There was a very nice episode of StarGate week before last, in which a
society that had supposedly evolved from pre-Aztec Mexican Indian was
encountered. The nasties had forced them from their Earth homes and they
had recently gotten on that slippery slope to the Singularity, as evidenced
by the fact that they were all infested with nanites. Furthermore, they had
progressed technologically in a few decades as much as Earth culture had in
several hundred years.
As to how, certain individuals were chosen at an early age to receive a huge
load of unprogrammed nanites in addition to the usual programmed array.
They then specialized in some area of research, typically making as much
progress before their teens as several generations of normal humans. At the
point when they had peaked out in what they had to offer, they then
volunteered to be sacrificed - the Aztec connection, of course.
The child victims, however, unlike most of the actual Aztec sacrifices, who
were taken from subject tribes and probably would have distinctly preferred
another life path, volunteered eagerly to have their brains wiped. Their
nanites were removed en masse and then distributed throughout the
population, giving everyone the knowledge they had gained.
Unfortunately, this left the children with a virtual tabula rosa. Just to
make the moral dillemna interesting, they could never again receive or
benefit from a nanite knowledge implant.
The scenario is rather implausible, to say the least, but it was very
cleverly arranged and the solutions that various parties arrived at were
both clever and non-obvious.
Many questions were left hanging at the end. Is a person who has lost most
of their abstract memory still that same person? Where would you draw the
lines? If most of your working consciousness is actually handled by a host
of nanites, then are giving something up or are you gaining by spreading
them all over creation, such that your experience of who you are is shared
by a million other consciousnesses?
While the plot and its handling was somewhat juvenile by EXTROPIAN
standards, this was definitely an episode that will make the viewers think,
and an excellent example of how to bring serious abstract
techno/philosophical issues in public consciousness and debate without
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