Panplasmodaemonium (Was Re: Archologies)

Crosby_M (
Sat, 28 Sep 1996 20:19:00 -0400

Someone wrote:
Organisms eat matter and make it a part of themselves. If I extrapolate
this trend, I see a huge blob of silico/organic _living_ matter where
once there was an earth.

Ray Peck wrote:
I for one don't want to live in a teeming, feasting soup, thanks.

On Friday, September 27, 1996 2:53PM, Hara Ra wrote:
which spells "ecology"....

Ecology is not at all the image that I got: It sounds more like a
monoculture, a grey goo, to me.

Paul Di Filippo's 1995 story, "Distributed Mind" (first published in
Interzone but also included in Di Filippo's excellent "Ribofunk"
anthology), describes an intelligent, but benevolant 'grey goo' that
takes over the Earth.

I can't resist giving a flavor for Di Filippo's marvellous new
vocabulary (for those who don't read fiction anymore ;)

>Greenlaw was one of the few members of his cohort gestated and birthed
the old-fashioned baseline way. neither Incyte Yoot Chutes nor splice
hostmothers ... at an extreme disadvantage, compared to his already
wetwired, chomskied peers.... To escape the lite-servo class he had
been born into and finance further trope doses that he hoped would lead
to a good job in the symbol-analysis class, he was forced to rent out
his personal wetware ... in an online pool ... leading to a brief
flirtation with the Plus-Fourierists ...

Wild mocklife had devored Greenlaw's native bioregion ... His proxies
and splices ... his semisentient splinters and shards and snippets which
had been unable to scatter themselves safely elsewhere across the
telecosm ... Gone, all gone. yet still mockingly there ... simulacra
transfigured by the mass of rogue silicrobes as the Urblastema or ...
the Panplasmodaemonium.<

There's more, though it is a short story. Di Filippo ends up raising
many of the same questions that Hans Moravec does in a recent essay
about pattern identity (that you can find a link to from Ander's
Transhuman page). Basically it's the same message that Moravec had in
_Mind Children_:

>Pattern identity ... defines the essence of a person ... as the pattern
and the process going on in my head and body, not the machinery
supporting that process. If the process is preserved, I am preserved.
The rest is mere jelly.<

I like the pattern identity meme, but I'm not quite ready to dismiss the
physical world as "mere jelly."

In this essay, Moravec goes on to add:

>if the subjective feeling of a person are part of the person-message,
and the evolution of the message is implicit in the message itself,
then aren't the future experiences of the person implicit in the
message? And wouldn't this mathematical existence feel the same to the
person encoded as being simulated in a more substantial way? I don't
think this is mere sophistry, but I'm not prepared to take it any
further for now.<

Hummm... If that "huge blob of silico/organic _living_ matter", that
"teeming, feasting soup" is really a giant computer capable of
supporting billions of 'virtual machines', is it really a monoculture or
an ecology of minds?

Mark Crosby