Author Topic: Eclipse Phase  (Read 256879 times)

Adam_Autist

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #540 on: February 02, 2016, 04:40:52 PM »
They Don't Do Anything.

trinite

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #541 on: February 02, 2016, 09:32:11 PM »
Hello all! I am a New Person who is New!
With that in mind, can someone explain the exact problem with SpaceWhales?

I get that they're awkward to work into a scenario, but no more than any other group using the "Mysterious Aliens/Mystics/Organisation" design space.
Okay, they make better patrons than PCs, but that still doesn't explain the Salt squirted in thier direction.


... Or is it just an extension of thier Shark-Punching prejudice against large aquatic creatures? :P

Well, there's a few things. Keep in mind, it's not Space Whales that's the problem, so much as Sun Whales.

1. Despite the super high tech nature of the EP setting, the Sun Whales seem to many people (me included) to require tech WAY beyond the rest of the setting. IRL, the forces involved in the sun's corona and upper layers are just ludicrous, and having morphs capable of surviving there seems impossible given the rest of the setting. It breaks suspension of disbelief for a lot of folks.

2. As Adam says, they also don't really interact with the rest of the setting at all, so it's very hard to tell stories involving them. However, some of us have come up with ideas for scenarios using them, which I do think are pretty good. It's a challenge, though.

3. As a causal factor for points 1 and 2, the Sun Whales seem to have been designed aesthetics-first, with a lot less attention paid to both their sci-fi realism and their narrative possibilities than the rest of the setting. They give off this vibe of an idea that sounded cool to somebody, so they shoved it into the game without caring about whether it made sense.
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AxiomaticBadger

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #542 on: February 04, 2016, 06:25:21 AM »
I guess I can see what you're getting at, but all three of those points (excepting personal perception) seems like they're Working As Intended.

Tech-wise, SunWhales are a big step towards the TechMagic end of the Sci-Fi Scale... and I think that a big part of what they're for. They're a product of a transhuman society with access to Factor biotech and Gates to alien worlds with fascinating creatures full of interesting and weird proteins - essentially a signpost of the direction Alien contact will steer humanity.*
By making them live in the Corona the theme is reinforced, opening up an utterly alien environment that is nonetheless implicitly tied to humanity, and simultaneously isolating them so they don't dominate the setting... and enhancing the "mystics on the mountain" design element.

Okay, this absolutely makes it hard to make a scenario explicitly involving them... but no more than the Githyanki or Sea-Elves in DND, or the Vorlons in B5.
Where they shine is as as "Mystical" PCs, or as Plot Dispencers when you want to intorduce a SpaceMagic element but don't want the implicitly sinister overtones of using Exhumans or the Factors ("We foresee a slight problem within House Atreides. Paul, Paul Atreides. We want him killed. I did not say this. I am not here. ")


*Also, Transhumanity has access to room-temperature superconductors. Superconductors are really weird.

Adam_Autist

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #543 on: February 04, 2016, 08:45:14 AM »
Someone should shine the Caleb signal.

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #544 on: February 04, 2016, 06:40:53 PM »
I've now played in a Space Whales centric scenario (at GenCon and written by the PostHuman Studios guys) and it worked well. It was an all Whales scenario on the surface of the Sirius star and involved truly TITAN-esque technology - a station directly harnessing the power of a sun. I think we're talking Type III on the Kardashev scale in terms of the evolution of technology there.

It was a fun game, partially for the Raven uplift who identified with the Dinosaur Identity movement sleeved into an enormous space whale wielding a ship-sized railgun as a sniper weapon as he screamed that he was "The Raptor on high!"
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Jace911

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #545 on: February 08, 2016, 02:36:18 AM »
The problem with Space Whales is that they exist pretty much so that someone can check off a tired and overused scifi trope rather than adding anything interesting or useful to the setting.

Darnus

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #546 on: February 21, 2016, 09:41:41 PM »
I feel like space whales should've been used as something like ships pilots or something. I mean it makes *near total sense* for there to be whale uplifts, given all the other types of uplifts, but 'eh just throw them in the sun' seems kinda stupid.
If they were the minds which piloted ships, I could imagine all sorts of interesting uses for them. Plus, I remember reading this article many years ago about the limits of the human mind in terms of piloting in space. Not necessarily that whales would be better, but you could probably bullshit something up about how whales are the best spaceships ever a little more easily than WHALES SWIM IN THE SUN

trinite

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #547 on: February 22, 2016, 11:19:32 AM »
I feel like space whales should've been used as something like ships pilots or something. I mean it makes *near total sense* for there to be whale uplifts, given all the other types of uplifts, but 'eh just throw them in the sun' seems kinda stupid.
If they were the minds which piloted ships, I could imagine all sorts of interesting uses for them. Plus, I remember reading this article many years ago about the limits of the human mind in terms of piloting in space. Not necessarily that whales would be better, but you could probably bullshit something up about how whales are the best spaceships ever a little more easily than WHALES SWIM IN THE SUN

There actually are some cool telemetry/navigation-focused whale uplifts in the EP canon: Deep Current Black Killer of Squid, for example, is the best hunter of lost objects in the solar system, and consequently one of the richest uplifts in the system as well (he funded the construction of Atlantica, a neo-cetacean-focused habitat). Stuff like that makes perfect sense within the setting.

Like I said, I don't have any problem with EP's space whales, just the sun whales.
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Redroverone

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #548 on: February 26, 2016, 09:55:25 AM »
I prefer my headcanon with the sun whales, which is that they're all REALLY angry at transhumanity for everything that's happened and have a feeling out in space similar to the older patron species in David Brin's Uplift War - they need intense gravitational pull that can't be provided anywhere else. This also gives me the glimmering of a way to use EP to update The Black Hole, with crazy space whale in a biomorph taking the place of Maximillian Schell. But I'm not right in the head, of course.

CADmonkey

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #549 on: July 22, 2016, 11:45:11 AM »
Some videos showing what AR streetart might look like:



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Twisting H

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #550 on: August 06, 2016, 03:53:26 AM »
Vision, perception and the biology behind optical illusions


What is perception and how does our visual hardware shape our perception of reality?
Here is an interesting article on the most current theory of the biology behind some optical illusions.   

Consider the Kanizsa triangle.  What causes the brain to draw lines in a picture?



http://neurosciencenews.com/visual-system-optical-illusions-3941/

Neuronal feedback could change what we ‘see’.

Quote
Ever see something that isn’t really there? Could your mind be playing tricks on you? The “tricks” might be your brain reacting to feedback between neurons in different parts of the visual system, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Sandra J. Kuhlman and colleagues.

Understanding this feedback system could provide new insight into the visual system’s neuronal circuitry and could have further implications for understanding how the brain interprets and understands sensory stimuli.

Many optical illusions make you see something that’s not there. Take the Kanizsa triangle: when you place three Pac-Man-like wedges in the right spot, you see a triangle, even though the edges of the triangle aren’t drawn.

“We see with both our brain and our eyes. Your brain is making inferences that allow you to see the triangle. It’s connecting the dots between the corners of the wedges,” said Kuhlman, who is a member of Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub neuroscience initiative and the joint Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). “Optical illusions illustrate some of the amazing things our visual system can do.”

When we look at an object, information about what we see travels through circuits of neurons beginning in the retina, through the thalamus and into the brain’s visual cortex. In the visual cortex, the information gets processed in multiple stages and is ultimately sent to the prefrontal cortex — the area of the brain that makes decisions, including how to respond to a given stimulus.

However, not all information stays on this forward moving path. At the secondary stage of processing in the visual cortex some neurons reverse course and send information back to the first stage of processing. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon wondered if this feedback could change how the neurons in the visual cortex respond to a stimulus and alter the messages being sent to the prefrontal cortex.

While there has been a good deal of research studying how information moves forward through the visual system, less has been done to study the impact of the information that moves backward. To find out if the information traveling from the secondary stage of processing back to the first stage impacted how information is encoded in the visual system, the researchers needed to quantify the magnitude of information that was being sent from the second stage back to the first stage. Using a mouse model, they recorded normal neuronal firing in the first stage of the visual cortex as the mouse looked at moving patterns that represented edges. They then silenced the neurons in the second stage using modified optogenetic technology. This halted the feedback of information from the second stage back to the first stage, and allowed the researchers to determine how much of the neuronal activity in the first stage of visual processing was the result of feedback.

Twenty percent of the neuronal activity in the visual cortex was the result of feedback, a concept Kuhlman calls reciprocal connectivity. This indicates that some of the information coming from the visual cortex is not a direct response to a visual stimuli, but is a response to how the stimuli was perceived by higher cortical areas.

The feedback, she says, might be what causes our brain to complete the undrawn lines in the Kanizsa triangle. But more importantly, it signifies that studying neuronal feedback is important to our understanding of how the brain works to process stimuli.

“This represents a new way to study visual perception and neural computation. If we want to truly understand the visual pathway, and cortical function in general, we have to understand these reciprocal connection,” Kuhlman said.

Ultimately, this neural feedback that involves parts of the brain interacting with one another to process a visual image, in a manner not directly related to the primary "forward" processing of a "seeing" an object, could be the part of the brain that "says" "I expect a triangle here, thus I will add non-existent lines to complete this expected triangle".

Full paper: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/10/2904



Secondly, do all humans view this optical illusion the same way? If not, what does that tell us about the underlying system that makes the optical illusion appear for most people?

http://www.richardgregory.org/papers/articles/seeing-after-blindness.pdf

In 1959 a gentleman by the name of Sidney Bradford, who had been blind since birth due to an infection, underwent a procedure to receive corneal grafts to restore his sight at age 52.

Richard Gregory and his research assistant Jean Wallace examined Mr Bradford's responses to optical illusions. 

Quote
Bradford’s responses to well-known illusion figures were far from normal. He perceived far less distortion,and he did not experience the flipping ambiguity of the Necker Cube, or other such dynamic changes of appearance. Pictures looked flat and meaningless.  Perspective meant nothing to his visual system,yet he could judge the distances and sizes of objects that were already familiar from touch, such as chairs scattered around the ward — although he was wildly wrong about distances to the ground from the hospital windows. Evidently, earlier touch experience and behaviour such as walking, calibrated and gave sense to his vision, which was almost useless for untouchable objects or pictures.

His unusual responses to the figures suggested that many illusions result from cognitive processing, rather than physiological signal processing occurring early in the visual system; this led to experiments and interesting controversies that persist today

A Neker cube:

As an aside, the real interesting take away from the Sidney Bradford case was that the man, blind since birth and newly sighted, could tell time by looking at the hands of the clock, as well as read (correctly) some words based on the shape of the upper case letters.  At a children's school for the blind Mr. Bradford was taught to tell time and read by memorizing the shape of the hands and letters, respectively. Mr. Bradford was immediately able to transfer his identification of objects by touch to his new sight, indicating that there is a "cross-modal" transfer of touch to vision.

Further interesting scientific papers on perception, illusions and vision are here in Richard Gregory's publications: http://www.richardgregory.org/papers/


So one of the hypotheses that the Sidney Bradford case suggests, is that there is some common learning experience in humans who are sighted since birth that allows them to perceive the optical illusion.

For an Eclipse Phase campaign the utility of exploring the space between perception and reality for writing adventures is self evident, particularly in a setting with Basilisk hacks. 

Here are some rough ideas:

Perhaps the mechanism that makes transhumans susceptible to Basilisk hacks is embedded in their ego.  Somewhere between visual perception and learning.  To capitalize on a market for traumatized egos who want to protect them selves from another fall, Cognite could offer an experimental series of psychosurgeries to make egos more resistant (or totally immune to) some Basilisk hacks.  Naturally this procedure would involve forking and successively merging "blind since birth" egos with the alpha ego.  That procedure itself could have negative psychological impacts on the parent ego (likely the "blind since birth" egos require accelerated time like the Lost project with all it's associated baggage). 

The political ramifications could be that reclaimers are highly supportive of this new technology because they hope to retake Earth with Basilisk hack immune shock troops.  Naturally other transhumans political factions would find this dangerous to their agendas and seek to violently destroy all evidence of success in this experimental therapy.

Alternatively, in a more fictionalized sci-fi bent, perhaps the procedure for Basilisk immunity somehow makes the subject less than human. Or (spitballing fantasy here) some fraction of those egos subjected to the Basilisk immunity procedure can not only still perceive the optical illusions, but they simultaneously perceive the lack of illusions.  Throw in the observer effect, and pineal gland stimulation for hand waving rational and you could justify that any horrible interaction between the treated egos and titan hack tech you want.

The concept of "truly perceiving reality invites supernatural attention and intrusion into our reality" is a common one.  Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and HP Lovecraft's From Beyond are great examples. 

Let's marry this theme to the idea that messing with the brain's ability to perceive optical illusions can create a person with an "observer effect" special ability. 

Say a character has this "observer effect" special ability.  Add that the "observer effect" in this individual creates a Bad Thing to happen when the character observed something with one other person present.  The Bad Thing could be that the observer character generates a basilisk hack ex nihilo, which then immediately attacks/infects his non-observer compatriot; or in a more supernatural campaign the observer character unconsciously summons a fragment of Azathoth/Daoloth/whatever that bloodily eats his compatriot while the observer character gets away unharmed (but traumatized).

This type of plot could be used to spice up a standard "Haunted House" (or spaceship or research base).  Terrible things happen in this Haunted House. The players plus the observer character (or maybe a player IS the observer character) are sent to investigate and they find out the house really isn't haunted/cursed, instead it is their companion that is the unwitting innocent supernatural Typhoid Mary.

In retrospect this idea is very similar thematically to the X-files episode Soft Light where a character is essentially cursed with inadvertently killing people around him when he is alone with them.  Oh well, nothing new under the sun right?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_Light_(The_X-Files)

There have got to be better plots that are closer to the science and I'd love to hear you guys make them.

Gorkamorka

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #551 on: January 06, 2017, 05:39:14 AM »
One for the Erasure Squad



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Gorkamorka (Fridrik)

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #552 on: March 08, 2017, 05:25:01 AM »
Looking for another kick in interest for AI craziness, check out the videos featuring Rob Miles on Computerphile: https://www.youtube.com/user/Computerphile/search?query=%22rob+miles%22

Gorkamorka

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #553 on: October 18, 2017, 04:29:12 AM »
Exoplanet for use in your gatehopping game

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Re: Eclipse Phase
« Reply #554 on: October 19, 2017, 02:39:09 PM »
We will probably do some more crazy exoplanet gatecrashing after EP2 comes out with full chargen rules.