Jan 29, 2022 2:44 AM
delegations from topias: anomaland, bobbiverse, malachitin, elfland, ozytopia, alicornutopia, dath ilan
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Wow, the Green parrots aren't five-year-old smart, though they do have a sort of an uneven skill mix relative to any age of human. They weren't aiming at uplifting though.

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Dath ilan now has additional questions, and will probably want to talk a bit to the Parrot if that's okay.  Does Firstplanet know whether they've got qualia?

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They're not sure but they treat them like they do to be on the safe side, and the parrot will probably be willing to talk to them, especially if their human bribes them with sunflower chips.

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Right, dath ilan can hopefully figure that out in relatively short order, though they'll understand if Firstplanet would rather precommit to not hearing the answer.  Firstplanet is not currently making it legal to hurt Parrots or threaten them into things, and is cryopreserving all Parrots on death whether or not they have human keepers, and Parrots get to keep the money from any jobs they do, and so on, check?

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There aren't any semi-uplifted parrots living wild that they know about and they're generally disinterested in employment beyond one-off chores but otherwise yes. 

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K.  Dath ilan is all sorts of nervous about this, they held off because they didn't think Humanity was ready to have a baby.  Not that they're blaming Firstplanet for a pregnancy that probably just sort of happened a few thousand years ago and without any general vote having been conducted on it.

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Yeah, if their prehistoric ancestors had known then what they know now they would have been much more careful, but here they are. At least they can be a useful source of empirical data on this like dath ilan is being on exterminating itchbiters.

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This Bobbiversian in an extremely pretty songbird cosplay would ALSO like to meet an alien parrot, have any of them considered that parrots are extremely good??? Babies are almost as smart as parrots, that’s part of why she holds the controversial yet brave opinion that it’s bad to murder them. Parrots!!!

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(Tsahiri wonders why nobody was this excited about the crow or the marmoset.)

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If either of them can talk then one of the scientists would love to talk with them! Their name is Kirta and they're mostly a pharmacologist but animal psychology also So Interesting but it's very hard to tell whether a crow or a marmoset is willing to be interrupted, but perhaps the parrot discussion makes a good excuse to ask for an introduction.

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The elves had formed a cluster and spent some time conferring among themselves, but now split off to go talk to different people.

One of them would like to come meet the alien parrot! Is the parrot as smart as a modern human five year old, or does it more closely match records from before the population was optimized?

One elf approaches the Bobbiverse contingent and asks "How many children would an average person want if there were no incentives to have any and it was very easy not to?"

Two elves approach diplomats from Green and Firstplanet who have become isolated from their larger groups and ask "Does your history include the concept of "colonialism" and the problems therewith?"

Other elves hover in the periphery of any conversations they can get close to to keep track of what is going on.

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The parrots aren't exactly like a human child at any age; they're worse at abstract thought than a five-year-old but better at thinking through the consequences of their actions. Only the smartest ones have gotten much of anywhere on reading text but the vast majority can hold a conversation, albeit sometimes a boring one. The one that will be here soon is reportedly a clever one and occasionally attempts poetry.

They have the concept of colonialism; it was tried several times on small scales but it turns out it basically always starts wars. You're better off getting more land by luring immigrants until the other city gets too small to be self-sustaining and then buying up its land. And of course nowadays land is less of a bottleneck on the economy so you can just lure immigrants full stop. 

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The parrots are so cool! This elf is really looking forward to talking to one! How much attention and care do they require relative to other pets and small children?

Also, has Firstplanet noticed the ways in which dath ilan's actions seem likely to escalate to a situation containing most or all of the problems of colonialism?

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Less than a kid but a lot of that is because with kids you have to be constantly teaching them stuff even after they're old enough not to injure themselves on accident. 

Yeah, it's a problem. Hopefully the historian they have along will be helpful in talking them out of it, but they really need a better solution to the child murder if they're going to get anywhere on that.

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Parrots are so cool! Some elves will definitely want them! (Are they snuggly?  That has historically been a major factor in pet-uptake - furry pets have a significant advantage, as do pets that are cute, and pets that are robust enough to hug tightly, and pets that provide food.  Goats are great, do Anomalans keep goats?)

Yeah, there is an elf over there working on the child murder problem.  The elves really want that solved too!  If everyone can stay calm long enough, the elves put a very high probability on an eventual resolution.  However, in the case where dath ilan cannot be persuaded to stand down long enough and/or whatever improvements the Bobbiverse agrees to do not satisfy them, what will Firstplanet's position be?

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Various delegates, including one Bobbi, quietly receive folded slips of paper informing them that, since an Elf previously eavesdropped on a private meeting using hearing better than those of the others' here, and justified this by saying Elfs didn't privacy, dath ilan is now hearing everything that all Elf delegates say.  It's going to be screened in a way that tries not to violate the privacy of other delegations, but this is fundamentally hard; the alternative is not privacy for other delegations, though, it's the elves having private info and others not.  Left to itself, dath ilan will wait as long as the elves did to mention the eavesdropping, then tell the elves about this.  Obviously nobody else is at all obliged to follow dath ilan's lead there.

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The Bobbiverse delegation thinks that if there were no government-supplied incentives to have children, and it were very easy to avoid them, then the median man wouldn’t really care about how many children he had except maybe in a number-go-uppy way, the median regular-woman would want to get pregnant precisely once out of curiosity or as a self harm tactic, and the median tall-purple-flower-woman would transition slightly earlier and never have any children instead of waiting just barely long enough to donate gametes. With the introduction of condoms and IUDs and RISUG they’re going to need to keep any incentive structures around to avoid just dying out. 

The Bobbi who received a folded slip of paper irritatedly scribbles a note in return - isn’t it interesting that Dath Ilan is willing to bend the non-interaction norm that’s been established, specifically so that they can wedge the Bobbiversians into either marking themselves as uncooperative and justifying that non-interaction norm, or into talking behind the back of another faction that is actually behaving reasonably well? - and then tells the Elves about the contents of the folded slip of paper.

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The crow and marmoset can both point things out on picture boards but they aren't very good at vocalizing.

Green does have colonialism in its history! There's ways and ways of doing it and some of them aren't that bad, but you've really got to avoid licking cats about it. If your culture is really better you can get it adopted piecemeal without any coercion of any kind by taking immigrants, especially refugees, as smugly as you wish, exporting products and media, and, if the relations are friendly enough in the first place, having some of your people go visit there and do information exchange. Dath ilan does seem really into licking cats and Green would like to maneuver things so that they wind up with an educational mouthful of fur and not an actual war.

Speaking of making sure you wind up with an educational mouthful of fur and not an actual war, dath ilan, did you try asking the elves nicely, or calling a point of order and proposing that some cave sections be formally designated private, or having a purely text conversation in the first place and asking that no shoulder-surfing be enabled, instead of going around the corner and expecting the aliens to guess. Cason stands up and says that since there seem to be different privacy norms they should work out ways to handle that; would the elves like to explain how they handle this on their planet?

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To the elf who asked about Firstplanet's position in potential escalatory situations: all their polities intend to stay out of all conflicts, engage in trade that doesn't increase anyone's ability to do harm, establish consulates at which to accept as many immigrants (especially children) as is feasible, and assist any attempts to deescalate. A couple of them intend to offer humanitarian aid, either symmetrically or not.

Parrots are soft but you have to pet them very gently! Some breeds were optimized for edible eggs ages and ages ago, and some people still eat their pet parrots' unfertilized eggs. If the parrots gave any sign of objecting to this or being sad about it they would stop, obviously.

Goats need more grass than most city-dwellers can provide, but are definitely cute. The crow and the marmoset are delightful.

Would everyone like reversible colored hats they can use to indicate whether a conversation is open to additional people? Telpere can run to the store and get some.

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Ozytopia has a bunch of books on conflict-resolution skills that they'd be happy to export to dath ilan. They think dath ilan probably needs it.

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The malachitians who receive a folded slip of paper pause to have a very fast Llassan Sign conversation with the rest of the delegation, and then a dath ilani quietly receives a note that says "Thank you for this information."

An elf does not receive a slip of paper from the malachitians, who are trying to avoid dath ilan specifically hearing things they say not intended for public ears, but the Bobbiversians do; theirs says "Thank you for telling the elves." 

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The elf thanks the Bobbi, briefly goes to inform another elf of the information, and then returns to continue the conversation.  If the number of babies being born was equal to the number of children who are currently being allowed to live, would the Bobbis just let all the children live or would that be unacceptable in some way?

The second elf, in possession of new information, is halfway to the dath ilani contingent when Cason makes their announcement.  She stops and replies that, in Elfland the commonly accepted means of joining conversations in large groups where there are multiple conversations going on at once is to listen to a conversation until you have something to contribute to it and then join.  If you want to have a private conversation, you should announce that to the group.  Firstplanet's suggestion of colored hats is not the precise custom, but elves could easily adapt to it.

The elf further notes that the information that they respect explicit requests for privacy was in fact available to dath ilan, given that they had explicitly asked about whether the conversation was meant to be private and why no one had requested privacy in that case, and rather than requesting privacy at that time (or, y'know, just including the elves in the conversation) dath ilan had chosen the much less friendly and more escalatory tactic of trying to make it impossible for the elves to hear any of their conversations, and then, DESPITE ELVES HAVING MADE ABSOLUTELY NO EFFORTS TO OVERRIDE THOSE VERY RUDE SECRECY EFFORTS, had further escalated to a conspiracy with all other groups against elves.

The elves are glad that other groups are saner than dath ilan.

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Hats sound great. Do they need to standardize on a color or can the convention just be dark/light?

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They've been handling intra-group private conversations fine (they're not mentioning how but like, it's not impossible to have noticed that they're using sign language) but hats sound like an excellent solution for inter-group conversations that don't have Malachitin's specific preexisting backchanneling norms. They like dark/light.

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Dath ilan is somewhat puzzled by the Green response; these all sound like perfectly reasonable things to do but only after restoring a fair (if sadder and further from multi-agent-optimal) baseline as a starting point for further negotiations with elves.

They're cheerful about switching off elf-eavesdropping as soon as hats are in place.

Is it by any chance the case that philosopher-economist Torrans can provide a quick description of Green norms covering fairness and replies to Others' apparent movements away from your location of the fair point, ideally derived from scratch?  Here's dath ilan's version, it's twenty pages of math but only the last four pages are the interesting part.

 

(Meanwhile in Civilization:

"What the ass is 'colonialism'?"

"Factionalized other-optimizing, sort of," says a younger and smarter person who joined the Rememberers relatively recently, but has tried as hard as she can to understand and take perspective on a past she never experienced herself.

"Like - giving somebody advice they actually find annoying and would rather that you not give them?  How the ass is that a consideration while six-year-olds are -"

"Factionalized other-optimizing with coercion."

"Leaving aside that coercion isn't an equilibrium because I assume you know that, nobody's talked about coercing the takenatfacevalue!Bobbis into anything!  If their society were actually as presented, we could just walk up and take the kids and they'd all think they were going crazy and not try to stop us!"

"Their perceptual-clustering concept of 'colonialism' will perceptually classify anything similar to their memory of 'colonialism' as 'colonialism', and react to it as if we'd gone in with intent to violently conquer the Bobbis and keep them as janitors while paying them only in food and water.  They will, if they're anything similar to pre-Second-Enlightenment history, have conversational metataboos around seeming to conspire to violate the taboo behavior, and trying to persuade somebody that what's initially classified as taboo is an edge case that's not taboo will violate the conversational metataboo.  Trying to go back and reconstruct the decision from more lawful first principles will also violate the conversational metataboo."

"Who the ass thinks like that while kids' lives are at stake?"

"US, two hundred years ago!  Taken-at-face-value the physical tech track and the cognitive tech track aren't correlated systematically the way they were correlated in dath ilan's case!"

"Do you have any stubbedtoe options to give us?"

"Tell the Keepers to take the locks off and optimize over the Bobbis' cognitive patterns directly.  The Keepers might not even need an infiltration team to do it covertly, they might be able to just Box* the diplomats here into giving them an open communications channel to their homeworld."

"Anyone can murder anyone but they probably shouldn't!  Even if the Bobbis have no Keepers of their own and couldn't retaliate in kind, they haven't talk-controlled the minds of any children that we know about!"

"If they have our cognitive tech level from two hundred years ago, and even the Firstplaneters have no Keepers or systematic concern about infohazards, they're not going to have a concept of talk-control.  So far as they're going to see it, we sent through a new, more 'polite'** diplomat to take things over once we understood that it would take a more unusual dath ilani to get along with the other worlds, she had a few gentle conversations with the Bobbis that went much better, and then the Bobbis agreed to cryopreserve or send through any remaining excess children in the system in exchange for a lot of high-value-density pharmaceuticals.  You asked me for options, I gave you the one that would probably have the fewest casualties in real life.")

(*)  A training exercise and test for medium-rank Keepers who are civilizational emergency responders; playing the part of somebody apparently imprisoned and awaiting preemptive cryopreservation for having deliberately destroyed somebody else's brain, persuade a single-point-of-failure jailer who doesn't know you're a Keeper into letting you out.  Higher-rank Keepers can do it by only exchanging text.  There's no standard form of the exercise for persuading somebody who grew up without dath ilani mental training, but it's kind of looking like even an average young dath ilani with no Keeper training would be able to improvise that.

(**)  Spoken in a borrow-word from somebody else's language, possibly Green, since neither Baseline nor Anomalan contains a corresponding word, or, indeed, concept, for 'talk-control but everybody thinks it's fine and in fact they're expecting you to do that to them'.

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