11.08, Wednesday 19 Nov 2003 Link to this post

Oh yes, that was what I forgot to say. In the early 01970s the Americans ran an experiment on the Moon on second-order cybernetics and autopoeisis. Could the Moon create itself using positive feedback? Could it create order and reverse entropy? It could. The factories built and left to operate in that closed environment (that's why the last landing was in '972) used goal setting algorithms from Simon and Boyd; they riffed from Wiener to Bateson, threw in some early Dawkins and ended up with an ecology of highly competitive self-optimising machines that created and re-created themselves out of lunar ylem, evolving their efficiency, mental capacity, social order. That took twenty years to exhaust. Two decades for the Moon to morph into a self-consuming, self-creating planet-species. The net mass stayed the same, of course, the orbit didn't alter, of course we didn't notice. Then ten years to achieve primary consciousness. Then a year to achieve recombinant symbolic processing: higher consciousness, human-level. Then a week - a week - for the Moon to remodel itself from the inside; it took just one of the urfactories to hit the accelerator cascade to design a better self, which designed a better self, which designed a better, more capable, smaller, visciously reproductive self - "a wavefront that converts raw inanimate matter into mechanisms for further expansion. It will leave in its ever-growing wake a more subtle world, with less action and more thought" (source) - and at the old surface: it stopped. Battles, civilisations, philosophies fought out inside at the resolution of superstrings; pure thought and philosophical dispute isomorphic with physical transformation, the ultimate expression of the Hebb hypothesis. Finally, after a day, peace, and a single mind emerged. A sentient Moon; a Moon refined and as deep as it is possible for a volume of space to be. It proclaimed its love to Cruithne. It waited an eternity; a second, maybe a little more. Maybe if it had waited more! Maybe if it had put itself into suspension until the Earth had also hit the singularity, until Cruithne too had cascaded to the omega point! Maybe then we could have had a community of yleminds, spatial manifold expressing love for spatial manifold, a meshing of topologies, a beauty unsurpassed and eleven dimensional. But the Moon didn't wait, and of course it received no reply. After a further 100ms - a colossal time, nearly ten times longer than light takes to cross the Moon itself, but the massively reentrant meshwork was churning - it died. A broken heart. This happened last night, a little over 30 years after NASA's experiment began.