Humankind knows of twelve different engineered metaviruses of species- or civilization-ending potential. It was seven just a year ago.
If shared purpose and selfless cooperation are aspects of a good society, no group in history is likely to be a match for the unspoken fellowship of the nightmare assemblies, who did not talk to each other about this nor knew with precision the number or location of their peers.
At the endgame — and this is the endgame if not quite the end — game theory makes communication unnecessary. The shape of the game tree makes choices clear, and a shared goal can be inferred from the Anthropic Principle: if anybody currently working inside one of the nightmare assemblies were willing to put humankind’s survival at risk, the end of the world would have been a sign easily observed during the brief remaining span of time with any observers around. Ergo, it’s so far a silently collaborative game.
The workers in the nightmare assemblies have achieved unity of purpose without communication.
Only an insane person would get a job in a place dedicated to the design and simulation of metaviruses that are AI-level quantum machines on their own. Only a differently insane person would not be further broken by awareness of the ease of their design and the cheapness of their manufacture once you have put together the (decreasingly expensive and one day pedestrian) right combination of quantum simulators, hyperscale biological laboratories, and AI biology savants. Or the wrong combination, depending on your point of view.
Before the first metavirus was the last sane moment to stop. Right afterward, immediate but already impossibly far, was the first moment when the need to stop was perceived. Assuming hope (otherwise, what?), a large enough number of theoretical species-killing metavirus designs could be the negative shape of a meta-vaccine that would render them obsolete. Species-killing too: a change large enough to take humankind beyond the reach of self-evolving bioengineering attacks would necessarily take it beyond the pale of its current biology. Everybody in the back sites is working on the end of humankind, iterating alternatives to develop a virtuosity that might suggest a survivable one.
Anybody that might potentially not participate in the implied conspiracy is quietly and untraceably killed.
They do not suffer from a scarcity of tools. That’s the problem.
Suicide as self-indulgence would be just as common as preemptive murder were it not that the mortality numbers would make even administrators suspicious. Breakdowns are therefore frequent, and just as frequently covered up by the site-embedded psychiatrists that make a minor but necessary part of the conspiracy. Insane to want to join the assemblies – driven insane by the implications of their work – their sanity further shattered by the tension of playing chicken with the Apocalypse – the nightmare assembly workers take black coffee in drab cafeterias while vast computers play biomolecular games the attacker always wins and, at right angles from their overseers’ plans, they look for a new board with a different outcome but a familiar enough shape.
They know themselves expanding with each failure the boundaries of the change they would let themselves impose on others to make them safe from what they already know how to do, and they don’t need to trade notes to know the time for such luxuries will not last long.