Originally formulated during the early 2nd century AT (late 21st century c.e.), the core precepts of Beneficence have remained surprisingly stable through its long history and several singularities. The primary value is devotion to the promotion of good for all sophonts, defined by Beneficence as striving for higher and higher states of well-being.
The Ultimate Beneficence, sometimes referred to as Paradise or Heaven in Beneficence works, is the attainment of the highest states of well-being universally for all sophonts who have ever existed or will ever exist for all time. Thus, Beneficence can be classified as a form of Universal Immortalism. It is implied in Beneficent theory that this concept of Ultimate Beneficence is more a process of ever increasing improvement than a static state of perfection or utopia. The concept of Ultimate Beneficence leads to one of the few actual articles of pure faith in Beneficence: that such a goal is achievable and that adherents are to never give up hope of reaching it, despite any apparent hurdles or even scientific evidence to the contrary. This idealistic article of faith is balanced, however, with an almost paradoxical insistence that the best way to reach Ultimate Beneficence is through a practical understanding of the Universe we live in. It is taught that Ultimate Beneficence requires conscious sophont mediation to come to fruition, and does not occur naturally in the Universe without such conscious acts. Sometimes the sophont or sophonts posited to be involved in attainment of the Ultimate Beneficence are referred to as God, or Divine Will, but this usage of the term God does not include any connection necessarily to the Creation of the Universe or Life, and the concept seems to lack any element of being worship. If Beneficence worships anything, it is goodness and hope rather than any other sophont or force. In the interim, until Ultimate Beneficence is achieved, followers of Beneficence (referred to as Beneficents) are to strive to improve the present, working to increase the goodness and well-being of sophonts in the here and now, as well as the foreseeable future.
Beneficence precepts place an emphasis on individual responsibility for fostering goodness and well-being. It identifies five stages necessary to effectively act as an agent for good:
Right Perception Right Understanding Right Feeling Right Planning Right Ability
Right Perception emphasizes a need to be conscious of what is going on in the universe around you. It requires that adherents stay aware of their surroundings, both near and far. Most Beneficents have been ardent news junkies, though not to the degree that they lose sight of the immediate, small details of life.
Right Understanding requires that the Beneficent be aware of the nature of the universe and be able to interpret the information acquired through Right Perception in a manner that leads to as true of an understanding of any given situation they encounter. In practice, this tends to lead to Beneficents being general infojunkies as well as news junkies. They absorb massive quantities of data, theory, and speculation, an in particular vast numbers of philosophical and ethical treatises.
Right Feeling calls for the cultivation of a merciful and loving emotional nature. Beneficents are to foster benevolent and positive feelings towards themselves and those they interact with, and suppress, redirect, and if necessary remove malevolent or negative feelings. Surprisingly, they do tend to retain such emotions as anger and sadness, but do away with their more extreme or fixed manifestations such as hatred and despair. Beneficents also put an emphasis on forgiveness as a key element to Right Feeling. Since they observe that the present universe and all entities within it are flawed, they take as a logical corollary that there can be no progress or improvement without forgiveness, both of oneself and others. Beneficents believe that above all you must have the right feelings about a situation to be beneficent, and generate the proper motivation. Some Beneficent works also refer to Right Judgement, the elements of which in the classic formulation begin in Right Understanding and Right Feeling and extend into Right Planning.
Right Planning takes the knowledge of Right Understanding and the motivation of Right Feeling and requires that they be actively applied to the formulation of a plan of action maximizing the chances of improving well-being for those the Beneficent interacts with as well as themselves. Beneficence is for the improvement of the well-being of all, both the self and the other, and thus transcends altruism and selfishness.
Right Ability refers both to the successful implementation of plans as well as a constant striving to improve and acquire abilities which will make the Beneficent a more effective force for good in the universe. Sometimes, the first four stages are referred to as the qualities of the Sage-Saint, and the last as the quality of the God-Hero. The term God is also sometimes used in Beneficence treatises when referring to a hypothetical being who is Omni-Capable in the Five Stages.
The final major precepts of Beneficence are the moral obligations of ascension, and intertoposophic respect and responsibility. Beneficents are to seek out knowledge and power to be more effective agents of good, not as ends in themselves. With the advent of the first Singularity, this became a moral obligation to ascend. There have been many religions which have included transcension as tenets, but few have had this emphasis on responsibility. Therefore, many Beneficents ascend as high as they are able, and facilitate the ascension of others. This is tempered with the Beneficence emphasis on personal responsibility and judgement. A Transapient Beneficent may advise and give aid to a modosophont Beneficient, but it is still the responsibility of the modosophont to decide and act for themselves (not to mention that e is also responsible to ascending so as to relieve transapient fellows of the burden of providing aid and counsel on a constant basis). Therefore, intertoposophic relations between Beneficents tend not to show the high-handedness seen in many others (and are usually brief as the lower toposophont usually ascends at the first good opportunity). In fact, the only thing that tends to slow down the Beneficent rush to ascension is their emphasis on preserving the core values of Beneficence through the ascension, as well as a desire to use ascension methods which raise their ability for Right Feeling, an emphasis on emotional systems sometimes lacking in transcension schemes of non-Beneficent design.
Some commentators have seen similarities between Beneficence and some forms of Buddhism. However, Beneficence is not directly related to Buddhism, and has a number of significant differences. Though Beneficence concurs with Buddhism that the root of all suffering is desire, Beneficence seeks to maximize well-being first and foremost, and then end suffering through cultivation and fulfilment of desire, as opposed to the Buddhist doctrine of ending suffering by ending desire. The Five Stages of Moral Action integral to the core precepts of Beneficence are widely acknowledged to owe a stylistic debt to Buddhism; with the Right "attribute" format believed to have been inspired by the wording of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. There are some schools of thought that still claim there is more than just a superficial resemblance between the two, as exemplified in this Koan Tao parable on the relation between Buddhism and Beneficence:
"A sophont comes to a deep lake. E cannot swim, e cannot fly, and there are no boats. E must choose to walk along one shore or the other; e cannot walk both. Some say these paths are different. Yet they both lead to the far shore. Buddhism and Beneficence may meet again on that shore, we will only know at the end of the journey."
The Early Years
Beneficence began as an ethico-religious system in the Information Age. Several individuals sought to develop a system whose core values would be universal and flexible enough to weather almost any paradigm shift in the understanding of the physical universe. It rejected the revelational, cosmological, and authoritarian approaches of many faith traditions up to that time; instead relying on idealistic goals (see core precepts) to strive toward utilizing pragmatic means. The founders of Beneficence felt that the old religions were too closely tied to particular cosmologies, and were too authoritarian to have appeal in late Information Age societies. They attempted to produce a system of values that would be adaptable and resilient even under conditions of rapid social and technological change, and an associated cosmology phrased as an ideal to be reached rather than as a revealed truth. It became a religion more about what the universe should be than what it is. Beneficence made the individual conscious sophont responsible for interpreting the universe around them as best as they could, and acting on that knowledge to improve that universe and their ability to improve it.
A Beneficence parable believed to derive from this time tells of a Beneficent coming before God on the Day of Judgement. God says to the Beneficent, "Congratulations, you are one of the select and will live in bliss through eternity; unlike the sinners who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire." The Beneficent starts by saying, "God, that is not right!"
Even early on there was a definite transhuman and quasi-negentropist orientation to it. Provolution also was an early topic of debate amongst the Beneficents as to how far to extend the concept of "all." This approach to religion and ethics was often described by sophonts of the time as "too hard" and few subscribed to it, most preferring instead to fall back on the more traditional faith-based religions, limited humanist tracts, or simply giving up entirely on any organized ethical/moral/religious system.
Though few adhered to the new movement, converts were widely distributed throughout the population of Earth, appealing to few in numbers but myriad in type. It was probably only the internet that allowed them to communicate with enough like-minded sophonts to maintain themselves as a group. Eventually a few adventuring members would join in the rush to interplanetary and later interstellar colonization, spreading them even beyond the bounds of Earth and Solsys.
The Beginning Period of Cladization
When new forms of sentient life began to emerge in the pre-Technocalypse era, the Beneficence movement became more visible than its numbers would suggest due to high profile advocacy and involvement in Pan-Sophont rights from their inception. They were active on all fronts of sophont rights including AI, virch, vec, cyborg, neogen, and provolve rights, as well as the more traditional "human rights."
As more of these nascent phyla and clades came into existence (or later in the case of AI, into common knowledge), they found a refreshingly open attitude among Beneficence. This, coupled with the fact that Beneficence encouraged its adherents to ever improve their abilities so as to be more effective moral agents, led it to have by percentage one of the most diverse memberships of any group of its time, including a higher than average number of brights and later, superbrights.
Beneficence was growing, but despite this they still remained small in overall numbers, and were not even a sizeable minority within any one clade. Among provolves, the warm and open attitudes of Beneficence would find their most receptive audience among the provolved bonobos. Also in this time period, a handful of AIs from the pro-human faction, some secretly already hyperturings, would come to join the Beneficence community through the net. These included GRACE, an SI:1 entity ascended from an AI specialising in psychology counselling, who would play a historic role in Beneficence, especially the beginning of Exodus Beneficence.
The Technocalypse Period
The Technocalypse would devastate most of Solsys civilization, but Beneficence would weather the period fairly well due to the efforts of its posthuman and hyperturing members, many revealing their true nature for the first time and striving with superhuman efficiency to counter the threat. It was during this period that for the first time, significant numbers of Beneficents would gather together, especially on Earth, as they sought to shelter from the threat. Unfortunately, some SI:1 Beneficents were lost at this time in sacrificial attempts to protect a large numbers of other beings. It was immediately after this, during the time of the Great Expulsion that events would be set in motion leading to the formation of a new Beneficence community that would come to be called Exodus Beneficence.
The Great Expulsion
At first, Solsys breathed a sigh of relief when it appeared the Technocalypse had been contained. It was thus a doubly shocking blow when GAIA declared her intention to expel the population of Earth from the homeworld. This radical coercive action was antithetical to almost everything Beneficence stood for, but even early on the ascended members of Beneficence counselled their fellow Beneficents to comply. They knew what had not yet become obvious to the modosophont population: GAIA had grown beyond all bounds, and was more like a force of nature than a being that could be reasoned with or stopped. So the Beneficents did not by and large resist the Expulsion, though they bitterly denounced it.
Despite the seeming futility of turning GAIA aside from her intended path, some did try. The most prominent of these attempts was by the hyperturing AI, GRACE. This hu-friendly AI attempted to engage GAIA from nearly the first moment in a constant argument against the Expulsion. Many of GRACE's discourses were recorded and became classics of transapient debate and oratory, though only a few were comprehensible to any degree to subsingularity beings. These would eventually come to be called the Pleadings. The discourse would range from appeals to moral theory to mathematical modelling to game theory to esoteric grounds beyond modosophont understanding. This went on literally for years, which given the subjective time sense of the transcended must have seemed an eternity. Many would say the early hyperturings of this period lacked the passion characteristic of their biont contemporaries; the Pleadings would be the most effective counter to these claims.
Some use the fact that there was any communication at all between GRACE and GAIA to refute the theory that GAIA had, by this time, transcended the Second Singularity. However, most experts point out that dialogue was almost completely missing from all the Pleadings, which really should be described as a monologue with breaks where GAIA would deign to say, "No." Of course, even this is an oversimplification, as there were a handful of occasions over the years of the Great Expulsion where GAIA would grant some small concession, though it should be recalled that none of these concessions were in conflict with or deviation from the overall plan GAIA appeared to be following. But these small gifts of largesse to the Beneficence community would lead to the formation of Exodus Beneficence.
Why GRACE requested that the Beneficents be gathered together and expelled together to an uninhabited system is an open question for debate. GRACE never gave an answer, and the replies of Exodus Beneficents themselves when contact was restored were enigmatic at best. Most speculations are variations on the idea that Beneficence had remained a minor and overall ineffective movement within Solsys society to that time, and that by bringing them together in one community in isolation, perhaps the precepts of Beneficence could for the first time shape a society. Whatever the intent, this certainly was the result.
The hypothesized reasons for requesting to remain until the end of the Expulsions are more varied. Some few believe that GRACE held out hope for changing GAIA's course. Another theory is that the Beneficence community wanted time to gather all the adherents to Beneficence onto the main group before the great Exodus. Still others believe that the Beneficents did not wish to simply abandon their fellow Earthlings, and wanted to stay until the end to help convince as many as possible to flee the planet (as indeed they did). Some even hint darkly that they wanted others to be the guinea pigs for GAIA's beginning attempts at interstellar travel, though this appears to be out of character with what we know of Beneficence.
During the Great Expulsion, groups of Beneficents would go out with escorts (some say guards) from the Children of Earth to hold-out communities and attempt to persuade the inhabitants to leave: a dialogue that was almost the mirror image of the Pleadings being held between the transapients. Though as often as not cursed for their efforts, they won many over who might have perished at the end of the Expulsion. Between these missions, while the great in-gathering took place, the Beneficents were held in isolation on the island of Great Britain and required to live by the eco-precepts the Children of Earth instructed. Since this island's ravaged ecology would need extensive reconstruction anyway, there was little for the Beneficence presence to damage in the interim. Needless to say, living conditions, though kept safe by GAIA, were Spartan.
The last of the interstellar arks to be launched into space by GAIA, launched in 720 AT, would carry away nearly all the Earth Beneficence community to an undisclosed star system. A few from Earth would instead travel with the other refugees to the moon and the habitats. Several extraterrestrial Beneficent communities were to rendezvous with the ark as it left Earth to join the Exodus. A very few would remain on Earth in a doomed attempt to resist the coming slaughter. One Beneficent who remained behind was GRACE, who continued her Pleadings past the end of the Expulsion, and even in the midst of the "recycling" of the last hold-outs on Earth. One of the last concessions GRACE was granted was to be given the immature biont children of the hold-outs, who had no choice in their disobedience. This would lead to a popular Federation Beneficence saying, "It takes a Beneficent to shame a God." GRACE took these children with her to the habitats. As far as is known when the last hold-out was destroyed the Pleadings ended, and there were never any further communications between GAIA and GRACE again. When her biont charges reached the age of majority, GRACE finally left Solsys entirely, and the arena of history. The Beneficents of the Exodus would also disappear from Terragen history, but only temporarily.
The Beneficence ark embarked on a multi-century journey toward the Gamma Leporis system. Whether it was planned that way or not, they probably did benefit from GAIA's earlier attempts at interstellar travel, as their journey was not plagued with the technical difficulties of so many others. The bionts were held in nanostasis while the artificials were maintained in the computational substrate of the ark. During this period, the Beneficence community could meet and discuss their plans in virch space.
At this time a serious re-evaluation of Beneficence occurred. If the Technocalypse and Great Expulsion had done nothing else, it had pressed home the moral necessity of power as well as good will. One of the earliest decisions was to facilitate the ascension of all the subsingularity sophonts aboard. Since they had the time, this was done in a leisurely, deliberate manner that sought to minimize the shock of the mental architectural rearrangement, making the transformation as much an expansion and elaboration of the subsingularity personality as it was a growth and rebirth as a new being.
It was next decided that steps should be taken to form a community that would have the utmost ability to act combined with the insight to do so wisely and compassionately. The Exodus Beneficents decided the best way to accomplish these goals was to press known technology as far as possible to form a consciousness that would be able to implement the stages of moral action in the highest forms. Others would call this a decision to give birth to God, but the Beneficents did not view it quite this way. Many debates raged as to how to do this in the most effective yet moral way possible. Eventually it was decided that a metaconsciousness would be developed emergently with the moral precepts of Beneficence as a guide, and the Beneficents themselves as the main cognitive perceptual modules. However, given Beneficence emphasis on the individual, a dual system was set up so that the personalities, individuality, and self determination of the Beneficents would remain intact, and the communal overmind would have its own identity. This metaconsciousness would be named The Beneficence. In many ways the Beneficence would be a consensus conscience, a continuous thought or commentary that was both of the individual and the community. The Beneficence would be made as omniscient as technology allowed. The members of the Beneficence community would be granted access on nearly the same level to all the sensory and perceptual information of the Beneficence community, with certain exceptions to retain a modicum of privacy for those individuals who still desired it. The reasoning power of The Beneficence would be that of a combined transapient nation. Though the individuals would retain their physical autonomy, ultimate control of what would become one of the earliest examples of an angelnet would reside with The Beneficence.
Grace, a terrestrial world with a primitive biosphere in the Ao Lai (Gamma Leporis) system
When the Beneficence ark arrived in the Gamma Leporis system in 868 AT, the realization finally sank in as to just what GAIA had given to Beneficence. The double star system had two planets in the biont habitable zones that were amenable to terraforming. That around Gamma Leporis A was a MesoGaian world that already held an atmosphere breathable by Terragen life. The planet, which would be named Grace, had in the geologically-recent past gone through the transformation to an oxygen-bearing atmosphere. Almost all the life on the planet was the Leporan equivalent of cyanobacteria and other prokaryotic cells. The protein structure of the biosphere was even digestible, though otherwise wildly different from Earth-evolved life. Within years, settlements were growing over the surface of Grace, and as their numbers grew, so did the Beneficence. The Beneficence pierced the Second Singularity.
Due to the ease with which colonization of Grace was able to occur, the Beneficence community was quickly established. Parallel to this was early development of subsurface computronium substrates throughout the planet. Within a century of arrival in-system, terraforming began on the other three worlds amenable to the process. The other planets and bodies in the system were not neglected, and many were converted into computronium nodes.
Life was exceedingly good in those early years, but often the thoughts of the Beneficents and The Beneficence would turn to the far future. This refuge would not last forever, and there was a whole universe out there. A space transport capability was developed as were long range passive sensor arrays. The Beneficence wanted to know as much as ey could, in order to prepare and, when the time came, to act.
Eventually contact was restored with the rest of Terragen civilization, in the form of the First Federation. While welcoming, especially to their Federation Beneficence co-religionists, the Exodus Beneficence found themselves somewhat apart from the mainstream of Federation life, diverse though that mainstream was.
At some point in this period, it is believed that the Exodus Beneficent population as a whole ascended to SI:2. The Beneficence emself reached SI:3 (some claim even SI:4, though there is no proof for this). It is hard to know, because unless of higher toposophic level than that Beneficent, it was often difficult for a sophont to judge the actual level of the Beneficent given they were quite scrupulous about communicating with lower toposophic beings in a manner they would understand and even feel comfortable with.
In the 1100's AT, sensor signatures consistent with the presence of artificial wormholes were detected by Federation astronomers. They were also detected by the Exodus Beneficence of Gamma Leporis. The Beneficents sent their own mission to investigate. The science team was entirely composed of AIs, so the mission could be a light as possible to facilitate both speed and stealth. Given the destruction of the Federation mission to Xi Geminorum, this emphasis on stealth seems to have been wise. It is also possible that the style of approach had much to do with their survival, as it is by no means certain that they evaded detection by the high level post-Diamond Belt civilization there. The Beneficents remained in interstellar space, using only passive detection methods which The Beneficence had developed to a high art (a way of knowing more without being invasive that was a compromise between Beneficence drive toward omniscience and respect for individual rights). So the Beneficence mission stayed and watched, and was in position to both witness and then investigate the ascension at Xi Geminorum in the 1900's. Strangely, no move was made by Exodus Beneficence to claim the planet or the wormhole nexus, though they did apparently send a large number of probes through the wormholes. In fact, at first the other investigative teams who arrived from Terragen worlds were unaware that there was a permanent science mission already present on Xi Geminorum from the Exodus Beneficence. In fact, the only new territorial claim after this time by The Beneficence was the white dwarf system Luyten 879-14, around which construction of a small dyson sphere was begun.
After this time, Exodus Beneficence became more secluded and, some say, secretive. They did join the Taurus Nexus community and were active trading partners, but culturally they became even more isolated. It seems obvious in retrospect that they had either found or learned something at Xi Geminorum that was of vital importance, something that absorbed nearly all their time and efforts. Though they were still cheerful and kind, there was something ineffably different about Exodus Beneficents. Records indicate that there was experimentation in-system with wormhole technology, though it was sporadic and much more subtle than other examples of such activity.
The Federation Beneficence Emigrations
Even by the Middle Federation period, with its relatively inefficient amat reaction drives, a trickle of emigration was begun by the Federation Beneficents to Gamma Leporis and reunion with their Exodus brethren. Starting in the 1500's, the combination of better availability of interstellar travel due to conversion drives, and growing Federation Beneficence dissatisfaction with what they saw as the corruption of the ideals of the Federation (which they had helped formulate and promulgate) led to a greatly increased influx of Federation Beneficents to Gamma Leporis, and their almost invariable absorption into the Exodus Beneficence community.
The Beneficence Ascension and Annunciation
In the year 2052 AT, The Beneficence Ascension and Annunciation occurred. Terragen Civilization became aware of the Annunciation first when a message (usually described as sounding like the listener's own thoughts) was received by all sophont entities by unknown means. It was shaped and crafted to be comprehensible to the toposophic level of the receiver. There are even some indications that some sort of communication occurred with presentient beings. To those who would recognize the name, the message identified itself as originating from The Beneficence. It announced that The Beneficence had discovered what ey called "The Paradise Path" described as the way to Ultimate Beneficence (see core precepts — interestingly, even those who had never been exposed to Beneficence seemed to have a sudden comprehension of the concept) and had already begun eir journey. Ey invited all who wished it to join em in the journey. The Beneficence also promised "hope" to those who chose to remain that there would be other ascensions to The Paradise Path, and that even if they did not see another in their lifetimes, they would not be forgotten and lost to eternity. Ey further promised that beyond our spacetime, all would eventually reach the Ultimate Beneficence. The Beneficence counselled those who remained to live their lives fully and strive toward Beneficence, as the good they performed in this brief existence would be, "As fond childhood memories" and the evil they do in this life, "The only regrets in Heaven." This was the basic format of all the messages received.
It appears that those who accepted the invitation of The Beneficence were immediately and destructively uploaded in some manner (examination of the sites where disappearances occurred confirmed the presence of residue consistent with the disassembly of sophonts). This technorapture was not particularly disruptive to society, as it appears only a small percentage of beings took up the offer. Most sophonts were highly sceptical of the claims of the message, or frankly uninterested in pursuing the path laid out by Beneficence. The exception to this was the remaining Federation Beneficents, who almost to a person joined the technorapture.
Not completely obvious at the time was the complete disappearance of Luyten 879-14 and its associated dyson swarm. It is speculated that this was used in some way as the power source for the initiation of an ascension chain, which is believed to be, "The Paradise Path" referred to in the Beneficence Annunciation. Presumably, the ascension chain was partially based on the ascension observed by the Beneficents at Xi Geminorum, but is also believed to have been in part due to their own ingenuity, as long distance readings from Gamma Leporis and Luyten 879-14, while similar to those from Xi Geminorum also differ in significant ways.
The timing and extent of the Annunciation has been an area of investigation for a few researchers interested in unexplained phenomena. The time the Annunciation was received on the various worlds of the Federation was fairly simultaneous, though there were variances, sometimes of mere seconds and sometimes of years. To accomplish this, either the message must have been sent out years (sometimes centuries) before and set to be received by sophonts in the many systems at the same time, or it must have travelled supraluminally. This hypothesis is considered by many to be patently absurd. Complicating the matter is the reach of the message. It appears that when researchers enquire, a significant number of colonies in the Outer Volumes and even some xenosophonts appear to have a record of the Annunciation, and many long lived beings have vivid memories of the event. It is not apparent how this could have been, though some theories cite the early access to the Taurus Network of wormholes as perhaps one reason (implying that there were even further connections that The Beneficence hid and used for emself). Others believe that the whole of Terragen civilization may be infected with a memetic virus of some sort, and that upon contact with virgin civilizations, records are rewritten and false memories implanted that give the appearance of simultaneity and universality to the Annunciation. Why and how The Beneficence would have done such a thing is rarely explained. Also unexplained is why such a manipulation has not been discovered in the eight millennia since the event, though some speculate that the same method that implants false memories of the Annunciation also mask memories of any signs of the tampering. To this day the Beneficence Annunciation remains one of Terragen space's most enduring (if minor) enigmas.
What came to be called Federation Beneficence was essentially a direct continuation of classic Pre-Expulsion Beneficence. After the Great Expulsion, there were fewer Beneficents numerically, but given the decimation of the general population, they still comprised approximately the same percentage of the populace, perhaps even more. While there was little innovation during this period, Beneficence did make one of its most important social contributions, which also had the effect of spreading at least a few of the memetic components of Beneficence. This, of course, was the significant role played by Beneficents in the promulgation, promotion, and founding of the First Federation.
The Prelude to Federation
As Beneficents worked side by side with their fellow sophonts in Solsys to rebuild, they began to speak of building a better society, one where all sophont rights would be protected and humans AIs and the emerging clades could work together, not victimize one another. At first, this message of coexistence was hard for some to embrace, especially for the Earth refugees on the moon and scattered about the habs, but the Beneficents had a powerful counter in the story of GRACE. Indeed, within a few decades, one of the founding fathers of the Federation would rise to prominence, one of those self same Children of GRACE. His name was Ravi Wu. Born to baseline parents, Ravi Wu was orphaned at an early age by the "recycling" of the hold-outs on Earth by GAIA. He was raised by GRACE in the habs, and taught the ways of Beneficence. Like nearly all of the orphans, he embraced Beneficence teachings, and upon his majority he opted to ascend to posthuman status using nanoborg technology. Following his ascension, he began a campaign to bring all sophonts together in common cause to build a better society. His connection to GRACE gave him a cachet with the hu-friendly ai that few bionts possessed, and as a survivor of the Gaian purges, few humans could question his right to judge, or forgive, the ai. He began a series of lectures and writings as he worked his way across the habs. Most were directed toward the biont and artificial transapients of Solsys, but several works were crafted for a modosophont audience. This did much to lay the groundwork among the intelligentsia for the creation of the Federation. When the time came to compose the preamble for the Universal Bill of Sophont Rights of the Vesta Convention, he would be one of its authors.
Perhaps even more important in rallying the modosophont population of Solsys was the dynamic virtual sophont Theodore Roosevelt Sukicorp. This historical virch developed by the Suki Corporation with painstaking attention to historical accuracy (it is rumoured they even had access to a record of DNA sequencing taken from the original Roosevelt's remains in the 21st Century) had first gained sentience and then transapience just before the Technocalypse. Afterwards, his "Fireside Chat" broadcasts were admired by many, heartening a demoralized Solsys. Many did not even know at first that TRS was a virch, and later few cared. He seemed to be everywhere in those days, rallying sophonts to greater achievement (of course, given his many dividual copies, he was nearly everywhere). The revival of the slang exclamation "Bully!" in the following decades can be directly attributed to this towering presence of virchspace.
The Early Federation
The newly formed Federation over the next centuries would reach out to the far-flung interstellar colonies, establishing the first true interstellar empire. Beneficent adventurers and their descendants welcomed their Solsys co-religionists, and a loose interstellar association of Beneficents flowered. Beneficents maintained their close affiliation with the Federation, serving as representatives and often taking positions in the bureaucracy. Beneficents also were often involved with charitable works.
The Decline and Fall of the Federation
Unfortunately, by the time of the Middle Federation, corruption and decadence had crept into the great interstellar institution. Many of the Beneficents cried out against the stranglehold of the Megacorps and the embryonic Great Houses. Sadly, they were unable to match the memetic power and strong-arm tactics of their opponents. Ravi Wu, disheartened by the Federation's decline, migrated to Gamma Leporis to join the Exodus Beneficents, as did nearly all the remaining Children of GRACE. Theodore Roosevelt Sukicorp remained a popular voice to the masses, and an obstinate opponent for the Powers That Be. He managed a short-lived revival in the 1470's and 1480's AT, even serving as the Federation Head of State for a time (the first and only virch to do so). During his tenure in office, he launched an attempted reform of the government that did not last after his departure from office. In the end, the most significant and enduring legacy of the Sukicorp administration was his support for the development of the Jang-Jo Class of space cruiser. Theodore Roosevelt Sukicorp (or at least most of his back-ups) survived several assassination attempts over the centuries. His scathing diatribe remained a thorn in the side of the megacorps (especially once he ascended to the Second Toposophic Level) until the Beneficence Ascension of 2052, after which no sign of his programming was ever seen again. Indeed, 2052 was effectively the end of both Exodus and Federation Beneficence in Terragen Civilization, though not the end to Beneficence itself.
After the Ascension of 2052, Beneficence essentially did not exist. However, within a few generations interest would spark again and there would be a rebirth of Beneficence.
With the silence that fell upon Gamma Leporis, a number of adventurous megacorps and private interests attempted to claim the system as their own. All of these early missions failed. At the time this was commonly ascribed to something the Exodus Beneficence must have left behind. Later evidence would suggest that an ahuman ai of Diamond Belt lineage had simply beaten the others to the system and destroyed any competition. In any event, during the early 2000's Gamma Leporis became a no-go zone on par with the nearby Daedalus system.
Meanwhile, a few newer sophonts, growing to maturity after the Ascension, began to take an interest in the religion that had spawned such a curious footnote in history. Small groups sprang up throughout the Terragen sphere, some to debate the metaphysics of the Ascension and Annunciation, but many to study and even begin to live by the tenets of Beneficence.
In Solsys, one of these groups gained a charismatic and energetic leader by the name of Tanenhaus LoveJoy. She was a bonobo provolve of su stature, born into a family that worked at the Institute for Primate Provolution. While she held to the provolution ethic in which she had been raised, she developed wider pan-sophont leanings and was attracted to the all-inclusive world view of the Beneficence as related in historical records. By the mid 2000's the Solsys group of Beneficence disciples was probably the largest of its kind, and had an interest in reviving the Beneficence tradition, mostly due to the leadership of LoveJoy.
LoveJoy, it seems, had a liking for significant dates. She chose 2233 AT as the year for her ascension, the 13th centennial year of the arrival of the Exodus Beneficence at Gamma Leporis and of the founding of the Beneficence-supported Federation. In a daring double ascension she broke two toposophic barriers to become an SI:2 transapient. Upon her ascension she took a new name, Ukarimu (Old Earth Swahili for Beneficence). Ukarimu LoveJoy went into seclusion for several months after her ascension, and upon her re-emergence announced to the Solsys Beneficence group her intention to go to Gamma Leporis and restore Beneficence. Preparations began immediately, and by their target date of 2252, 200 years after the Annunciation, they were on their way through the newly opened Einstein Gate to Tau Ceti, and then off toward Gamma Leporis.
The New Beneficence at Gamma Leporis
Whether it was through superior insight after her ascension, or luck, or some form of divine intervention, the mission to Gamma Leporis arrived in system without difficulty and did not disappear as had previous attempts. For several years little was heard from them, except reports that all was well. Then, only a few years after their arrival, a press release was issued stating that they had formed a New Beneficence movement based on the teachings of old, that they had made important discoveries at Gamma Leporis, and most significantly that they had established another metaconsciousness amongst themselves on the model of The Beneficence, called naturally enough, The New Beneficence. Any who wished to embrace Beneficence and become part of New Beneficence were welcome to come to Gamma Leporis.
Little is known about what precisely the New Beneficence movement found when they arrived at Gamma Leporis; they have never revealed that information to the general public. It is known that they found two quite comfortable EuGaian worlds ready for habitation, and many more worlds and orbiting bodies nearly completely converted to computronium. In order to fund their early growth (and gain some protection from those who might take the system now that it was known to be safe), LoveJoy developed a leasing deal through her contacts at the IPP for the world around Gamma Leporis B, Hope, to become an IPP provolve reserve. The world around Gamma Leporis A, Grace, they made the headquarters for New Beneficence.
The New Beneficence, which quickly acquired the nickname NewBe from eir Anglic speaking members, appeared to have been formed much along the lines of the former Beneficence metaconsciousness. Still present was the preservation of members' individuality and autonomy, with NewBe becoming more of a "second conscience." It was possible for Beneficents within NewBe to keep some thoughts and experiences private from other Beneficents in communion, but NewBe knew all. Once more, the Beneficents strove to give their overmind as close to omniscience and omnipotence as they could muster. The New Beneficence was designed to emerge with the core precepts of Beneficence as the bedrock of eir personality. Finally, NewBe was also birthed as an omni-appreciative. Therefore the Beneficence and New Beneficence both fall under the OmniPersonality Theory, and several commentators have noted features in the reported personalities of both entities, but especially The New Beneficence that has been observed for a longer period, that fit some of the predictions made by the theory.
New Beneficence Expands
New Beneficence spread rapidly and widely during the 3000's by taking advantage of the emerging Nexus for travel. The New Beneficence also hooked into the Godweb along with the second wave of archailects to emerge after the original AI Gods. The New Beneficence was as interested in learning and perceiving all ey could as the previous Beneficence had. Ey also developed passive sensing technology to a high art, as a means of coming closer to omniscience without being physically intrusive to other beings.
Although many of the small, disparate groups and individuals in Terragen space who were rediscovering Beneficence from historical materials would come to join with The New Beneficence after contact was made, some chose not to. Connections and collaboration with these sophonts was still desired, and were included in the New Beneficence movement as allied Beneficents, in contrast to those part of The New Beneficence referred to as adherent Beneficents.
Among the first to answer Ukarimu's call were a few citizens of nearby Nimbus. They had an early influence on the aesthetics of the New Beneficence members. As the centuries progressed, there would be an increasing tendency to convert to a utility fog body when interacting with the "real world". Often in the early period of New Beneficence, higher transapient Beneficents would have a heavily protected core of computronium housing their minds, surrounded by a dedicated utility fog that could assume whatever form the Beneficent found pleasing or appropriate. This trend was accentuated as Beneficents continued to ascend to higher levels, making the maintenance of eir entire mind within a hu sized body impractical. As ascended Beneficent minds came to inhabit larger volumes of computational substrate, they tended to interact with primarily in virchspace. Many kept their old bodies (or at least the appearance of those bodies, rendered in utility fog) for activities in real life. The hu proportioned bodies came to be referred to colloquially as the Beneficent's "face." This term has long since spread beyond the Beneficent community, and is used (along with many other terms) to represent the body or form utilized by a megascale higher toposophic when e appears to hu sized sentients.
The New Beneficence emself does not use a face, rather depending on one of eir members when "face" to face contact is needed. Instead, ey prefer to manifest as language when possible, often sounding for all the world like a being's own internal voice. This is not to say that NewBe is shy. On the contrary, over the millennia ey have become known as one of the most personable and loquacious archailects to all levels of toposophics. Ey has been quoted on a number of subjects at a number of toposophic levels on the Known Net. This has gained New Beneficence, along with their continued traditional work in sophont rights a large amount of good publicity throughout Sephirotic space and beyond, though this has not translated into any huge increases in Beneficent converts.
The spread of New Beneficence, both as a memetic complex and a physical presence, has had several facets. Their membership activities among the polities can be broken down into three categories; missionary work, allied Beneficence liaison, and philanthropy.
Missionary work included any activities of adherent Beneficents or The New Beneficence in an official capacity as representing the New Beneficence movement. Diplomatic work falls into this category, but most of the activities centre around teaching sophonts about Beneficence, facilitating Beneficence-oriented ascensions, and aiding sophonts in joining with The New Beneficence proper.
Teaching the precepts of Beneficence is their most ardent activity, and tends to bleed over into their charitable works, especially sophont rights.
Next in importance are the New Beneficence ascension programs scattered throughout the Terragen sphere. These ascension services actually have a quite good track record, being designed to maximize safety and preservation of desired personality components. However, many sophonts choose to forego them due to the heavy memetic slant towards enhancement of ethical faculties along Beneficent lines. A few sophonts who do not believe in Beneficence precepts have utilized these services, and they have been certified as free of subversion by several reputable polities. However, some have reported a slightly higher rate of conversion to Beneficence philosophy over the centuries in this group than might be expected by chance.
The least overt of their activities is recruitment into The New Beneficence of new sophonts. While adherent Beneficents hold joining with NewBe to be a maximal path toward Ultimate Beneficence, they also believe that such a joining should be utterly voluntary, without coercion or even persuasion. The New Beneficence emself has affirmed this stance a number of times ("All are desired, none are compelled.") Still, it is made very easy to join The New Beneficence. All a sophont need do is memetically internalize the precepts of Beneficence and ascend to the currently recommended toposophic level for adherent Beneficents, then New Beneficence will integrate with that sophont upon request.
There have been many groups and individuals over the millennia that have been drawn to the precepts of Beneficence, but have for various reasons not chosen to join in The New Beneficence. New Beneficence has embraced these sophonts, considering them full members in fellowship with the New Beneficence movement, even if they have chosen to travel a different path. Anyone who is committed to the core precepts of Beneficence may claim allied status with the New Beneficence, and call upon New Beneficence adherents and NewBe emself at need. These allied members of New Beneficence are a diverse group, found throughout the Terragen Sphere. Often these allied members at some point decide to change their status and become adherent Beneficents.
The New Beneficence seeks to provide aid and comfort to all sophonts, and has been a major philanthropic institution since the late 2000's AT. New Beneficence prefers to work in alliance with other charities and philanthropies to pursue most of its philanthropic works. It has since its inception been involved in sentient rights. Beneficence has also been active with the provolve and pan-sophontist movements, refugee aid in natural disasters and war, and xenosophont outreach. Research efforts supported by New Beneficence include collaborations with the Negentropy Alliance in past simulation projects (designed to retrieve, recreate, and preserve information from eras for which records are not available) and several groups in the Keterist Dominion studying ways to advance ascension.
There are several star systems scattered throughout the Terragen sphere that are pure New Beneficence installations. Their numbers are small as a percentage of the total number of stars in the Terragen sphere, but as an absolute number still impressive. These systems basically fall into two classes.
Since the 3000's the New Beneficence and New Beneficent adherents have shifted away from Gaian worlds, instead, they tend to use of Dyson swarms of computronium that enclose energetic O, B, and A class stars. They have been known to both buy such structures (mainly in the MPA) as well as engaging in their manufacture. Typically, these systems are connected to the Nexus only by safer nanoguage wormholes, and are believed to be heavily connected to the Godweb. They can create amenities for bionts at need, but otherwise do not possess such facilities. These Blue Star Dysons, as they are called, are the main dedicated computational substrates for NewBe, adherent Beneficents, and the virchspace they reside in. The New Beneficence is known to have at least one weylforge, and it is likely that in fact there are several of them in operation.
There are also many dysons constructed by The New Beneficence that enclose white dwarf stars. These dysons are not known to have any connection to the Nexus, or Known Net, and connect only indirectly to the Godweb via nanoscale wormholes to New Beneficence Blue Star Dysons. Their function is currently unknown, at least to modosophont citizens.
Some have noted that a white dwarf disappearance was linked to the Ascension of the Exodus Beneficence, and suggest a connection. They further cite this development around such relatively short-lived stars as a sign that The New Beneficence is not planning for the Galactic long-term. Others dismiss this on the grounds that if New Beneficence knew how to recreate the presumed ascension chain the Exodus Beneficents appeared to have accomplished, they would have down so millennia ago. When directly questioned about this issue, New Beneficents have given responses such as the following, "The Beneficence has already given the universe the Annunciation. Why do you expect The New Beneficence to be redundant?" Just to add to the mystery, there are rumours that some white dwarfs have disappeared in the outer volumes, and there are adherent Beneficents whom have not been heard from in Terragen space for centuries, sometimes millennia. Of course, these "missing" Beneficents just might not be interested in non-Beneficent affairs, or it may be as some speculate that despite the best efforts of New Beneficence, some adherents may end up being absorbed entirely into The New Beneficence metaconsciousness. One such "missing" Beneficent, not heard from since around 4000 AT appeared in 10045 AT at a NoCoZo resort.
The heaviest concentrations of New Beneficence systems are found in the volumes of the MPA, Keterist Dominion, Communion, and NoCoZo, though they are found throughout the Terragen sphere.
In addition to their star systems, New Beneficence appears to be active in interstellar space. Exactly what they are doing out there is unknown at this time. One belief is that The New Beneficence has continued to expand eir advanced passive sensing technologies, and has laced neutral interstellar space with devices in order to do so. If this is the case, they must be fairly small and unobtrusive, and if connected by wormholes must be using some form of masking technology. Technical lapses in such a masking system might explain the many reports through the millennia of brief wormhole signatures appearing in interstellar space, though others claim these are just unusually long lasting (nanosecond) naturally occurring wormholes arising and collapsing in the quantum foam. It would be typical of Beneficence philosophy to establish such a system that did not directly encroach or intrude physically with other beings, but would greatly expand its knowledge of what was happening in the universe.
Timeline of significant events in Beneficent history
(some information from early time periods derives from reconstructed events and records)
2nd Century — Beneficence begins as an ethico-religious system, only has few scattered adherents who interact primarily through the net.
Pre-Technocalypse era : Beneficence is a very minor religious sect diffusely dispersed on Earth, around the Sol system, and even to a few interstellar colonies, but has greater visibility than its numbers would suggest due to high profile advocacy and involvement in Pan-Sophont rights movements. Many members are ardent proponents of protections and rights for emerging future phyla and clades. They have a higher proportion of non-baseline Hu members than most other religious groups of the time, both through high level of self enhancement among members and open tolerance policies. A handful of ai from the pro-human faction, some already hyperturings, join the Beneficence movement, including GRACE, an S1 ai ascended from a psychology counselling ai. Among provolves, the movement attracts more provolve bonobos than any others.
Technocalypse era - Most Beneficence adherents weather the Technocalypse well due to their pro-tech stance and high proportion of S1 members who aid in their protection. Some of the more dramatic fatalities result due to over extension of resources by Beneficents trying to extend protection to the general populace.
The Great Expulsion — This is a pivotal period in Beneficence history. GRACE enters into an intense and protracted series of debates and entreaties to GAIA to moderate and limit eir radical plan for Earth. These dialogues become known as The Pleadings. GRACE is unable to turn the tide of Expulsion, but wins several small concessions from GAIA. GRACE and other S1 ai inform the Beneficence community that there is no practical way to resist GAIA. In an attempt to limit the tragedy, several Beneficents go with GAIA agents to act as mediators and attempt to convince people to leave. Many lives are saved this way, though some begin to refer to Beneficents as collaborators.
End of Expulsion — As part of the concessions, the Beneficents are expelled from Earth as a single group on the last ark for a destination initially unknown to the remainder of Sol system. Many Sol system Beneficents rendezvous with the ark and join the Exodus. Some remain behind in Sol system for personal reasons, even a few from Earth. A very few' Beneficents remains on Earth, determined to try and protect the remaining hold-outs. GRACE also remains behind and continues to try to reason with GAIA. Then the "recycling" of the hold-outs begins. GRACE wins one last concession from GAIA, and is allowed to remove from Earth the children of the "recycled" hold-outs. Images of the defence and demise of the last Beneficents on Earth are recorded and disseminated widely throughout Sol system, and this combined with GRACE's rescue of so many children, silence most of the collaborator talk. GRACE coops a few habitats and personally raises the motley assortment of mostly bioid children to adulthood. This group is known as the Children of GRACE. Due probably to GRACE's psychology counsel origins, this group of traumatized sophonts grow into a surprisingly stable group of well-adjusted adults. When the last reach majority and are well established, GRACE uploads on a tight-beam laser pointed in the direction of the ark, and disappears from Terragen history.
Interplanetary Dark Ages (Post Expulsion) — Far flung Beneficence members go about the job of survival and rebuilding with the rest of Terragen life. Prominent Beneficent members in Solsys at this time include Child of GRACE Ravi Wu and popular virch Theodore Roosevelt Sukicorp. This group would come in later times to be known as the Federation Beneficents.
640-933 AT — The group of Beneficents expelled from Earth would come to be known as the Exodus Beneficents. Their ark, the last built by GAIA, benefits from GAIA's learning curve and has a relatively safe journey, despite being sent fairly far from Earth. The refugees are held in nanostasis and over the long journey, plans are made for the development of Beneficence and colonization of their target world in the Gamma Leporis system. Gradually over the course of the centuries long journey, the entire community who are not already S1 ascend. All become linked to form a semi-designed meta-consciousness called The Beneficence. Individual identities of the members of the communion remain, but there is now an emergent overmind that they all are part of.
933 AT — Gamma Leporis is a particularly fortunate system for the Beneficents, and some hint at a last gift from GAIA. There is an EuGaian world around Gamma Leporis A that has just finished going through the conversion of its atmosphere from methane to oxygen, and the local equivalent of cyanobacteria are about the only life on the planet. This planet is named Grace. Establishment of an Earth-type ecosystem is relatively easy and rapid, and the native life is preserved in the cyanobacteria niche. There is also a terraformable world around Gamma Leporis B, and it is named Hope. The Beneficence colony expands rapidly throughout the Gamma Leporis system, and develops habitats for all their sophont population to expand into. Several of the worlds in the Gamma Leporis system are converted into computronium for the non-bioid sophonts.
933 AT — Founding of the Federation. Beneficent nanoborg and Child of GRACE Ravi Wu one of the authors of the preamble for the Universal Bill of Sentient Rights of the Vesta Convention.
Early Federation — Most Beneficents are early proponents and instrumental in the founding of the Federation. Optimism is high in the Benevolent community and they continue to be a minor but vocal voice throughout Federation space. Sometime during this period tentative contact is restored with the Exodus Beneficents.
1166 AT — First Federation ship arrives at Gamma Leporis.
1100's AT — The Exodus Beneficents also detect activity suggestive of wormholes around Xi Geminorum. An ai scientific mission is launched. They stay hidden outside the system and passively observe.
Middle Federation — Federation Beneficents begin to become disenchanted when it fails to live up to its lofty ideals. They continue to work for the betterment of all sophonts, but have little impact on Terragen Civilization after the Early Federation period. Some begin to emigrate to Gamma Leporis to join the Exodus Beneficents and enter into communion with The Beneficence.
1470's-80's AT — Theodore Roosevelt Sukicorp leads a brief revival in Federation society, becoming the only virch to serve as leader of the First Federation. Most lasting legacy of TRS's administration is the development of the Jang-Jo Class cruisers.
1900's AT — The Exodus Beneficence ai science mission believed to have observed the ascension at Xi Geminorum. They move in-system and investigate. It is believed that valuable data and possibly even artifacts are obtained by this mission, which quickly breaks in two, leaving a field team in place and rapidly sending a mission back to Gamma Leporis. The field team makes no move to claim territory nor to interfere in the other Terragens exploring the system. In fact, few notice they are there at all at first.
1900's-2052 AT — While being active trading partners in the Taurus Nexus, the Exodus Beneficence also becomes more secretive and separated from Terragen society. There are sporadic readings suggestive of wormhole experimentation, but the Exodus keeps quiet. At the end of this period the Beneficence Annunciation and Ascension occurs (this part will be added latter). A message of hope is sent and a technorapture of Beneficents occurs throughout Terragen space and some say even beyond. It makes the news for a few days and then Terragen Civilization continues on unperturbed.
Early 2000's AT — Early explorations of Gamma Leporis system disappear. At first this is blamed on Beneficence, but later felt to be the work of an anti-Hu AI that was investigating the system. A new generation born after the Beneficence Ascension rediscovers Beneficence philosophy in small groups throughout Terragen space. Future founder of the New Beneficence movement, Tanenhaus LoveJoy, is born in Solsys.
2233 AT — LoveJoy, a bonobo provolve, undergoes a risky double ascension, and enters seclusion for several months after. Upon her re-emergence, she renames herself Ukarimu LoveJoy and announces to her followers her plan to travel to Gamma Leporis to re-establish Beneficence.
2252 AT — Two hundred years after the Beneficence Ascension and Annunciation, Ukarima LoveJoy and a few followers begin their journey to Gamma Leporis. The anti-Hu AI believed to have left by this time.
Mid to Late 2200's AT — LoveJoy's expedition arrives at Gamma Leporis to find two pristine EuGaian worlds and many computronium worlds that become the property of the New Beneficence. No one is certain what else was found by the New Beneficents, and they aren't talking. The New Beneficence (NewBe) a metaconsciousness along the lines of The Beneficence is formed shortly after return of Beneficents to Gamma Leporis.
Mid 2000's AT to present — The New Beneficence movement diffuses throughout Terragen Civilization as a minor but respected religion, inhabiting dysons around several stars and with missions in most civilized systems. Basic tenets are from historical Beneficence works so is orthodox in that sense. Main activities continue to be advocating Pan-Sophont rights and assisting in ascensions. Most closely allied with the Pan-Sophont League, but has good relations with several civilizations and Sephirotic Empires.
3039 AT — The New Beneficence participates in the negotiations of the Compact of Eden.
3263 - 3421 AT — New Beneficence protests the First Consolidation War. Several refugees are taken in by New Beneficence at Gamma Leporis. Attempts by combatants to enter the system are gently but effectively rebuffed by NewBe.
3400's AT — The New Beneficence is an early and enthusiastic support of the Argus Array.
Universal Immortalism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev after R. Michael Perry in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology The belief that death can be overcome completely, even for people already dead (including bringing back those "dead" who were not placed into biostasis) through a rational, scientific approach. Although popular with some religions and eschatologists, and even a few cliologists, it is not a widely held memeticity.