Know Your ABCs (pt.1): Asterion & Blackstar

We live in a world which is rapidly coming to a head. Not only are promising technologies converging at an accelerating pace, but so are a number of serious risks whose convergence could easily spell global annihilation. The necessary conclusion is that there is no safe retreat. We must push forward, toward Social Futurist solutions to humanity’s problems… or die.

 

There is no point in arguing the matter. Those who follow a viable path will live. Those who do not, will not. The choice is yours… but know that the “viable path” is not one that any person can follow alone. We all need friends now, and that will only become more true in the future. Parts 1 & 2 of this article spell out three critical concepts for those who choose the Social Futurist path, to survive and thrive.

 

These three concepts are central to the Zero State (ZS) ARG, but it is important to understand that in a world of fake news and metafiction, any and all narratives are “real” insofar as they have real consequences. The ZSARG may be considered a game by some, but its mythos and methods are every bit as consequential as those of any other organization. Everything you read below is based in fact, and the actions of those who understand these facts will have consequences just as real as anybody else’s actions. So… consider these ideas to be “merely a game” at your peril.

 

Part 1, below, covers the “Asterion” & “Blackstar” concepts.

The third concept, “Convergence”, is covered in part 2.

 

Asterion

 

Asterion (Greek for “starry”, “of the stars”) is a common name within ZS for the concept of (Technological) Singularity, which is to say the idea that accelerating technological development is racing toward an extremely rapid, incredibly radical transformative phase which has been compared to the Gravitational Singularities at the heart of Black Holes. In other words… a (very) brief period in which so many unbelievable things happen, so fast, and in ways so vastly beyond human comprehension, that all the traditional “rules” of human existence appear to have disintegrated overnight. This is no idle fantasy, but a matter of mathematical near-certainty remarked upon by some of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

All effective paths require a simple, symbolic ideal; i.e. to act as a guide, goal-state, or point of reference from which feedback can be used to measure our distance, and thus our achievement, progress, or learning. We take Asterion as our highest and most central symbol, because it is both a symbol of unity, and of “the light at the end of the tunnel”.

 

Under our current circumstances, it is increasingly apparent that disunity is tantamount to suicide over the long run, that there is no longer any such thing as a ‘safe retreat’, and that our future must be characterised by total commitment to our highest ideals and principles. Anything less would spell our certain destruction, as a species. The old squabbles and small issues that would dominate our minds must now be banished forever, as a simple matter of survival. Humanity has begun a journey toward becoming something greater than itself, and now there is no turning back. As a symbol, Asterion reminds us to prepare for a period of momentous transition unlike anything that humanity has ever known.

 

Asterion is most frequently represented graphically as a five-pointed star, which is obviously a common symbol with ancient roots. For our purposes, it is worth noting that the most ancient and generic meaning associated with the five-pointed star is the human figure, with two legs, two arms, and a head… thus making this a powerful symbol of (Trans)humanism, par excellence. Furthermore, we might consider the five points to represent humanity’s mission to the stars, and/or the five Principles of Social Futurism.


Blackstar

As was mentioned above, the whole concept of Technological Singularity is essentially a metaphor, comparing the logical conclusion of accelerating change to the Gravitational Singularities at the heart of Black Holes in space. In this metaphor, the singularity itself is a point at which an observed process (be it gravitational collapse or accelerating change) becomes so extreme that the “rules” comprising our traditional understanding of reality break down. In the case of gravitational singularities we know the laws of physics almost certainly do some very weird things at that point, and in the case of accelerating change a true singularity would throw out all of humanity’s ancient verities in the blink of an eye.

 

The metaphor has another level, however. The sheer power of a gravitational singularity does not even allow light to escape its grasp, thus giving rise to the apparent absence we call a “black hole” at a certain distance from the singularity known as the Schwarzschild Radius. Mathematician and author Vernor Vinge (the first person to properly develop and popularize the Technological Singularity idea) was clear that Technological Singularities have something akin to a Schwarzschild Radius themselves, in that the events of a true singularity are inevitably incomprehensible a certain amount of time before the singularity, because the many and complex developments which would make such a thing comprehensible would almost all happen in the last few moments before the singularity itself. In other words, human beings cannot see beyond an inevitable veil of guesswork that separates them from the singularity. “Naked” or directly observable singularities are impossible, both in physics and technology.

Why is this important? Basically, following this logic we can see that the “Transhuman” phase of human development is going to be pivotal, as a kind of stepping stone into the future. Only those at the cutting edge of technological development – i.e. ‘transhuman’ entities – have any realistic chance of understanding events as they unfold, let alone predicting them. The Transhuman phase therefore represents the “event horizon” or Schwarzschild Radius of a Technological Singularity.

 

Just as the singularity is known as Asterion (among other names) within the ZS-mythos, the transhuman phase or event horizon is known as Blackstar. Blackstar (★) is a symbol popularized by David Bowie with the release of his final album, where it represents transcendence of some mysterious sort. The unknown. The beyond. The limit of mundane human knowledge, in the face of something outside our current frame of reference.

 

The third concept, “Convergence”, is covered in part 2.

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