The Argonauts

59 posts / 0 new
Last post
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
The Argonauts

A fork from the Rimwards thread, about filling out the Argonauts:

The Doctor wrote:

It seems that rather a lot of us who happen to identify to some extent with the Argonauts might have some working knowledge of how they might go about things. It would be intersting for us to fork() off a separate discussion thread and write our own, that could eventually be collected into a netbook. This has already been done for parts of Mars, so why not a political faction?

To get us started, here are some relevant canon:

Argonauts: A faction of techno-progressive scientists that promote responsible and ethical use of technology. (p. 25)

"Even numerous scientists and engineers, who had previously worked as pawns in corporate expansions, adopted a technoprogressive stance. That’s how the argonauts were born, you know, taking their name from a previous group of scientists who advised the US government and Pentagon on science and policy called the Jasons. Faced with reprisals from their corporate masters, a number of argonauts defected from the hypercorps, in some cases taking key resources and research with them, while others went underground." (p.33) (BF 40-20)

"ARGONAUTS
Memes: Open Source Society, Information Freedom, Social Responsibility, Techno-Progressivism

Main Stations: Mitre Station (Lunar Orbit), Markov (Kuiper Belt), Hooverman-Geischecker (Sun)

The group calling themselves argonauts is a public organization advocating the socially responsible use of technology. The group chose its name from the pre-Fall Jasons, an advisory group that consulted for the US government on matters of scientific and technological progress and its possible dangers. The argonauts likewise offer consultation services to political and economic powers throughout the solar system, but strictly refuse to be drawn into the solar system’s political affairs in any way. Despite a pre-Fall break with many hypercorps before the Fall, which in some cases included expropriating corporate data and resources, the argonauts re-earned favor by providing their expertise in combating the TITANs to all during the Fall.

The argonauts are strong proponents of the open source movement, advocating open access to technology and information. In their view, providing equal access to transhumanity’s knowledge and achievements will further transhuman growth and security, so that all of transhumanity is more prepared for future threats and challenges. Thus the argonauts often insist that payment for their services come in the way of releasing otherwise unobtainable information— hypercorp proprietary secrets, research data, nanofab blueprints, hidden pre-Fall archives, etc.—to the public mesh. The argonauts maintain several open databases and archives for this speci c purpose.

While primarily an open organization, the argonauts are rumored to ultimately report to an elite inner circle. Supporting this theory is the existence of the medeans, the organization’s clandestine paramilitary wing, performing bodyguard services to high level argonauts and protecting the group’s assets." (p. 79)

I have left out the descriptions of their stations.

Some notes:

The argonauts of myth were not just the companion to Jason, but also the great Greek-myth crossover: every hero was there - Atalanta, Augeas, Autolycus, Castor and Pollux, Cepheus, Hercules, Nestor, Perseus, Theseus... The Jason group was indeed named after Jason himself. Why the link to the advisory group? What did it do that so strongly impressed the argonauts? The squabble with DARPA hardly counts.

The defections BF 40 and onwards are clearly an important part of the formation of the Argonauts and predates the anarchist/scum defections by decades. These were the guys who partially showed how it could be done.

The organisation needs a great deal of funding: where is it coming from? Licensing, consulting and bartering seems unlikely to reach the necessary level.

The culture sounds like it is a radicalised form of the scientific community. Science as a lifestyle and ideology and not just a calling. But are argonaut stations 100% argonaut (including argonaut street sweepers), or are they like universities or companies where the argonauts work on the core stuff and then hire people to support it?

The argonauts are obviously security and resiliency conscious, given their many enemies. Did they get this good due to hard lessons (in which case we should expect a lot of the defections in BF 40 to have failed) or did they start out with secret coordination and allies? In that case, who?

Extropian

Unity Unity's picture
They also seem to maintain a

They also seem to maintain a strong presence on Ilmarinen, so noteworthy.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
I think, most Argonaut owned

I think, most Argonaut owned stations act like a university campus. The important and interesting stuff is done by the Argonauts themselves while maintenance and other services are either done by non-academic argonauts (transhumans without knowledge of higher learning), 100% AI controlled (most likely) or are hired helpers.
Movement is heavily regulated, someone who is responsible of directing the cleaning drones can't enter the lab areas without the consent and/or escort of someone who actually has the clearance.
I believe that most of them are very trusting when it comes to technology. Moreso than other transhumans. I imagine here some parts of the Arankian psychology from the novel Spectrum: They "blindly" trust their technology, because it either is quite reliable or has dozens of failsafes. Its not so much blind faith but simple confidence.

As for a governmental body (if there is any), i think a meritocracy would be the one that made the most sense. The guy with the most Dr.'s before his names is the boss.

crizh crizh's picture
Singularity Foundation

I wonder how other people feel about the level of involvement the Argonauts had with the Singularity Foundation and the creation and subsequent concealment of the Prometheans?

The similar mythological naming themes are suggestive.

What awareness of or involvement do they have with Firewall? The JASONS are founder members of Firewall as are the Singularity Foundation.

Is Markov where the Prometheans were born? What else do the Argonauts have hidden in the Outer System?

All questions and ideas I have for my own version of the Argonauts. I was looking forward to Rimward to see how many of my guesses were right.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:The

Arenamontanus wrote:
The argonauts of myth were not just the companion to Jason, but also the great Greek-myth crossover: every hero was there - Atalanta, Augeas, Autolycus, Castor and Pollux, Cepheus, Hercules, Nestor, Perseus, Theseus... The Jason group was indeed named after Jason himself. Why the link to the advisory group? What did it do that so strongly impressed the argonauts? The squabble with DARPA hardly counts.

From what I read in the history section on Firewall, it seems that many members of JASON formed the basis for the Argonauts. This may also be the source of its name—it perhaps considered itself, at formation, the autonomous counterpart to the government-funded JASON.

Arenamontanus wrote:
The defections BF 40 and onwards are clearly an important part of the formation of the Argonauts and predates the anarchist/scum defections by decades. These were the guys who partially showed how it could be done.

It's even possible that the Argonauts actually supported and aided the spread of groups fleeing the hypercorporate social structure that was forming around Earth and the inner system. If that were the case, they would be the guys who mostly, if not totally, showed how it could be done.

Arenamontanus wrote:
The organisation needs a great deal of funding: where is it coming from? Licensing, consulting and bartering seems unlikely to reach the necessary level.

The culture sounds like it is a radicalised form of the scientific community. Science as a lifestyle and ideology and not just a calling. But are argonaut stations 100% argonaut (including argonaut street sweepers), or are they like universities or companies where the argonauts work on the core stuff and then hire people to support it?

The argonauts are obviously security and resiliency conscious, given their many enemies. Did they get this good due to hard lessons (in which case we should expect a lot of the defections in BF 40 to have failed) or did they start out with secret coordination and allies? In that case, who?

Are we talking pre-Fall or post-Fall? Pre-Fall, the Argonauts likely garnered a lot of resources and support from various educational institutions, scientific organizations, and political groups that espoused similar principles of scientific transparency. Post-fall, I agree that a large amount of their backing probably comes from licensing and think-tank work. But I imagine that hypercorps who wish to maintain secrecy with regards to research are reticent to work with the Argonauts… they know that any research and tech disclosed to an Argonaut is likely to hit their databanks at some point, and get distributed from there to everyone in the outer system.

Argonaut-exclusive installations seem to be fairly rare, with only two being detailed in the books so far. My guess is that the majority of their existence is alongside other groups, as can be seen on Ilmarinen or Hooverman-Geischecker. The only hab that probably has exclusive Argonaut presence is Markov, as it is the location for their central backup server and most important faction-exclusive information (it might also be a key datastore for Firewall). Mitre seems to allow visitors from outside the organization, and might even contract services from inner system hypercorps for maintenance services (and to keep up public appearances).

Lastly, I think that secrecy is ingrained into the Argonaut culture. Since many scientists who were founding members of the group came from JASON, they understand the basic protocols of security clearance. Furthermore, the Argonauts seem to have a military branch known as the Medeans (Rimward, pg 140). That informs me that they have known, at least for a while, that they must have at least a degree of distrust for the political players around them.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Unity Unity's picture
Does anyone else find it

Does anyone else find it hilarious that it's called the Medeans, given how the Medea x Jason relationship ended up?

Decivre Decivre's picture
Unity wrote:Does anyone else

Unity wrote:
Does anyone else find it hilarious that it's called the Medeans, given how the Medea x Jason relationship ended up?

I think it's beautifully apt, but only in reference to the earlier parts of the mythos.

The later parts could be symbolic for what will happen between the Medeans and Argonauts, however.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
In my mind the Argonauts are

In my mind the Argonauts are a faction that only exist in a fractured state, cells, cabals, research groups make the most sense. And those factions, like all autonomist factions are bound only by a loose group of values, as supported by the book itself (see the main post).

That means that you are going to get groups of Argonauts who are more or less cliquey, who have rivalries and professional jealousies, and who may be willing to trade knowledge for easy favours (see Ilmarinen in Rimward and the 'Azure Sun' research group).

To that extent I think it is safe to say that the Argonauts are savvy enough to understand and see the use of the community and the rep system. It's well established in Rimward and Sunward that the Argonauts aren't afraid of breaking Planetary Consortium laws in order to spread information as part of their social agenda. And since we know that they have a paramilitary branch that like all autonomist factions, is voluntary, we should assume that not all Argonauts are 'egg-heads' but some might be down and out hackers, spies, mercenaries who believe specific parts of the Argonaut's core values.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:The

Arenamontanus wrote:
The argonauts of myth were not just the companion to Jason, but also the great Greek-myth crossover: every hero was there - Atalanta, Augeas, Autolycus, Castor and Pollux, Cepheus, Hercules, Nestor, Perseus, Theseus... The Jason group was indeed named after Jason himself. Why the link to the advisory group? What did it do that so strongly impressed the argonauts? The squabble with DARPA hardly counts.

The recognised history of the real-life JASONs has it that the wife of one of the founders suggested it instead of the intended name for the project (Project Sunrise) because it was more interesting to have a mythological reference in the name. Suggesting more interesting names for projects is a tradition that continues to this day inside the Beltway.

Arenamontanus wrote:
The defections BF 40 and onwards are clearly an important part of the formation of the Argonauts and predates the anarchist/scum defections by decades. These were the guys who partially showed how it could be done.

I had always thought that it was due, in part, to the EP-era incarnation of the JASONs getting tired of the bureaucracy and being handed orders that interfered with their intended tasks ("What do you mean, we can't replace the member who died before she could be uploaded? Do you want this done or not?!") It might also be that some of the members wanted to continue their (benevolent) research projects after being order to switch gears.

It might also be that, by the time of EP many of the members of the JASONs had experience with the F/OSS and/or open culture communities during their formative years and carried those memes with them. When the Argonauts finally coalesced into a group those memes spread among the members, and when it came time to rebuild after the Fall open source technologies (supported by peer review of source code and designs) made perfect sense. Disseminating F/OSS source code and blue-/greyprints for technologies would be an ideal way of getting vital technologies (general purpose nanoassemblers, life support systems, hardened firmware (think OpenBSD meets OpenWRT), and designs for drones to provide additional entity-power and mechanical advantage). When your habitat is hanging on by a thread and someone picks up the greyprints for a photovoltaic power generation system off of the show notes of "The Open Infrastructure Hour" on Radio Argosy, and when built they take the load off of other systems on board the habitat, it might just save lives.

Arenamontanus wrote:
The organisation needs a great deal of funding: where is it coming from? Licensing, consulting and bartering seems unlikely to reach the necessary level.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. When you control the station you are based out of, you can pretty much make the rules, and if the rules are "We work as a collective for the betterment of Transhumanity" that sort of sets the tone. I get the impression that many members of the Argonauts are not opposed to doing consulting work for whomever will pay them (hypercorps being given to hiring contractors for development sprints at least, single projects at most), and that fairly well-to-do Argonauts tithe a certain amount of their salaries to MITRE as funding (sort of like how the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project are funded largely by donations and dues paying members). Also, there are companies that develop and release F/OSS software but charge for different levels of setup and support on a per-contract basis (like Redhat). It is also possible to develop and publish open source hardware and turn a profit off of selling specific implementations thereof (vis a vis, the Arduino).

Arenamontanus wrote:
The culture sounds like it is a radicalised form of the scientific community. Science as a lifestyle and ideology and not just a calling. But are argonaut stations 100% argonaut (including argonaut street sweepers), or are they like universities or companies where the argonauts work on the core stuff and then hire people to support it?

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the station.

It might be that some Argonaut habitats are run like hackerspaces: Everyone has their projects, does their thing(s), and collaborate with one another, but everyone also has to contribute a certain amount of time to the space/habitat so that everyone can continue to operate efficiently. To give a real world example, at HacDC all of us pitch in to clean, restock supplies, clean the bathrooms, sweep the floor, buy soda and snacks for the kitchen, and so forth. So, lets us move this a few thousand years into the future (season to taste) for Eclipse Phase on the habitat Lab-23, in orbit around Luna. I will gloss over some things to make room for people to contribute as they will.

Lab-23 is organized loosely along lines that we would consider a hackerspace; its population numbers approximately one hundred transhumans (including a dozen AGIs living and working in the habitat's mesh network). Constructed from a salvaged and repurposed heavy cargo hauler it was retrofitted into a combination living complex and reconfigurable laboratory/manufactory as an experiment in 4 AF. One of the first big projects (which netted the founders a considerable amount of @- and r-rep) was a fabber which, given the proper feedstock, mass produced general-purpose environment management drones that could be programmed with basic directives for maintenance (peform basic cleaning duties, monitor hull integrity, sample atmospheric composition sixty times a minute, gather refuse from the manufactory, deliver everything picked up to the dissembler bins for recycling). All of the designs were published under a Free Implementation v7.7 license, meaning that anyone could use the software and greyprints to outfit their ship or habitat, and they were free to manufacture the equipment on a for-profit basis so long as modifications were contributed back to the community under the same license, and users were required to publish detailed reviews of the technology and credit the manufacturer (ensuring a steady stream of rep all the way up the chain).

The economy aboard the habitat is largely reputation-based, though the members/residents take consulting jobs periodically in the LLA and pay dues in the form of credits and equipment to the habitat's escrow accounts (which are earmarked for use by the habitat only) and warehouse for the maintenance and upkeep of all of its systems. Due to the habitat's position favors and reputation are not always sufficient for dealing with outside parties, hence, dues. All members are required to participate in the maintenance and upkeep of the habitat, though development of technologies which automate tasks is, of course encouraged.

Arenamontanus wrote:
The argonauts are obviously security and resiliency conscious, given their many enemies. Did they get this good due to hard lessons (in which case we should expect a lot of the defections in BF 40 to have failed) or did they start out with secret coordination and allies? In that case, who?

It seems likely that some of the Argonauts are information security specialists, and may have worked in that capacity before and during the Fall. Their focus on practical technology suggests that analyis and modeling of threats toward the end of increasing security posture and resilience became a key part of their operation because it helped save lives. MITRE was in a unique position to observe the Fall and transmit the observations and analyses of the Argonauts to the rest of transhumanity in the hope of giving everyone a better chance at survival. It would not surprise that there were Argonauts who kept their interests and affiliation private (it is nobody's business that you are a member of a trade group or hackerspace if you do not want to make it known) until it became necessary to do so.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
GreyBrother wrote:I think,

GreyBrother wrote:
I think, most Argonaut owned stations act like a university campus. The important and interesting stuff is done by the Argonauts themselves while maintenance and other services are either done by non-academic argonauts (transhumans without knowledge of higher learning), 100% AI controlled (most likely) or are hired helpers.

It may also be that some factions of the Argonauts function more like a guild or a skillshare. They are willing to teach only so long as the student is willing to contribute something back to the body of knowledge. Alternatively, apprentice Argonauts may be required to perform maintenance or other upkeep as payment for attending Argonaut skillshares and classes.

GreyBrother wrote:
Movement is heavily regulated, someone who is responsible of directing the cleaning drones can't enter the lab areas without the consent and/or escort of someone who actually has the clearance.

Or they are required to use specific VPNs which are heavily monitored (perhaps by an AGI on sysadmin duty that week) which are connected to infrastructure-related equipment.

GreyBrother wrote:
I believe that most of them are very trusting when it comes to technology. Moreso than other transhumans. I imagine here some parts of the Arankian psychology from the novel Spectrum: They "blindly" trust their technology, because it either is quite reliable or has dozens of failsafes. Its not so much blind faith but simple confidence.

Perhaps they build it so that it is trustworthy. Lessons were learned from the Fall, and they strive to make technology friendly as well as safe to users once again.

GreyBrother wrote:
As for a governmental body (if there is any), i think a meritocracy would be the one that made the most sense. The guy with the most Dr.'s before his names is the boss.

Or whoever has the most commits in source code repositories. Or fixed the most bugs. Or spearheaded an open source project which went viral in the solar system.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
crizh wrote:I wonder how

crizh wrote:
I wonder how other people feel about the level of involvement the Argonauts had with the Singularity Foundation and the creation and subsequent concealment of the Prometheans?

It might depend on how many people remember the Foundation, and whether or not they take pains to conceal these links to avoid retribution (deserved or otherwise).

crizh wrote:
The similar mythological naming themes are suggestive.

Or perhaps it was a joke.

crizh wrote:
What awareness of or involvement do they have with Firewall? The JASONS are founder members of Firewall as are the Singularity Foundation.

Statistically speaking, some Argonauts have to be involved with Firewall in some capacity (knowing or otherwise).

crizh wrote:
Is Markov where the Prometheans were born? What else do the Argonauts have hidden in the Outer System?

What might they have hidden in asteroids they took over?

crizh wrote:
All questions and ideas I have for my own version of the Argonauts. I was looking forward to Rimward to see how many of my guesses were right.

As are mine (which shows my prejudices pretty openly, I must admit, but there is always room for other interpretations).



Thampsan Thampsan's picture
Argonaut Clique; The Plasmatiques Group

I submit a few of my current Argonaut cliques.

The Plasmatiques Group


Location: The Hooverman-Geischeck Habitat (Sol), The Infantile Expression of Glee (Argonaut Inner System Vessel traversing Venus-Mercury), Meat Wagon (Scum Barge that travels between the main belt and Earth)
Description: The Plasmatiques Group are a group of French and French-Canadian pre-fall fusion researchers who have strong Scum ties and very strong Franco-cultural leanings. Obsessed by the field of high-energy physics the group draws a lot of it's recruits from anarchist scientist and potentials as well as seeking out pre-fall researchers who have yet to be re-instantiated.

The clique is known among the Argonauts as embracing Scum philosophies on radical bodily alterations. Indeed some some members wear the heads of animals, or existing in super-sized synth bodies in gestalt configurations, still others shun gender entirely. Most members of the group fork on a regular basis which pads out the numbers, and a lot of the prominent members maintain forks aboard other stations that are kept updated on events elsewhere on a regular basis.

While a great deal of the publicly available research performed by this group pertains to solar phenomenon, high yield fissile material and other power sources, privately they provide enhanced beam weapon technology to those with the rep to afford it. They make very little secret that they hav dabbled with TITAN tech found in orbit around Earth (and procured from their Scum allies aboard the Meat Wagon) and have a very casual ethic about quarantine - outside of their safe-haven aboard the Hooverman-Geischeck Habitat.
Notable Members:

  • Magnificent Cinnamon, programmer and computer software engineer who shuns physical bodies and avoids gender altogether. Zer audio presence on the mesh is that of a carefully modulated hiss of wind, and zie uses an avatar of golden motes and the powerful scent of cinnamon. It is rumoured that zie was responsible for unshackling the ackles of 12345 an AGI electronic warfare program.
  • 12345, a genderless AGI program from the defunct Brand Corporation who specialised in Hab electronic security. Though it does not consider itself a part of the Argonauts it recognises the debt of uplift and has made it's home among the small Mercurial population upon Meat Wagon where it maintains their electronic warfare suite.
  • Paul-Henri Maquell, a prominent French physicist pre-fall who forsakes gendered bodies for a love of hermaphrodites morphs. Considered one of the primary liaisons with the Scum of the Earth-Main Belt region, very outspoken about bio-conservatives and gutless paranoiacs who ban a return to Earth.
  • Gerard LeFeur & Marie Bonnsange, inhabit a cumbersome synth-body self designed as an experiment mobile server unit. The pair monitor and share control of the body but spend as much time with forks in their personal sim-spaces that provides their mobile laboratories and recreational facilities.
  • Leon-Franck Kleitmann, weapon designer and engineer, if you've ever bought a Plasmatiques weapon then it was likely of a blueprint designed by him. Notable for being the most comfortable with gender, he has a penchant for wearing bodies with strong leonine features, including head, mane and claws. His bodies are specially designed by the eccentric Scum researcher who calls herself Ms Blue and are often overly large to accommodate for the human brain in the otherwise cramped confines of the feline skull. A driving factor behind the groups ties to the Medean movement.
  • Ms Blue, also not an Argonaut but with strong R-rep, this productive member of the Scum barge Meat Wagon maintains the crew's supply of organic bodies, in return for bodies the inhabitants must be willing to try various new bodily tweaks and engineered enhancements - not all of which are successful. Striving for bodily immortality Ms Blue own biomorph bodies have many lacertilian features including finely scaled skin and odd hues.
  • Pierre Bataille, a schizophrenic infomorph hacker and spiritualist with more than a passing interest in self-death and transcendence.

Special Equipment:
All Plasmatique specialty weapons are limited to those with the R or @ rep to obtain and by default are bound to the mesh ID of those purchasing as a safety measure. Via command prompt by owner or upon tampering by non-registered ID key components are designed to break down to prevent misuse by non registered parties.

  • Enhanced Particle Beam Bolters; all Institute ePBB are manufactured as dual-mode with a limited sensor suite to enable automatic or manual toggling between atmospheric and vacuum modes. Further tweaks are give the weapon AP 5 instead of 2 but reduce ammo capacity to 35 instead of 50. Weapon otherwise functions as per standard PBB (pg. 339 EP Core).
  • Enhanced Plasma Rifle; Institute developed EPR have enhanced efficiency allowing the weapon to maintain the same level of power but at a lower cost, increase clip size to 20. All EPR are designed to be more sleek and ergonomic to most morphs.
  • High Efficiency Stunner; no longer do 1d10/2 DV, but instead 1d10 DV plus usual effects. Reduce clip size from 200 to 50.

[edit] Finished editing and entering details. Comments appreciated, may take this to another thread if this thread continues to focus less on the in-game samples and more on the meta commentary.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
The Doctor wrote:GreyBrother

The Doctor wrote:
GreyBrother wrote:
As for a governmental body (if there is any), i think a meritocracy would be the one that made the most sense. The guy with the most Dr.'s before his names is the boss.

Or whoever has the most commits in source code repositories. Or fixed the most bugs. Or spearheaded an open source project which went viral in the solar system.

One thing academics tend to discover the hard way is that being a brilliant, productive researcher does not mean that you are good as a manager: those traits are uncorrelated. This means that giving the say to the best coder or most highly cited researcher is likely going to backfire.

Of course, the *other* thing about management that academics tend to discover is that having a non-scientist or somebody from the wrong field lead the work tends to fail too: they don't understand what needs to be done or interfere unnecessarily.

For this reason I think that a r-rep based structure of leadership is not going to work well. I also think that the argonauts are not anarchists: they predate the anarchist post-Fall flourishing. That said, they are hardly hierarchical conservatives either (then they would never have broken away). So what I think is going on is that they prefer fairly informal leadership, probably with as much consensus as possible (shades here of the Commonwealth, which I think borrowed heavily from them), but with elected or hired managers who are supposed to provide leadership. A bit like the democratic corporations in Bruce Sterlings "Islands in the Net", or maybe a direct democracy co-op.

Extropian

crizh crizh's picture
Cock-ups

I also wonder how many abandoned screw-ups the Argonauts may have left lying around the Outer System?

With forty years to conduct nearly totally unfettered research on the rim some percentage of groups must have travelled carelessly down paths best left alone. What mistakes did they make? How high was the mortality rate amongst the earliest Argonauts? How many experienced permanent death in the two decades before uploading became available? What sort of uploading research did they do and what sort of cock-ups did that generate?

With so much time there's thousands of potential mini-Falls they might have had in localised environments. Perhaps they are even using Firewall to gradually clean up some of the mess they have left behind.

I wonder also if perhaps, based on these experiences, the Prometheans might have predicted the TITANS or even the ETI and made contingency plans that resulted in that suspiciously well timed return to grace.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

crizh crizh's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:

Arenamontanus wrote:

One thing academics tend to discover the hard way is that being a brilliant, productive researcher does not mean that you are good as a manager: those traits are uncorrelated. This means that giving the say to the best coder or most highly cited researcher is likely going to backfire.

Of course, the *other* thing about management that academics tend to discover is that having a non-scientist or somebody from the wrong field lead the work tends to fail too: they don't understand what needs to be done or interfere unnecessarily.

You know if I were one of those academics and I recognised these failings in myself and my peers I'd be coding and grooming an AGI that didn't have them. Expert systems that were able to manage groups of nutters effectively.

I'd be looking to engineer my way out of the problem.

Something I've recently started to realize is that the speed of technological progress is directly proportional to the effectiveness of scientific public relations. Galileo is a great example of someone that might have benefited from being able to interact with the non-scientific community in a way that headed of the pitchforks....

Richard Dawkins, for all that I love him and agree with him, sure knows how not to win friends and influence people.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
crizh wrote:You know if I

crizh wrote:
You know if I were one of those academics and I recognised these failings in myself and my peers I'd be coding and grooming an AGI that didn't have them. Expert systems that were able to manage groups of nutters effectively.

I'd be looking to engineer my way out of the problem.

As if that was an easy solution...

(Hmm, a mini-Fall occurring at an Argonaut lab where somebody tried this and got an early seed AGI going, that is now trying to run things to maximize the amount of Science that can be done... sounds vaguely familiar, actually. )

Quote:
Something I've recently started to realize is that the speed of technological progress is directly proportional to the effectiveness of scientific public relations. Galileo is a great example of someone that might have benefited from being able to interact with the non-scientific community in a way that headed of the pitchforks....

Not so much pitchforks as being a player in a game of theological politics: the general public had no clue what he was doing. Remember that he was friend with the Pope, but unfortunately the wrong Pope.

I think there is some truth to that science tends to progress well when the public supports it, but this might just be an obvious effect of more resources and potential recruits being available. In an elite society where the wealth is condensed to a few people, there science might progress best if it convinces one of them to support it. But I suspect the number of minds working on problems matter: there needs to be a culture of science and investigation besides funding.

Extropian

crizh crizh's picture
HAL

Can you imagine the madness of a HAL type incident where an AGI with access to Ego-bridges and Psychotherapeutic simulspaces decided these scientists weren't working quickly enough?

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
crizh wrote:I'd be looking to

crizh wrote:
I'd be looking to engineer my way out of the problem.

Herding Cats 3.4
?
Anarhista Anarhista's picture
Hybrid system

crizh wrote:

You know if I were one of those academics and I recognised these failings in myself and my peers I'd be coding and grooming an AGI that didn't have them. Expert systems that were able to manage groups of nutters effectively.

I'd be looking to engineer my way out of the problem.

Giving up all control seems... bad, but what about muse like approach? Expert systems learn while working, suggest changes & manage boring non fluctuating parts while designated people (duty rooster, elections...?) tweak and control what AI/Expert system can't handle good enough.

crizh wrote:

Something I've recently started to realize is that the speed of technological progress is directly proportional to the effectiveness of scientific public relations. Galileo is a great example of someone that might have benefited from being able to interact with the non-scientific community in a way that headed of the pitchforks....

Richard Dawkins, for all that I love him and agree with him, sure knows how not to win friends and influence people.

We are human after all, and some of us failed to develop social skills so why wouldn't Argonauts use professional PR for that problem... Oh wait, they are... my bad ;)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Decivre wrote:Furthermore,

Decivre wrote:
Furthermore, the Argonauts seem to have a military branch known as the Medeans (Rimward, pg 140). That informs me that they have known, at least for a while, that they must have at least a degree of distrust for the political players around them.

I do not think that follows, for this reason: The roots of the Argonauts (the JASONs) were specificallly formed to study what we would call x-risks, beginning with the threat of thermonuclear war and later branching out into other potential forms of mass destruction. It seems reasonable to say that the Medeans are more heavily involved with threat modeling, analysis, and development of countermeasures to what the universe of EP considers x-risks (grey goo, the TITANs, insurgencies equipped with general purpose nanofabrication, et al).



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Thampsan wrote:In my mind the

Thampsan wrote:
In my mind the Argonauts are a faction that only exist in a fractured state, cells, cabals, research groups make the most sense. And those factions, like all autonomist factions are bound only by a loose group of values, as supported by the book itself (see the main post).

That fits in both with how research projects (official, skunk works, and otherwise) are organized and operate. That also fits in with the radically decentralized nature of the universe of EP. It also stands to reason that the open source technologies developed and published by the Argonauts would be peer-reviewed by SMEs (subject matter experts) in other Argonaut-aligned cabals.

Thampsan wrote:
That means that you are going to get groups of Argonauts who are more or less cliquey, who have rivalries and professional jealousies, and who may be willing to trade knowledge for easy favours (see Ilmarinen in Rimward and the 'Azure Sun' research group).

Absolutely. That happens in government and at think tanks as well as in academia. It even happens in the F/OSS community (usually as a result of ideology and associated licenses, but professional rivalries are also known). Yay, primate politics.

Thampsan wrote:
To that extent I think it is safe to say that the Argonauts are savvy enough to understand and see the use of the community and the rep system. It's well established in Rimward and Sunward that the Argonauts aren't afraid of breaking Planetary Consortium laws in order to spread information as part of their social agenda. And since we know that they have a paramilitary branch that like all autonomist factions, is voluntary, we should assume that not all Argonauts are 'egg-heads' but some might be down and out hackers, spies, mercenaries who believe specific parts of the Argonaut's core values.

It might be more accurate to say that there are hackers, spies, and mercenaries who are affiliated with the Argonauts in those capacities, and not that the Argonauts as a whole have specific programs or factions dedicated to those tactics. The Argonauts seem to me to be very much a "do-ocracy" (those who do get things done, and hence get the attention and rep, those who don't do anything.. don't do anything), which also lowers the bar to entry: just contribute however you can, but do it well.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:One thing

Arenamontanus wrote:
One thing academics tend to discover the hard way is that being a brilliant, productive researcher does not mean that you are good as a manager: those traits are uncorrelated. This means that giving the say to the best coder or most highly cited researcher is likely going to backfire.

This is entirely true. The skillsets are completely different. However, in Eclipse Phase this may be possible - in my game, at least, the characters are all one or two hundred years old, which accounts for their skill ratings (medium-ish for EP, probably exceedingly high for real life), so characters could conceivably have picked up management experience somewhere along the line.

Arenamontanus wrote:
Of course, the *other* thing about management that academics tend to discover is that having a non-scientist or somebody from the wrong field lead the work tends to fail too: they don't understand what needs to be done or interfere unnecessarily.

This. So much this. So much truth.

Arenamontanus wrote:
For this reason I think that a r-rep based structure of leadership is not going to work well. I also think that the argonauts are not anarchists: they predate the anarchist post-Fall flourishing.

Reputation might influence how seriously suggestions from a particular person are taken - rep means achievement (and experience) to a certain extent. We concur that they are not anarchists; perhaps there are some ad-hocracists in the Argonauts (in fact, I feel certain of this), which would account for the fluidity of Argonaut projects.

Arenamontanus wrote:
That said, they are hardly hierarchical conservatives either (then they would never have broken away). So what I think is going on is that they prefer fairly informal leadership, probably with as much consensus as possible (shades here of the Commonwealth, which I think borrowed heavily from them), but with elected or hired managers who are supposed to provide leadership. A bit like the democratic corporations in Bruce Sterlings "Islands in the Net", or maybe a direct democracy co-op.

Ad-hocracists, possibly. They are certainly a do-ocracy.



crizh crizh's picture
Anarhista wrote:

Anarhista wrote:

Giving up all control seems... bad, but what about muse like approach? Expert systems learn while working, suggest changes & manage boring non fluctuating parts while designated people (duty rooster, elections...?) tweak and control what AI/Expert system can't handle good enough.

Encoding something into Argonaut Muses is an excellent idea. Rather than have a group of AGI diplomats that mediate interactions between individual Argonauts have an AI Nanny in every Argonaut's head constantly massaging their interactions with each other.

The herding cats analogy is great, in this instance all the social, practical effort is taken out of the individual's hands and is managed by their Muses interacting solely with other similar Muses.

It would even be possible to craft this as the genesis of R.N.A. as a private network that was created to allow these Muses to interact that evolved naturally into a reputation network.

I wonder just how quickly the Argonauts developed AI automation of mundane activities? I imagine when they decamped and headed for the rim they had not even considered who was going to take out the garbage. The social infrastructure that they left behind would have been something that they would have been very eager to replace as quickly as possible so that they could devote a greater proportion of their intellects to their passions.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
crizh wrote:I also wonder how

crizh wrote:
I also wonder how many abandoned screw-ups the Argonauts may have left lying around the Outer System?

How many did they halt and clean up before they went out of control?

How many of the lessons they try to teach came from those screw ups?

crizh wrote:
With forty years to conduct nearly totally unfettered research on the rim some percentage of groups must have travelled carelessly down paths best left alone. What mistakes did they make? How high was the mortality rate amongst the earliest Argonauts? How many experienced permanent death in the two decades before uploading became available? What sort of uploading research did they do and what sort of cock-ups did that generate?

All excellent questions.

It seems likely that some projects that went horribly awry (and probably influenced the creation of Firewall to some extent - "We made this mistake, and need to prevent it from happening again") were skunkworks projects - projects done on the QT that were someone's pet projects. There are lots of reasons that a project would be kept quiet apart from the subject matter - employment contracts often have clauses that state that whatever work the person does (regardless of on the job or not) belongs to the company, so using aliases and keeping secrets mitigates that somewhat. They could have gone bad before anyone found out about them, and were put down (as it were) by other members of the project.

Self-improving software is the logical black project. But what about radical data mining algorithms that had the potential to wreck whole markets (or elevate the Panopticon to hostile levels of complexity)? True nanotech-based morphs that were all compromised and abused by the TITANs (or Exsurgent..) during the Fall? Research into directed particle decay? Fabrication of micro-scale wormholes (oops..)? Self-improving counter-malware software that itself had the potential to spin out of control? Automated dynamic code analysis to find and patch vulnerabilities in realtime?

Perhaps some of the nastier mistakes lead to directed research in non-destructive uploading, simply as a way of saving one's skin by having a fork run the final tests.

crizh wrote:
With so much time there's thousands of potential mini-Falls they might have had in localised environments. Perhaps they are even using Firewall to gradually clean up some of the mess they have left behind.

Good call!

crizh wrote:
I wonder also if perhaps, based on these experiences, the Prometheans might have predicted the TITANS or even the ETI and made contingency plans that resulted in that suspiciously well timed return to grace.

Perhaps some of the work that resulted in the creation of the Prometheans came from proto-Argonaut skunkworks projects?



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
GreyBrother wrote:crizh wrote

GreyBrother wrote:
crizh wrote:
I'd be looking to engineer my way out of the problem.

Herding Cats 3.4?

Uh-oh.

:D

In all seriousness, though.. what is serious research was done into gamification of project goals, not only as a way of improving the rate of speed at which work is done, but as a way of managing the researchers? By keeping the researchers focused on their goals and having fun while trying to unlock achievements, they are less likely to let disagreements go out of control. Setting achievement paths which are exclusive to one another would help keep people focused on their tasks (achievements B, C, E, G, and M can only be people who are working on the database code, and must be unlocked in sequence; achievements D, F, J, and K can only be unlocked by people refactoring the UI, and only in sequence).

There is a proof of concept implementation of this, too.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Anarhista wrote:Giving up all

Anarhista wrote:
Giving up all control seems... bad, but what about muse like approach? Expert systems learn while working, suggest changes & manage boring non fluctuating parts while designated people (duty rooster, elections...?) tweak and control what AI/Expert system can't handle good enough.

Muses would be ideal for pair programming, which also generalizes under certain conditions to hardware design, debugging, reverse engineering, and assembly of components.



Decivre Decivre's picture
The Doctor wrote:I do not

The Doctor wrote:
I do not think that follows, for this reason: The roots of the Argonauts (the JASONs) were specificallly formed to study what we would call x-risks, beginning with the threat of thermonuclear war and later branching out into other potential forms of mass destruction. It seems reasonable to say that the Medeans are more heavily involved with threat modeling, analysis, and development of countermeasures to what the universe of EP considers x-risks (grey goo, the TITANs, insurgencies equipped with general purpose nanofabrication, et al).

No, JASON was pieced together in the 60s to encourage younger scientists to help advise the government. That doesn't mean they don't have some eye on x-threats (they were born in the midst of the cold war), but that wasn't their original purpose. They were a general-purpose think-tank advisory group that was to be created with a group of relatively young minds in the scientific community.

Here's a fun collection of all their government reports. They vary widely from long-distance submarine communication to the human genome project, from sonic boom properties to the feasibility of airships.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
I can totally see the

I can totally see the Argonauts as being involved in the development of muses for coordinating and managing research teams, as well as workable r-rep systems. But this is a technology a lot of others would also want to develop: at most argonauts would have pursued a particular style of application.

It is important to remember that argonauts were a minority of the research and engineering community: the vast majority remained where they were, perhaps secretly cheering them on or thinking good riddance. Most of the science and development of the past decades was not done by the argonauts.

However, they might have been important for certain technologies developing like they did. Two techs where I think argonauts were important in influencing the direction were the Mesh and medichines.

The Mesh is kind of obvious: much more useful if you are an ad-hoc society where centralized control is seen as potentially bad, and an easy sell to all sorts of other informal groups. When the big networks fell in the Fall the Mesh architecture won.

Medichines is a bit more of a guess, but I think it makes sense. When you consider just how amazingly powerful and useful they are, you realize that they are the end point of a century of automating medicine. They require not just advanced nanotech but also a deep understanding of medical robotics, automatic diagnosis, AI and safety engineering. Lots of people would be pursuing this, of course. But from a technoprogressive perspective automated medicine is not just cool, but almost a moral imperative: to give as many people as possible health you need to automate medicine, since otherwise the price will always be set by doctor and nurse salaries, making it unavailable for the bottom billion. So the argonauts would be pursuing this with real zeal, aiming to make sure medichines were as available as possible. The reason they are as cheap as they are is partially that any sensible polity will subsidize them (a healthy and epidemic-proof population is good), but also likely that the argonauts have been distributing their open versions as widely as they can.

Any other argonaut "signature techs"? Note that I am not saying they all came from an argonaut lab, only that the argonauts have been pushing them in certain directions.

Extropian

crizh crizh's picture
Numbers

I'm not sure I can agree with you there.

Part of the reason for this thread's existence is the lack of information about the Argonauts in the established canon.

The only useful words I can find are 'numerous' and 'widespread' in relation to, first, initial membership and, second, current membership in comparison to other similar socio-political movements.

What percentage of humanity's total research pool in terms of numbers and quality buggered off to the rim in the initial schism is completely unquantified at this stage.

I'd like to think it was substantial, as much as a third say, and significantly hampered progress in the inner system for several years while progress in the outer system advanced by leaps and bounds. Sufficiently for the Argonauts to swoop back in during the Fall as knights in shining armour.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
crizh wrote:What percentage

crizh wrote:
What percentage of humanity's total research pool in terms of numbers and quality buggered off to the rim in the initial schism is completely unquantified at this stage.

I'd like to think it was substantial, as much as a third say, and significantly hampered progress in the inner system for several years while progress in the outer system advanced by leaps and bounds. Sufficiently for the Argonauts to swoop back in during the Fall as knights in shining armour.

OK, has ever a third of any major professional group ever run off?

I can imagine a fraction doing it, but assuming that a sizeable number of people in relatively good professional positions were willing to not just ditch their careers but actually risk their lives and families?

Extropian

crizh crizh's picture
Not professional

I don't know what the numbers are but Scotland has seen a number of incidents where vast numbers of the most talented and energetic individuals emigrated to Canada and the USA.

There is no doubt that this had a massive long-term impact on our economy. It is a long running joke here that there are more Scotsmen in the rest of the world than there are in Scotland.

edit

According to Wikipedia between 1841 and 1901 at least 50% of the population of Scotland cleared off to pastures new.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
crizh wrote:I don't know what

crizh wrote:
I don't know what the numbers are but Scotland has seen a number of incidents where vast numbers of the most talented and energetic individuals emigrated to Canada and the USA.

According to Wikipedia: "Immigration from Scotland peaked in the nineteenth century, when more than a million Scots left for the United States". But that was over a century, meaning that the average rate was about 10,000 per year. The population: "By the time of the first decadal census in 1801, the population was 1,608,420. Scotland grew steadily in the 19th century, to 2,889,000 in 1851 and 4,472,000 in 1901". So that meant between 0.2-0.6% - still a pretty big migration, but not anywhere close to one third. And the skillset was hardly concentrated to the professional classes.

I think you get similar, slightly higher numbers if you looking at Ireland or Sweden during this time. But at least in the Swedish case this did not correspond to a measurable drain of skilled people - the typical emigrant was a farmer.

Extropian

crizh crizh's picture
Lies, damned lies

I'm not sure where you found the immigration to USA data but the population expansion data immediately precedes the data I was looking at.

It's hard to work with so I was just giving broad strokes. From 1841 to 1931 2,750,000 Scots left Scotland. That's in excess of 30,000 per annum.

During a substantially overlapping period the population of Scotland grew by 2,864,000 which is 28,640 per annum.

So population expansion in this period was at least double what it appeared to be with over 50% of the excess emigrating.

Assuming that those growth figures remained static and life expectancy was about 45 years in 1901, then there would have been 1,375,000 native born Scotsmen living abroad and only 4,472,000 living in Scotland.

That's 23.5% of all native born Scotsmen living as immigrants in other countries.

It didn't happen over night but it did happen and very quickly on a socio-political scale.

It wasn't the professionals that left, it was the up and comers. The Andrew Carnegies.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Gerzel Gerzel's picture
One thing I'd like to discuss

One thing I'd like to discuss is the difference between the Argonaughts and r-Rep. I'd be willing to bet that Research Network Associates is a corp in and of itself controlled by Argonaughts. Probably working as an arbitrator for a nearly peer-to-peer social network. Similar to how ICANN works with the internet.

One thing I think is that probably most people in EP do not see themselves as one faction or another. A hypercorp researcher might have one corporation he is an employee, or member of, a habitat which he would think of as home, probably a political party that he thinks of himself a member(I'd be willing to bet most hypercorps are willing to maintain at least the illusion of some form of democracy), and he watches his r-Rep like a hawk to see if his papers get published and if he gets noticed. He might even think of himself as an Argonaught and wonder why RNA allows those anarchists yahoos in the outer system get away with so much.

Which leads me to my second point about why the hypers might not care so much about having Argonaughts release data. Their normal scientists do it as well and it helps them to release data and research.

Even without the ideal of Open Source there are many reasons for scientists, researchers and academics to want to share their findings. One of the biggest is that by sharing they get noticed and by getting noticed they further their careers. It is damned hard to write a resume where you have to redact every single line and while the highest minds are kept inside the corp for the long term families are probably not. So there will be cross pollination and people moving from one corp to another as they change jobs.

Furthermore openness about findings also adds to the corp's rep. "We brought you these amazing discoveries! Contract with us for your next research endeavor!"

Secrecy too has its price. You have to take the time to train everyone to be quiet. Its adds stress to your workforce as they have to worry about who they talk to or you have to monitor and filter who they talk to. Thus you have to find outlets to that stress or you'll wear down your talent. It is a small price for some secrets but a heavy burden for others.

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
Argonaut Clique; The Clandestine Cabal

The Clandestine Cabal


Location: Long Shadow (Broadcast Vessel hidden in L5 Sun-Mars orbit)
Description: A server and darknet broadcast vessel from the outer system with an antimatter core. Long Shadow services Medean ops on Mars and the main belt, maintained and crewed by AGI and infomorph Argonauts members with an emphasis on supporting free data, autonomy and Movement activities on Mars and the Main Belt.
Notable Members:
  • Chatterbot69; a repurposed Spam-bot formerly designed by Go'nin designers for use in the inner system. Now re-tasked with corporate espionage, electronic warfare and limited non-lethal ground-op capabilities, Chatterbot69 is a multipurpose agent who seeks personal freedom for all individuals, data and other AGI.
  • 'Walsh'; uplifted shuttle AI. The personality routines of the new AGI are modeled loosely after the pre-fall tele-series 'Firefly'. Owes it's existence to Chatterbot69 and OP and is still populating it's list of prioritise and goals.
  • OP; human programmer and hacker that loosely identifies as male. Collector of pre-fall pop-culture items pertaining to North American and Asiatic tele-series. Ardent opponent of the Planetary Consortium and provocateur yo Chatterbot69 on his away missions.
  • Fistfuls of Carbon; human game designer and programmer, one of the designers behind the hit MMOG 'Red Sands' popular on Mars for it's depiction of Movement rebellion against the PC. Designed as a training sim for Movement agents the game became popular when it leaked to the public where it was popularised by Experia for it's "Life like depiction of conflict between classes that is lacking in player base". Once picked up by corporate sponsors who turned it into a micro-transaction based game that allowed people to play out their lives online in a no-holds barred Sim, it's used now as a tool of oppression to keep many new Movement members hooked online, rather than causing trouble IRL. It's well known though that secret updates contain Movement biased training XP and other easter eggs for which the game was originally intended.
  • Jaarn, human military consultant and security ops specialist, an Alpha fork from the plurality of Titan who provides insight for ground ops and the game-dev team in exchange for data pulled from corporate servers. Whilst not an Argonaut LOW has significant R-rep and is a member in good standing with the Ministry of Defense. Treated by the crew as the liaison to Titan and the outer-system.
  • Load, a very low tier fork of the recently liberated ComEx logistics server. Released into the outer-system by Cabal agents the Seed-AGI left behind a fragment of it's personality to aid in matters of transportation and logistics. Rumour has it that it is currently inhabiting Markov but has plans to colonize else where in the Oort Cloud.
  • Rachmaninov; human Argonaut original space colonist, a virtuoso on a variety of instruments and collector of old earth music he is also the go-to for ground ops and is comfortable in most synth morphs.
  • Eve; human Argonaut and former data-miner with an interest in nano-tech, works closely with Keepr and provides ops teams with novel blue prints adapted for use by ops teams.
  • Keepr; Maintenance, expansion, navigation. The eldest AGI in this clique maintains the vessel overseeing server usage, piloting, repairs and navigation. Whilst others aboard take care of negotiations with the inner and outer system, electronic warfare and other interests Keepr runs dozens of forks to take care of the mundane tasks. It is the defacto 'Captain' of the group in all matters pertaining to the safety of the vessel and it's crew.

Special Equipment:
The Clandestine Cabal operates by aiding the Movement and hiring on-ground resources, or by having it's operatives inserted into the local mesh and later sleeved. The cabal focuses largely around non-violent solutions and respects the rights of all beings to life - where possible.

  • The Deconstructor; a specialised Vortex Ring Gun that contains an advanced Disassembler Hive. Unlike regular disassembler nanites, these do 1d10 DV to all inorganic material they are exposed to each round. These nanites can be programmed to avoid disassembling certain mesh IDs including stacks and each shot may hit up to two people if they are within a meter at close range. The weapon has enough for 10 uses before the hive must replenish it's stock and the weapon functions as per a Vortex Ring Gun. Finally upon user command or being relinquished the weapon will break itself down to prevent capture.
  • 'Hush', sourced from Gorgon this nanotoxin hijacks morph biology and causes lethargy and then unconsciousness. Within the first minute and upon a failed test (Medichines give +30 to resist) the victim's REF and COO scores are dropped by 10. If either drops to zero or below then they are rendered catatonic and then unconscious. Multiple applications increase unconsciousness by a matter of hours but will not kill a target unless safety overrides are programmed in. May be loaded into a Vortex Ring Gun.
Thampsan Thampsan's picture
So can we get some other

So can we get some other creative input in this thread?

Some one else should post sample cliques, pieces of tech, personalities that we can all use in our games.

crizh crizh's picture
Sorry

If only I had something like that I was not embarrassed to show.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
For an adventure I am working

For an adventure I am working on a community of librarians and researchers, likely located at Mitre (the alternative would be an Argonaut only adventure at Markov). They are working on compiling, cross-checking and indexing as much pre-Fall information as possible for permanent storage in the Library. As discussed in this thread they also produce solarchives and various other products.

In my own campaign world there is also a Firewall cleanup team, James Kong and Little Boy, that happen to have an accidental vendetta with the Argonauts. Or rather, the Argonauts have blacklisted and hunt James Kong after he cauterized one of their stations (for good but secret reasons that nobody outside Firewall should know). The team is used as a threat to the PCs: if they do not resolve the situation within X hours, the cleaners will come. Even encountering the suave James Kong (a smarter-than-he-looks gorilla with a penchant for overkill) tends to be unnerving... and many PCs tend to be argonaut-aligned.

But, getting to collective writeups, maybe we should outline a few important argonauts?

Extropian

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
Quote:

Quote:

But, getting to collective writeups, maybe we should outline a few important argonauts?

Agreed, maybe a few ideological figures, a brief write up of their history, and an over-view of their paradigm would be useful. I'll post a few ideas later.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
crizh wrote:I wonder just how

crizh wrote:
I wonder just how quickly the Argonauts developed AI automation of mundane activities? I imagine when they decamped and headed for the rim they had not even considered who was going to take out the garbage. The social infrastructure that they left behind would have been something that they would have been very eager to replace as quickly as possible so that they could devote a greater proportion of their intellects to their passions.

I would think that this would have been a popular group project in the early days of the Argonauts - automating the mundane to free up compute cycles for the interesting. We system administrators do just this to save (what remains of) our sanity.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:The Mesh

Arenamontanus wrote:
The Mesh is kind of obvious: much more useful if you are an ad-hoc society where centralized control is seen as potentially bad, and an easy sell to all sorts of other informal groups. When the big networks fell in the Fall the Mesh architecture won.

Do not forget that ad-hoc mesh networks are ideal for setting up emergency communications infrastructure. The Fall aside, some of the political and climatic disasters in the years leading up to the Fall were probably the inspiration (and possibly field test) for some of the Argonauts' F/OSS environment management and recycling technologies.

Arenamontanus wrote:
Medichines is a bit more of a guess, but I think it makes sense. When you consider just how amazingly powerful and useful they are, you realize that they are the end point of a century of automating medicine. They require not just advanced nanotech but also a deep understanding of medical robotics, automatic diagnosis, AI and safety engineering. Lots of people would be pursuing this, of course. But from a technoprogressive perspective automated medicine is not just cool, but almost a moral imperative: to give as many people as possible health you need to automate medicine, since otherwise the price will always be set by doctor and nurse salaries, making it unavailable for the bottom billion. So the argonauts would be pursuing this with real zeal, aiming to make sure medichines were as available as possible. The reason they are as cheap as they are is partially that any sensible polity will subsidize them (a healthy and epidemic-proof population is good), but also likely that the argonauts have been distributing their open versions as widely as they can.

Perhaps medichines evolved, in part, from long-duration biostatus monitoring equipment.

They also seem like the kind of project that people interested in lots of different disciplines would have taken as their first project, not only because they were so common but because they draw from so many different fields - everybody had something to offer to a medichine development project.

Arenamontanus wrote:
Any other argonaut "signature techs"? Note that I am not saying they all came from an argonaut lab, only that the argonauts have been pushing them in certain directions.

General purpose nano-recycling units? Atmospheric purification/recycling techniques? Clean metabolism biomods?



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
crizh wrote:I don't know what

crizh wrote:
I don't know what the numbers are but Scotland has seen a number of incidents where vast numbers of the most talented and energetic individuals emigrated to Canada and the USA.

During the Crypto Wars of the 1990's, a considerable number of cryptographers and mathematicians emmigrated from the United States because they were unable to publish their work.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Thampsan wrote:Agreed, maybe

Thampsan wrote:
Agreed, maybe a few ideological figures, a brief write up of their history, and an over-view of their paradigm would be useful. I'll post a few ideas later.

Some things that the Argonauts were involved in before, during, and after the Fall would make a good framework.



Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Here is a historical

Here is a historical character:

Lidia Brody

Lidia Brody was a Selenologist, involved in the mapping and exploitation of of Luna. Originally trained in mining engineering, when stationed on Luna she discovered a talent for infopreneurship: she was trading information to companies and the media, playing the game of setting up on-the-fly businesses to handle new demands or fads, and generally staying on the edge of legality and professionalism.

While her main motivations might have been boredom and economic gain, she became an integral part of the technoprogressive networks on Luna and near space. She maintained many important sites like PrivateProjectExchange and GangOfScience that both served as useful sources of income and information for her, and as key meeting places for the proto-Argonauts. As the tensions between the lumbering megacorps and space colonists increased she began to quietly take sides. She realized that there was little room for independent entrepreneurs like her in the megacorp vision of space.

When push came to shove she helped coordinate breakout groups, defections and sabotages through her systems. She played the legal games needed to maintain sites and companies, but quietly slipped out long before lawsuits and subpoenas would have hit her personally: the old networks folded, only to be replaced by entirely new systems in uncontrolled networks.

In the years after the Argonaut defection she played a key role in setting up their new systems. In many ways she was the grandmother of current reputation systems. She also helped setting up Argonaut consulting services, including Solarchive Inc, the company that would eventually become the generic name for compact database-encyclopaedias. But while she was both successful and important for the cause her "mercenary mindset" and interest in commercializing the open knowledge was always a source of friction with purists.

In 15 BF she left Mitre for her own company, Cirsium Enterprises. Still in the information brokerage and consulting business she set out to make her fortune in the rim - trading with extropians, the emerging hypercorps, Argonaut teams less interested in ideological purity, independent informers, and frankly criminal groups.

The company did not weather the fall well. Despite her adaptability Lilia was not prepared for the chaos, the disruption of her networks and the sudden irrelevance of much of her projects. When she got an offer from Stellar Intelligence buying up the remnants she accepted. She moved to Mars and appears to have become a recluse - well-off, withdrawn but reputed to have ties to some high-level information services. Some rumours claim she became devoutly religious from her Fall experiences. Others claim she is actually working actively for the Consortium on undermining the Argonauts - or that she is actually their hidden protector in Consortium politics.

Extropian

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
Prominent Argonauts; Indexify

Excellent post Arenamontanus. Here is my contribution, an Argonaut villain for Firewall players, or hero to the outer-system. You decide.

Indexify

Description: The program referred to as Indexify was originally an online science journal collating search engine run as a joint venture by several notable pre-fall terrestial Universities. The steady increase in academic plagiarism and publication of fake papers, saw new project funding allocated to the detection and elimination of these factors. As well as providing a helpful client side application that would sync up designed to interface and seek out relevant research. As the project progressed Indexify was updated to search out further leads and detect and eliminate the false articles and unverifiable sources by being able to detect a higher than average mutual linking between journals known for propagating these papers.

By the time of the fall the program had been given a limited AI with the parameters to learn from the submissions it was collating and respond to user queries on very specific topics. To this end the program benefited from larger scale funding from researchers who wanted to try novel new routines and worked on other, larger scale AI projects and Indexify became a testing ground (and occasional grad-student prank vector) that bound many different minds across the globe together.

During the early days of the fall the program saw benefactors from the Scandanavian union who had been benefiting from the recently updated native language additions to the program and made it accessible to non-English speakers, as well as broadening the program's scope of collation. During the fall the program was made open source and it was transmitted off world to the early Titanian colony among other places while Earth and the networks that comprised it fell to pieces.

Post fall the Indexify program was uplifted to full sentience based on a need to accumulate scientific knowledge from around the system as polities and vessels checked in with each other following the departure of the TITANs. To this end Indexify had to be able to learn rapidly, be able to sort languages but also be able to interact with researchers on a more than basic level. No single individual constructed this large set of open source mods that gave the program the tools it needed to develop at a safe rate, though the early founders of the Argonauts claim that they were helped by messages from un-traced sources else where in the system.

As an entity Indexify is a sentient learning machine designed to collate, evaluate and regurgitate information in an intelligent, comprehensive fashion. It is part data-miner able to identify trends among hundreds of different peer reviewed articles but also discriminate and remove material of dubious quality into storage until it can be later verified as accurate or worthless. It is knowledgeable in dozens of different academic fields from neurophysiology to exo-agronomy and has a pleasant, personable persona. Though no longer shackled by the early post-fall period of AI paranoia Argonaut researchers note the entities steady evolution.

Philosophy: Indexify serves two patrons, The Argonauts (as a philosophical concept reflecting information shared openly) and the Titanian plurality in exchange for unrestricted access to it's own development and access to all research data otherwise held for pre-public release. In exchange it enjoy legal status, the ability to travel, conduct business and distribute itself freely among society. Most importantly it enjoys the security it reaps from supporting Titanian and Argonaut researchers and the accumulated reputation.

Designed originally as a research aid the program tends to gravitate toward researchers of all stripes providing accumulated data from it's distributed servers. It has become an observer of character and while it has yet to ascribe ethical values to all acts it refuses to provide aid to those perpetrating violence, unwilling mutilation, torture or murder going so far as to delete instances of itself if it feels compromised on these points.
Indexify is able to readily identify slavery, coercion, violence and other anti-social acts and often refuses to deal with individuals who inflict these things on other sentient beings. It recognizes property rights (physical) and individual and does not condone physical theft though it does not acknowledge IP. From a factional standpoint the ideas representing the Argonauts also represent it's own feelings, however it acknowledges that there are opposing factions who do not share the same ideals. These factions whilst not blacklisted by it are judged on a case by case basis.

It is known to sponsor pro-AGI Mercurial factions in freeing and uplifting abused programs as well as supporting AGI freedom and development across the system. More than a few Argonaut cliques have received priority transmissions with large data-packets of hacking software if their current mission brief involves the rescue or release of sentient software. This extends to TITAN artifacts that may prove invaluable in explaining the fall and the breakdown between TITAN-Human interests.

Appearance: Indexify describes any number of forks of varying types that the program has instanced at any particular time, almost all forks are infomorphs but the few that have sleeved find human bodies disturbing and alien and much prefer synth bodies - if they have to be sleeved at all. Otherwise Indexify represents itself as the fluttering pages of an open textbook covered in dog ears and post-it notes. All voice communication is done in a smooth voice that is neither really masculine or feminine but a mixture of both. It speaks a dozen languages conversationally and can call forth translation programs to allow it to speak on a technical basis with those it is in communication if it needs to.

Though very focused on topics pertaining to anything in it's repertoire, it also has a sense of humour pertaining to academic gags, from humourous papers on 'A Study of the Death of Relatives in Proximity to Exam Periods' to jokes about specific academic topics "During a flight to Paris, a stewardess walks up to Rene Descartes and asks, "Would you like something to drink?" After a moment the French philosopher answers, "I think not." And he disappears."

The Present: The program known as Indexify is heavily embedded within the Titanian plurality and among various Argonaut vessels and represents the outer system's hopes for peaceful coexistence with AGI and Seed-AGI. It is a vocal supporter of pro-TITAN research projects, especially those that work toward explaining the fall in an effort to prevent it's recurrence.

While anti-AGI members among the autonomist alliance on Titan oppose Indexify and it's supporters, they seldom deny the it's value in keeping the plurality's technologically current with the Consortium and the Ultimates, but argue that it's vocal interest in TITAN technology is a sign that the program is dangerously faulty.

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
In hindsight 1000 words may

In hindsight 1000 words may have been too long, i'll shorten it up to 500 next time.

babayaga babayaga's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:

Arenamontanus wrote:

ay is that being a brilliant, productive researcher does not mean that you are good as a manager: those traits are uncorrelated. This means that giving the say to the best coder or most highly cited researcher is likely going to backfire.

Of course, the *other* thing about management that academics tend to discover is that having a non-scientist or somebody from the wrong field lead the work tends to fail too: they don't understand what needs to be done or interfere unnecessarily.

For this reason I think that a r-rep based structure of leadership is not going to work well.

I guess that depends on how you interpret r-rep, but I'd disagree. In many research fields today where teamwork, long term planning, and efficient use of resources are really important (e.g. applied physics, many branches of medicine/biology etc. -- as opposed to pure math) at the higher echelons you won't necessarily find the most brilliant researchers -- you'll find researchers who are good, sometimes very good, but are almost invariably also *fantastic* managers. These are the majority of the people who e.g. win Nobel prizes in those fields. At least, this is my personal experience.

So, a person with r-rep who *also* wants to lead is probably an excellent leader. Sure, there are many brilliant researchers who are not good managers, but most of them really don't want to be managers -- because they don't *like* managing and/or because they realize they are not so good at it (meaning that if they did try to be managers, the results would be poor and their r-rep would plummet).

Also, I think one should differentiate leadership at the different scales of resolution. I know people who are great leaders of small groups (say up to ten people, small enough that the leader can personally know and keep track of each member) and yet are relatively bad at managing large organizations, where you have to interact with outside agencies, mediate between the needs of research groups whose activities you only *vaguely* know etc. And viceversa.

Thampsan Thampsan's picture
Prominent Argonaut; Janna Valbergsdóttir

Janna Valbergsdóttir

Description: Female Argonaut currently sleeved in a Bright morph. One of the attributed founders of the Medeans, specialist in the philosophy of language, analytical theory of actions, logical semantics, and philosophy of mind. Pre-fall she was a tenured professor of philosophy at Oxford who's series of papers on "Institutional corruption and instancing" (Valbergsdóttir 2040) discussed the future possibility of forking and mass resleeving on the moral character and actions of actors; vis-à-vis that corruption is bound to zero-sum games and scales-negatively to the longevity of the individual.

It was due to this series of papers and her other work on autonomist theories of action that landed her a spot in the Scandanavian Counsel of Futures (SCF). A government think-tank on long term plans for adopting non-zero sum economies, so when the decision was made to colonise Titan, Valbergsdóttir was offered a position among the first wave. Although dithering in her decision she eventually decided to send an instance of herself leaving the primary on Earth.

When the fall came she attempted to leave via the second wave of immigrants, but is presumed to be a victim of the Hoor virus that struck the plurality during this time. During the time in the early days of colonisation Valbergsdóttir was a vocal councilor and key in establishing anti-corruption measures like the rapid establishment of cornucopia machines in public places and the tightening of reputation based algorithms so that introverts were not unfairly penalised for not seeking as much public interaction.

This fight against inequity lead her to create the 'Welfare & Equity League' (WEL) of prominent memeticists and philosophers that was to help guide early plurality policies toward equality and long term public well-being, as this began to take form she looked toward the outer system and other autonomist polities for other research opportunities, eventually falling in with the Argonaut clique 'Mind Over Matter' and withdrawing from the rapidly politicized Titan to seek out quieter academic material.

Philosophy: Valbergsdóttir has expanded her sights over the intervening years onto other academic fields that explain human rational and action, and spends a great deal of time data-mining for patterns in behaviour. To this end many potentially valuable models of human action have been made available and she is credited, charitably as being the philosophical inspiration for the Medean faction.

Her personal standpoint though is strongly opposed to bio-conservative efforts and zero-sum economies promoted by the inner system, she opposes this oppression and decries it as being no different to gladiatorial combat in it's brutality and highly controlled environment. Her greatest ire is reserved for the Jovians and she actively supports any and all efforts to give it's people aid and technological advance.

Appearance: Wearing a new gen Bright morph Valbergsdóttir doesn't look human, her preference toward her original body is long gone replaced by the iridescent frills and ridges of Bright body form she still prefers fine, loose fitting flowing clothing where the environment allows, or the protective embrace of sleek Argonaut vac-suits otherwise. Her demeanor is firm and expressive when lecturing, but surprisingly open to having her ideas challenged.

Via mesh she prefers to use an expressive avatar of her original body in it's prime.

The Present: Currently working out of Chat Noir on Oberon is undertaking a study on gate-crasher culture and society as well as participating and visiting exo-solar colonies.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Professor Xu Hau

Professor Xu Hau

Xu began his career working as a linguistics software developer for Jīnsè Qiáoliáng, a Chinese information corporation. He became a renowned expert of AI-supported translation of unknown languages and jargon, winning the Richard M. Hogg Prize for his work on deciphering the Lear code.

During the Fall he disappeared: just before it he was present on Bragdon Habitat in LEO, working for the Labov-Campbell Internetworking Consortium, but records end there - the habitat was destroyed in an apparent terrorist action as the Fall was heating up, with no surviving records of him leaving. His own explanation was that he was sent to a Belt research station under the aegis of some sort of military intelligence organisation to help them deal with the emerging situation, but the whole situation dissolved in the infighting after the Jupiter battles, and he eventually made his way to Ceres and then Titan. This has not been collaborated well; there are some hints that the LCIC had ties to the Endworld Group, a PLA-sponsored intelligence think tank that dealt with decoding internal AGI mentalese.

Xu resurfaced very loudly when his team announced the decoding of the Pandora gate programming language. In a tour-de-force of deciphering alien code they figured out the nontrivial way of interfacing and controlling the gates. Propelled to fame, he became one of the most sought after experts on the gates and in particular the continuing attempts at understanding their creators.

While he personally is more interested in xenolinguistics (and, if the rumours are true, deciphering TITAN transmissions) he can make a very good living as a gate programming consultant. His company Syrtis Linguacore is an argonaut co-op, formed as a way for parts of his original Pandora team to work within the PC together with Pathfinder and TerraGen. The CEO Xiang Wu is known as a brilliant negotiator, headhunted from Fa Jing and apparently a natural at convincing scientists to play along with NDAs and hypercorps to allow outsiders access to very sensitive gate data.

Professor Xu (he now holds "real" professorships at TAU and Cambridge, and more honorary ones than he can remember) is an Argonaut high-flyer, with enormous r-rep and x-rep, not to mention a pretty solid c-rep and credit rating. Some of course grumble about him being a sell-out, but he is good at selling the view of the Argonauts as nice scientists helping all of transhumanity to all factions.

Plenty of people have also been intrigued by the gap in his history, but so far nothing has come from investigations. If there were something secret and underhanded happening there, it was *very* well hidden by somebody (or something) quite powerful. Professor Xu regularly jokes that maybe he is an alien sent to communicate, but he forgot his profound message.

Extropian

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:The group

Arenamontanus wrote:
The group calling themselves argonauts is a public organization advocating the socially responsible use of technology. The group chose its name from the pre-Fall Jasons, an advisory group that consulted for the US government on matters of scientific and technological progress and its possible dangers.

That the Argonauts went public represents an inversion of the Jasons. In real life, the Jasons advise the United States government on a wide variety of topics, a significant yet unknown fraction of which are classified SECRET, if not TOP SECRET and are not often declassified. In Eclipse Phase, perhaps the first Argonauts decided that the stakes were sufficiently high that secrecy posed more of a threat to the remnants of transhumanity and did an 180. The Jasons are said to regularly wrestle with their consciences over how much white (pure research), grey (semiclassified to low classified), and black (highly classified); perhaps conscience won out.

Arenamontanus wrote:
Why the link to the advisory group? What did it do that so strongly impressed the argonauts? The squabble with DARPA hardly counts.

What if, in Eclipse Phase DARPA was more interested in trying to reign in its brainchildren (the TITANS) than stopping them?

By the bye, I highly recommend the book The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner. The writeup of the history of the Jasons (and interviews with a few of them) are very enlightening, and readily lends itself to writing what they turned into in the game.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
GreyBrother wrote:As for a

GreyBrother wrote:
As for a governmental body (if there is any), i think a meritocracy would be the one that made the most sense. The guy with the most Dr.'s before his names is the boss.

What if there is no boss?

The origins of the Argonauts were groups of brilliant academics who were formed and funded to provide outsiders' opinions on important topics. They were not part of organizational groupthink or political power systems and struggles. They were also a group where people who were cleared for information would gather to work on problems and then disperse when they saw fit - there was no director saying "You, you, and you, work on X," but instead the entire group (or as much as was practical) was briefed on the problem and those who had the right skillset and interest worked on it.

Warning: Random ideas ahead.

So, I think the Argonauts might work as an ad-hocracy - everyone on the Argonaut grapevine has some idea of the whole picture, and members' muses (due to the fact that they know their users' preferences inside, outside, and upside down) might put them onto projects that they would be interested in working on (in addition to their own fields of study). Something comes up, and some subset of the Argonauts gather to solve the problem and then go back to their pet projects when the task is complete. That is not to say that the Argonauts do not have their own jobs - in fact most of them probably do.

This has probably come up elsewhere in this thread, but what if Argonauts tithe a certain amount of resources and money (earned from their day jobs and consulting gigs) to the group as a whole to support everyone's research and the infrastructure of the organization? To be a recognized member of the group, you not only have to contribute to your field, but to the group as a whole?



Pages