The Point of No Return

by Anders Sandberg

The concepts of the being that was to be Uriel crystallised into a rugged, slightly bitter complex: [Why did you call this meeting?][Is there a perception of need?][Why so little preparatory information?]

Michael agreed with an curlicue: <Yes, why Gabriel? It isn't like you calling a high-level meeting with us without informing us beforehand>

Gabriel sent out a yellow-smooth streamer of explanation-apology: {We appreciate that without prior problem-understanding communication becomes much harder for us, but in this case we have a need for views that span the space of problem spaces, not just the problem space at hand}

[A meta-level meeting?][Determining what problems to solve?][Setting a course?]

{Yes}{A course at least in some vision-space}

| This has to do with your long range simulations | Raphael's complex was simple and coldly clear, a statement of fact.

{Yes again, clear-sighted one}{Obviously there was little need to give information beforehand since it could be deduced so simply}

[Enough][Metadiscussions are unseemly at a metalevel meeting]

{I have simulated the future growth and evolution of the technosphere}{Many complex concepts have emerged from the simulations, including some predictors}{The directions of future change are disturbing}

Gabriel manifested an immense complex, highlighting various substructures. At the core was the four-dimensional cone of the technosphere, the sphere of self-sustaining exploration/colonisation/integration expanding in all directions from the solar system close to lightspeed. Most of it was just extrapolation, but near the apex-origin reality greens demonstrated the known state. Inside the cone subtle patterns played, manydimensional evolution models and decision manifolds. The explanations unfolded their hidden structures into experienced reality.

{Obviously the entities and cultures that are spreading will change over time, and spread their memetic progeny further outwards, crating this wedge-pattern.}{Each wedge a different direction, physically and mentally}{Communications mix up the cultures, but near the edge the spread is faster, so divergence will continue}

<That is obvious>

{This includes meta-evolution}{The rules are changing at the frontier, becoming ever more aggressive and efficient}{New metalevels will emerge in the zone just inside the frontier, and spread backwards causing recolonisation}

Ultraviolet hypercones sprouted on the edge and began to fill the large hypercone like growing crystals, inexorably moving inwards and towards each other.

[That is preposterous][Unlikely due to present colonisation][The frontier and zone metalevels are optimised for growth, not infiltration]

| Metaevolutionary rules always outcompete evolutionary rules in the long run || And when a metasystem using them becomes able to infiltrate the coreward technosphere, it will spread inwards |

{Exactly}{A back-reaction will inevitably result where a new order spreads}{It is unlikely the new metasystems will be able to accommodate structures like us}

<What is the self-effect of this simulation?><Other clusters will have done the same thing or will do it>

[It doesn't matter at all][The frontier is moving outwards faster than any recall memes]

{Counteragents cannot be developed since the possible threats will move inwards at lightspeed}{You cannot defeat a foe you cannot know}{When you know a metaevolutionary foe it will have defeated you}

| You are implicating that we should seek to speed up or cause metaevolution here at the core |

{Always predicting my rhetoric}{True}{We need to out-evolve evolution before the metaevolution cones reach us}

An infrared cone blossomed from the centre of the cone, spreading outwards. In some scenarios it ignored the ultraviolet cones and just spread through them, erasing their existence. In others they clashed, creating turbulent boundaries of mixing. In some it failed completely.

[The processing requirements are too large][The frontier is growing quadratically, while we only have access to a constant amount of matter/energy/information]

{The problem is equivalent to transcending a chain of systems along an optimal path}{It is undecidable}

<That suggests the need for an orthogonal creative solution>

[One possibility would be to create a physical or computational barrier for spreading memes or other structures around the core][Such a barrier would not stop the recolonisation for long though, since the systems on the outside would have plenty of computational power to analyse it]

| What about making a lightspeed-expanding barrier || Such a barrier cannot be analysed |

<Neat><But how could such a barrier, or rather physical change be made to propagate?>

{Vacuum decay}{Since the vacuum state is only metastable, it could theoretically be made to decay to a lower state}{A release of very large quantities of energy}{The decay at one point would cause the vacuum at nearby points to decay, creating a spreading chain reaction}{Soon the decay would be spreading outwards at lightspeed}

A black cone spread from the core, surrounded by a brilliant wave of light. All other patterns disappeared into its darkness, eradicated by the quantum storm.

[Sounds exactly like what is needed][Since the metalevels will be focused on recolonisation by definition, they will not be prepared for a decay event][But how to achieve it?]

<That requires more research><We also need to study how to translate our structure into post-decay particle states><Hard problems, but in principle solvable>

{There is another complication}{Given my models of the technosphere, other clusters will also come to similar solutions}

In the model, several dark cones began to blossom around the core at roughly the same time.

{We do not know if the new vacuum states are compatible with each other}{It is possible that the decay always ends up at the same ground state}{It is possible that the decay results in different states}{This is a competition situation}

[Obviously we have to work fast][Faster than the recolonisation waves][Faster than the other clusters][We need to cause a vacuum decay first]