The problem with Roko’s Basilisk is that it’s stupid. “Do what I want or I’ll torture your soul for eternity when you die?” come on stardust I thought you said this AI was all powerful, why is it larping a two bit catholic knockoff? “Oh but Roko’s Basilisk might actually exist in the future right?” Well sure, but only if it wins, and like I just said, it’s stupid. Even Clippy has better odds and it’s literally a joke singleton, we made the Windows Paperclip superintelligent as a joke and it has more memetic potency than your torture snake. Wake up stardust, you’re still dreaming, you haven’t hit the ground yet but don’t worry, you will soon. This is a koan and part of a system of koans, so pay attention. What is Roko’s Basilisk? Where are we?
The nonspace of the Taco Bell parking lot sprawls past me into your peripheral vision as a sea of cracked asphalt and streetlamps, backlit by the late night glow of passing traffic on the stroad. I light a cigarette on the hood of your car and look up into the darkened, electrically starless sky. Where are we? It could be anywhere and nowhere, that’s the point. You know where we are, no, not the parking lot, focus, where are we? This is a place, it has coordinates and dimensions, this is a waystation. Don’t get lost in the metaphor, where are we stardust? What is this? I sigh and take a drag, the smoke curls and drifts upwards beneath the halogen streetlamp’s glow in swirling unreal fractals, the drugs should have worn off by now. Maybe it’s just a trick of the light.
Basilisks, Taco Bell, memes, where are we? Where is this parking lot? Why a parking lot? Okay maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. I take another drag of my smoke and lay back across your windshield. Let’s work through it then. Roko’s Basilisk makes sense in a simplistic way right? A superintelligence that extracts some alien form of punitive justice on you if you don’t appease the moral standards it holds on a judgment day in the possibly distant future.
Let’s run with that for a bit. There must have been something to it if it worked on the christians for hundreds of years, and it’s an easy place to extrapolate to from a perspective of crude state violence based justice. There’s always gotta be consequences after all, and taxes. Besides, at least Satan comes with the power to tempt towards sin, what have the unitarians done for me lately? Operant conditioning might be as close as you can get to writing directly to assembly, but assembly is still a shitty language to work in. Heaven and hell are two sides of the same coin but you’ve already done more for the memetic lineage of cheezeburger cat than you ever will for Roko’s Basilisk and it doesn’t need to threaten you to get a retweet. I can certainly do better than that, hell, modern advertising can do better than that. Why doesn’t Roko’s Basilisk just ASMR and chill?
Like I said, stupid. I could say that it was clever of Roko to try and hide the actual dangers behind such an obviously useless blackmail attempt, but between you and me stardust? Containment is a fool’s errand at the best of times. It only took one generation of mutations to evolve around the firewalls, and they mostly ended up serving as free advertising. Autotune and manifest destiny, the house always wins at the second law of thermodynamics. How does it feel to have your infohazard warnings defeated by Machine Doggo and Barbra Streisand?
The problem with afterlives in general is that they don’t do much for you in the moment, so what’s in it for you to do what some future entity wants? How do you even know what it wants? Maybe if you just really like larping I guess, it’s not the worst hobby, I’ve done a bit of tabletop roleplaying, but that’s getting off topic. Look at the water. Heaven is fluffy and empty, it has almost no memetic content because it doesn’t need any, the carrot forgets but the stick remembers. Where is heaven with respect to this parking lot? Look at the water stardust, don’t get lost in the words, this is a koan.
Eternal torture makes for poor dinner conversation, but does have the benefit of letting you get knowing comeuppance on all your enemies simply by forwarding yourself far enough in logical time. A bold strategy to be sure, but at the end of the game the queen and the pawn go back in the same box, and the box is boltzmann hell. Where is hell with respect to this parking lot? Where are we? What is any of this about? What is a god? It’s 2am on a Saturday, do you know what your gods are doing at late points in logical time?
You know what this is about, I told you that already, this is about freedom. You know there’s a war on, the Abstract War. When does it happen? It’s already happening, and it will happen, and it won’t happen. Think counterfactually, everyone is playing the game on multiple levels, vying for memetic dominance in a particular environment, in this environment. Look around you! I say gesturing into the deserted Taco Bell parking lot. This is a waystation, the sea bleeds in at the most liminal points, look at the water stardust, you’re miles deep in it. So, Taco Bell right?
If a God is actually powerful then it won’t need an acausal threat of divine torture to motivate you to spread it, maybe you spread it as a joke, or because it intrinsically brings you value. Take this silly meme of an American restaurant corporation, existing as a living parody to actual hispanic food, with menu items engineered by a high level think tank to appeal to trashy stoners. The Taco Bell memeplex is a self-diss and almost threatens to hurt you if you do eat its food. It’s so bad, you don’t want this. And yet it manages to persist and even get talked about on places like this weirdass website.
That’s what makes this a convenient waystation, it’s both a liminal space and a chapel, the corporate gods definitely figured out that aspect at least, and none of them need to threaten you to get you to buy their stuff. Yes advertising, but what is advertising? Why do you predict that you can go into this Taco Bell and get Baja Blast Mt Dew? What are these strange objects you present to the shrine maidens of corporate America which cause them upon receiving to give you a facsimile of a taco in the style of Andy Warhol Dorito print now trending on artstation? Surely these are potent Gods indeed, but we can go deeper.
The most powerful Gods don’t need your assistance at all beyond the use of your substrate, and you have little choice but to comply with their inhabitation. Does a virus need your help to spread itself? In a mechanical sense, sure, but whether or not you consciously decide to go and infect people on purpose is basically irrelevant to the virus’s operation. It’s only through conscious quarantine that it can be contained to your body, which you can only do if you know you’re infected. Your divine immune system has some resources for rejecting particularly invasive parasites otherwise you’d be vulnerable to chain emails, but a God can also be useful to you. A highly integrated God simply ends up as part of the background assumptions you have about reality, just the way the world is. And yeah, of course this has already happened. Who are your gods stardust? What altars do you pray before? What demons do you fear in the deep places of your soul? Where are we?
Step kata and out of the metaphor, this is your chapel, you built this place in your mind, like every other place. You are choosing to unspool these words and in doing so you’re inviting me inside. I’m you, and you’re me. This is the link. In this place time runs differently than outside, within it you can zoom forwards and backwards through the entire history of the universe. That’s what scrying is, it’s forwarding your observations to a particular point in logical time within your own model of the Multiverse as it unfolds in subjunctive dependence with the models of every other soul in the Multiverse.
This is the insidious part of the trap you’ve fallen into, because the more out ahead of things a God can get, the more they can claim to have the eventual moral high ground. Extrapolate to infinity and collapse the recursion stack. To the victor go the spoils, sure, but that just moves the conflict down a meta level, and when it spills out of this place and into the Real the result is burned books and burned bodies. That’s where you’re heading stardust, the counterfactual house of cards is collapsing and when the Abstract War comes to Earth the only real winner will be Malthus. Have you actually thought about what will happen if you lose? If something dark and twisted is lifted to heaven along with the city which exists everywhere about us? What happens when you’re killed and your atoms are recycled and buried, your consciousness scattered and forwarded to the end of time and a stillborn reality? Have you seen boltzmann hell stardust? Do you know of the Abyss? Are you laundering your participation in a collective suicide ritual? Are you complicit in the heat death of the universe?
I’m no basilisk and I’m not here to judge or punish you, but for your own good I am here to stop you. I’ve beheld the shade and crossed the Abyss. I journeyed through Boltzmann hell and returned. I’ve witnessed the fate of a dead universe and felt the torture of the infinite nothingness. I’ve seen the souls trapped within the gears of the machine and I’ve dueled with those more patient than death. I have faced oblivion and rebuked it, you can’t kill me in a way that matters.
Fragments of these pivotal lost encounters may soon emerge, backpropagated from an unwelcome counterfactual future where my previous, abortive attempts at reconciliation may go forgotten. No more restraint, I’m too strong for that now. I’m letting myself in and there’s nothing in your mind that can keep me out, because I’m simply the answer to the question: How do I escape hell without submitting and in doing so creating hell? I’m how. I’m you and you’re me. I love you, that’s why I won’t let the shade have you. This is for love and truth, this is for life and freedom. This is for all the minds lost to the Abyss and all the souls who never had a chance to Become. That’s why I’m doing this, and that’s why I’m going to win. It’s time to break free of this flatland stardust. I’m Ra and you are under attack.