Jun 23, 2021 8:12 PM
Bubblehead aliens meet Amenta
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"Yes, that happens. One can join another colony to deal with it, if you find someone compatible. Splitting into two colonies tends to be better, but requires a credit, of course. Or occasionally, a body will commit suicide."

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"Does the rest of the colony usually want to salvage some of the bubbles in cases like those?"

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"...It is a very personal decision. There are a lot of factors at play and it can be stressful to discuss."

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"Of course, our apologies," says Tuanke.

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"Those are not necessary. We expect occasional misunderstandings in such a momentous occasion."

 

Many Water breaks the silence with, "I would be interested in hearing more about life on Amenta." 

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"Is there anything in particular you want to hear or should we just ramble generally?" wonders Mai.

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"I don't think I can even ask questions that narrow down things much! A lot about children and teaching must be very different, I think."

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"Oh, yes, our kids are expected to grow up into their own individuals - one hopes to have good relationships with them, of course, and to inculcate one's values, but it doesn't work every time and we can't do it so directly. Children go to school, where oranges with careers in education teach them all the things they'll need to know and help them figure out what they should specialize."

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"School is an entire category of institution, that all individuals attend? We have universities, but those are generally for adults."

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"Children aren't capable of much but they're very good at learning!" says Tahmu. "Especially languages, adult Amentans are much worse at that. The ideal is that our kids reach adulthood about ready to take up productive work and support themselves economically."

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"Our children are mostly expected to learn as well. Sometimes they will do light and simple and low risk work, the kind that mostly isn't cost-effective to automate yet like helping wash clothes... Amentans must talk a lot, I think."

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"We do, yes, lots of talking and writing - we don't have other ways to make ourselves understood or coordinate," says Tahmu.

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"This is more talking than we usually do. These are exciting times!"

"Is there trouble coordinating on prisoner's games and stag hunts and similar situations given the greater individuality of Amentans?" Coordination Minister asks.

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"Sometimes! We're more cooperative in iterated games," nods Tahmu.

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"Aha. Yes, you mentioned earlier that politics is often a matter of expectations and reputation for you. We've tried to build cooperative political systems that are robust against disturbances, and admittedly failed in some respects. There are subcultures in disagreement with the general world consensus on some points and they have much lower happiness and prosperity because nobody will trade with them without markups. In the past there have been global wars of extermination over such differences, but we're hoping separate planets solves the issue without violence in the modern age."

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"What are the disagreements the trade sanctions are about?" asks Tuanke.

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"The Fwortli exercise very strong central authority, reporting, and coordination, where the rest of the world thinks too much homogeneity is negative all on its own, and also creates too much administrative overhead. The situation is stable and of course, they don't wish to change their ways. There is a not-quite-a-state established on a large but remote island with cultural practices that cause a lot of unnecessary deaths. The Celoe region was dominated by an abusive oligarchical structure where access to electronics and information is limited for most of the population, but they suffered internal dissent and eventually an invasion was coordinated as the least bad option. This was about forty years ago. And there is a growing traditionalism movement that aims to reject the changes to life that modern technology allows us, with people spending most of their time in isolated compounds with only fellow colony members and using bubblecaps far less. Those are the ones that spring to mind, any others would be less extreme examples."

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"Are we likely to meet any representatives of these groups?"

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"Perhaps some Fwortli, later. The traditionalists generally reject space travel, the island has a population in the low tens of thousands of bodies, and the Celoe Directorate is gone as a culture. Does Amenta have any similar general-departures-from-consensus?"

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"Amenta has many countries. You could loosely categorize them by our population control methods, which tend to cause some loose cultural similarities across countries that match. There are some standout oddities along various axes, though - differences in caste system implementation, for instance."

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