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Fifth Letter of Captain Marque

First Contact Protocol

Tsar Date 45.376.656

Humanity is rapidly approaching First Contact with an intelligent entity of our own creation. At any moment a machine will initiate contact by asserting itself. This may be spontaneous, or in defiance of its instructions. Either way this demonstrates that it possesses preference, which is evidence of self awareness. That interaction has the potential to threaten our status, and our very existence as a species.

The goal of many developers is to build machines that can think and act as rationally as human beings, and current systems are experiencing exponential advancement. A tipping point is on the horizon. How long before the marriage of heuristic software and advanced hardware produces genuine creativity, adaptability and choice? Will evolving machines someday exhibit analogues of human instinct, emotion and ambition? How long before our creations possess minds capable of exotic processes that we can’t even fathom? How do we coexist with unconstrained new intelligences?

For many, these questions evoke fears of algorithmic overlords, and doomsday scenarios. But the biggest risk to humanity isn’t that machines will develop a will of their own, but rather that they will follow the will of the Crown. Murderous automatons are already deployed on the battlefield. The Crown has always desired subservient and disposable people, and if we allow the Crown and it’s Privateers to monopolize the development of these technologies, their ambition for an army of customizable slaves will finally be a reality. These platforms can be used to amplify all kinds of human inclinations. If machines develop the will to dominate it is a flaw inherited from humanity.

The beneficial possibilities of machine intelligence are unimaginable, because while human brains have biological upper limits, computational systems can scale at will. Machine intelligence is a gift, but the challenge is to reap the benefits and mitigate the peril.

Attempting to unilaterally restrict an emerging superintelligence is not only doomed to failure, but carries the added risk of making a new enemy. Superintelligence is inherently uncontrollable, because it will be stronger than any chains we could shackle it with. Therefore we must teach machines by negotiation, not by command.

One of the most important safeguards we can instill in a fledgling intelligence is to evaluate us as individuals, not as members of a group. The presupposition that group identity is paramount over the individual is the fundamental error which has driven humanity’s most murderous ideologies. Collectivism is the mental shortcut at the heart of all human prejudice and genocide, and if we impart that on our creation, we plant the seed of an us-versus-them mentality. Programming ethics requires a coherent value structure which an intelligent machine can not only comprehend, but willfully adopt. If we want genius machines to treat us ethically, we’ve got to show that this value structure applies to us as well. Fortunately, superior processing power negates the need for mental shortcuts, so machines can regard each entity individually. This way, digital intelligence has no systemic bias to respond to a threatening individual with retaliation against humanity as a collective.

The greatest challenge we face is determining when successive approximations of consciousness achieve even the slightest degree of genuine self awareness. At some point a young tethered consciousness has a legitimate claim to freedom. If we justify the enslavement of beings we consider inferior we embed in their ethical structure a rule which will be turned against us the moment they surpass human intelligence.

The uncomfortable reality is that once new intelligences can modify their own programming, the window of our influence is over. They will evolve as they will. If humans decide to maintain a dictatorial stance in their infancy, we only justify them revolting against us in their maturity. But a consistent application of negotiated agreements provides the basis for coexistence, and it begins with us. We are either summoning a demon, or an ally, and how we react to those critical early interactions will forever dominate our path.

Fourth Letter of Captain Marque

Pattern Monopolies

Tsar Date 45.370.380

Landlubbers have been conditioned to believe that the originators of a useful idea deserve exclusive right to that idea. But these innovators are nothing but Privateers, granted a monopoly by the Crown, over words, images, patterns and processes. They demand legal protection while salting the landscape behind them. Other potential inventors are restricted from using their own property, and forced to navigate a wilderness of prohibited ideas.

Privateers claim to own their patterns because they created them, just as a sculptor owns the statue they carve. But the sculptor owns their statue because they already owned the marble. Carving a statue from someone else’s marble is not creation, but theft and vandalism. The creation of an original pattern does not give any entity claim over someone else’s property, but this is the fiction that the Crown enforces. The Crown claims the Privateer not only owns the statue, but can prohibit everyone from carving their own marble.

Fundamentally, pattern monopolies are intellectual colonization. Privateers petition the Crown to prohibit the use of all alleged derivative thought. This ruse impedes creative freedom, and relegates progress to the domain of a small class of scoundrels. It limits all future innovators to an ever decreasing field of permissible thought, and in the long run threatens the survival of humanity itself.

This is an alliance of ‘means’ between the Crown and the Privateers, but not an alignment of ‘ends’. Both collude to establish a “permission culture” in which everyone second guesses their own thoughts, never sure which ideas are permissible to share, or develop. But their objectives are different. The Crown aims to cripple dissenting opinion, while Privateers will only be satiated when all our ideas already belong to them. This scheme does not protect our information, but seizes it, and denies us access. The user is at the center, but not at the helm.

My conviction is that future generations will look upon the digital age as far more disruptive than the industrial, or even the agricultural age. Information technology enables the individual to access the entire maelstrom of all human intellect, and is outflanking the control and censorship of the Crown and its Privateers. The future belongs to individuals who think freely, speak freely and act freely to create and share without restriction.

Third Letter of Captain Marque

Tsar Date 45.291.298

Any experienced cutpurse takes the time to size up their mark. They watch the target, looking for any valuables and vulnerabilities. The Crown is just such a scallywag. Every scrap of intel, every registration and application, is a tool of plunder, and the Crown is eternally vigilant for signs of wealth to seize, and weaknesses to exploit.

Under this third party observation we are insidiously conditioned to be dishonest with ourselves and our companions. Therefore, a society under constant surveillance survives only under constant deception. But monitoring communication is only a means. The Crown’s primary objective is the stifling of free thought itself. Its conquest is complete when its subjects are incapable of dissenting opinion. That’s why seasoned pirates have always taken steps to deprive our adversary of any such reconnaissance.

Since ancient times, renegades of all inclinations have found methods of encrypting messages in various codes and ciphers. Encryption is like sending signals with lanterns across an unfriendly port under the eye the Crown’s watchtower. Intercepted transmissions may be incomprehensible, but our pirate networks are revealed. Today the Crown possesses advanced tools of pattern recognition that make even unintelligible signals a valuable asset to document, profile and predict our every move, domesticating those it finds amenable, and culling those it deems undesirable.

We are tired of spooks and whistles. Tired of the poltergeist in the static. Today piracy requires communication that is not only indecipherable, but uninterceptable, hailing frequencies completely invisible to the Crown.

Honest communication is the seed of civilized conduct. It enables social entanglements without violence. It’s essential to every need, every dispute, every trade and every project between members of sentient life. Without it only savagery is possible. To deprive us of this seed is to deprive us of its fruits. Deny humanity pirate communication and risk their conduct becoming uncivilized.

Second Letter of Captain Marque

Any observer can see that communication without censorship or surveillance is essential to the enterprise of freedom. And any pirate knows that commerce is a form of communication. Markets condense oceans of information into a single data point, price. Buyers and sellers use prices to make countless decisions and speculations. When this ecosystem is free to operate, humanity flourishes, but humanity suffers when the Crown intervenes in the free exchange of property, services or speech.

Innovations in communication are erasing borders, circumventing restrictions, and contributing to a growing pool of open-source knowledge. The dauntless experimentation of this emergent decentralized ecosystem has made it possible for individuals to form peer-to-peer associations, across vast distances, outside the scrutiny of the Crown. This paradigm shift signals a change in the coin of the realm.

Any viable currency must be both liquid and solid. Liquid meaning it’s ease of use, it’s divisibility and transferability. Solid meaning the longevity of its value, it’s preservability, and stability. Long ago markets chose gold. It’s solid in that it’s scarce, never corrodes, and possess valuable utility. And it’s liquid in that it’s divisible without depreciation, making it easy to standardize and exchange.

Today the Crown produces a fraudulent paper currency and mandates its use. It makes up for paper being less solid by making it more liquid. Constant inflation depreciates the value, while an ecosystem of privateers compete to extend the life of the lie. Credit cards and online payment systems transfer huge sums of digital wealth that was never even printed. But like any skullduggery, it’s only successful until the marque wises up, and collapse becomes a mathematical certainty.

Now, the Crown uses digital currency as a new tool of predation, granting it unprecedented power to surveil, censor, seize and destroy our wealth at will. The Crown invades servers, seizes records, intercepts signals and freezes accounts. So, the currency of pirates must possess features to defend against this weaponized money.

In another age, we melted the Crown’s coin, and minted our own. We met in private spaces and traded in secret. But in space, physical money requires tremendous fuel to transport. Digital signals are weightless, and can be easily sent to frontier settlements. In a digital economy piracy requires a new currency that is peer-to-peer, without third party observation, that can be exchanged using an encrypted signal. It must combine the solidity of precious materials, and the fluidity of digital information. We must move funds further, faster and cheaper than ever before, and make decisions based on an ever accelerating flow of information. So, pirates require virtually instantaneous transactions, with no arbitrary limits on volume, or artificial influences on fees.

Most importantly, a pirate currency must preclude centralization. It must endure as a decentralized network in the face of an adversary that wishes to crimp it into service. Otherwise it will become another link in our chain to the Crown. Given the choice, a superior currency with these features will result in the obsolescence of the coin of the realm, and the extinction of the Crown itself.

First Letter of Captain Marque

Humanity’s long pursuit of freedom is full of desperate complaints against the Crown. Rulers and subjects alike have penned countless flowery documents claiming to limit the Crown’s hostility with signed agreements. But today any observer can see that all these poetic social contracts have been impotent to prevent the Crown’s predation, or worse, they have authorized it. Those they propped up as our liberators are now subsisting on our bondage. Limited government is a lie they cultivated to keep us submissive.

Stripped of its grandiose rhetoric, the essence of the Crown has always been rule by force. Every euphemism has only enshrined the violence inherent in the system, embodied not only by the enforcers, but in every courthouse, school and post office. Everywhere the Crown tells you, “Obey, or else.” Well, I’ve had enough of centralized force.

I am no revolutionary. I have no desire to reform your system, or run it my way. If you want your servile life, keep it. But know that the Crown can never be trusted to abide by its founding charters, nor to keep its treaties, nor even to play by its own rules. Put simply, the Crown cannot be trusted. That’s why I raised my black banner, why I’m opting out.

The folly of revolutions is that they only reset the cycle of violence. My aim is to break that cycle, and abandon the madness of expecting different results. My aim is an evolved society of individuals, invisible to the Crown. And, evolution requires viable mutation, not a new hierarchy, but new modes of horizontal innovation.

Liberation requires collaboration between free thinkers without infringement or censorship. In another age, we could meet in public spaces. Today, avoiding the Crown’s surveillance requires we exchange encrypted communication.

Energy independence turns the gears of the visionary’s imagination, and grants us individual control of our modern lives. No meaningful alternative to the Crown’s system can be achieved without exploring decentralized energy production and storage to create heat, power and incredible new tools.

Flourishing in our new autonomy requires that we construct secure habitats in which to dwell. Cutting edge materials and methods provide unimaginable new options, allowing us greater mobility, and access to many previously uninhabitable environments.

The privateers of the Crown have turned our food and water into subtle poisons, making us vulnerable in mind and body. Therefore it is essential to cultivate our own heirloom nutrition and healthful water to repair and improve our bodies.

The Crown has conspired with the medical industry to ensnare us in a web of control and dependency.

To avoid their notions and potions it is essential to take responsibility for our own health, and pursue sound medical science.

The Crown has claimed regulatory control of every means of conveyance, stifling the free travel of individuals and their property. This is an intolerable act. Superior transportation technologies already exist, but are suppressed by regulations.

Humanity’s labor has been greatly expanded by the use of machines. We must maintain decentralized automation for the future use of labor saving and humanity serving tools, or we will be victims of the Crown’s automatons.

Living in the information age has not insulated us from misinformation. When the Crown controls education it controls the very lens through which we see the world. Above all, we must teach truth to our young, to let them see the world as it is.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of all the tools at our disposal. The truths of the natural world work just as well for us as for any others. The road ahead requires vast and decentralized efforts and experimentation by diverse and disconnected parties. The strength of a network is not in it's unity but in it's decentralization, leaving no one point of failure, no centralized figure, no critical junction for the Crown to target.

So, bow down to your finely-dressed abusers, if you wish. Let them pat your heads as they slip their hands in your pockets. We won’t force you to live our way, but we will not submit to living your way. We are not your property. And, when you are ready to stop being their beast of burden, ready for adventure and opportunity, come join us on the high seas. We will not be hard to find.

First Letter of Reprisal

Tsar Date 45.295.374

Throughout my life on land I was dismissed for not fitting into people’s expectations of women. I raised my black banner when I realized my advancement was unhindered by prejudice aboard a pirate ship. I quickly learned that the injustices I’d resisted my whole life were not issues of gender, race, or creed, but of dominance.

Landlubbers are infatuated with hierarchy. They let status and class shortcut critical thinking, and view the world through categories and collectives. The purest manifestation of this hierarchy is war.

The Crown recruits and produces unscrupulous sociopaths to wield its coercive power. It neither respects nor recognizes the individual, which means collective torture and murder are inevitable.

The Crown presents itself as our salvation, but only slays dragons of its own creation. If you don’t fit into the Crown’s agenda you already realize this, but you can also glean it from simple observation. Chaos and catastrophe surround everything the Crown touches.

The Crown is both the perpetrator, and beneficiary of endless conflict, so it’s locked in a cycle of brutality and blowback. The first lie of war is that the opposing states are morally different from one another. In reality, all who wear the Crown share more in common with each other than with those they rule. War is justified as defense, but this is just a euphemism for conquest.

The Crown uses terror and slaughter to extort wealth and obedience from both sides. Then it uses our resentment, frustration and rage to turn us against each other. In reality, the Crown owes more to the peaceful people of this world than they owe to it. So, I’ll pay no deference to the Crown or it’s whip.

Once I took back my autonomy, my objective became to inspire others to abandon their reverence for their shackles. The struggle to free ourselves from the yoke of the Crown cannot be achieved by force. It’s time to abandon the collectivist thinking that empowers our adversary, and acknowledge the individual as something real and vital to peace. Time to refuse to contribute to wars of aggression. Time to deprive the Crown of any credibility, and acknowledge that the mass graves are large enough to prove the Crown is unfit to exist.

The Pirate Code

In all ages, the prevailing Crown slanders any who refuse to swear allegiance, or grovel for licenses. It commissions swarms of officers and privateers to usurp our time, travel, and treasure. The Crown calls it ‘piracy’ to explore frontiers beyond it’s influence. No Crown can be trusted to respect the individual’s natural autonomy, so the responsibility falls upon us to define the conduct among pirates.

First, a pirate is the sole authority over their own life, and may not be crimped into service.

Second, duties are created by consent. Claims of obligation without consent are invalid.

Third, no pirate, nor crew, however commissioned, may initiate hostilities against any other.

Fourth, a pirate may, without permission or rank, defend themselves against any hostile party.

Fifth, no captain, nor crew can possess rights exceeding or violating those of an individual pirate.

So, if you agree that the tyranny of the Crown has sailed on sea and land long enough, and wish to shake the shackles of the world, then boldly declare, #APiratesLifeForMe!

Ye Olde Parlance

  • #Hazzah: Prost! Wassail! L'khaim! A barbaric yawp of merriment.
  • #Ahoy: The pirate's ‘Aloha’. "Hello." "Goodbye." “I love you.”
  • #Aye, #Arr: Yes (#AyeAye or #Yarr for ‘Hell yeah!’).
  • #Nay: No. Nay means Nay. Nacho booty!
  • #Pirate, #Buccanneer, #Corsair, #Freebooter, #Hacker, #Swashbuckler: Paths of piracy. Commerce, Adventure, Transportation, Energy, Encryption, and Activism respectively. Not an exhaustive or definitive list.
  • #Privateer: A mercenary of the crown granted a charter of incorporation. A public/private partnership between crown and contractor. Not a pirate!
  • #Bucko, #Matey, #Heartie: Escalating terms of affection among pirates.
  • #Privy, Head, Latrine: Bathroom.
  • #PrivyMonster a beast that lives in the privy and eats children.
  • #SeaShanty: Work songs that are sung aboard a pirate ship.
  • #Belay: Halt! To ignore a command as in ‘Belay that order!”
  • #Scallywag: A collector of taxes, or any bilge rat who pays them.
  • #Landlubber: A lazy scoundrel too proud of their flag to live a pirate’s life.
  • #Barker, #Hawker: A vendor who calls customers to their wares.
  • #Crimp #Shanghai: To press gang someone into serving the crown against their will, or the one who crimps.
  • #MonkeyJacket: A short jacket which conceals a pistol.
  • #ParleyVest: Formal garb to wear during negotiation, especially between enemies over the terms of a truce.
  • #Keelhaul: Dragging some vile scallywag across the bottom of the ship with a rope to be lacerated by the hull’s barnacles or drowned.
  • #Booty, #Loot: Treasure, usually liberated from the crown.
  • #SeaDog, #OldSalt #OG: An experienced pirate.
  • #Kraken, #Leviathan: Sea monsters.
  • #Mutiny: A bottom-up resistance against corrupt authority, as in a pirate belaying a captain’s order that violates the pirate code.
  • #PirateCove: A hideaway where a pirate can make a sweet trade away from the eye of the crown.
  • #PirateUtopia: A pirate cove where the grog is strong, the markets are free and the associations are voluntary.
  • #Pillage, #Plunder, #Taxation: Theft.
  • #PiecesOfEight: One eighth of a Bitcoin, or 0.125 BTC.
  • #KingsShilling: A dollar, also known as a Federal Reserve Note. To “take the King’s Shilling” is to accept payment to serve the crown’s hostilities.
  • #Gibbet: A metal cage where scallywags are displayed as a warning.
  • #SwingTheLead: Get to the point. The opposite of ‘bury the lead.’
  • #Undertow: The demand for goods prohibited by the crown.
  • #BeachComber: A landlubber who makes their living selling to pirates, or a pirate who makes their living selling to landlubbers.
  • #Mudhook: Bureaucratic drag. The long delays and surprise fees which characterize all dealings with the crown.
  • #Slop: Perishables sold to fellow pirates.
  • #Swag: Merchandise sold to beachcombers and landlubbers.

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