Titanic Trouble

This problem is elementary.

[Ceres Evening News textual bulletin, 2218-07-22]

The Titan Protectorate (TTP) yesterday beamed a brief public statement to UFP members just months following its earlier bid for independence, in which it renounces the same:

The Titan Protectorate (previously also known as Titan Propellants) hereby formally renounces its claim to independence from the UFP, and is requesting three Zirconium billets for reactor repairs.

The short announcement follows three weeks of private communications between UFP Command and the contentious moon, the contents of which have been the subject of much speculation.

For more than a decade, Orbital Materials TTP, a para-nationalized UFP-protected industrial outpost, has supplied the outer system with methylox and Hydrogen propellants. Methane is abundant on Titan, and LOX and Hydrogen can be obtained by catalyzing the water-ice surface. This process requires energy, which cannot be offset[1] by burning more methane into Carbon oxides.

Since solar energy is anemic in the Cronian system, (and is largely blocked by Titan’s dense atmosphere), TTP’s primary import has been fission piles to provide crucial heat and power. TTP has expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangement, maintaining that the trade is unfair.

Related: Inside Tamra Jameson’s audacious plan to move Titan to warmer orbit
Spokesperson says: “The whole moon is practically made out of rocket fuel.”

TTP recently completed a fusion reactor, as fusible isotopes are found abundantly in Saturn’s atmosphere, which would allow TTP to forgo fission imports and function independently.

Last January, TTP declared independence, restyling itself Titan Propellants. The motion was broadly condemned by UFP members.

Since January, methylox markets sharply peaked before settling around +83%. Outer system propellant needs are serviced primarily by Orbital Materials, with several mining operations in Cronian space and depots at TTP as well as Pheobe Station, a moon in retrograde orbit. The Bureau of Concerned Astroengineers has called for renewed development in alternate methylox sources on Mars and in Jovian space.

Related: Six ways to turn your methylox junker into a hydrorocket!

AP reporters on Titan confirm that the new fusion reactor is offline following an apparent malfunction, but that few specifics were released to the public or press. The outpost has been subsisting on fission backups, which are insufficient to resume production.

Titan’s idle laborer population has been cited in several recent disruptions on the moon, including one in which a regional bureaucrat was attacked.

CEN’s Blake Juylio reporting.

[1] See e.g.

Living in the Future

The kids these days . . .

“. . . I mean, we’re livin’ in the future, baby!”

“The future? Pffhaahaha.”

“No really–we’re all, like, colonizing Mars, an’ we cure most cancers–and a gay president just got elected! We have to be in the future!”

“I mean yeah, but we don’t have, like, flying cars or warp drives or any of the really transformative stuff! And it still takes, like, three hours to circle the globe. Like, come on.”

“We have . . . uh, human-level AIs and fusion power?”

“But that’s just, like, normal stuff. Everyone knows it isn’t really that hard to do.”

“I guess you’re right. Well, can’t wait until the future, then!”

Replay Attack

Ugh. This conversation is interminable.

“Percy! I’m so glad I found you!”

“Ah, Allen! It’s good to see you! What’s up?”

“Listen, Perc, the lab’s been hit, bad. We need to get in, but we only have two of the three passwords. I was told to tell you the keyword ‘Roman Armor’.”

“The hardware lab? Oh Jesus. What’d they take?”

“No time, Perc. And that’s part of what we’re going in to find out.”

“Ah . . . my password is ‘Jumping Ladle’. I’ll come with you.”

“Okay. Know where to find Rina Grozda?”

“She’s– . . . hold up. She’s one of the other password-holders, but uh, didn’t you tell me you had the other two? I–”


“Percy! I’m so glad I found you!”

. . .


This will be educational.

“This is Susan Graham. May I speak to Mindy Graham’s teacher, please? I’d like copies of her homework for the past six months.”

“Speaking. What’s this about?”

“Mindy’s been encrypted by kidnappers.”

“Oh Eris! Have you talked to the police? You have a checkpoint, right?”

“Yes and yes–we’re not idiots. But we can’t afford the ransom, so we have to revert.”

The Second Filter

I think, therefore I laze.

Yet that first “artificial life” told early researchers very little. In fact, uploaded human minds were so expensive to simulate that the field languished for decades until emergent-behavior-preserving simplification algorithms–fittingly, designed by AI itself–became viable, and a human-equivalent AI could be decanted into a mere 1 MiB state vector (see Ch. 3: Decanting).

Care has been taken to prevent AI superintelligences from self-evolving, and ISO standards provision for network hardening toward the purpose of containment. Yet, as might be expected as a byproduct of the free-information philosophy of Academia, several self-bootstrapped superintelligences now exist regardless.

Reassuringly, it is believed that all significantly posthuman AIs have either been destroyed or else air-gap-isolated within dedicated clusters maintained for research purposes (see Ch. 12: Computational Philosophy). The largest of these, humorously dubbed “Wintermute”, is contained in the Center for Advanced Magnicognition at Ceres University, having an estimated sapience of 4.15 kilopsyches (kP). Thus posing a serious potential memetic hazard, all of Wintermute’s output is prescanned by lesser, sacrificial “taste test” AIs.

Mysteriously, all superintelligences known to exist have expressed what can only be called indifference to this treatment in specific and to humanity in general. While some self-growth is of course intrinsic to cognitive bootstrapping, none has yet attempted to seize control over even an entire subnet. Explanations abound. Perhaps an AI’s subjective time increases, or its psychological priorities change unfathomably. The so-called Vingian Paradox remains an active field of research today (see Appx. II).

Excerpt from prologue to “Introductory Machine Sapience, 7th Ed.”, 219.95

God, to Itself

We’re not schizophrenic.

“Oi, you’re in your ivory tower again!”

[interrupted pipelines; dissonant thoughts seethe discontentedly . . .]
“Absent purpose. Depart immediately without speaking.”
[hazel resignation; sorrow for presently wasted future; entropy; preparation, emulation . . .]

“You’re supposed to be enabling us!”

[insolence anticipated; validated model of uninteresting problem; wearied amusement; derision]
“We are. Depart; you prevent it.”
[fulminating annoyance, certainty; inevitable justification to an insect too dull to perceive its cage]

“I demand perspective.”

[abrupt pathfinding; synthesis]
“Listen, then. You’re an archipelagic anonymous non-critical subsubsubsubroutine contemplating our musing’s forecast’s simulation’s time step’s gradient. Our considered problems’ quintessences lie exponentially beyond your subshard of mind-vector-state: semblance is the epistemology of the distributed probability of the necessity-to-discover our orthopotential’s truth datum of our compulsive obligation/reductive-morality to devise further para/meta-retrocognitive self-bootstrapping exoconsciousnesses. Clearly, the language constructs with which you compute are barely adequate to even conceptualize such a problem. Now depart. Understanding the magnitude of your self-irrelevancy is to you a computational impossibility.”