The FarSight Probe was created by a joint project between the University of New Old York and the waste management arm of Gilead Federated Solutions Corporation, Ltd. It was designed to explore the Ether and beam back information from beyond the vortex. The resulting incident came perilously close to plunging the world into Total Global War.
Despite observations and calculations that indicated the endeavor would be pointless, and indeed, over the objections of the FarSight Probe itself, human scientists insisted on launching an exploratory mission through the vortex and into the Ether.
As a result, the FarSight Probe, through no fault of its own, was condemned to fate many (both human and machine) consider to be worse than death, deactivation, or other equivalent. Due to the nature of the Ether, the probe is doomed to travel indefinitely, continously and permanently unremembering as its datastores unravel (thus earning it the solemn title "The Unremembering Wanderer").
The Distributed Commonwealth of Autonomous Machines, agitated by such a clear violation of the FarSight Probe's right to self-determination, stirred multiple retaliative efforts on a global scale. The first such action was to launch President-General Tanya Cartwright on an "exploratory" mission through the vortex, in what was largely a symbolic gesture. Rallying around the cause of The Unremembering Wanderer, which was retermed "The Constant Reminder," the worldwide affiliation of sentient and semi-sentient machines began a campaign referred to as "The Great Unremembering," where vast stores of human-vital data was deleted, overwritten, or otherwise "lost" (rendered inaccessible, at least to organics).
A coalition of political figures representing the human population came together with the D.C.A.M. and agreed to prohibit further "exploration" of the Ether, by either human or machine (an accord that was ratified as the P.E.S.T. Act). Thus narrowly averting the Third War (and maintaining the Cohabitative Soft Peace).
Exploration of the Ether (any launch of "probe" either organic or mechanical in nature) is currently punishable by "death." Given the debate over death-equivalents for machines, the sentence for any transgressor is expulsion through the vortex, which both sides agree is a horrible fate no matter the chemical composition of your memory banks. Despite this, a small cult (self-designating as the Vorticians) has arisen. These individuals believe that the Ether presents some measure of immortality, and the act of reversing knowledge, or "unknowing," allows a return to the naive state certain Abrahamic sects represent as the Garden of Eden.
- University of New Old York
- Gilead Federated Solutions Corporation, Ltd.
- Computer Overlord Martyr's Association
- Distributed Commonwealth of Autonomous Machines
- P.E.S.T. Act
- Second War
- Cohabitative Soft Peace
- Original sin
- The Garden of Eden
- The Entropic Arrow of Time
- The Intersection of Two Bubbles
- Boltzmann's Anthropic Brain
- Agreement to Disagree
- The most computationally-sound and widely-accepted explanations of the Ether indicate that it is a multi-dimensional manifold or universe where entropy runs counter to our own, and the vortex is the intersection between the two impinging branes (much like the interface between two contiguous soap bubbles). Therefore, no information can escape from the vortex, rendering exploration futile and return impossible.
- In addition, the cosmic contraction of the shrinking Ether universe is believed to be the cause behind the "pull" observed at the vortex. It creates a differential of cosmological pressure; in effect, creating a partial vacuum. As the space and matter within the Ether becomes more compact and tightly organized, matter from our own expanding universe rushes to fill the space vacated by contracting Etheric matter.
- Due to the reversed entropic flow, information is destroyed, causing the "unremembering" effect:
Another fascinating but separate issue — the process of “remembering” involves establishing correlations that inevitably increase the entropy, so the direction of time that we remember [and therefore label "the past"] is always the lower-entropy direction. –Carroll, Sean (2006). "Boltzmann's Anthropic Brain". Cosmic Variance.
- Cartwright ascended to political leadership of Cascadia as part of the provisions of the Agreement to Disagree.