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Old 01-30-2018, 05:56 AM   #1
Tom Mazanec
 
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Default Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

There is a meme that science fiction is overly optimistic in the short run, but overly pessimistic in the long run (regarding speed of technological advancement). Is TS holding to this rule?
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:50 AM   #2
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
There is a meme that science fiction is overly optimistic in the short run, but overly pessimistic in the long run (regarding speed of technological advancement). Is TS holding to this rule?
Well, a review of developments in the TS history from 2001 to 2017 certainly makes them overly optimistic in many areas including politics and consumerism.

For example the equivalent of Google Glass is predicted at least 5 years early but is also predicted to be runaway commercial success and transformative of society. Our history? It seems to have been more like a cross between "silly toy" and "kind of creepy".

I'm not aware of anything in particular where it can be shown that TS was more pessimistic than reality turned out to be. We're not in to the truly long run yet of course.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

I would say yes to the first part and no to the second part. I just read through the hardcover this last week again in preparation for an upcoming game.

TS is very optimistic regarding future political struggles, the middle east, the EU, and the nations of Africa. There was a war in 2087 (IIRC) between a coalition of info-socialists and world powers, but generally, countries cooperate on space exploration/commerce and overall trade. There is still the discrepancy between 5th wave, 4th wave and the handful of 3rd wave countries. There are still dictators (a few) and countries that are "poor" with that term being relevant in comparison to early 21st century.

There is no indication that technology is going to stagnate, nor is space development going to be stunted, nor is there going to be another world war. Of course, your TS could vary from this.

The biggest existential threat in my estimation would be the mini-black holes. Depending on how that turns out, it could spell horrible disaster or incredible technological discovery.

I chose to use TS as the setting for my "expanse-like" game because of how neutral it is. Tons of great detail without any meta-plot or dooms-day device. Lots of seeds for adventure. Lots of ideas for bringing the setting to life.

I highly recommend Changing Times, Shell Tech and Bioroid Bazaar. Great summary updates to 4e, and CT has great advice for GMing the setting. In my opinion, these PDFs turn TS into the same style of ready-to-play supplements like DF, AtE, and MH.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
There is a meme that science fiction is overly optimistic in the short run, but overly pessimistic in the long run (regarding speed of technological advancement). Is TS holding to this rule?
Do you consider 100 years short run or long run? The correct answer is probably that it's unduly optimistic about some things and unduly pessimistic about others.
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

Short answer is Yes.
It drastically underestimates the difficulty of pretty much every aspect of biology and engineering. It glosses over the rationality of "meat-bags" in space and the economics of the whole set up. So very optimistic in those ways, IMO.

It also has loads of characters committing suicide by way of "the forbidden thread topic" which I at the very least find horrifying.

The singularity at least in the way of baseline humans being surpassed and becoming an "obsolete" species seems inevitable and soon-ish. That seems a hint depressing seeing as how I am a baseline human on a good day.

It's a setting that evokes interestingly varied opinions and feelings in players and posters here.
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Old 01-30-2018, 06:39 PM   #6
Tom Mazanec
 
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

The only pessimistic thing I remember is

Vesta was visited by unmanned probes between the 2030s and 2050s
Deep Beyond pg 18.

The actual date was 2011-2012.
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Old 01-30-2018, 10:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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There is a meme that science fiction is overly optimistic in the short run, but overly pessimistic in the long run (regarding speed of technological advancement). Is TS holding to this rule?
As Anthony says, both.

The politics of THS are just the politics of 2000 AD, projected forward. As others have noted, things staying the same to that degree are less likely than big changes, but more likely than any particular change. But some particular changes are near-certain in much less than a century.

(As I've observed before, if THS had been written in 1980, the USSR would have been one of the great powers of 2100, too.)

We can't say too much about technological change. Since 1950, technological change has slowed enormously. It might stay slow, get slower, or get fast again, there's no way to predict.

We can be reasonably sure that the combination of 'near-current-day launch tech' won't be around in combination with the extent of space activities shown in THS. We might have that much space activity, or more, but if we do we'll probably be using some better means of getting from sea level to LEO than THS does.

(It's the old line about space flight, that first step is a female canid. If you can get to LEO easily and cheaply, a lot of other stuff suddenly becomes practical too.)

We almost surely won't see the degree of Mars-terraforming (or any other) by 2100 that THS shows, unless some major-league superscience also occurs. Terraformation is hard, and again, you need that cheaper/better access to space to make it practical. At most, one might expect to see a terraforming project having started by 2100, with many centuries still to go, again, unless some superscience voids all assumptions.

Cheap, reliably SAI doesn't mix well with the rest of the setting, if you're trying for realism. You almost surely would not see cheap, reliable SAI and extensive use of bioroids, any more than you see a lot of horse-drawn carriages on the freeway with modern cars.

In fact, outside the controlled bounds of fiction, cheap, compact, reliable SAI is a setting breaker. Ghosting makes it worse. Nor is the legal/social block against xoxing terribly believable, it's just necessary for the setting to work.
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Old 01-30-2018, 10:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
We can't say too much about technological change. Since 1950, technological change has slowed enormously.
No it hasn't, it's just advancement in different areas of technology (and it's likely that it will do so again).
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Old 01-31-2018, 02:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Cheap, reliably SAI doesn't mix well with the rest of the setting, if you're trying for realism. You almost surely would not see cheap, reliable SAI and extensive use of bioroids, any more than you see a lot of horse-drawn carriages on the freeway with modern cars.

In fact, outside the controlled bounds of fiction, cheap, compact, reliable SAI is a setting breaker. Ghosting makes it worse. Nor is the legal/social block against xoxing terribly believable, it's just necessary for the setting to work.
SAI isn't all that cheap in THS though. In fact, IIRC a bioroid is cheaper than SAI+shell intended to act in service jobs. And bioroids are a fading technology now that SAI is on the rise. It's more proper to compare the bioroid-SAI coexistence of THS to the era of early cars (with an interesting question of what TL11-TL12 biotech will offer and whether TL11-TL12 AI-tech will be available as soon as the hype predicts; after all, cold fusion has been two decades away for half a century, eh).
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Old 01-31-2018, 02:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Is TS optimistic or pessimistic?

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SAI isn't all that cheap in THS though.
The real problem is LAIs, not SAIs. There are things a bioroid can do that an LAI won't be effective at, but most of them aren't the types of things canon suggests bioroids are used for.
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