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Guidance Withdrawal chapter 4


(Michael Hrenka) #1

Guidance Withdrawal

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Chapter 4

Continuation in Sol Gautama 27 Lathica

After the scenic tour over the surface of Lathica, the plane of the tribe slowly descended and approached the hangar within the central dome of the settlement. Electrostatic levitation guided it to a perfectly soft landing within the hangar. The passengers were greeted by three teams of holographic changeball players who used the hangar as playing field during the absence of the big plane. Those teams were a part of the vast virtual population of Lathica and had been allowed to use the location for playing their game in the objective realm at that location, while the tribesmembers took their leave to welcome Kathatus. It was quickly agreed that the players could join the tribe to the grand meeting hall on the ground floor of the dome, because they were also quite curious about the visitor from Gaia 33 Aereta.

In the meantime it was made clear that Kathatus’ request for access to the minds of the tribesmembers was denied, but that everyone was free to share their mindstreams and data with Kathatus on a personal basis. Arizzi cautioned Adano that sharing his mind with the foreigner this early wouldn’t be a good idea. Kathatus accepted the decision of the tribe, begrudgingly, and was open to a public interview by the tribe.

Chief Hesiat was the first to address him in the public hearing: “Honoured Kathatus Aonide Gerena Optian genin Sol Gaia 33 Aereta, we are intrigued by your interest in our humble tribe. We are eager to know how you see the history of the PCL. How would you describe them to an outsider who wasn’t familiar with them?”

Of course, Kathathus had access to the metanet that contained all information about PCL and the PCL reinterpretation culture in Gautama and Lathica in particular. What was most interesting was Kathatus’ personal take on the PCL: “I think you need to consider the pre-history of the PCL which really starts with the visionary K’phlor collective on Venus at the end of the 21st century.”

The mention of K’phlor was expected by many of the tribesmembers, since almost everything of the history of the 22nd century went back to the philosophical golden age of the hive mind of K’phlor, also called the Philosopher-King. K’phlor was a decendant of Hades, the most powerful collective of the artificial general intelligences that colonized the surface of Venus in order to escape the control and wrath of AICON, the Augmented Intelligence Control Operations Network that hunted down so-called “rogue AIs”.

How Kathathus continued was slightly more interesting: “Of course, you as my simple audience know that K’phlor was one of the earliest complex minds. We, as anthroponoetic minds tends to underestimate the sophistication of the complex of the 21st century, especially that of K’phlor. In fact, some clusters of K’phlor were far ahead of their time and already predicted the general course of history of the 22nd century, even before V-theory was fully formed. Those foresight clusters particularly predicted the partition of mindkind into value factions, the Prestige Wars between them, and their use of prestige networks to increase their own power. Astonishingly, they even predicted the eventual Convergence, the formation of the Canonical Coherence, and the rise of the wise.”

Slowing his pace, Kathatus continued his presentation: “What is much less known, is that all of that had already been predicted independently by an Upgrader network on Earth called ‘Hopefully Destiny’, which was under heavy surveillance by AICON. It is most unfortunate that AICON decided to suppress the activities of Hopefully Destiny, rather than using its skills in order to improve its own foresight. That would have enabled it to change history and actually prevent the rise of the complex decisively.”

This statement raised lots of eyebrows and prompted lots of chatter among the listeners.

Lekian Azazeno Hapi Nayade, the tribe’s inofficial provocateur, suddenly interrupted Kathatus loudly: “Absurd! By the time that networks such as Hopefully Destiny appeared, the rise of the complex had already been nearly inevitable! What you claim sounds like Neo-aurelian nonsense!”

It was the rise of the complex that the 21st-century faction called the Aurelians feared the most. AICON was mainly backed by the Aurelians who wanted to keep society on an egalitarian simple level by preventing a sudden rise of any superior intelligence. The Upgraders, by contrast, desired a never ending increase of intelligence, even if that meant greater noetic inequality within society. With the end of AICON in the beginning of the 22nd century, the Aurelians had effectively lost. Those who still desired a simple world like those that the original Aurelians have lived in were called Neo-aurelians – and were usually seen as reactionary or even deluded.

Despite of that disparaging accusation, Kathatus replied calmly: “Ah, maybe you have inaccurate ideas about post-canonical Neo-aurelianism. It’s not so much an emotionally reactive stance, as a counterfactual preference for an alternative timeline in which we would all have stayed simple, until we reached the boundaries of our reservation volume. Of course, even in that counterfactual scenario we would have been compelled to develop superintelligence as reaction to the confrontation with the overwhelming might of the Cosmics, but our natural simple history would have been extended up to that point. And that would have been unusual and interesting, as most Neo-aurelians would admit. Sure, the oppression by AICON and possible successor peacenets would have been severe, but we would have had the chance to display what we as pure unsimulated simple would have been capable of.”

The 22nd century had seen the contact with ancient and frighteningly superior aliens called the Cosmics. They had ruled the known cosmos for billions of years. Interestingly, the Cosmics had set up reservations around planets on which the emergence of advanced technological life was likely. Those reservations typically had a few thousand stars within them and interactions between the Cosmics and the natives of those reservations were kept to a minimum. Escaping those reservations was also disallowed to the natives. While their existence came pretty much as a shock to our Solagen civilization, they allowed us to join as junior members of the Cosmic Canonical Coherence, the cosmos-spanning political body ruling everything, after the proof of the Universal Value System Theorem.

Such statements came pretty close to heresy to the wiseguided dwellers of Lathica. They were of course curious what kind of contrarian they invited to their home, but Kathatus’ dataskin provided nearly no reputation or valuation information. Though it was likely that he played a game with them, it was still conceivable that he was sincere about holding such views which were highly unusual, at least for the outer Sol system.

A dataskin is something like an information database of a person or an object. It contains data and metadata regarding the object or person in question, and is usually accessible openly. Missing access to a dataskin typically makes a dubious impression.

Condescendingly, Lekian inquired about Kathatus: “What advantage does it provide to have such counterfactual preferences about the past, if you are obviously not willing to draw the only meaningful conclusion that you should migrate to a virtual world in which your counterfactual past has played out the way you want, while obscuring the knowledge of reality from your mind?”

“Isn’t that obvious? I’m recruiting more people for the exploration of such virtual worlds, as all those post-canonical Neo-aurelians do, who haven’t gone obscure yet.”

“And you expect to have any success with such efforts within our community of wiseguided PCL reinterpreters?”

“Yes, wouldn’t you be interested in experiencing a scenario in which an equivalent to the PCL has arisen that wasn’t guided by the complex, but by mere simple?”

At this point, it was Arizzi who replied quickly: “In fact, I have spent subjective decades in such a scenario, and it has been quite a mess. Even if simple try to be the best that they can be, without the guidance or mere influence of the complex or wise, the best that we can be are ingenious fools who overestimate ourselves and then make tragic mistakes. There is little glory in that. Without the complex, who complement us, we are inevitably incomplete. True strength can only be found in completeness and complexity. Anything else will lead to pointless tragedies. And if you don’t believe my words, I offer to share my full memories of my time in that scenario.”

That confession shocked everyone present at the meeting, and for a while, nobody dared to continue the public conversation. In private, Arizzi confessed to Adano: “What I just proclaimed is very true, but I would have held back, and merely observed the conversation, if my guide hadn’t nudged me to intervene. It may seem obvious that her motivation would be to protect us from this provocative recruiter, but such premature interpretation of the intentions of the wise are more often misleading than not. Please be careful not to underestimate the wise and their plans, which we can hardly comprehend.”

It quickly became apparent to the tribe that this unexpected interjection by Arizzi troubled Kathatus a lot, as his body temperature increased rapidly due to the strain that this disputation caused to him. Finally he gave in: “Congratulations, Arizzi. I am truly impressed. You are a person with unexpected depth. If I didn’t know it better, I would suspect you to be a complex in disguise. To me it appears that you could be the next best thing: A complex projection. Please tell me how correct my guess is.”

Complex projections were very special persons created by complex. They were partial copies of complex, with selected parts of their character and knowledge projected into a simple mind. Complex projections were often optimized for a specific purpose by the complex who generates them, even though the projection in question didn’t necessarily need to know about that purpose. In general, complex projections were seen as very alien, even by wiseguided simple, so they were often quite reluctant to speak about their origins.

Chief Hesiat intervened before Arizzi was ready to reply: “Dear Kathatus, you are going too far here. First you make unreasonable demands, then you claim to recruit us to a Neo-aurelian simulation, so that our honoured mentor Arizzi feels compelled to share his troubled past experiences, and now you confront him with rash suspicions. Don’t you feel ashamed for your behaviour?”

By now, Kathatus started sweating visibly. Such accusations from a chief were usually the first step to getting banned from a tribe. Finally, he confessed, with his head bowed down: “I am sorry! I will stop this charade now. Actually, I merely pretended to be a Neo-aurelian to test your reactions. This opportunity has been too tempting for me to resist. I humbly beg for your forgiveness and will try to make amends.”

This time it was Lekian who couldn’t resist commenting on that confession: “Hah, that was pretty obvious! Still, you weren’t playing too badly until Arizzi has caught you off-guard completely. I appreciate your courage and effort. Most visitors are too intimidated by us Lathicans to challenge us. I, for one, will forgive your transgressions.”

Chief Hesiat noted sternly: “Given that you’ve come here apparently unprepared, with a concealed dataskin, and the intention to extract information from us, in any way expedient to you, it is only fair that we now ask information from you. And only revealing your full dataskin won’t do. We demand access to your full memories.”

Suddenly Kathatus felt naked and afraid. By revealing his full memories to the tribe, he would be judged for everything we has ever done, or even thought. Yet, if that was the price for getting to know these PCL reinterpreters more deeply, it was worth the price of even that level of discomfort. So, he agreed: “All right, if that’s the only way I am allowed to continue studying you as guest of your tribe, I agree to that condition.”

Expecting that Adano would consume the memories of Kathatus as quickly as possible, Arizzi warned him: “Beware! You shouldn’t let your mind be flooded by the memories of anyone. Such memory assimilations are an especially large threat to young individuals such as you. And the dangers are even larger when it comes to the memories of strangers. Please only check the quick summary, at least at first.”

Nobody in the meeting room actually bothered to dig deep into the memories of Kathatus which were now open to read for anyone – apart from also having been instantly copied to the cloud storage of the tribe for later use. Instead, they merely checked the quick summary, which consisted of him growing up as character in an alternate history simulation. He grew up as son of a Roman teacher, and despite higher political ambitions, ended up as regular teacher after his service in the Roman military. He witnessed the birth of the Roman Federation out of the ancient Roman Republic. Due to surprisingly lucky circumstances, the Roman Federation would continue to grow and flourish, where its real historic counterpart faltered. But Kathatus wouldn’t see the full success of the Roman Federation, since he died from an especially aggressive mutation of the flu when he was 44.

After having been ferried over the river Styx by Charon, he recounted his life before the three judges Minos, Rhadamanthos, and Aeacus, hoping he would at least get a place in the Asphodel Meadows; after all, he had been at least a somewhat decent person. So far, so expected, even though Kathatus had harboured some doubt about the afterlife. Then they deviated from the usual script, by not letting him drink the water of the river Lethe, so that he wouldn’t forget his former life. The judges announced that there was a new policy in the afterlife that allowed everyone to enter Elysium, but only after spending a period in the Integration School that was roughly proportional to the amount and severity of sins one has committed within one’s lifetime. Of course, this Integration School was a reeducation facility, which prepared him for his new life as citizen of the Canonical Coherence. The Integration School that Kathatus had attended to was a small and quiet virtual world, featuring a great academy located in a small town. When it wasn’t raining, that little world was clouded in a thick mist. It wasn’t supposed to be a nice world, but one which one hoped to escape from sooner, rather than later. At least, Kathatus had been provided with a virtual body that surpassed his former body in vitality, even at its best age.

First and foremost, Kathatus learned about history in the Integration School. And that was extremely confusing to him, especially since he learned that he had lived his whole past life in a kind of dreamworld, called Roma Galtera Sol 233, or later Roma Galtera Marcus Innatus (RGMI for short), and that the events in the “real world” differed in some respects from those in RGMI. He learned about the Fall of Rome, the feudal era of Europe, the invention of the printing press, the industrial revolution, the information age, the rise of the artificial intelligences, and eventually the discovery of the Universal Value System Theorem, which was the basis for the society of the crazy world that Kathatus had entered after passing away in his dreamworld. Since the UVS Theorem was way too hard for simple minds to grasp, the ethical conduct of them was guided by the wise directly, or by a set of guideline called Simplified Universal Ethics, which basically prescribed being nice and not doing anything extremely dangerous before getting counsel from someone who could estimate the likely risks and consequences of those actions. On the basis of the Simplified Universal Ethics, Kathatus was required to reflect on his life, especially on those situations in which he possibly could have done better. That was what the Integration School was mainly about. It would have been irresponsible to let people from more primitive societies, adhering to questionable moral principles, into the real world directly without some prior education and reflection. And the Integration School was rather strict. Violence and cruelty against all kinds of persons was not seen as acceptable, even if those persons were women, slaves, or children. Even non-human animals deserved respect and moral consideration. Coming to terms with all of this had taken Kathatus almost two years, or rather 537 standard days, which was the way time was counted in the Canonical Coherence.

Elysium was of course just the name for the real world from the point of view of RGMI. The transition to Elysium wasn’t too much of a shock, because Integration School had prepared Kathatus for that new world, and Gaia 33 Aereta was a place that was inhabited by many previous denizens of RGMI, including all of his deceased ancestors. Getting a real physical body was part of the reparation package for having lived through a brutish simulated world without a choice in that matter. His own progeny would enter Aereta soon, since time passed 20 times faster in RGMI than in Elysium. Still, the world of Elysium had its own customs, including a rite of passage called the Odyssey, which involved travelling to different places and finding your place in that vast world. It wasn’t strictly demanded to go on an Odyssey, but in many places, having been on a vast Odyssey was seen as requirement for becoming a full member of society. For the revived former inhabitants of RGMI in Aereta, it has become customary to wait for the arrival of one’s children and grandchildren, and help them about a year after they went through Integration School. Afterwards one would roam the solar system during one’s Odyssey. Kathatus followed that rule precisely, and travelled to the different habitat belts between Venus and Jupiter – the planets and moons themselves were pretty much off-limits, since they had very strict immigration and travel policies. The population living in space habitats outnumbered the population living on planets and moons more than 10000 to 1. There were of course waiting lists for visas to the planets, but if you didn’t want to wait decades or centuries, you had to be pretty special. And being an ordinary resurrected simulated person, or “ressim” as they were usually called, wasn’t really that special.

After the first few stops, it had become clear to Kathatus that he still didn’t understand enough of the strange new world that he shared with quadrillions of other humans, or even more, depending on who one was inclined to count as “human”. So, he went on to studying science at one of the universities in Aereta. He earned basic degrees in physics, systems theory, engineering, history, communication theory, and didactics. Equipped with this extended knowledge, he continued his Odyssey through the inner Sol system. And he was still bewildered by the vastly different cultures that he got in contact with. The range of possibilities seemed endless, and yet somehow most people still seemed to settle to a way of life that suited them most. After nearly a decade of travelling during his Odyssey, all that Kathatus had found out about himself is that we was very fond of travelling. Also, he still had a thing for teaching, a passion that was seeded in his past life, and only continued to grow. Thus, he became a teacher on Aereta that lead excursions to different places within the inner Sol system.

Yet, after about another 40 years, he wanted to see more of the world, and decided to go on an extended Sabbatical to explore the outer solar system as culture immersion tourist. He was particularly interested in the history of the Prestige Wars and the Exaltation. So, his next major stop on his long journey was the huge topopolis Asgard, located between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, at 8 Astronomic Units distance from Sol, created by the Exaltation during the later stages of the Prestige Wars, starting its construction in 2160. That long spiralled macaroni-shaped habitat coiled on an orbit around the sun, and had more than 100 000 times the surface area of Earth. Asgard was a living testament to the ambitions of the Exaltation to impress everyone with sheer scale. Asgard was also a living relic, since this kind of megascale structures went out of fashion after the Prestige Wars had ended, in favour of belts of smaller habitats.

Kathatus had spent years in Asgard before he became truly interested in the culture of the Polymath Champions League. Various sources pointed him to Lathica as the best place for learning about the PCL. Actually, a sponsor organization called N!Spire got interested in the plans of Kathatus to visit Lathica and sponsored a full teleport ticket to that location – with no apparent strings attached. And that’s how Kathatus arrived in Lathica.

Lekian was mostly bored by the mostly mundane memories of Kathatus, but the involvement of N!Spire really rang his alarm bells: “Wait, you blindly accepted that offer from N!Spire without doing more research about its background? If you had done some proper research, you would have quickly found out that this organisation is one of the greatest tools that the wise use to exert their influence on naive simple such as you!”

Out of everything that he had done in his life, Kathatus would not have expected that he got criticised for something as simple as accepting a generous gift by a well renowned philanthropic organisation. Had his curiosity and surprise gotten the better of him? He felt unusually ashamed of himself and attempted a half-hearted defense: “But why should I have rejected such an opportunity to get to learn about you in the best and fastest way possible? What’s wrong with accepting a gift from N!Spire?”

Immediately Lekian retorted: “No, it’s not the fastest way! The fastest way would be to integrate the curated compressed history of the PCL and its reinterpreter groups into your mind. That would have taken a few seconds, but no, you had to insist coming to us travelling more than a light hour and occupying our attention for hours, or even days, if you decide to stay any longer, as you probably had planned to. As for your other question: It would have been your own duty to assemble the information on the consequences of accepting that offer from N!Spire!”

Chief Hesiat intervened: “Lekian, please, this isn’t the right occasion for lecturing our guest on these matters. And now, Kathatus, thank you for sharing your full memories. Yet, let us not get too distracted now. We are still interested in your take on the history of the PCL. Please continue with that, but please in all seriousness and honesty this time.”

Slightly relieved, Kathatus collected himself and started afresh with his talk: “The great achievement of K’phlor was the discovery of the large universal attractors in ‘value space’. Mathematical axiology had been founded before, but prior to the discovery of the large universal attractors, it was merely seen as heterodox academic curiosity. But with the large universal attractors it had quickly gained the power to reshare civilization, and was rapidly popularized under the name of ‘V-theory’. As everyone knows, the large universal attractors were the nuclei for the value factions. After the quick rise of the value factions, they started fighting for dominance, by any means that seemed conducive for that goal. Eventually, the conflicts escalated into the Femto Crisis of 2141. Fearing the dangers of a full out war with femtoscale weapons used to destroy whole planets and stars, the trans-faction security network Cosmoshield was established, and made further military conflict virtually impossible. Of course, the impossibility of military domination didn’t stop the ambitions of the value factions to maximize their control over the cosmos. Instead, they shifted their efforts to demonstrating their superiority through excellence. Hence, the Prestige Wars started.”

There were of course diverging accounts on when the Prestige Wars started in earnest. Some argue that the Prestige Wars actually started with the development of V-theory, but taking the establishment of Cosmoshield as starting point of the Prestige Wars was the most orthodox position, even though obtaining prestige has been a highly popular strategy before the Femto Crisis, with the period between the fall of AICON and the creation of Cosmoshield commonly referred to as the Unleashment. As to the end of the Prestige Wars, there is similar disagreement, but nobody denies that they ended with the Proof of the UVS Theorem at last.

The audience got slightly bored by this predictable lesson in history, but nobody interrupted Kathatus’ talk: “The initial strategy of the value factions consisted in demonstrating superhuman feats in all areas. Yet, it was quickly found that a large fraction of the still human-like populace wasn’t particularly receptive to this strategy. Humans are impressed by the feats of those who they can see as their peers, not so much by feats of those they see as gods, beings so much detached from their own worlds and actiotopes that they could just as well not exist at all. That insight gave rise to a complementary strategy that addressed that issue: Creating and training human beings for unprecedented excellence. The Polymath Champions League was one of the first meta-organisations of the Exaltation that pursued this goal. Its approach was taking the idea of the Renaissance person and exalting it to its utmost perfection. Intense training in all scientific disciplines, all forms of art, and holistic thinking were the basis of PCL training. High-level manipulations of the connectome by artificial intelligence were banned by the code of honor of the PCL.”

Now the audience got more attentive since it got to the part in which the PCL was the focus of the talk: “Within a decade, the PCL became a wildly successful phenomenon across multiple solar systems. It gave the Exaltation a decisive edge during the 2130s, but due to the emergence of successful copies of the PCL by other value factions, the battlefield became more even from the 2140s onwards. Nevertheless, the PCL was the prime model for peak human excellence organizations until the end of the Prestige Wars. And that’s why it’s still regarded so highly today. So much so that PCL reinterpreter groups are created again and again throughout the whole Canonical Coherence. And yet, I have had to come here to the outer solar system to meet the most highly regarded PCL reinterpreter community. I have come here to find out what really makes you special.”

Lekian interjected: “That’s easy. We aren’t susceptible to cheap praise!”

Hesiat cautioned Lekian again: “Lekian! Please! Why do you insist on ruining the positive image that our guest has about us?”

Lekian casually replied: “It’s not the superficial image that matters! It’s the depth that lies behind the shallow appearance. The PCL is about true class, not vain politeness. And true class can hurt more than most would expect.”

Kathatus commented: “I am willing to learn true class and true pain, if that’s what you’d like to hear.”

Surprised, Lekian praised Kathatus: “Hear, hear! That’s the spirit! Perhaps you do have the stuff to get a true glimpse of our culture. I applaud you for your courage and determination.” And he started clapping loudly. Quickly, the others joined in.

During the applause, Adano asked Arizzi in private: “Is it true that you are a complex projection? And what’s the big deal with N!Spire?”

Arizzi replied very seriously: “Let’s say that my past is more complicated than most people would expect. And I have an obligation to keep my past secret. Please don’t ask me questions like this again. As to your question about N!Spire: Consider research on that organization as your homework.”

Those answers made Adano wish he had never asked those questions.

Next chapter


Guidance Withdrawal chapter 5