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Dec 04, 2020 6:30 PM
the rest of the yeerk war
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All right! Now he needs to make a magical artifact that approximates mage-channels, which he knows how to do in a static way and doesn't take long, and then figure out how to link it to a computer at all so that the computer can control it, which is more complicated but can be done with magical sensors on that side, and then - tell a computer what to do. Great. How does he do that. 

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<Do you want simple written instructions - like "check the flow every thousandth of a second; if the flow is below X, increase the channel width; if the flow is above Y, decrease the channel width" -- or do you want to channel energy from the generator a lot and tell it to take the action it predicts you'd take.>

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:I might end up trying the second, but I am curious if I can get it to work with the first and then be able to see exactly what it is doing - I assume the method where it predicts my actions both takes a lot more computer and is opaque once trained: 

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<Yes, it does. What signal do you want the computer to send to your artifact, to tell it to increase or decrease channel width.>

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:The magic on the artifact itself can detect an electrical signal, though I have not yet set what signal means what. I suppose a short or a long pulse, to mean increase or decrease, would work fine?: 

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<So then you tell the computer:

Every 1/1000th of a second while this program is running, 

If the measurement from the flow sensor is greater than X, send a short pulse
If the measurement from the flow sensor is less than Y, send a long pulse

And that'll do it. Of course this is not very robust, because if your flow sensor stops working and gives you garbage it'll just keep telling the channels to get wider and wider, will that make anything explode?>

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:...Possibly, or at least break my artifact. Can I set a maximum and minimum width, and - tell it to break the connection entirely if it would otherwise send a signal to deviate outside of those bounds more than, hmm, ten times in a row, that is still only a hundredth of a second...: 

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<Yes. You would say that like this:

The maximum connection width is A.

The minimum connection width is B.

Keep track of the current connection width.

Keep track of the number of signals to deviate outside of bounds.

Every 1/1000th of a second while the program is running and there is no signal to abort,

If the measurement from the flow sensor is greater than X, send a short pulse, and note that the current connection width is one unit smaller
If the measurement from the flow sensor is less than Y, send a long pulse, and note that the current connection width is one unit larger

If the current connection width is more than the maximum width

       and we sent a long pulse, note that the number of signals that deviates outside of bounds is one larger.

       and we sent a short pulse, set the number of signals that deviates outside of bounds to zero.

If the current connection width is less than the minimum width:

     and we sent a short pulse, note that the number of signals that deviates outside of bounds is one larger.

     and we sent a long pulse, set the number of signals that deviates outside of bounds to zero.

If the number of signals that have deviated outside of bounds is ten or more, then there is now a signal to abort.

 

Obviously this is a really ugly set of computer instructions but it should make it really obvious what every step is doing.>

 

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:It does seem inelegant but it is very clear: 

Leareth tells the computer that, and then goes into the blank he left with the artifact between the electricity-sensing component and the channel itself. The 'units' of width are kind of made up but he makes it so the maximum is a hundred units and the minimum is one, although realistically it shouldn't ever have to get that narrow. 

And then he painstakingly sets it in place so the mage-energies released from the generator go into the artificial channel, and he watches what the computer does. 

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The computer faithfully tells the channels how to move every thousandth of a second.

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Great. Nothing exploding so far. 

How smooth is the energy output at the other end of the channel? 

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It seems to be working fine. Maybe a bit choppier than an experienced mage but the generator produces a pretty smooth energy flow in the first place anyway.

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Mages can vary their channels on a lot more dimensions than just the width of the entire thing, and also do some anticipation of upcoming turbulence, which is really necessary for nodes but less so here. Leareth thinks it'll do fine for his current purposes; if he ever needs a version that can give variable output to very fine precision, for more fiddly spells, he might try the computer-learning-to-predict-him method. 

He puts away his work for the day and morphs Andalite to see if anyone wants to tail-spar with him. 

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Some people will tail-spar with him!! All of the Andalites have really warmed up to him immensely now that he sometimes morphs Andalite and runs around with them. And while they still all have thousands of hours of tail-sparring practice on him they assure him that he is taking to it exceptionally well, a real natural.

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Leareth doubts he's a natural, he thinks it's mostly conscientiousness and knowing how to make practice in general count for as much as possible. He enjoys the praise, though, and as usual finds it exhilarating even though he almost always loses, and is relaxed afterward and finds it much easier to sleep. 

The next day he makes another rabbit morph and then traps it in its morphed form, and then stares at the morph design specs, and goes to ask Cayaldwin how feasible he thinks it would be to sacrifice a rabbit and dismantle its morph normalspace pocket to get the missing components. ...Maybe not even a rabbit, he doesn't think he needs it to actually morph, just to have the morph setup at all - is there a size or intelligence limit on animals that can technically be given morph abilities, could he do it with a worm or something? He feels a lot less bad about making his permanent solution here involve killing worms than killing rabbits, although killing a rabbit for each nothlit rescue would probably still be worth it. 

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<I think you could give an ant or a worm morph. I don't know that anyone has tried it but I think you could.>

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:I want to try that, then. I would be much more comfortable with it taking ten tries to be able to take the setup apart if I am only killing worms. Do we need authorization from someone else to do it?: He had been asking Matirin about the rabbits, but Matirin isn't here. 

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<Technically we should ask Nerefir but I know where the box is.>

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:- I will just send him a message, I think, it is not an unreasonable request and it will not take long, I can ask for standing approval to give worms morph for the nothlit research, or at least to do ten now:

Maybe Cayaldwin thinks it'll be fine and is right, but there's no reason to do it secretly, and...he doesn't exactly trust Cayaldwin to give a reasonable answer on what the risks is. He digs out the Earth cellular phone he uses for messages to do so. (Andalites have better handheld computing devices, obviously, but Matirin was still slightly hewing by their laws about this and not just handing Leareth one for his personal ownership and use, and also the standard Andalite interfaces require brain chips, which he doesn't have.) 

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Nerefir's assistant writes back a few minutes later that an Andalite working with Leareth's research team on the nothlit problem and authorized already with the morph codes can use them for worms as needed.

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Great, he expected it to be about that simple. He needs to go catch some worms (they're really easy to find if you have Healing-Sight and access to a big field), and then can he meet Cayaldwin again to give his pile of worms morph? 

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Cayaldwin can do that!

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Perfect!

Leareth carefully sticks his morph-capable worms in a box with some air-holes in the lid, he doesn't want to lose track of them. Does Cayaldwin want to come along while he hops into the Void and tries to dismantle one of their pockets to get the bit he needs to repurpose? It's probably going to go messily wrong the first several times but it'll be interesting, and maybe informative about morph stability more generally. 

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Yes, there's a lot of applicability from this to the general problem of extending the morph limit and the ultimate goal, which is for every single person in the universe to be a shapeshifter whose actual mind and body are safely on another plane and hooked up to some kind of store of backups that can be employed whenever anything happens to one of them. (It's what his father would have been able to achieve.)

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Awww. Leareth appreciates Cayaldwin a lot, really.

He tugs them over to the Void - it's a lot easier for Cayaldwin if he's morphed Gifts of his own for it - and then stares at worm #1's morph pocket at the end of its tether, not currently doing anything but still with all the relevant parts set up in case, somehow, this worm ever acquires the intelligence it would need to actually acquire some other animal and morph it. He tries to match it up to the diagrams in the documentation, match up which part is specifically the demorphing instructions. 

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