Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2019-04-05 01:39pm

They can scream MISTER SENATOR and become super ripped and fist fight cyborg ninjas. Sure the representatives are equal parts scions, reality stars, influencers and go-getters trying to climb up the ladder. Anyone from scrappy nobodies who are ideal anime protagonists, to transhuman noble bloodline snob, to freak experiments from weapons labs who are alluring yet cold and aloof amongst people who just want to be friends, and airhead thrill seeking hedonists, to earnest true believers doing it all through the power of guts.

And again, like everything is livestreamed for ratings and cosmopolitical influence unless its confidential or jammed by enemy ECCM to lower ratings! Torn between two choices, live broadcast a special forces operation and get all the likes and shares or keep it secret and get zero exposure... but have save it for later and release a buzzgirlcrooshfeed expose and woah!
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Jub » 2019-04-05 02:01pm

Think of the ratings when one of the noble senatorial houses goes rogue or worse yet changes sides! You could have the Biden heresy against legendary god-king Washington enshrined in the whitest house alongside the constitution which is now a fabled holy relic written in a language even the scholars no longer understand.

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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Zixinus » 2019-04-14 05:30am

I'd like to add these to the discussion.

1. Warfare isn't rational. You keep assuming that interstellar societies will always seek the most rational and efficient solution to a problem caused by resource shortage, however temporary and fixable that resource shortage is. Or that the resource shortage may be an excuse to wage a war that two or more sides wanted to have for a long time for reasons. What may be irrational for a detached, outside observer may make perfect sense for someone inside that society.

2. Raw resources may be near-limitless, but the means to extract them are not.

Take He3, ideal of aneutronic fusion power: it's not a rare element by cosmic standards, but it is a tricky thing to either mine or make in concentrated quantities. Even if you have sources of it, either lunar regolith or gas giant or collecting it direct from solar winds, you have to make a substantial investment to get it. Making those investment, everything from plans through people to the actual machines themselves, takes time and money. It can take decades. Centuries even. The return of investment may, depending on how effective technology and efficient society is, not be very large. Taking existing infrastructure by force (ie, warfare) may be a risky but high return of investment.

3. Finally, you keep pointing to realistic interstellar warfare requiring decades and centuries of pre-planning, with the implication that this would discourage warfare. Counterpoint: it would not if the units engaged in warfare are automated, with no lives or care for waiting decades to fight a war. Sure, the human politics will keep on ticking in the meantime, but if the war isn't directly detrimental to the public then the public may not care (or the society in general does not have reason to change its mind).

The pre-planned nature of existing war machines already out there, and the fact that the enemy has some of it pointed at you, may force prolonging warfare due to existential threat said war machines pose. Or at least, make de-escalation something that also takes decades to fully realize.
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2019-04-14 10:35am

It would be great if unlike our notions, futuretech societies aren't actually more rational but actually get more irrational the more advanced they get! Like, even if you're uploaded in a cyber-shell, as we see today our meat-brains contain so much nonsense and super-advanced computronic uploads might just perpetuate these and exaggerate them if they're taken for programming - going to their (il)logical extremes.
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by madd0ct0r » 2019-04-14 11:55am

War for the lolz!

Setting up a three way confilct through a decade of light hugging laser sail file couriers, purely to get a situation where the aligment of jupiter's moons and the nuclear strike draws a giant ejacualting cock against the stars.
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-04-14 03:53pm

Well that explains Mars Attacks.
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2019-04-15 04:56am

And I'm not entirely un-serious about this. For all of SDN/TEO's zomg rational FACTS not FEELINGS calculations biggajoules spherical mass of iron really really HARD SCI-FI, we know societies are still ruled by irrational ideologies, concepts and memes that have great inertia, persisting and changing as these civilizations develop. Like, did any of the techno-utopian 1990s cyber-libertarian dudes foresee what became of the information super highway and our world's current state of affairs? William Gibson and other loopy cyberpunk types might have, but that's not because they were rational techno-visionaries, it was because they are attuned to social and cultural trends - Gibson closer to beatnik poets than Age of Spaceship, Ray Gun sci-fi, in-real-life hanging out with junkies and counter-cultural people when he fled conscription.

If you want to go grimdark giant-shoulderpads spike-banner skull-spikes, perhaps your space opera setting will be fully overlaid by an augmented reality run by hyperspace-spanning computronics but these are swayed by populations' tendencies and memes, including irrational ones. It's not just pure cyberspace, these might be able to bleed through into reality because we're past the Singularity - if enough minds will it, virtual reality can be manifested in real-life, nanomachines, hard-light holograms and whatever space-folding engines can rewrite actual physical worlds.

So this can be something like, Star Trek's Q but also 40k's Warp, with some Neuromancer cyberspace.

If Star Trek's transporters involves people being dissolved and their matter and information re-constituted elsewhere, imagine some zany ass sci-fi where space travel involves "FTL" that dissolves vessels and uploads them into the interstellar-spanning datasphere, which then re-assembles them elsewhere.

Wars might involve not just stemming Von Neuman grey-goo monstrosities but cogno-memetic devices gone rogue, ear-worm musics killing entire societies by giving them thousand-year Last Song Syndrome, so badass elite tacticool augmented special forces have to come in and do Reality Correction by physically shooting malfunctioning Surreality Engines AND debug the cyberspace code.

Hard Reset can be the term for Exterminatus/Base Delta Zero, orbital or even system-wide annihilation before cosmic apparatus come in to restore physical and virtual default settings.
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Starglider » 2019-04-15 05:56am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:
2019-04-14 10:35am
It would be great if unlike our notions, futuretech societies aren't actually more rational but actually get more irrational the more advanced they get! Like, even if you're uploaded in a cyber-shell, as we see today our meat-brains contain so much nonsense and super-advanced computronic uploads might just perpetuate these and exaggerate them if they're taken for programming - going to their (il)logical extremes.
This bears some analysis. Broadly speaking, when you look at the engineered artifacts (products) we produce:

1) There is a purpose, derriving from some goal that a significant number of consumers or a large single consumer (e.g. government) have. This can be anything, from an obvious biological imperative (supply safe drinking water) to an obvious if zero-sum psychological imperative (blow up humans of enemy tribe) to something quite abstract and generic (computational device capable of running any of 1.4 billion pieces of software as needed) to something that seems completely arbitrary (travel across the desert on land at 1000 mph). Goals are not rational or irrational, they just are; only the belief that achieving a given subgoal will help fulfill a supergoal is irrational. Humans will cheerfully design and build just about anything that someone with power is willing to trade (pay) for. It's true that the universe has an objective filter for goals in the sense that entites that don't value survival or reproduction don't persist over the long term, but that's still not an 'objective good' in the (bogus) philosophical sense.

2) Optionally, there are features optimised for psychological acceptance. This is a major factor for consumer purchases, particularly fashion/wealth statements or impulse buys, and a smaller (although still present) factor for military and industrial products. The target psychology may be irrational in the sense of not being fully aligned with or adaptive for the actual purpose of the product, but the process of optimising a product for a market demand is quite rational and systematic in a mature industry.

3) Then there is the bulk of the design work going into the internals of the product and its production process, which is quite rational and optimised for some combination of maximum performance (along various dimensions), minimum cost, maximum reliability. In competitive socities this optimisation is usually quite effective up to the limits of technology and design methodology available in the region. A sports car has an arbitrary goal (make the owner feel good and look rich) with substantial aesthetic optimisation (that doesn't contribute to performance metrics) underpinned by a massive amount of mostly hidden, more or less completely rational mechanical and production process engineering; the later is shared with other products that are more utiliatrian, e.g. cargo trucks.

Cybernetics, artificial intelligences, uploads etc would be the product of cognitive engineering, with support from software engineering and hardware design. Obviously this is a nascent field but there's no reason to expect it to turn out any different from other fields (well actually there are, to do with runaway self-improvement aka 'takeoff' and the extreme counter-intuitiveness of the domain, but that's kind of orthogonal to this argument so let's ignore it for now). For uploads specifically people may start from a position of 'must (appear to) work exactly like a human brain' but competitive pressures will quickly soften this position; for AI the starting position is already 'as effective i.e. rational as possible at executing these specific arbitrary (human-assigned) tasks given cost and technical constraints'. The result is a convergence on more rational and intelligent behaviour over time, because that's what rational actually means: using the most effective and efficient methods available, which means maths, science, probability theory etc because that is (again by definition) the best model of how the actual universe works. Remember though 'more rational' only covers means, not ends: this is where the 'paperclip replicator catastrophe' thought experiment comes from. There may well be a population of superintelligent entities doing completely bizarre, contradictory and competing things: but they will tend to do them in rational ways, because both engineering effort and competitive pressures will push them that way. The only reason we see a relatively high amount of irrationality in humans is because we're so new (in evolutionary terms, a buggy early alpha just made available on Steam early access) and because the structure of the brain is inefficient at symbolic operations. Taken in an original hunter-gatherer context, humans are actually quite rational, it's just that this used a lot of baked-in optimisations that don't scale to modern society, and evolution hasn't had time to adjust yet.

An interesting collorary of this is that competing superintelligences will use adversarial cognitive & cultural engineering wherever possible. You touched on this in your later post but glossed it up with a lot of unnecessary Lovecraftian reality-bending stuff; not that that isn't fun in a different context, but there's plenty of that in fiction already. Large-scale weaponised memetics in (realistic/hard sci-fi) socities that have mature, advanced cognitive engineering is a largely untapped vein.

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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2019-04-15 09:23am

Starglider wrote:
2019-04-15 05:56am
An interesting collorary of this is that competing superintelligences will use adversarial cognitive & cultural engineering wherever possible.
What if these competing superintelligences developed such thorough counter-cognocultural memetics that when they threw these at each other, the offensive capabilities surpassed whatever defenses they had so the result is we've got these post-singularity societies living in the wastelands of Mutually Assured... Reality Destruction? Post-modern, post-real warfare with irradiated information.

Or what if like to defend against information-warping weapons these superintelligences and the populations they safeguard have to be hardened in external coatings of incomprehensibility, multiple layers of reality, so whatever information warping is inflicted on them, their virtually and physically maddening exteriors will absorb it like buffers, like crumple zones. The more the bizarre-realities get bombarded by mindbending munitions, ironically the less-bizarre and more normal and rational they get, until when all defenses are eroded there lies the actual "normal" reality which will then be permanently mutilated and misshapen!
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Re: Do resource crises and conflicts in advanced sci fi settings make sense?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2019-04-17 05:19am

Guys. *laughs* This was written by Lem, „Futurology Congress“.
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