Zones of Thought (was Zindell's _The Wild_)

Crosby_M (
Tue, 12 Nov 1996 12:26:29 -0500

On Saturday, November 09, 1996 7:29 PM, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
<What do you mean, the Powers can't operate at our level except through us?
[snip] A genuine Power wouldn't be stopped by the Zones [snip] and would
see as obvious enough physics to rewrite the Zones any time it wanted to.>

Zones are about boundaries, things like solar systems, galaxies, clusters,
possibly black holes at the center of galaxies. For *your* Powers to
"rewrite the Zones", it sounds like even intelligent galaxies are mere ants
to be crushed under Their feet!

<The most unrealistic part of A Fire Upon The Deep wasn't the Zones. [snip]
The unrealistic part is Vinge claiming that there's something the Powers
don't know about. That's just ridiculous, wildly impossible...>

It appears that you want only Powers ascribed to Omega, anything less, any
intermediate level (like Jupiter-size brains or gallactic minds) is "just
ridiculous, wildly impossible"!!??

<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.>

Even with the unlimited memory you imply for your Powers (BTW, what would
be the point of having more than one of these all-knowing beings?), even if
they are able to immediately view anything they ever knew, why should they
remember anything that we know now? WE were once embryos and (most)
remember nothing from that time. A galactic brain, for example, is no more
going to 'remember' a single planet than we 'remember' a single cell in our

You imply that Powers won't have to be grown, carrying and running up
through the trellises of the universe (the Zones), that they won't evolve,
they'll just 'magically appear' after the God-given Singularity of

<Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any
problems beyond that are not ours to solve.>

Rather Deathist I'd say - counting on the children to carry on for you. It
seems like you're saying that, since *you* can't possibly see *all* then
there's no sense in trying to fathom anything.

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

Yes, you doubt. I leave myself free to imagine: associative thinking,
non-local reasoning, traversing the Web, scoping the boundaries of the
unknown. I call them Zones and they aren't a mere metaphor for me.

On Sunday, November 10, 1996 9:33 PM, Michael Lorrey wrote:
<even Vinge himself admits that the only reason he created the concept of
the Zones was [snip] He needed a gimmick to prevent us from transcending
too soon.>

Yes, I *now* recall reading this somewhere, disagreeing, and that's why
Twirlip's original reference to the Zones as a mere gimmick set me off.
I'm sorry, I prefer the Vernor Vinge who wrote _AFUTD_, not the one who
speculates on the coming Singularity. Too many people (I'm not implying
Vinge) seem to see this as a magical, effortless, sudden transcension.

Mark Crosby

P.S. This thread was originally on Zindell. My favorite quote of his from
Anders' list is this:
<We should all know the code of our programs, otherwise we can never be
I think this is a good corrolary of Tolkien's claim that "perilous to us
all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves."