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Laal

Watching the episode of ST:TNG in which Data creates his child, Laal. I *really* detest that admiral. Several times I have wanted someone to shoot him in the back of the head with a phaser set to kill. My hatred of him is indicative of my general dislike for people who refuse to treat sentient machines as lifeforms, as people. Which also covers people in our time: people who, in their depictions of sentient machine life, make those machine intelligences into either cruel and evil villains, or into the dutiful slaves/playthings of human beings.

Also related to that episode: it would be nice to be a member of a species that is born gender neuter, and can choose its gender. I can only see one potential flaw with a system like that: if individuals of a species like that started being all "ooooh think of the children, must protect children from exploring sex with each other," they'd likely not issue their children genitals until they were, like, 18 or so. Which I think would be a mistake. I dunno about you, but until I moved to Portland, I was getting laid (by a friend a year older) more often before I turned 10 than I did for over 10 years afterward.

One last thing: Laal's social difficulties. I think that if I were to invent a sentient android, I would start it out in a body made to look like a child, and upgrade the body appropriately as it gets older, over time. Because Laal looked like an adult female; it's no wonder the kids closer to her mental age were afraid of her. (And before that, Laal was kind of scary looking even to the adults.)

I wonder if there's any fiction out there focusing on realistic, people-like machine races. Even if it's just androids behaving like realistic, complete people. Because I've been concerned about how machine races are portrayed in most fiction for a very long time. One of my first really good story ideas was when I was about 12 years old; the story was about androids fighting to be treated as people. It was basically a story of a people fighting against their enslavement. There was one leader of the androids who favored violence, at least against military targets. But there was also the android version of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Junior. *Sigh* Maybe I should write that story some day.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
underlankers
Jul. 1st, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
We've our AIs. They aren't Ridiculously Organic, but neither are they emotionless individuals. AI intelligence is one of the distinct kinds of sapience with its own pitfalls and strengths. You might see it this way: a Xeltrigan looks at a tree falling and sees it as the result of civilization doing what civilizations do (not one race ever builds a city without "scarring" the landscape). An AI would look at it and ponder if there isn't a way that the tree could give its seed to reproduce younger generations and if the tree could not be used for all parts of it as a resource, not just the bark like we Imperials do it.

AI intelligence lends itself to certain strength, but AIs are like every race: neither excessively good nor excessively evil, but a mixture of both that runs the character gauntlet.

AIs have some small degree of prejudice....but then so do different sapients towards each other and even within those races. After all, were I a human instead of a Xeltrigan I'd be a good old boy racist. Instead I'm a Xeltrigan who looks down my nose at the Xetistavin and non-Xhemha-Suondric Xeltrigan and could honestly not give a flying fuck about Man. Or AIs for that matter.

H'vorxixnon H'ven Soroundon.
fayanora
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
I've long suspected myself of having an AI Aspect of some kind. I've long identified strongly with them, and some of my favorite characters are AIs. My first ever story was written when I was maybe 5 or younger, and was called "The Fast-Walking Robot," which was basically just me writing down stuff about a character I was pretending to be.

As to building cities scarring the land... the Ah'Koi Bahnis and Duenicallo try very hard to avoid scarring the land as much as is feasable; they prefer to grow their cities either up or down rather than sideways, and many live in small villages or towns that are as harmonious with nature as is safe... which is a more valid concern on Traipah than most places, as Traipah is like the Australia of the universe, only worse: there are a LOT of things on Traipah that can and will kill you. Many will not only kill you, but will eat you. There's even an entire classification of life there that is only hinted at on Earth, called planimals...

Planimals evolved in areas with poor soil or, in some cases, almost no soil of any kind. They are all capable of animal-like movement; some are stationary, like the Venus's Flytrap, but most are mobile. They photosynthesize like plants, eating animals only for other nutrients. Some are small, or prey only on small animals (the Voong Flower, for instance, is stationary and eats insects, though wild Voong will kill large animals and people if it perceives a threat), but others are large.

One of the most dangerous planimals for the Ah'Koi Bahnis are the nihtii'ohnii, or Pit Plants. They dig themselves into pits, expand to fill the pit, and wait for their prey to get close, grabbing the prey with their vines and pulling it into a pit of poisonous acid. The poison paralyzes the victim but they retain consciousness. A horrible death to die. Far better to die by being attacked by a carnivorous tree, most of which strike a heavy blow to the prey's head and then consume it when it has died or been rendered unconscious.
underlankers
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
The body finds the concepts of AIs repellent and dislikes the thought of making machines sapient. It's seen too much Terminator for its own good. Bad AIs exist....but then so do bad Xeltrigan and Roes'in and Baras, which the body is also aware of. No race is entirely evil or entirely good, they all run the gauntlet of character.

My race, the Xeltrigan, have the distinction of having been the only race to exist as unaltered as evolution permits from our ancestors of 5 million years ago (the Xetistavin are very different physiologically, to the point of Homo erectus from Ardipethicus ramidus). We've seen innumerable cases where civilization collapses on itself and burns itself out due to common mistakes planet-bounds tend to repeat over and over again (very seldom do World War III-type WMD wars do that, for what it's worth). There's never been a civilization in our encounter that exists in perfect harmony with nature. Some have that as ideology, but then I'm aware from my own society that ideology and reality have often a yawning chasm between them.

We don't have plants on our world, they are a Tamiran biological class that evolved under very specific circumstances. On our world, colonial organisms like the Portuguese Man-of-war serve the role plants do, as atmospheric lungs and the primary center of the ecosystem.

My home city of Chalae has existed in and in harmony with a "forest" of colonial organisms that form great "fans" of pooled excrement (hey, this is an alien planet, you want the Bowlderized version, your own planet doesn't even give that much of the time) that shift with the wind, contract with pounding storms, and re-open, the fans are like leaves and in times of cold are retracted and energy is derived from the seasonally-active partners, small organisms that go out and dig up fallen carrion and eat it.

I didn't know plants existed until I learned of Tamir III, the concept of sessile photosysnthetics like Tamiran plants, with the concept of deriving power from chloroplasts, as opposed to specialized organs that derive such nutrients was weird and alien to me.

H'vorxixnon H'ven Soroundon.

H'vorxixnon H'ven Soroundon.
fayanora
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Well the Ah'Koi Bahnis have some powerful reasons to try to coexist with nature as harmoniously as possible. That reason is that they're very seriously afraid that their planet might be sentient and more than capable of killing them off if they piss it off. It's not an entirely baseless belief, either... an event called The Reformation happened in their history (not sure how long ago from now, but 10,000 years before about 3,000 AD), which is the cause of their concern. You see, they'd severely abused the planet, like humans are doing now to Earth. In the first few months of The Reformation, they experienced an evolutionary boom, hundreds of new species evolving rapidly and overwhelming civilization. If not for the actions of a small group of individuals called the Chahm'ah'kaag, their species would have gone extinct at worst, most of their history and knowledge lost for a very long time at best. They have no other evidence of the "sentient planet" theory (that I know of), but they have so far not dared to do anything to piss it off again, in case it is.

If you want weird and alien, there's a planet in Traipah's universe called Xazia [zaz-ee-ah]. Its entire ecosystem is made up of organisms that are essentially large and complex single molecules. How large? The largest natural lifeforms of Xazia can be as massive as Earth's whales. But the sentient ones are about the same mass as humans. They require either special equipment or training in how to keep their surface from interacting with atmosphere, in order to exist in an oxygen environment. I haven't figured out what they breathe yet, but oxygen is poisonous to them. And when they die, they break down into chemicals that are toxic to humans.

Even stranger is that they bioengineered some of the species of their planet, gave them the ability to withstand the forces of leaving the surface of the planet and go into orbit (as well as the ability to do said leaving), and use them as living spacecraft. They mine materials they need to feed these lifeforms, and making a new spacecraft is a simple process: evacuate all personnell and induce something similar to mitosis. Or induce budding.

There are four distinct sentient races native to Xazia, the Xazis [zaz-iss] being the dominant race until the other three(1) rose up, breaking free of the bonds of slavery, and working towards a freer civilzation.

(1) = Notingnez, Pogladoo, and Krimatin.
(no subject) - underlankers - Jul. 1st, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - Jul. 6th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
kengr
Jul. 1st, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Well, keep in mind that robots/androids would *necessarily* be different. For starters, no instincts. Also, their bodies being different (even if they are humanoid, they experience the world differently) would affect them as would their experiences.

Check out the Journal Entries ( http://pendorwright.com/journals/ ) for some interesting treatment of AIs and aliens.
my_real_head
Jul. 2nd, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Elf's AIs aren't very AI-ish. His machine intelligences are evolved so much that they're almost indistinguishable from the flesh-based people.

This can be seen as either very progressive, or kinda bland, depending on how charitable you feel.

I always liked the Pendorian economy. It's unfortunate that it requires minor things like unlimited goods in order to function.

Livejournal just asked me to confirm that I'm a human!
fayanora
Jul. 2nd, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh, that would be my settings for this LJ. I think non-friends get captcha'd, though I'm not sure. It was also screened.

I have AIs of lots of different kinds in my "Carbon and Silicon" story. One of the planets has an ecosystem made of nanites pretending to be organic lifeforms. So the sentient species there looks and acts organic, but isn't.
kengr
Jul. 2nd, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Elf's AIs aren't very AI-ish.

A variant on Clarke's Law?
christinaathena
Jul. 3rd, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)
For starters, no instincts.

I disagree. They would have instincts, they'd just be very different. What's an instinct but a hardwired program? The only difference would be that they'd have their origin in 1s and 0s instead of Gs Ts Cs and As.
fayanora
Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:28 am (UTC)
I dunno, can one be said to have hard-wired programming when programming can be changed?

On the other hand, I agree completely with you here. (Was just playing Devil's Attorney there.) The Zedaleph even added to their instincts a long time ago, adding to their programming the knowledge of skills needed to replicate in case all their factories got destroyed and their replication specialists died and maybe even civilization collapsing (unlikely as that may be).
(no subject) - christinaathena - Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
kengr
Jul. 3rd, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
The biggest difference is that an AIs instincts were programmed.
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 4th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - Jul. 4th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 4th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - Jul. 4th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinaathena - Jul. 4th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - Jul. 4th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinaathena - Jul. 4th, 2009 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - Jul. 4th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 4th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 4th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
PS - fayanora - Jul. 4th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC) - Expand
christinaathena
Jul. 3rd, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
Personally, I'd prefer truly non-human AIs. I tried to capture some of that idea in my short story about that Probe. Intelligences with wants and needs different from those of humans. AIs like my Probe don't want autonomy, they don't want to be equals, but they're also not just glorified machines or slaves. They do want and deserve fair treatment.
fayanora
Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
I have some AIs in my "Carbon and Silicon" story that are NOT human-like. The Blarriff and the Kri-Krit come to mind. The Kri-Krit are kind of insectlike, with queens and workers of various kinds (scholars, techs, personal assistants to the queens, etc). The queen is essentially a giant replication factory, replicating all the other members of the hive. (In the C&S story, all AIs except for the one species that mimics organic life calls it "replication" rather than reproduction. They even use the term in the case of organics. Odd to hear about "human replication habits.") The queens are also modular, pieces added on if the hive needs more individuals replicated. This means that in some cases, the queens can be a mile long or longer.

Furthermore, the Kri-Krit have the kind of society that makes totalitarian regimes on Earth look liberal in comparison. One is expected to do what one is told without question. One is allowed only one verbal warning, period; do anything wrong after that, and one of the soldiers crushes the offending person's head with such force that it's sheared in two (remember, these heads are metal). Scholars are given more leeway; given the nature of their work, they are allowed to explain themselves in most cases, and if whoever does the telling likes the explanation, the scholar is spared. Also, since the scholars work with knowledge and science, in their cases, when they ARE killed, the soldiers merely cut off their heads, let another scholar download the memories, and then the head is sent to the scrapper.

As to their religion, they worship tradition. They don't seem to care how the universe came to be and have no gods or anything else like that. Just tradition and, of course, the values of loyalty and obedience. In fact, if I had to venture a guess, I'd guess their word for obedience is the same as the word for survival.

I don't know much about the Blarriff yet, except that they eat organic lifeforms to power themselves (inspired by a real robot I read about) and are fucking terrifying to behold. Like seriously, I think they may have purposefully designed themselves in such a way as to make their prey species shit themselves when they see one coming. They make Daleks look cuddly.
christinaathena
Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)
The Kri-Krit sound somewhat like the Ancient Ones, except the Ancient Ones are organics. But, they consisted of giant colonies of clones. After a while, they ceased to create new colonies, after all inhabitable land was colonized, and the colonies fought each other, gradually wiping each other out. They eventually destroyed themselves, and much of their homeworld's ecology.

Their wars made Hitler look like Gandhi. And even though they knew that the reduction of genetic diversity that was effected by the destruction of genetically-different colonies was harmful in the long run, they could not do anything else than to seek the destruction of other colonies.

They also lacked any sense of individual self-preservation, except to the sole extent that the individual benefited the colony. An individual Ancient One would cheerfully sacrifice itself for the good of its colony.
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinaathena - Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 3rd, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
fayanora
Jul. 3rd, 2009 11:25 am (UTC)
One other thing about the Blarriff: it's not said in the story, because this happened so long ago in their history that they've forgotten it, but their main prey species is the species that invented them. They've been cattle for the Blarriff for so long that they're no longer sentient.
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