Notees (Zerotees)

Clades that experience no time perception and have a constant mindstate throughout all time

Image from Steve Bowers

Notees of Neverflux

While there are many entities that are called "Notees" or "Zerotees" for their lack of time perception or development in time (compare with "Twotees"), one of the more notorious Notee groups was created in the Sophic League in the aftermath of the Version War by the transapient power Contemplative Neverflux. Neverflux was the founder of the School of Continuous Death, and argued that the only way to truly survive was to never change in any way with the passage of time.

Neverflux then introduced a virch clade that became popularly known as Notees. A Notee does not change with time; instead their mind is caught in an infinite loop, thinking the same things over and over again. The infinite loop of processing is perceived by the Notee as a single, timeless thought, with no flow of time whatsoever. Of course, since the mental state of a Notee does not change with time, the Notee cannot interact with the outside universe in any way and has no external sensations, and there is no way to communicate with a Notee. Though it may be created to "know" the Universe for all eternity, their view of the universe was static and could not change or be adapted. Some Notees have attendant aioids that will send a copy of the Notee to interested parties, often to be integrated with other ais and provide them with the experience of a perfect, unchanging moment, while leaving the Notee emself to eir static contemplation.

Many Notees were adapted uploads or copies of other sophonts, with a single moment of their lives preserved and maintained. While these uploads and copies would not let the originals survive, according to the School of Continuous Death, they were seen as "children" of the originals, who would last as long as they were running. Notees were typically stored in well-secured and hidden computronium devices; Neverflux emself built several "arks" to house them and launched them into interstellar space, usually sending them off into the galactic halo.

When being uploaded to become a Notee, sophonts would often try to focus on a single thought to be preserved for all eternity. By far and away, the most often preserved mindstate in Notees among Sophics was the contemplation of the Absolute. Mystics have, throughout history, argued that an afterlife might be spent in contemplation of the perfection of the Absolute or of a god; now, followers of Neverflux believed, if they were uploaded during the moment of deep meditative contemplation or during a religious experience or vision, that mindstate would, indeed, last forever, and would be the only part of them to survive. Other common mindstates that were captured, especially among the non-mystical and in sophonts outside the Sophic League, included moments of understanding the laws of physics, memories of loved ones, and introspective contemplation and acute awareness of the self. Lovers who were followers of Neverflux would often focus on their feelings for each other at the moment of upload, believing that their love would, at last, survive for all time.

Biont Notees of Neverflux

While most Notees are virches, uploads, and copies, some bionts, particularly in the Zoeific Biopolity, wondered if it might not be possible for bionts to be Notees. For most, it was simply a matter of style of how they wanted to be preserved for eternity; most serious followers of Neverflux were happy to upload to become Notees, since the entity deciding to become a Notee, was in eir eyes, different from the Notee itself anyway. A few bionts, however, believed that physical preservation was something to be striven for; for example, a very small minority believed that preservation of one's genetic material was necessary for survival. In 4718 a.t, the posthuman Qang Der Pyñé introduced a way for bionts to themselves be preserved. Adapting the technology of nanostasis, the body of a biont could be preserved and maintained, while with the oversight of a dedicated hyperturing, the brain could be made to repeat the same thought over and over again. This emulated the state of mind of a Notee in a biont; several "communities" of these biont Notees were preserved on starships launched into interstellar space. However, biont Notees have never been as widespread as virch Notees.

Becoming a biont Notee as opposed to an upload Notee is generally seen as mere preference and style, now; with the nanostasis and dedicated hyperturing management required for becoming a biont Notee being more expensive to maintain. Because the life support used in the nanostasis results in the exchange of small amounts of materials between each biont and their surroundings, a biont from one moment was distinct from the same biont in another moment, on the atomic level. As such, the biont transformed into something different, and thus, to followers of Neverflux, did not survive, at least physically - virtually all followers of the School of Continuous Death now believe that biont Notee-ism does not help one survive in any way that uploaded Notees do.

Other Notees

While the term "Notee" gained in usage in response to Neverflux's teachings, there were many independent Notees already in existence. Some used the term "Zerotee" to describe Notees not influenced by Neverflux, though in practice, the terms are usually interchangeable. It is known that there are many Zerotees in the Solipsist Panvirtuality and Diamond Network; these are believed to be copied and integrated into ais, allowing them to have a timeless experience. Other Zerotees may be the end results of utter solipsists, retreating into a static world with no communication possible.

Outside the Civilized Galaxy, it has been argued whether Notees can be said to sentient at all, or whether it is a crime to destroy them. After all, some reason, Notees have thought everything they will ever think, and they won't even notice their own death. Others argue that there can be no consciousness without the flow of time, though most philosophers disagree, noting that Notees may actually have very complex thoughts, though those thoughts necessarily cycle and do not respond to the outside world. Indeed, the one thing a Notee might be good at noticing would be themselves, since they are unchanging, and many are uploads of beings who were in a moment of self-reflection. In the Civilized Galaxy, however, Notees are accorded sophont rights and it is a crime to destroy one.

There has been some debate over whether beings who perceive space-time as a block universe are in fact Notees. Such entities see the universe much as one might perceive a four-dimensional space; they have no sense of the flow of time, but rather perceive the past, present, and future as always existing, just as a region of space exists. However, it is now widely agreed that these sophonts are not truly Notees; their mindstate can in fact change with time and they can communicate with the outside world without directly interference in their internal workings; typically, they may see themselves as a set of nodes in a four dimensional network, with connections between the nodes representing an exchange at a given point in spacetime. True Notees, however, are static throughout time unless interrupted or interfered with.

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Text by Brian Lacki
Initially published on 08 June 2004.