Feb 23, 2020 6:07 PM
Verity portalsnaked to MidChilda
+ Show First Post
Total: 331
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

"Huh.  I think what people's daemons settled as is too obviously a difference to glue stereotypes and jobs to for any other differences to have caught on where my people came from."

Permalink

"Well, in our case, it all goes back to pre-industrial living conditions when physical power determined a lot about one's ability to get through an average day, but stereotyping off daemon form didn't actually occur to me until you said it and now it's super obvious that would be a thing. It puts your religious troubles in a more annoying context, that's for sure."

Permalink

"Yeah.  I was hoping that they'd cut it out once they had enough technology to stop relying on abilities and moves, though I suppose that would be too optimistic."

Permalink

"Humans of any stripe are incorrigible categorizers, it is true."

Permalink

"True."

She remembers that she was supposed to give the captain information about her PADATS image, and sets about ordering her terminal to show her the history.  It's still creepy, even after a few days to try and get used to it, and this not being something she'd mind sharing.  A few images that clearly show the ghostly tendrils are selected and ordered shared.

Permalink

"Thanks! Edsel, work up a sydar filter."

The crew does its thing, and the Captain reclines in her chair. No one is going to kick Verity off the bridge but for the time being there's nothing else to do but wait.

Permalink

She's probably going to need to figure out what people do for fun on these ships sooner or later, but for right now she still has things on her to-do list.  

"I guess next up is meeting with the diplomats," she says, and sends a message to the diplomatic team on the Mononoke that she'd like to meet them at their convenience.  "Want to come along when I do, Eelesia?"

Permalink

"Given that I'm attached as a liaison, I probably should."

 

The head diplomat would be delighted to meet Verity and Araeneve and discuss her people's most likely concerns and angles of approach. They can come down to the dignitary suite any time.

Permalink

They double-check the map, then make their way to the suite.  

Permalink

The head diplomat, it turns out, is a short young woman with pink hair, dressed in a sharp little white suit.

"Hello! You must be Verity and Araeneve. It is truly wonderful to meet you. My name is Madoka."

Permalink

"Hello," she says, offering to shake her hand.  

Permalink

Handshake.

"This is my bodyguard, Homura."

Permalink

"Hello."

Permalink

She will greet Homura as well.  

Turning back to Madoka, "How much have you already heard about the fleet?"

Permalink

"I've read Eelesia's summary. I'd enjoy hearing it from you directly, though. What can we expect?"

Permalink

"It's a group of just under a million people, who have been in space for several generations.  Our technology is much lower.  We can't reverse aging, and we've gotten rid of most dangerous diseases but still have colds and such.  No sapient AI.  No... something-exception?  The thing where you can duplicate materials.  Instead we get new matter through daemons using moves, though not every material can be made. 

"People need to work to live.  The government makes sure everyone is housed and given basic education and healthcare, but not food or other things unless they're entirely unable to work.  Most of our government is a democracy, but the Legendaries choose the judges.  There's a majority religion that considers legendaries important, and encourages people to perform certain jobs and duties based on daemon type.  That might be similar to how you handle gender, but I haven't seen enough of how that looks to be sure.  Even without the religion, since daemon moves are so important in keeping the ships functioning, people wind up doing jobs they can do wherever their daemons are needed.

"Overall, the biggest problem is going to be the constant surveillance.  Being recorded without permission violates our right to privacy, even if the recordings aren't shared, and is considered hostile.  I don't know if this is an inherent difference between our types of human, or just the result of a culture living in close quarters on a ship with technology that is really easy to steal information out of.  Not filming the inside of the fleet after finding them is going to be very important.  Especially not the residential places where people bathe and sleep.

"There's also the lack of daemons.  Normally daemons will talk to each other parallel to the human pair, and add an extra layer into communication, the same way body language or voice tone do.  They aren't needed, but it is a little bit," she flails for words.  "Imprecise?  Muffled?  Compared to what we're used to."

"Some might want to ask for citizenship, but I think most will just want to be towed to an empty planet."

Permalink

At first, Madoka nods along. At the comment about gender she looks first confused and then thoughtful. During the next part her eyes slowly grow wider and wider, and she almost misses the rest of what Verity says.

"An empty planet would be no trouble at all," Madoka says first.

"Um, I'm terribly sorry for what must have been a terrible shock, finding yourself unexpectedly exposed to strangers as you did. Could you tell me how your culture expects first meetings to be handled between individuals or internal organizations? I'm afraid I'm rather struggling to imagine how one navigates a cultural taboo on remembering a person without their explicit permission." In fact, isn't that a logical paradox? "I'm really curious how your society enforces that. Also, I'm not sure I follow the connection to entertainment media?"

Madoka says all this, sounding mildly apologetic.

Permalink

"Remember?" she asks, confused.  Had she used that word?  "Oh, with recording?  No, memories aren't..."

"Hmm.  I suppose a culture with sapient AI wouldn't have much difference between recording something and memorizing it with a meat-based brain, would it?  And our emotions and taboos on the subject haven't been calibrated with the understanding that AI is likely.

"Perhaps I should explain why we have that taboo, to try and get the shape of what we mean by it?  I think there's technically two parts to it that might need to be handled separately."  She had been thinking of this for a while, while walking through the forests, picking it apart.  Exactly what she feels.  Why she feels what she feels.

"First, setting cameras in public places in order to make databases of where people are going.  We've historically had issues with that.  People being outed as gay or trans or polyamorous and getting fired or attacked or disowned for it, back when our culture still considered those immoral and people hid it to protect themselves.  A boss deciding to fire a worker that the database concludes is a member of an opposing political faction or religious minority, or if they get word of the person's family's history and decide that they don't want to spend money training someone who is at increased risk of some genetic issue.  Obviously, this law doesn't stop gossip or people remembering things, but gossip is unprovable and human memory is flawed and it's hard to get information out of someone without that person noticing, and people can't keep track of each other as well as even our computers from a few generations ago could. 

"Of the two, that one is the least important.  Admittedly, it's probably even outdated by our current systems, and being kept aloft because it's so entangled with the other one in our minds.  No one will mind someone walking by in public, and not even an AI coming along, as long as the brought camera or ...sensory-organ-equivalents?... can't see through walls, and aren't left behind to deliberately look for patterns.  People do sometimes take pictures of themselves in public and catch incidental frames of others.  It's specifically the universal keeping-track-of-people-at-scale-and-over-time thing that is going to upset them."

"The second, more important thing has to do with people's home privacy being invaded.  By not letting people be alone, unscanned, unwatched, while they're doing private things," she says, then reconsiders.  Probably best to be specific, no matter how embarrassing, to avoid confusion.  "Most relevantly having sex, but anything they might choose to do in their own homes.  Whoever is recording or watching that is involving themself in that without the other person's consent.  Even if they're just sitting still, people don't like to always be," she struggles for words again.  "Composed?  Proper?  But also don't like to be seen relaxing."  She trails off.  That sounds kind of silly, put like that, but thinking back it still sounds true.  

Permalink

Madoka smiles awkwardly. "That is certainly a lot to untangle."

She takes a bracing breath, and lets the earnestness flow through her.

"To address your first concern, I believe you're simply mistaken about how our systems fundamentally function. Our founders' guiding light was the idea that, whatever they built, it would not give---it would be incapable of giving them special treatment. This is why they set out to build a truly impartial meritocracy from first principles! And one part of that was ensuring that the power to know other people's private secrets is prevented from accumulating in anyone's hands. I can also confidently assure you that it is significantly more difficult to get... 'external' information from someone without them noticing than it is to get 'internal' information from someone without them noticing, but it is true that most people you meet in Administrated Space wouldn't think to make that distinction."

Earnest smile.

"Regarding your second concern, I fear I still don't understand what it is, exactly, that you object to? No one can force you to share your," faint blush, "private moments, if you don't want to. That would be invasive, absolutely. Even though you are guaranteed to be safe from professional or legal repercussions even if you did suddenly decide to share your entire sex life with the public. Some people do. Some people don't. That is up to their own, um, kinks."

Permalink

"The problem with that is that people aren't going to believe that your system is secure, just because you say it is. 

"We've spent a great deal of time and effort on preventing data theft, and it has always failed.  People have spent years on DRM or other security, then had it get cracked in hours.  Our phones have physical, circuit-breaking switches on the camera and microphone, because of how easy it would be to make them turn on digitally when compromised.  Our experience has trained us to expect that if someone has a recorded piece of information on us, it might as well already be in whatever hands we least want it to be in.

"It is possible that your databases are as secure as you claim.  It's possible that no one built a backdoor into it.  It's possible that there's never been some kind of leak, then cover-up, which would look identical.  It's possible that the security will last unbroken for the next century.  However, from all of our history and prior experience, no one on the fleet is going to consider it likely.  And there's no good way to prove a negative.

"Also, I'm not entirely sure which of your machines are sapient and which aren't, but if the database is sapient it would count as a person that people aren't going to want involving itself in their sex acts by watching even if no other humans see it."

Permalink

"It's not a person," Eelesia interjects.

"I'm sorry. I should've realized earlier, but I focused on the wrong parts of your explanation. You're from a much more technologically primitive civilization than I assumed you were. You keep talking about 'cameras' and 'databases' and 'securing data' and that's not just a quirk of your phraseology is it?"

Eelesia sighs.

"There are no cameras. There have never been any cameras. There are no... um... 'system admins' managing 'databases'. For the really critical systems there aren't even any physical computing substrates, and most of the rest are thaumtronic and extradimensional and might as well be incorporeal. The system's spatial and causal comprehension is 'recorded' in the same way the direction of gravity is 'recorded' by your brain when you're standing somewhere. That comprehension is an inevitable consequence of existing."

Eelesia perks up as she explains.

"I also assumed your people had at least a rudimentary theory of mind, which is my bad. I really should've explained that decomposed cognition is a thing. Sapience, sentience, and agenticness are separate an independent phenomena. A person needs at least the first two and usually has all three. For example, a pet animal is sentient, but not sapient. An intelligent device is sapient but not sentient. Sapience is the ability to predict the future by understanding the present, more or less. Sentience is the subjective experience of sensory data, sometimes inadequately summarized as 'emotions'. Being agentic is having ordered preferences about the future, sometimes inadequately summarized as 'willpower' or 'proactiveness'. Each of these things has its own internal moving parts that can be implemented separately as well. The systems are not people. The systems are not conscious. They are only sapient and agentic in the specific ways they need to be. But that still means they start out as hard to hack as a human brain and don't come with any of the compensating vulnerabilities. If your computer scientists refuse to believe that, you can show them the architecture. It's all open source. Anyone can study it as much as they like."

Permalink

Madoka nods along, then adds, "I believe I could arrange a test, if that seemed necessary? Bring your best hackers and psychics to MidChilda and have them try to subvert the administration?"

Permalink

She puzzles through this.  "You can probably convince the computer scientists, though it'll take a while for them to learn how to read the architecture well enough to be sure.  And bringing hackers and psychics to test things does sound like a good idea. 

"Just, it's going to be really bad if the fleet is being recorded before the people inside are convinced.  Presumably the system isn't everywhere, or they would already be found.  Is there a way to tell it to hold off of other countries' territories?

"Hmm.  Also, what's the possibility that someone manages to create a hostile version of the same thing, that does share information unwillingly or do bad things with the collected information?"

Permalink

"There's no chance of someone creating a hostile version without being noticed. Implementing the administrative instances was a civilization-wide effort. Those only cover a few hundred light-years in the universes immediately adjacent to MidChilda's, though. Right now we only have the Mononoke's local instances running on conventional, mundane hardware. Which means thaumtronic quantum processors interfaced with optronic neuromorphics, if you were curious."

"To answer your question... the only way to 'hold off' would be to... destroy the entire dimensional cruiser very thoroughly the moment it detects your fleet, and then dimensional transfer us the rest of the way using only my own magic? We could... accidentally surface in the correct universe by complete chance, power down the ship completely, and go looking for your fleet in nothing but our Barrier Jackets? I don't think you really appreciate how ridiculous what you're asking sounds, given that you are not also demanding we gouge our eyes out or erase our own memories, which would be ridiculous in a different way but at least logically consistent."

Permalink

"There must be something we can do to accommodate a case of civilizational scopophobia! Maybe we can minimize the impact if the Mononoke immediately drops us off and then leaves? We'd... have to leave our Devices onboard, though. I'm not sure if..."

("Over my dead body," Homura opines calmly.)

"Yeah..."

Total: 331
Posts Per Page: