Jun 23, 2021 7:52 PM
Bubblehead aliens meet Amenta
+ Show First Post
Total: 145
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

"Yes. It looks like your machine translation simply places them sequentially? Here, the usual style is roughly time-ordered from the top to the bottom."

He reveals a tablet with text that follows elaborate splits and merges as it flows down the page, like ripple patterns in sand. It's about a group trying to make shelter after a shuttle crash, with eight different entities all acting and thinking at once. At first there's an eight-part view of the panic and fear of the crash, then a lot of brain swapping to concentrate memory and critical thinking and creativity, leaving five less capable and three smart bubblebodies. One trying to salvage the shuttle systems, one directing the 'dumb' ones in building a snow wall, and one sorting through damaged cargo for anything of use. Cargo tallies up food cans while Salvage figures out that the warp core is fixable but not easily while Foreman designs a shelter and yells at the other bodies about where to point their shovels, with the simple thoughts of the 'near empty' bodies as thin footnotes.

Permalink

"Huh. Are you able to read several lines at once? We can't do that."

Permalink

"Oh. Yes! We can focus on several things at once, and reading each line is a thing. If I were walking and balancing something I was carrying and remembering the path I need to take to bring it somewhere I could only read one line at once, unless I was very heavy in the head at the time. But you are individual thinkers, right. That is a serious hinderance to reading and writing our way."

Permalink

"We can multitask, but it helps a lot if the things we're doing are very different - we can also walk and carry and pathfind and read at the same time, as long as bringing whatever we're reading doesn't interfere with peripheral vision or having enough hands to carry the object, for example. But our eyes focus on one area at a time and even if you had two lines of text right next to each other, or overlapping in different colors or something, it wouldn't work," says Tahmu. "- I guess people who learn to read music can do something sort of like reading multiple lines at once, but only one line is text."

Permalink

"Our eyes are multifocal and can point in different directions, yes. Tasks being very different or very similar does not change how well we can focus on them. It's almost as if you have just as much mind as us, but can't retask portions like we do..."

"I suspect that is the case," Science Eater interrupts. "Something like that. Each piece of our minds does learn to be good at different skills, even if we can focus all our minds on very similar tasks. I notice that Amentans have very fast reflexes. I watched a video where an Amentan caught something that another dropped, as if part of them was always watching for falling objects and another was always thinking about where to move your hands! We do not do that. If I drop something it will hit the floor unless I was specifically prepared to catch a falling object. Your reflexes are amazing."

Permalink

"I wouldn't have expected that would be something that'd make us stand out in the galaxy!" says Mai. "A lot of animals on our own planet are more coordinated and quick than we are."

Permalink

"Many of our planet's animals are like that as well, the evolutionary class that we are descended from does not dominate many niches. But not people. Watching greys play complex sports will be a spectacle for us. We can do things like dance or fight if we devote our all to it, but to run and swing and dance and also think about the state of the game and the other players and react to all of it quickly..."

Permalink

"We'd love to have you attend some sports games and performances whenever there might first be bubbleheads on Amenta," smiles Tuanke.

Permalink

"That will be fun."

Coordination Minister says, "We have already received many requests to allow merchant groups to try to trade with Amenta. They think that alien products will be fascinatingly exotic and very valuable at home. For now we are restricting Amentan contact to centrally overseen ships until biological and culture shock concerns are assuaged, however."

Permalink

"Culture shock concerns?" wonders Mai.

Permalink

"If something we consider ordinary and normal is shocking and appalling to you and it came to light during less filtered contact, or vice versa, there could be impulsive reactions and unpleasant consequences to our relations. We want to at least attempt to understand each other first, though it will be a very long process for our species to truly know each other."

Permalink

"That makes sense. Are there any questions your reading so far has prompted?" Tuanke asks.

Permalink

Bubbleheads of different shirt colors look at each other and the devices on the ends of their 'hair' flash activity lights, presumably talking to each other.

"The history of the red caste seems to have been handled nearly as well as it could have been, but our handling of similar issues is one potential conflict point. We do not have a concept exactly analogous to pollution, but it is the closest word and a viable translation to something we have. The connotations are more like infected. Should we go further into this now or is it an unpleasant topic?"

Permalink

"It seems like it should be covered at some point," says Mai. "The pollution response evolved to deal with infections and things like them, anyway."

Permalink

"There was a historical parasite spread by brain-exchanging and another that could infect via crops thanks to the pre-modern practice of using waste in compost, which is now eliminated. These parasites are now eradicated aside from two sets of samples stored at high-security laboratories, thankfully. Our pollution screening involves fewer cleaning steps but longer total time - four thirty minute showers spaced out over a day, essentially. And medical tests."

Pause.

"It is common for a group to designate one body to regularly deal with pollution related issues. Occasionally, that body will pass pollution screening and interact with the greater whole for a time, before returning to isolation and continuing work. However, if such issues no longer need dealing with, bodies that once did polluted work and passed screening come out of isolation entirely and sometimes end up reproducing."

Permalink

"What does the screening consist of?" asks Mai.

Permalink

Coordination Minister gives more details on the exact steps. The medical tests check for any possible infections, and flag things like unusual hormone levels for another cleaning process and more invasive examination just-in-case.

"If there is doubt about whether a body is clean after all this it will remain in isolation indefinitely or even be disposed of."

Permalink

"I think that's a - sufficiently compatible process," Mai says. "Obviously a theologian will need to consider it to be sure."

Permalink

"Good."

"How does one teach when you cannot brain-exchange to show the parts that have to learn exactly what to do?"

Permalink

"People learn by example, and by practicing, and by making guesses and forming theories and trying them. I imagine it would be a little like how you learn things no one has learned yet," says Mai.

Permalink

"New research is notoriously difficult. The body of work that led up to warp took several decades. It looks to us like Amenta's technology has been advancing faster than ours."

"Do you expect Amentans would be interested in visiting our planet?" A Coordination Minister body asks the group.

Permalink

"Amentans would be very interested in visiting your planet! Enough that we'd have to filter the volunteers pretty heavily!" says Tuanke.

Permalink

"Our chat room shows that Beauty of Life is growing more confident about there being no bio-compatibility issues." Coordination Minister says.

A Many Water Prospector muses, "I wonder, do we do the same things for fun? Sports are less common for us, socializing, video games, making and watching video is common, though we seem to have less emphasis on text..."

"Hobbies vary but working on miniatures and puzzles, massive multiplayer games, community gardens, and things like that are common," two of Climbing Engineer Scout add.

Permalink

"Massive multiplayer games and video games in general are big on Amenta, and the other things exist but are a little more niche except for fairly trivial puzzle games people use to fill irregular bits of time," says Mai. "We do have a lot of emphasis on text, a lot of socializing is done online via text even though we have video and audio calling. But we love video, both professional and amateur."

Permalink

"I think reading and writing is less common among bubbleheads because we can brain-exchange so readily. Even these... Bubble caps?" It gestures at the device on its head. "They keep us constantly background-aware of the broad strokes what the rest of us is doing, which is very comforting."

Total: 145
Posts Per Page: