[ExI] SF - cyberspace and utopian narratives for meatless bodies

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat Feb 11 17:37:14 UTC 2012

On 11 February 2012 15:55, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> Your example works fine when low-level processors work on bits of a
> problem.
> But Keith was talking about whole civilisations.
> Long communication delays mean that they will no longer be one unified
> civilisation. They will diverge into separate civilisations.

What escapes me is why this should be the case, rather than a continuous
civilisation/mind, increasingly diverging with distance but without any
substantial quantum leaps, as it used to be the case for, say, the Roman
Empire from the Scotian to the Persian border.

Mind, I do prefer a scenario of multiple, diverse and somewhat
"independent" units. But this require some "border" to exist, defining an
"in" and an "out" even though "closeness" is equal in the opposite
direction, and I suspect that such borders will of a voluntary and
arbitrary nature, and sometimes with grey areas in-between - not so
differently from our current and past experiences of human cultures

As such, the communication delays would stop the mind growing above a
> certain size, because it would take too long to reach a decision.

This is the point. How do we deal with that *today*? We decentralise. At an
organic, computing, corporate and political level. When does something
become independent enough to stop being considered as part of an
entity/system? It is a matter of POVs, and dubious cases abound.

> The mind itself will decide what the optimum size would be for calculating
> efficiency and if it wants to expand then it would build another mind
> next door.

This assumes that some ontological difference exists between, say, the
computer and the network, an attitude which is probably based on the very
steep decrease of informational exchange speed when we step outside an
organic brain and try to communicate with neurons in another one,
notwithstanding the fact that they may be spatially closer than the
opposite side of my head.

I am inclined instead to consider such distinction upon closer inspection
much fuzzier than one might think.

So, in an informationally dense universe, to decide where a "mind" begins
and another stops may not be so easy. Even though, admittedly, vast
semi-void spaces between denser "islands", such as interstellar or
intergalactic gaps, might provide the breaks and the asymmetries serving
this purpose (if you are Pluto, it is not the same to communicate with the
inner system and with Alpha Centauri).

Stefano Vaj
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