Beta@Titania > Uplift Spotlight > Dolphins
I am reposting this short essay that was very kindly forwarded to me by Professor Steve Reichert, who recently returned home from a Somatek research station, in regards to my inquiries as to the inherent pre-dispositions of uplifted beings. While I am hoping to receive additional information regarding other species, I am posting this now in response to several queries I have received myself regarding this topic.
Begin Transcript, Source Professor Steve Reichert
Dolphins are intelligent, they were intelligent before they were even uplifted, most of you already know this. You've probably heard that they are playful and friendly too. This is in part very true, but it is unfortunately only scratching the surface of their social norms.
- The one thing that I want to drive home more than any other point is that dolphins are weird. Perhaps the so called scum may have the best chance of accepting this weirdness, but I suspect even they would not truly understand it. They laugh at their own jokes, they laugh at jokes that nobody else gets, and quite often both at the same time. I have met several during my time here that make such highly self-referential and circuitous plans that one might imagine they were sprung fully formed from the mind of Rube Goldberg himself. During independent interviews I was able to discover that often times the dolphins themselves won't understand what their peers are talking about, yet they remain fascinated by the monologue none the less. Some of them definitely have more experience in dealing with more human mindsets than others, but some of them are very difficult to have a useful conversation with, to say nothing of an even remotely pleasant conversation.
- Their innate sense of risk and reward is not quite the same as transhumans tend to be. While transhumans tend towards risk avoidance before pleasure seeking, dolphins tend to be the opposite. They rarely feel the same kind of regrets that can plague transhumans regarding major failures and loss. Perhaps related to this is their tendency to under-emphasize concern over past slights, harm or injuries. That being said, they have shown the capacity to hold tremendous grudges under certain circumstances that I have yet to be able to understand.
- Social violence was main focus of my studies here, but as is so often the case, I have uncovered more questions than answers. Still, my understanding has broadened considerably. Before they were uplifted, dolphins showed unmistakable indications of possessing unique cultures that varied across geographic boundaries. When the first of them were uplifted, they were in the middle of a social crisis of their own, being pushed towards extinction by transhumanity, in many ways it effected their social conventions like the Fall did to us. Although they didn't seem to hold any of us responsible, I should note that their permissiveness towards violence has several strong links to that time period. Social survival and sacrifice became nearly ubiquitous as important cultural aspects. Their aggression tends to be very cold blooded in nature, though just as intense as any primate, it often lacks the sensation of rage that is so prominent in our own lineage. They can step into and out of that mindset easily. I have one anecdotal example on record of a dolphin calmly apologizing during the middle of an act of violence against a peer. |downlink available| Additionally, they seem more understanding of situations where violence is used against them, though I cannot be certain this is not due to tinkering by Somatek gene-hackers.
- Their social networking is highly involved and they don't tend towards isolation as many transhumans do. They can also be very demanding. I'll say that again because I think it deserves the extra emphasis. They can be very demanding, both socially and physically. They don't tend to have the same need to be alone that we might sometimes experience, and so it is perhaps alien to them that someone would not meet their overtures for interaction. When dealing with dolphins it is important to speak what is on your mind, be blunt. What we might consider diplomatic, they often find insulting.
- Dolphins tend towards a world view of material impermanence. I suspect this has to do with the fact that much of their intelligence evolved without opposable thumbs. Perhaps they are just not used to possessing things in the first place. I also think this may be another aspect of why past insults and aggression are less of a concern for them. Losing things just isn't as big a deal because they tend not to get attached to physical things. However, I did meet two particularly materialistic individuals during my stay, and it is perhaps important to note that both of them personified their possessions. One of which attached persona AIs to all of her belongings.
This is not to say that dolphins in general don't possess material things, but the focus tends to be about what activities said objects can allow them to participate in. They certainly understand that you need a tool to a perform certain task, but when they are not engaged in said task, they are generally very willing to let others have use of it. However, you should be very careful about a dolphin that wants its possession back. As I mentioned already, they are demanding. They seem to take delight in pestering people for the return of their things when they have need of them again, sometimes far and above what they would get out of having the item simply returned. While this is in line with people's understanding of dolphins as playful, I am warning you now, if there are serious time pressures, such pestering can become deadly serious.
- They are descended from carnivores, and while technology may have the capacity to totally rewrite our energy needs, it is my belief that their history continues to influence their present cultural norms. There are strong undercurrents of the notion that "might makes right," in their social structures, possibly stemming from prior hunting traditions. Many of them believe that it is the responsibility of the capable to manage the incapable, though this is far from ubiquitous.
- Memes seemed to have a very peculiar life cycle within the group I worked with. They consumed memes like we might consume a meal, ripping off the packaging, feasting on the goo inside, and excreting the waste. It has been my observation that they are often more concerned with the structure of the meme rather than the content. But then again, as I said earlier, dolphins are weird.