TECH: Fractal Tardis Brains

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 04:33:07 -0500

Well, as soon as I read that news article, just one thought passed through my mind: "So much for the black-hole limits on Jupiter Brains." David Zindell's "computational origami" is looking more plausible all the time. You fold up a bunch of Jupiter brains into little Tardis pockets, and then they all communicate with each other in this meta-Jupiter brain. And, while I don't know if physics would permit, I see no reason why you couldn't fold up the meta-Jupiter brain and have meta-meta-Jupiter brains. I hereby dub this the Fractal Tardis Brain.

(Who was talking about the fundamental limits of physics during the Singularity Colloquium a year back? I want to hold my monthly gloat. I keep telling you guys, if even human intelligence can bump up the apparent limits of physics by a few orders of magnitude every couple of years, do you really think They are ever going to hit the ceiling? I don't think there *is* a ceiling.)

I think the Fractal Tardis Brain, since it would apparently be a computational hierarchy, presents measurable science-fiction potential. Each posthuman is a Jupiter brain, then the human civilization is a meta-brain, our galaxy is a meta-meta brain... and obviously, inter-galaxy communication bandwidth is pretty scarce, relative to subjective time, even though the whole computational Universe is just an angstrom across. So when Word Comes Down From On High for the first time in a thousand subjective aeons, sent by the Intelligence that is the incomprehensible sum of the Fractal Tardis Brain... then now would be a good time to come up with a story idea.

Of course, the human meta-brain would be very new as the story opens, perhaps only twenty subjective years old, with most of the would-be posthumans still slowly growing into their new computational power. You couldn't write about the ancient brains or the Fractal Tardis Intelligence itself unless you were Greg Egan or something.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way