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Going to try to get through these quickly! All questions here are from [personal profile] sablin27, in this comment.

Keep in mind, none of these answers are set in stone. They're just "this is what we are thinking right now."

Question One

Q. What are the cultural values of this society?

22nd century (CE) society, like when [community profile] capsulerp takes place, I imagine as having been deeply shocked by the extent to which climate change happened. A lot of species and societies were destroyed altogether, and while the people in charge today are the sorts that don't mind we like to think maybe other people would have been affected. That there was sort of a "my god, what have we done" moment for everyone, in this case catalyzed by dialogue with the cetaceans.

There's plenty of Suul'ka to go around, still, and you can see that in the numerous megacorps they have, much like today. Most of them are what we would call "B Corporations," though, and have to at least pretend to have a social welfare component to their mission. Wealth for its own sake is no longer a socially acceptable goal; if anyone amassed the kind of cash hoard that Apple today has, there would be calls for them to either invest it in the people most adversely affected by their operations or relinquish it.

Q. You mentioned diversity of minds in the right to uniqueness section. How is that constructed and why do people ascribe value to it?

That's probably the biggest cultural value of the 50th century CE, the time when Analogue and Hate Plus take place. There are a lot of reasons for it, but the biggest one I can think of right now is that perhaps the two rarest, most valuable things in the universe are as follows:

  • Complex organic molecules, like proteins,

  • and consciousness.

Diversity of minds is seen as an inherent good, sort of like biodiversity at an ecology seminar. Every creature has the right to exist, simply because it exists, and also because by letting it be it creates more independent thought.

This is going to sound creepy, but you know the way the Borg introduce themselves? "We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own?" 50th century society is like that, rabidly seeking out things like lost colonies and the rare exomorphs. Except that instead of wiring it into a hive mind, they want you to stay distinctive, since distinctiveness is rare and valuable.

Example: Now that the Mugunghwa has been discovered, pretty much everyone interested in the fate and history of ancient generation ships is going to be reading the same logs that the Investigator did, and discussing / roleplaying / fanficcing the parts that interested them.

This is exactly as awesome, and exactly as disturbing, as it sounds.

Q. Why is there so much emphasis on people's origins when people are seen as a current process? Do essentialists object to any radical change in individuals?

First, "essentialists" aren't a group per se, so much as that everyone has a certain degree of essentialist thought in them. There's an inherent conflict between "uniqueness is valuable" and "people have the right to change who they are," and this doublethink leads to blind spots and hidden biases.

Example: *Mute, the lost starship Mugunghwa's security AI, is an extremely valuable consciousness, simply because of her experience in that isolated society. She may well have fanmail, stalkers, and even cosplayers somewhere out in Star Union space. So how do they all react if she makes a dramatic change to who she is, or adjusts her values and ideals based on contact with modern society?

Q. How is death seen? Is it more or less feared? How often do people die unwillingly? Do people avoid thinking about death?

That depends. Is it my death we're talking about here? In that case it's terrible, it's like a star going out. It's something that we can prevent, by making backups. Thank goodness for modern technology!

Is it the death of a space cow somewhere on a distant planet? Well, that's just how, like, nature works, man. Your body feeds predators, and nourishes the soil for the next generation of space cows. It's the Circle of Life; it's so beautiful :')

Q. What does family structure look like?

Not anything like what *Mute wants it to look like!

"But that's ... ugh. I mean, what can ... I don't ... how does that even work?" *Mute finally asked. "Does one of us pretend to be the husband, or something?"

"It is normal for women to marry," I told her, my knees shaking.

"Not when they marry each other!"

"Yes, it is. It is completely normal on Earth. It's a tradition," I told her, hoping that'd make it okay.

"So that'd make us ... what? Wife and ... wife?" *Mute said it like it was the strangest thing she'd ever heard of.

Q. What is taboo?

Violating people's consent, first and foremost. There's just a wide variety of opinions as to what constitutes "people," and what constitutes "consent" when it comes to non-people. Both of which would seem liberal compared to today, but still lead to disturbing edge cases that say more about the person who has that belief than anything else.

Also, and related: diminishing the amount of uniqueness in the universe.

I'm going to briefly touch on three concrete taboos that are related to these two: Bestiality, cultural appropriation, and self-diagnosis.


Bestiality is theoretically taboo because non-sapient creatures aren't considered able to give informed consent. In practice, though, it is largely driven by "ick factor," or the nausea that people feel when they think about cross-species sex acts. Because of that, you will often see the bestiality taboo invoked to declare consensual sex acts off-limits, such as between an AI and an uplifted animal ... or even, sometimes, between an AI and a human.

Cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation is theoretically taboo because it diminishes uniqueness, by letting you and your interpretations of others' society talk over their own. It's a taboo that partly dates back to people in Suul'ka settler states becoming self-aware about genocide. In practice, though, it is sometimes itself driven by xenophobia, as the idea of someone from "our" society taking on "their" society's characteristics threatens unspoken assumptions about cultural supremacy.

(Like, say, the idea that we in the Star Union are so progressive and enlightened that we preserve and appreciate other cultures! "Not killing people" is a unique thing that makes us special! Yay us!)

So like, people are usually okay with the aforementioned fanfic and cosplay and stuff. But as soon as it seems like you're serious about taking on another cultural identity, people are like "oh my god she's not joking." Then your social status shifts to somewhere between "anime geek" and "furry lifestyler."


Dysphoria is real. But what that means, to a lot of people, is that it can be measured and quantified, like in the "brain scans for transgender people" they talk about today.

So what if your brain scan comes back negative?

In that case, you may be experiencing mental distress. But it can't be dysphoria, because they know what that physically looks like and this isn't it.

Over the last few thousand years, attitudes regarding this have shifted to be more accepting of the fact that diagnostic instruments are not perfect. But while people will accept your feelings as valid, they sometimes jump to the conclusion that you are having them because you're mentally ill, not because you are legit disabled or dysphoric.

◾ Tags:
Date/Time: 2015-10-21 01:22 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] blackswanseer
This is all as things are circa the departure of the Traveler 2? And later on, post-capsule, I'm guessing we at least start out not even knowing if Earth still exists, nevermind how societies, cultures, etc. have evolved?

I need to go check prior threads and see if we know how long it was between the disappearance of Traveler, to the departure of Traveler 2.

Also, I was thinking earlier today that the names remind me of the Icarus and Icarus 2 from Sunshine.
Date/Time: 2015-10-22 14:48 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] blackswanseer
I am working on getting something up on that front by tomorrow evening:D. Work has been on the rough side this week.
Date/Time: 2015-10-23 04:33 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] kaesa
OKAY SO my thoughts on family structures! This applies primarily to Earth, where uncurped population growth would really impact (and is currently really impacting) global warming and most other global environmental issues.

Basically I imagine that at some really grim point in Earth's past legal limits would have been placed on childbearing in many countries, something like China's One Child Policy, but more widespread. This would have been a pretty brutal period of Earth's history, but life always adapts, and so does culture. (Also, at some point between now and the end of Hate Plus, Earth appears to either have a unified government with continents as the equivalent of provinces, or is split into continents rather than countries.) Anyway, I think polygamy would have been encouraged partly because it would reduce the number of household units overall (assuming most married people end up living together) per capita, and if one child is allowed per household that really tamps down on the population even more.

Living space is also a big issue, and space exploration/colonization was probably one way of relieving the pressure, but not everyone can become a colonist, nor do they want to, so packing people in more densely would also be encouraged.

Some things that might follow is:
a. parents perhaps wanting their kids to have siblings like they grew up with, or really worrying about their kids not having as many peers to play with
b. the increasing cost of rent and/or real estate
c. polyamory suddenly being considered respectable because it also means you are conserving resources

So I'm thinking probably they would have consolidated households even more, so that you could get 2-4 marital groups under one roof, each marriage comprising of 2-4 adults and 1 child.

I was calling this "householding" in my fic; it would have equivalents to divorce ("decoupling") and terms for adults who a child's parents are not married to but are householded with (demiparents) and those adults' children (demisibs). Many of the individual adults in the households would be having relationships primarily based on childrearing, but not uncommon for romantic relationships to also happen there too.

Anyway, at some point the environmental disasters would have abated somewhat, the worst would be over, restrictions would start to loosen up. But cultural values would have slanted very far towards multiple partners in childrearing (and probably also romance), few children, and large extended family groups who were not necessarily technically related. Living alone or with only one's spouse(s) would be considered somewhat selfish, and probably much more expensive; young single people either would be living with their families or would join a household made of other single people and young married couples/triads/quartets who didn't yet have children.

(To some extent I guess this would actually be pretty familiar to *Mute, in that huge extended families are a fairly big deal and they are willing to pitch in to help each other and isolating yourself is considered kind of weird, but the free-for-all nature and the equality of it all would baffle her. How do you decide who the heir to the household is if there are seven potential fathers and all of them claim to be of equal rank and maybe the kid is actually the biological child of two women??? SOCIETY SURELY CANNOT HANDLE THESE PEOPLE NOT ONLY NOT KNOWING THEIR PLACE BUT NOT APPEARING TO HAVE ONE TO BEGIN WITH.)

Anyway, that's kind of as far as I got, I guess. If you really want to know how divorce and decoupling works in this society it's pretty boring, but I thought of that because IRL I work for a divorce lawyer! (tl;didn't write: basically the same as divorce nowadays but with more moving parts.)

As for the AIs... you will notice that all the above is hyperfocused on biological people. AIs don't eat and may or may not take up less space, but I'm assuming that for a while they weren't really considered, like, real people, and I'm not sure how long you want that to last in terms of legality and cultural assumptions.

Anyway, Analogue suggests that AIs do still have safeguards to keep themselves from making multiple copies, and I think the cultural taboo and the value of individuality you're saying is a big part of this culture would actually work well with my idea that possibly many AIs were not permitted to reproduce AT ALL, or only reproducing by fission (therefore they would stop existing and two "children" possessed of their different skills and personality aspects would survive) because of a general mistrust that an AI who wanted a child wouldn't just copy themselves wholly or mostly, and a perception that it's easier to do that with digital data than with biological data (which it is nowadays, of course, but I imagine biotech would be much more advanced and it would not be that much harder). So AIs wishing to act as parents would require either biological surrogates or at least one biological partner/co-householder, or they could take in the resulting children of another AI who split into "child" AIs. (Developmentally, these "children" would be more along the lines of adolescents or pre-adolescents; vulnerable and not possessed of great judgment but having some skills and knowledge and being able to communicate.)

OKAY SO THAT'S A LOT. Sorry, I feel like I just rambled for paragraphs and paragraphs about faaaamily and made it sound very prescriptive, which, bleah. Obviously there are lots of variations according to specific cultural backgrounds, and also this is a great way for little pockets of horribleness to exist under the guise of Really Close Households!!!1! and a recipe for all kinds of interpersonal conflict. (And personally I'd hate it because I really like living alone.) But yeah, those are my rambly ideas, feel free to incorporate or disregard!

oh my god I wrote a novel. sorry!
Edited Date/Time: 2015-10-23 04:33 (UTC)
Date/Time: 2015-10-23 06:10 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] kaesa
Oops! Sorry, was using polygamy as a purely anthropological term, but yeah, it has a lot of awful baggage. That is a horrific quote, too, damn. I'm happy to change the wording to "polyamory" or "poly," and (if I am speaking strictly legally) "polyamorous marriages."

I'd like to polish it and make it actually legible and organized! But sure, I can make it its own little essay post! (It will be sometime this weekend, though, I'm busy tomorrow night and ...seriously, like five things that couldn't be put off intersected this week and this is the first night in a week I've gone to sleep before 3 AM. Am a bit tired.)

The AI fission thing is SUPER WEIRD, IDEK -- the fission thing is from Digital, where apparently an AI usually doesn't even choose it -- they just suddenly split! And then it's never mentioned in Analogue, presumably because we've already seen enough disturbing shit in those games, but some of the AI copying taboos carried over and so did the * designation, so I feel like the intentionally created AIs in Analogue must in some way be "descendants" (not literally perhaps) of the accidentally-evolving ones in Digital. I'm not even sure human-created AIs are able to reproduce by fission, but I kind of suspect humans never quite learned to create AIs from scratch, instead swiping code from donors (hopefully willing) and changing the personality/skillset, so maybe they haven't been able to figure out how to turn that bug/feature off.
Date/Time: 2015-10-26 02:46 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] kaesa
Oof, it's been a hell of a weekend. Sorry about that! May need to post the essay this week? >_> I'll see if I can edit it down to my satisfaction tonight, though.

I like your ideas relating this to AIs partitioning off! I have read others' (nonfictional) accounts of plural/multiple systems, but it would not have occurred to me to relate that to the AI fission, for some reason, even though it's a more logical metaphor than, say, amoebas, which I think is what I was picturing. (Amoebas made of ones and zeroes. You can see why I was weirded out.)

So shall we assume that multiple factors can cause an AI to become two or more separate AIs, and it's not yet well-understood, but stress + division of attention or severe cognitive dissonance is a common cause?
Date/Time: 2015-10-26 03:57 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] kaesa
!!! Character creation!

Essay is... better, but I'm gonna poke at it tomorrow when I'm more awake and maybe run it by a friend to make sure it's coherent and I don't switch tenses eight times. For some reason putting things in a post is more intimidating than putting them in a comment. Also I think I got really distracted by legal things because of my day job.

(Also, man, some of us may be more statistically unusual, but everyone is weird in large and small ways, and being weirded out by people being themselves at you just wastes everyone's time and energy.)

EDIT: Also, good luck with your move! Hopefully it won't be too stressful and you'll have some time to relax. (I know moving always takes a lot out of me.)
Edited Date/Time: 2015-10-26 03:59 (UTC)


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