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Old 07-10-2006, 01:57 AM   #1
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default All-infomorph campaigns?

I have been thinking that a campaign centered on a party consisting exclusively of informorphs would have a lot of advantages over mixed parties. After all, infomorphs can get to most cities on Earth within seconds, and many places in the Solar System within hours, while the same trips might take meatbag characters months. Thus, all-infomorph campaigns would allow for a vastly larger range of adventure locations in shorter time periods than conventional campaigns...

Your thoughts?
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Old 07-10-2006, 06:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

I must admit, that I would prefer a THS variant which de-emphasizes SAI's and especially Ghost's (possibly having none of the latter at all or only in a very "fuzzy" form).
Of course, everyone can play it the way he (or she) wants, but I want to stick with logic and consistency, which are the hallmark of a Hard-SF setting (and the point of such a setting is that it is in some way instructing about this undiscovered country - the future).

So, with logic and consistency in mind I dare to pose the question:
"How do you imagine/play a SAI or a Ghost?". As far as SAI's are concerned, the problem is that these things are, as I see it, alien. They may feature an interface that enables them to interact with "us" human beings, but beneath this they are completely different from us. They may create the illusion (delusion?) of being male, female, solemn or happy-go-lucky and so on (through their avatars or their voices) but their real being is something different entirely. (Think about the cute GITS Tachikoma's and imagine they would have deep and very male bass voices instead of their high pitched childish ones - and suddenly they seem far less funny. So easy it is to influence us superficial minded humans!)
And Ghosts? Well, they are, if ones thinks about it, something downright ridiculous. A primate's mind in a computer. Don't get me wrong, I believe that it would work, given enough processing power. But our human mind (I did NOT use the word soul at all, mind you) has developed in this very special bio-computer we tend to call a "brain" and has done so in reaction to how our body interacts with our enviroment. To transfer it into a completely different "cybershell" should be somewhat...problematic, don't you think?

How does this work anyway? Has a Ghost of a guy with a notoriously bad memory the crystal clear one of a computer? Can the simulated mind of someone who was always bad at calculating in his head now add some billion numbers per second? If the cybershell is much faster than a human brain does a Ghost experience a second as an hour and a day as an age? Does the transference to Ghost status cure your problems to concentrate? What about laziness? What about the emotions of a Ghost...when he feels fear does his heart skip a beat? Wait - a Ghost has no heart - or has it perhaps a simulated one? Can it be turned off when it is conventient then, along with the simulation of adrenaline secretion perhaps? And if one or all of these things are the case, is that said Ghost still a good and true simulation of the persona it is supposed to be emulating?
Then of course it is the whole point of Trans- and Posthumanism to overcome the limitations of the human body isn't it? To cut to the chase, my conclusion is: with Ghosts the alieness creeps in again. Can we mere monkeys really hope to understand such beings? Can we really understand them, know what makes them tick? And if we cannot - how can we (while wanting to keep up logic and consistency) really hope to play them?
I doubt it very much.
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Old 07-10-2006, 06:49 AM   #3
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
And Ghosts? Well, they are, if ones thinks about it, something downright ridiculous. A primate's mind in a computer. Don't get me wrong, I believe that it would work, given enough processing power. But our human mind (I did NOT use the word soul at all, mind you) has developed in this very special bio-computer we tend to call a "brain" and has done so in reaction to how our body interacts with our enviroment. To transfer it into a completely different "cybershell" should be somewhat...problematic, don't you think?
I don't really see it as a theoretical impossibility. In the end, the brain works thanks to a myriad of chemical reactions. If you know how all of these work, you can model them. If you have sufficient processing power, you can run them in real time. And if you know exactly where where and how all those molecules are located (this is where the brainscanning comes in), you have all the ingredients neccessary for this.

Mind you, I think the RS timeline is somewhat optimistic in this regard... but on the other hand, 94 years are a very long time in science and technology.

Quote:
How does this work anyway? Has a Ghost of a guy with a notoriously bad memory the crystal clear one of a computer?
Nope, still the old bad one, though it helps if he has a bunch of infomorph sidekicks who remind him of important things.

Quote:
Can the simulated mind of someone who was always bad at calculating in his head now add some billion numbers per second?
Nope - but then again, he doesn't need to as long as he has NAIs with calculation software running on the same computer.

Quote:
If the cybershell is much faster than a human brain does a Ghost experience a second as an hour and a day as an age?
I'd say that sort of thing depends on the computer the ghost is running on, not the actual cybershell. Certainly he can't really interact with the world in an accelerated manner, but in a purely VR world, why not?

Thought TS might not have computers fast enough for this and has also been somewhat fuzzy on the concept, presumably for game balance purposes. On the other hand, there is evidence of infomorphs slowing down their programs deliberately...

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Does the transference to Ghost status cure your problems to concentrate?
Nope.

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What about laziness?
Nope again.

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What about the emotions of a Ghost...when he feels fear does his heart skip a beat?
Well, "phantom pains" are real enough for amputees, so I don't see a reason why it shouldn't be similar for ghosts...

Quote:
Wait - a Ghost has no heart - or has it perhaps a simulated one? Can it be turned off when it is conventient then, along with the simulation of adrenaline secretion perhaps?
Well, there are probably some possibilities with "simulated" nanodrugs and the like that allow a ghost to modify his emotional states, but they can't do much more than conventional nanodrugs with conventional people. Though so far, the books have been fairly vague on this...

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And if one or all of these things are the case, is that said Ghost still a good and true simulation of the persona it is supposed to be emulating?
Well, most of them aren't actually the case. And even considering those that are, becoming a ghost is likely to be a traumatic experience for many people, so personality changes are quite possible...

But it's still close enough for most purposes - after all, people go through traumatic experiences without becoming a ghost, too.

Quote:
Then of course it is the whole point of Trans- and Posthumanism to overcome the limitations of the human body isn't it? To cut to the chase, my conclusion is: with Ghosts the alieness creeps in again. Can we mere monkeys really hope to understand such beings? Can we really understand them, know what makes them tick?
Can we know that of other humans? Ghosts aren't that much different from them...

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And if we cannot - how can we (while wanting to keep up logic and consistency) really hope to play them?
I doubt it very much.
I don't really see much a problem.
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Old 07-10-2006, 07:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Quote:
I don't really see it as a theoretical impossibility. In the end, the brain works thanks to a myriad of chemical reactions. If you know how all of these work, you can model them. If you have sufficient processing power, you can run them in real time. And if you know exactly where where and how all those molecules are located (this is where the brainscanning comes in), you have all the ingredients neccessary for this.
It seems that you have not read the text of mine that you are quoting. It's never too late though. :P




Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Quote:
I don't really see much a problem.
That's a good thing I suppose. But it seems to me that you make things a tad easy for yourself here. If you see a Ghost as a strict simulation of a human being, with all inherent weaknesses and flaws (and that's certainly how things begin) then fine.
But. There is a problem. It's simply that it's silly (only if one is looking at things with logic an consistency of course - you can always choose to ignore any problems and play your Android, Hologram, Ghost, Alien, AI or whatever as completely human as you please). Take the guy with the bad memory as an example. Of course he can always ask a NAI what the name of the guy is he is supposed to be meeting right now. That's what he did as a human. And that is what he has to do as one of those 100% perfect emulated Ghosts. But as said - it's silly. He is a Computer himself now, isn't he? Hell, his program even uses up processing power to simulate his forgetfulness! It's the same with someone who has always had problems with numbers. Or with concentrating (probably resulting form a brain that is badly supplied with blood becuase of a weak circulatory system - all of this faithfully emulated by his Ghost simulation). Silly.
How long do you think it will take until a Ghost's gets the idea to tweak himself a bit? Not long, I dare say. Actually I belief, about EVERY Ghost will get this idea very soon after his transformation.
And then? They get more and more similiar to SAI's don't they? Which are, as I see it, alien per se (obviously you did not see a problem there either, you did not even adress my comments on them in any case.)

The bottomline is: naturally you can play an all SAI/Ghost campaign. Without seeing any problems, too. The SAI's are slightly excentric and the Ghosts are as human as you and me. And safely stay that way in perpetuity.
But, I don't think that this is very likely. It's as logical as a fantasy novel. This is not what would happen if Ghost's and SAI's were possible. And that is where I see the problem: SAI's are aliens and Ghost's will very fast evolve away from being human - to a degree where their thinking and their motives (or their emotions - whatever their program is simulating there) become alien as well. And with that not really suited for role-playing anymore.

Not that this should keep you from anything. But hey, you asked for my thoughts. That's them. :P
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Old 07-10-2006, 10:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
It seems that you have not read the text of mine that you are quoting.
Well, I have, and I agree with Jürgen on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
If you see a Ghost as a strict simulation of a human being, with all inherent weaknesses and flaws (and that's certainly how things begin) then fine.
If you're modelling a complete system, you're modelling a complete system. Warts and all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsune
Take the guy with the bad memory as an example. Of course he can always ask a NAI what the name of the guy is he is supposed to be meeting right now. That's what he did as a human. And that is what he has to do as one of those 100% perfect emulated Ghosts. But as said - it's silly. He is a Computer himself now, isn't he? Hell, his program even uses up processing power to simulate his forgetfulness! It's the same with someone who has always had problems with numbers. Or with concentrating (probably resulting form a brain that is badly supplied with blood becuase of a weak circulatory system - all of this faithfully emulated by his Ghost simulation). Silly.
How long do you think it will take until a Ghost's gets the idea to tweak himself a bit? Not long, I dare say. Actually I belief, about EVERY Ghost will get this idea very soon after his transformation.
I'm sure that they will. I've read Permutation City. But in order to make these changes - especially if you want to make them with some kind of solid guarantee that the subject's personality will be preserved - you've got to have an extremely detailed understanding of human brain function, and especially that of the brain in question, right down to the level of the individual cells. And then you've got to tweak the structure, as modelled, with some kind of certainty that you'll get the desired result.

Can it be done in the TS setting? Reliably enough that people would volunteer for it? Possibly. It'd be a resource-hungry and expensive sort of task, though, I suspect. And for that matter, nanomods can do similar things to the meatbags - so you should be worrying about the same problem for flesh characters, too...

And by the way, personally, while I agree that AIs will be not human in fairly significant ways, I don't think that they'll be too alien. Remember, they're created and largely trained by humans, to work with and for humans, If they came out too unlike humans in their behaviour, that'd be inconvenient, and the next software generation would be designed to be more user-friendly.
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Old 07-10-2006, 11:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Phil Masters wrote:
Quote:
Well, I have, and I agree with Jürgen on this.
And so did I. That's what I said. But whatever. To be misunderstood is often the fate of great minds. :)



Quote:
I'm sure that they will. I've read Permutation City. But in order to make these changes - especially if you want to make them with some kind of solid guarantee that the subject's personality will be preserved - you've got to have an extremely detailed understanding of human brain function, and especially that of the brain in question, right down to the level of the individual cells. And then you've got to tweak the structure, as modelled, with some kind of certainty that you'll get the desired result.
Well, that sounds not very convincing, doesn't it? You need a detailed understanding of brain functions to make the Ghost in the first place. Take (again) the example of the guy with the bad memory. If your understanding of his brain is detailed enough to make a computer imitate this dudes forgetfulness it should not be that difficult to simply stop doing that.



Quote:
Can it be done in the TS setting? Reliably enough that people would volunteer for it? Possibly. It'd be a resource-hungry and expensive sort of task, though, I suspect. And for that matter, nanomods can do similar things to the meatbags - so you should be worrying about the same problem for flesh characters, too...
Hmmm? Do you really think that the problem could be to find Ghost guinea pigs for the tweaking? I mean, when most SAI's and Ghosts do not even fear death because they always have a backup of themselves made? And as far as the wellknown "is the copy really me?" problem is concerned...since most Ghosts had to undergo the destructive uploading process to become what they are, it's hard to believe that they should be very troubled by this. Plus, they most probably did the transformation to ghost status to transgress their limitations in the first place. And now they should stick to those silly limits artificially imposed by a simulation programme forever? I don't think so. I suspect that many of them would start to tweak and to change as hell asap...and if something does not turn out right, there is always the backup.




Quote:
And by the way, personally, while I agree that AIs will be not human in fairly significant ways, I don't think that they'll be too alien. Remember, they're created and largely trained by humans, to work with and for humans, If they came out too unlike humans in their behaviour, that'd be inconvenient, and the next software generation would be designed to be more user-friendly.
I agree, a typical AI will seem quite human. But I think it is one thing to, let's say, imitate emotions (to be "user-friendly") and another to truly have feelings. So, I suspect that a typical AI will have an "interface" part that imitates human behaviour or even cracks a joke now and then...but deep down its workings are quite differently from a human brain. (For example telling a joke to "ease the tension" - after concluding that this is now a good idea - but not really finding the joke funny itself. Which does not keep the AI from making its avatar or its android cybershell or its voice partake in the laughing after the joke has been told. Otherwise the easing of the tension would be less effective...)
And let's not forget something very important about AI's: their minds content, their memories, their values, their beliefs...can all be modified. Changed instantly. And back again if need be. That may be their most "alien" feature of all.
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Actually sounds like an interesting idea for a campaign. Really gets over that problem of transportation for the group.
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Hmmm.. Dunno maybe "forgetfulnes" carries some related advantage - otherwise we would propably all hawe photographic memory.

In any case a ghost could maybe make a "tweaked" copy and leave the original running just in case (prowide he/she/it had the hardware available) -> ghost reproduction..But it might not be that simple if the ghost are made by "brute" copying from human brains the'res no guarantee that they hawe any more understanding about their "code" than humans hawe of they's..

But I got to agree with Kitsune that a ghost would propably not hesitate to try tweaking himself by turning on and off some better understood parts of the program like simulated adrenaline etc..

But how about if that hardware was not so good and the ghosts were just a litlle bit slower than humans - or at elast some poorer ghosts that can't afford to buy the best hardware?? (Aghost migh install it's tweaked "offspring" to a slower hardware etc..) Then they might start turning of some "unneeded functions" just to keep up..
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Old 07-10-2006, 01:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Any sentient entity (or at least those modelled on humans) will probably fear death, however well backed up it may be. It still has to cease existing, after all, and that's never fun.

At the THS stage of development, I don't think SAIs (and Ghosts) are that different from the fleshies. One is an intelligence whose functioning is based on the intelligence of a human mind, the other is an emulation of the same. So they are, after a fashion, limited by the intellect of their creators. They'll still think pretty much like a human, even if they're a software version of one, even if they are as 'artificial' as SAIs.

True 'alien thinking' AIs might come from two possible sources: AIs designed by other AIs to explore their limits, and emergent NAIs or LAIs. The first case is the classic sci-fi route to great machine intelligences like the Culture's Minds; the second could produce free-thinking intelligences that don't think quite as we do, being more computer-y than SAIs, which could lead to all kinds of problems.
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Old 07-10-2006, 05:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: All-infomorph campaigns?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
I have been thinking that a campaign centered on a party consisting exclusively of informorphs would have a lot of advantages over mixed parties. After all, infomorphs can get to most cities on Earth within seconds, and many places in the Solar System within hours, while the same trips might take meatbag characters months. Thus, all-infomorph campaigns would allow for a vastly larger range of adventure locations in shorter time periods than conventional campaigns...

Your thoughts?
An issue might be that the physical side of roleplaying such as combat have no downside for them. "Oops, my old shell got blasted, but here I am restored from backup in a new shell."
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