Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sensor range

Anyone who's never visited Riskail should take a good look, for descriptions of a Truly Weird World. Sci-fi fans could try these recent posts on a transhuman type and various planets, while fantasy fans might find more in a new take on wizards or a dozen cults. The blog always inspires me. I am going somewhere with this, somewhere in the clouds.

In the last day or so I've visited Ghost Hunting Theories for the first time, and read this post at The Digital Cuttlefish. Things started happening in my mind.

How can we reconcile ghosts with hard sci-fi, or even high fantasy? How does the soul fit into deep physics? What remains of us in the world when measurable life signs end?

I will now speculate on these ideas, but in the far-out spirit of Riskail, as if getting ready to write something of that calibre. Sit tight.

If we say ghosts and / or the soul 'exist', we presumably mean in this universe, which is to say they are accessible, i.e. that we can reach and measure them as phenomena. This sets up all kinds of questions. Where does the soul stuff go? Does it drift off away from life, away from warmth of stars, and pool in the dark interstellar spaces? What other soul stuffs does it mix with, of what other worlds and species? Does it return to us? Is it linked with dark matter, dark energy or dark fluid? 'Dark' seems the wrong word. This is light, even optimistic stuff. Bear with me here.

Maybe this is too easy an explanation, too pulp? What if the soul stuff - assuming it exists - never leaves? What if Spinoza is the one to guide us, and that nature is in fact one and unitary, and all is a part of it, spirit too? This is something I've mentioned before, here, re aliens. (How simple aliens seem now.) After all, our atoms come from the deaths of stars and return to nature, and enter the many cycles of the Earth, and maybe cycles beyond it. Reincarnation fits this worldview too. But what about the Warp? Do zombies fit? That's asking too much. Bear with me just a little longer.

Where would this leave artificial intelligence, minds uploaded to computer and our legacies to the world, our place in the historical record? What of those more powerful tools I suggest at The Digital Cuttlefish? Is the infrastructure of the accessible universe really an infostructure? After all, data uploaded to a computer is always a copy, and information exchanged in any way is mediated by language. Language is shared, democratic, constructed, not necessarily intended for any single experience of any single sentient. Language changes information by hindering or preventing the entry of the more irregular pieces, although when exchange is taking place, the potential for clarifying is higher. So experience is the purest form of accessible information?

Have you followed all the links? Good, then I propose the following information cycle, based only on the ponderings here. Maybe you can improve it?

Level 4 Cultural - information drawn from records and media
Level 3 Stored - information located in non-experiencing systems
Level 2 Mediated - information in transit between an experiential system and another
Level 1 Experiential - information experienced by an experiencing system

We could also add a level zero, but I'm not convinced the case is so strong:

Level 0 Universal - information as it is presented for experience

Perhaps the levels go lower even? We might be able to jump zero.

Level -1 and below Who knows?

This clearly places sentience above sapience, and would have all kinds of implications - how we deal with other animals for example. It downgrades culture and shared knowledge too, and places the keys to the universe firmly in the hands of the individual, doing his or her best to interact with others. Culture and knowledge do remain necessary of course, as a key chain, to help us remember where we put those keys.

Also, with experience in our cycle, we need a way to measure it. Assuming a tool can be found to do this, beyond the crude binary numeral coding systems we use today, and perhaps related to qualia, I propose the cimelium, plural cimelia. Cimelium is a Greek word which passed through Latin and means 'treasure'. The abbreviation could be ci.

Phew. How's that for an experience?

And how's that for a little pre-Riskail, or Riskail-lite? If NetherWerks is reading, have I got what it takes? Or do I flunk? Too down-to-earth maybe. Could be. On the trusty Angry Lurker “What?” scale, I'd say this post is at least what factor six or seven, and might be pushing eight or nine. It's just that Riskail is transwarp, and way ahead of us all. Then again, the Gigacrawler only just got going...

What factor six plus also suggests responses may go way off topic. But that's okay. Get it all out.


Cronickain said...

I liked how Babylon 5 handled the idea of souls. In the show the Elder one tells Sheridan that we are all creations of the supreme universe trying to figure itself out. When it learns all it can from our particular life we transcend to join the others. Very interesting imho although I personally am a Christian and obviously have other beliefs.

The Angry Lurker said...

Being a Irish catholic I have the standard beliefs and once in never out but even my weird beliefs aside I like this.

John Lambshead said...

I wrote one of the stories for the Baen Transhuman anthology.

Loquacious said...

I like the now-in-my head concept that maybe souls are NOT in this realm and are elsewhere... I'm completely putting this into my mind-theory bank and will contemplate it a bit.

Sorry it is completely irrelevant to your proposition, which is lovely.

Porky said...

@ ArmChairGeneral - I've got some viewing to catch up on. First V, now Babylon 5. One of my big sci-fi related regrets is not getting into it from the word go. In that view of souls, the semi-pseudoscientific suggestion the universe might be a simulation starts to play into Matrix and software tropes, and brings us round to AI emerging by a growing complexity throwing up the unexpected. It's a lot of fun to think this kind of thing out.

@ The Angry Lurker - Thanks. I'm both happy and sad you got it - what will happen to 'what'? It's just playing around of course, but there are a lot of blanks out there that might be filled differently than we'd expect. It's open till it's closed, and even then it can be re-opened.

@ John Lambshead - I found a review of that story and it sounds even more up my space lane than "As Black As Hell". The reviewer suggests the master may not always be the master, a good thing to remember when it comes to any form of intelligence, and symbiosis in general.

For everyone else reading this, I have a copy of John's "As Black..", and when I've read and absorbed it I'll write a review here.

@ Loquacious - That sounds a little like the idea of the Warp, or astral planes. It's just as compelling and not totally irrelevant - if there are close to a dozen dimensions and most are tightly curled up everywhere around us, the other places are our places too. Think how a two-dimensional object looks in three-dimensional space. Maybe that's how we look to our souls, or whatever else is out there? Or rather in here. It's all gone Lovecraftian suddenly. I feel a chill..!

netherwerks said...

Hi Porky--thanks for the very kind words. The categorization of types of information as you present it above is an interesting approach to this subject. Fairly workable indeed. We've been approaching the matter from a slightly different angle, and will go into more detail once we get the Geniuses, Adepts, and a few others posted in the next week or so. We also have to get some demonology up there for Trey, like we promised. Just not enough time in a day...and there are only two of us doing this, Gigacrawler has legions of contributors, and we hope to have something to add to Gigacrawler ourselves down the road, as the schedule permits...

We really like your suggestion of Cimelium. That is a term we might have to adopt.

And for what it is worth, we DO think you definitely have what it takes. This post is going to get linked-to from Riskail right away.

Porky said...

That's more than enough to make me happy! I look forward to your take on it - I've never read anything at Riskail that didn't impress. And I know very well what you mean about lack of time. For you to present such high quality thinking as often as you do is just stunning.

The word you are welcome to of course. It's good to think it can brought back from the edge of loss. It's hardly changed from the Greek so is a strong link to the seminal thinking of that time too.