Uplifts: The Long Path?

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Uplifts: The Long Path?

Reading through Panopticon and the history of uplift projects as done by transhumanity, the methods used struck me as (and are admitted to be) an easy way around the problem. Brute force, a shortcut.

One concept I love out of the premise of Uplifts is the idea of the ‘alien at home’ - these creatures we aknowledge as earth-born kin, but really know diddly squat about.

‘Do cetaceans have language and culture? What is it like?’, ‘What values would a non-human earthling have?’ and similar ideas could easily be played with - and are in other fictions like the Uplift novels.

Basically I’m wondering what kind of concepts, memes and ideas might come out of an Uplift project that decided to try cultivating Uplift along the ‘long path’ - deliberately cultivating existing intelligence to establish shared language/learning paths and understanding - rather than using the ‘brute force’ methods transhumanity resorted to pre-fall.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Blobfish are people too.

There's a fundamental problem with this sort of thinking - namely that any research or observations are implicitly built around the only existent example of we know - Ours.
If we observe a species, then we will primarily note cultural/intellectual elements which resemble current human thought, and any attempts to cultivate those elements will implicitly increase their similarity to human standard.

Even beyond that, we have to realize that any meaningful interaction or integration between Species will by necessity involve the constraint of modes of behavior to accommodate the subjects' sensibilities; to take an extreme example, we won't accept sexual assault as commonplace even if the other species considers it normal, or even requires it due to physiological constraints such as with some insects.
The really funny thing is that at the end, culture doesn't depend on species - being a (Trans)Human in no way requires being a Homo Sapiens.

Don't get me wrong, this is a fascinating theme and I hope more people add their thoughts.
It's just difficult

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:It's

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
It's just difficult

Granted, although the general idea being “You write what you know”, in this case we know the uplifts in question are raised to human-like levels of intelligence and comprehension. The major factors of the unknown would most likely be in things that are currently only theorized - and with those we, as writers, could simply take the concepts we like the most, or make the most sense, and take them to the logical (or illogical) conclusions and apply them to the setting.

Mechanically this might be as simple as a difference in how a ‘humanized/short path’ uplift approaches a situation as compared to a ‘natural/long path’ uplift.

As an example: A humanized uplift would approach situations of violence or confrontation in the same way as a regular person, while a natural uplift might approach situations of violence differently.

Like you mention, certain interpersonal behaviours would be viewed differently, and probably be considered objectionable (in the extreme with some examples), and having to learn to deal with that would be fertile grounds for character hooks and plot elements.

It’d also be fun to emphasize certain aspects of background lore: How do natural uplifts run a hypercorp, as compared to humans? How does a mercurial group behave with only humanized uplift members? How would a natural uplift in charge of a cartel settle a score compared to their human, or humanized counterpart?

Playing with the end result would be most of the fun - other amusing ways to play with these scenarios would be the process. How a certain species was uplifted could be just as formative of the end result as the species themselves (take for example the TITAN uplifted mantis shrimp from Zone Stalkers).

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Plus the Backlash to Uplift-culture

And, while this might be a pretty human thing to do, once people see just enough uplift behavior to form stereotypes, you might start to see some uplifts specifically trying to avoid doing "the animal thing" to try be taken more seriously by humans.

A slight smell of ions....

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
o11o1 wrote:And, while this

o11o1 wrote:
And, while this might be a pretty human thing to do, once people see just enough uplift behavior to form stereotypes, you might start to see some uplifts specifically trying to avoid doing "the animal thing" to try be taken more seriously by humans.

A distinct possibility. Other groups might simply decide they're doing nothing wrong, and not see the point to forcing themselves into a mold that doesn't fit, nor suits their prerogatives. The 'culture shock' from either side in such scenarios would be amusing to see in practice - even if only as background fluff.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Explain 'blue' to a fish that never had eyes...

To build on o11o1's post, a decent part of Uplift behaviour isn't going to be based on their physiology, but on how the subjects interpret Homo Sapiens' assumptions on animalistic behaviour.
As an example, you see independent Avian Uplifts assuming names based taxonomy or mythology around avians... because that's what the overarching culture tells them is appropriate.

I’ve found the most comfortable way of representing Uplift psychology are by focusing on their original environment rather than specific species traits; framing things in terms of water currents, air flows or how schools of fish move can provide subtle differences in how activities are presented, and thematically are probably the artefacts you’d most expect to find because they’re hard-wired into their Perception of the world.

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
Mechanically this might be as simple as a difference in how a ‘humanized/short path’ uplift approaches a situation as compared to a ‘natural/long path’ uplift.

A ‘natural’ Uplift may act differently to an h-Sapian, but probably not that differently to a brute-force Uplift. Quick disclaimer: This my well sound argumentative and/or stupid to begin with. Run with it, I have a point.

Asking how an Uplift would run a Hypercorp already assumes quite a lot about intelligence and psychology (the ability to comprehend finance, economic institutions, acceptance and intuitive understanding of hierarchical structures, hoarding behaviour, specific limits on social comprehension...) which may be specific to h-Sapians.
Some of these are going to be there but we can't say which ones - as a rule, non-human intelligences are going to (sometimes) act in ways that humans consider stupid, insane or just plain incomprehensible.

The flipside is that when a species is Uplifted those monitoring the process are going to select for those individuals/groups which DO NOT display this behaviour, or in other words they will preferably develop those manners of thinking which come closest to Human standards.

The main differences between a natural uplift and a brute-force uplift are going to be physiological, as the morph alters to better accommodate new requirements.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?