December 12, 2009

Compulsion of Technology in Sci-Fi

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:49 am

I have often heard how Nebuleon (and other settings) should somehow embrace a technological trope because they can. That is, the have the tech for transhumanism and do not use it. See, here is how it works. In Neb, you have the ability to make a copy of your neural net, map your neurons and general brain chemistry in order to download it later into a clone “blank”. This makes a great deal of sense to me as it is a path to immortality and thus people would pursue it with great vigor. The critics would then say that it is only logical that you would be downloading these copies into machines and all sorts of variant clones and thus you have transhumanism.

I disagree.

In the setting, there is a sense of self. This is not a transfer of your mind but a copy, an image that is translated. Many philosphers int he setting question that a clone is truly alive. People who are cloned are those who:
1) have no choice due to severe injury, death, or disease.
2) have the resources due to a contract with a megacorp, a military entity or personal wealth

In some cultures, the Gren particularly, it has a stigma and it is unlikely a clone will get a mate. The Gren are very conservative though and dislike cybernetcs as well as most body modifications.

Now, this is not to say it cannot happen and I think that is what folks get bent out of shape on. A Group could most definitely decide a group of humans (viewed as a deviant race anyway) would engage in these acts. In fact, I could see a whole adventure set around a group of borg-like body modders or an AI adventure where the transhuman humans are aiding the Resistance. However, it is just not within the general norms to say “I am going to chuck my body”. I think folks, if they were honest and thought about it as “What would I do?” would see it as very much the kind of thing they would reject. It is nice to think about transferring into Brad pits body but the downsides are often glossed over.

And that is why some tech is used but not embraced. Clash touched on the this in his Persistence of Old Technology blog from the much more practical and easier to understand tech side;i.e. if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. My point would be, there are times when a tech does not fit a need in the culture it serves and is set aside. Does not mean it is not used but it does mean it may end up being used in strange and interesting ways, albeit less than generally.


  1. Excellent point, Bill! Sometimes tech is not used when it could be. There are various reasons for this – cultural, religious, aesthetic, et. – but just because a technology is there, available, and works doesn’t mean anyone will use it. Case in point in our own world – Atomic Rockets. The technology is there, tested, working, and far more useful than chamical rockets, yet no one will touch it. Why? It’s atomic. Y’know, radiation and stuff! That’s evil, man! Turns you glowing green and makes you a mutant! The fact that we have about a hundred nuclear subs prowling around earth perfectly safely means nothing. It’s a cultural no-no.


    Comment by clash bowley — December 14, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  2. Exactly Clash!

    Comment by bilbo — December 14, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  3. Good morning 🙂

    This Transhumanist thing always makes me wonder why people think that copies of themselves are… I don’t know… them?

    If there were me, and three copies of me, and I was asked to select all but one of us for destruction, my choice wouldn’t be random, would it? I would select the copies, unless I was suicidal. Because they are just copies. And given the same choice, any of the copies would choose to preserve himself, no?

    Certainly it is no more a path to immortality than having ordinary children. Much worse, in fact, because I would always be worried that someone will have clandestinely copied me, used their total privacy to warp and manipulate the copy of me, and are just waiting for the chance to destroy me and put the copy in my place.

    And so what if you copied female, or robotic, or canine versions of yourself? A copy of you is still another unique individual – it is no more “you” than a copy of your kidney in a vat somewhere is actually “your kidney.”

    Comment by Vincent Diakuw — December 14, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  4. Vincent, you got the idea. 😉

    Comment by bilbo — December 14, 2009 @ 11:18 am

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