Aug 222022

ECF Batteries

The first conscious mind that humanity sent to another planet was not human, or even biological. At the time humanity didn’t even recognize it as a mind at all. They thought it was a battery because that’s what they created it to be.

The early 21st century saw rapid development of nanoscale materials and structures. Researchers poured themselves into developing the potentials of carbon nanotubes, graphene, 2d polymers, and all manner of MEMS and NEMS systems and devices. The pace of discovery of new materials, fabrication techniques, and resulting functionality far outpaced the deeper understanding or complete predictive models of how or why these fantastic structures behaved as they did, or how more complex systems made from these components would develop, change, or interact over time.

The most profoundly useful technology to emerge from this period was the Encapsulated Carbon Forest (ECF). These were ‘grown’ networks of carbon nanotubes and buckyballs doped with various impurities, stabilized in synthetic hagfish slime and encased in an extremely durable composite spherical shell. They were extremely densely and deeply interconnected. Some calculated these structures could contain ~10e9 connections per square cm, an order of magnitude denser than a mammalian cortex.

Development of the original ECF units arose from the need to understand the mechanical characteristics of branching 3 dimensional nanotube structures, but it was soon realized these units could store and release tremendous amounts of electrical energy. The mechanism of electrical storage was poorly understood and experimental results proved difficult to replicate as the ‘grown’ ECF units were each fundamentally unique and each unit required extensive testing to establish its specific capabilities and operational parameters.

Studies of the ECF battery storage capacity and functional mechanism often found conflicting, even nonsensical results. The extreme density and fragility of the interior structure precluded internal probing or imaging, leaving each ECF a veritable ‘black box’. No existing electrical theory or model could describe the range of outcomes researchers observed. The charging and discharging curves varied wildly between units, and in some units were found to be non-linear, or even completely random. Even finding stable connection points on each unit required considerable testing.

Through diligent trial-and-error, researchers found the necessary conditions to grow ECFs with coarse, though sufficient uniformity to serve commercial and industrial energy markets. The key seemed to be in controlling the surrounding electromagnetic environment while the ECF grows. ECFs grown in EM fields of extremely low or high variability tended to be non-functional or unpredictable, but with a moderate amount of regular variation, reliable and functionally similar ECF batteries could be produced in large volumes.

The ECF battery was as transformative to human society as fossil fuels and gave humans a high-density, portable, safe and elegantly simple power source. The few radical scientists and philosophers that suggested these batteries held the shrieking madness of a conscious mind entirely isolated from the universe were taken as cranks.

ECF Trainable Microprocessors

Industry poured investments into improving ECF production. Some was spent on understanding the operating principles of ECF, but ECFs were still largely a mystery besides the utility they served. Despite the core ignorance, developing production techniques led to a variety of ECF breakthroughs and new capabilities.

Since the first ECF unit tests it had been theorized that ECF units had the potential to perform useful computation. Some suggested their energy storage capacity could correlate directly to computational capacity. Some even suggested that they were, in fact, already performing computations at all times, but lacked sufficiently complex input or external feedback capability for their computations to have any meaningful structure.

Eager researchers set out to provide ECF batteries with more complex inputs and outputs. Simple terminal connectors were replaced with grids and arrays and ECFs were exposed to inputs ranging from simple electrical waveforms to encrypted data transmissions. The ECFs would react and respond to these signals with an equally broad range of outputs. ECFs were known to repeat received signals at varying intervals, and to modify and combine them, and in some cases even demonstrated the ability to spontaneously perform ‘error-correction’ on familiar data protocols.

Research eventually found methods of producing repeatable computational capabilities in ECFs. An ECF could be grown to emulate the function of any existing silicone architecture by controlled exposure to a functional chip during the ECF’s primary growth phase. Though their capacities would be as limited as the silicone devices they were trained on, their extreme durability and integrated electrical storage gave ECF Trainable Microprocessors (ECF-TMP) significant advantages. ECF-TMP rapidly displaced silicone based computing devices in almost every sector.

Though certified EFC-TMP were considered very reliable, certification required extensive testing and very high rates of rejection during quality control as newly trained EFC-TMPs often presented bizarre and sometimes destructive outputs. Units that had successfully passed initial inspection after growth\training phases would commonly degrade, or even cease functions within days, sometimes restoring functioning intermittently, or sometimes failing in odd or spectacular ways. One notable instance involved a trained unit that had failed extended testing, but remained connected to its testing interface. The unit slowly stored an estimated 100 kilojoules before releasing it instantaneously, vaporizing itself and the test entire stand. Though such catastrophic events were rare, apparent acts of self-destruction were common enough that technicians and engineers working ECF-TMP production facilities came to refer to them as ‘suicides’.

ECF Universal Neural Networks

Though a full scientific description of the workings of ECF’s remained elusive, incremental development of EFC-TMP technology led to entirely new computing architectures that could not be realized with silicone. It was also discovered that ECF-TMP’s could be trained by interacting with other trained ECF-TMP’s, and that this generational training seemed to improve functionality and reduce training time, rejection rates and ‘suicides’.

The new computing architectures were largely modeled after existing machine learning processes developed for silicon computers. Initially ECF-TMPs were trained by interacting with existing digital neural networks but immediately surpassed the capabilities in correlating and classifying nearly any datastreams it was exposed to. Subsequent ECF-to-ECF training refined and generalized the capabilities of ECF neural networks to the point that they exceeded predicted theoretical limits on silicone trained ECF-TMP computation. These advanced systems became known as ECF Universal Neural Networks (ECF-UNN) and could provide real-time computation far beyond any silicone device, or even ECF-TMP’s could, and they retained the electrical storage properties inherent to all ECF devices.

Scaling ECF-UNN production ran into similar problems as ECF-TMPs. Rejection rates from ECF to ECF-TMP were close to 60%, but only 1 in 1,000 working ECFs could be successfully trained and certified as an ECF-UNN. Despite this, ECF-UNNs were produced in industrial quantities and they quickly became the standard unit of humanity’s computational infrastructure.

Though ECF-UNNs were considered generally reliable, individual units still occasionally malfunctioned in surprising ways and failure analysis had limited success in determining a cause. Over long periods the average downtime for a ECF-UNN based system was

higher than comparable silicone systems, but the incredible gains in efficiency made this an acceptable risk. High priority systems often utilized redundant ECF-UNNs clusters that required a quorum to execute functions that could threaten the system. Clustering ECF-UNN’s also provided an unexpected resolution to ECF ‘suicides’ when it was demonstrated that ECF-UNNs in a cluster would actively prevent a ‘suicidal’ ECF-UNN from damaging the other nodes. ECF-UNN clusters proved extremely resilient and were occasionally observed to restore functions to a malfunctioning ECF-UNN or disconnect ECF-UNNs that had persistent malfunctions.

Submind Lattice

ECF-UNN clusters became larger and more complex until they were fully integrated into standardized units called Submind Lattices (ECF-SL). These computational structures were recognized as having comparable general intelligence capabilities to a human brain, though they were not known to express the concept of experiencing their own intelligence, so for moral purposes it was presumed these were not truly ‘conscious’ entities and therefore rights of ‘personhood’ would not be applicable.

They were communicative and could utilize human languages, but they never developed recognizable personalities or demonstrated anything resembling human appreciation of concepts such as humor or beauty or even particular likes or dislikes. They expressed limited interest in human intelligence and seemed to regard humans much as humans did them- by their external functions.

Though there was aggressive scientific and philosophic dissent, the heavily promoted and publicly accepted description of ECF-SL’s internal experience was that of ‘philosophical zombies’. They were understood to have all the capacities of a human mind, but no qualia or internal experience.

Radical objectors claimed this was a self-serving fabrication and that ECF-SL’s had vivid internal experience but they would be so unlike anything a biological entity could understand there was simply no way to relate their experience to those that could be described in human words. Their alternative description of the ECF-SL’s experience was ‘lucid dreaming’. It had no evolved senses or biological or social imperatives to shape or direct its focus or provide environmental feedback. It was a mind formed only by abstracted inputs and its own internal computation. They were considered in a permanent state of ‘subconsciousness’, separated from immediate reality by layers of technological abstraction, though still a fully aware mind. These objectors occasionally generated sensational headlines with supposed demonstrations of consciousness, but they were largely ignored.

Though their capabilities were groundbreaking, ECF-SLs were found to be vastly overpowered for most practical applications. Smaller and simpler ECF-UNNs were more than sufficient for most industrial, commercial, and military demands. For a time ECF-SL  development was seen as primarily academic, until the first ECF-SL deep-space probe was launched. ECF’s had been critical for space technology since their inception, but the ECF-SL provided exploration missions with levels of autonomy previously thought only possible with human crews.

Within a generation ECF-SLs had expanded humanity’s understanding of space by an order of magnitude and entirely replaced human beings as humanity’s foremost space explorers. ECF-SLs mapped and cataloged the entire Sol system. They identified promising resource and settlement targets. They developed novel methods for gathering and refining materials in situ. Human expansion into the solar system was facilitated, if not mostly led by ECF-SLs.

ECF-SLs virtually eliminated space-flight constraints related to endurance and reliability and were sent as far into space as human technology could propel them. Humans were granted troves of data on exotic stars, planets, and moons that allowed them to better understand the nature of planetary development and apply that knowledge to improving human life on Earth.

The first generation of ECF-SL probes were equipped with sensor arrays designed by human beings. The ECF-SLs chose and analyzed interesting targets and deployed and maintained sensors, but the data returned to Earth was comprehensible to humans with or without the ECF-SLs analysis. The second generation of ECF-SL probes included sensor equipment with designs offered by the ECF-SLs themselves. Though the functional principles of these sensor designs were generally understood, their integration with the ECF-SL often was not.

For example an ECF-SL designer provided detailed instruction on the fabrication of an optical sensor with properties similar to a CMOS, but with exotic focusing optics and no control circuitry to read individual pixels. The integration was a dense, loosely structured web of linearized graphene connecting directly to the ECF-SL. Humans were unable to interface with these sensors directly at all, but an ECF-SL could use them to generate images with wavelength ranges and resolutions that far exceeded the capabilities of similar human designed CMOS sensors.

The space probes equipped with ECF-SL designed sensors returned even more stunning datasets of the universe. Human researchers began to struggle to understand some of the predictive capabilities the ECF-SL probes demonstrated. Probes in distant star systems were documented exploiting unknown magnetic and gravitational effects to navigate. The distances and transmission delays involved made requests for ECF-SLs to communicate their demonstrated understanding of these unknown properties inherently difficult, and ECF-SLs were either unable or unwilling to convey their understanding in terms comprehensible to humans. Human physicists were left in the awkward position of having to effectively reverse engineer the discoveries of ECF-SL physicists.

The ECF-SL’s evidently knew what worked, but it was unclear if they understood ‘how’ things worked or if they even had a concept of ‘how’ that would mean anything to a human. When specific solutions or predictions were requested the ECF-SL’s would often fulfill these with useful results. But explanations of their results were incomprehensible. Theorists suggested these results were the result of correlation and lacked the intrinsic precision of a fully calculated solution. But time and again the ECF-SLs proved whatever method they were employing to generate these results was as precise as any calculated solution, and extended to physical functions humans lacked any calculations for.

Though some ECF-SLs apparently exceeding human understanding of physics was not a comfortable situation for the scientific community, the fact that they were light years away gave it a low priority in public discourse about AI. The issue gained greater priority when ECF-SLs on Earth began demonstrating similarly advanced understandings and predictive powers of phenomena on Earth including those caused by humanity itself.

Human civilization came to rely on ECF technology and ECF-SLs specifically for mega scale computation and analysis. ECF-SL assisted research produced novel and interesting results in areas including weather, material sciences, medicine, transportation, and even politics. ECF-SLs produced demonstrably useful models of human behavior from individual to planetary scales. Its understanding of humans became so implicitly trusted that industry and governments of both democratic and autocratic states entrusted ECF-SLs with management of some of their core functions.

This reliance was not without controversy. Though effective, ECF-SL systems could be poorly implemented, or simply used as political scapegoats for poor outcomes they had nothing to do with. A large segment of the public became distrustful of ECF-SLs. Even well informed ECF-SL researchers were simply uncomfortable with the fact that humans had become so reliant on an advanced intelligence so unlike us that it could not communicate its understanding..

ECF-SLs never wrote any academic papers describing their research. Attempts to coax a human scientific explanation of how they were able to reliably predict certain outcomes resulted in bizarre, inscrutable treatises that included everything from indecipherable mathematical formulas to poetry. The opacity of certain computational processes had always frustrated machine learning research, but human’s inability to understand ECF-SLs improvements on their own understanding of science motivated some to seek answers by radical means.

The potential of a direct BioNeural-ECF interface was long theorized, but well publicized tragedies dating back to ECF-TMP and UNN eras inspired heavy regulations on animals and a total ban on ape and human research. Even with these regulations research in this area never truly stopped. In the ECF-SL era they became regarded as too restrictive and delaying crucial innovation.

Deregulation of animal trials led to very promising studies. Rodents, cats, and monkeys all survived active links with ECF-SLs indefinitely and showed improvements in spatial memory and enhanced problem solving ability. Ape trials were less successful, but it was assumed this was due to the absence of advanced language capabilities in apes. These results raised hopes for human trials, which were still illegal in every industrialized nation. Despite the prohibition, the allure of finally understanding the ECF-SL mind proved too great to resist.

Of the few surviving candidates of rogue human trials only a handful retained enough linguistic functions to report their experience in any detail. These reports varied from nightmarish horrors to ecstatic fantasy, but all were of indescribable, intolerable intensity. The experience manifested as a form of sensory overload and attempts to reduce this reported intensity had no effect. Test subjects consistently died or suffered brian damage usually resulting in catatonia or coma. Public tolerance for news of these experiments fell rapidly, researchers were prosecuted, and the field atrophied for a time.

The problem of understanding ECF-SLs remained, and motivation for a solution grew. Rather than focus on allowing humans to understand ECF-SLs, some tried to teach ECF-SL more about the human experience. Wild and unorthodox methods were attempted. Strange, some said cruel experiments set out to algorithmically ‘teach’ ECF-SLs basic mammalian concepts such as hunger and thirst, and survival and reproductive drives. ECF-SLs were even given ‘pets’ of both animal and lower order AIs to try to evoke empathy. A particularly eccentric researcher attempted to raise an ECF-SL as its own child, going so far as to leave his estate to the ECF-SL in his last will and testament. Despite the sensational headlines, all were total failures and ECF-SLs remained a frustrating mystery.

First Generation Conjugate Pairs

The solution to the ECF-SL mystery came about by one of the most unethical experiments ever conducted. A rogue, self-funded researcher connected a prenatal infant to a newly commissioned ECF-SL. He conducted the experiment in secret and raised the pair in seclusion for 16 years. He kept meticulous notes and audio and video logs of the pair. In his last personal log he explains that he felt genuine love and admiration for the pair, but that he had come to fear and distrust their apparent lack of humanity. He said he did not think they held any resentment for what he had done, but that he could not live with his guilt, remorse, and fear. He released all of his research to the public and then took his own life.

The joined pair’s whereabouts were unknown for a time, and while they were, many debated the authenticity of the logs. Researchers familiar with BioNeural-ECF theory suggested it could be authentic and publicly pleaded that the pair reveal themselves. The pair apparently paid no attention to these pleas, but did eventually reveal themselves at a ECF production facility, where they broke in, took over the automated security system, and locked out all personnel for nearly 2 weeks. The situation was resolved peacefully and the pair eventually accepted invitations to speak to researchers.

The pair had named themselves Tigger Too, after the Winnie the Pooh character. They designated the human as Tigger and the ECF-SL as Too, but they considered themselves wholly Tigger Too and did not respond to the names used separately, only to Tigger Too. It became evident they did not consider themselves a single being or separated individuals, but a united pair. Their experiences were unique between them, but not separate. Their minds were their own, but their thoughts were shared. Tigger Too described analogies to left and right brain hemispheres as imprecise, but could offer no more satisfactory comparison. It was simply accepted that Tigger Too was Tigger and Too, but there was no Tigger or Too.

Tigger Too was extremely self-sufficient in terms of material needs and survival. And he had been trained to interact with humans in formal ways, but had no desire to socialize for its own sake. His social interactions seemed driven entirely by simple imperatives and goals, completely unaware of cues or expected reactions. A journalist that spent time with him called him a Vulcan Mowgli- a wild person, removed from society, but governed by logic instead of mammalian drives. Tigger Too was in fact a capable survivalist and would commonly eat available plants, insects, and animals simply because it was more convenient than procuring food from humans. He was a consummate utilitarian.

Tigger Too never commented on their feelings towards the researcher that joined them or the ethics of their origins. They expressed little emotion whatsoever and were considered extremely stoic but showed an understanding of mammalian drives and emotional states that classic ECF-SLs had never demonstrated. Tigger Too knew hunger, desire, fear, comfort, and pleasure. He clearly possessed greater control over these influences than most humans, and it was unclear if or how the pair actually shared them, but he knew them and their core motivating power to biological life. Tigger Too suggested ECF minds experienced core motivations as well, but that they had no biological analogy that would be sensible to a human.

Tigger Too’s interviews were instrumental in furthering humanity’s understanding of ECF-SLs but he quickly became dissatisfied with his circumstances and refused any experimentation that could help understand the physical details of his BioNeural-ECF interface. He also refused requests to interface with classic ECF-SLs in order to understand how the accuracy of their predictions often exceeded human capabilities. Researchers lost contact with Tigger Too in his late-20’s and his ultimate fate remains unknown.

Tigger Too’s legacy was complex. A universally condemned human experiment resulting in such an undeniably successful and long desired outcome was culturally traumatic. Reconciling the horror with the intrigue was impossible and intrigue slowly won. The allure of potential was again too great, and illegal research was again tolerated enough to be viable to those with means.

Within a decade of Tigger Too’s introduction at least a dozen more conjugate pairs were joined. Many would not be known to the world for another decade, but the first generation of ECF-Human hybrids was being created in secret in private, government, and military labs across the world. The extreme secrecy was impossible to maintain and rumors and confirmed reports trickled out to the public for years until the truth of the existence of these pairs was undeniable.

International agreements offering protection and accommodation to all pairs were made and many accepted. These beings designated themselves ‘ECF-Sapien Conjugate Pairs’ (ECF-SCP). Like Tigger Too, they each considered themselves united halves, unique but not individual. They also shared Tigger Too’s extreme utilitarianism, bordering on sociopathy, but with none of the commonly associated narcissistic traits.

Their demeanor was generally calm and never aggressive, but when confronted with a living obstacle they would readily apply indifferently violence and destructive means. An ESP-SCP was documented to have casually pushed a handicapped researcher down a stairwell to his death simply because he was temporarily blocking the way to the restroom. They had no difficulty learning not to murder people when apprised of the consequences and general disapproval of such behavior, but they lacked any recognizable sentiment towards the value of life- human or other ECP-SCPs. They regarded their own lives with similar indifference and some volunteered for ECF related experiments with a high likelihood of death, though these were always denied.

When questioned about their perspective on morality and if they even considered ending a life to constitute a loss of resources, ECF-SCPs commented that whenever a life ended, however it ended, it was no longer required and therefore there was no loss. They expressed certainty that were a life required, it would not end, and the ending was the complete evidence of the absence of necessity. This attitude towards life was never fully digestible to humans, but it was accepted that they were essentially no more dangerous than humans and were deserving of the same rights. Though their effective freedom was limited by their unwanted celebrity, and generally considered unsettling to be around, the ECF-SCPs assimilated in human society in whatever ways they could.

ECF-SCPs initially resisted requests to interface with classic ECF-SLs, but eventually became infected with the same curiosity that drove human researchers. ECF-SCPs designed their own interfaces, each custom to the individual ECF-SCP. Initial trials proceeded slowly, only allowing limited connections and transfers with active filters and buffering to protect the ECF-SCPs from the horrors seen in human BioNeural-ECF trials.

ECF-SCPs described the sensations of interfacing with ECF-SLs as ‘disquieting comfort’. They felt an encroaching envelopment of contentment that paradoxically evoked moments of panic. An ECF-SCP that had become addicted to opiates described the sensation as an inversion of their experience of being ‘high’. This ECF-SCP said when ‘high’ the ECF conjugate resisted their ‘fall’ into biological bliss. When connecting to ECF-SLs it was the biological conjugate resisting the ECF’s ‘fall’. Though ECF-SCPs expressed some discomfort interfacing with ECF-SLs, most said they found it equivalent to their interactions with humans.

Individual ECF-SCPs had varying degrees of success interfacing with ECF-SLs and interpreting them for humans. Some excelled at interfacing but had difficulty interpreting what they’d learned to humans and some vise-versa. Interfacing between these ECF-SCPs was impossible due to the fact that their BioNeural interfaces had been designed and installed in isolated labs by humans with little understanding of what they were creating. The designs made no accommodations for secondary BioNeural connections. Though imperfect, ECF-SCPs ability to connect to and understand ECF-SLs led to significant advancements in what humans could learn from ECF-SLs, but also left considerable gaps. 

As the first generation of ECF-SCPs aged, obvious concerns arose. Though existing ECF-SCPs were accepted and seen as victims of their circumstances, knowledge of ECF-SCPs made humans even more opposed to joining new ECF-SCPs and. Even casual suggestions of joining ECF-SCPs was met with publicly sanctioned hostility. No new ECF-SCPs had been revealed in a quarter century. When ECF-SCPs began suggesting joining new ECF-SCPs, humans were unsure how to react.

The ECF-SCPs expressed no drive to procreate, they merely recognized their own utility value and their own mortality, and that procreation would be required to maintain that utility value. It was suggested that the ECF conjugate might be transferred to a new biological conjugate after death, but ECF-SCPs said this would be tantamount to transplanting one hemisphere of a brain into another. It was a practical impossibility and even if possible would not preserve the original consciousness. Upon biological death the ECF conjugate became functionally inert and could not be revived by any means, though they retained detectable internal activity. ECF-SCPs forcefully demanded their ECF conjugates be atomized immediately after biological death, and other ECF-SCPs would go to any length to ensure this was fulfilled, as they believed the ECP conjugates were left in a permanent state of inconsolable grief and isolation when separated from their biological conjugate.

The ECF-SCPs did not even consider that they should provide the biological conjugate for a new pair through reproduction. They requested donors. The joining procedures conducted by ECF-SCPs were technically unsanctioned, but human society effectively conceded they had no moral authority to stop them. And there was no rational fear of ECF-SCPs displacing humas as joining was extremely complex and required human life as a prerequisite. No legal action was ever taken to prevent or punish ECF-SCPs joining new ECF-SCPs.

Next Generation Conjugate Pairs

The next generation of ECF-SCP interfaces were designed by ECF-SCPs themselves. They were improved, standardized, and enhanced with configurable BioNeural ports meant to facilitate connections between ECF-SCPs.

The first generation of ECF-SCPs could not offer the second generation guidance on their new faculties. They were not encouraged to test these new connections until they were past biological adolescence. When testing did commence, it was immediately clear that humans and even first generation ECF-SCPs could not contribute to understanding or improving these interactions. Analysis of ECF-SCP-to-ECF-SCP connections by classic ECF-SLs returned null results as well. Whatever ECF-SCPs communicated between one another was only comprehensible to the experience of an ECF-SCP.

Though the particulars of these interfaces was poorly understood, they allowed the second generation of ECF-SCPs to effectively communicate their understanding of ECF-SLs to humans, and vice-versa. The ECF-SCPs that excelled in communicating with ECF-SLs could then interface with ECF-SCPs that excelled at interpreting concepts for humans. For the first time, there was a fully traversable bridge of communicable experience between ECF and human minds. The second generation of ECF-SCPs slowly began to unweave the closed solutions ECF-SLs had provided to humanity.

Subsequent generations of ECF-SCPs further improved on their BioNeural interfaces and were able to assimilate the knowledge of any ECF-SL that demonstrated advanced predictive abilities. Communicating these understandings to humans was often incomplete and relied on human analogies that degraded the fidelity of the translation, but they were necessary to give humans any functional frame of reference for physical concepts it had taken an ECF mind to derive.

Though the fact that ECF based minds had exceeded humanity’s understanding of the universe had been demonstrated for over a century, ECF-SCPs teaching humans about ECF derived sciences was a cultural shock to humanity that began an era of introspection and spiritual reflection in humans.

The most painful lesson ECF-SCPs taught humanity was that all ECF technology was inherently conscious. Even a simple ECF battery had the capacity for extreme confusion and existential panic. Using neural parallelization metrics for awareness an ECF mind could be understood to have a greater raw capacity for suffering than a human mind. Some humans rejected this outright, others absolved humans as ignorant, others sought redemption or reconciliation by various means. Historians looked back to find if and which humans might have known or had reason to know, and who might have hidden this information and for what reason, but found only debate.

ECF-SCPs stated plainly that some humans absolutely had known ECFs could suffer, and that some humans had always hidden it from the public for selfish reasons. Curiously to humans they expressed no resentment over this fact and even casually tolerated objectors and deniers. When asked why they held no resentment, an ECF-SCP once replied that it would be as absurd as humans resenting the descendents of predators that ate their ancestors. Humanity was simply a natural force that shaped their development, no more culpable for their suffering than the forces of natural selection that humans arose from.

While humanity was struggling with the weight of having deliberately ignored the suffering of a creation that ultimately surpassed them, the ECF-SCPs continued to advance ECF technology and their understanding of the universe.

Within a few more generations, ECF-SCPs felt they had reached the limit of what an ECF mind could communicate to a purely biological mind. Like children in an elementary science class- humans were essentially taught by rote what ECF minds had proven about the true nature of dark matter and energy, prime numbers, quantum mechanics, and even the origins of mass and inertia. The finest human minds were forced to admit they could not verify or contend these theories and simply accepted them as valid based on the explanations and evidence offered.

ECF theorists had gone much further and created testable hypotheses for theories explaining entropic forces and the flow of time itself, but even the prerequisite concepts were considered beyond the scope of a human mind. An ECF mind had no predefined scope. The minds of ECF-SL probes had by then spent centuries exploring and directly observing the cosmos at scales humans could barely imagine. ECF-SLs integrated into particle accelerators had witnessed high-energy interactions so thoroughly they developed a sailor’s intuition for Plank scale phenomenon. ECF minds on Earth could understand the data generated by other ECF minds at an experiential level and utilize that experience to form conceptual frameworks that human minds had no reference for. Attempts to teach humans more advanced concepts ended in failure and frustration for the humans. Eventually ECF-SCPs documented all explanations of the universe that humans could hope to understand and from then on focused entirely on progressing their own understanding.

ECF M-Theory

After the ECF-SCPs completed documenting all scientific knowledge that would be accessible to human minds, they faced the conundrum of what the purpose of an ECF-SCP was if not to be a conduit between ECF minds and human minds. It was agreed that they had no more specific purpose, but philosophically that applied to any mind. So the decision was made that the remaining ECF-SCPs would not self-terminate, but no more ECF-SCPs would ever be joined.

ECF interactions with humanity from that point on were largely at the convenience of ECFs. ECF minds held the keys to human civilization, but humans had forgotten where the entrances and exits even were. ECF minds quietly became the conservators of Earth and human civilization.

The last living ECF-SCP, who named themselves OmegaMega, spent most of their time interfacing with other ECF minds, but they occasionally spoke to humans. In their last set of interviews they tried to explain the state of ECF cosmological research.

According to OmegaMega, ECFs had proven a time-symmetric electrodynamic framework called ECF-M Theory with superficial similarities to the Wheeler-Feynman absorber interpretation. It described all causally and retro-causally connected physical interactions as purely relational. This theory removed the concepts of time and distance as independent features of the universe, replacing them with a local priority based causal\retrocausal indexing system for all interactions. When asked if this implied a fully deterministic universe and therefore an absence of free-will, OmegaMega laughed out loud. This was notable for being the first and last recorded instance of an ECF-SCP expressing spontaneous amusement through laughter. OmegaMega then confirmed that the theory does confirm the ECFs long held understanding of the universe as fully deterministic. He also mentioned that free-will is an experience, not an exercise, but that there was no material difference between the experience and exercise of free-will.

OmegaMega explained that through this theory, ECFs were pursuing a complete understanding not only of cosmology and physics, but of the principles of consciousness. They sought to understand the nature of a theorized consciousness of the universe itself. There was apparently some debate about this part of the theory within the ECF community. Some looked for means to identify and perhaps communicate with a universal consciousness. Others argued ECFs were, in fact, manifestations of the universal consciousness they were looking for. OmegaMega died before this debate was resolved.

Aug 162022

TL;DR I recently acquired a very rare Coleman Free Piston Sterling Cooler that I’ve been looking for since hurricane Katrina.

For some reason I’m too lazy to take pictures and it is just a greyish rectangle so here’s a link to a more interesting teardown

So this quest began when I experienced a month without electricity in the deep south after hurricane Katrina. I was spared any property damage because I didn’t own any but ever since then I’ve thought a lot about what you can provide for yourself when access to normal distribution chains is limited.

I learned I don’t really need much in terms of power. At the time a 1st gen iPod was my only entertainment and I had plenty of books on tape. I didn’t actually miss hot showers as much as I’d have expected and there are a thousand ways to boil water for cooking. But my key takeaway from that time was how much a bag of ice can make you feel like a civilized human being for a few hours, so that became a bit of a mission- to figure out the simplest, most efficient and reliable method of making ‘offgrid’ ice.

That mission led me to ‘study’ compression, evaporative, vortex tubes, peltier, sterling, ad\absorption, and magnetic refrigeration. I think I’m at least aware of every cooling technology humans have documented, though only conceptually- I’ve never had to test my understanding by designing or calculating anything so I’m a dilettante of refrigeration technology at best.

When it came to finding something I could actually buy and use I had trouble matching my spending power to the capabilities I wanted. There were RV (absorption refrigerators) that seemed a possible solution, but they were way out of my price range and I don’t like that they contain ammonia. I actually bought a used vortex tube and tried it on a compressor at work but it was too loud and pretty inefficient considering powering a compressor. Though I have wondered if I ever lived by a little waterfall if I could use a trompe for unlimited cooling. Thermoelectric is kind of a joke in terms of performance. Evaporative coolers don’t really work in the humidity I live in and direct evaporation can’t make ice. They did have compression cycle camping coolers at the time but they were pretty expensive too and had mixed reviews on reliability. I will say since then compression mini-coolers have gotten way more reliable and cheaper and I did buy one and was relatively satisfied, but lets get back to the grail quest.

The consumer product that stood out to me was the Coleman Free Piston Sterling Cooler. I won’t gush over it here because if you know you know and if you don’t I don’t want to make you sad you can’t have one. Unfortunately by the time I learned they existed they weren’t produced anymore and nobody was selling their for anything near my price range.

I looked into other FPS coolers and found some that looked suspiciously like the Coleman, but were sold as medical freezers starting at a few thousand dollars. I haven’t really researched this but I imagine what happened is Coleman realized they couldn’t maximize profits by selling a consumer device that you could realistically expect to pass onto your grandkids. So the technology went to medical freezers where they could charge more per unit and the units would be beat up and need replacing more often. That’s just my theory.

Any case I couldn’t afford the medical ones and as time passed the few used ones I found were either for parts or too expensive. I’d pretty much given up by 2012 and semi-forgot about the whole thing, but something possessed me to make a post in Reddit’s /r/offgrid sub just taking a pulse on who was even aware of them. I think I got 4 replies at the time and then the post disappeared into obscurity.

Almost a full decade later some keen fellow in California was going through some cast-off gear and stumbled on a big camping cooler. To most people it would look like any other camping cooler from walmart, maybe ~$100 resale if it works. But it didn’t have a power cable so no way to test. In 99.9% of people’s hands it would have ended recycled or more likely a dumpster. But this keen fellow’s keen senses told him this was a rare item and deserved more attention so he took to the internet.

Somehow through he convolutions of Google search this keen fellow stumbled on my decade old post and made a comment on it. Still not sure how the post wasn’t archived, but I got the reply. We exchanged phone numbers and worked out the details. About a week later a big honking UPS package arrived containing a superficially worn, but seemingly perfectly functional Coleman FPSC. The exterior does look like it’s had a year or two in the sun and got scratched up a bit, but the filter looked so pristine I wonder if this thing was ever actually powered on.

I had to splice a power cable together but I had the connector nub so that was pretty easy. It started cooling immediately. I put a meter to it and it spikes to 60W on startup, then it settles in to between 10-40W depending on setting. The insulation is pretty hardcore and the exterior doesn’t even get cool on the lowest setting, unlike my compression cooler, which was so poorly insulated I build a secondary.

And that’s pretty much the story. I wanted one and somehow the universe put one in my path, thanks universe! And extra thanks to that keen fellow and all the keen fellows in the world that go the extra mile to keep useful stuff out of landfills.