Jan 29, 2022 2:28 AM
the probecule visits Amenta
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Furniture can be reached! What format would they like the interview to take place in?

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They don't have the bandwidth to do VR or easy video connection to the surface, so it will have to be text! Zanmi starts the interview by introducing herself ("Zanmi, captain of the Probehibitively Expensive and leader of our group") and asking for a quick introduction and an answer to "What do you consider to be the most important things to keep track of when starting a new business venture?"

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"Isama Lalail, proprietor of Assemble, delighted to meet you. Sticking to things that probably generalize across industries - keeping good and redundant records is essential, both for legal compliance reasons and for internal A/B testing of any process or policy. Anything that isn't directly related to a job description should have someone to handle it besides catch-as-can individual employees - if you want the kind of corporate culture where people get cake when they're promoted, that has to be somebody's job, not an informal thing people are tracking when they should be figuring out how to keep the stain machines from jamming, if you need everyone's payroll information you should have someone whose job it is to go around making sure they have everyone's instead of making it everyone's job to proactively arrange to be paid. Marketing matters, but it's very easy to overdo or mistarget. Investors who want money are much better than investors who want control. If you want people to respond when you ask them for an applicant's reference, you have to pay them, I haven't found a way around that. Some benefits and perks are more valuable in goodwill and retention than just paying people the same amount of money or charging them less, but most of them aren't, and removing them is very upsetting, so I tread carefully since the caramel incident."

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light-and-wonder: Ooooh, that's a really good answer.
space-ourselvescaramel incident?
life-should-flourish: Awww, we should definitely have someone in charge of promotion cakes.
space-ourselves: Zanmi, ask her about the caramel incident!!

(Zanmi expresses appreciation for the detailed answer, and admits to being curious about the caramel incident)

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"I used to put a caramel in every box of Assemble pegs, but then when summer hit they started melting and ruined a few people's pegs. So I stopped, and I got some unhappy emails from people who had gotten used to them."

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Zanmi's next questions are:

-Can you tell us more about Assemble? What do you differently than your competitors, and why is that better?

-What made you want to apply for this job? 

-What kinds of technological advancements are you most excited about?

(Muroti adds "Out of everywhere you've been, what's your favorite place and why?")

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Meanwhile, Avaker reaches out to the shipping logistics manager, introduces herself, and asks for some time+cost estimates for building a freight line into this specific part of Voa's arctic region.

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"Assemble ships furniture that can all be assembled with one tool. There are other furniture vendors that ship already-assembled furniture - you can make it nicer in some ways that way - and vendors that sell disassembled furniture that takes nails and hex keys and screws and hammers and bolts, but an Assemble item, no matter what it is, can go together with an assembler and a box of identical pegs. It's less intimidating, you don't need to worry about the kids getting into anything sharp, all you have to do is follow the color-coded stickers.

"To be honest with you, I don't know what you're trying to accomplish and it may have nothing to do with furniture, but I've been thinking about expanding in the direction of prefabricated architecture, which I could kickstart if you're trying to build a lot very fast, and also my sister really wanted to meet you.

"I'm excited about automation - not the kind that gets people killed, you understand, but better factory automation. The saws that cut my joinery are currently pretty high-maintenance, because I use multiple complicated high-precision angles to get the Assemble result, and I think it's worth it, but it would be amazing if we could step up some of the bottlenecks there.

"I liked Alavet. They were unpretentious there, and the weather was nice when we went though I hear it's beastly in summer."

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life-should-flourish: I like how she thinks.
void-your-warranty
: Prefabricated architecture would be really helpful for setting up a base camp faster and getting started with omnifab production...
hopelessly-entangled: ...we need to ask her what kind of automation gets people killed.
hopelessly-entangled: because there's multiple things that could mean and some of them are really concerning.
space-ourselves: You don't think she just meant, like, the early Rasikan industrial problems with machine safety? 
light-and-wonder: Could be that-but-worse? They have so many people, maybe they're more culturally accepting of industrial attrition?
life-should-flourish: ...that'd be so sad, oh no. 
hopelessly-entangled: ...could be that, yeah.
space-ourselves: Makoki, what are you worried about?
hopelessly-entangled: i've read through everything they've sent us on pollution and it seems increasingly likely to me that reds are super oppressed.
hopelessly-entangled: pollution causes the average Amentan severe psychological distress, and they consider reds to be intrinsically polluted.
hopelessly-entangled: what if "automation that gets people killed" is automated sanitation work? if they can automate away red jobs...
life-should-flourish: ...oh no. 
space-ourselves
: ...fuck. ugh, I should have thought of that!
life-should-flourish: (Makoki volunteered to focus on red-related issues; you've been focusing on other stuff. I think we're dividing focus effectively, don't feel bad ๐Ÿ’™)
space-ourselves: (...okay ๐Ÿ’™)
light-and-wonder: Good catch, Makoki. I'll ask for clarification.
light-and-wonder: Diplomatically.

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"Our current goals are not at all furniture-focused! We want to start building the kinds of machines we use at home to build our extremely precise machines, fancy computing chips, and some simple robot bodies for us to pilot, when necessary. Easily-assemblable architecture would definitely be extremely helpful; I'd have to get specifics from our engineering lead, but depending on the details I suspect we'd be interested in a pretty large supply, especially if it's something you could start producing soon.

Uh, pardon any cultural insensitivity inherent in the question, but what kind of automation kills people on Amenta? We have historical records of early Rasikan industrialization practices leading to spikes in factory safety issues, but it's not something that's ever come up with modern Azurifice technology, since the worst that can happen is the destruction of hardware that's being remotely operated. High-precision programmable saws are the definitely the kinds of thing we will eventually be able to build and sell.

I'd be happy to talk to your sister after this, if that's alright with both of you! It's always nice to meet new people."

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"I have a prototype for a major element of the prefab architecture but it's not ready to scale yet; it'll take me a season at least depending on how much money I can throw at it. It's not currently a space with a lot of producers, though, because it won't go tall enough - my greens think it'll top out at seven stories without any major breakthroughs, though they're looking over your concrete to see if that's one of them - and in most situations the tradeoffs aren't right for an early version even if a more developed version would be well-received.

"It's not a factory safety issue, it's a matter of riots; anyone getting too close to automation gets reds murdering them.

"My sister's delighted to hear it!"

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life-should-flourish: ...yikes!
space-ourselves: ...huh. 
space-ourselves: I mean, okay, obviously this is horrible! Nobody should be murdered! But like...
hopelessly-entangled: ...yeah, in some ways it's kind of a good sign?
void-your-warranty: ...not that I don't trust you, but, uh. How?
hopelessly-entangled: i mean, if reds weren't doing this...
void-your-warranty: ...oh. They might all be dead by now.
light-and-wonder: The reds clearly think so, right?
light-and-wonder: They'd have to be, these people have the death penalty and there's no way they wouldn't use it for something like this.
life-should-flourish: It's not the main point, but I'm now curious about how the reds know?
void-your-warranty: You'd think after the first few times, people would try and keep it secret.
hopelessly-entangled: ...maybe they fish evidence out of the trash? 
space-ourselves: I was thinking maybe they have sympathizing informers. 
hopelessly-entangled: We're going to have to be extremely careful, though.
light-and-wonder: Do you think we should make a blanket announcement about being unwilling to automate people out of jobs?
hopelessly-entangled: maybe, but not right now?
hopelessly-entangled: ...i really want to get anonymous internet access. need to talk to some reds.
void-your-warranty: I'll see what I can do.
void-your-warranty: Ask her if we could buy prototypes from her? We aren't going to be starting with bulk.
light-and-wonder: Alright.

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"Depending on the state of your prototypes, we might be interested in purchasing a few from you at a premium; Our initial facilities aren't going to take that much space, since a lot of our more space-intensive machines aren't things we can even start building until our basic fabricators are up and running. If that's something you'd be interested in, I can put you or one of your employees in touch with Avaker to work out the details.

Good to know! We'll be sure to tread carefully; we certainly don't want to cause any issues for anyone working with us, or have people fearing for their livelihoods unnecessarily.

It sounds like we're very likely to want to do business with Assemble. With the understanding that we're not really in the furniture business and will probably not be producing direct consumer goods for at least a year, would you still be interested in joining us as our primary business executive? We'd expect this to be a position with a substantial amount of ramp-up time, if you wanted or needed time to transition things at Assemble."

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"I'm fairly attached to Assemble, to be honest. I'm not saying I couldn't start another business but I like this one. I can recommend a yellow who gets restless and might be up for a new challenge soon, if you don't have a runner-up."

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"Understandable! You certainly seem to be doing a very impressive job with it. We have some other people we want to interview; if none of them look especially promising, we'll reach out about that restless yellow; otherwise, we'll be in touch about easily assemblable buildings.

Did you have any other questions for us before we chat with your sister?"

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"Nope, I'll put her on now!"

"This is Isama's sister Klimati! It's so amazing to meet you!"

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"Hi Klimati! This is Zanmi speaking. It's great to meet you too! The five of us are really excited to get to know more Amentans. Want to tell us a bit more about yourself?"

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"I don't have a job name because I'm too disabled to have a job, so it's just Klimati. I play a lot of video games and listen to a lot of music. Do you have music?"

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"We have music! Most modern Azurifice music is non-lyrical and composed primarily to accompany another piece of art, including video games. We do have some music with singing, but it's a much smaller portion of our overall musical output than it was in Rasikan cultures. What kinds of music do you typically like?"

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"I like a lot of kinds, including video game music! Evaleen music is pretty-sounding, it's a pretty language, but I don't know if the same things are pretty-sounding to you. My favorite video game music right now is the Explore Up soundtrack, especially the storm level."

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"Of the 5 of us, Makoki likes lyrical music the most and Avaker is really into video game music, and they're both interested in hearing what those are like on Amenta, so thank you for the recommendations! Avaker is telling me to send you her favorite piece of video game music; she wants to know how you think it compares."

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"Oooh, I'll have to get Isama to send that to my everything, I'm borrowing hers for this."

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"We hope you like it! We'll be sharing more Azurifice music on the internet later. Did you have any questions for us?"

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"Are there other ships going in other directions? Will we be able to talk to them too or just your homeworld? Could your homeworld be fixed ever?"

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"There are other probes, yeah! Unless there are a lot of surprising technological advancements, we won't be able to talk to them unless they set up somewhere like we're going to set up here; then we'd be able to talk to them by relay through our homeworld, and maybe directly as well. If they don't end up finding anyone, their course will eventually bring them back to our homeworld, but that won't happen for a very long time. 

The environmental poisoning on our homeworld is fixable; we've started work on that and will be able to finish it, someday. We don't think it's possible to restore the biosphere to the way it was before (a lot of things didn't survive), and there were ongoing ethical debates about letting new animal life evolve, but it's likely that at the very least, complex plant life will bloom on Doheem again (and may already have begun to do so)!"

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