Weak Eigenspace Hunters

Interference III
Image from John B

Control of chaotic systems is of vital importance for all sufficiently complex civilisations. Due to the manifold instabilities of complex systems they become unreliable, but at the same time paradoxically possible to control by exploiting their sensitivity to small influences. Monitoring the system, estimating a desired unstable orbit and its eigenvalues and adaptively nudging the system towards it can bring the system into a predictable regime. Since Ott, Grebogi, and Yorke suggested the method in the late 20th century it has been developed into a major industry.

Although limited attempts at large scale chaos control were undertaken during the Interplanetary Era (e.g. the Mars climate management project and the Yellowstar Net control initiative) it was during the First Federation chaos control became widespread in weather management, economics, infogrowth, ecotecture and many other fields. It is estimated that without constant complexity management performed on all scales the infrastructure of most inner sphere cultures would collapse within 24 hours.

Although control of chaotic phenomena is well understood it is still not perfect. There is usually no way of even in principle guaranteeing that the predictable state will persist all time, and occasional bursts of chaos will occur especially when the system is seriously disturbed. More seriously, there can exist weak eigenmodes that are hard to detect and to control since their eigenvalues are too small to measure with the required precision.

Weak eigenspace hunters are beings seeking out the disruptive eigenmodes and defusing them. When chaos controllers detect unexpected instabilities the hunters explore the system (be it a planetary climate, interstellar stock markets or a computer network) to find the weak eigenspace of disruption. Once identified it is removed, either by making the eigenvalues large enough to be controllable or by removing the source. For example, in weather control it is common that isolated mountains produce von Karman vortices that disrupt circulation control; by removing the mountains or reshaping them slightly to modify the vortices the control can be improved. Similarly political and economic control can be achieved, although the complication of having many agents with different agendas and possibly even their own chaos control makes the effectiveness much more variable.

It should be noted that weak eigenspaces can also be introduced, and accusations of chaos warfare have been made for many millennia. Finding evidence is extraordinarily hard, and only a handful of documented cases exist. The most famous was the 8832-8850 disruption of Thryjvor Prefecture where Bangingitax infiltrators successfully caused an estimated 4 petacredit loss in efficiency without being discovered for 18 years. When they were discovered it was due to a deep agent sent by Dominion authorities to infiltrate the Bangingitax for completely unrelated reasons.

Weak eigenspace hunters are educated and employed across civilised space, but the most well-known education or programming institutions are all located within the Negentropy Alliance for obvious cultural reasons, despite the efforts that have been spent on creating chaos-free complex systems in the Alliance. Eigenspace hunters of various kinds (and complexity management consultancy, software and skill) has been a large part of Negentropic export since the end of the Version War.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 17 December 2000.