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Game News The New World Update #26: The Monks

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, May 1, 2018.

  1. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Meaning what? Why augment humans if you have proper AI? That's easy - money. It's safe to assume that it's much cheaper to augment an employee than to buy a proper AI. Same reason why we used poorly aged Torque instead of a modern engine. When we started working on AoD, Torque cost $100, a proper engine 250k. If you prefer a better analogy, how many businesses are using high-end, specialized software (databases, accounting, etc) vs off the shelf crap? 5-10%?
     
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  2. Grauken Arcane Patron

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    Not sure that's the best analogy, there's lots of super-specialized niche software for SMEs from different industries, big companies use Unity-like all-can-do business software like SAP (and get fucked in return)
     
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  3. Quantomas Learned

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    More in the sense that if you have mastered fully fledged AI and gravity manipulation, you leave the age of scarcity as defined by Iain M. Banks.

    Of course, it is a credible scenario that the most powerful corporations withhold inventions and advanced science education from the masses. As a writer you have the freedom to create. But it amplifies your work if you have a firm grasp of the cornerstones that define your setting, because it resonates more deeply with your audience. Let your setting speak. The less artificial constructs it has, the more powerful its voice. You have demonstrated that you can do that with The New World. I admire the work you have done there, not only the fantastic artwork. I am just trying to nudge you a bit deeper into the realm of hard SF.
     
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  4. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    I like Banks' books but I simply don't believe in utopia or post-scarcity civilizations. Tech might change but the human nature will not. Today the lower class is more educated and vastly more prosperous than the lower class of the beginning of the 20th century, which in turn was more educated and prosperous than the lower class of the 19th century, but it's still a lower class.

    Some inventions? Maybe. Education? No. Look at the modern society. Whose fault is it that most people are studying social science rather than going for STEM degrees? Whose fault is it that the US has the lowest standards in math and science?

    Thanks for the compliments, means a lot, but I file post-scarcity civilizations right next to socialism/communism (not surprisingly Banks was very left-leaning).
     
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  5. Quantomas Learned

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    The New World is definitely no setting of a post-scarcity civilization, unless it's a cruel joke on the crew and settlers.

    And yet, that is exactly my concern if you introduce technologies that are vastly more powerful than the tech/science level expected from a civilization that commissioned a nuclear fission powered mining vessel for a deep space settler mission. Doable but IMHO it always requires working out proper reasoning, the pro and con why a certain technology is available and another not, to maintain the power of the fiction. You are mostly on track but there are some rough edges.
     
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  6. xantrius Liturgist

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    Wonderful progress on the game.

    (As our human technology advances exponentially I'd agree with thinkers like Jung (as seen in " The Undiscovered Self" IIRC), that what humanity needs are more insight into the realms of ethics, morality and the humanities or the natural science and the social sciences will collapse and their respective societies along with them.

    Also imo a post-scarcity society, where food, electricity etc. is not an issue, would make certain forms of hierarchies obsolete even within a capitalist framework.)
     
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  7. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    I'm not sure it's that much more powerful. Let's look at what we have today:

    - advanced neural implants research - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_implant
    - artificial heart (first successful implant in 2011)
    - bionic eye - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_prosthesis
    - titanium knees and hips
    - feeding tubes going directly into the stomach to provide nutrition (for comatose patients, for example)
    - all kinds of meds that fuck with the brain and kill the emotional response

    While it's not exactly half way there, I'd say that we'd get to the augmentations I described sooner (next 50-100 years?) than we'd get to nuclear fission powered space mining.
     
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  8. Quantomas Learned

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    Iain Banks also did write other SF books. Against a Dark Background is absolutely worth reading for the quality of the ideas it presents. It also speaks about how human emotions and relations shape reality, and how tech merely presents a part of the setting.

    No objections here, with the caveat that the projection for viable fusion reactor technology (hydrogen to helium) is a couple of decades from now. And it would be much earlier, if the research and engineering weren't intentionally done in slow-mo. From that point onward nuclear fission will be outdated.

    In principle augmentations are doable, including the nano-bot approach featured in Deus Ex as well as exoskeletons like in X-Men, to a limited extent. More like releasing drugs into the body in a smart way and fine-tuning body functions, and replacing parts of the skeleton.

    My objection is against framing it as a feasible advancement that elevates the state of human beings by re-engineering entire body systems in a way that enhances and redirects the intelligence that all human body systems collectively represent. This is beyond us because we do not understand how the myriad systems interact on all levels, down to physical chemistry and lower, and the chances that we acquire this knowledge in the next hundred years is slim at best.

    I have to add that my core domain is research of intelligence. What it is and how it works. It turns out that intelligence is present in many more ways than we commonly think. For example you can see the entirety of the ecosystems on Earth as an attempt of life to shape the environment in a way that suits life. Many interlocking systems that all represent intelligence, from plants that can absorb matter on a molecular basis to higher organisms that fulfil roles in ecosystems like predators and prey, or are part of symbiotic processes. The gene pools of ecosystems are balanced, checked (for example by viruses), and work dynamically towards a state that adapts and improves continually, i.e. the ecosystems are learning. Who can say whether ecosystems collectively don't have a shared intelligence that brought about the stable weather patterns humans needed to begin agriculture and evolve? We currently see a reversal. Why?

    We have a similar situation in the human body. We don't have enough knowledge to decide whether reality is brought about by the physical interactions at the quantum level, the causal hypothesis, or whether reality is shaped by the interactions between different intelligent systems that affect the quantum level accordingly, the projection hypothesis. In principle intelligent systems are capable of such feats because they can connect high-level conditions to systemic responses that ultimately interface with the quantum level. There is plenty of evidence for the latter if you know where to look. For that reason I doubt that the proclaimed march of modern medicine, from basic drugs, to smart drugs and gene therapy, will truly improve the human condition, because if you had perfect mastery of genes and related tech, you would probably realize that you don't truly understand what you are doing. It's simply that decoding the intelligent systems that comprise human existence is a much taller order than perfect mastery of the genetics.

    I agree with xantrius that Jung's work is important. It's the human dimension and ethics that matter.

    And for that reason your idea of cybernetically enhanced monks is truly brilliant. But there is no reasonable way IMHO that humanity can research this tech via medicine and genetics in the foreseeable future. However, it could be feasible that the monks learn techniques of the mind that allows them to achieve this elevated state with more straightforward augmentations.

    It's a similar effect, but the logic to achieve it is entirely different. What I call a hard SF approach.

    The large corporations have learned to shape the environment in which we live. They have a large extent of control over what we eat, how we live, our water and much more. They control most of the media and what news you are exposed to. A lot of what they control is also significant in terms of how individuals and their intelligence develops. It's not only a question of diet, there is an abundance of chemicals in the living environments, cloths and so on. There is evidence on a lot of these aspects that they affect intelligence. If you ask me, people are being played for fools.
     
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  9. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    But not space travel. So far NASA is planning to set up a base on the moon in 10 years which is awfully ambitious if you ask me.

    You think so? The internal combustion engine was created in 1859-1876 and we've been using it ever since. In terms of sci-fi and lighting fast tech progress it optimistically portrays, it's almost unbelievable yet true. We're surrounded by outdated, century old tech but hey did you hear about that new iphone?

    That's not what we have though. This augmentation package doesn't elevate the state of human beings; it's a hack job, a last resort thing that nobody would want given a choice. Essentially, it increases your survival chances but makes you less human in the process.

    That's a pretty cool domain.
     
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  10. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    In my opinion, there is not even the slightest possibility -- not even a scintilla of a chance -- of Vince getting the technology for TNW "right" or getting any predictions about the future right. Science fiction stories set mere decades in the future, in years that have now come and gone, have been wrong almost without fail. They might, like a stopped clock, be right twice a day, but the errors are ubiquitous while they successful guesses are very rare. Ultimately, when we get to the year 2300, if we measure reality against (a) Buck Rogers and (b) really "hard" science fiction by really smart science fiction writers, the two predictions will both be so utterly wrong that even if hard scifi is a little less wrong, it will be less wrong in the sense that green is closer to red in the spectrum than is blue. Someone looking at redness won't say, "Yeah, Alistair Reynolds really got it right by predicting green."

    For that reason, the only relevant questions are whether the setting (1) provides for great faction- and build-variety-based gameplay and (2) "hangs together." Based on my conversations with Vince, I'm pretty confident it will pass the test. If it does, who cares whether it's a mishmash of indefensible ideas?
     
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  11. deuxhero Arcane

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    Databases, both in software (the countless SQL variants. Also Oracle but that's shit) and hardware, are actually pretty "off the shelf" now. It's actually really pointless to try to make software for your company from scratch, especially when there are open source SQL variants you can build on if you really need some specialization. The better analogy might be hiring outsourced Indian code monkeys that can't write clean code to save their lives vs. a competent developer to actually tune the database software to your needs.
    1: The budget people who make the decision don't know, understand or care how bad an idea this is
    2: Convenience. No need to worry about interviews to get someone competent (not to mention all the labor regulations) and all that when Apu's Outsourcing will find an unqualified spaghetti code writer for you. For cyborgs this could mean you can throw some augs in an unimportant guy and sending him to mine Mars will take a few months, but actually developing an AI and frame will take years. If communications (even just Earth to ship) to earth exist, you could even make it so that such technology has been developed are the launch, it's just the ship doesn't have it.
    3: If you want to be really twisted there's some faction that's deliberately kneecapping AI to ensure cyborging people stays, just like politicians that refuse to reform the H2B Visa program so they have cheap labor, or oppose school vouchers at behest of the teachers unions. Could be whoever is making the implants or some crazy sect of cyborgs.

    Also related is the newer, better options lack institutional inertia. So many FOSS alternatives to Microsoft products exists that are cheaper, more stable, secure, less resource demanding, but everything is built to be compatible with MS products and that's what people are trained on.
     
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  12. Quantomas Learned

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    You can't predict the future, that's impossible. Heck, people can't even properly track the past.

    However, trying to do hard science fiction empowers your work, because it resonates more strongly with your audience, mostly due to a reduced reliance on constructs that seem artificial. But in the end it's a form of art. And it can work for you either way if you find constructs that resonate strongly with people. Like the lightsaber and the Force in Star Wars.

    Most sci-fi writers aren't great scientists anyway (as there are not many scientists that are also good writers), but the hard SF writers made it a virtue to foster a dialogue with their scientific counterparts to get their facts straight.

    That's all what I do here. It's up to Vince what he makes out of it.

    If it were up to me, I made the vessel a cylinder that spins around its axis to generate gravity and put a large fusion reactor into the central space. Hydrogen is abundant, it can be stored near absolute zero, helium can be used as a propellant and the generated light can be channelled to hydroponics. And yes, I would relish to make the monks into a guardian faction, whose members gain incredible power by practicising day for day for decades the mental discipline to shape themselves with their augmentations. Even a single one would be a formidable opponent or ally. And you might find them in all kinds of unexpected places, particularly if you add the rogue aspect. For me, I always find that digging deeper into how things truly work, adds more possibilities and enhances the potential of a setting.

    But I can understand that Vince focuses on implementing what he has already outlined and isn't carried away by wild ambition.
     
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  13. Quantomas Learned

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    It possibly only came about after the Chinese announced their plans to build a base on the moon. The US is not likely to develop space travel on their own, but the Chinese might.

    Lot's of politics that are oblivious to the problems that appear on the horizon. Science is expensive. If you really would want to see tangible progress you would need to divert half the defense spending to science and education. The budget of NASA is tiny compared to defense spending, which will either net us a nuclear winter or ultimately a junk pile of unprecedented proportions.

    An endless amount of work. If you want to become a good scientist you need to learn to ask questions. If you can frame the right question, you are already halfway to the answer.
     
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  14. sorinmask Literate

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    Vault Dweller - This looks amazing. I will be purchasing your game.
     
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