The Information Age Decline and Collapse

The following appears on floor 90, as part of the “Crisis of the Ancient World” exhibit. Many of the pieces on display here were discovered, studied, and collected by the Ari Horzel expeditions and donated by the Horzel family on the event of the professor’s death. We have held these objects for approximately 3000 years and happily display Professor Horzel’s research and conclusions with amendments as new research into the period is completed and verified.

“Our world has never been in such peril.”

“In the Bronze Age, we faced destruction from overreliance on single points of empire: charioteers, trust in the concept of holding war as if a game, a lack of statecraft or cooperation outside immediate and economic. Later, mankind formed its tribes around religions to the detriment of its people; rules by secrecy and decadence, not permitted to speak out for fear of one’s soul, and even one’s body. And lately, we built our society around mechanization and exploitation. An all too recent history of slavery and disenfranchisement of almost all people not of imperial European stock, and even some thereof. Much of human thought controlled through simple media, a lack of free thought bred through easy to digest bites and manipulated group opinion. A world beset by the accelerating climate shift we ourselves brought on by inefficient agriculture techniques and a slobbering dedication to petroleum. And the growing anti-intellectual movement wherein people of education and knowledge are set aside for fabulists and merrymakers without a strand of brain between them, so that populists may once again, as in the waning days of the Roman republic, make of us what they will to obtain status and power most true.”

“We have wrought the tools of our destruction; and I need not even mention atomic weapons or the culture of proxy warfare that has propagated in the world these last hundred years to illustrate the magnitude of the issues facing the modern human being.”

Our Museum strives to bring all corners of human civilization to the forum and integrate them into our collective understanding of history and the universe. This includes some of the more pessimistic outlooks at history as it unfolded. 

Towards the end of the Information Age, many people, particularly the young and disillusioned of more developed nations of the time, saw the world in a spiraling decline similar to collapse events of their past. In the twenty-first century, this was often derided as being fatalistic and childish. However, as the century came to an end, and humanity’s fossil fuels, quite literally, dried up, this view was taken more seriously.

Humanity is always in decline for one reason or another. But it’s also experiencing a new renaissance after every fall. Our species picks itself up despite our best efforts to destroy ourselves from the inside.

In the following century, as nations fell from over reliance on coal and oil, and other nations rose and took their place on the world stage by sharing cheaper, cleaner energy, this view fell out of the public ideal except as a page in every secondary school general history book.

Then it happened about once every thousand years or so. But each time, the collapse was less pronounced, less apocalyptic, and more just a routine “changing of the guards” in world supremacy, technological ideology, or wide spectrum human thought. 

Today, we at the Roberts Foundation and the Smith Museum seek to mitigate our current crisis, that of overextended humanity, and keep the lights on, so to speak, for when the Earth’s children come home. We will be right here, guarding their ancient legacy, remembering their past so they might rediscover it. Someday.

Early Space Exploration Preservation Efforts

Every once in a while, the museum gets the questionable honor of becoming a part of history as it unfolds. The Roberts Foundation, in its capacity as a cross-temporal agency, isn’t in the business of interfering in the timeline directly. However, the Foundation has and will act on solid, verifiable information concerning itself, events in the past, and temporal incursion. To be sure, we don’t employ agents to change events, but rather to view events and verify the otherwise lost bits of data in historical record.

Since 11969 HE, a NASA landing platform has sat, untouched, on the lunar surface at Mare Tranquillitatis bearing a message from humanity. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A. D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Those words inspired humans for tens of thousands of years to reach ever upwards, culminating in the empire we have today, stretching out from Earth in all directions to the edges of explored space. But it is entirely possible that the physical reminder of what our forebears did would have been lost forever but for the actions of certain members of the Foundation. 

Around 12300 HE, about one hundred years after humanity began to seriously settle the bodies of our home star system, a group of grave robbers attempted to steal artifacts from a number of lunar archaeological sites. The sites of several Apollo and Luna missions were targeted, as well as other, later, rovers and vehicles set to collect data ad infinitum. This list included the unfortunate sites of the Sino-American Selene 5 impact and the first privately owned spacecraft to crash on the moon, Chernobog; of particular note because of the loss of life in both incidents. 

These would-be thieves never made it within 50 meters of any human artifact on Luna in any axis, including underground. A fact recorded once an official inquiry began, but only verified by the museum some fifty years ago, is that there are invisible, undetectable (for the technology level of early spaceflight Earth), unbreachable shields around each site where humans set foot or metal on that body before the flight of the first Earth-Luna commercial shuttle (and thereby, the first landing on the site that would become Luna City). Anything after that would be of little historical credit, but before our nearest neighbor became half a day’s trip… those sites are priceless. 

To this day, those sites remain untouched. Granted, they were built up and around over the last 40000 years, and those fifty meter bubbles around each are surrounded by construction, but they’re intact today. The Foundation even owns the buildings immediately surrounding the sites so as to maintain interdiction when the shields fail in 82450 HE. 

Oh, didn’t I say? The shields are entangled with a black hole in our objective future for the sheer amount of energy they take to maintain. After all, when the energy required is more than the output of a star, where else can be look but to something bigger, even supermassive? We received information from an agent working for the Foundation in the far future that we should buy up Lunar construction around those sites before the shield fails. 

“But, Lex, what about the timeline? Doesn’t the Foundation have a duty to uphold the timeline and integrity of history?” This is why temporal policy is best left to professionals and not to armchair lawyer/politicians sitting comfortably in the Senate half a million lightyears away. There is no paradox, nor any looping involved. We only know that we know nothing, nor do we pretend to. Plato and Socrates did not live and die in vain.

Long term investments, right? Besides, all of this was internally classified until the purchases were made and the sites were set for extreme long-term preservation. History is important, and the Roberts Foundation seeks to uphold the sites of our species’ legacy as long as humanly possible; even if it means cheating retroactively.

Damascus Arcology

How can I even start to describe the monumental effort it must have taken to construct our fine museum? To put in perspective the scale of our collection, following the purchase of the then defunct Damascus Arcology, it took the Roberts Foundation twenty years and in excess of 40,000 laborers, technicians, and curators to complete.

The Human Colonization Project began construction on the Arcology in 36,900 (26,900 AD) as part of their efforts to conserve land mass on the planet Earth while maintaining the steadily rising population at a time when off-world travel was heavily restricted. Perhaps their building efforts worked all too well, as the Foundation bought the superstructure solely because it had proven to be able to withstand everything nature could throw at it for thousands of years.

The scholarship of the era leaves events unclear. However, sometime between 39,000 and 42,000 the Arcology was emptied of humans and abandoned. In 42,780, the government of Nova La’Ropa took on responsibility for the Arcology, but did not reinstate its original purpose, but rather used it as a staging and storage area throughout their nation-state’s history.

In the late 49,000’s, the museum’s founder, Mister James Smith, bought the Arcology and the surrounding land from the empire and donated it to the Roberts Foundation in a trust meant to hold assets for the as yet unnamed museum.

To date, none of our team has been able to estimate accurately how long the structure of our former Arcology will last. Conservative guesses place our lifespan at six thousand years. Realistic expectations imply an extinction event might be necessary to demolish the building.