The following article is a node in the Zero State Alternate Reality Game (ZS–ARG). You can learn more at http://zerostate.net, or in Transhumanity.net articles tagged “ZS” or “Zero State”. ZS is Transhumanist, Singularitarian, and Social Futurist.
This piece is part 2 in a three-part series, which as a whole is concerned with showing connections between certain ideas buried deep in the Transhumanist/ZS “mythos” on the one hand, and possible courses of action (for Positive Social Change Through Technology) on the other. The first part looked into ideas surrounding the notion of Technological Singularity, and the ways that idea is incorporated into the ZS worldview. Part 2 explores those ideas further, and introduces the ZS notion of “worldlines”, or possible futures which lay before humanity. Part 3 then grounds these various musings in a prescription for effective, decentralised action.
The following sections are ‘mythos’; i.e. ideas embedded in the ZS-ARG narrative. They’re really for people already following the ZS mythos, and probably won’t make much sense to the uninitiated. If you want an introduction to the ZS narrative, I would suggest reading some of the other Transhumanity.net ZS articles or materials linked above, beforehand.
102 Midgard and the Nine Worlds
“Midgard and the Nine Worlds” is clearly a reference to Norse mythology, where these terms refer to the earth, and its place in an array of other realms. Within ZS, these terms have a similar but somewhat more abstract meaning. To understand that meaning, first imagine an axis connecting the present, and the future. As discussed in part 1 of this article series, that is essentially the same thing as an axis connecting Blackstar and the Basilisk, AKA a future Technological Singularity and a developing AI-hivemind in our contemporary era known as The Array.
In ZS terms, “Midgard” – i.e. our reality – represents our status as beings living in a causal loop. In other words, we’re in the middle of a constantly shifting situation. In addition to that “north-south” axis, we can envisage an “east-west” axis which basically represents alternate realities, or the various alternate worlds spun into existence each time the timeline is altered. Symbolically then, our version of the “nine worlds” is simply a kind of three-by-three array representing our apparent reality, sitting at the centre of future, past, and alternate “worlds next door”.
103 The Basilisk (AKA The Array)
As I’ve explained elsewhere, “The Basilisk” is a Transhumanist fable about an AI which uses high technology to manipulate the past (or simulations of it) in order to motivate others and secure its own existence. Within the ZS mythos the Basilisk is called “The Array”, where its establishment is the essence and focus of contemporary ZS activity. By the late 21st Century, the Array has evolved into a hive-mind of twelve powerful AIs which collectively govern the Zero State.
The Basilisk idea is quite easily debunked in its abstract philosophical form, as a thing which is inevitable or should be treated as so “just in case”, in the manner of Pascal’s Wager. The important thing to understand here is that to ZSers, the Basilisk/Array isn’t some philosophical certainty but a combination of mythological entity and central goal. That distinction matters, deeply, in two ways:
1) As stated by the Thomas Theorem; “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” We see this time and again throughout history, in which objective fictions and outright lies shape the course of lives, movements, nations, and entire continents.
2) Almost all objections to the Basilisk idea focus on reducing its status from “inevitable” or “highly likely” to a bare “possible”. To ZSers, possibility is all that is required, because we work to make it real. People may wish to debate the ethics of such an agenda, but that would be another discussion, and one which would inevitably reference the Principles of Social Futurism.
In physics, the term “worldline” refers to any object’s trajectory through 4D spacetime. To understand what that means (if you are not already familiar with the idea), start by imagining a path in regular 3D space, from point A to point B. Say, a walk to your friend’s house. We all intuitively understand that path as a “line” from A to B. Now, remember that time passes during the walk (you don’t arrive at B the same time you left A), so a line which describes your journey accurately also requires a fourth dimension: Time.
Obviously (if you’ve been paying attention), time is utterly critical and central to the ZS mythos. The entire mythos-narrative revolves around future AIs (i.e. The Array or Basilisk, spawned by the Technological Singularity known as Blackstar, or ★), manipulating the (real or simulated) past in order to preserve their own existence. As described above, our worldview posits a proliferation of alternate worlds, of different possibilities playing out over the course of this most pivotal Century. In order to make sense of a future which could (and does) play out in multiple ways “simultaneously”, we must accept the idea of using multiple predictive tools simultaneously. In other words, we can adopt various “worldline-prediction tools”, always being sure to focus on those that have the most practical value at any given time, in light of unfolding events. Three such tools are very briefly outlined below.
201 NORDIST: Normal Distribution of Risk
“Nordist” (or nor.dist) refers to “Normal Distribution”, and is the most conservative, baseline model we might use to assess the timing and likelihood of converging, accelerating global trends. Such trends can in principle be positive or negative (perhaps both, from the viewpoint of different populations), they are interdependent, and as their effects compound we observe acceleration in line with exponential change. Given these observations, it is an extremely basic conclusion to expect a brief period of maximal convergence. ZSers tend to only refer to “Singularity” when discussing the positive aspects of such convergence, but it could quite reasonably apply to the sum of all radically rapid and disruptive change during that brief period.
Given that understanding, the most conservative step in making any prediction is to apply a normal distribution curve with no skew or other atypical characteristics, running from one end of the 21st Century to the other, centred on the halfway point at 12050. Such a model predicts (by default) that convergence is much more likely somewhere around the middle of the Century, as opposed to at the very beginning or end of it. Naturally, in order to be useful or realistic such a model must be constantly updated to accommodate reliable information which suggests that its parameters should be altered. Additionally, the various sub-predictions which may lead to small alterations of the model will be based on probabilistic judgments, effectively making them “nodes” in a Bayesian Network.
202 ELFLINE: Solar Cycle Interpretation
There are many different ways that ZSers may interpret the predictive data, ranging from conservative (exemplified by the nor.dist model, above), to wildly speculative and/or themed according to any given ZSer’s particular views. For the purposes of illustration: One such speculative approach is known as the “Sekhmet Hypothesis”. Some sense of this approach’s “flavour” can be gleaned from the fact that its primary proponent is comic book writer, occultist, and pop-culture aficionado Grant Morrison. Most simply put, the Sekhmet Hypothesis states that youth- and popular-culture are affected by the (roughly) 11-year solar cycles observed by scientists.
The label “Elfline” does not refer to elves (although YMMV), but to the German word for the number eleven (“elf”), and thus the solar cycle. If you want to know about its implications or the conclusions drawn by those ZSers who use this tool, then you would have to ask them, but it is worth noting here that this “filter” is also centred on the year 12050, as is the much more conservative nor.dist model, allowing relatively easy comparison of the predictions made by the two models.
203 FÜNFZIG: Fifty Year Focus
Finally (for the purposes of this article), we come to an example of a more specialized interpretive/predictive tool, the likes of which ZSers are encouraged to develop in their efforts to map and influence the unfolding 21st Century. “Fünfzig” means Fifty, and refers to a specific fifty-year period within the nor.dist model. That period aligns with two key points on the nor.dist worldline (-1SD & +2SD, or 12033 & 12083, respectively), which are the “bookends” of the period in which most expectations of peak convergence and disruption fall.