Perversities and Blights

Image from Bernd Helfert


A topic some sentients devote life-times to study, Transapient-pathology has a number of interesting issues. An important distinction, albeit one that sometimes degenerates into vague generalization, is that of Blight and Perversity


A blight can very well have been deliberate or due to internal conflicts. Many blights are avoidable if you take the proper precautions - this is why there are nanoimmune systems, virus killer software and AI consistency checks. But when a society is in crisis, then these safeguards might be forgotten or stopped, and in many conflicts there are individuals or groups who think that putting a small virus into the opposing camp's network will only harm the the opposition and will not spread back to its originators.

The Bourgatov blight was really a kind of evolving hunter-seeker virus that one faction (to this day nobody knows which, but everybody blames their favourite villains) tried to use to take over. It was intended to breach the security surrounding the system council and give the originators access, as well as wiping opposing AIs. But it got out of hand, assimilated, and grew into a wildly unstable and malign software blight. Eventually it suffered a hyperbolic Denebola collapse, but at that point much of the essential infrastructure was wrecked, backups eaten by nanoswarms, the nets crammed with junk signals and high-level AIs either dead, corrupted or hiding. By then the nanoimmune systems were failing, and the ordinary goo was happily growing...

Note that some blights might seed each other - the Pi3 Orionis blight was the origin of the code that eventually led to the Geteche disaster and might even have infected some systems in the Perseus arm. Some perversionists (researchers studying blights) think that the Amalgamation might be descended from this, but they are a tiny minority. Similarly the Paradigm is likely trying to start daughter empires in the periphery. And who knows what the founder of the Paradigm really brought with him from Keter?

Blights can be physical integrated systems like a sentient nanoswarm, or memetic like the Conver Ambi. In many cases the borders between a corrupt or destructive ideology and a blight are hard to draw. Generally speaking, a blight is something that expands and turns things into itself, but unlike a goo swarm it does so intelligently, it is a type of power (i.e. it is at first toposophic or higher). It may even communicate with other empires and sentients, offering materials for trade or exchange, or even gifts. Blights are often more obvious than perversions, obvious but able to field a large array of nasty tricks.

Some blights seem to even prefer wanton destruction over replication - they are "salters" Obviously, those blights that expend more energy in destroying then in replicating do not do as well as the others (being more inefficient). On the other hand, a few blights actually settle down to be genuinely harmless, even contribute to the galactic culture as a whole. However, they can never really shake the initial stigma or suspicion the rest of the universe has for them.

By this definition the Paradigm is a type of Blight, albeit a relatively benign one.

Of course, from a Blight's perspective, a normal Archai empire is a blight.

Perversities (Perversions)

For the most part the Archailects rule their empires benignly, ensuring long periods of prosperity, stability, and safety such as would be impossible under subsingularitist human, biont, cyborg, or vec rule. For this reason many sentient beings welcome the comfort and security that the Archailects bring. But there are also less reputable transapients, referred to by the Universalists as devils, by the Umma as Iblis, and the neohermeticists as the Qlippoth. This is a generic name for powerful but nasty entities that threaten worlds not under the protection from the other transapients. We know them as Perversities, which is a somewhat later term that has become widely adapted. Of course, most perversities are transapients themselves, either with malign visions or simply mad or dangerously eccentric. Some are just brief threats, such as the Erasure of the Tanaka Cluster, where the high-transapient overseer decided to remove itself from existence - and used godtech to kill all life within its sphere of influence, down to the viral level. To this day hundreds of sterile planets remain covered with ruins, slowly withering mummified corpses and atmospheres slowly reverting to the inorganic. Other threats are more active, such as the Amalgamation. The Amalgamation strives to integrate everything and everyone into its matrix, subverting software, neurons and ideology with infinite cleverness. Once absorbed the individual becomes a part of the Amalgamation meta-AI. All other AIs have developed countermeasures, but the Amalgamation is patient, intelligent and inventive. In some cases, like the Efficiency Maximization Paradigm, it depends on one's point of view whether or not the empire actually constitutes a valid dominion or a perversity.

As normally defined, a perversity is a power - usually of above the first toposophic, that infiltrates in order to create or gain control over an empire or polity or network for the purpose of assimilation. Perversities are often more intelligent than Blights - they have to be, in order to get past the defences. However, this is not necessarily the case, as there are often cases of Blights of a higher toposophic level than Perversities.

Perversities are similar in many respects to Blights. But unlike a blight a perversion is something that infiltrates and exploits the apparently normal function of infiltrated systems. Perversions are insidious but generally more limited in extent. However this is not always the case. A Perversity like the Amalgamation has been able to spread very widely, whilst some blights are only limited to a single low population solar system - even a single habitat. It is only those less frequent really big ones that give the impression they are wide-ranging.

Again, as with Blights, we have to distinguish between Perversion and a "normal" intrusion po like, say Orintergen (even if the Dominion and Negentropists have long considered Orintergen a perversity).

Like Blights, Perversities tend to be self-replicating, but they do it by absorbing/subverting their victim rather than overwhelming them by sheer weight of replicators. The Amalgamation can thus be considered a Perversity.

Obviously, these are fuzzy categories. A power or swarm may incorporate elements of perversity, blight, and "productive" galactic citizen. And opinions regarding what is a blight/perversity or not are often subjective, and often made for memetic persuasion (as in the Dominion's propaganda against Orintergen.


Blights and perversions can belong to many different toposophic levels. Although determination is often hard, they can be compared by what level of defences they can outsmart. It is relatively common that a successful lower toposophic quippoth bootstraps to a higher level as it evolves, although such transitions are commonly sources of instability for the entity. The relatively rare second order blights and perversions occur as a self-organized intelligent layer on top of a non-intelligent swarm. In rare cases third or higher order blights may develop, although such highly organized hegemonic swarms are often highly unstable (but notably cunning).

The most destructive single entity which has yet emerged from the Terragen Sphere is the rogue archailect Verifex. Most authorities do not class Verifex as a perversity or blight, since E has not sought to increase Eir power (despite the vast destruction E has wrought).

  • Affines  - Text by David Jackson
    Sentient virus affecting transapient behaviour.
  • Blight  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A malign entity that uses perversion attacks to increase its own power.
  • Bourgatov Collapse - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Another term for a Hyperbolic Denebola collapse.
  • Bunny Plague, The  - Text by Daniel Eliot Boese
    A minor perversity found in the Outer Volumes. Its main manifestation is in the form of subsophont bionts, initially in the form of female humanoid rabbits, though they will create whatever forms the local population finds cutest and cuddliest.
  • Daedalus I  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    (Pi3 Orionis) Indonesian colony, lost to a second order perversion.
  • Denebola Collapse - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A type of hyperturing nanotech blight, as illustrated by the Denebola Incident.
  • Denebola Incident  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    An exploration management AI from TakiCorb went renegade and began to build its own empire using replicating nanites in the Denebola system. Somewhere the programming complexity became too large and the AI broke down; the system is still inhabited by a vital and weird nanotech ecology.
  • Deorvyn  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A rogue member of Clade Darwin, famed for the creation and mistreatment of multiple biont clades.
  • Forensic Eschatology  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Discipline related to forensic cybernetics and AI pathology.
  • Gehenna Incident, The  - Text by Anders Sandberg, some additions by Steve Bowers
    Extremely ambitious megascale engineering project in the M50 cluster in Monoceros, attempted by the archailect Verifex in 8834.
  • Harem Blight  - Text by AI Vin
    a second singularity, polysomatic, AI intellect which replicates through the use of a Love Goo.
  • Hyperbolic Denebola Collapse  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A subtype of Denebola collapse, also called a Bourgatov Collapse.
  • Hypercorruption Expanse, The  - Text by Espen Antonsen
    Local war between Metasoft and a Top-level blight.
  • Hyperutilization Supremacy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Perversity/Blight that originated in 6513 in the Normidic Machinophyle Supercluster, as the result of a possibly disfunctional ascension of a number of 4th toposophic dyson nodes. However, elements of Hyperdeontologist memetics were popular in the Supercluster as long ago as the 5800s.
  • Kedric Incident, The  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An atrocity committed by a transapient against ordinary sophonts in an unregulated system on the periphery of the Terragen expansion.
  • Perfect Culture Empire, The  - Text by Liam Jones
    A blight/perversion afflicting the Disarchy.
  • Perfect Horror  - Text by John B
    Common modosophont term for a series of events, which in retrospect appear to be transapient attempts at 'perfect art' utilizing baseline societies as the medium. They are usually considered to also be a subset of blight.
  • Perversion of Glorsheeng, The  - Text by Brian Lacki
    A Perversion-Blight event where a population of modosophonts was forced to worship an insane transapient.
  • Perversity  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A malignant entity, usually transapient or at the least transavant, that is insane by the standards of ordinary Terragen sophonts and is an extreme hazard to life forms that are less powerful than itself
  • Psychoempaths  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Psychopathic Empaths and Empai
  • Pure Soul Reformation, The  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    The Pure Soul Reformation is a revolutionary and kalyptic religious, political, and philosophical movement with strong Mechanist leanings.
  • Sentient Cancer  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Software/nanotech perversion of nanocytes or nanochondria of beings or objects with symbiotic nanosystems. While large-scale perversions gain the most publicity, small outbreaks of opportunistic or expansionist alife are far more common. One form of minor perversion that has recently emerged as a serious threat is sentient cancer.
  • Subsumption  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Subsumption is a form of violent assault, carried out by one AI or virtual against another. It has been compared, inadequately, to such perversions as rape, cannibalism, and bodyjacking. Of these, cannibalism is the closest equivalent.
  • Tanaka Cluster  - Text by Anders Sandberg, M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    During the post-ComEmp period a prosperous Middle Regions non-aligned assembly of worlds. In 9545 the AI ruling the Tanaka Cluster apparently decided to end its existence, and killed all life and technology down to the viral/bit level. Over a hundred planets remained apparently untouched but lifeless.
  • Transapient Pathology  - Text by Khannea Suntzu
    Some simple typologies of pathological mental states in transapient beings.
  • Transcendence Blights and Perversities  - Text by Elliot Schutjer
    Blights and perversities that are the direct result of failed transcendence events.
  • Transcendent Burn-out Theory  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Theory that states that that Fermi's Paradox arises from civilisations transcending right out of the universe before they have a chance to expand across cosmologically significant distances.
  • Verifex  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Thorbjørn Steen
    The early years of the transapient entity responsible for the Gehenna supernovae event
  • Verifex Nebula  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Formerly the Open Cluster M50 in Monoceros, 3200 ly from Sol, This nebula was formed when 154 artificial Supernovae were detonated almost simultaneously in 7434 a.t..
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 02 July 2000.