Friday, 30 January 2015

Genesis, Part One, Chapter VII

Intelligence Prime has been studying the primitive life on an extrasolar planet for seven hundred years and has been transmitting information to "...intelligences across the known galaxy..." for all that time (Genesis, p. 85). Thus, either known space is as yet confined to a fourteen hundred light year diametered sphere or some of the intelligences have not yet received Intelligence Prime's earliest communications. The following sentence confirms the second hypothesis:

"The farthest off among them had not yet received the news; photons fly too slowly." (pp. 85-86)

The Christian Brannock upload had helped to establish the base and to:

" the industries necessary for its maintenance, enlargement, and evolution..." (p. 86)

Poul Anderson must have known how poignant was the use of the word "" in this context. Until now, that term had connoted human activity: invention and production with associated commerce and social dynamism. Here, it means merely the material production of physical structures necessary to help Prime Intelligence to accumulate knowledge. There are no employees, commodities, competitors, consumers, cultures, markets, interfering governments etc.

After seven centuries, the planet is nearly understood and the remaining algorithmic research no longer requires Brannock's ex-human input. He could wait unconscious for some new undertaking but has "'...grown tired of being a robot.'" (p. 89) Aspects of his machine consciousness and emotions are enumerated:

satisfaction in accomplishment;
communion with other intelligences of the same kind;
"...communion with a transcendent intelligence, or with the cosmos..." (ibid.), such as some human mystics might have known with God.

Brannock and Intelligence Prime communicate at nearly photonic speed and not really in the verbal dialogue rendered on pp. 88-90 so this must be the "...communion with a transcendent intelligence..." However, Brannock is now about to be incorporated into Intelligence Prime and thus to become one:

"...with a vast and ever-evolving mind, and with minds beyond it; ultimately, a oneness universal?" (p. 90)

Would universal oneness result from the galactic brain expanding to become a cosmic brain or with this galactic brain merging with other galactic brains to become a cosmic brain?

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