Kicks Condor

Omniscience and Indexing


I don’t know if I can explain this quite right - but I’m feeling as if “omniscience” has an indexing problem - and that is the source of quite a bit of amusement. It’s also somewhat tied in with our memories.

This thought occured when we were out of cheese at my place - and someone said, “I wish we could call up how many blocks of cheese we’ve used.” And we all guessed at what the number would be.

But if you think about a computer passively monitoring you 24/7 - XKeyscore, for instance - I can’t help but wonder how it could productively sense each new cheese entering the house (via grocery shopping) and leaving (via shitting).

Omniscience comes up quite regularly. People speak of “their life flashing before their eyes” when they die - or the ability to rewind and call up memories in some post-death review. But there are also characters such as “Janet” from The Good Place or the precogs from Minority Report, who are aware of everything and can be queried like a database. The concept of “The Singularity” often is meant to refer to a superintellegence that approaches omniscience.

So, could I ask an omniscient source: “Bring up all my conversations where Nicholas Cage is mentioned?” Given that sometimes I may be referring to National Treasure or other times I may be mentioning “Nouveau Shamanic” acting with him in mind. The index needs to include references to my conversation history, my context for understanding Nicholas Cage, and a many-to-many join between them.

To what degree does that query return every conversation I have? Am I constantly alluding to Nicholas Cage?

If humans have difficulty agreeing on an exact weight for a racist tweet or extracting the true meaning of any given pull-quote from the Mueller Report, how does an omniscient source ultimately mine all possible meanings from a given conversation? Couldn’t it become stuck on one sentence, infinitely paralyzed during indexing?

It seems an insurmountable problem that an omniscience could track everything as time continues. This makes me wonder if the inate desire of an omniscience would be to slow or stop time, rather than to accelerate it out of some voracious appetite.

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