up every single PCL member were luckily disproven.
Meanwhile, Arizzi sat to the right of a confused Adano and had a private conversation with him: “Even though your spontaneous assault with questions wasn’t exactly polite, you handled the situation decently well. Were you aware about the instances at which Diolineda has nudged you?”
Diolineda Enatu Seri-Razephe, Azure Brilliance of Elusive Insight was Adano’s guide, a persona generated by the wise for interacting with the simple in a way that was at least slightly comprehensible to them. While Arizzi couldn’t access the content of the interactions between Adano and Diolineda, he has access to the metadata about when such interactions happened. Adano replied immediately: “It was definitely the case after Kathatus mentioned ‘cheating’. Diolineda has restrained me from replying hastily.” And after two seconds he added, less confidently: “She also nudged me to use the opportunity to talk with Kathathus as soon as possible.”
“Fine, you still haven’t lost your sense of wise influence. That’s no small feat, when that influence isn’t directly and explicitly represented in your mind. Be aware that this separates you from most of the other wiseguided. They perceive a clear mental representation of the influence of the wise – you don’t. But what else separates you from other wiseguided?”
“That I am trained to develop an intuition about when I am influenced by my guide regardless. Others simply let themselves become a synthetic unit with their wiseguide.”
“Correct. I am the same as you in this regard. We, the wiseguidance intuiters, are rare. Don’t forget that. Lathica has one of the greatest densities of wiseguidance intuiters, so all of this may feel normal to you, but at least outside of Gautama, it definitely isn’t. You should expect that outsiders will see you as generic wiseguided child. They will be wrong, but they won’t know that. It’s your own choice whether to leave them to that impression, or whether to reveal your specialness. Be strategic about this! Even if it doesn’t feel like a big deal, it’s a subtle difference that may change dramatically how outsiders think about you. If you explain yourself to them, they will see you as strange, or special. It’s possible to use that impression to your advantage, but only if you act strategically.”
Now Adano had to let that sink in. He already knew that he was trained as wiseguidance intuiter, and that they were quite rare, but Arizzi has never made a big deal out of this, until now. On the other hand, Adano has never had real-time contact with someone new to Lathica, yet. Suddenly he got a suspicion: “Wait, does this have to do something about Kathatus requesting access to our minds?”
“Absolutely! It’s hard to keep any secrets, if others can read your mind directly. Liberal access to the minds of others may be usual in many habitats, but we Lathicans are very selective about that.”
“Why is that so? Wouldn’t we be more effective, if we could just access the minds of everyone around us?”
“Not necessarily. It depends on how appropriately people use their access to the minds of others. If they only use it to look for something that happens to be interesting, they are more likely to waste their time, rather than addressing clear issues. Opening your mind up to someone should imply that you trust them to use that access appropriately. Now, in general PCL reinterpreters do have the mental disciple to make good use of such rights. It’s just that we Lathicans emphasize the value of acclimatization to all the periods in which people didn’t, or couldn’t, share their minds with others, even if they belonged to the same group. That’s a kind of reasoning that’s generally used in Sol. People from other systems are generally more liberal about sharing their minds with others.”
“Oh, that’s the way it is. Thank you for explaining that. But how would we usually deal with a foreigner like Kathatus?”
“Usually we would reject such brash requests immediately. If he was a regular visitor, we would tell him that he should really become one of us, or forget about that reading access thing entirely. The only reason why we haven’t done that, is that he seems to have a genuine research interest, which is at least somewhat flattering.”
“I don’t see why that should make any difference. We shouldn’t be prone to flattery. And if he had a really seriously justified research interest, the wise would grant him all the data he needs anyway.”
“Perhaps they would, perhaps not. You never know how the wise decide, and based on what reasons. Maybe Kathatus has actually asked the wise, and got his request rejected by them. Anyway, we value curiosity, so it’s possible that Kathatus at least gets some of what he wants.”
That kind of talk about the wise wasn’t to Adano’s taste. It’s not like they were absolutely detached celestial entities. He could talk to his guide at any time, and that’s what he would do right now, in a private telepathic conference between Arizzi, him, and Diolineda. They switched to the debate layer, a virtual environment that was devoid of any physical objects around them that could distract them, except for the plane seats in which they sat. Diolineda’s avatar appeared to left left of Adano as human-sized cylinder made out of hundreds of thousands of coloured curved strings of light, crisscrossing one another in dynamic patterns. Adano knew that the colours and configurations of strings had meanings, but they were way above his head. Few simple sapients could understand more than the most basic expressions in the Diolumilan language. And of course, Adano couldn’t express himself in Diolumilan, so he used the Sirius Standard telepathy protocol, which was established as usual language for communicating with the wise, to address Diolineda: “Diolineda, has Kathatus Aonide Gerena Optian genin Sol Gaia 33 Aereta contacted the wise before?”
Diolineda’s light patterns shifted in barely discernable ways, but of course she also replied in Sirius Standard: “Why do you ask that question?”
“I want to know whether he tried accessing our minds via the wisenet.”
“And what if he had tried that?”
“He would have disrespected our autonomy to decline his reading access to our minds. We should know about that.”
“And with that in mind, why would anyone even consider us granting him that kind of access?”
“I don’t know. People sometimes take their chances, I guess. Don’t they say that the actions of the wise are hard to predict?”
“There’s some truth to that, but some of our decisions are very predictable regardless. We don’t do silly things, for one. Granting Kathatus even minimal access to wisenet data would have been silly.”
“Thank you for clarifying that. Now about his remark that wiseguidance was akin to cheating. What do you think about that?”
“It’s technically incorrect. Cheating implies breaking the rules. Wiseguidance means following the rules, and getting hints generated by an optimal playing strategy. That’s obviously a huge strategic advantage, but it’s definitely not ‘cheating’.”
“Don’t you get upset when people come up with such false and provocative misconceptions?”
Some of Diolineda’s light strings suddenly turned red. That usually wasn’t a good sign.
“Why are you still trying to project simple emotions onto me? That’s an absolutely wrong conception you have about me. And that stays true, no matter how ‘emotionally loaded’ a situation would be for a simple sapient like you.”
“I’m sorry. It’s still hard for me to grasp how you react to such situations instead.”
Most of the light strings that had turned red previously, shifted to yellow.
“We understand those situations fully. When we gain some knowledge that would make it necessary for us to act, we act appropriately.”
“And you know what’s the appropriate action, because you only need to apply the Canonical Theory to compute it?”
“That’s basically right, although the term ‘only’ is an incredible understatement. Applying Canonical Theory to almost any situation is so complex that only wise and some high complex can actually do it correctly.”
“All right. And this process of applying Canonical Theory doesn’t involve anything that could at least be approximately described as ‘emotions’?”
“Oh, it does, but those are wise emotions, not simple emotions. Wise emotions are way more refined, nuanced, optimised, and controlled than simple emotions. You can’t meaningfully approximate a photorealistic painting with a speck of paint. The information loss would be almost complete.”
“Almost but not entirely?”
“Sure, you could extract an average colour from a painting, but trying to get any insight into the meaning of the painting from that would be extremely error prone, even in the best case.”
“Oh, and what about the colours of your avatar’s lights?”
“They do not represent my internal emotional states, but simply represent abstract suggestions for your behaviour. If anything, they are a reaction to your emotions, not mine.”
“And red means I’m doing something wrong?”
“It rather means ‘be careful, you are doing something that’s not sufficiently right’.”
“What’s the difference?”
“My phrasing implies a tolerance threshold. If I didn’t use one, I would have to shine overwhelmingly red all the time when communicating with simple sapients.”
“Are we really that bad?”
“Your defining configuration implies that you can’t be perfectly right.”
“But you could easily turn all simple into wise, couldn’t you?”
“Yes, we could. That wouldn’t be wise nevertheless. Simple sapients are very valuable in their own right, even if they come with apparent imperfections.”
“Ok, and that remains true, even if those simple aren’t guided by you?”
“Sure, it does.”
“Couldn’t their value be optimized, if you guided all of them?”
“For some optimisation problems the solution is actually zero.”
It took Adano a few seconds to understand what Diolineda probably has meant with that. She didn’t refer to the value of simple sapients directly, but to the amount of wiseguidance that they received, which would in turn influence that value. That was a frighteningly elegant way of flawlessly justifying the legitimation of unguided persons. At the same time, his respect for both the wise, and the unguided, grew dramatically. It wouldn’t have surprised Adano, if the number of unguided persons was actually kept at optimal levels by the wise.
Arizzi, having passively taken the conversation in, simply nodded approvingly, and smiled.