Editorial Fridays by Troy David Loy 23.6.17 Squirrels Crossing the Street and Selective Thinking

On my way to work this last Monday, I couldn’t help but notice that it seemed as if squirrels at the side of the road would wait until the van was almost upon them before rushing across the street in a mad suicidal dash.

Would it be valid to think that the local squirrel population was hell-bent on destroying itself, or that the presence of an oncoming vehicle made them risk their lives in this manner, to become road pizza? I suspect not, fortunately for the majority of the urban tree-dwelling wildlife gene pool.

It turns out that I was engaging in a sort of self-deception known as confirmation bias, and since the sight of small animals running across the street stands out more than the vast majority that don’t rush out in front of oncoming traffic, it’s easier to notice and remember, as per the following observation by Francis Bacon:

It is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives.

Events that are more cognitively important, and forgetting, for not having paid much attention to those fauna that stay off the road, is a typical example of this error.

Confirmation bias is a form of selective thinking in which one remembers, closely considers, or looks for information that affirm a belief, and forgetting, dismissing, ignoring or downplaying data that contradict it. It’s the human tendency to ‘count the hits and ignore the misses,’ and something we all do if we aren’t careful.

So, if I document my observations of the road on the way to work more carefully, and go back over them later, it speaks much better for the survival instincts of the local squirrels that they aren’t risking their lives to become roadkill as much as they seem to be through casual observation.

Editorial Fridays by Troy David Loy 16.6.17 Lyapunov’s Children The Matryoshka

Jupiter is no more, dismantled for the Project, itself ongoing for over a century now. It was stripped of its atmosphere and its metallic hydrogen inner layer, leaving only its rocky core, that being heavily mined for materials as I speak.
Saturn will soon follow, along with Uranus and Neptune. Soon, maybe within my lifetime, there will remain only the small rocky planets, dwarf planets, and planetesimals.

Even the sun has been mined, its store of fuel greatly reduced along with its mass. It is now an M-class red dwarf star, with its luminosity diminished and its lifespan vastly increased. It should last for trillions of years more.

My name is unimportant, but what matters is the completion of the Project: the species has embarked on this venture, to construct a series of concentric shells around the sun, tap its energy, and use this to power the largest single habitation and computer humanity has ever seen. The power output will be beamed across the solar system, our ability to process data beyond the wildest imaginings of millennia ago.

But with the larger worlds to be dismantled, what of our heritage? What of their value to science?

We shall build our first Matrioshka brain, a computer surrounding the sun, layers within layers, sustained by its light, powering our civilization, housing billions of virtual worlds, and built on the corpses of planets.

But at what cost despite the benefits? What of our sense of wonder and exploration, the spirit, the soul, of our race?

Or it is to instead become our soul, enclosing the sun and damping its radiance forever?

Editorial Fridays by Troy David Loy 9.6.17 Lyapunov’s Children: Beyond the Ganges of the Sky

Sandeep woke for another day, his home for ten years now a small farming colony on a planet in the halo, far above the galactic disk.

It had taken many generations in relative time even at near-light velocity to travel this far out from the ancient home of his distant ancestors, and there was much danger along the way.

But the massive colony ship, even with the repairs needed as parts wore out or were damaged by accident or collision, somehow did its job of getting its crew there.

This world was the moon of a brown dwarf, a failed star more massive than even long-lost Jupiter in the now fabled solar system of Old Earth.

The sky was dark, but warm, and supported the crops that so far have sustained the colony, cultivated forests of engineered fungi and others not dependent on the visible light of a host star to grow and flourish.

It was morning for Sandeep, and he greeted each morning with a look skyward, beholding the entire disk of the galaxy in its full glory.

Sandeep rolled up the sleeves of his coveralls. He began the day, as always, with a sight he never tired of . . . a morning filled with four hundred billion suns, and a wistful glance toward a home long ago left behind.

Time to go to work!

Editorial Fridays by Troy David Loy 2.6.17 Gods of Terra Notes n Thoughts on the Magna

The third of the four wielders of the Prime hypershards is perhaps the most complex, with a tragic past and a bright future in store for her in further fiction.

The Magna was a particularly spirited adolescent girl living on a farm in what is now known as West Bengal, India. That is, before she was taken by the Kai’Siri and made into a weapon of mass-extinction with not one, but two hypershards.

She was born Agni Bose, with a hyperseed, an undeveloped, nascent hypershard in her brain.

This unfolded and grew, like origami sculpture, as she did. It was a unique, uncorrupted one which the Kai’Siri used to track her via the shard’s terahertz emissions.

This was also to prove instrumental in gaining her freedom.

She lived her entire old life on Earth unaware she had even it, but it was only with the implantation of one of the Prime shards, retooled as a means of controlling her with an artificial personality.

This persona overlaid her own, crafted to serve the Kai’Siri under the delusion that she herself was of that human species, even to the surgically implanted fangs for cosmetic purposes. This persona had walled off her memories with its own, convinced that her first duty was for Empire,

Exarchs, and People – the Kai’Siri people – not the Bengali of Earth she actually was!

It was only with her own true persona gathering strength over time that she was able to subvert the possession implant, her second hypershard. She then reprogrammed it from within and gained her freedom on her last mission by causing herself to hallucinate the termination of her target, the giant planet Bruticus. Convinced of her mission’s success despite its actual failure
(she spared Bruticus), she regained her own persona and turned against her masters.

Now, she lives and wanders the universe as the second Herald of Sarusammog of the Gates, adopted sibling of the Tempest. She has a grim past, as a former apocalyptic weapon. She was the most successful subject of the Enforcer Prime program, the last ever fielded before the project was shut down. But she has much ahead of her, with much to do, places to go, and things to meet.