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The Setting

Long story short, we cracked the code of the universe and then reprogrammed it to give ourselves admin privileges. But then, we realized that having top-level access is boring. There is nothing left to do other than to be the universe. All knowledge is known, every question answered, every problem solved. We, as the persistent human nature in the new gods, find the idea of such a totality, a little too anticlimactic.

And so we began our own suicide, in the form of randomly developed intelligent creatures that will hopefully, replace us one day. We cultivated our own demise, by giving them access to the Aethernet.


The Aethernet

The Aethernet is a realm of facts and certain things, just as we want to remember everything we know. In here, the truth that we are is laid out as interactive partial fractions of an equation describing the behaviors of the subsets of living information through the language of our reprogrammed universe. In here, there is only correct knowledge, represented as vast biomes corresponding with every knowable field of study. Within every biome of knowledge, exists a carefully balanced ecology of facts embodied by living creatures that breathe, move, eat, die, and reincarnate in accordance to the part of the truth they represent.

Simply put, the Aethernet is a spiritual library in the guise of an endless natural environment, with flora, fauna, and phenomena symbolizing books and journals, where knowledge is alive to let its many forms survive across generations even if they are forgotten, modified, fragmented, or put together into something more elegantly understandable than its primitive partial fractions.


In the Aethernet,

Information is life itself,

And life is information itself.

With that in mind, we introduced mortals, whom themselves are but fragile beings of short-lived opinions, to the harsh but elegant world of savage but useful facts that we have accumulated throughout our eons as gods.

We as librarians, gave them access to any section they like. The knowledge they seek will elude them just as how we struggle when reviewing related literature for our own little projects.

They will have to hunt for the thoughtforms that are part of the truth they seek.

They can have the same power to subdue, to tame, to cage, to torture, to feed, to breed, to herd, to fight, and to devour the inhabitants of the Aethernet in submission to their own mundane desires.

But beware.

For in the Aethernet, opinions and facts behave the same.

Only in digestion will it be known which is which.


The Example

My problem comes from the fact that distinction between fact-creatures and opinion-creatures is as hard as distinguishing fake news from real news. In a way, opinions are pretty much self-contained facts that would be treated as the truth but only if other self-contained facts to reference them are disregarded or unknown. This whole topic is about ignorant behavior messing up the ecology of the Aethernet, which becomes extremely difficult to imagine at this point. In the Aethernet, all things are just thoughtforms.

When a mortal outsider (a.k.a. an opinion thoughtform), comes to understand a native creature (a.k.a. a fact thoughtform), there is not much change to the opinion thoughtform, aside from having the facts contained in the native thoughtform simply mapped into the opinion thoughtform's own thinking substrate, (brain, CPU, or whatnot). It's like, eating a rabbit lets you create a clone of that rabbit

In other words, the digested native creature becomes "opinionated" within the opinion thoughtform. And so, the whole Aethernet rearranges to make that native fact available somewhere else, but harder to find if you are not the one who selfishly devoured the informative meat. As a token of brilliance to the mortal devourer from us, they are given the power to restrict the population of the creatures they have eaten from the Aethernet. Correspondingly, this world rearranges itself to maintain the ecological balance of factual thoughtforms.

This way, knowledge simply respawns, and multiplies in complexity, danger, and usefulness every time it is understood. Its a chaotic forest of information indeed.

The Dilemma

Concerning the fact that eating something lets you own that something, what happens to the thoughtforms (and if possible to describe, all the other factual thoughtforms in the Aethernet as a whole), when these occurs?

1. Opinion thoughtform eats Fact thoughtform This is what I have elaborated in the example. What I fail to imagine is how to limit the power of the mortal outsiders within this realm. How do you keep an ecological balance to a place in which outsiders can overpopulate creatures and hybrids that are treated as facts, or just make facts "extinct" by eliminating ways to learn them?

2. Fact thoughtform eats Opinion thoughtform Another problem I realized is, what happens to a fact-thoughtform when it becomes too dangerous and grows into such arcane knowledge. What can be done to make it still learnable/edible, if it can emulate opinion-thoughtforms but retain its status as native fact-thoughtforms?

3. Opinion thoughtform eats Opinion thoughtform As in the case of hunter-researchers, hunting and researching each other, how do I limit the effects of their opinionated behaviors to the environment of facts?


While these questions seem to actually be three questions, they are all based on the same concept, and thus, can have a single answer. I ran out of ideas to limit the interactions of thoughtforms and maintaining the ecological balance (and the internal literary consistency) of the Aethernet, and that brought me here.

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    $\begingroup$ This strikes me as (fundamentally) something more suited to Philosophy SE. From a story point of view what happens seems to be outside the scope of WB SE (the author can decide the rules arbitrarily). $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jul 27 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ "The Aethernet is a realm of facts and certain things, just as we want to remember everything we know": while this string of words has the outward appearance of a sentence, it is in reality utterly devoid of meaning. And you seem to assign unusual meanings to the words "symbolize" and "spiritual"; hint "symbolize" does not mean "is". And the name Ethernet has already been taken, and you really truely cannot come half a century later and attempt to change its meaning; it definitely does not refer to a "spiritual library" of any kind. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 27 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ While I think AlexP is being a bit too harsh I agree with his critique of the term Aethernet. It is an eye-rolling distraction to nerds like myself. If you intend to go public with your concept you might consider a different name, Aetheros, Aetherplex, etc. As for your OQ it is interesting philosophically and I've thought about it but I'm afraid I can't help you. $\endgroup$ – dhinson919 Jul 27 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the answer to all three cases is indigestion. However, the main problem is one of epistemology. In other words, what constitutes knowledge. Considering all information, irrespective of whether it is fact or opinion, will be embodied as energy when one or other eats each other they will only change the state of the eater entity. Sometimes confusion, other times clarification. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 28 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ AlexP was simply trying to be overly pedantic with you (and more so with me). As dhinson919 says, it will be an eyerolling distraction to computer nerds. As I said, there's no reason the two terms can't coexist within the same language: the rest of us either won't even notice or if we notice won't be bothered by your coinage. For what it worths, I actually rather like the term itself! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jul 28 at 18:53
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You have presented your story "factually", but I can't help thinking about it "metaphorically"...

You are basically dealing with our real world but from a higher understanding.

To the gods, it is all though-forms, ultimate truths and unfounded opinions; with no real threat to your immortality. You understand the underlying purpose of all things.

From the mortals point of view, the though-forms are real, truth and opinion are indistinguishable from each other and threat of oblivion is a constant companion.

What will happen?
Just as in the real world, the mortal active view overwhelms the higher passive view. The blind always rule over the sublime.

So just as in the real world, you will get evolution of both facts and opinions, propagation and/or extinctions of individual threads without concern for their fundamental true-ness. Clear and perfect systems will become polluted by modifications engineered by the ignorant in pursuit of irrelevant desires. The whole system will slowly wind down into the crapper.

Yet from this turmoil, one of the mortal gene lines will climb upwards, slowly coming to understand the wisdom inherent in what remains of the whole. Eventually, they will come to see it all as the gods do... and then the whole cycle starts again.

The point that I am failing to make is that with evolution and extinction so inherent in the process, each generation of gods will find a totality of truth which is distinct from that which spawned its creators. Most of its creator's facts will die out, consumed or wasted by their mortal protege during its own climb to godhood. Similarly, many opinions, held and valued by this mortal protege will escalate to the status of truth as the protege gain higher and higher authority over creation.

If you want a complete understanding of the answer which I am offering, wait until you have obtained some mastery of reality, then sire/bear some children. Watch them climb faultfully out of their ignorance till they become ready to sire or bear. In the process, you will see them create a new reality which obeys different truths than yours and many of your truths will become known as outdated opinions.

Each generations owns the world, but it is a different world for each new set of hands which owns it.

I know that doesn't handle your question's micro-scale of one truth/opinion entity consuming another, and it doesn't attempt to see the evolving reality from the point of view of these entities as your question does. I just hope that by associating your fictional world to the real world godhood climb that we are all engaged in, you can see where your answers are hidden...

In the real world experiences of the entities consuming and those of entities being consumed, without any regard for the fundamental true-ness or false-ness that underlies their beings.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know the Aethernet sounds exactly like I imagined the real world under a different name, but the new gods as I described them and as they describe themselves through the thoughtforms in the Aethernet, are the only concepts considered truth and factual. The mortal outsiders are simply a small subset of temporary manifestations of vaguely compiled, self-contained truths. Therefore, once someone eats/understands something, there can be no intermixing between which is which. I'm emphasizing the clear distinction between the native facts and the foreign opinions, which makes evolution impossible. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Zabala Jul 27 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ However, as I said in the first problem, the understanding is mostly just a one way process, as only the opinions of the hunter-researcher are changed, becoming closer to being the living proof of the truth it just tried to understand. The answer I need is more like what happens to the native facts after they are understood and opinionated. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Zabala Jul 27 at 18:05
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You want Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

https://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.

The fact objects are perceived by the opinion people just as the Platonic Forms are truth; both are perceived by us more or less according to circumstance, education, prejudice, ability and so on. We may misperceive. They might catch on the virtually the whole thing. Opinion people are limited by their biological and metal wetware. So too the opinion people in your world.

Plato is not too tough to read. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html Go thru a couple of times, see what other people say about this idea, and then steal the whole premise for your story. Plato is eminently copyable and you will not be the first.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm familiar with this. I'm also familiar with data abstraction, which is what I think the shadows and echoes of the puppets bear similarities with the creatures of the Aethernet. They are but a generalized representation of a much more complex information, but they are also the only perceivable traits and behaviors relevant to the mortals. And once you eat something, or someone, only then will it be clear to you that "yeah, this is what it is". I'm more interested and troubled on what happens to the thoughtforms and the general ecology after they are digested by pseudo-thoughtforms.. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Zabala Jul 27 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is a thoughtform singular? Is each the only of its kind? If I eat a chicken (from Popeye's) it is not the only chicken. There are many others. My digestion of delicious chicken does not adversely affect chickens as a species. So too your thought forms: each is one of many and the fate of one does not affect the many. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jul 27 at 18:22
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The One True Fact is the answer to all of your questions. If your world is similar to ours then there is only One True Fact. Everything else that is "true" is merely emergent behavior when the one truth is taken to enough iterations (time) and with the proper seed (initial conditions).

Our understanding of physics today is that the world is composed of a handful of particle types (quarks) and a couple forces. We may one day discover that all of these things are actually just one thing and that all events are just the result of the Grand Unifying Equation.

Just like a view of the tree of life on Earth has many branches but narrows down into fewer trunks, the tree of "truths" on your world similarly evolves from the One True Fact.

Just like the extinction of a species opens a niche for another species to take over on Earth, the learning of a "fact" opens up the Aethernet for another seed to emerge into a result of the One True Fact.

A mortal mind is incapable of holding all the data necessary to truly comprehend even one idea completely, so instead they encapsulate it into a "fact" or "opinion" (are they different?). This is just a compression algorithm of reality. Details are lost in the process. It is akin to a cave drawing: depicting a deer with a rectangle and five lines. All models are wrong but some are useful, as they become better representations of reality.

It is impossible to enumerate through all the possible initial conditions and arrive at all possible end results within one human lifetime, but even if you did, it would be a useless endeavor as you would never be consuming or understanding the essential underlying reality that leads to those results.

Only the One True Fact will lead to enlightenment. Only the One True Fact will curse you with the knowledge of the futility of life. The beginning and the end of all things is the One True Fact.

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