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Old 02-02-2020, 05:33 PM   #11
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Amnesiac PCs in THS

Now I'm trying to nail down cannon about how bioroid brains work. The answer has to be "very differently than a normal human brain", because otherwise new bioroids would just be overgrown toddlers. But the exact nature of these coincidences isn't as clear.
  • The very first vignette on p. 7 of the main Transhuman Space book indicates that bioroids receive "virtuality training simulations" while still in their biogenesis tanks. The same book on p. 76 says that "A newly formed bioroid brain is designed to awaken in a state highly receptive to learning," but doesn't elaborate on that very much beyond vague mentions that brain implants, virtuality, and slinkies are important parts of bioroid training.
  • Deep Beyond on p. 109 has another vignette that describes what those "virtuality training simulations" that happen in the biogenesis tanks are like from the bioroid's point of view.
  • Transhuman Space: Bio-Tech 2100 has maybe one of the most detailed descriptions I've read of what's supposed to make bioroid brains special:
    Quote:
    That mostly just left the brain, as artificial brains obviously weren’t needed for transplants – but academics had worked on constructing organic brains from scratch, for purposes such as abortive "biocomputer" projects and as test beds for neural interface systems and other fields of research. Researchers then proved that they could "program" them with "direct neural education" technologies, which worked far better with constructed brains than they ever could with naturally grown organs, because the former had well-documented, regular structures that could be designed from the start to receive these inputs.
    However, the degree of control available to bioroid "programmers", and whether "direct neural education" is any different than "virtuality training", is not totally clear from this paragraph.
  • Personnel Files p. 34 has a sample bioroid character named Sally Xan, who was rescued from the Triads by the Martian Commonwealth. A sidebar raises the possibility she got some special modifications after being rescued, unbeknownst to her. It explains, "She was very new back then, and her memories could have been adjusted during her early training." This implies new bioroids can have memories selectively erased, which is not explicit in the other books cited above.
  • There's also the already-mentioned article in Pyramid #3/15. It might have lower canonicity than the other sources cited above, and seems to take a more extreme view of what bioroid "programming" can do. On the other hand, if the Personnel Files sidebar is canon, maybe the things described in "Dark Places of the Earth" are too.

I've been looking pretty hard for relevant canon in my THS books, but I might be missing something. Anyone know of anything else I should be paying attention to?
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:18 PM   #12
Fred Brackin
 
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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Anyone know of anything else I should be paying attention to?
Aside from the necessity of in-the-tank learning to the whole bioroid concept? No, but that probably is paramount.

I can remember suggesting to David during the orignal playtest that bioroids probably did something like combine an infant's speed of learning (or faster becaue the brain is even more blank) with the adult horsepower of a fully developed brain.

Mostly though it's sine qua non of the concept. TS moved bioroids from being based on fast-growth cloning so much as to assembly-from-biogenesis as a way of boosting the believability but again it's mostly about wanting bioroids in the setting.

It's s general principle that when the hardness of the science of any particular area gets wobbly it's because wiggle room was needed to make that aspect of the setting possible so as to achieve the original vison.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:29 PM   #13
Michael Thayne
 
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Aside from the necessity of in-the-tank learning to the whole bioroid concept? No, but that probably is paramount.
That's not obvious! Aside from the two vignettes I cited you might think bioroids just learn very quickly once out of the tank.

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I can remember suggesting to David during the orignal playtest that bioroids probably did something like combine an infant's speed of learning (or faster becaue the brain is even more blank) with the adult horsepower of a fully developed brain.
That would make sense, but some of the quote above seem to go beyond that. Notably, the main book and Deep Beyond both have David as the author, but Personnel Files and Bio-Tech 2100 both have Phil Masters as the author, and those are the books that seem to move more in the direction of bioroid brains, or at least new bioroid brains, being significantly more "programmable" than even a young human brain. So maybe different authors have slightly different visions.

Quote:
<snip>

It's s general principle that when the hardness of the science of any particular area gets wobbly it's because wiggle room was needed to make that aspect of the setting possible so as to achieve the original vison.
I'm not super-interested in hard-science justifications here. More interested in just how far a devious bioroid creator can go in messing with the brain of a newly-built bioroid.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:08 AM   #14
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Default Re: Amnesiac PCs in THS

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
I'm not super-interested in hard-science justifications here. More interested in just how far a devious bioroid creator can go in messing with the brain of a newly-built bioroid.
Canonically, a very long way; look at that Deep beyond vignette again. The concept only makes any sort of sense if the maker can more or less pump memories and personality structures direct into the brain, and if you can do that, you can make one hell of a mess if you want to.
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:13 PM   #15
Michael Thayne
 
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Canonically, a very long way; look at that Deep beyond vignette again. The concept only makes any sort of sense if the maker can more or less pump memories and personality structures direct into the brain, and if you can do that, you can make one hell of a mess if you want to.
Hrm. I guess the real question I'm asking is whether bioroids "programming" can extend beyond being loaded up with simulated experiences. The Deep Beyond vignette makes it seem like the answer is "no", because the "basic language-socialization routine" apparently involves an elaborate simulation of an idyllic childhood, which seems pointless unless a simulated childhood is the only way to teach a bioroid things humans normally learn in childhood. That would make sense if bioroids are limited in other ways.

I guess there are some limitations that wouldn't make sense even on more limited interpretations of bioroids. I suppose there's no rule against a bioroid that more or less has the memories of a normal human, if you raised it on slinkies of normal-human expereinces. But some details of the "Dark Places of the Earth" article in Pyramid #3/15 seem to require a lot more flexibility. In particular the description of the Proving Ground mentions that "Sometimes the researchers reprogram an entire community of bioroids to think they’re long-term residents" which seems to require that bioroids can have their memories wiped.

And while it's true that humans can suffer amnesia, amnesia is usually not total and doesn't happen without the brain becoming impaired in other ways. Maybe you could remove a bioroid's memory centers and transplant a newly biofabricated one? But that's not what "reprogramming" implies, and I'm pretty sure you didn't mean that to be a possible backstory for Sally Xan.
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