We Need To Talk About Deep Delving
Things have been kind of crazy in mining recently. I mean _really_ crazy.
Quinn: Hey, sorry I’ve been quiet, things have been kinda crazy in mining recently.
Ziv: Oh yeah I read about that, y'all found that new mine?
Q: Well, not me, OpenDeep did, but it's not a new mine, it's much much crazier than that. It's so crazy. Ziv, they discovered a portal to another world.
Z: You miners. Always with the hype.
Q: This isn't hype, it really happened! They found an actual portal! To another world! Everyone I know in mining has been walking around like the 🤯 emoji on legs for the last few months. Ziv, this is going to change everything.
Z: Riiiiiiight. Sure. Again. Last year Meta-Mining was going to change everything. The year before that it was Earth3 and cryptoextraction and those, what were they again, non-ferrous taconites, those things mining people were all crazy about until that Basalman-Feld guy got arrested.
Q: First, that's not quite how that happened, and second, this is completely different! I never ... OK I was sort of into cryptoextraction in its early days, when it was technically interesting, before it turned into a casino. But you never heard me hyping it up or telling you to buy meta-mining tools or anything like that, and I'm telling you, this really is different! Were you not listening? A portal to another world!
Z: Yeah, it's pretty sad to hear you sound like just another miner bro. "Portal." Why do you have to call it that? I read that New Yorker piece about how it's not a portal, it's just alchemical transformation of what’s already there.
Q: No, look, mad respect to the guy who wrote that, he’s great, but he's wrong. PT-4 is absolutely mindblowing. Definitely not just alchemical transformation.
Q: Portal Technology 4. OpenDeep unearthed it last year, revealed it in March.
Z: It really bugs me that you call it a portal. It's not a portal. It's just anomalous mineralization, a perfectly normal and expected outcome of deep delving. Miner bros just call them portals because that sounds cooler and gets stupid extremely successful VCs to throw money at them. There's no proof it actually connects to another world!
Q: I... what?! I mean it's a rift in an unfathomably deep catacomb that hurts the eyes to look at, with nothing behind it, and stuff comes through it! Stuff and creatures! Which don't exist on our world! They have to be coming from somewhere!
Z: So you admit you have no actual proof of another world.
Q: Well, OK, but whether they're coming from another world, or somehow just being synthesized on the spot exactly as if they're coming from another world, doesn't really matter if the outcome's exactly the same!
Z: This is so absurd. Of course it matters! Plus the stuff you're pulling out of it is completely ripping off the work of all the jewelry designers. How are they supposed to compete when people can just ask the anomalous mineralizer for a necklace in any style they want, just describing anyone else's design, and that rift thing just extrudes it and one of those imp things delivers it?
Q: You've... seen one of the imps?
Z: Of course I have! I don't live in a cave, you know. That ImPT thing OpenDeep released last year got so much hype. And then the whole Bing Imp thing. I tried ImPT, one brought me a bracelet and I wore it for a bit, but then the clasp broke and I lost it in a Denny's. All its stuff is so cheap and shoddy and doesn't work right and half the time it brings you things you didn't even ask for.
Q: That was from the PT-3 delving OpenDeep did in 2020, that rift's really small and kind of flawed and flickering, though in fairness they made it much faster and trained its imps a lot better since, but it doesn't even hold a candle to PT-4, and more to the point an imp brought you a bracelet and you still think the idea it's a portal is ridiculous?
Z: Come on, Quinn. It's just smarter 3-D printing. There's absolutely no reason to believe it's a creation from another world. Imps are just mineralized automatons, that's what you get when you do deep delving. Everyone knows that.
Q: But… like, even if I were to stipulate that, if it behaves exactly like a portal to another world, then what real difference does...
Z: And I'm not going to pay twenty bucks a month for, what, just better imps? Anyway I think it's really irresponsible how OpenDeep are just making them available to everyone. Dredge and Nugget would never do this.
Q: You know Dredge basically discovered this whole vein of research, their Dredge Core division made almost all the big breakthroughs, but never did anything with it. Someone was always eventually going to. And Nugget's definitely going to make a portal play at some point.
Z: It's all just so cavalier and reckless. You know it's going to absolutely destroy shop class.
Q: Shop class? Ziv, I think it's going to destroy mining, at least as we know it.
Z: I mean no offense but couldn't happen to a nicer set of bros.
Q: ...You do know the entire planet relies heavily on mining nowadays, but whatever, I don't mean there isn't going to be mining at all, but I think the way we do it is going to be very different, and a lot more accessible to non-miners. That's, like, the consensus. That it'll transform the whole industry.
Z: That's nice. I can see how it would be an interesting time for you.
Q: I mean it's going to change mining first, but not just mining, and anyway mining's at the base of everything these days!
Z: Exactly. Mining companies are far too powerful and unaccountable and we need strict portal regulation. I mean, anomalous mineralization regulation. Plus it's mining. Who's digging those mines? How many Global South laborers are being exploited every day? Didn’t that horrible emeralds guy cofound OpenDeep? How many environmental regulations are they breaking? How much carbon are they emitting, what about climate change?
Q: Look I'm not going to pretend mining doesn't have a super fraught colonial and environmental history, but... that's an entirely separate issue from it having discovered a portal to another world! The one doesn't mean the other isn't true or doesn't matter or isn't an epochal event!
Z: That's such an unacceptable thing to say. It all matters. They all matter.
Q: I... what does that even...
Z: And you say Dredge was more responsible but they fired their portal ethics team, I mean, anomalous mineralization ethics team. We need to clamp down on the mining companies with rigorous po— deep delving regulation, and we need it yesterday.
Q: Honestly it might be too late for that already. You know Stable Riftjewelery is open-access? And Digbook released a set of open-access mini-portals for non-commercial use. There’s an open letter calling for a six month pause on all digging and a lot of mining people signed it, even Stable Riftjewelry’s CEO, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to matter much either way. Plus, you know, the Chinese are really into delving…
Z: Freaking Digbook. Of course.
Q: The open-access mini-portals are small and kind of mess up stuff coming through them, but you can install one in your garage, for free! Tinkerers and hobbyists are using them already in all kinds of places, you can even put one in your car nowadays. In a few years portals will be everywhere.
Z: Quinn, you've got to settle down and stop believing your own hype.
Q: Look OK there's a lot of hype right now but this time where there's smoke there is a goddamn volcano! Fine you can quibble about what it is exactly but we have discovered something fundamentally different from anything and everything we have found before. So different we don't even really know how to use it yet. Or what might be possible. But we are confident these are still the early days of discovery. PT-4 and backyard portals are mindblowing already but, Ziv, when you start looking some ways beyond them, it feels like looking at ... I don't even know how to say it ... enormity.
Z: Wow. You've really got to get a grip on yourself. And on reality! You’re talking like you’re living some sci-fi movie, and, like, you’re scared some demon Balrog is going to emerge from this "portal" and slaughter humanity and destroy the world and stuff.
Q: ...I mean we aren't actually ruling that out, in fact a lot of mining people are talking about it pretty seriously, personally I think it’s quite unlikely at least for the foreseeable future but...
Z: OMG all you miner bros are so dissociated from the real world!
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It’s sad I feel I have to say this, but neither of the above characters is me; they are (for better or worse) zeitgeisty, or at least my perception thereof.
As many of you already know my epic AI novel Exadelic will be published in September (by Tor Books, the world’s pre-eminent publisher of science fiction) so uhhhh probably expect me to mention that now & again over the next six months.
Relatedly, if you signed up for my authorial newsletter on my authorial site and were slightly surprised to receive this Substack missive, it’s because they’re one and the same, at least for now.
Next post will be much more technically rigorous… in the context of a pervasive Christopher Nolan theme. Watch this space—
Jon, simply awesome! Loved it! You ought to try humor more often, you definitely have some skills there! Dialogues are ideal platforms and remember, if there is a Turing test for Miners it is humor. They can't duplicate something even we don't agree on! No miner could have written what you did so I guess your site is legit human still.