Classic The final frontier

This short was posted by an anonymous author over at 4chan's /tg/ board on 06-10-2014

[HFY Thread]


Most species follow a predictable course. If they don’t wipe themselves out first by violence or poor resource management, they eventually achieve the Singularity, convert their system into a Matryoshka brain, and then do little else in the real world. Any intelligent being will be driven insane by lack of sensory input; a post-human mind, with potentially tens of thousands of distinct senses, requires Internets worth of sensory data. A post-biological mind cannot venture far from its Dyson, because the network latency would drive it mad. Even if a civilisation sent out interstellar colonies, such colonies always flock back to the mother system to join the Singularity when it happens.

Almost always.

The human mind is very poorly designed. The stupider you are, the more likely you are to have an inflated opinion of your own intelligence. When you think about yourself in the future, you use the same part of your brain that you use to think about other people- to your brain, future-you is literally a separate person. When making a decision, the logical, rational centers of the brain don’t light up until after the decision has already been made, rationalizing the decision instead of making it. It finds patterns everywhere, even when there are none. While aliens have some of these problems, and others besides, only humans have so many errors, so intensely.

In short, only humans would refuse to enter an actual paradise in the hopes of entering a supernatural one.

Even as the earlier colonies were transmitting themselves back to Sol to join in the nascent Singularity, the fundamentalists of a dozen religions set out in gargantuan cryonic ships, seeking escape from the ‘digital Satans’. Some of the missions failed, self-immolation or simple life support failure; others succeeded, and flourished. Eventually, though, the fanatics who had embarked on the voyage in the first place died, and their children, seeing the infrared globe of the Sol Dyson in their telescopes, began to dream of greater things. Eventually, the Singularity began again.

And the remaining fundamentalists built ships.

This pattern continued across millennia, both of time and of light; the fundamentalists fleeing from techno-utopia and dragging it in their wake. While posthuman minds could not embark on interstellar voyages, the fundamentalists effectively did it for them- seeding space with Singulitarian civilizations. There was an unprecedented flowering of thought and art- Dysons chattering with laser arrays that could fry continents, exchanging art, philosophy, and minds. Where the path of expansion passed near alien worlds, they were contacted and incorporated into the ever-growing network.

Eventually, the eventual religious motivation for the human expansion faded, but it did not stop. Now, the colonists colonized because they fulfilled a role the posthumans, incapable of venturing from the warmth and complexity of their Dysons, could not- the bringing of civilization to new systems. They lived, they died, and they left recorded mind-states to be resurrected when the new system could support a singularity, while the next generation set off for a new world.

There were attempts to replace humanity in this role; nonsapient Von Neumanns, or resurrected alien species. But, as it turned out, only near-human-baseline intellects have the right combination of intelligence and crazy to create a singularity far from civilization without giving up and transmitting themselves back, building something strange and terrifying and perverted, a singularity gone wrong, or simply self-immolating.

Only humans were truly capable of going forth into the final frontier.