Ascension, Resistance to
alternative voyage
Image from Bernd Helfert
There are various reasons why sentients do not all ascend to higher toposophic levels. Among these are:

  • Ascension means dying to one's old self, many people are attached to their current status
  • Ascensions sometimes go wrong
  • Ascension technology may be restricted in some polities
  • There may be ideological, religious, peer-group or memetic pressure against it.
  • Ascension requires great discipline and dedication and training (although there are godseeds and similar devices these can have rather unpleasant side-effects if one is not psychologically balanced)
  • S1 and higher are perceived (rightly or wrongly) as working hard, and baseline-equivalent beings may not wish to give up their life of pampered indulgence
  • Some worry about real or (more often) imagined negative events (loss of human feelings and appreciation, loss of sensual desires )
  • Many are just unlucky enough that they'll never recognize an opportunity to ascend.
Beside all the obvious (and less obvious) reasons, most beings do not have a strong incentive to ascend. It is an awful lot of work that cannot be left to the AIs (even ATMs, Automated Transcendence Machines, essentially force the ascending being to do a lot of re-evaluation and personal change), which makes most beings, habituated to live in comfort, less interested in ascending. Those who wanted to ascend, did so long ago and left behind a culture of those less inclined. Over time the fraction of ascenders went down, and a steady state emerged.

Some mass-transcensions have been linked to serious memetic or neural engineering to promote ambition (sometimes with the goal of inducing them, more often with other goals but having transcension as a side effect).
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev, John B, and Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 07 October 2001.