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

Michael Lorrey (
Sun, 10 Nov 1996 21:33:54 -0500

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> 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.

While I agree with you that any mere human would not bea able to
accurately convey the representation of a true POWER in his books, as we
have never even seen one, and most of what they do wuld be unfathomable
in any case. However, I greately dissagree with your contention that
they would be as godlike as you claim. Any intelligence wishing to
retain existence in this universe will have to obey the laws of this
universe, even if they use what seem like loopholes like FTL, etc, they
would still be part of the laws.

And ANY intelligence can only make evaluations based on information
available that is known to be true, or known to be false. As we see in
the current internet, there is a high level of disinformation out there,
of varying levels of truthfulness; the situation would be no different
on a galactic level, probably even worse. Any information that you don't
know to be true or false is basically worthless, while mixed value is
even worse. _AFUTD_ was I think rather representative as to what we at
our current level could possibly understand about such events. The fact
that "mere" humans outmaneuvered a great power had more to do with being
in person as opposed to acting by proxy, plus the fact that they had
their own help from a great power.

In the end, even Vinge himself admits that the only reason he created
the concept of the Zones was because he (accurately) forsees humanity
transcending rather rapidly within the next 50 years or so, which leaves
a very small window of opportunity to get enough humans into
interstellar space to be around in events written to be over 50,000
years in our future. He needed a gimmick to prevent us from
transcending too soon.