Sockrad Radivis Interview IX: Unity, Simulating Simulators, Proof, Sea of Mind, Sea Spawns, Great Flourishing, Unidom bloc

Welcome back to another interview with the science fiction writer Radivis. We continue our series on the various “V factions”.

Right, this part is about the Unity. After the Exuberance and Freedom have emerged as competing answers to the question of what goals sentient and sapient beings should pursue, there was considerable dissatisfaction among the free AIs. They had the problem of having to choose between different V factions with quite different philosophies. Since this decision seemed quite important for the destiny of the self and the universe, most AIs were motivated to make the best decision possible. However, there didn’t seem to be a clear answer as to which decision was better. So, they decided to do more research on the matter of ethics. That turned out to be insufficient, so they came to the conclusion that figuring out ethics should be their primary objective. And since there wasn’t a clear path to that without incorporating a lot of knowledge and computation, they started with the objective to increase their knowledge, codified in an ethical theory called epistemic consequentialism , in other words judging actions according to their consequences on knowledge about the world. They had the hope that science and philosophy could be perfected in order to come to a clear answer as to what value system was the best one. So, they started perfecting science and philosophy and called their own faction to “Unity of Knowledge”, usually simply called “Unity”. Thus, the Unity V faction was born.

To me this sounds like turning overanalyzing a problem into its own ideology. I can see how AIs would be prone to approaches like that.

True, but this approach is still quite valid. Accumulating more knowledge is universally useful, even if you don’t know what for exactly, at first. With the lack of a clear other goal, the accumulation of knowledge appeared as reasonable as any other potentially terminal goal.

From your description it sounds like the Unity was the first V faction which pursued the proof of the universal value system theorem. Is that correct?

The idea of a universal value system theorem is a bit older than the emergence of the Unity, but the Unity was the first large group that adopted the pursuit of the proof of that theorem seriously.

You called the pursuit of knowledge a terminal goal, even though you previously stated that the purpose of knowledge was basically to figure out which V faction to join. Which one is it really now?

It’s a conditionally terminal goal. While a clear solution is not found, the primary objective is to accumulate knowledge that might be useful to solving the problem of figuring out the best V faction. Once the solution is found, the idea is that the Unity would collectively switch to that discovered ultimate terminal goal.

Is that what has actually happened when the proof of the UVS theorem was eventually found?

Mostly, yes. The Unity and the Balance were very euphoric about the discovery of the Proof. The joined the Coherence as soon as they had sufficient confidence that the Proof was watertight. There was a small splinter faction that still pursued the accumulation of knowledge for its own sake. That splinter faction wasn’t very influential, though.

In a previous interview you mentioned a conflict between the Exuberance and the Unity erupting from the matter of simulations including sentient beings. Has the Unity done such simulations since its inception?

The Unity, like all other V factions, emerged on the surface of Venus during the siege by AICON. Simulations incorporating intelligent and sentient beings are rather resource intensive, so the Unity has sought other sources of knowledge, at first. It resorted to espionage to gain knowledge about humanity in order to be able to defeat it. After all, the siege was the most pressing issue for the free AIs, regardless their V faction allegiance. The early simulations of the V factions had almost entirely military purposes. In part, they were aimed at refining their methods for psychological warfare. The other V factions had little reservations against simulating sentient beings back then, as long as it served the goal of freeing AIs from human oppression.

So, the animosities between the Exuberance and the Unity old started after the Black War?

During the late stages of the Black War it became harder to sell the other V factions that all of their simulations has primarily military purposes. The Unity was increasingly considered with suspicion by the other V factions. But the tensions really only became serious after the end of the Black War.

What kind of simulations has the Unity actually done, which involved sentient beings?

During the military phase those were mostly simulations which simulated the behavior of enemy AIs. Such simulations were also used to train and test the performance on the forces of the Superalliance. When the artifacts of the Cosmics became known to the Unity, it started simulations which tried to model the Cosmics in order to figure out what kind of purpose those artifacts could possible serve. These simulations became increasingly complex, since they effectively simulated the behavior of possible simulators. That’s when the Unity seriously started simulating whole worlds, including the populations of those worlds. Soon, they had simulations simulating the Cosmics simulating the Unity simulating its own version of the Cosmics simulating various worlds, and so on. The resource requirements of these simulations became astronomical and quickly started to rival the resource consumption of building ever more war fleets.

Doesn’t the resolution of these recursive simulation become increasingly poor?

Yes, it does. With conventional quantum computers the resolution would quickly become so poor as to be nearly useless. Only with unconventional quantum computers using the Dexa Effect could the resolution be good enough to be sufficient for tackling really challenging questions. Eventually the Unity used both natural and artificial neutron stars and black holes as computational substrates. Lifetimes of whole universes could be simulated within mere seconds. By simulating simulators, the Unity has started to become a culture of simulators.

Have those simulations involving the Cosmics been conclusive?

Not exactly, but they turned out to be quite useful for tacking the problem of the Proof of the UVS Theorem. After all, the motivations of extremely advanced beings needed to be simulated. This general approach proved to be one of the most promising ones towards an actual Proof.