Re: Hacking the Kernel

Damien Broderick (
Tue, 22 Oct 1996 09:45:59 +1000

At 01:14 PM 10/21/96 -0700, Chris wrote:

>Heres another interesting idea! Perhaps in the last session of the universe
>there was no religion and the last civilization to hack the kernel added the
>tendency toward the creation of religion [snip]

I hope the following is more interesting that my previous
school-marm-grammarian post to this thread. :)

I originally posted this notion on a while back, and now
wonder if anyone here would care to play?

Here's my original post, and a follow-up to someone's reply:

The Very Fast Evolution Machine

(...which is a nod to Ian Watson's wonderful short story title, `The Very
Slow Time Machine'...)

Frank J. Tipler developed the nice idea (in THE PHYSICS OF IMMORTALITY and
earlier in his co-authored THE ANTHROPIC COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLE) that an
effective AI deity might [even must] emerge in the final nanoseconds of the
Big Crunch. I like this notion a lot (having ventured close to it in my
novel THE JUDAS MANDALA) and I've been wondering for some years if the
obverse might also be plausible.

In the earliest femtoseconds or whatever of the Big Bang eruption, with time
effectively multiplied to infinite speeds but slowing fast - that is, vast
numbers of exchanges occurring almost instantly in a densely compacted
and connected spacetime where all the forces only `slowly' decoupled - might
not there be effectively time enough for a superintelligence to evolve from
scratch? Even a whole batch of them, but perhaps they would inevitably
remain merged until the cosmos was big enough for light-transmission delays
to disrupt module communication... Rather Gnostic, put that way. Demiurges
tumbling from the furnace of the Big Bang, cast out into the freezing dark.
Perhaps placing their impress upon the new regimes of matter and light. Yes,
*now* there is a god... but that was then. What of now? Would such Blishian
angels still have any impact on the universe? More to the point, is their
evolution, as sketched, remotely possible given current physics?

Jay Thierry Han wrote:

> Frederick Pohl develops something similar to this in his Heechee followups
>to his novel "Gateway".

I responded:

Not all that similar, I think, although I see what you mean. And of course
Blish's THE TRIUMPH OF TIME does it with a sort of baby universe shaped by
Amalfi's ontological codes. And Stephen Baxter's sequence starting with
TIMELIKE INFINITY also has a battle for the shape of the universal substrate,
as does his THE TIME SHIPS (the sequel to H. G. Wells's THE TIME MACHINE).
None of these,
I think, contains my key postulate: that just as the Tipler Eschaton has an
effectively infinite number of discrete clock ticks within which a `god' may
Do All Things, so too does the initial Hawking-smeared 10^-43 secs. The
question is: could anything structured emerge under such appallingly volatile
conditions, however many virtual steps or epochs it contains? It's one thing
to persist into the Big Crunch, using shear energy etc; presumably it's quite
another for `life' to bootstrap into existence under the same conditions.
*Or is it?*

Best, Damien

Dr Damien Broderick / Associate, Dept. English and Cultural Studies
University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, AUSTRALIA