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Uplifts: Round Two

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Chrontius Chrontius's picture
Uplifts: Round Two
What are the next uplifts to be made, and why? That's the question that's been occupying me for a month of jogs. I have an answer, which I will post shortly, but I'd like to hear the consensus gut-check, first impressions, &c. before I bias those results. The rules: All the uplifts presented so far in EP are off-limits, because there's no good reason to do them over again unless you think of something I can't right now. (If you can, however, go for it!) What handful of critters would be the next bunch to be picked up for uplift? Are there any alternate methods or approaches not presented in the rulebooks that might change the economics that justify uplifting less intelligent forms of life? Right now, I'm all insomnia'd out. I'll spellcheck and sanity-check my list tomorrow. :p
Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
There would seem to be a
There would seem to be a number of candidate species Likely: Dogs : We've been tinkering with dogs for so long it's really just a matter of time. Cats : There's an bit about an attempt at uplifting cats in the Transhuman playtests morph section. It isn't going well. Elephants : They were supposedly uplifted just before The Fall, and non-uplifted elephants are still around so it could happen again. Rats : Already pretty clever and very well understood scientifically. Heck if size is an issue splice in some capybara, those things can be huge! Less likely : Horses : Intelligent in the same way as elephants so a possibility. I understand that miniature horses get trained to be companion animals. Bears : I've heard stories of how smart regular bears can be so it wouldn't be a stretch to bring them into the uplifted fold. If they can survive all the "Hey Yogi! " jokes they're going to get Raccoons and Squirrels : both are clever problem solvers with manipulative paws. And hey, who wouldn't want to play as Rocket ? Ants and Bees : In a setting with human sized crabs running around it wouldn't be difficult to imagine of uplifting either of these. Maybe that's what the Exoglots are! They're not exhumans because they've never *been* human. Hyena : Are social and apparently quite smart, don't know if any survived The Fall though.
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Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
Crud! Dual post. Please
Crud! Dual post. Please delete.
Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
Round Two
Well, our lists have some overlap. Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. I spent a lot of evenings' jogging putting a lot of consideration into this, because it was a lot of fun to think about, and I hope the level of thoughtful consideration is self-evident. Here's what I've got: Otters: Friendly, social, mechanically-inclined tool users without anything we might consider a sociopathic streak. I can’t really come up with a criticism, other than sea otters’ penchant for rough sex, but you’ll find worse in any scum swarm. Probably offers to join in worse with twenty minutes’ seeking, tops. I’ve picked otters - under the project name Lutra sapiens - to write up as my first big contribution (well, with crunch anyway) for this board; they and their project will probably be roughly equivalent to two to seven days worth of Seedware or Farcast once I finish. Canids: Actually, I think dogs have some personality traits which make them a lousy sophont, even if they’re great companion animals. Some of the behaviors we value in dogs might manifest as retardation when a normal human sleeves an uplifted dog; you might get a great pod out of the project, or you might get a werewolf-shaped Frankenstein’s monster - which, I shall remind us all, initially ended up monstrous only in appearance, and became unpleasant only after some aggressive child abuse and neglect - the worst kind of abused innocence coupled to great might and cunning. If you were psychologically prepared, either via simspace, psychosurgery, or simply talk therapy, the result might actually be extremely pleasant, or at least hard to give up. (Actually, given the choice of sleeving a flat or a smart dog, the smart dog has much better bonuses! I can see making this kind of wehr-wulves being a thing done on certain scum swarms, with willing victims. Maybe - plot hook - someone offers it as some sort of therapeutic experience, but simply collects a pack of werewolves who more or less worship him?) Still, I’m pretty sure that traditional approaches would fail to produce independent, sophont uplifts. However, you might produce a pretty nifty slave race, which … on second thought, I can see why you’d use traditional uplift approaches now. What canids might produce more conventional measure of success? Here’s my guess: Foxes: Social, domesticated in shockingly few generations by Russian researchers, and they have a peculiar trait - they’ll raise each others’ orphans. Wild foxes aren’t hugely hard to tame, either - a lot of Youtube videos, mostly from Britain, manage to befriend their friendly suburban red fox while not destroying their ability to function in the wild. Coyotes: Also in the process of self-domesticating, as well as cheerfully hybridizing with any other canid species in the vicinity, coyotes are moderately social, very clever, and my ancient humanities professor accidentally raised a coyote pup when nobody claimed the “lost puppy”. Unlike Shreve Stockton of the Daily Coyote blog, she never had any more difficulty than any other puppy comes with, and they shared a long and happy time together. Grey Wolves: In nature, they display the same nuclear families as modern humanity favors. Ironically, I think we’d get along better with them now if we tried domesticating wolves anew, than our ancient ancestors ever did. Red wolves tend to be more solitary than forming tight-knit nuclear families, so a little (a lot?) of red wolf might be mixed into any wolf uplift. Domestic dogs, by comparison, show significantly different family structure marked by every fertile female breeding at every opportunity, rather than displaying any family planning instincts, and cognitively maintain neotenic features into adulthood. This brings me to… Werewolves: A hybridized canid, mostly red fox but easily cosmetically adjusted, that includes an enlarged, humanized brain, possibly relying on commercially available augmentations to bring their intellects up to transhuman normal. Meanwhile, I figure they maintain a body mass somewhere between a neotenic and a splicer, and an generally canine body plan. In spite of that, I suspect that they have modestly dextrous paws, and are better at sitting on their haunches than natural canids. Their personalities would tend toward timid-but-friendly; they’d be hard to approach but make great friends once you had established any kind of a relationship with one. They would tend to prefer flight to fight, and would have a knack for lateral thinking and skirting around problems, rather than directly addressing them. They might actually have an interesting profile if cognitively examined in a “multiple intelligences” context; they might be pretty dumb in some ways, but tend toward introverted-intuitive personalities under Meyers-Briggs. The IN-group tend to be rare in humans, and in teams, IN members tend to cause the team to perform as more than the sum of their parts. Felines: These have a distressing tendency toward sociopathy. Certain exhuman groups might enjoy sleeving partially-uplifted big cats - especially lions. While domestic cats display affection and care for their young to the point they will fight to the death, most felines’ casual cruelty and easy sadism makes them very bad candidates for uplift - or rather, will require the same sort of care given to turning orcas from the sociopaths of the seas into big, soft mamas’ boys. Lions are the worst - they eat their future mates’ young in order to get with them sooner, for crying out loud. Tigers, by comparison, are pretty chill, and will even let nursing mothers, or mothers with cubs, mooch off their kills without complaint or hesitation. They also have been kept as pets, and as far as I can tell, most of the time this goes bad is when the tiger thinks they’re being helpful Florida panthers, and other strains of cougars? As big cats go, they’re about as close to domestic cats as you can get. In spite of that, there’s an even better choice: Cheetahs: The ancient Egyptians considered them mostly domesticated even as they exist in nature, and were easily tamed for use as hunting hounds. They genuinely enjoy one another’s company, form deep and long-lasting friendships, enjoy group sex, and these pairs - often brothers - raise children of these orgies with no real concern for who the actual father is. Unlike most cats, they succeed at nearly half of their attempts to bring down a meal, compared to about 10% (though this is offset by the prodigious energy expenditure that a sprint represents) of other cats. They also tend to be polite and efficient hunters, and seem to wait for brain death (or at least hypoxic coma) before they start eating. For their strong social tendencies, and lack of scary personality traits, cheetahs are very likely the best feline candidate for uplift. Raccoons: Clever, tool-using problem solvers, raccoons are at least as good a candidate as hypergibbons for being made into semi-uplifted pods. The only thing that makes me hesitate to recommend them for the first of the second generation is an unfortunate tendency for baby-eating among the males of the species. More or less the opposite of cheetahs’ attitude toward babies, they don’t give a rat’s ass whose offspring the kits are, but tend to resort to precautionary cannibalism. This is probably significantly easier to address than orcas’ inclinations, however. Elephants: The only reason I can’t call them the best prospect of the second generation is because I’m pretty sure they’re first tier, even if you’d need to either duplicate some efforts, or go on safari for some well-preserved DNA back on Earth. Horses, Bears, Hyenas: Interesting, I hadn’t thought of them, but you’re right - they each have something going for them. Rats, Rabbits: I hadn’t considered the way the deep scientific understanding of their biology might constitute a five-to-ten-year head start. And a weird one that’s been sticking in my head since the National Geographic documentary? Leopard seals. Once thought to be vicious killers, it’s easy to frame some of the more extreme behaviors in anthropomorphic motivations. Pulling explorers into the water? Helping another awkward-looking large mammal struggle into the water, where they’re not helpless in the face of a hungry polar bear; when NatGeo cameraman Flip Nicklin was pulled into the water by a seal, the first thing she did wasn’t to savage him, but offer him to split a meal of a penguin. Fortunately for Flip, he’s an aquatic photographer by trade and had a thick wetsuit on at the time. I acknowledge that I am anthropomorphizing very hard right now, but leopard seals have historically been anthropomorphized in very different ways, and very recent footage paints a very different picture than the viewpoint that’s been dominant since… what, the early 1900s?
ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Hayenas are related to dogs
Hayenas are related to dogs so that is fairly redundant apart from the likely hood of it being fderal
Armoured Armoured's picture
Pro-Hyena uplift movement!
Hyenas are actually far closer related to cats than dogs; they have just evolved in parallel to the same ecological niche. Its a common misconception, along with the idea that they are cruel, stupid and primarily scavengers. In reality the various species of hyenas, especially spotted hyenas have complex family groups, are better hunters than lions, and are just as if not more intelligent than wild dogs and wolves. There is a line of thought that hyenas are so mistrusted in human cultures because they are our closest competitors. For millions of years in Africa there were two groups of social, hunting/scavenging large mammals, us and them. Only proto-humans' bipedal bodies eventually allowed tool use, and eventual dominance. I think hyenas would be pretty strong candidates for uplift, having the strongest social tendencies of all land-based carnivores, and already using a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other.
Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
I forgot a few....
Sea Lions : In much the same vein as leopard seals. These have been trained by humans for various tasks for quite some time, including military applications. Manatees : As aquatic relatives of elephants manatees have much the same intellectual capability, just slower as they have no predators. This site http://cargocollective.com/nonhumanagency is a delightful thought project on the matter. I hadn't considered otters! Someone on another thread had suggested honey badgers,though I suspect they wouldn't care about being uplifted. I was looking at hyena primarily for their strong social structures so it was a surprise that they're as intelligent as they are. The organization they have is very different from canine packs but equally functional. Jeez, image a pack of hyena egos sleeved in Fury morphs ...scary stuff! If they weren't already considerably intelligent I'd say that bears generally solitary nature would make them lower grade candidates for uplifting. But so are octopuses, so dampening those instincts is a possibility. By the way,this image : http://deadliestfiction.wikia.com/wiki/Wolfen by Wayne Barlowe is generally how I envision canine uplifts as turning out.
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thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
Not a biologist but
What are the chances that any reptiles would be able to be uplifted? They're capable of intellect, though it's pretty alien compared to humans.
"Still and transfixed, the el/ ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute
Kojak Kojak's picture
How about sharks? At the very
How about sharks? At the very least, it'd give me the excuse to use this guy: https://i.warosu.org/data/tg/img/0358/43/1414638702436.jpg
"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head." - Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
As both a biologist and a pedant…
… I'd say the odds are good, and canon recognizes this. Did you know that birds are reptiles, and the current term of art for what you are taught are the reptiles in middle school is actually "Non-avian reptiles"? The More You Know!™ Smarminess aside, the line of reptiles that gave us theropod dinosaurs gave us avians, and we have video of a gray parrot using sarcasm effectively. I think it's safe to say that "bird brain" is not an insult any more. As for those reptiles that came up through the crocodilian line, tegus are said to make good pets, and have very catlike personalities, with all the ups and downs that implies. Still, I cringe at the thought of uplifting any R-selected creature, full stop, mammal or not. Krogans may be a good example of this, actually - they're actually an R-selected prey species. They don't really care too much about the intrinsic value of the lives of other krogans, as far as I can tell from fanfic and wikis. To the point that I suspect that the first step to uplifting rabbits would be to create a K-selected domestic rabbit strain, either through genetic engineering or selective breeding, and let them undergo a few centuries of evolution to let them become protective of their neighbors. So - what non-avian reptiles can we all think of that breeds slowly, cares for its young, and has significant social lives? I'm stumped, but I've been up far too late teaching my gaming group to make Eclipse Phase characters (so - it was for a good cause!) and I can't think too clearly at this hour.
Chernoborg wrote:
By the way, this image : http://deadliestfiction.wikia.com/wiki/Wolfen by Wayne Barlowe is generally how I envision canine uplifts as turning out.
First, I like the idea of sea lions. Second, I think I agree with you about canine uplifts turning out more canine than human, and though those forelimbs have potential for fairly fine manipulation, they're fundamentally compromised as far as digging and running - the intent is clearly to revel in the uncanny valley. The hindpaws are significantly more fragile than necessary, and claws are too small for traction. In spite of that, that's probably getting more right than wrong; I bet that canine uplifts would tend toward quadrupedalism, if they're supposed to fill similar roles to their unenhanced cousins. Still, small mercies, a more traditional werewolf form is only an hour in a healing vat away. :p Seriously, that's like a deliberately terrifying looking illustration of my mental picture of my werefoxwolfthings. I can also imagine someone banging together a low-rent pod version of those things for Halloween on Get Your Ass To Mars. :D
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
As for otter uplifts, I
As for otter uplifts, I imagine them being useful in aquatic habs where staff may have to transition rapidly or frequently between aquatic, conventional, and vacuum environments during a single work shift, and might be expected to deal with people. Nova crabs and synths might be viable, but canon synths are poorly optimized, and nobody wants to sleeve into a nova crab if they can help it. :p Also, this.
MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
I resemble that remark!
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
I (humbly) stand corrected.
I (humbly) stand corrected. Now, can someone loan me a crowbar? I need to get this foot out of my mouth.
FrankManic FrankManic's picture
I think Canids would make a fantastic choice for uplift for story reasons. Take a Canis Familiaris. Hack in some Lyacon Pictis for their tendency to hunt effectively in coordinated groups, co-raise puppies, and provide nursing care for their sick and injured. Add in some Gray Wolf for robustness and to emphasize a smaller family group, some Red Fox for playfulness and curiosity, and some Coyote to allow for limited independence and to keep the overall size down. So what do you have? An animal that is an extreme team player, fully committed to working cooperatively for the common good of its social group, willing to share in successes and make sacrifices for its social group, and all of this with a dog's slavish devotion to a human master. And then you take all of that and give it near human abstract reasoning, linguistic, and problem solving skills. A dog-uplift is basically any Hypercorp's wet dream. They'll work themselves ragged for their line manager in exchange for pets. They'll go toe to toe with Reaper morphs in exchange for a doggy biscuit. And you'll never get any of the ungrateful crap mercurial's pull. The other Uplifts aren't human and don't want to be. The best you can get from them is individuals who maybe want to integrate with human society. But Dogs? Dogs adore humans. Dogs are one of handful of animals on the planet that understand what humans mean when they point at things. Dogs are so hyper adapted to compatibility with humans that their most obvious value as uplifts is that they'd serve us and they'd love it. They'd basically be the perfect slaves. Now put that in to your story. - A group of Firewall agents with decent @-rep go in to a Hypercorp genetics lab. They've heard rumors that the corp is developing a new kind of non-human super-soldier but the details are not forthcoming. Firewall orders to go in and determine if the new development is an reverse engineered Exsurgent or something. But what they find when they get there is a puppy. A puppy who looks up at them and says "Are you my mom?" And so when they inevitably liberate the adorable little furballs they're now stuck figuring out what to do with them. Because they've got something that is absolutely antithetical to the outer-system's way of life - An intelligent being that wants nothing more than to bond with a transhuman and be their willing and devoted slave, and will in fact suffer intense emotional distress if they are not allowed to do this. Anarchists will be torn on how to deal with dog uplifts - The Dogs are intelligent creatures who emotionally need a strong hierarchy and a clear leader to maintain their own mental health, and will devote themselves to that leader to an extreme degree. The Mercurials are torn on how to deal with them - These are uplifts and need the same protections and civil liberties as other uplifts but they differ in that they don't really want to be independent of humanity and they don't want to forge their own path - They want to lick humanity's face and sleep on humanity's couch. The hypercorps will be all about them - Slaves that want to be slaves, I mean, come on? That's right up the hypercorp alley. Criminals will love them because once they're part of the pack they'll happily work for the organization for life with little concern for ethics as long as their family structure is treated well. I think they'd be a great overall choice for an uplift due to the sheer amount of social disruption and ethical distress they'd cause in the setting.
What is boils down to is that "Killer Robots exterminate humanity and escape to the stars" is one of the *good futures*.
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
Oooh, progress!
Oh, Frank, that's perfect. I'd go with more fox than you suggest, but otherwise, the writeup is perfect. Plot hooks, implications, clearly thought through, and in-universe justifications. This is the kind of content I was hoping for when I started this thread. I've been working on some of my own, but it's not ready for posting… or it wasn't before you knocked loose the rust from the gears, which are turning again now. Honestly, they sound almost like meat muses, the way their motivation is wired. Getting sleeved into one unwillingly and/or without preparation might be like spending some quality time in an Aquarium Pet morph from Rimward. Actually, once I finish Lutra sapiens, I should start working on a "muse eidolon", which turns an ego into a muse, and let's hope they were willing.
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
Lutra Sapiens!
Lutra Sapiens! Given what I had access to, this is a recent development, occurring slightly after the Morph Recognition Guide was published in-universe, along with a ripwing derivative from a custom campaign. The assumptions are threefold: an in-universe open source project, a collaboration between the Martian MIT campus, the Titan Autonomous University, and the Kisilev Open Source Uplift Genetic Library, after poaching a few Forteanans; and a no-kill project: Every experiment has a cortical stack; every failed uplift gets put in cold storage, and the project isn't done until they at least try at uplifting every failed experiment via automated psychosurgery. After a few passes, they'll understand their brains pretty damn well. The last assumption? The research staff will be either sleeving their prototypes, or at least puppeting them. The first generation will not be raised by humans or synths, but by people who're adapted to the neural architecture. For want of a canon description, I can only speculate at what a transhuman ego sleeving - for example - a cetacean or neo-pig might experience, but the description of neo-orangs in the Neo-Hominid description suggests that it might create profound cultural differences in the clade descended from - or turned into - them, after a few years. But I'm writing Eclipse Phase at 6 AM again, so I hope I'm not too far off on a tangent. I'm giving you all comment privileges, and requesting critique. Make me proud, and please put all general "too powerful" crits in this thread, unless you have a specific thing to point at - my goal was to aim at about an Olympian or Fury level of performance, but shy of the Remade (whose genome they had access to during this uplift project). If I did that wrong - let me know! If I did something bad by assuming that - let me know! If you don't think that otters are a good candidate for the last of the low-hanging fruit - I'd love to hear what you think! And I'd love to go to bed now. x_x
Huntertalon Huntertalon's picture
Long term, I envision
Long term, I envision something like Orion's Arm. It works pretty well as a far future Eclipse Phase, they had a similar disaster that kicked them off Earth. Orion's Arm on "provolves" aka uplifts:
No fewer than 138,000 indigenous Terragen species - representing all major metazoan phyla, and in some cases even plants, fungi, protists, and colonial prokaryotes, have been provolved, some with more success than others, and some, like human domestic companion animals (felids, canids, etc.) many times. This number does not include sophont clades that evolved or gengineered themselves further from their provolved ancestors. Many xenobiota have been provolved as well, leading to the peculiar fact that the majority of "xenosophont" citizens of the Terragen galaxy are actually provolves. Lazurogened animals are another popular choice for provolution; some assert that it is not just necessary to restore these long-extinct species to life; one should also maximize their intelligence as well. Dinosaurs, therapsida, Paleogene mammalia, ammonites, trilobites — there is no limit to the type and diversity of prehistoric animals that have been provolved. Today, provolves number in the many trillions, and many have gone on to establish their own polities, cultures, and religions, to radiate into daughter species and clades, and to provolve other species in turn.
Chrontius Chrontius's picture
I actually used to follow
I actually used to follow that setting pretty closely. There's a little of that in here, but more of it is the standard software development process of dogfooding - IE, using your own product during development to force rapid gains in functionality and quickly squashing mission-critical bugs. That said, there's rather a lot of it in my description here, I suppose. Having said that, Orion's Arm has several different approaches to uplifting nonsapient creatures; some end up with human DNA spliced in, and others end up undergoing speculative, computer-simulated convergent evolution and end up with fundamentally different genomes, and (presumably) styles of cognition. Actually, it occurs to me that in certain technologies - biomorph resleeving and uploading spring to the front of my mind - are far more advanced in Eclipse Phase than OA, with no physics justification (such as speculative physics underlying FTL communication via quantum entanglement). In OA, one has to rely on a cyberbrain "mesh" for years while their new meatbrain learns how to think your thoughts, and the cyberbrain mesh isn't removed afterwords - a persistent, acknowledged hacking risk that's been famously exploited over and over again. "Backup implants" tend to take over the vast majority of your cognition, meaning they're not so much a backup, as a tiny cyberbrain, and still represent a single point of failure, albeit more hardened than a meat brain. Cortical stacks are, at least, redundant. Edit: Digging through NPCs created for my first EP game, Jamie Clarke's department at MIT has some colorful characters in it. An uplift or two, (Sapient-leaning dolphin and unspecified, presumed avian uplift from Fortean, currently sleeving a ripwing) and one guy is a self-professed mercurial exhuman (yes, he was born human) who turned himself into a troodon uplift via psychosurgery, after extrapolating a troodon genome and doing most of the uplift work in silico to figure out how their brains would be put together, and extrapolating again from there how they'd think as a result. Or at least, that's what he claims. ;) I was aiming for a sort of "lone gunmen" vibe off this pack, and while I never got a chance to use them, I had fun creating them.
Huntertalon Huntertalon's picture
Chrontius wrote:Actually, it
Chrontius wrote:
Actually, it occurs to me that in certain technologies - biomorph resleeving and uploading spring to the front of my mind - are far more advanced in Eclipse Phase than OA, with no physics justification (such as speculative physics underlying FTL communication via quantum entanglement).
Yeah, EP includes more "soft" elements like FTL comms and psi. But the soft elements are easily left out if you prefer. But aside from that, the settings do make pretty different assumptions. Biological immortality doesn't exist in OA AFAIK, even SI:1 entities can't do it. Uploading is a SI:1 technology, meaning anything below that level is fundamentally incapable of comprehending it ("transapientech"), whereas in EP many things which OA deems "transapientech" are widespread even among baselines. So it does require some fiddling with both settings to make them compatible. Personally, I feel EP's approach is better for a roleplaying setting, but OA has lots of neat ideas you can use. For super-advanced distant future, the Sufficiently Advanced RPG is pretty good. It's a fairly modular and flexible setting too. Oh, kind of off-topic, sorry. >.<