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Author Topic: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?  (Read 7400 times)

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #150 on: May 21, 2022, 04:30:28 PM »
This is getting rather far afield of both Star Trek and Ringworld.
If you believe that, why did you reply? I think these are the questions that both Star Trek and Known Space try to explore.

Humans exhibit an extraordinary degree of a cooperation, without the expectation of reciprocation. The degree is far beyond that exhibited by other animals, or expected from simple game theory analysis of evolution.

It requires humans to sacrifice for an abstract that has nothing to do with the propagation of their genes, and to do so regularly. If your motive is to spread your genes, which is the most fundamental motive of any species shaped by evolution, then that degree of cooperation is irrational from the perspective of any individual. You want everyone else to behave like that, but it makes no logical sense for you to behave like that. It gains you, and your goal, nothing.

I think the root of the disagreement here is the bolded assumption above (bolding mine). Evolution is a scientific process that happens - it isn't a moral imperative to try to do. It happens regardless of one's motives and choices, and it isn't something that an individual should necessarily logically pursue. Individuals can have motives unrelated to spreading their genes. I don't think Isaac Newton, say, should be considered an irrational failure because he failed to spread his genes.
I never stated it was a moral imperative. This whole discussion started with me pointing out that the fundamental motives are irrational. Rationality in that context is using the best methods available to pursue those fundamental motives; it is not itself a driving force. That's why I think the Pak are more rational than humans or Puppeteers; they pursue their primal urge by selecting the most optimal behavior available. Both Puppeteers and humans do not. They make decisions on the basis of abstracts, or communal behavior, or a sense of play. Those are fundamentally irrational behaviors when judged from the perspective of an individual within those populations, though at the population level, they are more effective than the Pak's pure rationality, because they allowed both species to escape the local maxima of strict tit for tat behavior.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #151 on: May 21, 2022, 11:06:44 PM »
But the processes operates on the individual, not the population.
This feels like a semantics game, and Im thoroughly disappointed with the scientific community if it took them decades to figure that out.
A population is composed of individuals, and individuals exist as part of a population.

As for rationality, well some ground rules have to be put down. Are we considering rationality in this context an outgrowth of self preservation instinct with advanced sapience? Because otherwise what people consider rationality differs pretty wildly.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #152 on: May 22, 2022, 02:50:14 PM »
But the processes operates on the individual, not the population.
This feels like a semantics game, and Im thoroughly disappointed with the scientific community if it took them decades to figure that out.
A population is composed of individuals, and individuals exist as part of a population.

As for rationality, well some ground rules have to be put down. Are we considering rationality in this context an outgrowth of self preservation instinct with advanced sapience? Because otherwise what people consider rationality differs pretty wildly.
It's not semantic game, it's a fundamental concept. Evolution is natural selection that adapts an organism to a specific environment, over multiple generations. It does this by a filter, where organisms that fail to pass down their genetic material are eliminated from the pool. On that basis, does it make sense for a stranger without children to sacrifice himself for a pregnant woman he doesn't know? No, it doesn't. The stranger just eliminated their genes from the gene pool. Evolution strongly selects against that behavior, because evolution is selfish, and very focused on genes. This limits cooperative behavior, because animals don't just randomly act for the benefit for the group. Instead, each animal acts in a way to maximize its own genetic legacy. Not the legacy of some abstract group to which it belongs, but it's own personal legacy. This appears to be nearly universal, with the two exceptions I mentioned: Eusocial insects, and possibly us. Humans are bizarrely social, far more social than wolves or chimps. We somehow jumped that gap in cooperation, and it's because there was enough slack in the system.

I'm treating rationality as taking the most effective steps to maximize one's goals. The Pak are hyperrational, because they extremely intelligent and that intelligence is intensely focused on their goals. Humans are less rational, because while we are still fairly intelligent, we act in a lot of ways that seem fairly random or nonsensical, including things that are contrary to our best interests. There's more slack in the system.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #153 on: May 22, 2022, 03:44:52 PM »
Evolution is natural selection that adapts an organism to a specific environment, over multiple generations.
Yup
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It does this by a filter, where organisms that fail to pass down their genetic material are eliminated from the pool.
Yup

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On that basis, does it make sense for a stranger without children to sacrifice himself for a pregnant woman he doesn't know?
Depends on the social stratum of the animal.

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No, it doesn't.
Not necacarily.
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The stranger just eliminated their genes from the gene pool.

That assumes the stranger would get to breed anyway. If the alternative is they both die, then being selish doesn't make a difference. While advanced social higharchies are rare in the animal kingdom, humans are not the only ones to have pure competative higharchies.

I mean yeah, outside of hive drones, every animal hopes to increase their chances of breeding at least somewhat. But I don't buy that being purely selfish or having 1 step thinking makes that significantly better.

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I'm treating rationality as taking the most effective steps to maximize one's goals.
Goals are not rational. In addition this assumes a degree of 1 step thinking. That all goals only work if directly followed.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #154 on: May 22, 2022, 06:54:42 PM »
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On that basis, does it make sense for a stranger without children to sacrifice himself for a pregnant woman he doesn't know?
Depends on the social stratum of the animal.

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No, it doesn't.
Not necacarily.
Quote
The stranger just eliminated their genes from the gene pool.

That assumes the stranger would get to breed anyway. If the alternative is they both die, then being selish doesn't make a difference. While advanced social higharchies are rare in the animal kingdom, humans are not the only ones to have pure competative higharchies.
They went through hall the proposed examples of animals that might have demonstrated behavior where they sacrificed their own individual genetic legacy for an unrelated or weakly related collective. None of them panned out. There were alternative and valid explanations for all their actions -- for instance, a reasonable assumption that they were sacrificing themselves for a blood relative. A human samaritan is a complete outlier among vertebrates.

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I'm treating rationality as taking the most effective steps to maximize one's goals.
Goals are not rational. In addition this assumes a degree of 1 step thinking. That all goals only work if directly followed.
Yes, I've argued that point many times in this thread. Our motives are fundamentally irrational. Rationality is the logical attempt to maximize the achievement of those goals.

I've also argued multiple times that a degree of irrationality is how humans have escaped a local maxima of purely rational and selfish behavior.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #155 on: May 22, 2022, 08:04:51 PM »
I've also argued multiple times that a degree of irrationality is how humans have escaped a local maxima of purely rational and selfish behavior.

Mmmm. I think I see what your getting at. This reminds me of a book where it had humans encounter advance AI from another planet that failed to meet the turing test because it theorized that things like human artistr, and even basic behaviours, and other such stuff was an anomaly in the universe.

Maybe the reverse would be true. Maybe instead of thinking of advanced beings as 'beyond petty mortal things', maybe they would be even MORE elaborate and irrational.

'We invented the interplnatary jump gates to allow for our complicated mating procedures to work on Shmurfdays (because mating on a shmurfday is unholy unless done on the moon). And we invented the megagenetic universal megafauna so we can enjoy the taste of smackers space chips on asteroids, which is required to impress college admission'.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #156 on: May 22, 2022, 10:49:02 PM »
I've also argued multiple times that a degree of irrationality is how humans have escaped a local maxima of purely rational and selfish behavior.

Mmmm. I think I see what your getting at. This reminds me of a book where it had humans encounter advance AI from another planet that failed to meet the turing test because it theorized that things like human artistr, and even basic behaviours, and other such stuff was an anomaly in the universe.

Maybe the reverse would be true. Maybe instead of thinking of advanced beings as 'beyond petty mortal things', maybe they would be even MORE elaborate and irrational.

'We invented the interplnatary jump gates to allow for our complicated mating procedures to work on Shmurfdays (because mating on a shmurfday is unholy unless done on the moon). And we invented the megagenetic universal megafauna so we can enjoy the taste of smackers space chips on asteroids, which is required to impress college admission'.
I'm glad you can see where I'm coming from.

To run with the "reverse", one interesting twist might be to explore what happens when a species is no longer subject to the evolutionary imperatives. Because while humans are still evolving, the dynamics have drastically changed since agriculture, and more recently the industrial revolution. We're not post-scarcity yet, but it's no longer a daily struggle to eat or avoid predators, for a significant chunk of the planet. And with the rise of consumer culture and social media, we've developed ways to fool a lot of the cues related to food, sex, and so on and replace them with substitutes. From an evolutionary standpoint, this sounds bad, because there is no longer negative selection against traits that hinder survival and reproduction. But from another perspective, it may open up a whole new set of possibilities, because there's more room for evolution to play with random things, which could eventually result in escaping another local maxima we don't even know about.

Though of course, that might become moot, because we're likely to engage in self-directed evolution, and that can potentially be much faster and more dramatic.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #157 on: May 22, 2022, 10:56:00 PM »
Though of course, that might become moot, because we're likely to engage in self-directed evolution, and that can potentially be much faster and more dramatic.
Currently though it seems the amish are dictating the course of evolution by having sustainable birthrates. =P

I personally subscribe too 'If a human is given everything it wants all the time, its more likely to self-destruct then find enlightenment', which is why I dont subscribe to technocratic visions of the future.

Didn't a novel Rodenbury wrote describe earth as filled with layabouts doing nothing but indulging in basically hedonism, while a select few who wanted more then that join starfleet?

jhkim

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #158 on: May 22, 2022, 11:53:53 PM »
Quote from: Pat
I'm treating rationality as taking the most effective steps to maximize one's goals.
Goals are not rational. In addition this assumes a degree of 1 step thinking. That all goals only work if directly followed.
Yes, I've argued that point many times in this thread. Our motives are fundamentally irrational. Rationality is the logical attempt to maximize the achievement of those goals.

I've also argued multiple times that a degree of irrationality is how humans have escaped a local maxima of purely rational and selfish behavior.

As I understand it, you're saying that there is exactly one rational goal - reproducing to spread one's personal genes. Pursuing that goal is rational, by your definition, while pursuing any other goal is irrational. According to this terminology, a human who hears about a Pak threat to Earth and sacrifices to save all of humanity is acting irrationally, because they don't get to personally reproduce. I think that's a counter-intuitive use of the term.

But looking past the terms rational and irrational, I think this is saying that group selection can work as an evolutionary strategy.

Eusocial insects and humanity both have successful strategies of using social behaviors to thrive in evolutionary terms, and these strategies might even be more successful in evolutionary terms than the Pak's more individualistic, selfish behavior.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #159 on: May 23, 2022, 12:00:05 AM »
Though of course, that might become moot, because we're likely to engage in self-directed evolution, and that can potentially be much faster and more dramatic.
Currently though it seems the amish are dictating the course of evolution by having sustainable birthrates. =P

I personally subscribe too 'If a human is given everything it wants all the time, its more likely to self-destruct then find enlightenment', which is why I dont subscribe to technocratic visions of the future.

Didn't a novel Rodenbury wrote describe earth as filled with layabouts doing nothing but indulging in basically hedonism, while a select few who wanted more then that join starfleet?
My go-to for a world of hedonism would be Brave New World.

I tend to think of Africa (on the positive side) and Russia and China (on the negative) when it comes to birth rates, but those are at best mid-range issues. Evidence suggests as fast-growing populations reach a modicum of prosperity and become middle income countries, their birth rates will stabilize and probably decline. But what if that's a symptom of leisure and luxury? The Amish are an interesting counter-example. Those who eschew the soft easy life of modern civilization, whether Amish or space explorers, might be the source of future population growth. That would create a more dynamic evolutionary environment.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #160 on: May 23, 2022, 12:00:55 AM »

As I understand it, you're saying that there is exactly one rational goal - reproducing to spread one's personal genes. Pursuing that goal is rational, by your definition, while pursuing any other goal is irrational. According to this terminology, a human who hears about a Pak threat to Earth and sacrifices to save all of humanity is acting irrationally, because they don't get to personally reproduce. I think that's a counter-intuitive use of the term.

But looking past the terms rational and irrational, I think this is saying that group selection can work as an evolutionary strategy.

Eusocial insects and humanity both have successful strategies of using social behaviors to thrive in evolutionary terms, and these strategies might even be more successful in evolutionary terms than the Pak's more individualistic, selfish behavior.
No, that's not what I'm saying. I've never said that.

jhkim

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #161 on: May 23, 2022, 04:04:40 AM »
No, that's not what I'm saying. I've never said that.

OK, sorry. I'm trying to understand the point that I saw here:

Rationality in that context is using the best methods available to pursue those fundamental motives; it is not itself a driving force. That's why I think the Pak are more rational than humans or Puppeteers; they pursue their primal urge by selecting the most optimal behavior available. Both Puppeteers and humans do not. They make decisions on the basis of abstracts, or communal behavior, or a sense of play. Those are fundamentally irrational behaviors when judged from the perspective of an individual within those populations, though at the population level, they are more effective than the Pak's pure rationality, because they allowed both species to escape the local maxima of strict tit for tat behavior.

I would say that not pursuing tit-for-tat behavior isn't inherently irrational. Rationality is how effectively one pursues one's goals. If someone decides to sacrifice themselves to save an unrelated child, that isn't inherently an irrational choice. Whether it is rational depends on what their goals are.

Humans are frequently irrational - but pursuing different goals isn't proof of their irrationality. Someone can have a personal goal that is different than reproduction.

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #162 on: May 23, 2022, 08:53:14 AM »
Rationality is how effectively one pursues one's goals.
This is the definition I'm using.

Lurkndog

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #163 on: May 25, 2022, 01:11:44 PM »
I started to make a post on concepts from Trek lore that I thought were as problematic as time travel (no money, post-scarcity economics, the holodeck...) but the list expanded so quickly that I had to stop.

I think maybe what a Trek game really needs (and sf games in general) is a meta-system for managing and controlling which game-breaking concepts are in play. I mean, time travel, transporters, replicators, the holodeck, the Genesis device, the list goes on.

That way, if you want to expand on what a piece of Treknology does, you have to pay points for it, and maybe give up other shiny objects.

"I want to have the implant translator function as a comlink." "Do you have the McGuffin points for that?"

"I want phasers to have a stasis field setting, and I have enough McGuffin points to activate it as a one time only effect."
« Last Edit: May 25, 2022, 01:17:06 PM by Lurkndog »

Pat

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Re: Star Trek RPG... What if there is no time travel?
« Reply #164 on: May 25, 2022, 02:00:17 PM »
I started to make a post on concepts from Trek lore that I thought were as problematic as time travel (no money, post-scarcity economics, the holodeck...) but the list expanded so quickly that I had to stop.

I think maybe what a Trek game really needs (and sf games in general) is a meta-system for managing and controlling which game-breaking concepts are in play. I mean, time travel, transporters, replicators, the holodeck, the Genesis device, the list goes on.

That way, if you want to expand on what a piece of Treknology does, you have to pay points for it, and maybe give up other shiny objects.

"I want to have the implant translator function as a comlink." "Do you have the McGuffin points for that?"

"I want phasers to have a stasis field setting, and I have enough McGuffin points to activate it as a one time only effect."
I think a lot of those are a problem from a world-building perspective, but less of a problem from a game perspective. Unfettered time travel is the one that really jumps out as a plot breaker, while the rest are more a problem if you try to think through their societal implications.

And I think that's at least somewhat separate from the Trek tendency to use technobabble as a solution to immediate problems.