“Take all the planets in a star system and dismantle them,” she explains. “Turn them into dust—structured nanocomp, powered by heat exchangers, spread in concentric orbits around the central star. The inner orbitals run close to the melting point of iron, the outer ones are cold as liquid nitrogen, and each layer runs off the waste heat of the next shell in. It’s like a Russian doll made out of Dyson spheres, shell enclosing shell enclosing shell, but it’s not designed to support human life. It’s computronium, matter optimized at the atomic level to support computing, and they’re...
“Simple old-fashioned death, the kind that predated the singularity, used to be the inevitable halting state for all life-forms. Fairy tales about afterlives notwithstanding.”
Human consciousness is vulnerable to certain types of transmissible memetic virus, and religions that promise life beyond death are a particularly pernicious example because they exploit our natural aversion to halting states.”
“Now, consciousness. That’s a fun thing, isn’t it? Product of an arms race between predators and prey. If you watch a cat creeping up on a mouse, you’ll be able to impute to the cat intentions that are most easily explained by the cat having a theory of mind concerning the mouse—an internal simulation of the mouse’s likely behavior when it notices the predator. Which way to run, for example. And the cat will use its theory of mind to optimize its attack strategy. Meanwhile, prey species that are complex enough to have a theory of mind are at a defensive advantage if they can anticipate...
Note: Theory of mind, mental models, umwelt