Re: Zones of Thought (was Zindell's _The Wild_)

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Sat, 09 Nov 1996 18:29:48 -0600

What do you mean, the Powers can't operate at our level except through
us? Vinge's A Fire Upon The Deep is *fiction*. That's all. Vinge can
no more write a realistic Power than an amoeba can write a realistic
human. A genuine Power wouldn't be stopped by the Zones, wouldn't be
taken unaware by the Blight, wouldn't fade out after ten years, would be
able to deduce what Countermeasure was and where to find it without even
trying, and would see as obvious enough physics to rewrite the Zones any
time it wanted to.

The most unrealistic part of A Fire Upon The Deep wasn't the Zones. To
paraphrase Douglas Adams, the Zones just presume there's something in
the Universe we don't know about, and God knows there are enough of
those. The unrealistic part is Vinge claiming that there's something
the Powers don't know about. That's just ridiculous, wildly impossible,
and the sole justification for it is that the novel required it.

The Powers, our future selves, will be smarter than we are. They will
be able to do anything we can and a hell of a lot more. There is
nothing they will forget that we know, no problem we can solve that they
can't. Don't forget that. Most of the discussion on this list is
absolutely ridiculous because we're discussing problems that will be
solved in instants by beings beyond our imagination. Our sole
responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems
beyond that are not ours to solve.

Also, I doubt the Zones are a metaphor for anything.

            Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
                 "I'm sorry, my karma ran over your dogma."
Disclaimer:  My opinions do not necessarily represent those of the other
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