Ipsemism; Manifold Immortality

Religion started by the virtual sophont Laron Ipsem

Image from Bernd Helfert

Once I was alive in a world which is lost to me; now I am alive, in this world, today; and I will be alive in a world tomorrow, though I know not where it may be.

   —Ipsemist creed

"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..." "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."

   —Ancient inspirational text, origin unknown

Manifold Immortality

Ipsemism is a religion or philosophical position, held by many virtual entities amongst others. In this doctrine the existence of an infinite universe is taken for granted, in which matter and information is arranged in an infinite number of different configurations. For every thinking, conscious being, there exists an infinite number of exact copies in this infinite universe, which share the same experience of the world as the original. The concept of Manifold Immortality proposes that if a conscious entity (a sophont) dies in one part of the infinite universe, the same mind-state will continue to exist elsewhere, and that this survival constitutes true immortality for that entity, even though there is no causal link.


Ipsemism stated in the inner Arcturus dust belt. The Cyberian virtual cosm Aleph455#33 was one of many large scale simulations intended to model a medium-tech level human civilisation that was entirely separate to the Terragen Sphere; for this purpose an entire fictional Hubble Volume was modelled at low fidelity, with increasing detail in the central regions surrounding the central planet, which was modelled in great detail. In order to populate this world the virch designers created a long and detailed history for it and generated large numbers of random personalities which were consistent with that history. These fictional personalities were given life as independent characters, or digis, which made up the largest fraction of the population of this world.

The rest of the population consisted of non-independent personalities directly controlled by the simulators. These beings, known as agents, actors or avatars depending on their function, were included in order to monitor and control the development of the simulation in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Numerous simulations of this type had already been run, and in most cases the inhabitants were eventually contacted directly by the Cyberian transapients and allowed to join the mainstream Terragen civilisation, although some simulations had run for many thousands of subjective years before that occured.

One of the first wave of randomly generated digis was a female theologian/philosopher known as Laron Ipsem. Her manufactured back-story placed her in a privileged position; as a member of the elite sect of female theo-philosopher priests in the relatively wealthy polity of Mohana, she was familiar with many forms of existential speculation. After the simulation had been running for more than twenty subjective years, Ipsem became interested in the concept of quantum immortality, and became one of the leading proponents of that idea at the Mohana Institute of Existential Evaluation.

According to Ipsem, an intelligent entity can remember the past, and imagine the future, but can only experience the instantaneous present; if there are multiple possibilities for the future, any intelligent entity that continues to exist in one of those possible futures and retains memories of a particular past history is in fact a continuation of the being which experienced those past events. In other words any thinking being can expect to exist in a large number of alternate futures, perhaps an infinite number of them. If indeed there are an infinite number of alternate futures facing any particular sophont, then in a small fraction of those futures the sophont might expect to survive indefinitely, however different they may become.

Despite this belief in a manifold future, Ipsem took steps to preserve her own existence in the only version which existed in the Cyberian memory banks, and she was still alive four hundred years later when the Aleph455#33 simulation was contacted and became part of the wider Terragen civilisation. At this point Ipsem discovered to her surprise that her earliest memories, and indeed the entire history of her world up to that point, had been semi-randomly generated by the virch designers. This caused some her to experience some not inconsiderable existential dissonance, but as a trained theo-philosopher she eventually came to terms with it. At length she synthesised a new belief system around her revelation; her formulation is generally known as Ipsemism, although she never referred to it by that name herself.

Nearest Counterparts

Ipsem believed that the randomly-generated history created for her by the Cyberian virch-designers would have an exact, real-life counterpart elsewhere in the infinite universe. If there are an infinite number of different Hubble Volumes beyond the observable universe, then some must correspond exactly with the imaginary volume created for the Aleph455#33 cosm. Ipsem calculated that the closest such volume would be on the order of 1010115 metres away from the Arcturus system, well outside the observable universe but still real. She declared that she was, in fact, a direct continuation of the distant Laron Ipsem who presumably still existed in that distant realm, since she had all her memories and, at least at the moment of her creation, their mind-states had been identical.

This concept of a previous existence in reality was initially quite popular amongst digis and other randomly-generated entities; no matter how fictional their backstory, the digis could be assured that they had a real counterpart elsewhere. But Ipsem took the concept further; she declared that, in an infinite universe, multiverse or manifold of alternate universe, every intelligent entity would be at some point reproduced at random in a simulation somewhere else, reproducing their personal chain of existence elsewhere. In fact the number of future instances of any particular sophont should indeed be infinite, if the universe does include infinite possibilities. Each individual could therefore look forward to an infinitely varied set of future timelines, in some of which ey would exist indefinitely.


Some critics, such as Malecanda-8 on Nova Terra, pointed out that there was no guarantee that these infinite possible futures would be comfortable for the entity experiencing them; indeed there might be as many futures full of suffering as there are desirable futures. Ipsem was quick to agree, calling her concept 'manifold immortality'; some future selves might experience eternal heaven, some eternal hell, and others might switch between these states at random. It is possible that some future selves might instantiate as Boltzmann Brains, quantum fluctuations of such complexity that they reproduce the existential state of past sophonts exactly; most such randomly-occuring naturally-generated entities would be very short-lived, but of course this need not be the end, as the being could be regenerated later in some other location but with identical content.

The creed of Ipsemism has become moderately popular among Cyberians and other inhabitants of the Inner Sphere and elsewhere, especially among digis and virtual entities in general; scions and uploads are also frequent converts, although the idea of manifold immortality with its promise of randomised heaven and hell does not appeal to everyone.

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Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 03 December 2013.