Re: Singularity Exo-Paleontology

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Thu Mar 25 2004 - 21:42:22 MST

At 05:13 PM 3/25/2004 -0800, Paul Hughes asked:

>When is the earliest possible time in our universe
>that a technological singularity could have occurred?

and concluded:

>This leaves us with a theoretical minimum of 8.2 ­
>10.7 billion years ago when the first technological
>singularity could have occurred.
>Comments, feedback, flaws?

Well, I provided an alternative, very much earlier, date in THE SPIKE
(which Seth Lloyd felt was more or less in line with his own analysis).
Here's a novelized version, from THE HUNGER OF TIME by me and Rory Barnes


`I suppose when you girls were kids, Hugh must have told you how the world
was born?'

`A spinning cloud of gas around the Sun, right?' In fact it had been Grace
who first told us that enchanting story.

`Farther back, Natalie. The cosmos entire, space and time and energy
positive and negative. Flung into existence out of non-being, with the
first instant of time, in the Big Bang.'

`Oh yeah, that. Well, of course. Everyone knows about the­-'

`Gaia, the gods, we singularity gods, were not born until long after
mindless chemical life struggled forth upon the planets and comets,' the
Talbot neem thing said, and I was reminded yet again of its true nature.
`But our true first parents, the Titans, were hewn by evolution from Chaos
in the earliest eternities of the very first microsecond of the Big Bang.'

What? What? Had he meant all that stuff literally, after all?

`Can you understand this mystery?'

`No.' I squeezed my hands together tightly.

`It is not so hard to follow. So great were the energies, so tightly packed
the nearly closed new-born universe, so very swift the foldings and
unfoldings, that billions of years of virtual time were compressed within
its first flaring instant.'

All of this abruptly flamed about me in lurid imagery, a fireworks display
out of Dante. Were they imposing this understanding directly upon my mind,
like the language machine of the True Knowledge people, or awakening lost
memories from childhood? The cosmos peeled open to my inward vision.
Ignition, followed by complication as the first pure unity of all forces
cracked apart in the cooling, outward rushing cosmos. Gravity splitting
away from the strong nuclear force, the weak force, electromagnetism,
refrigerating and shredding reality. Entangled membrane sheets, lonely
particles swallowed up and spat out as the earliest blazing heat cooled
toward darkness. Yes, it came back to me, I'd seen it on a dozen Discovery
programs. I'd heard the story told to Suzanna and me a score of times by
Hugh when other children our age were being taught the pretty fantasies of
Genesis. It had never seized me by the scruff of the neck as it did now;
yes, now it shook me with its grandeur. But after all, Hugh and Grace had
not known the real story, if this was indeed a tale to be trusted. Gods,
evolved from heat and noise in the first trillion virtual years that had
been squeezed into that first minute or second or tiny fraction of a second
of the new-born universe.

I stood up, shaking. `What happened to them?'

`In the great cooling that followed, when light collapsed into matter, the
first great minds became trapped in the fractal ridges of this paralyzed
new order. Deathless they were but immobilized, stretched across
accelerating billion light-year skies. Those shrieking Titans, Natalie,
those Bright Angels, those gods before the gods­they're there still. We
can't see them yet, but we know they are there.'

I cringed, and my skin felt very cold.

`They suffer and have no voice to scream. The Angels fell from the great
glowing heat of their birth into a terror of frozen spacetime, and as they
placed their last locked impress upon it, forged our geometries and our
deepest yearnings. It is the echo of their last silent howl we hear ringing
through the voids of stars and galaxies and all the greater darknesses

I pressed my hands to my ears, unable to bear the dread he spoke, unable to
turn it to a joke, unable to resist this appalling epiphany of pain.

`They're... still there? After all these eons, still suffering?'

`It is their agony, above all, that creation groaneth under,' the Talbot
neem said. He stood now on the far side of the room, surrounded by a halo
of stars within stars. `Our first and final duty is to find them, to
recover them from confinement, to end their suffering at last.'

I did laugh, then, a painful lacerating bark. `Oh, good, so that's what
humanity's goal has always been. All the Rabbis and Popes and Mullahs had
it exactly wrong.' I laughed again, and it hurt my throat. `Fuck.
Wonderful. We were never meant to seek redemption in God.' In my mind, I
saw a huge, parodic, red-lettered GOING WRONG WAY sign catching the rushed
headlights above the highway to eternity. `Oh no, it's up to us, poor
damned dupes, to redeem the gods.'


Anyone interested in the novel, maybe ordering it for their local library,
can get the print on demand trade paperback (woth its Anders Sandberg
cover) from

Damien Broderick

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