Vessel: A Science Fiction Prototype

by Paul Gilster on December 13, 2013

Futurist and librarian Heath Rezabek returns with further thoughts on preserving mankind’s heritage through Vessels that would contain everything we are as a species. But in an unusual offering, he goes on to provide a fictional look at how such Vessels affect the future. Just how do we preserve and present Earth’s cultural and biological heritage against events we cannot predict? And if we succeed, what shape will our Vessels take, and who will find them? Join Heath as he ventures into ‘science fiction prototyping’ as a way of influencing outcomes.

by Heath Rezabek

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I’ve described The Vessel Project in three prior posts:

August 29, 2013 – Deep Time: The Nature of Existential Risk

October 3, 2013 – Visualizing Vessel

November 7, 2013 – Towards a Vessel Pattern Language

Each month I’ll try to do a new A/B sorting survey on the topic of very long term preservation. Past Poll: “Which positioning / placement of a Vessel archive or haven would take priority?” is continually open for refining votes. (http://www.allourideas.org/vessel-positioning-2013)

Current top three: 1st “Tranquility Base (Moon)”, 2nd “Lunar South Pole”, 3rd “Co-located with the 10,000 year clock (Long Now Foundation)”

This month’s new A/B Sorting Survey is:

Which works depicting cultural, biological, or scientific archival / remembrance / recovery would you recognize as exemplars of their kind? (Books, movie, or any other medium. Please add more…)
(http://www.allourideas.org/precursor-works)

- – -

It is my hope that the ideas explored in this series and in my work will help to inspire others with greater means to make these approaches into realities, as it is truly impossible to undertake such large-scale projects alone. Very long term archival and knowledge preservation seems to me a key step on the path towards an eventual interstellar civilization, and the more we explore all aspects of this journey, the greater our chances of collectively making it.

What can’t be clearly imagined can hardly be achieved. When it comes to creating artifacts that might influence or inspire others, the direct route need not be the only one. Methods such as art and fiction, in particular, can be very powerful in the effort to blaze trails towards possible futures. In this regard, one recent development of great interest to me is that of Design Fiction (sometimes also called Science-Fiction Prototyping).

Design Fiction, briefly discussed in the October 3 entry, can be described as fiction whose primary goal is to paint a picture of the possible, without too much concern for filling in all the details beyond the elements being suggested or explored. Science fiction as a speed-sketch: The goal is to strike sparks, since even small sparks can light the wayfinding torches of others — can inspire and motivate through suspension of disbelief. A recent essay on Design Fiction is useful reading. Bruce Sterling’s “Patently untrue: fleshy defibrillators and synchronised baseball are changing the future” in Wired UK is useful reading in coming to terms with this technique of idea exploration.

My Centauri Dreams contribution this month, then, is a brief detour through the realms of the possible, in an original short piece of design fiction.

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Woven Light (I)

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Image: Woven Light (Detail) by Heath Rezabek.

Dust, undisturbed for centuries, billowed as it was brushed aside by alloy digits. In darkness this deep, unaided eyes were blind. Yet the sensors attached to these arms soaked up the bare wisps of light and sound in this place, resolving those streams into a coherent model of surrounding space and time.

Deep set into a dais rested a prism, a cubic matrix tilted and sunken halfway into its setting. Recognizing its target, focal beams pierced the vault and the prismatic cube, splitting and refracting as they traced the edges of frozen memory to recover the data there dreaming. For this slow and steady work, long ago Tracer Aakanthia [9T33] had been conceived.

This particular prism was not the only one, but it was part of a set sharing some unique properties. Among them, the fact that light sent through its channels this way would coalesce into myriad forms above and around it, hanging dimensional in space and rotating in time, glowing softly, changing subtly, as the artifacts encoded here resolved and restored their ancient forms.

In the inky black hung an index, a tapestry of woven light, intricate patterns tracing and retracing, spinning outwards and upwards to mark the collections they mapped. Aakanthia scanned back and forth, both reading and rendering as a holographic memory of New York City (circa 2023) replayed. Compression had eroded some of its infinite edges, but fractal resuggestion was a venerable technique for good reason.

There, suspended like smoke in a sunbeam, unfurled countless moments and relations, each endlessly combining and rejoining. The tracer watched and waited, seeking at the speed of split light for the moment it had triangulated as embedded here. And finding it, slowed time to pause and hover amidst the assembly there gathered at a research lab, long since gone, which had released in prior days the fleets of tiny surveyors that had gathered the data mapped here.

Now, records had suggested, they were poised to release a second fleet, this one bound to double the resolution encoded up to then. Yet there would be a problem, and the second array would not finish its task before other needs intervened. Here, shivering and frozen forms waited for the story to retell itself once more.

The light blinked, and darkness collapsed around Tracer Aakanthia [9T33], its momentary mission complete. Gently lifting the cubic shard, it hovered and drifted back towards an array of its own, a cellular framework of woven carbon splines leading it fore towards the sail sections, slipstreaming starward…

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Image: NYC (Fractal Resuggestion) by Heath Rezabek.

- – -

The first Vessel Haven installation ever founded had not been fancy, or even enduring; but at least it had been built. After spending years as a virtual shadow-box of sprawling possibilities suspended in naught but 3D space, seen by few and appreciated by fewer, it had finally been realized, a sort of an imaginary Epcot Center, as (of all things) a theme camp at the Burning Man festival that year.

From without, its most striking feature had also been among its most mundane — simple structural realities had collided with the Vessel habitat’s mission to determine that its outer form was that of a good ol’ geodesic dome. Though once these had been notorious for leakages, advances had changed that; and in any case, the desert was a fairly rain-free place for a mock-up. Advances in the autonomy and resourcefulness of the Replicator Bot had meant that the caliber of trusswork needed to seal and harden the thing at 500 feet in diameter could be achieved: silicate-sourced and fabbed on site.

Its distant bulk and form had seemed a sort of postcard from 1969, oddly comforting and quaint; yet when the notoriously brutal sandstorm of that year finally came, no small number of adventurers ended up finding shelter within its sturdy scope. Thus at last the basic function and mission of a Vessel archive could be transmitted in part and whole to a critical mass of curious minds.

The camp was run in such a way that the business of a Vessel Haven was acted out in small scenes by a vast cast and crew, interspersed with the sheltering crowd. Here you’d look and see what seemed for all the world like a clear cryogenic chamber filled with Indo-Burmese rainforest biomass, in transit to a holding tank; there you’d spy an engineer, smartly sporting a color-coded labcoat, trekking a blinking cube of clearstone circuitry from one node of the Vessel Lattice to another.

At regular intervals, hexagonal worktables hosted scale models and reconstructions of all sorts of things — from a nanoscaled reconstruction of the circular ruins of ancient Rujm el Hiri, to the proverbial kitchen sink (impossibly recovered from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel) — yet there was nary a taxonomist in sight.

On the outer edges, aproned Learning Lab educators walked the curious through the finer points of a vast mural depicting the Long Now Time Diagram, augmented and expanded and overlaid with projected animations of culture’s machinations bootstrapped through time.

All came to a point here, embodied in one stunning and forward-facing lightsail, its Benford-inspired beamed design hauling a streamlined Voronoi spaceframe, zooming out and back in time to reveal the long meander of the technologies and biophilic designs which had suggested it, planted firmly on a foundation of architectural advances and accidents, interwoven with wood and stone and precious flowing water to reveal the vast work of nature and biology supporting it, and out still further, silt sliding, plates upheaving, until geology blurred with planetary formation and the furnaces of infinity ignited in reverse like campfires in the night. Of course, these were exhibits that would normally be shown to the young, but here the young at heart were well practiced at standing in.

Among those present at the Long Now holomural when the presenter had moved aside to make way for the transport of an autopallette of interlocking twisty-puzzle prisms was 17 year old Aben Ramer. First generation HexaYurt builder and second generation Jungian Surrealist, Aben had come for the Hex Space, hearing that one of the largest complexes of interlaced HexaYurt structures ever conceived had been trussed together here-in.

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Image: Hex Space Blueprint by Heath Rezabek.

And this much was true. The basic module, just over 13 feet across but infinitely variable through subdivision of standard 4×8 panels, had finally been iterated into multistory structures some while back; but Aben had never seen anything like the interlocking Çatalhöyük of honeycombed spaces layered here. Circumambular disorientation fades fast for the hex-saavy, but still he was impressed by the care clearly woven into a pattern language that had clarified living centers, promenades, and sheltering spaces for all sizes and sorts of activity as one slowly spiralled inwards towards the staff-only areas.

It was then that one of the crystaloid twisty puzzles fell from the autopallette as it passed him by, landing at Aben’s feet so obviously that he suspected synchronistic dramaturgy. Picking it up, he shook his head at this six-edged mirage, thinking he’d got too much hex on the mind. But then a cube resolved as he turned it, and visually slipped again into what seemed like the form of a flattened hexagonal piezoelectric shard.

“What the hell.” But then, before he could move to execute even a single twist of the subshards around which the puzzle had been designed, he thought of his mother.

His mother, he remembered, was at a workshop in New York City. Aben knew well enough — as well as his mother could tell him — that she was at work on a very long term data storage project. (He wondered then whether that connection, too, had brought him to this Vessel in the storm, though he’d swear he hadn’t been conscious of that overlapping theme before he’d arrived.) She couldn’t say as much about the project’s scope or sponsors as she could about some of its requirements.

The team was struggling with the capacities needed for immersive motion holography. She wanted, she’d said, to preserve not just datapoints but dataflows through time. And she wanted to build a seamless bridge that any sentient being could cross, moving (however long it took) from a simple visual understanding that an artifact embodied signal, to the building of the means to decode that signal, and the finding in that signal of ever deeper construction sets leading all the way down to the digital DNA storage technologies that their holography solution had to hug.

Last month they had released a pod of mappers in Central Park, and he knew this week they were there to analyse the results. But the means to store this signal as portably and fluidly as they’d needed had so far eluded them.

He blinked at the apparition, the amusement, in his hands. Tilting it upwards, he beamed a slim vector of light at the puzzle. As he’d expected, he watched it splay through the prism into myriad forms suspended and projected all about. “It’s full of…”

He twisted a shard and beamed it again. Though the patterns had shifted, their subject was clear. Orion’s belt swung gently before his gaze, and then spun. And spinning, dissolved as something else entirely resolved itself anew. He had never seen a white dwarf this closely before; and indeed it was impossible. Yet here it floated, and here he gazed at this impossible diamond adrift in a dome of sky.

He was pretty sure he had found something, at this temporary “here” in the middle of nowhere; a skeleton key for the work his mother was doing.

It would be generations before the Tracer Guild could confirm that Aben’s hunch had been an astronomical understatement.

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Image: Beta Vessel by Joshua Davis.

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{ 10 comments }

A. A. Jackson December 13, 2013 at 12:43

I notice the word DEEP TIME mentioned here, maybe, more discussion of Greg Benford’s Deep Time is in order?
Of course Clarke mentioned this issue in a lot of different ways :
City and the Stars
Rendezvous with Rama
Songs of Distant Earth….
more…
In his non-fiction too, tho I can’t remember.

Astronist December 13, 2013 at 18:18

I’m afraid I really don’t understand this project. “Very long term archival and knowledge preservation” is a natural function of an expanding civilisation such as our own at the present time. Particularly if you are considering “the path towards an eventual interstellar civilization”, then that preservation will take care of itself at a large number of locations around the Solar System, and I suppose your focus would want to be on maintaining the general culture of growth and progress, both as regards knowledge and as regards physical expansion. However, your project would appear to be addressing the opposite scenario, one in which this civilisation collapses while it is still effectively confined to Earth.

As for the works to be recognized as “exemplars of their kind”: surely that choice will be made by the future occupants of space and planetary colonies by the act of selecting what to have in their libraries?

I would say that our most important task at present is to encourage, if we can, the steps now being taken towards Solar System settlement — most importantly reducing the cost of access to orbit, broadening the range of organisations and individuals able to take advantage of that access, and opening up economic use of extraterrestrial resources — and to refute environmentally inspired predictions of doom.

Hope this helps.

Stephen A.

Paul Gilster December 13, 2013 at 18:29

Al Jackson writes:

maybe, more discussion of Greg Benford’s Deep Time is in order?

As happens so often, Al, you’re reading my mind. The book is on the agenda for much discussion in the near future!

Heath Rezabek December 13, 2013 at 20:05

Stephan / Astronist, thanks for your comment. The survey on fictional inspirations is simply to explore influences and take stock, not to try and determine a collection; it’s for fun, as they would say.

In terms of the purpose of the project, it sounds from the later part of your note that one reason you may not understand the point of the project could be that you may not find it likely that we’ll need much mitigation of the risk of collapsing potential as a civilization.

This is of course an open question, and no-one can really say. In some ways it’s a litmus test for how much confidence one has in the ability of our means, our technologies, and hopefully our ethical evolution to bring sustainable prosperity and to help us avoid risks from outside (natural disasters, sterilizing asteroids, etc.) John Smart is one futurist who feels similarly to you (perhaps) in this regard, and I respect the perspective.

At the same time, I feel that mitigation of risk is always worth undertaking, particularly when/if the stakes are high. We don’t know how common life is, but we do know that there’s only one Earth. Whatever it is we are or were or will be worth, that in itself is an irreplaceable resource. All of this is groundwork laid in my first article, as linked at top, so worth scanning over to determine where our views differ or don’t.

Knowledge as a foundation for sustained potential can be safeguarded through preservation; and then there’s biomass and biodiversity, and I agree that a good dive into Benford’s ‘Deep Time’ book and the ‘Library of Life’ paper would be great. All of that’s the point of Vessel, and perhaps you’re right that ‘it will take care of itself’. But with few projects of this scope in existence, I’m not so sure, and so this is what I opt to put my remaining energy towards.

As for the point of fiction, or design fiction (if that’s more what you meant), it’s simply another way of sparking and exploring possibilities. Since undertaking large projects in reality is resource-intensive, lately revisiting fiction has become a more and more appealing option for staving off the sense of a standstill.

Thanks again for your thoughts, -h

Andy Robertson December 14, 2013 at 12:12

William Hope Hodgson wrote a famous novel about this subject in 1912. It was entitled THE NIGHT LAND and concerned human survival on a radically transformed Earth after the sun has died. (Hodgson followed the then-current ideas of Kelvin et all and put the lifetime of the Sun at around twenty million years.) Hodgson’s solution was the Last Redoubt, an arcology eight miles high and dug scores of miles down into the Earth, protected by a force field and guided by a secular technocratic elite exploiting mechanically amplified telepathy, among other things, to guard the remaining human population against invasion from other surviving entities. The book is by common consent almost unreadable in style, but unfathomably majestic in concept and image. It’s worth look.

Modern day sequels and homages include Greg Bear’s CITY AT THE END OF TIME and a number of fictions collected on my own website at http://www.thenightland.co.uk. This body of work has evolved some overlap with the themes on this blog: in particular some stories reference the Long Now foundation (see http://www.thenightland.co.uk/nightmsd.html) and a whole cycle of stories describing the building of the Last Redoubt imagine it as being created by the amalgamation and fusion of Starships returned to Earth after voyages of millions of years. Their final voyage has turned by 90 degrees on the space/time axis,as it were, and is now a voyage through time into indefinite futurity….

Joëlle B. December 14, 2013 at 18:30

Greetings to you all,

@Stephen A.
I have to highly disagree with the notion that knowledge preservation will take care of itself; mainly because a lot of information gets lost simply by the medium of time, let alone ‘deep time’. Meanings and values change/fluctuate across time, represented as experiences and desires–simple as that, along with any sustaining of the potential initialized by one civilized group to another. Humanity tends to adjust and adapt itself to patterns based on what they deem practical, derived from such said experiences and desires (on top of most useful knowledge [what improves our survival] being learned, instead of hard-coded within us, like say, Cephalopods).

To me, this implies that any archival data would only hold useful to the civilization that propagated it (in addition to the groups that contributed to the civilization’s birth and thriving). Ultimately, I think life has taught us that (to avoid stagnation and eventual special collapse) the exchange of biological information supersedes the technological/tool building information in terms of promoting and sustaining potential. As in, if there is extraterrestrial intelligence out there, operating on a completely foreign foundation of knowledge than humanly known, it would be in our greatest interest to not only technologically and theoretically assimilate, but biologically assimilate as well.

We are walking, talking, breathing blobs of knowledge (expressed as chemical/genetic information) that can be useless to us if we are left unattended by members of the civilization who are willing to pass on the knowledge and share the experienced/learned information. This has happened because, thankfully, people have attempted to care, as opposed to let things take care of themselves.

Examples of the opposite would be “feral children”, neglected and abused, or raised by wild animals, usually unable to adapt into say, space-faring civilizations, thereafter. Again, the patterns represent a consistency, or better yet, a repetition of experiences to promote an individuals foundation of knowledge as valued by whichever civilization they are initiated into.

@Heath
“We don’t know how common life is, but we do know that there’s only one Earth. Whatever it is we are or were or will be worth, that in itself is an irreplaceable resource. ”

I both agree and disagree with this statement. We can only observe one Earth or experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is not possible for our limited observance to hinder us from noticing life that may exist simultaneously, or extra-dimensionally that needs us just as much, or little as the microorganisms we blindly harvest and destroy on a daily basis. A fun imagining of this concept was exemplified (to a limited degree) in the film “Upside Down” with Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess, and the ending of the film sort of touches on my idea of why biologically assimilating into an ETI species (or in this instance an extra-dimensional intelligent species) may reduce the risks involved in extra-stellar civilization and knowledge based, sustained potentiality.

We all want to believe we’re an important, irreplaceable aspect of universal life and existence, but being that 99.9% of all species that ever existed on this planet are now extinct just makes it seem more like we’re just a beautiful symbol of probability in one large, purposeless chemical reaction of space-time; simply said–Replaceable. All power to those who want to think they can remain in the .1 percent for eternity, though. It is an honorable goal to work towards, and I definitely want in. :)

Heath Rezabek December 15, 2013 at 17:46

@Andy – The Night Land sounds intriguing. At some point, for any beings living as we do (or anything like we do), the sight of a sky filled with stars will be a distant memory. If memory is kept at all. What happens when you keep the memory of places and times that cannot be recovered? Is it better not to try and keep memory? I look forward to taking a look at Night Land in this regard.

The approach of arcologies is interesting to me, as much for what made them impossible in our recent era as for what may make them more plausible in the future. My hunch is that settlements far smaller than the megacities envisioned by arcologies (though as large as small cities) will eventually be practical, and then eventually be inevitable. Even if some of humanity has disembarked from Earth’s surface by then, such settlements may be as likely beyond Earth as upon it. Time will tell.

I look forward to exploring your page.

@Joëlle – Thanks for your comments.

“…any archival data would only hold useful to the civilization that propagated it” – I have a different perspective, though we may just have different definitions of what constitutes being part of the same civilization. The Rosetta Stone was of immense use to us, remote from it in time, as it allowed us to decipher and reconstitute Ancient Egyptian. Had the information cross-ccorrelated there been more relevant to our everyday world than the series of decrees it held, it might have proven even more useful to us as well. Of course, if we consider all of humanity to be the same civilization, then your argument may simply be untested.

While it could be argued that any information passed down through time that is not of immediate survival value is therefore useless, I don’t think that can be said unilaterally. I think technologies of information transfer have a role to play in the future evolution of life, and perhaps can someday evolve into a platform as robust as that of biological information. We certainly won’t know if we don’t try. I’m an optimist in this regard; if we do try, perhaps evenjust a little, wonderful things are possible.

“We all want to believe we’re an important, irreplaceable aspect of universal life and existence, but being that 99.9% of all species that ever existed on this planet are now extinct just makes it seem more like we’re just a beautiful symbol of probability in one large, purposeless chemical reaction of space-time; simply said–Replaceable.” – That certainly seems to be the concensus view, at least here-abouts, which makes it tough sometimes to be someone for whom the jury’s still out on that point. I’m not saying that we modern day humans are collectively a beautiful and precious snowflake, as it were, but I do believe that biodiversity and a range of living cultural expressions is a richer expression of life’s potential than their absence would be. The extinction of all those species you mention I see as a loss, and I don’t actually see as replaced. Displaced, perhaps. But their potential has not been replicated.

Again, the concensus view seems to be that any perception of value to life is only due to my skewed perspective as a living being; perhaps matter which seems to me inert is actually expressing a much higher order than I can ever perceive or value. But even if this is so, by definition it will still always be irrelevant (un-relatable) to anything I can ponder. At the moment I (and you and all our peers) are the ones doing the pondering. This is the basis from which I have to work, or to do anything at all.

To me, then, the concensus view seems to be a self-defeating blind alley that can ultimately lead nowhere other than a rhetorical”Why do anything?” And, admittedly, those feelings are part of what’s led to a recent despair towards any fruitful outcome to all of this effort — Interstellar or Earth-preserving or otherwise. But something in me disagrees, and until that ceases to be true, I’ll continue on as if our efforts have some role in shaping what may or may not come to be in the fullness of time.

I will say that revisiting short-form flash fiction has been extremely liberating, as contrasted with my essay attempts, which arose originally out of my first work on Vessel and are not really my home as a writer. This detour allowed me to glance at some of these thoughts in a way that’s made the question of whether or not our debates down here have any point to them seem less sharp a question. So much so that I’m likely to do more proto-fiction for future installments. I hope Paul doesn’t mind.

Sally Morem December 15, 2013 at 21:43

My idea, tied in with the idea of the technological singularity: Everything, and I do mean everything on Earth, as well as everything we launched into outer space, is scanned by advanced nanotech replicating systems. The scanning takes place as each item is taken apart into its constituent atoms. All arrays of atoms and molecules recorded precisely, enough so that they can be rebuilt by the replicators as is on command. Or, their exact analogues specified in virtual reality.

People will be able to design variations of all these items, billions of variations if they so desire. Variations of the entire planet included.

If replication, precision, and miniaturization have proceed in an exponential manner, all of this and much much more may fit in a Vessel of a few inches thickness. And it too could be replicated endlessly, sent out into space in all directions, daughter and granddaughter

Vessels eventually exploring the entire galaxy…and then the next and the next…

Joëlle B. December 16, 2013 at 23:06

” – I have a different perspective, though we may just have different definitions of what constitutes being part of the same civilization. The Rosetta Stone was of immense use to us, remote from it in time, as it allowed us to decipher and reconstitute Ancient Egyptian. Had the information cross-ccorrelated there been more relevant to our everyday world than the series of decrees it held, it might have proven even more useful to us as well. Of course, if we consider all of humanity to be the same civilization, then your argument may simply be untested.”

Yes, I consider all of humanity to be a part of the same civilization, mainly due to the fact that our biological information acts as the continuum of the ancient to the modern. We are directly related to the Ancient Egyptian culture, as well as all other cultures and civilizations that may arise or have arisen on the planet. Which is what I meant in saying those groups that “contributed to the civilization’s birth and thriving.” This would also include all other terrestrial life, in that if we go extinct, who is to say that another species will not gain an equal [similar] level of sapience and be able to decipher our archived data and learn of the accomplishments or mistakes that gave rise (or demise) to our specific civilization.

“While it could be argued that any information passed down through time that is not of immediate survival value is therefore useless, I don’t think that can be said unilaterally. I think technologies of information transfer have a role to play in the future evolution of life, and perhaps can someday evolve into a platform as robust as that of biological information. We certainly won’t know if we don’t try. I’m an optimist in this regard; if we do try, perhaps even just a little, wonderful things are possible.”

This happens automatically, in that regardless of any space-time manipulation acted out by life forms, the chemical processes will continue as the universe expands, since at present, the universal constants don’t seem to be intermittently ceasing in relation to what is biologically happening or not happening. For biological life, survival is the key proponent in its perpetuation–meaning it could all abruptly end now and the chemical leftovers could give rise to life all over again, or just become a part of the non-living particles existing in the vacuum of space. But I agree with trying (and is why I don’t agree with letting things “take care of themselves”); not arguing in that regard. ^^

“– That certainly seems to be the concensus view, at least here-abouts, which makes it tough sometimes to be someone for whom the jury’s still out on that point. I’m not saying that we modern day humans are collectively a beautiful and precious snowflake, as it were, but I do believe that biodiversity and a range of living cultural expressions is a richer expression of life’s potential than their absence would be. The extinction of all those species you mention I see as a loss, and I don’t actually see as replaced. Displaced, perhaps. But their potential has not been replicated.”

This can be solved (and tested) by simply manipulating the biological information these species had, either by reintroducing and replicating them and their environments, or by engineering selected biological information into the extant. Of course, for those whose information is no longer procurable, then your point stands. However, in principle (if we develop practical technology to achieve it), we may be able to go light years away and look back at the Earth during a time when something that has disappeared was present, and probe them (through observance) for replication. Like, say, go 200 million light years away and look back at Earth and zoom in on a specific species of dinosaur, albeit on the microscopic, even quantum level. This could also be applied to anywhere else we may want to probe a history of life (e.g. other stellar and planetesimal structures) or scope out an archived occurrence as preserved by light particles. A related idea of this is present in the video game “Final Fantasy X”, whereby the civilization utilizes certain categories of ‘spheres’ (ex. movie spheres, music spheres, dresspheres etc.) that can contain recorded information extant of the past (not sure on the exact science behind the spheres [and not sure whether the game describes it into such detail], but it appears to be activated by some type of photogenic/phosphorescent modus operandi).

“Again, the concensus view seems to be that any perception of value to life is only due to my skewed perspective as a living being; perhaps matter which seems to me inert is actually expressing a much higher order than I can ever perceive or value. But even if this is so, by definition it will still always be irrelevant (un-relatable) to anything I can ponder. At the moment I (and you and all our peers) are the ones doing the pondering. This is the basis from which I have to work, or to do anything at all.”

Hmm… this sounds like a limiting of potential? Maybe then my supposition of assimilation will open a new frontier of experience that gives us a better outlook on that matter which seems inert? There are already organisms we know of that can see, feel, and experience things we can’t, yet we have the same building blocks as they, on top of holding the resources to peer into their existence if we eventually decide to allow it.

“I will say that revisiting short-form flash fiction has been extremely liberating, as contrasted with my essay attempts, which arose originally out of my first work on Vessel and are not really my home as a writer. This detour allowed me to glance at some of these thoughts in a way that’s made the question of whether or not our debates down here have any point to them seem less sharp a question. So much so that I’m likely to do more proto-fiction for future installments. I hope Paul doesn’t mind.”

I enjoy the reading; you have an unusual writing style that requires the brain to gush in imagination.

Heath Rezabek December 17, 2013 at 9:34

@Sally – That rings a bell…

Perhaps it’s already happened! ;)

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