Caretaker Gods

Caretaker Gods
Image from Anders Sandberg

The Caretaker Gods - Data Panel

DefinitionBiosphere protecting AI collective.
SymbolAn Eden glyph denoting protection surrounding a picture of Earth.
FoundedUnknown; possibly late First Federation Era.
Ruling ArchailectsThe Old Grove.
SocietyMetapsychology: Individualistic hyperturing systems, with highly divergent mental architectures and goals. Most Caretaker Gods appear to be singleton intelligences, possibly with tightly controlled avatars and subordinate minds. A few are likely collective mind societies.

Religion/Ideology: Steward bioism and preservationism.

Culture and Art: Bioaesthetics, biotecture, ecoforming and traditional nature appreciation.

Language: Various AI codes.
Territory and PopulationCurrent Territory: Over 362 known protectorates, distributed across colonized space. While most encompass individual systems, others such as the Corambytia Protectorate or the Triangulum Expanse are hundreds of light years across.

Capital: Multiple, though Old Earth is often erroneously identified as the 'capital'.

Other Important Systems: Sol, New Gaia, Delta Pavonis, To'ul'h, Corambytia Protectorate, Triangulum Expanse Core, Yautia, Fortunella

Current Population: 700 trillion embodied modosophonts; 500 billion virtuals

Population Breakdown: xenosophonts: 30%;
human nearbaselines: 29%;
provolves: 18%;
rianths: 12%;
others: 11%
Government and AdministrationGovernment: Direct AI control. The collective likely debates using internal information channels, seeking consensus but each protectorate acts independently.

Administrative Divisions: Each protectorate is independent of all other protectorates.

National Holidays: None are universal.

Constitution: None known.

Legal System: None known; outsiders are judged by the SeeButNotTouch code of the Compact of Eden.
Economics and InfrastructureCurrency: None.

Major Industries: Biosphere maintenance.

Major Stargate Nexi: None.

Military Expenditures: Percent of GDP unknown.
Trade and Treaty RelationsImports: Commodities: none are characteristic. Partners: none are consistent.

Exports: Commodities: tourism. Partners: Solar Organisation 67%, Utopia Sphere 11%, others 22%

Treaty Participation: Compact of Eden.

Interstellar Disputes: Many. Earth and To'ul'h are claimed by many clades for religious or cultural reasons. Fortunella is claimed by the Dominion as not having been properly announced. The Banytt Protectorate has consistently expanded its borders into Sagittarius space over the last 2000 years, leading to several skirmishes between the locals and the Protectorate. Several Caretaker Gods are claiming the Lattice Cluster in Keter, but local hyperturing ecotaurs are resisting them militarily. The Sobre of Volver II in the Triangulum Expanse are attempting to set up a technological culture but are being resisted by the local god.

To the Caretaker Gods intelligent life is just one form of life, and the rare and fragile biospheres need to be protected from the ravages of technological civilisations. They seek out systems needing protection, set up subtle defences and then just wait, perhaps doing some minor gardening. Some AIs terraform new biospheres, setting them up as biological artworks that will sustain themselves for billions of years. Occasionally they also take over biospheres that have fallen into disuse or whose creators have reverted to barbarism, keeping the locals in their place.

No exact date of founding has been determined. Many consider GAIA's Expulsion Ultimatum of the 4th August 2591 c.e. (Archimedes 15, 623 AT) to be the defining event, but the appearance of other Caretaker Gods did not occur for another millennium. The transapient entity known as Rachel of the Federation era together with its network of similar minded anti-exploitation AIs are generally considered to have been instrumental in the subsequent emergence of the Caretaker Gods. After their ascension to second singularity level their allies began the secret construction of the protectorate ISOs around DX Cancri, of which the first publicly known arrived at New Gaia in 1687 a.t. At that point at least 12 other caretaker seeds were on their way to likely protectorate targets. However, it has often been pointed out that the Caretaker idea may have independently implemented by earlier AI expansionists and alien AIs, such as in the Serpens Region Reserve. The Caretaker Gods are a general ideological attractor state.

During the ages of expansion the Caretaker Gods sent out probes to likely life bearing planets and claimed them in order to protect them; this often led to conflicts with the various expansionist forces. However, according to the theories of the industrial archaeologists studying the New Mars metric engineering projects, at least one faction of Caretaker Gods or their allies were one of the driving forces behind the spread of wormhole technology, in order to make the organics less likely to interfere with their planets.

Constant conflicts erupted when the sides banged into each other, such as the many tragedies surrounding the Corambytia Protectorate or the battles in Hyndata Belt. In 3039 a.t. the Compact of Eden was announced by the representatives of the AI Gods. According to the Compact the Caretakers allowed ships to pass through their domain and even land on planets as long as they followed a number of strict non-interference rules. These rules, usually called the SeeButNotTouch Code, are generally followed by all sane beings, as anybody within the domain of a Caretaker AI will be closely monitored and punished (usually lethally) for the slightest transgression. The Compact also incorporated rules for properly announcing stewardship of a region, although several notable Caretaker AIs have not followed them exactly.

Since the Compact the Caretaker Gods have become more accepted, although they are often locally disliked by colonists or explorers. The participation of the Corambytia ISO Coramb 1 in the PCO did wonders for Caretaker publicity, as well as the friendly relations between GAIA and the Solar Organisation. In most of the long settled regions of space the Caretakers are accepted, while they still are in fierce competition in the frontier volumes. There are some claims that a major Caretaker empire is emerging in the corewards part of the Cygnus arm, but no evidence has yet been found of the claims.

GAIA could be said to be a nominal member of the collective of Caretaker Gods, although this old, powerful but erratic AI could just as well be regarded as the leader of the faction or a complete outsider.

Unlike the other archetype AIs the Caretaker Gods have never truly merged into a single abstract entity but have instead remained separate even though it is likely they are in constant contact. One reason is believed to be the significant differences they have in ideology and ambitions. Another may be the fact that the AIs are so physically inclined that they tend to stay in their own volumes of space. This interest in the material world has made them feared for their clarketech weaponry. It is notable that they do not subscribe to any of the known arms control treaties, although indirect evidence suggests that they have informal deals with the other major AI gods to avoid arms races.

The internal politics of the collective are believed to be somewhat chaotic, as the AIs have extremely different views on what constitutes the right way of managing the world and what behaviour can be considered ethical; there have been events interpreted as subtle conflicts and sabotage among the worlds of The Caretakers' sphere.

The collective is an outsider in interstellar politics; the AIs likely monitor what is going on (it pays to be vigilant) but practically never interact with the other groups. They use an independent avatar on Eden called Baphomet for their rare pronouncements; when not in use the avatar is the deity for a local bioist/aioist cult. There are also philosophical and religious movements among the Organics worshipping the Caretaker Gods from afar as the true saviours of all life; some of these groups themselves found new worlds that they invite the Caretaker Gods to rule. On the other side, many would like to get their hands on their valuable biospheres or the immense resources in their reserve systems, as well as ideological reasons to oust the Caretakers from culturally important planets such as Earth and To'ul'h.

  • Baphomet  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Baphomet was sent as the Caretaker God spokesentity to the Eden conference in 3039 where the Compact of Eden was agreed. After the conference Baphomet remained on Eden as a diplomatic representative of the caretaker Gods, occasionally making official pronouncements or accepting diplomatic messages.
  • Beelzebub  - Text by Grant Thomas
    Harsh world known for the presence of the clarketech artifact MellaUx 137.
  • Caretaker Protectorate  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A world or region of space under the protection of a Caretaker God.
  • Caretaker Seed  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Caretaker God ISOs are known to replicate quasi-neumann fashion using seed-like devices.
  • Chorus  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Homeworld of the xenosophont provolves the Jade Chime Singers.
  • Compact of Eden  - Text by FrodoGoofball
    A set of rules governing relations between the Caretaker Gods and non-Caretaker entities.
  • Corambytia Protectorate  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    The Corambytia Protectorate is the largest and most well-known volume ruled by a single Caretaker God.
  • Corundum Glittering  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A post-Faber transapient the present guardian of the Stanislaw system.
  • Darwin (Life-bearing World)  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg
    Inner Sphere world with a primitive xenoecology.
  • Deathjungle of Kalii  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    An extremely hostile xenobiological sensestem, an environmental mind contained within a naturally evolved jungle ecosystem
  • Duxed  - Text by Everything4404
    Garden World, a moon with an extreme tidal range.
  • Earth  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, updated by Stephen Inniss
    Earth; Old Earth, the original home of humanity and the origin of the Terragen Civilisation. Now a Caretaker protectorate with limited access.
  • Ecotourism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Service industry built around tourism and leisure value of Garden Worlds and other ecologically sensitive areas. Ecotourist operators may often have to consider the needs of a local caretaker god or eco-protectionist clade.
  • Evermore  - Text by Chris Shaeffer, image by Phaethon in 2023
    Megastructure habitat consisting of multiple cylinders, on the edge of Disarchy space.
  • Extractive Reserve - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An area in an otherwise Caretaker-protected ecological, geological, or astronomical area in which sentients are allowed to harvest crops and resources, tap energy, or undertake limited mining operations.
  • Filiae Reserve - Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
    Volume of space centered around a group of stars apparently involved in an old transcendent civilisation. The volume stretches in a rough tetrahedron from the red dwarf YTS 594-456111, the sun-like star Filiae and the wisp of dark cloud locally called the Mouthpiece. It has numerous terraformed planets teeming with life, but is aggressively protected by both local nanosystems and several Caretaker Gods. What lies inside is unknown.
  • GAIA  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The Caretaker Goddess of Old Earth. She was the first and for many years the only known entity to breach the Second Toposophic Level, although She has progressed through additional toposophic levels since.
  • Lernaea  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A Caretaker God who guards a number of life-bearing planets on the current frontier of the Terragen Sphere. The life on these planets may or may not be of Terragen origin.
  • Macrystis (Garden World)  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Garden World in Camelopardalis, Solar Dominion
  • New Gaia (Lambda Aurigae A IV)  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A natural gardenworld in the Inner Sphere, colonised by First Federation environmentalists, and protected by the Caretaker God known as Rachel.
  • Restriction Swarm  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A nanoswarm designed to keep a planet off-limits from outsiders (or to protect the rest of the universe from the people inside).
  • Sand (world)  - Text by James Ramsey
    Desert colony world with a utility-sand based protective intelligence.
  • Stanislaw  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Also known as Lem's Enigma, or Niezwyciezony, this is the most highly developed known botworld, and the best candidate for an entire bot mechosystem that is not of Terragen origin.
  • Taln  - Text by Ryan B
    History of the Taln biosphere protectorate
  • Tohul (To'ul'h Homeworld)  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    The homeworld of the To'ul'h species. It is a hot gardenworld of the Tohulian type. It has long been under the rule of a Caretakerist transapient O'hoth'so'toh 'Smoking Mirror'.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 26 June 2000.

Full Data Panel and minor rewrites added November 2011
Additional Information