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What do you name your creations?

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14 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

"'I don't invent,' Sherry reminded him.  Her voice was no less steady than his, but her expression--when I got hold of my senses enough to see it--was grave.  'I only recount.'  -- John Barth, Chimera


An interesting choice of quotation. Let me persevere with this in mind – I shall not invoke other interpretations without explicitly stating why I think that is helpful. Since I still feel that what I’ve been saying is a touch ambiguous, I’d like to try put together another little summary; not of one detail of the argument this time, but of the argument as a whole. I think it would be helpful to recount exactly what it is I am arguing, why I think my interpretation is valid, and why I think comparison to other explanations – any others, not necessarily ‘yours’! – would be helpful. (With apologies to Hume for how I structure my argument.)
 

I am interested in the following situation. Some time in the past, a Shaper created Creation A. Later, this Shaper absorbs Creation A, and then creates Creation B. I am interested in the mechanism that produces Creation B. Where does the information that creates Creation B come from? How does the detail that makes up the brain of Creation B arise? What would it be like to be Creation B; does their memory extend only to the point at which they are created, or does it extend to some earlier point in time?
 

To answer these questions, I propose a mechanism. I state that the information about Creation A, when it is absorbed by the Shaper, remains accessible to the Shaper. When Creation B is created, Shaper B calls on this information, and uses it as an aid to make the creation. If Creation B is the same type as Creation A, then the Shaper can just spit the information out again – no creation in the strict sense is happening here, just a reversal of the absorption process. If Creation B is significantly different from Creation A, the Shaper uses the complex details of Creation A as a basis (e.g. the brain, the nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems, etc.), and builds the rest of Creation B around this, if necessary slightly modifying the complex details to account for the new body.
 

To account for the very first creation made by the Shaper, I state that this information is obtained from an outside source. The information could be contained in a Canister, for instance, or passed on directly from shaper to shaper. The original information was developed carefully and slowly over time, from the first shapers creating the simplest life possible (say bacteria) or quasi-life (such as prions) and slowly adapting it over may centuries until creating something as complex as a Fyora.
 

This mechanism offers an explanation for what is happening, and provides answers for the questions I posed.
 

This is a mechanism used to explain pre-existing data. In order for such a mechanism to be valid, I believe it needs to have three properties, and three properties only:


a) It explains the data, and any subsequent data relevant to the situation being described.
b) It is self-consistent.
c) It doesn’t violate any physical laws, or it replaces these laws with different laws that do not violate the successful predictions of the old laws.
 

I believe my mechanism has all of these properties. It describes the situation, it is consistent, and I have gone to some lengths to try and show that it doesn’t violate the physical laws of the universe we’re looking at (stated rather euphemistically as ‘lore’ earlier on).
 

Note that a mechanism isn’t required to follow on logically from general observations made in the universe it is trying to describe. If a mechanism is not directly indicated by the data, or the world at large, that’s not a problem. My mechanism doesn't have to be derived from the Geneforge universe, merely explain it adequately.
 

As an analogy to this, consider Special Relativity. This is a theory that aims to explain some bad predictions of the earlier theory of Newtonian Relativity in certain very specific situations. One of its premises is that the speed of light is the same in all reference frames. From the point of view of Newtonian Relativity, and the universe we observe in our day-to-day lives, that premise is utterly absurd. We know full well that how fast things seem to move depends on how fast you are moving yourself, and to say otherwise is obviously nonsense. Why should light be different from anything else, and why should it alone behave so strangely?
 

And yet, when this premise is applied, Special Relativity becomes a more general model than Newtonian Relativity, making better predictions in more situations. The mechanism is a better one, despite not being implied by the data itself, or from the world itself in a broader sense.
 

I claim that my mechanism adheres to the three points above. I have given examples which show the mechanism adhering to these points. That’s all the burden of proof that is needed, I think. If I show this, then my mechanism must be valid.
 

I believe the only way you can discredit my model is to challenge it based on these three points. If you can show that my mechanism violates points a), b) or c), then my mechanism becomes invalid. Otherwise, I believe it stands.
 

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. Just because a model is valid doesn’t mean that it’s useful. This is where direct comparison becomes important, I think.
 

As an example, consider the geocentric model of the cosmos, the model in which the earth is fixed in place, and the universe revolves around it. The model fulfils all three of my points. It explains the data, it’s consistent, and it doesn’t break physical laws. It’s a perfectly valid, acceptable mechanism for explaining the universe. If you have any doubt about that, recall that we use this model most of the time in experiments. If you’re dropping cannon balls from the Tower of Pisa, the last thing you want to do is to start modelling the earth spinning around the sun; there’d be little point. You just assume that the earth is stationary. That’s geocentrism.
 

However, the mathematics and descriptions of the geocentric model become extremely complicated and tortuous when you start looking beyond the confines of the earth. The further away you look, the more and more complex the predictions become, until using them at all becomes tricky.
 

Consider, by contrast, the heliocentric model, which takes the sun as the centre of the universe. This is an equally valid model. But, when you’re looking at the solar system, the predictions are much, much simpler than the geocentric model. So it’s a more useful one to use for describing that system. That’s why the model is used. Not because it’s more correct, but because it’s more useful.
 

That’s why I think comparison can be helpful. If I’m proposing a valid mechanism, you can discount it by providing another one that is equally valid, but is somehow more useful – perhaps it is simpler, or it helps to reveal some underlying information about the world which mine does not.

 

So, to summarise, I think I have adequately shown that my model is valid. To challenge it, I believe you need to show that it is invalid, by demonstrating that does not adhere to my three points. Alternatively, you can provide a model of you own which is clearly superior. Otherwise, I would like to think that my model stands.

 

Incidentally, that's a nice little argument you use about the similarity of functions. I'm perfectly willing to buy that, and happy to accept my statement on that point wasn't a helpful one!
 

14 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Ess, you're a very attractive Slith, and if I were single and you were less infuriating, I'd be happy to fork with our spears.


Aw, you flatter me! Sometimes, though, being infuriating is half the fun :)

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3 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

To answer these questions, I propose a mechanism.

Here's the first instance of our problem...

 

3 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Note that a mechanism isn’t required to follow on logically from general observations made in the universe it is trying to describe. If a mechanism is not directly indicated by the data, or the world at large, that’s not a problem. My mechanism doesn't have to be derived from the Geneforge universe, merely explain it adequately.

And here's the second.

 

If you are theorizing about what's physically possible in our world -- or in a world like ours where (1) it is possible to test a theory physically and make empirical observations, and (2) there is not a bible of metadata to pull from -- this is very reasonable.

 

You aren't.

 

You are theorizing about a sub-created world that we cannot physically access.  We can only access it via its instantiation in our world, in this case, the games and their lore.  (Via a bible, essentially!)  These instantiations literally define this world, at least to the degree that we can access it at all.  Thought experiments that don't follow from the instantiations can still be very interesting thought experiments, but they have nothing to say about that world.

 

Now maybe you want instead to theorize about that world with a particular set of speculatory theories or extrapolations stapled onto it.  That's completely legitimate, but your conclusions will be limited to the special case of Geneforge-given-certain-assumptions, not Geneforge more broadly.

 

Your mechanism theory might be at least pragmatically usable if you started with inputs and outputs and were just making a theory about what links them.  You aren't.  You are proposing new outputs not extant in that world, and new functions to link inputs and outputs, simultaneously.  This is why neither the function nor its output has any grounding in the reality of that world.

 

3 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

That’s why I think comparison can be helpful. If I’m proposing a valid mechanism, you can discount it by providing another one that is equally valid, but is somehow more useful – perhaps it is simpler, or it helps to reveal some underlying information about the world which mine does not.

 

So, to summarise, I think I have adequately shown that my model is valid. To challenge it, I believe you need to show that it is invalid, by demonstrating that does not adhere to my three points. Alternatively, you can provide a model of you own which is clearly superior. Otherwise, I would like to think that my model stands.

 

1. You're not proposing a mechanism that is valid for what you are attempting to do with it.

2. You have shown that your model is valid for a completely different argument than the one you are making.

3. You're the one who provided the three points to justify your model; stating that the only possible way your model could be inapplicable is it it doesn't fit the points your provided is assuming that everyone else accepts those.  This is elliptical logic at best.  (No, not heliocentric, just elliptical.)  (Speaking of three points...)

 

--

 

Most generously, it seems like what you are actually trying to do is take the general situation we're looking at in the Geneforge world, divorce its component parts from the Geneforge world, and ask if those parts (Shaper, Creation A, Creation B, etc.) can operate in the way you're proposing.

 

But either you're talking about what's plausible in Geneforge or you're not.  If you want a thought experiment divorced from "what follows from Geneforge," that's fine, but its results do not then say anything about vanilla Geneforge.

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Please do forgive me for being a little slow here. I’m trying to understand the position you’re arguing from, and I think I’m getting there, but there are still some things I’m unclear on. I’m going to ask some questions that might seem a little simplistic, but this is just to help me understand your reasoning. I’m really not trying to be difficult, so please bear with me.

 

5 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

You are theorizing about a sub-created world that we cannot physically access.  We can only access it via its instantiation in our world, in this case, the games and their lore.  (Via a bible, essentially!)  These instantiations literally define this world, at least to the degree that we can access it at all.  Thought experiments that don't follow from the instantiations can still be very interesting thought experiments, but they have nothing to say about that world.

 

The issue I have here is that I’m finding it hard to appreciate why this argument might not apply to other systems. For example, would this argument apply to, say, the domains of astrophysics and cosmology? After all, these are specialisms which study systems which we largely cannot physically access: for example, the universe outside of what mankind has explored. While there are of course exceptions, generally speaking these sciences study phenomena without being able to experiment on them directly. All that is available is analysing whatever data are available, and using that analysis to form consistent theories.

 

These sciences study systems from afar, using whatever data we can pick up from them. At least to me, this sounds rather similar to studying the world of Geneforge, using whatever data we can pick up through the small windows into that world that we are given through the games. In what way are these two types of study different?

 

One obvious difference is one of scale. The visible universe contains an enormous amount of data, the Geneforge games a laughably small amount by comparison. I don’t think that on its own should be much of an important distinction, since I don’t see why the amount of data should change how meaningful different approaches to studying it are. I think that can’t be the only difference, though. I have a feeling there’s something much more fundamental that I’m missing.

 

5 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Your mechanism theory might be at least pragmatically usable if you started with inputs and outputs and were just making a theory about what links them.  You aren't.  You are proposing new outputs not extant in that world, and new functions to link inputs and outputs, simultaneously.  This is why neither the function nor its output has any grounding in the reality of that world.

 

I’m not sure I quite follow your reasoning here. I don’t think I’m proposing a new output here, nor even really proposing a thought experiment. The experiment is a very real one, one that we can easily perform in the game engine. I, as player, absorb one of my creations, and make another one. That’s a situation firmly grounded in the game world. For the sake of completeness, I just went ahead and did it myself.

 

Am I not then proposing a function alone, a process that connects two different states in the Geneforge world? It seems to me as if I am making a theory about what links two pre-existing inputs and outputs, using your terminology. Since I’ve performed the experiment, these are not abstract states – they exist in some way within my own game files. I’m simply taking the game state at some time, and the game state at a later time, and proposing a theory of what could be happening within the contexts of the game lore to link them.

 

Is the issue that you think my ‘mechanism’ affects the outcome in some way? I don’t think it does. As players, we don’t have the opportunity to know anything more about the shaping process except that a creation is shaped by us. That’s all. We don’t have the data to know whether or not a new creation has any links to an old one – or, if there are such data, no-one has been able to provide me with any. Regardless of whether or not these links occur, the final state in the game remains the same: the new creation exists.

 

To me, it seems as if I’ve come up with a theory that explains what could be happening in the processes that link two states in the game: absorption and creation. It just so happens that this theory has an interesting side-effect that newly created creations can inherent memories from older ones.

 

What am I missing? I’m smiling a friendly smile here, just to demonstrate that I’m not trying to be annoying – I just feel a little ignorant!

 

5 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

3. You're the one who provided the three points to justify your model; stating that the only possible way your model could be inapplicable is it it doesn't fit the points your provided is assuming that everyone else accepts those.  This is elliptical logic at best.  (No, not heliocentric, just elliptical.)  (Speaking of three points...)

 

In my defence, I tried to be careful in stating that I thought these were valid conditions for my theory to stand, not that they were valid. I wasn’t stating them as concrete, merely as suggestions for what could constitute a valid theory in this case. (At least I didn't condemn myself to a cricular argument with only two points.)

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OK, I do think we're making some progress here.  Thank you for being rigorous with the details of the reasoning now.

 

37 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The issue I have here is that I’m finding it hard to appreciate why this argument might not apply to other systems. For example, would this argument apply to, say, the domains of astrophysics and cosmology? After all, these are specialisms which study systems which we largely cannot physically access: for example, the universe outside of what mankind has explored. While there are of course exceptions, generally speaking these sciences study phenomena without being able to experiment on them directly. All that is available is analysing whatever data are available, and using that analysis to form consistent theories.

 

These sciences study systems from afar, using whatever data we can pick up from them. At least to me, this sounds rather similar to studying the world of Geneforge, using whatever data we can pick up through the small windows into that world that we are given through the games. In what way are these two types of study different?

This argument doesn't hinge on a system being physically inaccessible, it hinges on the system being empirically inaccessible in ways that are relevant to the question at hand.  That last clause is why your "experiment" in Geneforge just now has nothing to say on this question.  (See below)

 

Even a domain like astrophysics, where you can't exactly set up custom scenarios, allows you to make a hypothesis that is falsifiable via future data.  A sub-created world like Geneforge doesn't: the set of data is finite, closed, complete.


But you aren't basing your theory on data in the first place:

 

43 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I’m not sure I quite follow your reasoning here. I don’t think I’m proposing a new output here, nor even really proposing a thought experiment. The experiment is a very real one, one that we can easily perform in the game engine. I, as player, absorb one of my creations, and make another one. That’s a situation firmly grounded in the game world. For the sake of completeness, I just went ahead and did it myself.

Okay.  If you were trying to show that creations can be absorbed, and the same type of creation can be shaped afterwards, you've proved that.  Congrats?

 

But your actual argument wasn't that.  It was this:

"When a Shaper absorbs a creation, every detail about that creation is absorbed back into the Shaper’s structure in some way. That includes every detail, including the distribution of neurons in the brain and their firing patterns, encoding the personality and memory of the creature, but also other things, such as the tiniest scars on their hide, and the food in their stomach... All this information returns to the Shaper, and the physical system that is the Shaper is altered slightly by this. Because of this, in principle, the Shaper can examine their new state, isolate the alteration, and then reproduce the original pattern of absorbed energy in every detail. So, again in principle, by absorbing every aspect of a creation, the Shaper should be able to recreate the original creation exactly in every detail."

 

None of these details receive any support from your experiment.  Not even the fact that you've recreated the type of creation, as you're very specific above: you think the Shaper somehow knows all the specifics of that individual creation at the moment of its absorption.

 

I don't understand how you think game mechanics in action could ever support this assertion, but it's easy to show that they don't.  Anything you do to the creation in between creating it and absorbing it is not present in the fresh one you make afterwards.  This includes changing its name (cosmetic, but technically part of the game mechanics).  This includes augmenting its stats -- and although technically you could choose to make the same augmentations when you create the creation, you could also do that if it was the first time you ever made that creation, so this clearly is not knowledge drawn from the old absorbed one.

 

More importantly, it includes experience points, level ups, and skill points.  There is no way to recreate those.  In fact, depending your skills at each time of creation, it might be impossible for the new creation to be anywhere near the old one in these parameters.  And as level affects base stats, this also impacts its Intelligence score.

 

I guess you could argue that the brain is totally irrelevant to both experience points, and Intelligence, and that they are part of some other piece of the creation that is magically left out of the freshly shaped one?

 

52 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Is the issue that you think my ‘mechanism’ affects the outcome in some way? I don’t think it does. As players, we don’t have the opportunity to know anything more about the shaping process except that a creation is shaped by us. That’s all. We don’t have the data to know whether or not a new creation has any links to an old one – or, if there are such data, no-one has been able to provide me with any. Regardless of whether or not these links occur, the final state in the game remains the same: the new creation exists.

 

To me, it seems as if I’ve come up with a theory that explains what could be happening in the processes that link two states in the game: absorption and creation. It just so happens that this theory has an interesting side-effect that newly created creations can inherent memories from older ones.

Nothing in the game or its lore suggests that is a possible output.  No, it's not explicitly ruled out, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence -- or evidence of presence.  When you add that as a possible output, you are no longer pulling from the game world.  Since your IO link is similarly speculative and not pulled from the game world, you're just adding two things arbitrarily.  Which, again, fine as a thought experiment, but says nothing about Geneforge.

 

So if you want to argue:

 

"If it is possible to create a creation or its brain at the moment of its absorption, then it could work like this..."

Great.

 

Your argument wasn't conditional.  Your argument was that it is possible to do these things.

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I think the whole original point of this discussion was whether or not upgrading a creation was feasibly possible within game lore for roleplaying purposes, not whether it actually is shown to happen. As you stated, Slarty, although the idea has no real evidence behind it, the concept is not clearly ruled out through any available evidence either, making that style of Geneforge roleplaying valid. There's no evidence that recreating an old creation in a new body is impossible or even difficult, just that it's not indicated. Would you say that's been established?

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13 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Even a domain like astrophysics, where you can't exactly set up custom scenarios, allows you to make a hypothesis that is falsifiable via future data.  A sub-created world like Geneforge doesn't: the set of data is finite, closed, complete.

 

Okay, that makes sense to me. As I understand it, you’re saying that the disciplines of astrophysics and cosmology are meaningful because the systems they are studying evolve over time. For instance, astrophysical systems produce new data as time evolves, presenting new data. Also, the size of the visible universe also increases with time, presenting new systems that can be studied.
 

It is therefore possible to propose some sort of hypothesis that can be applied to structures that, at the time of the construction of the hypothesis, don’t yet exist.
 

So, if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to probe this a little further to improve my understanding of your point. If the world of Geneforge were not closed, but instead showed change over time (by which I mean time experienced by those of us making any theories/measurements), could a mechanism/hypothesis approach applied to it become meaningful?
 

I ask this because I’m trying to figure out what constitutes change over time. For example, if I had made this argument during the development of the Geneforge series, would the world of Geneforge at that point be considered as ‘closed’ or not? Let’s say that I proposed this theory of mine after Geneforge 2 had been released, and while Spiderweb was working on Geneforge 3. If I could, at that point, have provided some form of prediction of what would be included in Geneforge 3 as a result of my theory, do you think that approach would have been a meaningful one? In a strict sense, the world at Geneforge was evolving over time at that point – but I’m not sure whether it’s the sort of evolution that would make this approach meaningful.
 

Perhaps another example to consider might be the (now rather forgotten) game Galapagos: Mendel’s Escape, which provides a situation perhaps a little closer to real-world behaviour. In Galapagos, you guide a creature, Mendel, through a 3D environment by manipulating the environment itself. Mendel is a simulation of artificial life, and explores the environment of their own volition. The creature learns about the environment as it interacts with it, learning what is dangerous, what to avoid, what is safe, etc.. For example, if the player causes Mendel to fall off platforms repeatedly (say by being clumsy), Mendel will start to fear platforms, and will try to avoid them.
 

Since Mendel is constantly learning and adapting, it strikes me that this is a good example of a video game system that does evolve over time. Mendel's learning causes the system to change as it is run, constantly providing more information that could be studied. It also seems that there’s an additional positive for this system, since the indirect interaction of the player with the learning system allows a level of testing which isn’t really possible in Geneforge. If I applied a mechanism/hypothesis style approach to Galapagos, would it be valid?

 

13 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Anything you do to the creation in between creating it and absorbing it is not present in the fresh one you make afterwards. [...] More importantly, it includes experience points, level ups, and skill points.  There is no way to recreate those.  In fact, depending your skills at each time of creation, it might be impossible for the new creation to be anywhere near the old one in these parameters.  And as level affects base stats, this also impacts its Intelligence score.

 

I must confess to some slight subterfuge. When I first asked for counter-examples to my theory, I was hoping someone would mention this; it’s something I had in mind. I didn’t mention it myself – or imply that I’d thought of it – because I didn’t think it was a perfect counter, but it’s strong enough to be important, I think.

 

This isn’t a perfect counter, because I can make additions to the theory to counteract it. Essentially, it’s similar to what you yourself said at the end of that part of your argument.

 

If a shaper ‘recreates’ a creature which is significantly less skilled that its ‘former’ version, this can be argued away by suggesting that the shaper isn’t skilled enough themselves to recreate the original version exactly. I mean, that’s sort of what the game is saying anyway – the original creature improved itself on its own, and the shaper’s skill points aren’t enough to reproduce that. In my version of events, the shaper might keep the brain and complex systems intact, but skimp on some details of the body itself, or the connections between the brain and body. As a result, the creature might be the same mentally, but they might not have as strong a control over their new body as they did the previous one. While they learned to adapt to it, they’d be weaker, more feeble, slower etc.. In other words, they’d look like a less skilled creation.

 

Conversely, if a shaper recreates a creature that is more skilled than its former version, that could simply be indication of their own innate skill. They shape the creature, but this time improve the body and connections to the mind. The result is a more skilled creature.

 

Now, before you start dissecting this, let me. Bolting on ideas to a theory to make it weather bad predictions is fine from a validity point of view, I would think. The new theory still ‘works’ to explain what it’s trying to explain. But it adds complexity to the model, and that complexity is a problem – it weakens the model by, for example, meaning that it could more easily be superseded by simpler theories.

 

For instance, let’s go back to geocentrism. A simple model of geocentrism can’t account for retrograde motion of planets. To get around this, you can adapt the theory by adding epicycles for planetary motion, essentially having the planets orbit in little circles around a point that traces out the full circular orbit. That’s fine – it fits the data. But it adds complexity to the theory. The mathematics of epicycles (and extensions requiring epicycles of epicycles of epicycles of ...) is one of the main contributions to the intractability of the theory, and why heliocentrism is much more useful in certain situations. In other words, bolting on additional material to the theory weakens it in comparison to others.

 

So, I can produce a theory which is not counteracted by the game mechanics, but that theory is a weaker one. Before you raise the spectre of lack of evidence, onwards ...

 

13 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

So if you want to argue:

 

"If it is possible to create a creation or its brain at the moment of its absorption, then it could work like this..."

Great.

 

I am happy to make an argument in that way, but I would like to make one more stipulation. I would like to add a clause saying, ‘and I believe there is no evidence to suggest that it is not’. In other words, I would want to say:

 

‘If it is possible to create a creation or a brain that is identical to one previously absorbed, and I believe there is no evidence to suggest that it is not, then it could work like this ...

 

Now, before I start annoying you too much, let me be clear here. I know that absence of evidence is not proof. Far from it! I want to include that stipulation not because it strengthens the argument, but that it provides some information to the reader that I have considered ways in which the argument could be rebuffed. I think a simple way of counteracting an argument that says ‘if a system has property X, then’ is to provide an example that shows that the system being considered doesn’t have property X. By adding this clause I feel like I’m making life easier for the reader. Is this sufficient justification for adding such a clause, do you think?

 

There is a further reason why I would like to add such a clause in this particular case. My reason for coming up with this theory was to respond to something already written in this thread. With apologies for paraphrasing the original posters, but the initial exchange went something like this. Vinlie stated that they role-played their creations as evolving over time as they were absorbed and created in different forms. alhoon said rather categorically that this was not what happened, that that way of thinking was entirely incorrect. This was stated without any proof. I wanted to submit a theory that showed how Vinlie’s interpretation could take place. Since alhoon’s response contained no proof, I felt that it is important to emphasise the lack of proof of contradiction of my own theory. In other words, it’s a way of saying ‘your statement of fact is not fact, and does not in any way diminish this alternate explanation I have devised’. Does that make some sense? I suspect it might not, which is a motivation behind my asking this! I want to try and understand things more clearly!

 

13 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

In fact, depending your skills at each time of creation, it might be impossible pfhor the new creation to be anywhere near the old one in these parameters.

 

Fixed Your Typo.

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6 hours ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

I think the whole original point of this discussion was whether or not upgrading a creation was feasibly possible within game lore for roleplaying purposes, not whether it actually is shown to happen. As you stated, Slarty, although the idea has no real evidence behind it, the concept is not clearly ruled out through any available evidence either, making that style of Geneforge roleplaying valid. There's no evidence that recreating an old creation in a new body is impossible or even difficult, just that it's not indicated. Would you say that's been established?

 

I would disagree. There is strong evidence that it is nearly impossible. As mentioned in GF5, there's a whole quest about a brain in an ornk and how complicated it was. 

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1 hour ago, alhoon said:

As mentioned in GF5, there's a whole quest about a brain in an ornk and how complicated it was. 

 

I think you might be slightly misremembering this encounter, alhoon. Very little is said in connection to the ornk at all, and nothing is mentioned about brain complexity, so far as I can recall. I believe the entire description of the special nature of the creature is this:

 

"The Shaper I served under had developed a new sort of ornk. A smart ornk."

 

As for the experiment itself, we are told:

 

"The Shaper said it was just experimenting on different sorts of brains."

 

This line says very little. It just mentions that the Shaper was experimenting on brains, not that this research was difficult, or revolutionary, or even particularly new. They’re just studying brains.

 

That’s it. All these two phrases really says is that a Shaper developed an ornk that’s smarter than other ornk, as part of some study into brains. I don’t see any particular reason why that shouldn’t have been done using my approach. Why couldn’t this Shaper have absorbed the brain of some other creation, and then just shaped an ornk around it? That’s an interesting experiment, and I can perfectly well envision shapers wanting to keep the creature around for study, to see how an intelligent creature adapts to life as an ornk – and then presumably dissecting it later to see how the nervous system coped with the interface between brain and body. That’s an experiment on a brain – just not the sort of experiment you were thinking of. I'm not sure your example is really 'strong evidence' in this context.

 

New areas of science don’t always emerge because someone finds a way to do something difficult. Sometimes, it’s because someone does something no-one thought to do before! Perhaps this ‘new sort’ of ornk was only new because no-one had thought to make one before? As my source herself says about such an ornk: “Why would we need that?”

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12 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I must confess to some slight subterfuge. When I first asked for counter-examples to my theory, I was hoping someone would mention this; it’s something I had in mind. I didn’t mention it myself – or imply that I’d thought of it – because I didn’t think it was a perfect counter, but it’s strong enough to be important, I think.

 

This isn’t a perfect counter, because I can make additions to the theory to counteract it. Essentially, it’s similar to what you yourself said at the end of that part of your argument.

I think it's ridiculous bad faith to intentionally omit a known flaw in the hopes that you can then move the goalposts when somebody else brings it up.

 

12 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I ask this because I’m trying to figure out what constitutes change over time. For example, if I had made this argument during the development of the Geneforge series, would the world of Geneforge at that point be considered as ‘closed’ or not? Let’s say that I proposed this theory of mine after Geneforge 2 had been released, and while Spiderweb was working on Geneforge 3. If I could, at that point, have provided some form of prediction of what would be included in Geneforge 3 as a result of my theory, do you think that approach would have been a meaningful one? In a strict sense, the world at Geneforge was evolving over time at that point – but I’m not sure whether it’s the sort of evolution that would make this approach meaningful.

It's still basically a finite set of information.  The difference if you know there are more games coming is simply that there's more finite information that you don't know, but it's still a finite set.  The unreleased information may or may not speak to a given hypothesis.  If it does, you have an answer, if it doesn't, you don't.  You don't know which outcome it will be, but in neither case is there room for empirical exploration.

 

12 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

If a shaper ‘recreates’ a creature which is significantly less skilled that its ‘former’ version, this can be argued away by suggesting that the shaper isn’t skilled enough themselves to recreate the original version exactly.

If the PC isn't skilled enough to do this, then we have an even simpler answer to the actual question here, which after all involved the PC doing this.

 

We know the PC can't do this.  We see plenty of other people doing shaping and none of them ever attempt this, or comment on it.  Nobody does anything even remotely similar to it.  There frankly would be pretty obvious applications if they could -- most obviously, shapers would just make clones of very loyal creations and basically eliminate the risk of creations going rogue.

 

Shaping is not cloning.  Period.  The game doesn't say this because cloning doesn't exist in Geneforge, so there's no reason to.  But starting with the journals describing the "tiny scrolls" and Heustess's stories, from G1 on, it's been very clear: shaping combines the brute force manipulation of genetic material with the synthesis of organic matter from essence.  It's not a transporter.  It's not a replicator.  It's not a holodeck.  It's the Eugenics Wars, or maybe if you're lucky it's just tribbles.

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Just need to say this thread is amazing. A+, 10/10, would let Ess and Slarty argue again.

 

13 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

...from G1 on, it's been very clear: shaping combines the brute force manipulation of genetic material with the synthesis of organic matter from essence.  It's not a transporter.  It's not a replicator.  It's not a holodeck.  It's the Eugenics Wars, or maybe if you're lucky it's just tribbles.

 

^ This is the best part, FYI.

While I'm posting, I've been meaning to ask: is "TM Paladin" a reference to the most infamous TM of the Spiderweb forums?

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Yes.  His moniker at the time of one of his very long bans was "Butt Paladin".  As a result of the ban, it stuck around (and is still visible on PPP).

 

On 4/19/2009 at 7:57 AM, TM Paladin said:
I remember trying to decide whether "Butt Paladin" or "Fulgorous Ziggurat" was more inspired.

 

And it really was inspired.  So TM Paladin honors that, and also a non-Spiderweb circumstance I fell into, for which the phrase "Butt Paladin" is appropriate on at least six or seven different levels.

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5 hours ago, Triumph said:

Just need to say this thread is amazing. A+, 10/10, would let Ess and Slarty argue again.

 

Well, I’m glad it’s of some interest. There are some good ideas in this thread, and it’s made me think about some things I’d previously taken for granted, or not really explored properly. If it’s given food for thought for others too, then that much the better.

 

19 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

I think it's ridiculous bad faith to intentionally omit a known flaw in the hopes that you can then move the goalposts when somebody else brings it up.

 

I can assure you my intent wasn’t to deceive anyone. I honestly thought that it was an obvious objection, one that my mention of a counter-example would directly imply to the readers of this topic. One of my motivations for repeatedly asking for counter-examples was to drive home the point, to make sure that readers thought about counter-examples and came up with the one I thought was obvious. I assumed that people hadn’t mentioned it because they didn’t think it applied for some reason, or because there were other parts of the argument they preferred to explore.

 

That’s a danger of making assumptions based on what appears to be obvious. I feel bad for falling into that trap. It also seems that this has caused you to lose significant faith in me, and for that I am really very sorry.

 

19 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

It's still basically a finite set of information.  The difference if you know there are more games coming is simply that there's more finite information that you don't know, but it's still a finite set.  The unreleased information may or may not speak to a given hypothesis.  If it does, you have an answer, if it doesn't, you don't.  You don't know which outcome it will be, but in neither case is there room for empirical exploration.

 

Okay. So as I understand it, you’re saying that the important factor is the finite nature of the system being studied. The thing I find confusing about that is that I find it difficult to see why that distinguishes Geneforge from the universe at large.

 

The second law of thermodynamics implies that all information in the universe decays irreversibly into heat energy over time. I believe the further implication is that, at some future time, the universe will consist entirely of a homogeneous, unchanging bath of heat energy. If all information slowly decays to heat over time, then it would seem that the end result would be all heat and no information. Studying a system in such a state seems a little like staring at the final screen of Geneforge 5 forever, thinking that it will provide you with more information the longer you look at it.

 

In some senses, one could think of that final state of the universe as its ‘end’. Since the universe is then bounded by time, it would appear to be finite in that sense. Of course, the universe could still be infinite in spacial terms, but that doesn’t matter for an observer. The limit on the speed of information transfer – c – means that an observer needs infinite time to study a space that is infinite in extent. If there is not infinite time, the amount of information an observer can collect is necessarily finite. So, it seems to me that the universe – from the point of view of an observer – is finite. It’s big, but it’s limited. Isn’t that the same as the world of Geneforge, just on a much, much bigger scale? Again, I don't mean to be difficult here. I feel I'm missing something really obvious, and I'm not sure what that is.

 

19 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Shaping is not cloning.  Period.

 

Uh, Slarty? I can’t help but be a little concerned by this. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying; I know it wouldn’t be the first time. I also know I’m not the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to this sort of argument. But, from my perspective, this part of the argument seems to come down to you pointing at me a saying ‘Ya boo sucks, you’re wrong’.

 

Despite claiming that you’re not employing an interpretation of your own, it seems to me as if that’s exactly what you’re doing here. You’re pointing to a couple of examples of pieces of information from Geneforge 1, and then extrapolating from these examples to produce an interpretation of what’s going on. For instance, I feel that the magical microscope I think you’re referring to in Geneforge 1 simply shows that Shapers, at one time on Sucia island, could see down to the level of genetic structure and manipulate it. It doesn’t say how the Shapers used that technique, so any statement to that effect is your interpretation, isn’t it? It seems to me that this argument involves you constructing an interpretation, comparing it to mine, and then saying that this gives you concrete proof that my own interpretation is fundamentally incorrect. Am I missing something obvious? Again, I want to stress that I'm not trying to be difficult. I just want to try and understand your position.

 

As it is, I find myself getting a touch worried as to where this argument is going.

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It may be worth mentioning that creations are made fully-grown and ready to follow commands and go to battle. There must be some level of being able to give a creation a personality and active thought processes from the outset, wouldn't there be?

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16 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

It also seems that this has caused you to lose significant faith in me, and for that I am really very sorry.

 

In you, absolutely not.  In the way you approach a debate, maybe.

 

16 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Okay. So as I understand it, you’re saying that the important factor is the finite nature of the system being studied. The thing I find confusing about that is that I find it difficult to see why that distinguishes Geneforge from the universe at large... So, it seems to me that the universe – from the point of view of an observer – is finite. It’s big, but it’s limited. Isn’t that the same as the world of Geneforge, just on a much, much bigger scale?

 

Yes, I agree that from that perspective our world is also technically finite.  But that isn't the perspective we have as residents of our world.  We can make theories and test them actively by doing things in whatever permutation suits our exploration and seeing what happens.  We can't do that with Geneforge.  Even if there were more games coming.  The things we can learn about our world through empirical interaction are so large and broad that we can't see the bounds of them; and that experimental space is complex enough that it is easy to investigate a wide variety of questions "meaningfully" to borrow your word.  Perhaps "finite" is a less technically accurate distinction than "has an incredibly tinier space to explore."  There's nothing we can do, empirically, to shed new light on this question -- we have all the information Geneforge is going to give us, short of an act of Author.

 

16 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Uh, Slarty? I can’t help but be a little concerned by this. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying; I know it wouldn’t be the first time. I also know I’m not the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to this sort of argument. But, from my perspective, this part of the argument seems to come down to you pointing at me a saying ‘Ya boo sucks, you’re wrong’.

 

Does this come from my being emphatic about that assertion?  Because I still followed it up with evidence.  I have no interest in making an argument in a meaningful debate like this by assertion alone, and if you catch me doing that please call me out.

 

16 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

For instance, I feel that the magical microscope I think you’re referring to in Geneforge 1 simply shows that Shapers, at one time on Sucia island, could see down to the level of genetic structure and manipulate it. It doesn’t say how the Shapers used that technique, so any statement to that effect is your interpretation, isn’t it?

 

You'll note that I mentioned two key sources of lore from G1.  The other one -- Heustess, whose extensive recounting you may not remember, covers what they did with it.

 

It's not in any way evidence that they never did anything else with it.  But the name of the game is Geneforge.  Over five games, there is endless implication that shaping involves magical genetic manipulation, and zero indication that it can duplicate an existing thing, rather than simply creating a generically similar thing from the same genetic material.

 

This is really the crux.  Please point me to any evidence that shapers can precisely duplicate (I think we agree total precision would be required for a successful re-braining?) a given piece of organic material, including any aspects it gained through experience (and which cannot be predicted or duplicated solely with DNA) rather than growth/generation/shaping.  Please point me to anything that is even remotely similar to this.  Any discussion that suggests it from far away.  I've asked this repeatedly and not gotten an answer.  I don't think there is one.

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There seems to be some confusion about what cloning actually means versus the nonsensical cloning frequently depicted in science fiction. Based on the description of how experimental Shaping (i.e. without using canisters or knowledge of genes) works, there is clearly a base identical genetic template that is used for any given creation. If the basic template genetically varied, then there would not be predictable effects for a given pattern of 'bombarding it with energy' that is necessary for inventing (and repeating the invention of) new creations. By the actual definition of cloning, which is producing a genetically identical copy of something, Shaping certainly is cloning.

 

The idea of "cloning" in the nonsensical sci-fi manner, however, does not logically reflect the Geneforge world. If it were possible to duplicate a creation's skill and experience in a new creation, then Shapers would presumably incorporate such things into all newly made creations to increase their effectiveness, while what we see (from the games) is that newly made creations outside direct control are typically lost and childlike.

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So... theKian, if I understand you correctly, you argue that "Shaping, like cloning creates a basic something that is then affected by life experiences and nurture growing to be different". 

I.e. that a every Cryoa level 15 made by Bob the Shaper would be the same, a clone of a "pattern learned" by the Shaper (through training or canisters), correct? 

 

I would respectfully disagree. A 15th lvl Cryoa made by Bob the Shaper with 5 intelligence is inherently different than a 15th lvl cryoa made by Bob the Shaper with 5 str. One is smarter, the other is stronger. And this is directly built in their genes, unlike the "free" upgrades as they grow more experienced and train etc. As such, they are not truly clones but mutated beasts that are sometimes the same but sometimes different. 
And then, there's the issue that if Bob the Shaper dons his belt of +4 to Fire Creations, his Cryoa would be smarter, more cunning, more agile and more durable than what he could make without that belt. 

 

All in all, Shaping may resemble genetic engineering but it is a magic, supernatural process that doesn't follow the laws and rules of our world. (<=== In my opinion)

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8 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

In you, absolutely not.  In the way you approach a debate, maybe.

 

Yay! That’s good to know. At least I can try to learn and improve how I debate, all the more so if you’re happy to give me a hand, and point out when I make silly mistakes like that!

 

8 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

The things we can learn about our world through empirical interaction are so large and broad that we can't see the bounds of them; and that experimental space is complex enough that it is easy to investigate a wide variety of questions "meaningfully" to borrow your word.  Perhaps "finite" is a less technically accurate distinction than "has an incredibly tinier space to explore."  There's nothing we can do, empirically, to shed new light on this question -- we have all the information Geneforge is going to give us, short of an act of Author

 

Alright, I think I understand your point now. Your comment about the variety of observations we can make being so broad as to appear infinite was particularly helpful. As I see it, you are saying that there is a broad threshold of complexity above which an empirical approach can yield meaningful results, and below which it does not. Our universe is vast and complex, so measurement can yield meaningful information about it. Geneforge, on the other hand, is a tiny world, to such an extent that we can arguably list all the measurements we could make on it. In that sense, the information space is so restrictive that the results of any measurements would most likely be meaningless. Since we already ‘know’ all of the information, and have observed all the data, there’s nothing left to make a prediction on.

 

That makes a lot of sense, and I think I buy your argument. In which case, my interpretation of events cannot be demonstrated by experiment or prediction, by only by an explanation of pre-existing events. So it’s not a science, but perhaps more of a description! (Or, as Rutherford would say, stamp-collecting.)

 

What I like about this explanation is that it doesn’t preclude a world of a video game from being analysed with a meaningful empirical approach simply because it is a video game. In theory, it would be possible to create a video game that is large and complex enough to pass whatever threshold of complexity you applied, so that empirical measurements would yield valuable information about it. I suspect we cannot do that with our current level of technology, but perhaps that is something that will be possible in the future?

 

Presenting Geneforge: 2999 – the latest remake of the 20th century cult classic, updated, reengineered and remastered for the ‘90s! Set across a fully simulated virtual continent, populated with millions of fully realised characters, Geneforge’s unique setting explores a world during the dark ages of genetic research. Spiderweb’s advanced creature synthesis software means that all our characters act of their own volition – every game is different! Will the world erupt into war, or will a modern utopia arise? And how will your actions change the world’s future? Available October 2999 for all Mental Link™ devices.

 

9 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Does this come from my being emphatic about that assertion?  Because I still followed it up with evidence.  I have no interest in making an argument in a meaningful debate like this by assertion alone, and if you catch me doing that please call me out.

 

Sorry for being a little jumpy here. My concern came more from the context than from the strong nature of the assertion. From my perspective, it seemed  as if you’d been quite careful about not making any strong assertions of your own stance up until this point in the argument. You then appeared to suddenly make a very powerful denial of my own stance, explained with what looked like a strangely flimsy argument compared to your other, well-argued points. This was what I found a little worrying.

 

From what you’ve said afterwards, and thinking about it further, I don’t think your argument is flimsy at all. I think it’s quite detailed, and I'd like to perhaps focus on it a little more. While there are some points that might be ‘very clear’ from your perspective, I’m not sure they’re so immediately clear for me. That’s why I’d like to explore them in a little more detail. It will help me to understand your viewpoint, and it could be a good way to dissuade me from my views – particularly if these details support your descriptions much better than my own interpretations!

 

On 7/17/2020 at 3:07 AM, TM Paladin said:

But starting with the journals describing the "tiny scrolls" and Heustess's stories, from G1 on, it's been very clear: shaping combines the brute force manipulation of genetic material with the synthesis of organic matter from essence.

 

I hope you’ll permit me a slight diversion. Your statement, I think, is that the techniques of the Shapers arise solely due to a combination of genetic manipulation and synthesis of organic matter. Part of the problem I have with this approach is that I don’t think it provides a complete explanation of what we observe happening in the games. There’s a fairly crucial part of the puzzle that I don’t think it fully explains, and that again comes down to brains and complex living systems.

 

Let me try and show this in an example. Suppose I give myself the powers of the Shapers as you’ve described them here. I wave a hand and, in a flash, generate an adult version of Wesley Crusher from nothing more than his genetic material. The problem I have with this is that, as I understand it, genetic material only includes information about the base structure of a being, not any information that such a being would have learned through interactions with its environment having been born and gone through a conventional childhood. The genes tell you how to make a living brain, but they can’t put much more than the most simple information in it, nor can they teach a brain how to interact with the world – it seems to me that such information arises through a learning process as part of some sort of childhood.

 

As I see it, this Wesley Crusher might look like an adult, but his brain would be that of a newly born child. He wouldn’t know how to walk, how to talk, how to even stand. He probably wouldn’t even been able to breathe without a helping hand. These are learned behaviours, as I understand it, not behaviours that stem directly from genetics.

 

The brain isn’t the only part of the body where learning is vital to survival. The immune system too learns and adapts during childhood. The genetics of the system only tell it how to function in a broad sense – but it doesn’t give the system antibodies. An immune system generated out of thin air would, I think, have to learn about all infectious intruders from scratch. So, in addition to not being able to function on a level greater than that of a newborn, this Wesley Crusher would probably get very sick very quickly.

 

I can’t see him rushing into battle in such a state.

 

I may be misunderstanding this, but what we see in Geneforge to me implies that something more must be going on. The minds, knowledge and defences of these creations must come from somewhere, and I don’t think they can come from genetics alone. So where do they come from?

 

I’m proposing one possible solution. As it currently stands, I’m not sure if your explanation provides one just yet. But I may be wrong, or perhaps misunderstanding some of the details!

 

9 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

This is really the crux.  Please point me to any evidence that shapers can precisely duplicate (I think we agree total precision would be required for a successful re-braining?) a given piece of organic material, including any aspects it gained through experience (and which cannot be predicted or duplicated solely with DNA) rather than growth/generation/shaping.  Please point me to anything that is even remotely similar to this.  Any discussion that suggests it from far away.  I've asked this repeatedly and not gotten an answer.  I don't think there is one.

 

I can’t think of any good piece of evidence off-hand, but I didn’t want to neglect this part of the conversation. It's important! I’d like to look at some ideas I have in more detail, and see if I can come up with anything. I didn't want the rest of this post to wait on that. However, there is something interesting that’s come to mind right away. It doesn’t offer evidence for my theory particularly, but it does show something rather odd happening, something relating to what I talked about above.

 

What I’m thinking of is the encounter with the Drayk Syros in Geneforge 1. In this encounter, you can trade with Syros for information, skills and items. These come with a price. In terms of the game mechanics, Syros absorbs some of your skill points. In terms of what Syros actually does, though, we have a little more description. He says:

 

“I feed on meat. But, more than that, I can feed on life. Energy. Life force and potential. My magic is strong, and I can use it to draw the life from a being. Not a lot, you understand. Just a tiny bit. It barely hurts. If you let me feed on a little of your life, I will give you great assistance.”

 

Whatever it is that Syros is doing here, it relates specifically to ‘potential’. He refers to skill points as ‘potential’ when the player doesn’t have enough to offer:

 

“You do not have enough potential in you. Return when you have gained in experience.”

 

It seems to me that something interesting is happening here. This is an example of detailed knowledge being passed from one creature to another, permanently, knowledge that arises from experience rather than directly from genetics. After all, skill points are one of the three properties you mentioned as not being generally passed on when a creature is absorbed and ‘recreated’, along with experience points and level ups.

 

But skill points are being passed on here, showing that at least some transfer of information of this type is possible. It’s not clear what the information is being used for – I’ve tended to interpret this as Syros directly gaining skill points of his own as a result, but there’s no evidence for that. He could just as easily be consuming the potential as some form of raw energy for all we know.

 

But I think at least indicating that transfer of this sort of information is perhaps possible in some form is a good start. It doesn’t really back up my theory in any way, but I might need to refer back to this later. I’ll see if I can dig up anything else! For now, let’s take a moment to indulge Syros in some more of his wisdom:

 

“You were delicious.”

 

5 hours ago, TheKian said:

By the actual definition of cloning, which is producing a genetically identical copy of something, Shaping certainly is cloning.

 

Like many technical terms, ‘cloning’ has a number of different definitions depending on the situation in which it used. While this can sometimes lead to confusion, my feeling is that that’s usually more of a general issue with language than an issue with the term itself. Generally speaking, I feel that the definition of the word is usually fairly clear in the context – or if there is any confusion, it can quickly be cleared up just by checking definitions.

 

As you mentioned, cloning can be used to refer to copying of genetic material. But the term can also be used in other contexts with different connotations. For example, cloning a sheep genetically is a very different thing from cloning a pattern, which is again a different thing from cloning a quantum state (something which is impossible according to current theories). Because the word can mean different things in different contexts, there is no one ‘actual’ definition of cloning. This would be a little like stating that the ‘actual’ definition of ‘orange’ is ‘a colour’, or that the actual definition of ‘dragon’ is ‘a school’.

 

In this discussion, Slarty and I have been using ‘cloning’ in one particular context, I believe consistently. You’re using it in another, and that’s fine, since you’ve defined your use of the term! But I don’t think you can say that your use is any more correct than ours.

 

The idea of cloning to mean reproduction of the self, in the ‘science fiction’ context you mention, is far from nonsensical. It’s just a different definition of the word, applied in a different context. At present, it is an idea restricted to thought experiments, and that in and of itself has value. However, I don’t believe there’s anything to indicate that the idea is something that must forever remain theoretical. As I understand it, there’s no physical reason why that sort of cloning is prohibited – there isn’t a no-cloning-theorem for macroscopic objects. As Slarty said earlier, a brain is a physical object. There’s nothing I’m aware of that would prevent exact duplication of a physical object with the right tools. Arguably, all cloning in this context needs is a sufficiently detailed scanner, and a sufficiently detailed ‘printer’. We might not have the appropriate level of technology now, but the actual concepts behind the technology are not beyond us, I think. Compare this, for example, to a stargate. While we can propose the sort of science that might allow us to string a wormhole between two points in space, how exactly one might do that so far out of our level of experience that it’s pretty much anyone’s guess.

 

So the idea is by no means nonsensical – it’s just a different definition applied in a different context!

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@TheKian right on about the precise usage of "cloning" (in what is definitely a genetics-adjacent context) -- I was sloppy there; thanks for clarifying that!

 

On 7/18/2020 at 7:57 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Alright, I think I understand your point now. Your comment about the variety of observations we can make being so broad as to appear infinite was particularly helpful. As I see it, you are saying that there is a broad threshold of complexity above which an empirical approach can yield meaningful results, and below which it does not. Our universe is vast and complex, so measurement can yield meaningful information about it. Geneforge, on the other hand, is a tiny world, to such an extent that we can arguably list all the measurements we could make on it. In that sense, the information space is so restrictive that the results of any measurements would most likely be meaningless. Since we already ‘know’ all of the information, and have observed all the data, there’s nothing left to make a prediction on.

 

That makes a lot of sense, and I think I buy your argument. In which case, my interpretation of events cannot be demonstrated by experiment or prediction, by only by an explanation of pre-existing events. So it’s not a science, but perhaps more of a description! (Or, as Rutherford would say, stamp-collecting.)

 

What I like about this explanation is that it doesn’t preclude a world of a video game from being analysed with a meaningful empirical approach simply because it is a video game. In theory, it would be possible to create a video game that is large and complex enough to pass whatever threshold of complexity you applied, so that empirical measurements would yield valuable information about it. I suspect we cannot do that with our current level of technology, but perhaps that is something that will be possible in the future?

 

Yes, definitely.  And I think we are finally understanding each other.  Huzzah!

 

On 7/18/2020 at 7:57 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Let me try and show this in an example. Suppose I give myself the powers of the Shapers as you’ve described them here. I wave a hand and, in a flash, generate an adult version of Wesley Crusher from nothing more than his genetic material. The problem I have with this is that, as I understand it, genetic material only includes information about the base structure of a being, not any information that such a being would have learned through interactions with its environment having been born and gone through a conventional childhood. The genes tell you how to make a living brain, but they can’t put much more than the most simple information in it, nor can they teach a brain how to interact with the world – it seems to me that such information arises through a learning process as part of some sort of childhood.

 

As I see it, this Wesley Crusher might look like an adult, but his brain would be that of a newly born child. He wouldn’t know how to walk, how to talk, how to even stand. He probably wouldn’t even been able to breathe without a helping hand. These are learned behaviours, as I understand it, not behaviours that stem directly from genetics.

 

This is a good point with a good answer that you have led us to: breathing is not a learned behavior.  It's not even a conscious behavior.  The automatic output of genetics is sufficient for automatic functions like breathing.  The ability to exert muscles isn't learned either, but, as you point out, coordinating those movements is definitely learned.  I have no idea how much of that is instinct and how much is absorbed by observation from caregivers; I have to imagine the slider falls in a different place for different pseudo-learned physical capabilities like that.

 

Of course, we're mammals, and we're mammals with ridiculous brains that require both experience (and ex-uterine space) to develop.  But there are animals that emerge from the womb in a state where they are capable of defending themselves.  I will admit this is a little harder to apply to drayks, drakons, and gazers, at the least -- OTOH, some are more intelligent than others, and Ghaldring literally took years to grow up after being created.  And serviles, of course, are just like humans in this regard...

 

On 7/18/2020 at 7:57 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

I may be misunderstanding this, but what we see in Geneforge to me implies that something more must be going on. The minds, knowledge and defences of these creations must come from somewhere, and I don’t think they can come from genetics alone. So where do they come from?

 

One other comment here: we know for a fact that canisters can grant a shaper not just the physical ability to do something, but also the inherent knowledge of how to use it.  The in-game descriptions present this as being sort of like an automatic muscle memory.  (This seems harder to apply for something like a leadership canister, but we could easily interpret those as adjusting either something chemical or something visual that has the effect of improving charisma, rather than directly improving diplomatic speech.)

 

I note, however, that

1) forging a muscle memory seems a lot less complicated than replicating complex brain function; and

2) making canisters is an art that exceedingly few people in the entire series are ever shown to be capable of -- and, importantly for the original question, the PC is not one of them.

 

This might give us a window into whether this capability is a pipe dream for shapers, or simply more advanced than what they are normally capable of -- but either way, it's clearly beyond what even the cutting edge of Geneforge's shapers can do.

 

On 7/18/2020 at 7:57 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

the encounter with the Drayk Syros in Geneforge 1

 

Interesting, but it sort of seems like this just falls into the wild and immense hand-waving around what "essence" is and how it works.  I mean, I realize he doesn't feed off your essence stat, but that's not your essence, that's the free essence you have available to manipulate and put into spells and creations.

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On 7/21/2020 at 7:52 PM, TM Paladin said:

Yes, definitely.  And I think we are finally understanding each other.  Huzzah!

 

Excellent! I’m glad that I’ve managed to see your point here, and sorry that it took me a while, a whole bunch of questions, before I could grasp your argument. Here indeed is proof that we can indeed come to reasonable agreement! That wasn't so painful, was it?

 

On 7/21/2020 at 7:52 PM, TM Paladin said:

This is a good point with a good answer that you have led us to: breathing is not a learned behavior.  It's not even a conscious behavior.  The automatic output of genetics is sufficient for automatic functions like breathing.  The ability to exert muscles isn't learned either, but, as you point out, coordinating those movements is definitely learned.

 

You make a good point there about breathing. I listed it with my other examples because I was under some false pretences about how breathing came about after birth. As you point out, it is indeed an instinctive behaviour, not a learned one. Of course, this is an excellent demonstration that knowledge can arise in a brain solely from genetic information.

 

However, I would persist in my argument that all the ways in which a creature directly interacts with its environment are in some way learned, or at least calibrated in some way. The brain can do its best to try to make the necessary learning as quick and easy as possible, but I can’t see how it would be possible to calibrate a creature’s responses to the world without actually having access to that world. As I see it, anything the creature does that requires some feedback from its environment will take some finite time to learn.

 

You mentioned creatures that emerge from the womb in a state where they are capable of defending themselves. There are indeed creatures that can defend themselves, and hunt and crawl and swim and fight, on their first day in the world. There are many reptiles that can do exactly this, and most of the examples that spring to mind for me are reptilian. I’m thinking, for example, of crocodiles, who can hunt for food shortly after they are born, or turtles, who after birth dig their way out of their hidden nests in the sand and crawl to the ocean.

 

However, my feeling is that these are situations where the brain is doing the best it can with limited information. The brain has come up with a model that will just about work for most situations, so it can work without the sort of calibration I’ve been talking about. That allows a creature to function immediately, but not very well. It’s like using some sort of measuring device without calibrating it properly first – yes, you can get some crude information from it (is measurement A larger than measurement B?) but you’re not going to get anything much more than that.

 

If you look at such instinctive actions of newborns, they are crude and clumsy. Yes, the turtles can crawl over sand, but they’re not very good at it – they are slow and inefficient. If you look at newborn crocodiles hunting for food, they’re really bad at it. It takes quick learning, experience and a little luck for the tiny creatures to get the food they need. Sadly, in both cases many youngsters die because they can’t act efficiently enough fast enough.

 

I would argue that these situations are very different from the ones that confront new creations in Geneforge. A creation can be made and expected to fight immediately. A creation can be freshly spawned and be not just strong, but dextrous. They can avoid blows from an assailant through quick, fast movement alone – exactly the sort of movement that requires careful calibration of muscle movement with respect to the environment. That sort of ability is unlike anything I can think of in nature for a newborn. I could be mistaken, though, so do give me examples if I’m missing something!

 

So, even though genetics can provide a brain with information, I would argue that such information is only on a very basic level. What we see in Geneforge are new creations with advanced behaviour and reflexes, and I am still unconvinced that genetics alone can explain that. Stumbling baby crocodiles will not cut it when faced with a small army of Drayks, even if I wave my hand and give them adult bodies!

 

Interestingly, there’s something in the Geneforge games themselves about this. Here’s some text from the Illya Safehouse in Geneforge 4, something I stumbled on when looking for something else:

 

“There are two newly made battle betas here. They stare around blankly trying to understand their surroundings, like gigantic, extremely muscular toddlers. Fortunately, their brains are designed to mature quickly. In a few days, they will have developed enough to be able to understand their first orders.”

 

The implication here is that new creations do need to learn in order to become effective. But, if so, how is it that the player’s creations can act immediately without this growth period? Is there something that distinguishes the player’s creations from other creations in some way? If there is, does that not imply that something else is going on outside of purely genetic information? After all, if everyone is using the same template for Battle Betas, wouldn’t Battle Betas all have the same sort of growth period, not just some of them?

 

On 7/21/2020 at 7:52 PM, TM Paladin said:

One other comment here: we know for a fact that canisters can grant a shaper not just the physical ability to do something, but also the inherent knowledge of how to use it.  The in-game descriptions present this as being sort of like an automatic muscle memory.  (This seems harder to apply for something like a leadership canister, but we could easily interpret those as adjusting either something chemical or something visual that has the effect of improving charisma, rather than directly improving diplomatic speech.)

 

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that knowledge passed on by canister creation can always be accounted for by some sort of muscle memory, some information about how the body itself works, rather than directly writing information into the brain. I have a slight conceptual difficulty with this, something that actually relates to the previous point.

 

I would argue that a creature has their own set of calibrations for how their body responds to the world, and that these are different for each individual. The distribution of the muscles, the height, the weight, the strength of individual muscle groups will be more or less different for everyone. The problem I have with your explanation is that it tries to rewrite a body without access to these calibrations. How can you make someone interact more efficiently with their environment if you don’t know in detail how they’re interacting with the environment in the first place? Isn’t this the same problem as faced by newborns, just expressed differently?

 

Let’s say that I make a Dexterity Canister. I can see how a slight change to how certain muscles are stimulated might help make one person more dextrous. But I can also see how applying exactly the same change to another individual might have very different results, simply because their musculature would be different.

 

This actually leads neatly into a comment I wanted to make about canister creation. For Geneforge 4 has something interesting to say about this:

 

“You and I have both been reshaped, changed so that magic is part of us, so that our power is as natural as lifting a finger. And when I make a canister, a copy of that bit of me goes into it. Then, when someone uses the canister, it reshapes them, giving them the ability contained within.”

 

These are the words of Gibbons, who creates canisters in the Illya Safehouse. You asked me for evidence that shapers can copy the material of a creature and, specifically, “any aspects it gained through experience (and which cannot be predicted or duplicated solely with DNA) rather than growth/generation/shaping.” I think this may be an example of that. As I read it, Gibbons is copying part of his knowledge, and wrapping it up with the material inside the canister. This knowledge than passed on to the person who uses the canister.

 

The question is whence this knowledge came. Is this knowledge that Gibbons learned in his ‘reshaped’ state, or was it knowledge passed on to him during the reshaping process? If the latter, then where did the knowledge originate from? If you’ll permit me to paraphrase Asimov, machines that give people knowledge are all very well, but someone has to program them. Someone, at some point, would have had to have learned that knowledge, and then passed it in. Even if it wasn’t Gibbons who learned it, someone at some point will have learned it by experience, I would argue. This knowledge is then copied until it reaches the canister.

 

So, I would argue that this is an example of a shaper creating a copy of knowledge gained through experience.

 

But is there another explanation? Could this arise purely from genetics? Let’s suppose that Gibbons is only passing on some genetic change brought about by his reshaping. In this situation, though, wouldn’t passing on the change pass on all the changes brought about by reshaping, not just some of them? Replicating a complete genetic change seems feasible, but pulling the change apart into all the various ways in which it changes the body, and then picking only one of them to put into a canister, seems a bit more of a stretch. I’m not sure there’s enough information in the problem to pull off a stunt like that – it feels a little like trying to accurately state how many red and blue balls there are in a bucket when you can only look at one ball.

 

Uh, I’ve been rambling a little, but here’s one more little point. There’s a little encounter in the Testing Halls in Geneforge 5. Here, you speak to a Thahd, who says:

 

“You are student. You choose good. You fight me, killed by me! I give quick, clean death, not like lesser, useless copy of me in next room. Lesser copy! Broken copy!”

 

Since we’ve been arguing terminology, you’ll not that the Thahd says ‘copy’, rather than clone. Of all the words the Thahd could have chosen – brother, sister, cousin, twin – the Thahd says copy. As we’ve said, clones are not copies. Use the same genetic material, and you don’t end up with a copy – you end up with something that is merely similar. To produce Thahds that are actually copies of one another, you need to go further than mere genetics, I would think. Does that seem reasonable?

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30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

As you point out, it is indeed an instinctive behaviour, not a learned one. Of course, this is an excellent demonstration that knowledge can arise in a brain solely from genetic information.

"Brainstem operation of muscles that is totally divorced from consciousness" and "knowledge" are definitely not the same thing.

 

30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

The implication here is that new creations do need to learn in order to become effective. But, if so, how is it that the player’s creations can act immediately without this growth period? Is there something that distinguishes the player’s creations from other creations in some way? If there is, does that not imply that something else is going on outside of purely genetic information? After all, if everyone is using the same template for Battle Betas, wouldn’t Battle Betas all have the same sort of growth period, not just some of them?

 

There is, in fact, something that distinguishes the player's creations from other creations.  We see other shapers doing things that the player can't: in particular

1) shaping on-the-fly during combat -- I think first witnessed in Crowley in G4

2) shaping creations that can exist indefinitely without permanently depleting their creators' essence reserves

 

I think this is commented on a few times -- there are aspects to shaping with alternate approaches that the player simply never learns, due to lack of opportunity.

 

In particular, point #2 I think could explain why those battle betas needed a growth period to function, but the player's creations can function in a flash.

 

30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that knowledge passed on by canister creation can always be accounted for by some sort of muscle memory, some information about how the body itself works, rather than directly writing information into the brain. I have a slight conceptual difficulty with this, something that actually relates to the previous point.

 

I'm not asserting this, but the game describes it that way at least sometimes.  My point here was just that this is at least possible (and it's a point on your side if anything).

 

Unless my memory is extremely faulty -- I don't have the games on hand to check -- but I think this is described specifically in the dialog that appears in G1 when you use that very first Firebolt canister.  Probably a useful thing to look up whether or not it supports my position, if someone has it handy.  (And if you're going to, quote the whole thing so we don't have to play games 🙂 )

 

30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

“You and I have both been reshaped, changed so that magic is part of us, so that our power is as natural as lifting a finger. And when I make a canister, a copy of that bit of me goes into it. Then, when someone uses the canister, it reshapes them, giving them the ability contained within.”

 

These are the words of Gibbons, who creates canisters in the Illya Safehouse. You asked me for evidence that shapers can copy the material of a creature and, specifically, “any aspects it gained through experience (and which cannot be predicted or duplicated solely with DNA) rather than growth/generation/shaping.” I think this may be an example of that. As I read it, Gibbons is copying part of his knowledge, and wrapping it up with the material inside the canister. This knowledge than passed on to the person who uses the canister.

 

Hugely disagree.  I asked for evidence that they can copy the fruits of experience, rather than genetic material and its procedural fruits.

 

Gibbons says "a copy of that bit of me."  "That bit" is the bit that has been "changed so that magic is part of us, so that our power is as natural as lifting a finger."

 

That's a description of what has been changed, not how it has been changed.  If the changes come from genes and their highly expedited expression, this is still just copying genes -- not the fruits of experience.

 

30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

In this situation, though, wouldn’t passing on the change pass on all the changes brought about by reshaping, not just some of them?

 

No.  He explicitly says it is "a copy of that bit of me."  Maybe that encompasses all of the changes, maybe it doesn't.  If the reshaping is modular -- and given that canisters are modular, it seems quite possible it could be -- then it just has multiple bits, one of which is being copied.

 

30 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

“You are student. You choose good. You fight me, killed by me! I give quick, clean death, not like lesser, useless copy of me in next room. Lesser copy! Broken copy!”

 

Since we’ve been arguing terminology, you’ll not that the Thahd says ‘copy’, rather than clone. Of all the words the Thahd could have chosen – brother, sister, cousin, twin – the Thahd says copy. As we’ve said, clones are not copies. Use the same genetic material, and you don’t end up with a copy – you end up with something that is merely similar. To produce Thahds that are actually copies of one another, you need to go further than mere genetics, I would think. Does that seem reasonable?

 

No, it does not.  How is it that you are willing to be very loose with terminology when dealing with the words of a skilled shaper, but suddenly are an extreme textualist when we are dealing with a thahd who clearly has not mastered the vocabulary of grammar of their language?

 

This thahd doesn't use articles.  It's not smart -- I mean, it thinks it's capable of killing the PC and also that it's capable of convincing the PC to let it kill them.  And yet you expect it to be precise in distinguishing between "copy" and "clone"?

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Posted (edited)

In regards to the mental development of new creations, there are a couple things to note. First, we know for a fact that Shapers (and Lifecrafters) can directly control the mind of a creation; this is presumably how the player controls his own creations. This would allow for controlling a freshly made creation without it being able to function on its own.

 

When we encounter Shapers that make and direct large amounts of creations, they explicitly state that they don't directly control them (I believe either a Shaper in Alwan's citadel or in one of the border forts in G5 says this). Whichever Shaper it was had something like 50 creations in the field, but they were able to be given brief attention/instructions and then carry them out on their own. The player would presumably be unable to do this due to inexperience in the first three games or lack of Shaper training in the last two, at least for a hand wave as to why the player can't do it. Presumably, the battle betas Ess-Eschas mentions from the Illya Safehouse are not being directly controlled, but are being (if you will) supplied for non-Shaper/Lifecrafter use, hence their need to develop their brains before being able to be used.

 

(Edit: I should mention that Slarty says sort of the same thing, albeit in less detail. However, on the subject of what Slarty said, I have to theorize, although it is unprovable, that taking direct control of creations requires a permanent/indefinite expenditure of essence, perhaps as a result of the necessary bond between the player and his creations)

 

This is also supported (slightly, given separation of gameplay and story) by the lack of any intelligent presence of player-made creations, even when they are highly intelligent species like drayks, drakons, gazers or ornks.

Edited by TheKian

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Posted (edited)

The lack of intelligence presence of player-made creations is also shared  with people like the Serviles that join your group in GF2, Alwan and Greta in GF3 aside of a few dialogues and the serviles that help you against the Monarch in GF4. I.e. I think it is more a game shortcoming than a world shortcoming. 

On the other hand, we're show in GF2 (that  comes to mind) that the Bazrites hold "great control" over their creation by ... simple torture. A Shaper CAN exert influence and direct a Creation but more often than not "Sends reassuring thoughts and commands" to keep a creation calm rather than control it like a puppet. Even in the case of Shaila's artila in GF4, or the artila you absorb back in GF3, there is no direct control. In the case of Shaila's artila, despite the player controlling the artila in battles, we're shown this is not the case once it sees its Lifecrafter as it joins  Shaila. In the case of the other  artila that you break up to essence, you keep the creature calm as ... it is being broken down back to essence that you absorb. You don't hold it rigid.

 

The case of controlling the creations also goes for the various turrets the player controls in GF5 (or there were in GF4? The ones that you control to not shoot at you if you have high leadership).

Or that Battle Alphas or Artilae you buy in GF5 (or is GF3? I don't recall). 

Edited by alhoon

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4 hours ago, alhoon said:

Alwan and Greta in GF3 aside of a few dialogues

 

Alwan and Greta have a ton of dialogue.  It's not everywhere, but they are not really in the same boat as player-made drayks who never say anything...

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6 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

 

Alwan and Greta have a ton of dialogue.  It's not everywhere, but they are not really in the same boat as player-made drayks who never say anything...

 

Even more convincing argument. Alwan and Greta, with their dialogue and not Shaped, are 100% controlled by the player. I can  send Alwan sit on a bomb and he will do it. That's not because the Shaper in the party commanded him to go and sit on a bomb, but because the PLAYER sent him to sit on a bomb. 

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5 hours ago, alhoon said:

 

Even more convincing argument. Alwan and Greta, with their dialogue and not Shaped, are 100% controlled by the player. I can  send Alwan sit on a bomb and he will do it. That's not because the Shaper in the party commanded him to go and sit on a bomb, but because the PLAYER sent him to sit on a bomb. 

Again, as I said in the first place, it is not major support for the point due to the clearly necessary gameplay/story segregation.

 

Also, having just finished Fallout 1 (on which Geneforge is clearly based), there is a very, very, VERY good gameplay reason for allowing the player to control party members.

RIP Dogmeat

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, TheKian said:

Also, having just finished Fallout 1 (on which Geneforge is clearly based), there is a very, very, VERY good gameplay reason for allowing the player to control party members.

 

I don't think GF is based with Fo1 although there are some similarities. I would say ... inspired in part by it. 

Also, there are very, very, very good gameplay reasons for allowing the player  to control party members before Fo1. Namely: The player is the player. The computer is  not the player. The player bought the game to play, not to see the computer play. 

 

My whole point was to say: That the player can control creations, even the intelligent ones like automatons in now way proves that the character controls them like puppets. What I think it happens is that the player sends generic commands to creations like "attack this!" or "defend me" or "When we're out of sight steal the shopkeeper's gems!" and not "move 3 steps, attack using right arm." 

Edited by alhoon

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On 7/23/2020 at 1:02 AM, TM Paladin said:

"Brainstem operation of muscles that is totally divorced from consciousness" and "knowledge" are definitely not the same thing.

 

I doubt I am suitably equipped to argue you on an epistemological point, so let me at least explain my thinking to you. My reasoning is merely that the brain, whether consciously or otherwise, interacts with the muscles to cause them to perform a certain task. That interaction can be done correctly, or incorrectly – if when trying to breathe, the brain sent out entirely random signals, nothing would happen. So could it not be argued that the brain ‘knows’ how the breathe, in the sense that it can send the correct signals that cause breathing to occur? I know this is a bit of an aside, but since this isn’t an area I am well versed in, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

 

I do have something of a vested interested in this particular example, myself. I know from experience that breathing is a strange bodily function – it is largely unconscious, but it’s seemed to me from past experience, during illness, that it’s possible to slightly alter that ‘unconscious’ process by force of will. Of course, without measuring it, it would easy enough for that to be a trick of the mind, or some other feedback system in the body compensating. But I’m not sure that breathing is as ‘totally divorced’ from consciousness as you claim.

 

On 7/23/2020 at 1:02 AM, TM Paladin said:

There is, in fact, something that distinguishes the player's creations from other creations.  We see other shapers doing things that the player can't: in particular

1) shaping on-the-fly during combat -- I think first witnessed in Crowley in G4

2) shaping creations that can exist indefinitely without permanently depleting their creators' essence reserves

 

Okay. So you’re saying that there are are at least two different types of shaping: Type A, which the player uses, and Type B, which was used to construct the Battle Betas I was thinking about. That would certainly answer quite a few questions. But it raises some further questions which I think are worth commenting on.

 

As I understand it, you are saying that there are two main differences between the two types of shaping we are talking about. One is that Type A ties up the essence of its creator for as long as the creation exists. The second is that Type A produces a creature that can react immediately to an environment in an effective way, while Type B produces creatures with a mind like that of a child, and require a development period in order to become fully effective.

 

How is it, then, that Type A produces an effective creation immediately, while Type B does not?

 

TheKian proposed one answer to this: that the player’s creations are controlled directly by the shaper that created them, and so in some sense need no mind. I have a number of problems with this explanation. For starters, the game seems to indicate that there are situations where the player doesn’t have any sort of control over their creations. The example that springs to mind is creating a creation that has an intelligence of less than 2. In these situations, the creation isn’t controlled by the player at all; it functions entirely using the game’s AI. Since the player doesn’t control the creation, I would argue that this indicates that the shaper also doesn’t control that creation. If intelligence were a factor in controlling creations in some way, my feeling is that lesser intelligence would make control easier, rather than impossible.

 

However, there’s a more fundamental problem here. I’ve argued that one of the issues of Type A shaping is that the creation can function immediately upon being created. This is a problem, because any behaviour of the creature which involves some form of feedback with its environment (e.g. standing, walking, talking, fighting etc.) requires some calibration of that feedback. That requirement for calibration remains no matter who is controlling the creation. Either the creation needs to learn how to do these things, or the mind controlling it does. It doesn’t matter how mature the mind controlling the creature is – the necessity for calibration remains.

 

To illustrate this, think of a measuring device, one which outputs a signal S to measure some quantity Q. To properly measure the quantity, you need to know what values of S signify which values of Q. It doesn’t matter how clever you are, or if you’re operating the device remotely through a robot, or if you’re being controlled by hostile creatures from Ux-Mal – without learning the calibration, you can’t accurately make the measurement.

 

So the question is, how can it be possible for the player’s creations to act immediately without some form of childhood? It seems that such a process could involve the use of essence somehow, but it what way?

 

Here is what I propose. The creatures made by the player can act immediately because they’ve already made the calibrations. If a shaper creates a creature that has already existed in some other form, then it will already have learned how to interact with the world. If it is recreated in exactly the same body, it will be able to function as effectively as before. If it is recreated in a new body, it will need to adapt – but if the body is similar enough to the old body, it may be able to do this very quickly.

 

Of course, the problem then becomes this: if Type A shaping can do this, why not Type B? Why waste time with childhood at all if there are ways to get produce creations that can act immediately on creation? I would argue that childhood is not necessarily wasted if the shaper has the luxury of time. Perhaps creations that go through a natural childhood are better learners overall, and become more efficient creations than if they had been bootstrapped straight to effectiveness. For example, consider the effectiveness of an adult learning a new language compared to a child. An adult can do it, and do it quickly, but if you have time, a child will most likely do it better.

 

In other words, I would argue that the childhood is actually not an essentially difference between Type A and Type B shaping – it comes from something else entirely. The main difference in terms of the mechanics of the Types is the essence drain from the shaper.

 

Such an explanation resolves the problem. Now, Slarty, I have a feeling that you’re going to argue that this is supposition, and not based on any evidence from the games. However, I feel that this problem requires an explanation, and I have provided one. I don’t think I’ve come across any convincing alternative explanation in this thread just yet – so it seems to me that my theory is the only one at present to explain this issue. I’m sure there’s an explanation that could arise from the genetics-only school, so please do provide me with one, or point out something I'm missing!

 

On 7/23/2020 at 1:02 AM, TM Paladin said:

Unless my memory is extremely faulty -- I don't have the games on hand to check -- but I think this is described specifically in the dialog that appears in G1 when you use that very first Firebolt canister.  Probably a useful thing to look up whether or not it supports my position, if someone has it handy.  (And if you're going to, quote the whole thing so we don't have to play games 🙂 )

 

I am only too happy to oblige, honourable Slarty. However, I couldn’t find any information of relevance in the dialogues associated with that first Fireball canister in Geneforge 1. There doesn’t seem to be any comment at all about how the player knows how to cast Fireball. All that seems to happen is as follows. The player uses the canister, and a tutorial window pops up. If you walk past the encounter, a little way into the zone your character ‘feels a bit woozy’, and then has a distinct impression that they’ve been changed somehow. The player then simply causes fire to come into existence on their hand. No comment is made about how this is done – the player just does it.

 

From the way the game is structured, though, it may be that the information is hidden somewhere later on. Perhaps the second canister says something more. When I have a moment to dig into this a little more deeply, I’ll see if I can find what else, if anything, the game has to say on this point. Canisters are an interesting mechanism, one that could be used to support or undermine my theory, I suspect.

 

On 7/23/2020 at 1:02 AM, TM Paladin said:

If the reshaping is modular -- and given that canisters are modular, it seems quite possible it could be -- then it just has multiple bits, one of which is being copied.

 

That’s a good point. There’s no reason why those changes couldn’t be modular, so Gibbons could select and choose at will. That makes a lot of sense. So let me retract that part of my objection to Gibbons using only genetics to create his canisters.

 

I would still argue that Gibbons’s description is ambiguous. He is passing on the property that allows canister-users to improve themselves, but it’s not clear what that property is. It could be a change in genetics, as you say. But it could also be knowledge gained through experience, learned from some other shaper, that happened to be poured into the Geneforge-Lite. In this case, Gibbons would be passing on that knowledge, even if he didn’t learn it himself.

 

Of course, that’s not evidence, which is what you asked for, but it’s a possible interpretation. Let me see if I can drum up anything more for you!

 

On 7/23/2020 at 1:02 AM, TM Paladin said:

No, it does not.  How is it that you are willing to be very loose with terminology when dealing with the words of a skilled shaper, but suddenly are an extreme textualist when we are dealing with a thahd who clearly has not mastered the vocabulary of grammar of their language?

 

I'm tempted to cry ad hominem here, but I find your comment a little vague. So I'll hold off for now. :)

 

So, let’s assume that the Thahd’s language use is poor. Presumably, it wouldn’t be able to generate much language on its own – it would, then, generally rely on reiterating words and concepts which it had heard before. So, for example, it might talk about the other Thahd using words it might have heard used by shapers in response to Thahds (e.g. ‘useless’, ‘broken’, ‘lesser’ etc.). That argument would imply that the Thahd would only refer to the other Thahd as a ‘copy’ if it heard the word being used by a shaper to describe the Thahds. In other words, if you’re saying that the Thahd is too poorly versed in language to understand what it is saying, it needs to get the very words it uses from somewhere. I can’t see at a first glance where such a Thahd might get the concept of ‘copy’ from, except for the instance in which the Thahd in the other room is a copy.

 

Uh, I appreciate that’s probably a silly argument arising out of my own ignorance. So, again, please do be patient with me! I’m interesting to learn about the flaws that can pop up in my reasoning!

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46 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

"Brainstem operation of muscles that is totally divorced from consciousness" and "knowledge" are definitely not the same thing.

 

I doubt I am suitably equipped to argue you on an epistemological point, so let me at least explain my thinking to you... could it not be argued that the brain ‘knows’ how the breathe, in the sense that...

 

No.  It cannot.

 

This isn't epistemology, this is you choosing to use words in completely different senses than they are clearly being used in when you respond to them.  I'm now wondering if this is what has been happening all along, and you just haven't been saying so.  That could explain all the disagreements.

 

For the love of Shanti, don't do this.

 

52 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

How is it, then, that Type A produces an effective creation immediately, while Type B does not? ... Such an explanation resolves the problem. Now, Slarty, I have a feeling that you’re going to argue that this is supposition, and not based on any evidence from the games. However, I feel that this problem requires an explanation, and I have provided one.

 

Yeah, this is where we are living in completely different universes of argument.

 

You want a detailed, mechanical explanation of how this could work, but don't care if it follows from the games, or is supposition.

 

I want an explanation that follows from the games, but don't care if it's mechanically detailed.

 

That difference is completely fine.  If it's acknowledged, and assertions about one aren't stated as if they apply to the other.  (Because they don't.)

 

If you're employing supposition, own it -- being mechanically detailed doesn't make a supposition follow from the games.  It's still a supposition.

 

59 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I would still argue that Gibbons’s description is ambiguous. He is passing on the property that allows canister-users to improve themselves, but it’s not clear what that property is. It could be a change in genetics, as you say. But it could also be knowledge gained through experience, learned from some other shaper, that happened to be poured into the Geneforge-Lite. In this case, Gibbons would be passing on that knowledge, even if he didn’t learn it himself.

 

Of course, that’s not evidence, which is what you asked for, but it’s a possible interpretation. Let me see if I can drum up anything more for you!

 

Yes, that's not evidence at all.  Ambiguity is evidence of ambiguity, not something you can use to justify one of many possible meanings.  I feel like a lot of your arguments have run like that first paragraph there, with supposition and chosen meaning being used as if they are game-reality fact.

 

On 7/22/2020 at 8:02 PM, TM Paladin said:

How is it that you are willing to be very loose with terminology when dealing with the words of a skilled shaper, but suddenly are an extreme textualist when we are dealing with a thahd who clearly has not mastered the vocabulary of grammar of their language?

 

1 hour ago, Ess-Eschas said:

So, let’s assume that the Thahd’s language use is poor. Presumably, it wouldn’t be able to generate much language on its own...

 

I don't care about the thahd.  The point here was that you are using two very different standards for how loosely you are willing to interpret dialogue from the game.  That's inconsistent.  It doesn't matter if example B is a broken-English thahd or Khyryk -- it's inconsistent, and it's inconsistent in a way that conveniently lines up with your arguments.

 

(You could make an argument based on reliability, maybe, if you were taking the shaper's words closely and the thahd's loosely, but it's the opposite.)

 

I feel like there have been some steps backwards here.

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On 7/23/2020 at 8:15 PM, TM Paladin said:

Jeff apparently compared Geneforge 1 to Fallout when it was still being developed.  So hey.

Great, now I'm going to spend the rest of the week wondering what Geneforge: New Sucia would look like.

 

And I'll name my critters after Fallout companions, next time around. Ian sounds like a good name for a Pyroroamer....

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22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

This isn't epistemology, this is you choosing to use words in completely different senses than they are clearly being used in when you respond to them.  I'm now wondering if this is what has been happening all along, and you just haven't been saying so.  That could explain all the disagreements.

 

A wise person once said, and I paraphrase:

 

"Communication is a two-way process, and any failure of communication is also a two-way process."

 

I fear that part of the problem here is that we speak two different languages, to some degree. I speak a language that derives from the culture and location in which I live, as do you, and these languages can be surprisingly different from one another. I know that can be something of a trivial observation in the internet age, but it’s something I’ve observed myself from my own interactions – sometimes, cultural differences in interpretation can cause unintended confusion.

 

This can arise not only from location, but also from personal areas of specialism. Generally, I’ve been approaching this argument from a more scientific standpoint, and you’ve been approaching it from a more philosophical standpoint. There’s nothing at all wrong with that – I think such a mixing of ideas is a really good thing, myself, and should be encouraged – but that can sometimes mean that the definitions and meanings we place behind words can be subtly different. That can sometimes lead to confusion.

 

Again, I know these are obvious statements, but I think they’re worth making. While the words and concepts you are employing might be crystal clear and well-defined from your perspective, they might not always be so to me. I do my best to try and interpret and understand what you are saying, but I might sometimes get that wrong.

 

That’s one reason why I’ve tended to be a little discursive in my style in this thread. I was worried that my concepts might not always translate to other viewpoints, so I’ve tried to go into some detail in my arguments, and to sometimes use multiple different examples or ideas to support the same point. My hope was that that would make my ideas a little easier to interpret. If that is not the case, then I am sorry.

 

So, please understand that I’m not ‘choosing’ to redefine words here. I am honestly using the words and concepts as I understand them. I’m sorry if my understanding is limited, or does not always match with your own. I do my best to try and see things from your viewpoint, but it might take some prompting from you on occasion to help me with that.

 

One of the problems is that this type of confusion can get in the way of the argument itself, which of course I’m sure is not your intention. For instance, in this case, we were talking about a specific facet of a problem we’ve been discussing for a few posts now: the problem of how a new creation can act effectively as soon as it is created. Specifically, we were talking about whether or not this sort of behaviour is seen in nature. However, this part of the argument was sidetracked because we understand different notions of the word ‘knowledge’, even though I only used the word once – and then only to point out a mistake I had made. That’s unfortunate, since this is an interesting part of the argument, and there’s probably more to say on that point.

 

So, please try to be patient with me. I do my best to try and understand your meaning, but I am fallible, and may sometimes make mistakes.

 

22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

You want a detailed, mechanical explanation of how this could work, but don't care if it follows from the games, or is supposition.

 

I want an explanation that follows from the games, but don't care if it's mechanically detailed.

 

I think this might be another point of misunderstanding. On this point, I’m not particularly worried about the level of mechanical detail of the explanation. I’m just interested in some sort of explanation. If it has to be based on supposition, then so be it. If there is an explanation that is based on concepts thoroughly grounded in the game world, though, then that much the better. If there is a simpler explanation than mine, then that much the better too! I am happy to apply Occam’s Razor to my own ideas!

 

Let me try and explain this issue as I see it. I have come across some behaviour in the game that is odd, and which I don’t understand. It doesn’t seem to make logical sense at first glance, nor does it seem to have an analogue with the physical laws and processes of natural selection we see in our own world. In order to try and understand this problem, I applied my own theory of absorption/creation to it, and I found that it happens to explain the problem in terms that I understand. In this case, it provides an explanation that fits with the physical laws of our own universe.

 

To make sure I don’t keep referring to this problem ambiguously, let’s give it a name. How about calling it the Calibration Problem?

 

The issue regarding my solution to the Calibration Problem is that this is the only solution I have found. Posters in this thread have provided other alternatives to my absorption/creation theory, such as the ‘only-genetics’ explanation: that shapers produce creations solely by magically creating organic material with a particular genetic sequence. But I haven’t been able to use this theory, or any of the others, to solve the Problem.

 

To me, coming from a scientific mindset, this is worthy of attention. If, in a scientific context, I am presented with a bunch of different theories that attempt to explain a system, and only one of them is able to explain a certain feature of that system, then – all else being equal – that one theory is considered a better model of the system than the others.

 

Now, I don’t think going that far is helpful in this context. But it seems to me that, by providing what is currently the only solution to some odd behaviour seen in the game, my theory should at least be allowed a similar standing to other theories. To reiterate, I would be happier with an approach that did not rely on supposition. But since I cannot produce such an approach at present, and since I have not been provided with any other solutions, that is all that I have available to me.

 

I’m saying all this because I want to try and explain my reasoning on this. I don’t want you to think that I’m being glib, or deliberately aggravating. My madness does have some method in it, I assure you.

 

Again, I’m sorry if I misunderstand your objection, here. If so, please do try again. I am happy to try and learn, and also happy to try to reach compromise. Maybe all that would take would be acknowledging the problems with our own approaches – my lack of evidence stemming from the game world, and your lack of solutions to seeming logical inconsistencies in the game world?

 

22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

Ambiguity is evidence of ambiguity, not something you can use to justify one of many possible meanings.  I feel like a lot of your arguments have run like that first paragraph there, with supposition and chosen meaning being used as if they are game-reality fact.

 

But is not evidence of ambiguity important? The existence of ambiguity implies that any one of several interpretations could be correct in a particular context. I’m not intending to use it to say that my interpretation is better than others, meaning that it is an equally good interpretation when compared to others in this context. Taken on its own, that might not mean much, but when taken together with other examples, all of which show that my interpretation does not fail to describe what is going on, my feeling is that that might add some weight to my interpretation. Again, to stress, only weight that it is as valid as others – not that it is somehow better or more correct than them.

 

What worries me here, though, is that you seem to be saying that I am trying to be deliberately deceptive. You seem to be saying that I am stating things as fact when they are not. That is honestly not my intention. So, to help my understanding, making reference to the quotation you used to argue your point, could you point out to me those places in which I appear to be stating opinion as fact? I’d find that helpful. Here it is again, for reference:

 

22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:
23 hours ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I would still argue that Gibbons’s description is ambiguous. He is passing on the property that allows canister-users to improve themselves, but it’s not clear what that property is. It could be a change in genetics, as you say. But it could also be knowledge gained through experience, learned from some other shaper, that happened to be poured into the Geneforge-Lite. In this case, Gibbons would be passing on that knowledge, even if he didn’t learn it himself.

 

 

22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

The point here was that you are using two very different standards for how loosely you are willing to interpret dialogue from the game.

 

I’m not intending to use different standards, so I’m sorry if it comes across that way. If you’re referring to the Gibbons quotation, it seems to me that the interpretation of that resolves around the meaning of the word ‘bit’. That’s a word which is more ambiguous, to me, than something more specific like ‘copy’, as used by the Thahd. That may be the result of some language differences, though, so I’m sorry if that caused some confusion.

 

22 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

I feel like there have been some steps backwards here.

 

“The word P’aedt translates roughly as ‘he who climbs the tree of knowledge, only occasionally falling’, a surprisingly apt metaphor for scientific advancement in human history.” – from the description of the planet P’ar Aed, Escape Velocty Nova.

 

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18 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Generally, I’ve been approaching this argument from a more scientific standpoint, and you’ve been approaching it from a more philosophical standpoint.

 

I certainly see the scientific standpoint.  I'm not sure where philosophical comes into things.  Definitional or textualist, maybe.  I'm not philosophizing; as you complain later, I'm not putting forward "solutions"; I'm just cleaving to the game world.

 

20 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

So, please understand that I’m not ‘choosing’ to redefine words here. I am honestly using the words and concepts as I understand them. I’m sorry if my understanding is limited, or does not always match with your own. I do my best to try and see things from your viewpoint, but it might take some prompting from you on occasion to help me with that.

 

SLARTY: But starting with the journals describing the "tiny scrolls" and Heustess's stories, from G1 on, it's been very clear: shaping combines the brute force manipulation of genetic material with the synthesis of organic matter from essence.

ESS: an example... generate an adult version of Wesley Crusher from nothing more than his genetic material... genetic material only includes information about the base structure of a being, not any information that such a being would have learned through interactions with its environment having been born and gone through a conventional childhood. The genes tell you how to make a living brain, but they can’t put much more than the most simple information in it, nor can they teach a brain how to interact with the world – it seems to me that such information arises through a learning process...

SLARTY: ...breathing is not a learned behavior...  The ability to exert muscles isn't learned either, but, as you point out, coordinating those movements is definitely learned.

ESS: ...breathing... As you point out, it is indeed an instinctive behaviour, not a learned one. Of course, this is an excellent demonstration that knowledge can arise in a brain solely from genetic information.

SLARTY: "Brainstem operation of muscles that is totally divorced from consciousness" and "knowledge" are definitely not the same thing.

ESS: I doubt I am suitably equipped to argue you on an epistemological point, so let me at least explain my thinking to you... could it not be argued that the brain ‘knows’ how the breathe, in the sense that...

 

To recap:

1) I asserted that the game presents shaping as basically just genetic manipulation plus some synthesis/growth action.

2) You said this could not explain shaped creations being able to function in any way without having to learn first - bringing up the speculatory Wesley experiment

3) I agreed in part but brought up breathing as an example of things that genes _are_ enough to "teach a brain" how to do.

4) You said this demonstrates that genes can create "knowledge" in a brain (clearly pointing towards your original thesis, that shaping can duplicate a brain complete with acquired knowledge)

5) I said that those are two different things

6) You said, essentially, why can't we just call them both "knowing" how to do something and thus treat them the same way

 

In this case, you suggested the change in vocabulary explicitly.  I thought this was silly -- deciding to refer to two distinct things with the same word does not in any way change the fact that they are distinct.  But you suggested it specifically in response to my saying they were different -- the difference in usage was explicitly acknowledged here, not something you missed.  And my speculation was that this may have been happening previously, without explicitly having attention called to it.

 

43 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

On this point, I’m not particularly worried about the level of mechanical detail of the explanation. I’m just interested in some sort of explanation. If it has to be based on supposition, then so be it.

 

44 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

I have come across some behaviour in the game that is odd, and which I don’t understand. It doesn’t seem to make logical sense at first glance, nor does it seem to have an analogue with the physical laws and processes of natural selection we see in our own world. In order to try and understand this problem, I applied my own theory of absorption/creation to it, and I found that it happens to explain the problem in terms that I understand. In this case, it provides an explanation that fits with the physical laws of our own universe.

 

45 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

If, in a scientific context, I am presented with a bunch of different theories that attempt to explain a system, and only one of them is able to explain a certain feature of that system, then – all else being equal – that one theory is considered a better model of the system than the others.

 

Now, I don’t think going that far is helpful in this context. But it seems to me that, by providing what is currently the only solution to some odd behaviour seen in the game, my theory should at least be allowed a similar standing to other theories.

 

If you want a theory based on speculation + the physical laws of our own universe, yours can absolutely be on equal footing with other suggestions.

 

If you want one that follows from the games, well, yours simply isn't in that category.

 

This is exactly the distinction I brought up in my last post.

 

I will add one point, though -- there isn't even agreement that this "odd behaviour" is a "problem" in need of an explanation.  If you're me, this "problem" is simply part of the world of Geneforge as it is defined.  It's not in any way internally inconsistent.  Geneforge doesn't provide all the details of how it might or might not fit with "the physical laws of our own universe", but shaping is literally magic.  So I see no reason to assume that it does, or that it should.

 

--

 

I think the precision of vocabulary you impute to the thahd is bonkers, but I'm not sure there's anything more to discuss on that thread of argument.

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21 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

To recap:

1) I asserted that the game presents shaping as basically just genetic manipulation plus some synthesis/growth action.

2) You said this could not explain shaped creations being able to function in any way without having to learn first - bringing up the speculatory Wesley experiment

3) I agreed in part but brought up breathing as an example of things that genes _are_ enough to "teach a brain" how to do.

4) You said this demonstrates that genes can create "knowledge" in a brain (clearly pointing towards your original thesis, that shaping can duplicate a brain complete with acquired knowledge)

5) I said that those are two different things

6) You said, essentially, why can't we just call them both "knowing" how to do something and thus treat them the same way

 

I think this could be a useful exercise. It might help to demonstrate how I think confusion can arise in arguments like this as a result of slightly different meanings being attributed to words. I might extend that in this case to meaning ascribed to actions, too. I’ve quoted your recap of this point of the argument above, as seen from your viewpoint. Below is exactly the same structure, which I present from my own viewpoint:

 

To recap:
1) You asserted that the game presents shaping as basically just genetic manipulation plus some synthesis/growth action.
2) I said this could not explain shaped creations being able to function without having to learn first – bringing up the speculative Wesley experiment. I proposed a few different types of behaviour that I imagined would cause problems for an adult brought into existence without a childhood – such as this speculative Wesley – including breathing.
3) You agreed in part, but stated that one of my examples, breathing, was an example where genes alone are enough to ‘teach a brain’ how to do something.
4) I agreed with you on that point, and explained that I included breathing in my list as a result of a misunderstanding of how the process started in human babies. I then went on to say that I believed your objection to the breathing example did not apply to the other behaviours I had listed. In agreeing with you, I described the brain’s capability to cause breathing to occur as ‘knowledge’, simply because that’s how I understood the term.
5) You objected to my use of the term ‘knowledge’, but made no comment on my continuation of the argument.
6) I explained why I thought the term applied, and asked you for your own interpretation.
7) You did not provide an interpretation of the word, but instead raised some doubts about my method of arguing.
8 ) This strand of the argument begins to stall.

 

In a sense, the problem here seems to stem from a different interpretation of my motives. You seem to be saying that I included the word ‘knowledge’ as a deliberate tactic to try to prove my point. As I understand it, you’re saying that I’ve been trying to redefine the meaning of words to provide ammunition for my own views. I am saying that that wasn’t my intention – I was just innocently using a word according to my understanding of its meaning. Furthermore, I was using it in a context in which I was trying to concede part of the argument to you, acknowledging your own viewpoint.

 

I assure you, I’m not a Machiavellian figure, cackling in my secret lair as I try to undermine your views through any approach I know how. I’m just trying to express my viewpoint as clearly and honestly as I can, in a style of argument to which I believe I am not as well accustomed as yourself. That’s why I’ve been asking for your patience, and some help from you.

 

An unfortunate consequence of this seems to be that this strand of the argument has focused squarely on this misunderstanding, leaving the meat of what was being discussed behind. I would say that’s unfortunate, but if it leads to a greater understanding of the processes behind the argument up to this point, then perhaps the outcome is a positive one.

 

21 hours ago, TM Paladin said:

I'm just cleaving to the game world.

 

But that’s great! One thing perhaps that can be taken from the flow of the argument up to this point is that the game seem to provide no clear indication of what happens when a player absorbs and creates a creation. If there were some clear indication, there wouldn’t be the level of ambiguity necessary to debate these points – the interpretation would be obvious, and entirely described, so there wouldn’t be much need to argue alternatives.

 

Having done some checking through the games myself, I have found no description at all of what the player does when they absorb or create a creation. Furthermore, there appears to be no description of what any other shaper is actually doing when they do these things. The game simply says that absorption and creation take place, offering no description of what the player, or other shapers, actually do to cause these actions to come about.

 

It seems to me that, if you’re cleaving to the descriptions of the game world, that’s all you can say. You can simply say that absorption and creation happen, but you can’t provide any more information about them. Any further statements you make are, by definition as I understand it, not cleaving to the game world. If you use the existence of a book of genetic code, say, to make any sort of argument about creation or absorption, that is extrapolation. You are no longer basing your information on descriptions of the actual processes, but are pointing to a piece of information that the game does not directly link to the processes of creation or absorption in any way. The existence of the book does not explain how it is used, merely that the book is probably useful to someone somewhere. In that light, it would seem that you are taking information from the games, and building supposition on top of that to explain something which the games themselves do not explain.

 

From that perspective, it might appear as if you’re employing the same style of theory as my own: a theory based on supposition.

 

I don’t have any problem with you cleaving to the game world! I am perfectly fine with you accepting my Calibration Problem as a fundamental property of the magic as presented in the world of Geneforge, and looking at it no further. But, by that same argument, as I understand it you must also need to take absorption and creation as a fundamental property of the magic of Geneforge, and go no further. Those processes occur by magic. Saying anything more than that, it seems to me, is inconsistent with your own argument.

 

Unless I’m being an idiot and misunderstanding you, that’s all fine, and I have no problem with you holding that view. But, if so, what is your motivation for arguing with me? The reason I’ve been arguing my point, as I’ve said a few times – and has also been mentioned by others in this thread – is this. A poster said that they viewed the game mechanics in a particular way, let’s call it View A, but provided no evidence for that view. A second poster came along and proposed View B, also without any evidence. They said that View A was completely wrong, and that View B was the correct interpretation. I responded to this by arguing that View A and View B are both based on no evidence, and so were equally valid – that even though View A is less popular than View B, it can still explain what happens in the games as well as the more popular View.

 

But this is an argument which your viewpoint doesn’t cover, does it? Since neither View A or View B are based on evidence from the game world, they are both unacceptable from your point of view. So far as I see it, you can’t then lend support for one idea or the other, because they are both equally invalid. Both go beyond ‘it happens by magic’. I don’t have a particular problem with that – it shows that the popular View B is invalid, so the poster who proposed it is unjustified in claiming its unique validity. In a sense, that’s exactly what I’ve been arguing for, but you’ve just approached it in a different direction.

 

If I’m arguing that View A and View B are equally valid, and you’re arguing that they’re both equally invalid, doesn’t that amount to the same thing in the end? So long as one is not somehow better than the other, I think it demonstrates the point I’ve been trying to argue. Could we perhaps reach consensus that way?

 

But if I’m being stupid, though, then let me apologise right now. I’m still trying to understand, and that might take a little work!

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On 7/26/2020 at 7:06 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

The game simply says that absorption and creation take place, offering no description of what the player, or other shapers, actually do to cause these actions to come about.

 

It seems to me that, if you’re cleaving to the descriptions of the game world, that’s all you can say. You can simply say that absorption and creation happen, but you can’t provide any more information about them. Any further statements you make are, by definition as I understand it, not cleaving to the game world.

 

You're collapsing a continuum into a binary.

 

My phrasing all along has been "follows from the game", not "is explicitly spelled out in the game".

 

In this situation, the game says X.  You have theorized Y.  We both agree that Y is not part of the game lore; and, I think, that there are plenty of other possible theories that are not part of the game lore (whether or not they have been enumerated here).  You prefer Y to the other theories you've considered based on factors that are not part of the game lore.

 

"Y makes sense, so let's take that to be the truth" and "Y does not follow from X any more than other theories, so let's not" are simply not parallel assertions.

 

You can keep straw manning my "there's nothing to suggest it works like that" into positive assertions if you want, but that's not what they are.

 

On 7/26/2020 at 7:06 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

Since neither View A or View B are based on evidence from the game world, they are both unacceptable from your point of view.

 

If I’m arguing that View A and View B are equally valid, and you’re arguing that they’re both equally invalid, doesn’t that amount to the same thing in the end?

 

Here's that straw man in the flesh.

 

View A is not based on evidence from the game world.

 

View B is literally just saying "there's no reason to assume that stuff can happen without evidence."  It's not saying View A is impossible, it's saying there's no reason to think it's true.  Absence of the evidence critical to theory Y does not mean we throw up our hands and say "every theory is equal"!

 

Basically, I'm saying that the default position is "if it's not part of Geneforge lore, by default it's not how things work in Geneforge."  If Y doesn't follow from the lore, we assume not Y.  This is a global principle, not a positive assertion made independently in response to a given Y.

 

I mean, the games never explicitly address whether or not shapers can fly.  By your logic here, "shapers can fly" and "shapers can't fly" are equally valid.  I'm going to keep on assuming they can't (at least until Jeff remakes the series as Drakonball G).

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18 minutes ago, TM Paladin said:

 

Basically, I'm saying that the default position is "if it's not part of Geneforge lore, by default it's not how things work in Geneforge."  If Y doesn't follow from the lore, we assume not Y.  This is a global principle, not a positive assertion made independently in response to a given Y.

 

This seems to be phrased as a positive assertion though. I know that's not what you mean but "it's not how things work" is an assertion of falsehood, not one of ambiguity.

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ADoS, you're quoting out of context.  "by default it's not how things work" is not the same as "it's not how things work".  You can call the global principle an assertion if you want to, but even then it's an assertion about how to approach making determinations about any fictional world, not an assertion about the substance of the world in question.

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Thank you for the suggested change to my word order.  That would actually distort what I was saying, which is that the default is "no", not that we don't default to that particular theory.  As I said in the next sentence: "we assume not Y."

 

Anyway, back to the actual discussion, I hope.

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On 7/29/2020 at 9:02 PM, TM Paladin said:

You prefer Y to the other theories you've considered based on factors that are not part of the game lore.

 

"Y makes sense, so let's take that to be the truth" and "Y does not follow from X any more than other theories, so let's not" are simply not parallel assertions.

 

I think perhaps there might have been another misunderstanding here. That may well be due to a failure on my end to fully explain my reasoning. Let me see if I can’t try to clear this up!

 

To begin with, it’s always been my understanding that a straw man argument was a deliberate choice – that a person had to decide to poorly represent an argument in order to set up a straw man. A misunderstanding, on the other hand, is just a misunderstanding! If I’ve misrepresented your argument, then it’s not an attempt to straw man you. I’ve just misunderstood!

 

My aim has never been to state that my proposition is in some senses true, all the more so because I’ve not produced in-game evidence for it. My motivation for introducing my proposition was precisely in response to another person claiming a different proposition as being true, one also stated without evidence. If I didn’t accept one such proposition, it would be unreasonable for me to produce another in the same vein. Also, if you check over what I’ve written, you’ll see that I never actually stated that I preferred my proposition, merely that I was arguing that it was a valid one.

 

I think perhaps part of the issue comes down to the the meaning one attributes to ‘follows from the game’. Let’s see if I can shed some light on that. In my earlier terminology, I referred to View A and View B. Let me make these explicit:

 

View A: Information about a creation’s mind may survive absorption by a Shaper, and be passed on to a new creation made by that Shaper.

 

View B: A creation dies on absorption. New creations have no mental links to older creations.

 

The problem I have here is that I find it hard to see how either of these Views ‘follows from the game’. These Views differ in their description of what happens to the creations’ minds. So far as I’m aware, the game makes no comment on this point, even tangentially. The game has nothing at all to say about the minds of the player’s creations, if my memory serves.

 

So how can any comment about the mind of the player’s creations ‘follow from the game’?

 

Your criterion for considering a theory, as I understand it, is that it follows from the game. If neither View A nor View B fulfills your criterion, then you cannot consider either as being valid. Both Views are lumped into the same category – ‘invalid’ – and your criterion cannot distinguish between them. But that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to argue for! I’m not trying to say that View A is better, or more true, or more correct than View B, merely that it is equally valid. Saying that both are equally invalid amounts to the same thing!

 

Now, that’s largely what I said before. To illustrate this point, I think a further example might be helpful. So, let me propose two further Views:

 

View α: Artilas are vegetarians.

View β: Artilas eat meat.

 

The game says that creations eat, but doesn’t give much detailed information about what creations eat. I don’t recall the game mentioning anything about what Artilas eat specifically. If I’m remembering correctly, then the game has nothing to say on this point. Both View α and View β don’t follow from the game. Using that measure, both are equally valid/invalid.

 

This is where I find myself somewhat confused by your statement about your default position.

 

If a given View Y does not meet your criterion for validity, then I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that Not Y is any more valid. Not Y must also be assessed under your own criterion, surely? For example, in this case, View α does not follow from the games. So, if I understand you correctly, you would state that Not View α is your default position. Not View α is equivalent to View β, as I understand it. So your default position has you support View β.

 

But how would this argument had gone if I had started with View β first? In this case, since View β does not follow from your criterion, then you by default accept Not View β, which is equivalent to View α.

 

In other words, it seems to me that you default position assumes both View α and View β to be simultaneously true and false, which is a logical inconsistency. So, either my interpretation of your default condition is wrong, or your default condition is inconsistent.

 

How does that compare to your flight example? Here are two Views related to that:

 

View γ: Shapers can fly.
View δ: Shapers cannot fly.

 

Using the same argument I proposed above, both of these views would seem to be equally valid/invalid. But is there more to this example than that? Yes, of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen it! The difference here is that the game does have something to say on this point.

 

Flying is a method of movement, and the game does talk about how Shapers move about. It shows Shapers walking, and running, and riding on boats, and so on. Since the game shows these means of locomotion, but doesn't show flying, it seems fair to say that the latter methods of locomotion follow from the game, but that flying does not. So, using your criterion, View δ passes. View γ does not.

 

So how does all this relate to Views A and B? The issue, I think, is whether View B passes your criterion or not. If it does, then this criterion can be used to cast doubt on View A. But if it doesn’t, then, as I undesrstand it, you’re largely back at square one. You can say nothing about either View, and it seems to me that you can’t say that one is somehow better than the other.

 

So does View B pass your criterion? To me, it doesn’t seem to. Geneforge says nothing about the minds of the creations the player creates, if I remember correctly, so any statement to that effect is supposition. It does not follow from the game lore. As you yourself said, “there’s nothing to suggest it works like that”. If I am mistaken, and you can show me that View B follows from the game lore, then please do so. That would add support to your viewpoint, and I’d be interested to hear it! Otherwise, I find myself a little confused as to how the application of your validity criterion can lend support to one of these Views over another.

 

If your criterion cannot distinguish between these Views, and my measure of validity cannot distinguish between them either, than I feel we’re arguing for the same thing. Am I making a mistake somewhere?

 

On 7/29/2020 at 9:02 PM, TM Paladin said:

Absence of the evidence critical to theory Y does not mean we throw up our hands and say "every theory is equal"!

 

On the contrary, I believe it does. I’ve touched on this point before. If there is no evidence to suggest that a theory is true, but no evidence to suggest that it is false, then it is potentially true. It is valid. If there exists no theory which can be supported by evidence, then we must look to theories that are potentially true. Our potentially true theory then holds equal validity with all other theories that have no evidence in support of them or against them – and that are internally consistent, of course. In that case, all consistent theories are indeed equally valid!

 

For an example, consider Supersymmetry and M-theory, as two possible candidates for explaining phenomena that can’t be described by the Standard Model. These theories are self-consistent, but there is currently no experimental evidence for or against either of them. So both should be equally valid – experimentally, there’s nothing to distinguish one from the other!

 

On 7/29/2020 at 9:02 PM, TM Paladin said:

Drakonball G

 

This Kickstarter should be started immediately.

 

Spoiler

begindefinecreature 219;
    import = 1;

    cr_name = "Shaper Monarch";
    cr_base_level = "Over 9000";

 

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On 8/1/2020 at 5:55 PM, Ess-Eschas said:

View γ: Shapers can fly.
View δ: Shapers cannot fly.

 

Using the same argument I proposed above, both of these views would seem to be equally valid/invalid. But is there more to this example than that? Yes, of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen it! The difference here is that the game does have something to say on this point.

 

Flying is a method of movement, and the game does talk about how Shapers move about. It shows Shapers walking, and running, and riding on boats, and so on. Since the game shows these means of locomotion, but doesn't show flying, it seems fair to say that the latter methods of locomotion follow from the game, but that flying does not. So, using your criterion, View δ passes. View γ does not.

 

So how does all this relate to Views A and B? The issue, I think, is whether View B passes your criterion or not. If it does, then this criterion can be used to cast doubt on View A. But if it doesn’t, then, as I undesrstand it, you’re largely back at square one. You can say nothing about either View, and it seems to me that you can’t say that one is somehow better than the other.

 

So does View B pass your criterion? To me, it doesn’t seem to. Geneforge says nothing about the minds of the creations the player creates, if I remember correctly, so any statement to that effect is supposition.

 

Again, View B is not what I am arguing for.  In this case the actual views are:

 

View A: Information about a creation’s mind may survive absorption by a Shaper, and be passed on to a new creation made by that Shaper.

View A-: View A is not supported by evidence.

 

"Shapers can fly" is implausible, for the reasons you describe above, whether or not someone is proposing "Shapers cannot fly" as an alternative argument.

 

The same thing is true (albeit less strongly) for your View A.

 

Let's use the flying analogy.  You wrote: "Flying is a method of movement, and the game does talk about how Shapers move about. It shows Shapers walking, and running, and riding on boats, and so on. Since the game shows these means of locomotion, but doesn't show flying, it seems fair to say that the latter methods of locomotion follow from the game, but that flying does not."

 

(In fact, we could state this much more strongly -- it doesn't simply not follow, it's truly implausible, as there are so many situations where flying would be an easy and obvious solution to something, e.g., the 30 different bridge blockades that the PC and various NPCs have to deal with, rather than simply flying across 100 feet down the river.*)

 

Well, your view A is -- actually, let's clarify your view A.  You have not simply been arguing, as you state above, that this thing is theoretically possible under the laws of physics/magic of Geneforge.  You have been arguing that shapers, in Geneforge, at least some of them, can actually do this thing.

 

The capability View A suggests is one way Shapers can utilize their creations effectively and shape them as they desire.  The game does talk about other ways that Shapers do these things.**  It shows Shapers putting essence into their creations' stats; using techniques to shape creations in combat, or to shape creations that don't permatap the shaper's essence; creating new generations, varieties, and species of creations; using behavioral techniques, leadership, mental magic, and/or shaping to control or influence the way creations act; absorbing essence directly from creations; creating nutrients that nourish a creation's mind; creating canisters that reshape whoever uses them; creating Geneforges... the list goes on.  Since the game shows these means of utilizing & shaping creations to fit shapers' needs, but doesn't show View A, it seems fair to say that the latter methods of doing so follow from are explicitly depicted in the game, but that View A isn't even suggested by anything that is depicted -- it doesn't follow from the game.

 

*There are a lot of bridge blockades.

**This is, in fact, pretty much 90% of what the game shows us shapers doing, period.

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But TM Paladin, I'm reading this debate and you did specifically state that not following from the game makes a statement false, and Ess-Eschas has been trying to clarify, regardless of how he phrased it earlier in the debate, that he doesn't believe "that shapers, in Geneforge, art least some of them, can actually do this thing."

 

I beleive the phrasing of yours that I called into question remains worth examining. There's zero indication that a shaper with the proper talent and skill couldn't absorb and retain a personality. It's simply not addressed. It's nonsense to suggest that asserting a global principle is not an assertion and is somehow different from just asserting something.

As an aside, a lot of things follow from scraped together evidence, in art and in life, that may be confusing, inconvenient, or even terrifying to come to understand, and hard proof is overrated.

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As I explained, ADoS, the "phrasing" that you called into question (you said "This seems to be phrased as a positive assertion") relied on interpreting part of my sentence without the rest of it (which you omitted when quoting it).

 

Scraped together evidence is still evidence.  Scraped together speculation is not.

 

If Ess thinks his view is different from what I've understood, he can say so.  Respectfully, I would appreciate it if you would stop trying to declare what I mean and what Ess means.  Precision of phrasing has not been your friend in this thread.  What you state here is completely different from what his last post says.  If you want to declare what you think and argue for it, great.  But right now it kind of feels like you're spitting from the peanut gallery.

 

56 minutes ago, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

It's nonsense to suggest that asserting a global principle is not an assertion and is somehow different from just asserting something.

 

It's nonsense to suggest that there is a difference between a global principle about how to do something, and a specific action?

 

Um.

 

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On 8/5/2020 at 6:41 AM, TM Paladin said:

Again, View B is not what I am arguing for.

 

Of course not! Perhaps it is this that is causing some of the confusion and miscommunication that seems to happening in this part of the argument? It was never my intention to state that View B was your own View, or one that you were supporting. Indeed, the fact that you’re not arguing for this point is a facet of my argument, I think.

 

In what I’ve written above, I haven’t explicitly mentioned that View B is one that you’re supporting. If I have implied that by accident, then I’m sorry for doing so. I would be much obliged if you would point out to me those portions of my past few posts which seem to imply that you supported View B. This would help improve my clarity when writing about points like this, I think!

 

Let me try to clear up this confusion, if I can. View A and View B refer to original comments made by two posters in this thread, comments that led me to enter in to this argument. View A was proposed by Vinlie, and View B was proposed by alhoon. Incidentally, rest assured Vinlie and alhoon that I mean you no disrespect in throwing your names about like this, or quoting you in this way. I’m merely trying to represent your ideas as best I can.

 

Since View B was proposed as being in some senses true, but was stated without evidence, I wasted to show that it was, in my eyes, as equally valid as View A. This is what I am trying to argue for.

 

Let’s look at these two Views again, as I defined them in my previous post. Again, let me stress that View B is not your own, Slarty, but one that was written before you – or indeed I – joined this argument:

 

View A: Information about a creation’s mind may survive absorption by a Shaper, and be passed on to a new creation made by that Shaper.
 
View B: A creation dies on absorption. New creations have no mental links to older creations.

 

These are two possible interpretations that consider what happens to the mind of a creature when absorption and creation occur. Note that View B is not strictly the converse of View A; it is simply a different interpretation. It would be perfectly possible to come up with other Views. Indeed, comments made by TheKian earlier in this thread could be extended to provide another View – this isn’t what TheKian proposed, to clarify, but an extension of it:

 

View C : Creations have no independent mind, but are controlled entirely by the Shaper that created them.

 

You might need to supply this with a corollary that says that, for example, a creature without a sufficiently well-developed brain would be hard to direct, and may confuse the controlling Shaper – explaining why low intelligence creatures aren’t player controlled. But, if you allow for this, it seems to me that this is another View that is self-consistent, and that does not violate the rules and structures we see in the Geneforge universe. Therefore, according to my way of thinking, it is just as valid as View A and View B.

 

Something I find a little difficult to grasp in this part of the argument is that you’re spending a lot of time focusing on View A specifically. That’s fine, of course! But an important property of my argument, I think, is that it is relative. I’m not arguing for View A, but rather I’m arguing that View A should be considered equally relative to View B. Your addressing View A is fine, and you make some very interesting points, but I’m concerned that those points don’t really serve to address the relative nature of the argument. At the end of the day, it’s not important how valid View A is in an absolute sense – what’s important is how valid it is relative to View B, and indeed to other Views.

 

If you’re attacking View A, and your attacks also equally well apply to View B, then it seems to me that you’re not really attacking the main core of what I’m arguing for. It matters not if View A and View B are equally valid, or equally invalid, as I’ve said several times before, I know! What’s important is the equally part.

 

At least to me, your argument at the moment seems akin to, for example, a baron trying to unseat the local duke. The duke, knowing this, hides away in his castle along with his retainers and soldiers, fortifying it against attack. The baron, seeing that the duke only has finite resources, decides the lay siege to him, knowing that, with patience, he will win the day. So he carefully, and confidently, lays siege to a tool shed 10 miles away. It doesn’t matter how good the siege is, or how well planned it is, or how successful it is – it’s not going to help the baron much in their aims!

 

That’s what’s concerning me here. If you’re only attacking one View, but not attacking the relative portion of my argument, I’m not sure how much your comments, while interesting and useful, really affect my position.

 

On 8/5/2020 at 6:41 AM, TM Paladin said:

"Shapers can fly" is implausible, for the reasons you describe above, whether or not someone is proposing "Shapers cannot fly" as an alternative argument.

 

The same thing is true (albeit less strongly) for your View A.

 

Let me look at this for a moment, and try to demonstrate why I think the Views are different from the flying example. In the flying example, flying is a  form of locomotion. It’s in very much the same family as walking and running, things that we see Shapers doing, and we have examples of at least some varieties of flight within the context of the game world. Gazers float, for instance, which I would argue is a particular form of flight.

 

I would argue that the difference between this example, and the example posed by View A and B, is that the Views explicitly talk about something that is not observed in the game world. The games do not, at least as far as I have checked, say anything of any real substance about what happens to the minds of creations. Whereas flying is an extension of walking and running, actions seen in the games, I’m not sure there’s any extension to be made here. The games simply do not refer to the minds of the player’s creations, I think.

 

You produce a long list here of interesting activities that Shapers are shown to take part in. The issue that I have is that many of these examples, so far as I see it, don’t seem to refer to altering the minds of creations. You’ve shown examples of how Shapers use their essence, or research new creatures, or alter their own abilities. None of these examples describes what happens to a creation's mind, so far as I understand it. Or, if the word mind is ambiguous, I suppose sense of self might also be applicable here. Since the Views explicitly address what happens to a creature’s mind/sense of self, but your examples do not seem to, your examples don't seem to lend any support to the Views.

 

That’s why the Views are different from the flying example, I think. Flying, walking and running are part of a set of related actions: locomotion. The Views, and research into new creations as depicted in Geneforge, and how Shapers make use of essence as depicted in Geneforge, etc. are not part of a related set, as least in as much as I understand it. The Views address the mind/sense of self of a creation, but the other examples do not.

 

I think perhaps the equivalent example for the flying case would be, for example, trying to show that flying is implausible by pointing out that Shapers can eat, and cast fireball spells, and talk. Those are perfectly adequate examples, ones that are well demonstrated in the game world, but I’m not convinced that they are sufficiently related to the concept of flying to cast much doubt on it.

 

In other words, because the Views deal with what happens to the mind/sense of self of a creation, I’m not sure there’s much in the world of Geneforge that can be used to support or refute them in this way. In that sense, under your condition for validity, they are both invalid – and both equally invalid. And that’s what I want to argue for!

 

I hope this makes things a little clearer, and that I’ve not misunderstood anything here? If I have, please do let me know, and I’ll try to clarify my own points of view, or revise any places where I am mistaken!

 

On 8/5/2020 at 12:23 PM, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

But TM Paladin, I'm reading this debate and you did specifically state that not following from the game makes a statement false, and Ess-Eschas has been trying to clarify, regardless of how he phrased it earlier in the debate, that he doesn't believe "that shapers, in Geneforge, art least some of them, can actually do this thing."

 

For the record, Almighty Doer of Stuff, you’ve said some interesting things in this discussion. For the most part, you’ve done a fine job at summarising my views, and coming up with interesting extensions to them. You’ve not always expressed things in the way that I would have, but you’ve always seemed to get the gist of what I’ve been going for! That’s the case here, too, where – meaning no disrespect to other posters – you’ve come closer to understanding my meaning than others.

 

Sorry that I’ve not been able to engage with much of what you’ve said so far with the large influx of other comments, but I have been reading what you’ve been writing with interest! I rather liked your idea of a Shaper carrying a brain around to keep a creation’s mind intact, for instance – that seems oddly fitting within the context of the Geneforge world.

 

Let me assure you that your views are valued, and that your thoughts are welcome here. You have made interesting comments in this argument so far, and I’m sure you will have more to contribute, should you want to. So do continue to contribute to this discussion if you would like!

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Thanks! I'll actually catch up on reading this thread after I watch a movie with my friend. But I hate formalized debate, where people stand up and lecture each other and someone "loses" and someone "wins". A bunch of people putting their heads together and unraveling the truth using their own individual skills is far more gratifying to me. Making a verbalized case isn't so much one of my talents, but I try to be good at helping people understand each other. I like to think that's valuable too.

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16 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

Of course not! Perhaps it is this that is causing some of the confusion and miscommunication that seems to happening in this part of the argument? It was never my intention to state that View B was your own View, or one that you were supporting. Indeed, the fact that you’re not arguing for this point is a facet of my argument, I think.

 

You've been arguing against View B literally in response to me.  While quoting me.  While responding to specific things I said.  Arguing in one breath against View B and (apparently, based on what you've written here) against my rebuttal of View A.

 

This is really emblematic of what's been going on here.  We keep repeating new iterations of the same arguments and there does not appear to be any greater understanding developing.

 

I respectfully dissent and depart the debate.

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I respectfully say I understood Ess-Eschas's arguments, evidently well enough to explain them back to him, so I'm not sure if that means I'm an extraordinary guesser or if it means TM Paladin isn't always good at parsing sentences exactly as phrased. I suspect the latter as it's not an uncommon trait among people. It's actually part of my job duties to listen attentively and parse other people's words very, very carefully. I don't usually misinterpret people; if I do misunderstand it's usually that they're not being eloquent and I help them get their point across through careful questions and analogy, as I tried to do here.

 

Oh well.

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On 8/7/2020 at 7:26 PM, The Almighty Doer of Stuff said:

It's actually part of my job duties to listen attentively and parse other people's words very, very carefully.

 

Attentive listening is a much underrated skill, but an important one! Enough so that Star Trek has a race defined by that very characteristic: the El-Aurians! :)

 

I think part of the confusion in this thread has come from Slarty and myself arguing from two really very different perspectives. My default position is to argue in a certain type of way, and Slarty’s is to argue in another. Unfortunately, it seems these two different ways of arguing weren’t all that compatible in this case! Statements, analogies and strategies that would seem standard and obvious to one of us didn’t necessarily parse well with the other, I think, from either side. Unfortunately, that led to all sorts of confusion!

 

From what you’ve written in this thread, Almighty Doer of Stuff, I think you might be more familiar with my perspective than Slarty’s. That might be because of a similar language, or because of similar sorts of academic/scientific interests, or for various reasons. It does seem that you’ve understood the points I’ve been raising fairly instinctively!

 

However, it’s worth pointing out that there are others in this thread who've had the experience the other way around. These posters understood Slarty’s points instinctively, points that I myself have found difficult to get my head around at times.

 

So I don’t think Slarty is to blame for misunderstanding my points. While the points might have been obvious to you and I, they were clearly not obvious to the other side of the discussion. I must take responsibility for that, not least because I started the argument going in this direction. If there is any fault to be handed out for the confusion that’s come out of this discussion, it’s in my court. It’s clear that I simply wasn’t good enough at explaining my thoughts and reasoning. Even when I did understand that some of the principles of my arguments might not parse from Slarty’s perspective, I was too slow to realise this, and too slow to respond.

 

I appreciate that you understood my points, Almighty Doer of Stuff, because that shows I’m not a complete loss! But I think it’s worth stating that it’s not Slarty’s fault for misunderstanding me – it’s mine for not adequately explaining my points.

 

For what it’s worth, though, if I ever make a Geneforge mod one of these days, I’m definitely going to have a Shaper carrying a brain around with them at some point. That would make for a quirky NPC, or perhaps even a special item!

 

On 8/7/2020 at 1:36 AM, Retrograde Desperance said:

This is really emblematic of what's been going on here.  We keep repeating new iterations of the same arguments and there does not appear to be any greater understanding developing.

 

I’m sorry for all the confusion that’s happened in this thread, Slarty. This is my own fault for not expressing myself adequately, and not responding well to your comments. But I did learn a lot of interesting things from this discussion, for which I am thankful!

 

I do think there are more things that could be said on this topic of this conversation, though. If you ever change your mind, and want to come back to this, I would be interested to continue the discussion, or reset it if you’d like – and I’d try even harder to be clear, concise and responsive to your comments!

 

Otherwise, there’s nothing at all wrong in agreeing to disagree! :)

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23 minutes ago, Ess-Eschas said:

So I don’t think Slarty is to blame for misunderstanding my points. While the points might have been obvious to you and I, they were clearly not obvious to the other side of the discussion. I must take responsibility for that, not least because I started the argument going in this direction. If there is any fault to be handed out for the confusion that’s come out of this discussion, it’s in my court. It’s clear that I simply wasn’t good enough at explaining my thoughts and reasoning. Even when I did understand that some of the principles of my arguments might not parse from Slarty’s perspective, I was too slow to realise this, and too slow to respond.

 

I appreciate that you understood my points, Almighty Doer of Stuff, because that shows I’m not a complete loss! But I think it’s worth stating that it’s not Slarty’s fault for misunderstanding me – it’s mine for not adequately explaining my points.

Yes, I agree. Slarty and I clash often over argument styles, with the clash usually being mostly or entirely one-sided on my part, but he's not stupid. For professional reasons, if nothing else, I really wish I could understand how he thinks. It'd help the conflict mediation parts of my duties, for sure. It's not easy to be a good conflict mediator when you can't even mediate your own conflicts... Luckily I have teammates.

 

Edit: I think if I were more familiar with the material and were discussing more practical, life-based issues rather than a fictional game, that's where i fare better with debate and discussion. Mediating a conflict over vague video game lore isn't the same as mediating interpersonal issues based in real conflict, I suppose.

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff

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