Aug 17, 2022 4:23 AM
delegations from topias: anomaland, bobbiverse, malachitin, elfland, ozytopia, alicornutopia, dath ilan
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The Bobbiversians are quietly very smug about having secured at least one single win at diplomacy, and respond to elf inquiries by saying that they GUESS that they can probably eventually get rid of one of the foundational habits of their universe in response to immense interplanetary pressure if literally everyone else is going to keep being weird about it, MAYBE. 

It seems very difficult to get sufficiently pretty reversible hats on short notice; they manage to fetch ping-pong-paddle-things with reversible black and white sequins on them instead.

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So, to Torrans, it looks sort of like the dath ilani are trying to apply skills like "playing professional-level strategy video games" instead of skills like "meeting foreigners". The former involves features like everybody already knowing what the board looks like, nobody's real respect or comfort or willingness to play again being at stake as long as you don't literally start calling people names on the chat, and everybody knowing what going off the board looks like, like using third-party mods that aren't on the list of verified skins or bribing players to take a dive. The latter involves features like "remembering to complain, so as to reveal miscommunications" and "making fewer cultural assumptions" and "quadruple-checking before deciding on reactions" - c.f. the translation check on whether the Bobbis were in point of fact killing a ton of kids.

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(To Torrans:)

Dath ilan is beginning to suspect - well, actually, the prediction markets have updated to 98% - that other civilizations have norms around fairness and replies-to-unfair-moves that are not the correct mathematical ones which is really a very alarming situation to be in.

Green potentially has a point about ways to handle that.

Dath ilan thinks that another potential problem here is that other civilizations basically seem to expect dath ilan to be using a gentle form of mind-control via speech on them, called 'politeness'.  Dath ilan had previously thought of this as an incredibly aggressive thing to do to an alien civilization, because if you suspected they might be doing it to you with any chance of success, you would obviously immediately stop talking to them, which means that even the logical-decision-theoretic expectation that somebody else might or would with significant probability be doing that to you, incurs huge costs to avoid and leads into a fear of opening communication channels at all.  It's not clear that dath ilan should participate in this even if everybody else at the Summit claims they consent to it.  How do Greens feel about mind-control?

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Uh, Greens're against mind control but distinguish it from being pleasant. Being unpleasant is much much likelier to lead to a breakdown in communications than being pleasant. Obviously you shouldn't try too aggressively to be pleasant because everyone is different and you'll just get it wrong somehow, but dath ilan is, since they asked, definitely not being pleasant enough. They're doing that because they think being pleasant is mind control???

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(To Torrans:)

Dath ilan is not actually happy about the dead six-year-olds.  Note how they haven't sung any cheerful songs about parents teaching their kids to walk since that happened.  If dath ilan pretended to be happy about it dath ilan would be lying, and nobody would ever be able to trust that anybody else was really being cheerful, which seems sad.  If dath ilan acts cheerful with intent to produce an exact particular response from somebody else, after mapping out their mind's internal causality, that's mind control whether or not dath ilan is lying to do it.

If everybody else is lying by being pleasant and cheerful while a bunch of six-year-olds are dying, even though they're really much more upset about that than they've been letting on, this is simultaneously reassuring and not at all reassuring at the same time.  Dath ilan had considered that possibility but didn't want to assume it; it's the sort of thing you double-check before assuming.

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Green is very upset about the dead six-year-olds but you don't open diplomatic negotiations with hostile ultimatums even about dead six-year-olds or you're not qualified to be a diplomat to anything more than the household next door. You can say "that's upsetting" or prioritize dead-six-year-old-related agenda items without lying about it.

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(To Torrans:)

...Dath ilan is confused by the notion that dath ilan has delivered any 'hostile ultimatums'.  Dath ilan spoke frankly to the Bobbiverse about what was probably happening with the isekaing of their children and warned that dath ilan considered this a good reason not to make the Bobbiverse wealthier, and then the Bobbiverse decided to stop talking to dath ilan.

If dath ilan were angry about this, it would be because dath ilan had of course predicted that would happen, and plausibly the Bobbis don't understand themselves well enough to realize that dath ilan predicted it would happen; but the Greens seem to be okay with levels of mind control much worse than 'uncensoring your previous obscuration when you predict that will have a useful effect'??

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Torrans honestly doesn't much credit the isekai theory himself but it did seem like they maybe overinterpreted the "we are not talking to you-in-particular" thing? And they could have asked the Anomalans for a translation check on that before escalating, to see if there were other dath ilani and/or other Bobbis who could still productively talk. Have... the Greens been doing mind control, in the dath ilani idiom??

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(To Torrans:)

Either not successfully at all, or so successfully that dath ilan can't tell; and if the Greens have been trying, then it hasn't made any headway across the gap between the actual dath ilan and the Green models of it.  If Greens don't have specialists trained in mind control - for use in extreme emergency situations only, obviously - they don't need to worry about accidentally controlling dath ilan, unless they're much smarter than their overt technology implies.  At most, dath ilan will feel very sad about never knowing, when a Green smiles at them, what the Green is really feeling inside.

Dath ilan doesn't want the Bobbiverse to think they have an active metacommunication channel with them.  Was that part not clear?  Please don't try to restore communication or metacommunication between the Bobbiverse and Civilization.

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Current internal backchannel conversations, happening in Signed Lune rather than Llassan Sign and being quietly translated via writing in a little-known conlang to the one member of the Niqati delegation who doesn't know Signed Lune:

- How likely is it do we think that dath ilan actually turned off their eavesdropping.

- Similarly, how likely is it do we think that dath ilan actually was only eavesdropping on elves, rather than just only choosing to inform us that they were eavesdropping on elves.

- Subconversation: Us and also the Bobbiverse, who'd tell us; okay but if they were leaving us out of the loop they'd almost certainly also leave the Bobbiverse out of the loop; what would be the point of telling us and the Bobbiverse that they were spying on the elves but not telling the Bobbiverse about us; what was the point of doing that in the first place though???

- What do we think the chances are that someone's going to learn Llassan Sign.

- Subconversation: hey guys remember how Snow doesn't speak Signed Lune and replacing Llassan Sign with it for backchanneling is escalatory to cir; but is it rude ENOUGH that we want to take the risk of other people learning Llassan Sign; that is not a real problem because if people can learn Llassan Sign just by watching us use it they can also learn Signed Lune by the same mechanism; maybe we should randomly switch between them and someone can translate for Snow like we're doing now? (Snow contributes that ce doesn't mind but thinks the randomly switching idea is the best one from an infosec perspective.)

- Do we have enough security protocols at the exit back into Malachitin. (This conversation is carefully eliding details of what said protocols are, even in the mixture of Llassan Sign and Signed Lune that has been agreed on; obviously you can't change the security protocols based on what the people inside tell you regardless but it's a thing to think about.)

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Are dath ilani never able to be authentically happy while anything bad is going on anywhere at all? Is every single dath ilani on their planet in mourning right now? That seems... weird. Greens are often authentically happy while other people have problems, sometimes even while they are themselves trying to solve the problems.

Why do the dath ilani want to think that there isn't even a metacommunication channel between the Bobbiverse and dath ilan? It'd be reasonable if an individual dath ilani felt overwhelmed and needed to not talk to any Bobbis for a while but the whole civilization of them is - hopefully doing something other than being overwhelmed and needing a break?

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Hello, Malachitians. Your sign language is very interesting and the Ozytopians would like to ask about this, or perhaps about useful interdimensional trade opportunities or something because it seems like focusing on the Bobbis anymore is just going to piss off the Bobbis. If the Bobbis like, they can join this conversation! Maybe everyone would be interested in talking about art. The Ozytopians have more songs about things in the world that are beautiful, or maybe the Malachitians would like to see some books that got an imprimatur?

This conversation is open to everyone. They are wearing their Open To Everyone hat.

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(To Torrans:)

...all Civilization will be in mourning, yes.  As soon as dath ilan is sufficiently sure that all of these events are not themselves carefully crafted attempts at mind control, to release any information about the Summit to people who haven't been trained to resist mind control.  At some point after that, people in Civilization will probably start to be happy again, but this will probably take more like at least a week than half an hour, especially with the massive reallocation of economic effort to projects like "building arcologies to house millions of abandoned children" providing a constant reminder to everyone of what changed and why it had to change.

There's no reply to the question about why dath ilan doesn't want the Bobbis thinking they're friends.

(To the general room:)

It's looking to dath ilan like they should probably withdraw from this summit.  People here, according to recently received information, are behaving in ways and doing things to one another that dath ilan considers deontologically forbidden to engage in, especially in a First Contact situation; but also, dath ilan shouldn't shut that down when engaged-in by other planets, if the potential end result is saving the lives of six-year-old children faster and with fewer net deaths than any more direct intervention permitted by portal logistics.  It looks to dath ilan like dath ilan's presence within the summit proper may be interfering in the progress of that possibility.

Dath ilan continues to be ready to contribute infrastructure, wealth, planning, etcetera to any efforts led by Firstplanet or Green; though dath ilan does have any verification conditions before they send over anything that was really expensive to Civilization.

There will continue to be a dath ilani embassy that receives guests, but, for now, nobody traveling back to Civilization (including any dath ilani who've left it).

Dath ilan wishes they could say more, but other planets don't follow the basic mathematical rules dath ilan thought would obviously govern how to communicate about these things; and in fact, some planets here don't seem to have affordances for communicating with them at all, without people getting very upset, unless dath ilan tries to behave in ways that dath ilan itself considers forbidden.

Dath ilan is interested in scaling trade with Firstplanet, Green, and Ozytopia.  Ozytopia can expect an infrastructure-building mission shortly.  Elfland and Malachitin are still in the running as potential trade partners and may (if they wish) consider themselves to have open, friendly lines of communication with dath ilan.

Here are some culturable samples of a dath ilani bacteriophage which is very safe, minimal side effects, and which bacteria have a very hard time evolving immunity to.  No intellectual property payment is requested; the group that invented this wanted it to be a gift to every planet encountered, no matter what else was going on with them, even if it looked like they were about to invade dath ilan, and Civilization voted to lock that decision into place no matter what happened at the summit itself.  Dath ilan doesn't know if anyone else will understand the intention behind that - it doesn't make mathematical sense, obviously, and is in fact insane - but it means something to dath ilan.

Everyone gets a copy, obviously including the Bobbiverse.

Dath ilan is sorry.

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Well, that seems like a - sad but reasonable response to the whole situation, if their whole planet is overwhelmed and needs a break at least for the time being, and a very graceful apology. (Does dath ilan still want to receive shipments of baby Bobbis once that's worked out, or is that too much like a communication channel.)

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Dath ilan will always accept children.  They don't come with labels.

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(Internally: Malachitin, collectively, thanks God and the stars and the sea that it no longer looks like they're going to be spending all of their attention on monitoring how much information dath ilan has and trying to figure out what dath ilan is doing or thinking.)

Dath ilan is thanked for the bacteriophage. No polity has yet decided whether they want to consider themselves to have open and friendly lines of communication and it'll take longer than an hour for the decision to be made but they are grateful for the intent and - would like to convey respect and admiration for the bacteriophage's inventors, in whatever form that takes in dath ilan, they don't presume to try to guess.

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The Bobbis are so delighted to be able to talk about art with the Ozytopians! Would everyone like to see this video of a recent fashion-runway/voguing-competition where one of the models lit her dress on fire and swung around from a suspension cord while lipsyncing a popular pop song? Also everyone else can have the extremely large corpus of Bobbish literature that they sent to the Anomalans earlier! Also the songbird-cosplayer wants to show off some of her favorite animal-breeding-art, did any other civilizations get around to creating extremely long cats, extremely long cats are so neat.

... the Bobbiverse... accepts... Dath Ilan’s apology??? Wow this is awkward, now they feel kind of bad. Um. Also at first they weren’t going to give Dath Ilan the literature corpus but now that seems kind of kicking-a-puppy-that’s-about-to-die-of-sad-puppy-disease-while-onlookers-shake-their-heads-in-disappointment-and-resolve-to-hate-you-forever-you-terrible-puppy-kicker-how-dare-you, here’s a ton of literature if that doesn’t count as a communication channel. Um. Bye, Dath Ilan?

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That video is going to be super popular on the Green internet. Was the model okay afterwards though? Wow those cats are really long. Are they useful or just interesting to look at? Here are some of the most popular Green breeds of cat, which are bred for pest control under various conditions, fetching things especially while their humans are up ladders, being pleasant lapcats, amusing children, or doing certain gardening tasks.

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...dath ilan cannot accept that particular gift from the Bobbiverse, but accepts the spirit in which it was offered.


(They can't accept it because it would be valuable info for the Keeper infiltration mission; which is going to figure out what's actually going on with the Bobbiverse first, and then Governance makes the call on talk-control; unless the other civilizations are making more headway than the Rememberers expect, and in that case obviously dath ilan will stand down.  They're not going to talk-control any Bobbi summit representatives into opening up a comms channel to talk-control their planet, before quadruple-checking things like that.)

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The delegation from Firstplanet understands and appreciates the sentiment behind the bacteriophage. Some forms of insanity are very easy to react to and not burdensome at all. 

The delegation from Firstplanet is likewise interested in scaling trade with dath ilan, and agrees that their decision to withdraw has a high expected value in surviving children. None of them want to behave towards dath ilan in a way that dath ilan considers themselves deontologically obligated to avoid, and would appreciate detailed explanations of what exactly they should start or stop doing. They will endeavor to live up to the implicit trust placed in them by leaving the Bobbi situation to them and Green, which is going to involve doing exactly what they were going to do anyway to save the children. 

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Meanwhile, in the art conversation with Ozytopia and Bobbiverse:

They would love to see that video, that's so cool, how'd she engineer the dress to be safely light-on-fire-able-- or did she not, given how Bobbiversians it would not be that surprising if she didn't and was just that dedicated-to-the-aesthetic, regardless it's incredibly cool-- and would the Bobbiversians like to read malachitinous art, they think this one (which is about being undead as a metaphor for alienation from the culture your immigrant parents came from and contains a very drawn-out tragic romance in which there is murder-while-your-murderer-cradles-you-and-tells-you-they-love-you-and-will-grieve-you-forever-and-you-tearily-forgive-them-and-then-they-DO-grieve-you-forever-and-maybe-have-a-redemption-arc-about-how-much-they-loved-you) would suit Bobbiverse's tastes.

...they do not think it would get a nihil obstat in Ozytopia, possibly the Ozytopians would prefer this one, which is about space explorers in giant robots having giant robot fights as a metaphor for falling in love with each other.

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Green will provide some fiction too! Top-voted recommendations for the Bobbiverse include the one about a lost spaceship where something goes wrong in a way that requires a volunteer to repair it and then die of radiation poisoning during their romance arc; they think the Ozytopians will like this coming-of-age story where a kid reads all her parents' parenting books and reflects on them to mature in her own fashion; perhaps the Anomalans would like promoted to their attention this epistolary novel about an artist and his family; the malachitins might like this series about jellyfish aliens with a lot of sexes, which the author would love feedback from genderweirds about; they don't have a great read on the elves but their top guess is this art film, very atmospheric and not much plot?

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Yay fiction exchange! The epistolary novel looks cool.

Would Ozytopia enjoy this nonfiction report of an Arctic expedition that almost got wiped out but made several smart decisions and never gave up and made it back alive?

For green, here's a low-tech fantasy novel where parrots can telepathically bond with their humans and temporarily grow large enough to ride, and this is used to fight off invading giant spiders!

For Malachite, here's a fantasy romance novel in which a young woman becomes a brilliant chemist to impress the person who invented the periodic table because he is secretly still alive as a five-hundred-year-old vampire!

How does the Bobbiverse feel about historical fiction in which nobles duel each other to the serious-injury? 

Would the elves like a biography of a champion gardener which is full of gardening tips and glossy pictures of flowering plans?

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Oooh parrots large enough to ride sounds great.

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The model who lit her dress on fire was mostly fine, the strategically fireproof bits of the outfit didn’t prevent her from being overheated but they did mostly prevent her from being burned, the overall outfit pattern worked like so. The long cats are more decorative than practical; the Bobbiversians are intrigued by the more practical Green cats.

The Bobbiversians would LOVE to read malachitinous art, they would love to read ALL of the malachitinous art, they are going to be slightly weirded out by the way that malchitinous art does gender but they are going to get past that and read it anyways, they do have a subculture of people who identify as nontrinary and do complex things around that so it’s not completely illegible. They would also like that lost spaceship book and that historical fiction about dueling nobles, please, those sound fun.

If everyone’s handing out fiction recommendations, they think that the Malachitins would like this book series about a civilization with over a hundred meaningfully distinct genders and magic systems corresponding loosely to elements on the periodic table, and that the Greens would like this extremely cozy slice of life novel in which everyone is constantly twirling around parasols and snuggling by fireplaces and drinking hot tea, and that the Anomalans would like a science fiction novel about the logistics of interplanetary transit where all of the weird sex is confined to clearly delineated subsections, and that the Ozytopians would like this extremely long and didactic epic poem (with optional attached sheet music) about how to live a productive life, and that the elves would like this book about a world with magical landscaping.

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