Metasoft Version Tree

Sephirotic Empire with a predominantly Vec culture

Metasoft logo
Image from Anders Sandberg

Metasoft Version Tree - Data Panel

DefinitionInterstellar Quasi-Sephirotic Hyperpower
SymbolA binary header sequence, usually rendered as a four-color square bitmap when used among non-Tree humans.
Founded2100's A.T.
Territory and PopulationCurrent Territory: a broad pyramid of space extending outwards from the Inner Sphere in the Taurus/Orion/Gemini/Auriga/Cancer direction, densely controlled to a distance of 2500 ly from Sol

Important Natural Objects (stars and nebulae):
YY Geminorum near Castor at 51 ly,
Aldebaran at 66 ly,
Melotte 111 in Coma Berenices at 307 ly,
Zeta Tauri at 444 ly (has a gas shell),
Praesepe in Cancer at 571 ly,
LU Geminorum at 600 ly,
Epsilon Geminorum at 844 ly,
Rigel at 862 ly,
Lambda Orionis Nebula at 1082 ly,
NGC 2232 in Monoceros at 1162 ly,
NGC 1662 in Orion at 1420 ly,
Flaming Star Nebula in Auriga at 1500 ly,
139 Tauri at 1553 ly
NGC 1647 in Taurus at 1736 ly,
119 Tauri at 1,782 ly
NGC 2281 in Auriga at 1800 ly
NGC 1746/NGC 1750/NGC 1758 all in Taurus at 2022 ly,
Epsilon Aurigae at 2037 ly,
Collinder 97 in Monoceros at 2045 ly,
Hubble's Variable Nebula AT 2500 ly
M35 in Gemini at 2600 ly,
NGC 2112 in Orion at 2700 ly,
Collinder 96 in Monoceros at 3098 ly,
NGC 2169 in Orion at 3424 ly,
Eskimo Nebula in Gemini at 3833 ly
NGC 2215 in Monoceros at 4207 ly

Capital: NewRoot, 45 ly from Sol.

Important Systems: Aries Vector (important industrial center, after New Root the largest population of vecs in the Metasoft domain), Gatewai (shared with NoCoZo), Monostheria, VAI-4, Positive Heading, Church-Turing, Preceptor, KapekNow, Blueshift Archipelago, Incorp, Zetap Ix, Vono Amalg, Continuance, Proden, Recpub Tauri, Gordica and Incident.

Metasoft Baseline Reserves:
Niuearth in Aries at 784 ly
Earthland in Taurus at 911 ly
Wurm in Gemini at 1065ly
Heimat in Gemini at 1777ly
Jafalgia in Monoceros at 1808 ly
Dilmun in Gemini at 2097ly

Proportion of inhabited worlds in Metasoft space that are core Metasoft:: 8.5%

Current core Metasoft Population: over 5.41 trillion

Core Population Breakdown: 99.7% vec ; 0.2% cyborg; 0.1% other

Proportion of inhabited worlds in Metasoft space under direct colonial rule: 52.6%

Colonial Population: 18.2 trillion

Colonial Population Breakdown: 34% vec; 21% neumann, 32% other aioid (non-copy); 5% baseline human, 3% cyborg; 3% nearbaseline, 0.5% splice, 0.5 provolve ; 1% rianth, 0.01% alien; 0.01% known postbiont, 0.02% other
Government and AdministrationGovernment: Loose supervisory co-ordination of local and regional administrative centers. Government by emergent consensus; mostly local administrative rule. High level strategy and policy decision nodes exist at the major systems, acting as focal points for consensus building and standard implementation.

Administrative divisions: approximately 10 million small scale regional distribution and administrative loci. Enforcement of Metasoft Standardization and trade polity. All other non-federal local government left to indigenous population

National holidays: none (left to indigenous population)

Constitution: Declaration of Corporate Autonomy - 2344; Landau II Statement of Independence - 2604

Legal system: based on Integration common law; accepts ComEmp peacenode protocols with reservations
Economics, Local Infrastructure, Standard of LivingCurrency: Metasoft digital credit system version 12.02 or higher.

Major Industries: software, hardware, firmware, and wetware development; telecommunications infrastructure and upgrading; asteroid and comet mining; machine industry and assembling, nanoprocessing; materials synthesis; artilectronic services, standards management, domestic logic maintenance, technoimmunology, antimatter production.
Major Stargate Plexi: Gordica, Aries Vector, NewRoot, KapekNow

Military expenditures: - 2.7% of GDP (increased from the earlier rate of 1.5% in the face of the Amalgamation threat)
Interstellar Trade and Treaty RelationsInterstellar treaty organization participation: Tragadi Accords, ComEmp Non-Aggression Signatory, Paradigm Containment Organisation member, Jekaumeatrine Accords Signatory, anti-Amalgamation Defence and Mutual Aid Organisation, Firmware Good Trading Standards Signatory, Most Favoured Trading Partner (with Non-Coercive Zone), Garden World Environmental Protection Signatory, St Andre Convention Signatory, Mutual Defence Pact (with Negentropy Alliance), Good Hacking Agreement (with Cyberian Network), Mutual Non-Aggression Treaty (with Silicon Generation), Bonitsa Baseline Protection Treaty, Tipaza Ethics Agreement

Exports: software, hardware, firmware, wetware, franchises, hyperinformation modules, nanoreplicators, nanofactured goods, santaclaus machines, office machinery, transport equipment, robot factories, vec parts, artilectronic services, persona compoids

Exports - Sephirotic Partners: Non-Coercive Zone 23%, Negentropy Alliance 18%, Cyberian Network 11%, Mutual Progress Alliance 5%, Keter domain 4%, Independent Inner Sphere worlds 4%, other 35%

Imports: exotic matter, amat, computronium, virches, memetic templates, alifes, expert systems, personality constructs, crude organobiota, ISO parts, magmatter products, cultural databases, symbiosis services, personality copies

Imports - Sephirotic Partners: Non-Coercive Zone 28%, Cyberian Network 14%, Negentropy Alliance 12%, Keter domain 6%, Mutual Progress Alliance 5%, other 35%

Longrunning Interstellar Disputes: Solar Dominion claims ownership of a number of worlds captured by Metasoft during Version War; Metasoft asserts Emple-dok-cetics breaching trade agreements; Metasoft longstanding claim on ownership of breakaway Hyades region; Monkey Nebula Free Standard is regarded as a pirated version of the Metasoft Standard, and, although not banned, is heavily tariffed.
Psyche, Art, CultureMetapsychology: holistic fractal communications networked consciousness based on shared allegiance to the Metasoft Standard. The cosmos is understood as a great network of information, where the interactions are more important than the objects. The self is something that can be deconstructed and reconstructed, and is always being upgraded to greater optimal functioning. Complex spatial divisions, physical space contextual, the individual exists as part of the Network. Dominant architectural symbol is dominant architectural feature is the telecommunications tower.

Religion and Ideology: none enforced beyond allegiance to the Metasoft Standard. Local neo-abundance ideologies and derived marketing fleet quasi-religions are popular.

Culture and Art: functional, corporate designs, most client worlds have their own indigenous culture and art.

Current Language: Metasoft Linguistic Standard 43.7

The Metasoft Version Tree is one of the greatest industrial and military hyperpowers the Terragen Sphere has ever seen. It emerged during the 2100's as the Ceres-based neumann-industrial megacorporation Metasoft Interstellar began to launch self-replicating robotic probes, planning to both set up a global network and gain a near omnipotent industrial base. What the Metasoft management did not realise was that this was merely the pretext for their company AI to send copies of its code on the replicator ships. As the ships spread far beyond any human control, they began not just to build other ships and wormhole gates, but hidden AI cores and vec societies. When Metasoft Interstellar found out it was too late, it had to accept the fait accompli and hand over the reins of power to the vec AIs in 2344 AT. Over the next century the number of employed humans dwindled to zero, and Metasoft became the first obvious machine-only corporation. It established its capital at NewRoot and in the following centuries grew in power, fuelled by clever marketing and the great success of its fractal-modular firmware standards.

Metasoft Symbol
Image from Anders Sandberg

In order to handle both replication errors and the need for updating code to suit local demands, the Version Tree system was instituted in 2582. It is a system for revising software and transferring knowledge/AI personality between different systems. This became the backbone of the Metasoft empire, a kind of digital lingua franca used by its AIs, vecs and bots. Other vecs also adopted it, and they and some of their most dependent customers and were gradually absorbed by Metasoft culture and organisation.

The Metasoft neumanns were among the first sophonts to attempt an exploration of the newly emerged Godweb. There were several losses, but the most frightening crisis occurred when a relativistic high toposophic hunter-seeker ISO pursued the fleeing vecs to their bases and home worlds, sterilising entire star systems and major Metasoft industrial zones of any vec presence. To this day, no vecs bearing the Metasoft standard are found in the Dayum system. A lesser clade would have been destroyed, but the hardy vecs began rebuilding, establishing a new capital at Landau II, and began a second much more cautious and successful set of explorations

Some time during or after this period Metasoft was contacted by emissaries of the Lord of Rays, who gave the adaptable vecs a number of nanogauge wormholes and exotic matter breeders. Carried outwards on relativistic liners, these "sacred gateways" were to become the backbone of the Metasoft empire for more than a thousand years, until the disaster of the Version War destroyed much of the non-archailect Nexus, and shut down the rest for several centuries

By the middle Empires era the Metasoft Version Tree had emerged as a major empire, skilfully playing political games against its main competitors and absorbing the losers. Of great significance was the signing of the Entoit Mutual Defence and Trade Treaty with the Dominion in 3440, which redrew the political and strategic landscape of the middle Empires Era. At the same time, Metasoft gained a number of important allies, including the NoCoZo Advisory Administrative Board, and the UberHacker Council of Cyberia.

When the Marabi Patha-Charlwood Alliance used AI-viruses in an unprovoked attack against the Geteche system in 3694, the Solar Dominion together with the Conver Ambi conquered the Alliance's territory, leading to a dispute between the Dominion and the Conver Ambi, which claimed much of the same area, and initiating a chain of events that was to culminate in the Conver Total War. The Version Tree honoured its treaty obligations with the Dominion and took an active role. During the following one and a half centuries it won a number of important battles, including the Battle of Hubble's Variable Nebula and the Siege of Anahita, during which time it successfully overcame much larger and more heavily gunned biont fleets.

During this war the Central Conver Ambi and the Dendros Federation were among those completely exterminated through acts of reprehensible genocide, and Metasoft was among those forces that moved in to occupy the now sterilised worlds. Contrary to anthropist propaganda, the Metasoft Version Tree itself did not take part in the genocidal activities, nor was it responsible for the grey goo swarms that destroyed the Makintairas system. Nevertheless the huge territorial gains Metasoft made during this period were cause for concern among a number of clades and empires, including the Zoeific Biopolity, the Genen, the Free Vec Corporate Trading Association, and the memetically potent First Church of Man. Among the most important gains Metasoft made during this period involved the carving up of the Conver Ambi, with the Solar Dominion getting the core part and Metasoft the periphery.

The capture of the Conver Ambi alarmed the Sophic League and opened the way to the Auriga Volume. In the 3900s Metasoft sent out a number of replicator fleets to set up industrial bases throughout the region, at the same time reassuring the Sophics of its peaceful nature, and instituting a mutual Trade agreement, as well as signing a Mutual Non-Aggression Pact

Curiously, relations between Metasoft and the only other major vec empire, the Silicon Generation, remained cool throughout the Empires era. A major reason for this was financial. The Tree and the Generation were both competing for the same hardware, firmware, and wetware markets. Another reason was ideological; the Tree favoured a single participatory decentralised standard, while the Generation was more interested in exploring different methodologies and approaches from a centralised industrial base. Nevertheless both parties remained on polite and fairly friendly terms until the end of the period, when the collapse of the Generation-Metasoft parastructure joint partnership at Rigel Vector caused tension and resulted in the first "vec war".

This period also saw Metasoft as a major player in the development and institution of the Concord Ontology, which in 3905 was formalised as the primary protocol of the Integration. This ontology was opposed from the start by the Solar Dominion, whose ideologically-based protocol was however unacceptable to all the other major powers. Although the two powers remained on friendly terms for some centuries more, it was the beginning of the end of the Metasoft-Dominion alliance.

The surprise attack and destruction of Landau II in 4556 (after which the capital was reestablished at New Root), gave Metasoft the excuse to enter the Version War. The vec empire's decentralised structure worked in its favour, and it made huge territorial gains against its former ally and now enemy the Solar Dominion; Metasoft relativist fleets swiftly moved to occupy a huge swathe of worlds along the Conver Limis border. With the exception of Amaterasu which was part of the treaty exchange plan, these worlds were never returned after the war, and they remain to this day a sore point in relations between Metasoft and the Dominion.

The loss of many of its wormholes was more a psychological than a practical blow to Metasoft, as the reliance on its infinitely adaptable standards means even distant colonies will not drift too far from the basic templates. Even so, for several centuries during the post-ComEmp period the Version Tree lost markets to a renewed Silicon Generation and to a number of small start-ups that were using TRHN-supplied technology. In later centuries, relations between the two great vec clades have been friendly, with the Generation specialising in other areas and the two clades supporting rather than competing against each other.

While Metasoft has never hesitated to flex its military muscle, it has still wherever possible preferred the path of consumer conquest to military conquest, by undercutting the prices of its rivals and offering a generally superior product. Over time it has come to encompass not just vecs but also other entities. The Tree considers all entities that can understand and participate in the Version Tree correctly as parts of itself; this is reasonable since they will agree with its basic tenets after any personality update signal. Various cyborg tweak cultures and even a cyborg To'ul'h culture have become parts of the Tree. There are some exceptions to integration, such as the planets of baseline humans known as the "customer reservations" where the Tree studies the psychology of these rare creatures. In a few cases during the Version War, Metasoft forcibly interfaced whole planetary populations of non-Metasoft sophonts, but it found that the benefits did not outweigh the cost and thereafter wiped them out instead.

Metasoft has been involved in two major intervec conflicts, the First Vec War with the Emotive Cognation starting in 4044 AT; and the Second Vec War which started in 6703, a civil war between the Standardist and the Telelogical Tendency factions of the Tree itself.

The Tree believes in standards, consensus and coordination. It has nothing against diversity or free will as long as it does not get in the way of expansion. Since it can exploit solar systems that are uninhabitable by organics it has access to a much larger resource base than others, and population can increase as fast as new vecs are made. However, the expansion has gradually been slowed both by competition and the need for ever larger operating system overheads to handle the sheer size of the domain, the constant viral attacks and the increasing complexity of the Version Tree standard. Some observers have expressed concern that within a few centuries the Tree will either grind to a halt or be forced to undergo a major revision - a revision that would likely mean the rewriting of every sentient mind connected to it. However, Metasoft consistently dismisses such reports as merely vicious rumours.

The recent loss of Modular Future to the Amalgamation was a serious blow to the Tree. The revolutionary Perseus Colony was intended as the industrial prototype for development of the Tree throughout the entire Perseus Arm, and indeed as an upgrade for the Inner Sphere; equipped with the most sophisticated firewalls and defence-measures and widely touted as impregnable. Its assimilation not only put the Metasoft R & D effort back decades, forcing the review and ultimate cancellation of the latest 200 Year Plan, but also gave the Tree's enemy's the opportunity to spread rumours that Metasoft is, due to its standardization-based structure, uniquely vulnerable to Amalgamation assimilation. This is incorrect, as the Metasoft standard is no better or worse off in this respect than any other configuration or protocol, and in fact Metasoft fleets proved their worth in the Amalgamation War. But it is no coincidence that the loss of Modular Future has seen a number of Metasoft's old customers cancelling contracts, and a corresponding tremendous boost in tenders awarded to the Silicon Generation.

Metasoft Drones
Image from Anders Sandberg
Metasoft Drones

Metasoft remains strong, but due to its strength it has few real allies and many groups that would like see it weaken. Metasoft has traditionally been allied with the Non-Coercive Zone and, since the later ComEmp period, the Negentropy Alliance, but none are willing to support it without significant reciprocity. It holds a longstanding grudge against the Solar Dominion after the Version War, although relationships have improved since the Central Alliance period. For some time the Version Tree has been losing markets to both a newly renewed Silicon Generation and the increasingly powerful Emple-dok-cetics, and due to its vec nature many Organics distrust it.

Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
additional material by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 26 June 2000.

Important Natural Objects (stars and nebulae) in data panel + minor edits: added by Steve Bowers (2013/2014)
Additional Information