Aug 03, 2021 2:50 AM
in principle I think you should be able to guess the entire premise from the title
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"Huh. Well, I don't think of sculpting my thoughts for other people as different from sculpting my actions for them, it's just often easier to do on the thought-level. I don't know what they'd grow in like unpruned but unless that thing where we turn out to be apsels if we summon them happens, it doesn't really matter."

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"I guess that is a reasonable, uh, survival strategy, for you to have become accustomed to."

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"I haven't got any reason to think the unpruned thing would be better. Most plants grow best pruned."

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"Human beings are animals, not plants, and if you keep those in small cages they go nuts."

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"I don't actually know very much about animals but I think one trains them, rather than letting them run wild peeing everywhere."

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"One does if one wants to keep them as pets. I don't consider myself a pet and don't aspire to be one."

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"Seems better than being a wild animal and getting eaten. Worse than being an apsel, admittedly, but most people cannot be an apsel."

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"Yeah, a majority of dead summoners are movers instead, but those are still pretty cool - they build their cities like this, look -" Aerial footage of Elfame.

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"That does also look cool but I meant that most Chelish people go to be pets of some god or another."

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"Yes, and I think that's bad. Actually, eating animals is also very unpopular where I'm from."

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It is time for her to be baffled again. "Because they've invented tastier things?"

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"I mean, the change was tied up in a bow very neatly once they had widespread summoning and we could just make them meat that didn't involve killing anything and these days they also have meat growing machines, but even before that many people chose to avoid meat or even all animal products on animal welfare grounds. It may be relevant here that there was a period between vat meat and your tech level where they invented some stunningly nasty things to do to animals in the name of getting them to efficiently yield delicious protein. I was not in life personally a vegetarian but I respect their conviction and now it is absolutely costless for me to go with the zeitgeist there."

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None of this feels like it makes her less confused, at all, about anything. The question she is tempted to ask is 'why did you volunteer this information and what bearing does it have on our conversation' but that will make her look like an idiot, and rude besides -

"That's...Good of them?" she attempts uncertainly.

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"Of the vegetarians who actually gave something up, sure, you could probably classify it that way. Of the regular people who wouldn't have been vegetarians in 1995 but also wouldn't buy artisanal hobby-farm chicken breast that once ate bugs and had a chicken best friend in 2179... I think they're responding to the environmental incentives I mentioned before! I want to end scarcity, I want everyone to be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, and one of the things that winds up meaning is that they can buy never eating anything that used to be an animal for negative forty-eight Martian creds a pound. Because artisanal hobby-farm chicken breast that once ate bugs and had a chicken best friend is very expensive. And it tastes worse."

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"I think maybe I am missing some kind of intuition about - why this is a good example of environmental incentives, or different from other products getting cheaper. ...I am in favor of products getting cheaper, just, I feel like you didn't say all that just to say that meat is cheaper -"

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"Normal people who are like kind of trying but not trying really hard at this specific thing will buy chocolate made with cocoa beans that were picked in foreign countries by slave labor. I did this myself when I was alive, it was actually very hard to avoid everything in this class because of how the global economy at the time worked and that wasn't a tradeoff on my radar. When the price of chocolate drops, drops a lot, becomes almost entirely the cost of shipping and marketing, can be generated ex nihilo in arbitrary mountains and varieties by summoning an apsel and escorting them to the nearest cultural festival for a few hours in exchange, then virtually everybody will buy slave-labor-free chocolate, it is no longer economically viable to keep cocoa-harvesting slaves, and all the slaves go free and can also afford to eat chocolate every day. This doesn't necessarily say anything very impressive about the character of non-slave-chocolate-eating people who would have been eating slave-chocolate before. They haven't gotten better in any interesting metaphysical sense. But the slaves are still free."

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"And you - like that outcome?"

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"I do! I derive enormous personal satisfaction from how many slaves there aren't because of my ending material scarcity on Earth. Among other delightful consequences." Wag wag.

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"When you say you ended material scarcity on Earth, what do you mean, aren't there lots of apsels there?"

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"Summoning was not widely known. I publicized it."

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"Huh. Cool. Why wasn't it widely known? How'd you learn it? Was that illegal?"

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"The handful of people who did know about it didn't have strong incentives to publicize it when they could just use it in private and get positional advantage from that. The governments of the world were not among the informed agents, so there weren't laws on the subject per se. I found a book in an abandoned house I was exploring for fun."

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"I guess if I could've avoided anyone finding out I would've done that, at least for a couple years while I built up contingency plans for not dying. ...if people don't have magic what do they trade apsels for making all their food and so on?"

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"Apsels are hard to pay in material objects - that will be easier here since you have magic ones - but some of them want media recommendations, or to do tourism on Earth, or just to do something with more of an impact on the world than kicking around back home. Also some of them want sexual favors or to pretend to take people's souls - we can't actually do that but the humans think we can and often don't let us talk, or they think we're motivated to lie, so it's hard to set the record straight. Changers are easier to pay and are not quite as efficient at making food but they can still do it."

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"- in what sense can't you take peoples' souls, does them selling you their souls just not affect their afterlife at all?"

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