Oct 23, 2019 7:01 PM
a story of the second age
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"You're not allowed to invest it in anything speculative without signing something affirming that you understand you shouldn't but otherwise you don't have to interact with any bureaucracies."

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"Is the currency inflating much?"

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"Not so as you'll notice in a human lifetime, no."

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"Cool, then I won't worry about finding a way to collect interest any time soon."

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"I suspect you will have a wholly sufficient amount of money unless your hobbies are, uh, architecture and exotic animal breeding."

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"They are not."

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"Feeding silk to bonfires? Dumping gemstones into the ocean?"

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"Nope! Mostly my hobbies require as an input writing materials, I don't even know how to build enough stuff from my civilization to want to make my own demos."

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"Then it'd really surprise me if you ran out of money from teaching people about your world's technology."

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"Which I am very excited about and would be annoyed to find expensive."

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"Tickets for people to attend will probably be expensive but they'll sell as many as there's space in the auditorium, I'm sure."

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"Even given the language bottleneck? I guess maybe somebody could interpret live."

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"I said I would."

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"You don't have a ton of other stuff going on? I guess I'd envisioned you attending, but if I did a couple of each so more people could come that'd be redundant."

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"This is the most important thing that has happened in - plausibly fifteen hundred years, definitely at least three hundred."

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"What happened three hundred years ago?"

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"A friend and I together developed a new, much faster, much more expressive magic language! It's been used for a lot of work since, it allows larger areas of effect than you could get from artifacts before so it's in fields and wagons and ships and so on."

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"A magic language? Is this like a programming language?"

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"Well, I don't know, what's that?"

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May explains programming languages as best she can, which is amateurly, though with a weirdly dense pocket of knowledge around spreadsheets.

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"Sounds similar. Magic artifacts need to be given instructions, and they need to be quite specific. This would actually still be straightforward, except that straightforward instructions are long, and hard to break into independent blocks, and almost no one can do ten thousand instructions without making a mistake, let alone the ten million in a typical magic artifact that does actually useful things. So the hard part is coming up with ways to write the instructions in as few notes as possible, and -- this one trades off against the first a bit -- writing them in blocks, so that you don't have to start over if you make a mistake. A good language is very efficient at saying what it wants to say and also each of its elements are very self-contained."

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"That might be like programming but I'm not actually sure. You can edit programs, if nothing else, so the design constraints differ."

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"That makes sense. I think you probably wouldn't want them as short as possible if people were going to edit them, short versions of instructions for adding to artifacts are totally incomprehensible to most people."

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"I think you can put comments in code that don't do things and are just there to be explanatory."

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"It sounds like an interesting expressive form and I hope we invent all the prerequisites soon."

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