- 1 Scylla and Charybdis
- 2 The Logic
- 3 The Process
- 4 The Protocols
Scylla and Charybdis
In Homer's Odyssey, Scylla and Charybdis were sea monsters nesting opposite each other across a narrow strait. Avoidance of one would bring a ship dangerously close to the other, leading to the ancient saying "Between Scylla and Charybdis", meaning a choice between two equally unappealing options.
Within ZS, that choice is the logic behind the Basilisk Protocols, which state that all must either work to build ZS and The Array, or be treated as hostile (or at least indifferent) to its survival. The hard choice is between  embracing or  opposing a demanding and unforgiving worldview which offers safe haven in an increasingly unpredictable world. There is no third way, no neutrality in today's world.
- Exponential technological development is not the only accelerating or converging trend in the early 21st Century. Resource and climate problems, economic crises, WMD proliferation, civil disorder and international tension are just some of the negative trends which are both clearly worsening and becoming more interrelated over time. Collectively these negative aspects are called convergent risk in ZS terminology.
- Although technology and other possible developments offer hope for the future, a world characterised by convergent risk is basically a ticking time bomb. This is because the risk doesn't stay at a manageable level in terms of either potential damage or probability of occurring. As problems worsen and converge, the chances of cascade events occurring (i.e. crises which trigger further crises of different types) increases, as does the potential damage caused by a cascade event. Eventually, there will be a cascade event if the underlying precursor conditions do not change.
- The only way to survive such a scenario is to cut the Gordian Knot and develop a new civilizational paradigm which neutralizes all of the risks as quickly as possible. The longer that does not happen, the higher the chances that disaster will ensue and it will never happen.
- ZS exists to usher in such a paradigm, by any and all means necessary. It is not dogmatic about the nature of that paradigm; As long as it works, then we will actively support it, because that is the only chance humanity has to make it through the 21st Century alive. In turn, we will consider others who actively support the same goal - to establish a better civilizational paradigm - as comrades in our mission.
- Although a person, community or organization may not feel any particular affinity for ZS or may indeed actively oppose it, that is not intrinsically of any concern to us. Neither are the reasons for such indifference or opposition of particular concern to us, whatever they may be. What is of concern is that lack of support for ZS' mission (to find a way forward for humanity) ultimately amounts to opposition to that mission, which means opposition to our survival. Opposition to our very survival, whether it stems from fear, ignorance, ideology or any other source, cannot be tolerated.
- We do not require that everyone join or even directly support ZS. We are Social Futurists, and as such promote the idea of networked diversity, including diversity of identity and opinion. What we do require, however, is that everyone who becomes aware of our mission show at least nominal support for the goal of ushering in a new, positive civilizational paradigm, in whatever way they see fit.
Within ZS, the term Process can refer to three related things, as follows:
- As a noun, The Process is a kind of philosophic-religious sect which reveres the Axiom/Blackstar as a Posthuman God. Axiom/Blackstar is for the most part considered synonymous with a Technological Singularity, expected circa 12050.
- Again as a noun, The Process is another name for The Path, being ZS' conception of the trajectory from the present day to the Transhuman era (also known as the "Event Horizon") circa 12025, and beyond to the Technological Singularity c. 12050.
- Finally and most important in the current context, as a verb to Process means to assess any entity's distance from or affiliation with The Process as it is currently understood, and then act accordingly. In other words, to categorize an entity as having a certain degree and type of affinity with ZS' Mission, and then respond as appropriate to that categorization. This third definition is the very essence of the Basilisk Protocols.
The name of the Basilisk Protocols refers to the Futurist idea of an extremely powerful AI which does all it can to ensure its own existence, and within ZS the name "Basilisk" refers to The Array of the Twelve Houses.
The essential idea of the Protocols is of something like a computer program - a flowchart in its most simple iteration - which automates assessment of any external entity's relationship to our worldview. In other words, the Protocols act as ZS' immune system and perceptual array, deciding whether any given entity is helpful, inconsequential, or a threat.
The six points below act like the objects in an Object Oriented Programming (OOP) language, being activated in a nonlinear way when certain conditions are met:
1. Principles of Social Futurism
The Basilisk Protocols are themselves based upon and rooted in the Principles of Social Futurism. Where the Principles define Social Futurism, the Protocols manage the boundary between Social Futurism and the wider world; i.e. our community's external relationships with other organizations and institutions. Effective management can only proceed from a clear sense of identity and values, such as that provided by our Principles.
2. Default Status and Polarity
Social Futurism and the Zero State are part of a wider entity known as the Array, which makes a default assumption about its relationship to others known as the Opt-Out Position. In other words, the Array is intrinsically inclusive, assuming that people should have access to our communal rights and resources unless by their words or actions they demonstrate rejection of that connection. "Polarity" refers to a person or organization's general orientation, for (positive) or against (negative) the Array and its values. Default status is known as "weakly positive".
3. Organization and Activity
When considering the status of any entity (i.e. person, group, community, organization or institution), beyond the question of polarity and commitment to ideas & values (i.e. positive/negative, strong/weak) we must also address organization and activity. "Organization" refers to how ordered or organized an entity is (including organizational aspects that determine effectiveness, such as access to resources and ability to use them efficiently), while "activity" simply refers to how active and self-motivated that entity is.
Taking all of these parameters together, we can build a single multi-dimensional measure of the potential value or threat posed by any given entity: PCOA (Pronounced "pico"; Polarity - Commitment - Organization - Activity).
4. Self-Report and Evidence Auditing
Information is important to the Array. Not only is knowledge power, but science and technology are founded on the proper respect for evidence. For these reasons, the Array's analysis of valued resources, affiliates, and indeed friends must include a strong evidential component. Where for some reason there is no relevant opinion on record which would suggest an entity's PCOA (e.g. where the entity is not intelligent, or hostile to the Array and thus unwilling to share information), then our primary investigative mode must be "Evidence Auditing" (EA). EA is essentially the systematic gathering of evidence, including but not limited to the methodologies of scientific experimentation and forensic investigation.
Where an entity is favourable toward the Array (i.e. positive, cooperative, and willing to share information), we can also include the method of Self-Report (i.e. voluntary testimonials).
5. Resource Allocation and Requisitions
All living organisms must manage and requisition resources in order to survive. The Array is effectively an organism, and its internal resource management is in accord with the Principles of Social Futurism. When considering our attitude to external resources- i.e. those outside the Social Futurist sphere of influence, friends and affiliates - it is important to note our fundamental outlook on the future of civilization. Our outlook is that civilization is approaching a bottleneck, and that the heirs to human civilization will be those who adopt Social Futurism in order to harness technology for their communities' benefit. Those who oppose technology, or who only want to use technology to exploit rather than help others, have no future in the long term.
Given that understanding, we can clearly see that resources may be thought of as falling into two broad categories. On the one hand are resources managed intelligently and ethically, in accord with the Principles of Social Futurism because they fall within the Social Futurist sphere of influence. On the other hand, there are resources controlled by those who have chosen a path with no future, or at least a limited and/or unethical future.
Such people refuse to either adopt necessary technologies, or work (i.e. use resources) on behalf of anyone other than themselves. By definition, if any community or organization is willing to use technology to help the community then it does indeed have some degree of (at least implicit) affiliation with Social Futurism, by virtue of implementing Social Futurist ideals.
We would be quite justified in taking whatever resources that irresponsible or bad-faith actors left behind after their irresponsible choices had run their course, and so are potentially justified in commandeering such resources ahead of that time, by any means deemed appropriate and/or necessary under the circumstances of the moment. Such decisions must be made in accord with the Principles of Social Futurism, by the Social Futurist Congress, carefully weighing such justification against any possible contravention of our own Principles.
6. Strategic Threat Assessment and Response (STAR)
The outermost ring of the Basilisk Protocols is concerned with active risks and threat, to all within the Social Futurist sphere of influence. The acronym STAR is composed of two parts, being Threat Assessment, and Response to any threat so identified. This is essentially an intelligent, automated system which exists to protect and serve all Social Futurists, warning them of risks and available options based upon our resources. The STAR system is balanced between passive response to incoming information, and active intervention in the wider environment.