May 29, 2022 4:52 AM
delegations from topias: anomaland, bobbiverse, malachitin, elfland, ozytopia, alicornutopia, dath ilan
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Shrey agrees with this assessment.

Okay, so if a lot of the issue is that Bobbis mostly don't like children, and also haven't invented condoms or RISUG or IUDs (IUDs do have side effects but, like, WAY fewer than preganancy, especially long term!), that seems pretty solvable! They can have fewer children, and send some surplus to dath ilan which seems eager to address this problem own-expense, where the excess bobbis can hang out not having any children somewhere.

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"What do your own past-aware prediction markets say about the likelihood of that course leading to a Bobbiverse civil war?" the old man says, this not for the ears of the elf.  "Do you think the other factions will not feel betrayed if one faction receives offworld assistance and adopts offworld ways?  Do you expect them to go along with that quietly?  An unequal conflict swiftly won may be better than a drawn-out battle between near-equals."

"We'd obviously take any number of kids but we're worried about portal logistics," says the other dath ilani in Anomalan.

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"Portal logistics seem much more solvable than sociology," says Shrey. "And they don't seem nearly defensive enough about it to have a war, though that's just a first-pass assessment, I suppose that in addition to hating children they might like war." These seem about the same amount of weird.

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"We've got geologists and physicists doing preliminary studies of the question of expanding the cave system until it's possible to run trains through. On the matter of civil war, it's going to be mostly dependent on how warlike they are and whether they have any entire polities in the less-death faction. If they don't, our intervention could cause the formation of one and that would be potentially very destabilising."

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Trains would do it.  The physics of the cave system didn't look to dath ilan like that was going to be possible, but maybe the Anomalans probed harder and learned something dath ilan didn't figure out yet; they haven't tried anything that might break the cave.

Can somebody else ask the Bobbiverse how many kids per day they're currently murdering and not otherwise cryosuspending?

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Sure, Shrey can get Tsahiri to ask. Tsahiri asks this of the nearest talkative Bobbi.

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Anomaland hasn't tried anything outside of computer models yet, and won't until they're very sure they won't accidentally break the cave.

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Separately, a dath ilani tries handing the Ozytopians a hastily improvised, non-rhyming, non-prosodic translation of the 27 Virtues of Rationality.  If 'Logos' is mostly a term for the common mathematical structure in various things and the Ozytopians were just talking about that poetically; and furthermore, the Ozytopians say that they think their problems could be helped with MORE LOGOS; well, dath ilan has very large amounts of Logos that can be provided.

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The Bobbiverse delegation is delighted by the existence of condoms and RISUG and IUDs! 

The nearest talkative Bobbi pulls out a hexagonal handheld computer and estimates that they’re currently killing and not-cryrosuspending about four thousand children a day; they have about a billion people total, they produce maybe twenty million new children a year, they kill about a third of those children and fail to cryropreserve probably a fifth of the ones that die. Although a lot of the cryopreservation that happens is kind of bad and holding it to higher standards would probably raise the number to around ten thousand.

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Shrey relays this information to the dath ilani. Tsahiri asks if they could put the infanticide on hold for a few days so excitable people don't have to treat it as a currently-in-progress-emergency*?

*This word, paradigmatically including examples like "your house is on fire", is a distinct word from a risk-emergency ("your smoke alarm is broken") or an aftermath-emergency ("you have evacuated your burning house but still need a place to sleep and stuff").

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The vast majority of the Bobbiversians don’t even know that this summit is in progress and most of the ones that do know about it think that they’re hallucinating; the news is being very gradually and carefully spread to help keep everyone from thinking that they’ve gone insane. They are not capable of issuing sudden orders drastically restructuring their society at this time. Does the Bobbiverse delegation look like it was selected from a vast pool of potential candidates, it was not selected from a vast pool of potential candidates, did the rest of the delegations not have this problem.

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The Greens certainly didn't have this problem. Is there a possible transaction the dath ilani who, again, seem really motivated to deal with this own-expense, could undertake that would leave them with some Bobbiverse currency that they could then spend to bribe people to not kill kids for a few days, under whatever pretense Bobbiverse finds necessary?

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To dath ilan: well, whether the logos is a Person depends on what exactly souls are, which is a subject that the philosophy-monks haven't figured out yet. Whether the logos has a soul isn't the most important subject for that research, anyway. They're mostly focusing on insects and computers. Their computers are all the size of an entire room and mostly do math, but they're really worried about a repeat of the factory farming thing, so they've banned reinforcement learning already just to be on the safe side and they pay down all technical debt as quickly as possible because it seems like computers would be sad about having bugs.

If you perform meditation rituals like thus-and-so, you will reliably have an experience of the logos as a person, but philosophy-monks debate how relevant this is to the subject of the logos's personhood. They know meditation rituals can create false emotions (see standard case studies here) but also the logos would definitely communicate its personhood to humans through the humans having evolved to be able to sense it somehow? Everything happens in neurology, the fact that it's neurology doesn't mean much.

The Ozytopians definitely agree that their problem can be solved with MORE LOGOS. They already know about these but they will set this to music anyway because it's very exciting that they met some people who independently discovered the logos and probably lots of people are going to want to sing about it!

To Malachitin: it sounds like the Ozytopians should send someone liturgy-track! Uh, do the Malachitins mind that liturgy-track people mostly work in the censorship board, because most of the time you don't need new liturgy and they need to be doing something. In most cultures, the Ozytopians understand, the censorship board is full of people who have bad taste and hate art. But there was a really embarrassing incident where a beautifully written book from the perspective of a child rapist was denied a nihil obstat* and then there were widespread protests and it turned out actually it was a classic of literature and needed an imprimatur** and ever since then the censorship board has been full of people who love literature and love spending all day reading and if anything the major problem is that they keep lobbying that some obviously unsuitable material should get a nihil obstat because the prose is very pretty.

*Lit.: "nothing stands in the way"; indicates that the book is suitable for consumption.
**Lit.: "let it be printed"; indicates that reading the book is believed to increase the reader's level of virtue. 

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Pardon the interruption, but how easy is it to read things without a nihil obstat as a private citizen? What about as an alien ambassador? Telpere means no offense but is very curious about the concept of books unsuitable for consumption. They can assure the Ozytopians they won't be unduly bothered by terrible books; they were chosen for this delegation for being very difficult to perturb.

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To Green:  Dath ilan can provide arbitrary amounts of whatever wealth they have available that won't increase the Bobbis' military potential or general tech level.  Fiction, for example (minus isekai fiction with lots of technical blueprints).  Ultra-high-value-density goods, most obviously pharmaceuticals, such as novel antibiotics, which the Bobbis probably need if they-as-presented can't coordinate to prevent antibiotic resistance.  The Bobbis also seem like the type who'd go in for certain Ill-Advised Consumer Goods that dath ilan hasn't previously produced at scale, but could.  Ten kilograms of LSD would go a long way if the Bobbis don't already have that drug; they're already insane, it's not as much of a marginal loss for them.

That said, dath ilan is increasingly convinced that the Bobbis in particular are messing with everyone here, and it's bad incentives to ship them a lot of wealth before getting more reassurance that there is actually a world like that.

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Maybe the Bobbis could go get some actual children, like just three or four of them, and hand them over to the dath ilani. That would be a really credible signal, right?

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It really wouldn't.  A civilization with the implied value function to fake the Bobbis could just as easily raise a batch of a few thousand children that all think they're living in the Bobbiverse, to say nothing of three or four.

Also, the Bobbis are not talking to the dath ilanis, so any such interaction would need to go through Green or Firstplanet.

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The Greens thought they were specifically worried that the Bobbis were fucking with them about not valuing children, which being willing to hand some over would prove.

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You have to order them from a special catalog and of course it's not permitted for children under twenty.

A monk is sent to fetch a catalog. It contains kinky pornography, romance novels with an abusive love interest, books about really cool criminals that the audience might want to emulate, and eating disorder memoirs. Each plot description is festooned with content warnings that double as advertising.

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To Green (and Firstplanet):  No, the dath ilani are worried that the Bobbis are fucking with them about being a weird weak insane civilization that can barely scrape together a handful of functional delegates, rather than being a far more powerful and dangerous civilization that is trying to lure in responses, get a picture of others' tech level, and also may not give a damn about sacrificing a few thousand children to keep up a facade.  There's other possibilities for who might try to fake this presentation, in some ways it doesn't seem like a competent or convincing fake, but that's an example of a relatively more worrying possibility.

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Would dath Ilan like to write down some predictions produced by the "Bobbiverse is fake" hypothesis and seal them and give them to an Anomalan to open at a time of the dath ilani's choosing? Or just propose a discriminating experiment of their own, if they have one. It seems important to settle this question pronto and the "we haven't told the rest of our planet about this" thing the Bobbis are claiming is very suspicious.

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.........malachitians are in almost every case extremely opposed to censorship but, given how Ozytopia is as a society, they would love to have someone liturgy-track, as long as their liturgy-track person is aware that in Malachitin governments do not have censorship and if they try to implement it there will immediately be three secessions and four revolutions.

(Nobody saying this seems to consider the fact that implementing government censorship would spark three secessions and four revolutions a problem, particularly, but they do all think this means it's an extremely good reason to not do that.) 

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Sure.  Dath ilan wil have that sealed envelope ready shortly.

If the Bobbiverse isn't faking, a continental overflight in a non-Bobbiverse aircraft, that's allowed to land and talk to people and maybe ask to look inside their houses - in exchange for money, obviously - would allow the Bobbiverse to provide proof to Firstplanet or Green that would be much harder to fake.


(Meanwhile, back in Civilization:

"Did one of the supposedly relatively saner civilizations just ask one of the crazy ones for all of their infohazards and did the crazy civilization just provide a catalog containing them?" somebody asks incredulously.

A Keeper shrugs.  "Maybe we're the only ones with the problem where smart people occasionally write things that turn out to be able to drive small fractions of the population insane."

"That would be an optimistic take, yes," a Representative says dryly.  "Those other civilizations sure don't look like anything drove them insane, nope, nuh-uh.")

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Some of the books about really cool criminals would be very popular on Firstplanet, which does not exactly have a lot of crime but does have an lot of people being gratuitously sneaky, smuggling art installations into public buildings and suchlike. The abusive love interests and the eating disorders would definitely get content warnings back home but wouldn't be restricted past the age of twelve. Telpere does not understand why you would censor kinky porn unless the alternative was people seeing it by accident and would like some more explanation there. Admittedly they didn't read the porn very closely because it was unpleasant.

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Speaking of visits to Bobbiverse, here is the Bobbiverse ambassador! She has an armful of bouquets, each one in colors corresponding loosely to the intended recipient's outfit. She herself is dressed in neutrals and cable knits, and a hood; the entire getup makes her look sort of like a very comfortable king cobra. Here, Bobbis! Flowers!

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