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Old 05-17-2011, 06:18 PM   #41
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Default Re: GURPS Uplift

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I'll be seeing Brin at the Maker Faire next weekend, and will poke him with a stick until he promises to finish the thing.
Wouldn't stick-poking get you reclassified as a Probationary Personality?
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:27 PM   #42
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Default Re: GURPS Uplift

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Wouldn't stick-poking get you reclassified as a Probationary Personality?
Better a P.P. than a Doo-Doo... :-)
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:17 PM   #43
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Default Re: GURPS Uplift

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The Fonnir story in Contacting Aliens was mine as well.

I think it would be cool as hell if they became canon, but Brin has at least one near-future novel to get out before he gets returns to the Uplift setting.
Seriously!? I actually wrote Brin about that story because I had to know if there was some research on those gamete computers because it was so interesting! And agreed, it would be as cool as hell if that becomes canon, it might, I'm paraphrasing here, but Brin did say that every now and then he runs across someone "who gets it" and he just has to nod and add it. I'll have to go dig out that letter now.

.... I hope you don't mind if I borrowed the idea of those things to solve an RPing plot hole involving some livestock variety. I attributed it to Brin, since it was in his book, but I'll edit it over to you now that I know better.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:15 PM   #44
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Default Re: GURPS Uplift

You can credit me for the idea of the gamete computers, but not for the write-up in Contacting Aliens. (Which I wrote, but not officially.)

EDIT: Correction, after looking at the book for the first time in five years: I wrote the "Agent's Report" on the Norrukh, not the Fonnir race write-up.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:11 PM   #45
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This would have been something ideal to put into Ultra-Tech or Bio-Tech...

*********

For those who HAVEN'T read Contacting Aliens, or even know what Uplift is...

In the Uplift universe, galactic civilization predates human existence by a couple of billion years (give or take a few hundred million). Races are uplifted (i.e., taken from a presentient animal state to full-fledged, reasonably responsible galactic citizens) over a period measured in tens of thousands of years. These "clients" then owe allegiance to their "patrons" and to the "clan" (i.e., the various races that have been raised in a chain going back to the last still-active species).

In the Contacting Aliens, the Fonnir are sloth-like creatures, an ancient species that is headed into Retirement, but who have one last project: uplifting the Norruhk (look like elks with trilateral heads). Both the Fonnir and the Norruhk are psionic adepts. It seems, from the stories, that the Fonnir have decided to skip the "Elder, Retired, Transcendent" path to withdrawing from the galaxy, and are turning the Norruhk into assistants capable of transforming the Fonnir into energy beings... and taking the Norruhk with them.

A small group of Norruhk children are dropped off at a Terragens (human) colony. It's found that they are supposed to be a remnant population, to make sure that Norruhk survive in the galaxy once the Fonnir and the rest of the Norruhk are transformed. Too small to be a viable population, but they have gamete computers.

Basically, a computer that randomizes the sperm/eggs of the Norruhk children, so that while they have a small population, they carry within them enough genetic variation to retain viability.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:45 PM   #46
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This would have been something ideal to put into Ultra-Tech or Bio-Tech...

*********

For those who HAVEN'T read Contacting Aliens, or even know what Uplift is...

In the Uplift universe, galactic civilization predates human existence by a couple of billion years (give or take a few hundred million). Races are uplifted (i.e., taken from a presentient animal state to full-fledged, reasonably responsible galactic citizens) over a period measured in tens of thousands of years. These "clients" then owe allegiance to their "patrons" and to the "clan" (i.e., the various races that have been raised in a chain going back to the last still-active species).
I so loved Sundiver and Startide Rising (I read the latter first), they were marvelously creative and imaginative, and the setting was so intricately thought out. Kithrup was felt so 'real', so believably rendered, that when Streaker left it felt as if they were leaving home, almost.

I must admit to being deeply disappointed in the sequel series written years later, on many levels. Continuity, 'feel', plot logic, it just didn't feel like the same characters or the same universe, and some of it seemed totally at odds with the previous stories.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:58 AM   #47
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Default Re: GURPS Uplift

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Basically, a computer that randomizes the sperm/eggs of the Norruhk children, so that while they have a small population, they carry within them enough genetic variation to retain viability.
I forget the figure, but the "computers" (really, specialized artificial gonad extensions) would store the DNA of many thousands of individuals. The gland-extension would randomly create a haploid (?) set for sperm or eggs based on these, then hand them off to the original equipment for creating the actual cells.

This would be a very handy thing for biological colonists (and their livestock) in any setting!
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:59 PM   #48
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I forget the figure, but the "computers" (really, specialized artificial gonad extensions) would store the DNA of many thousands of individuals. The gland-extension would randomly create a haploid (?) set for sperm or eggs based on these, then hand them off to the original equipment for creating the actual cells.

This would be a very handy thing for biological colonists (and their livestock) in any setting!
I sort of took it a step further for mine, and made them programmable but by an external database of DNA codes. So, you have a cow (a nice, placid, heavy-milker Holstein), but you need some foundation beef cattle stock (say Angus). The external database would already have stored the sequences of enough Angus DNA to let you do that, and the Holstein would basically serve as a surrogate for "pure-bred" Angus calves, and any other kind of cattle-type animal (such as bison and yak), without the hassle of trying to work out embryo transfer or having to have a ridiculously wide pool of surrogate breeding animals to begin with.

But let me know if that's totally off from what you had in mind.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:31 PM   #49
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It doesn't even need to be all that complicated, I think.

You don't need the sequences of (let's use Magehound's example) a couple thousand genetically diverse Angus cattle. (Current theory is that you only need about 50-150 genetically diverse individuals to have a viable breeding population, depending on how strict or lax a breeding program was.)

You only need to catalog the differences from a baseline. I think I read that humans vary only within about 1% of their DNA. So just find out where they vary (and they don't vary across the WHOLE 1%...), and try to avoid obvious genetic defects.

*********

Given that, you'd need to store the baseline, and a few thousand suggested variations (say, about 0.5% of the size of the baseline, for the sake of argument). How much space would that take up in computer memory? About the size of 6 completely-sequenced DNA chains, right? (Not sure you'd need to store the baseline for each breed of domesticated animal...)

A little internet searching says that the human DNA chain takes up roughly 786MB (i.e., about the size of a fully-loaded CD). To completely produce one breed, you'd need about 4.7GB (i.e., about the size of a fully-loaded single-sided DVD).
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:55 PM   #50
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When you say "completely produce" do you mean that as in only make a single individual, or to store all the appropriate base-pair information for the whole breed?

Since "breeds" of cattle only differ by a minimal amount relative to each other, only the specific markers to make any particular sample of a basic Bos taurus template into a Ankole-Watusi or Swedish Hornless would be important once the basic format was made.

Cut and paste and apply to other species, and then the only large stock animals you'd really have to bring are females large enough to be able to bring the largest varieties to term.

Or at least that's how I wrote mine up. However, I don't think space to save the information is a problem, since we're already capable of a "regular" person being able to obtain terabytes of data storage space now and that space is being made smaller every year.
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