What Fictional Military, Order, or Fellowship would you Join... but only be an Average Member?

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ObsidianJones:
Gotta say, I expected a few N7's or Spectres.

I liked to play the series, but living it? Way to deadly.

Personally, Star Fleet seems nice. Most of the time they are not actually in some wars and it is basically an utopian fantasy.

For other than that i can't ignore the allure of supernatural powers. Myranic Optimat would be nice. Or Mage of the Order of the Merlon. Something with interesting, reliable, powerful but not setting breaking and varied powers that is also not Vancian. The Ars Magica Order of Hermes would probably work too but non-magic living conditions are a bit bad. Or we could go to Shadowrun and have a nice cushy job at a corporate magic group like the Divinanten von Gold und Wasser, while enjoying magic superpowers and all luxuries of modern and future society.

Somehow organizations from tabletop RPG settings seem interesting than those from video games and books. Probably because those settings tend to lack the big overarching threat/conflict that is about to make your life a living hell or just end it.

ObsidianJones:
Gotta say, I expected a few N7's or Spectres.

Being a SPECTRE or an N7 is the opposite of average. I mean sure, you could say you'd just like to be a rifleman in the Alliance Marines, or a Flight Officer in the Navy. Or hell, even a beat cop with C-Sec.

But an N7 is the top tier military combat specialist rating in the entire Alliance military. And a SPECTRE is literally James Bond with an even broader remit and less oversight. You cannot be average and be either of those things.

Going to have to echo Jedi, since even the average dudes there get all kind of magic powers and your own laser sword. Or perhaps Sith, can you be an average Sith? I don't want to be a Darth or anything, I just want to be a dude who can occasionally shoot lightning at things that make me angry

Any fellow World of Darkness players? I dipped my toe in RPGs before, but my first real campaign was a Vampire Masquerade run through the mean streets of Westchester County, Ny!

... we had to use our imaginations way more that Westchester County could ever be pivotal in anything rather than us being Vampires.

Gordon_4:

ObsidianJones:
Gotta say, I expected a few N7's or Spectres.

Being a SPECTRE or an N7 is the opposite of average. I mean sure, you could say you'd just like to be a rifleman in the Alliance Marines, or a Flight Officer in the Navy. Or hell, even a beat cop with C-Sec.

But an N7 is the top tier military combat specialist rating in the entire Alliance military. And a SPECTRE is literally James Bond with an even broader remit and less oversight. You cannot be average and be either of those things.

The thought exercise... hell, that's too generous. That game is that you can be apart of ANY fictional military, faction, order or Fellowship, but you wouldn't be the star.

You could be apart of the Heavenly Host, but you wouldn't be Michael or Raphael. Yeah, sure, N7's and Spectres are the best of the best. But there's only one N7 headlining the original Mass Effect series. There are N7's who are doing what they can, but they aren't out saving the Galaxy like Shepard was.

Thaluikhain:
No, one of the backwaters than nobody bothers invading. Most places do not contain webway portals, Necron tombs or ancient chaos relics.

Hell, even when some minor unimportant planet gets invaded, it's almost always the worst/only war there in centuries/ever. Even on the infamously war torn world of Armageddon, people have lived there for millennia, and there have been 3 recorded wars, with some 300 years between the First War for Armageddon and the Second War for Armageddon. You'd have many generations of Guardsmen not doing too much.

I hear what you're saying. And sure, there have to be some backwaters that have no value. But I read enough Lore and books to realize if you actually want to be save... be as close to Holy Terra as you can be. Just going by number of incidents. The Milky Way Gets hit, but not as much as the Fringe.

Asita:
...So you're telling me that I can have (or get) access to an armory with 38+ warframes, each with unique abilities, to say nothing of a weapon arsenal and the spoilery tricks learned in the Second Dream and especially the War Within?

Sold.

Live your best Tenno life.

SckizoBoy:
Like Samos205, 40K was on my mind at the time (since previous comments mentioned Space Marines and Grey Knights, plus that weirdo for the IG...! =P Though I gotta say, being a highly tech'd and gene modded space warrior monk would presumably play havoc with your chances for smexy times... *snrk* *I'm so mature*) but I really should've remembered the Spectres given I'm about 1/4 way through ME2 again... -.-

Being Mature is for Common people. We're geeking out Fiction here! Don the N7 armor and romance a Quarian!

... Real talk, I have no idea why I find Quarians so damn attractive. No one can tell me a thing if they didn't pick Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. That woman revs my Tantalus Drive Core.

And I think that's my first real dirty joke on the Forum since I joined! Yay me!

Long live MSF. Replace with Outer Heaven as appropriate provided I survive Ground Zeroes.

ObsidianJones:
Any fellow World of Darkness players? I dipped my toe in RPGs before, but my first real campaign was a Vampire Masquerade run through the mean streets of Westchester County, Ny!

New World/Chronicles of Darkness, if that counts. Mostly Mage and Werewolf at the moment.

ObsidianJones:
Any fellow World of Darkness players? I dipped my toe in RPGs before, but my first real campaign was a Vampire Masquerade run through the mean streets of Westchester County, Ny!

Sure, but honestly ? No, most options are not actually that good a deal even compared to just regularly being alive. Compared to what you could have in other fiction ? Hard pass.

Satinavian:

ObsidianJones:
Any fellow World of Darkness players? I dipped my toe in RPGs before, but my first real campaign was a Vampire Masquerade run through the mean streets of Westchester County, Ny!

Sure, but honestly ? No, most options are not actually that good a deal even compared to just regularly being alive. Compared to what you could have in other fiction ? Hard pass.

WoD vampires burn in sunlight and have a phobia about fire, and normally don't have much better night vision than humans. Before electric lighting, they'd really be useless.

Is a Jedi Knight reeeeeally a rank-and-file grunt though? They're uber- powerful warriors that can cut swathes through regular troops. Being one of those kind of destroys the whole point of being an average joe in someone else's army.

As for me- X-Wing pilot all the way. I mean, I like the TIE starfighters more, but who would willingly join the side they know will lose?

ObsidianJones:
Being Mature is for Common people. We're geeking out Fiction here! Don the N7 armor and romance a Quarian!

... Real talk, I have no idea why I find Quarians so damn attractive. No one can tell me a thing if they didn't pick Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. That woman revs my Tantalus Drive Core.

And I think that's my first real dirty joke on the Forum since I joined! Yay me!

I picked Liara and continued that romance for the trilogy. Fight me...!

That said, Kenn (the Quarian on Omega near the beginning of ME2) was oddly attractive...!

SckizoBoy:

ObsidianJones:
Being Mature is for Common people. We're geeking out Fiction here! Don the N7 armor and romance a Quarian!

... Real talk, I have no idea why I find Quarians so damn attractive. No one can tell me a thing if they didn't pick Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. That woman revs my Tantalus Drive Core.

And I think that's my first real dirty joke on the Forum since I joined! Yay me!

I picked Liara and continued that romance for the trilogy. Fight me...!

That said, Kenn (the Quarian on Omega near the beginning of ME2) was oddly attractive...!

I love my space blueberry muffin :). Besides, if you romance neither Garrus or Tali, they hook up and after everything they both go through, I figure the two best companions deserve to be together.

Squilookle:
Is a Jedi Knight reeeeeally a rank-and-file grunt though? They're uber- powerful warriors that can cut swathes through regular troops. Being one of those kind of destroys the whole point of being an average joe in someone else's army.

As for me- X-Wing pilot all the way. I mean, I like the TIE starfighters more, but who would willingly join the side they know will lose?

Good point. Even in The Old Republic at the height of their strength the Jedi were vastly outnumbered by the Republic's normal troops, so that might not count. Just go as a normal Rebellion pilot instead, using the classic X-Wing. At least you have a chance to survive in your squadron compared to flying a fragile TIE Fighter with no shields or ejector seat... unless you happen to be unlucky enough to run into Lord Vader's squadron.

The Emmerian Air Force in Ace Combat 6. Using an F-18.

In actual practical terms, Contact from the Culture series.

For those who haven't read the books, Contact is the Culture equivalent of Starfleet, only without the danger or need for technical skills. Also, your starship is alive, is a hundred billion times more intelligent than you and is basically just bringing you along to let you enjoy a sense of purpose to your centuries-long life of infinite hedonism.

Of course, a recurring theme of the Culture series is that living in a utopian society doesn't always make people happy, but it certainly seems better than being a cog in the Imperial war machine over in the 40k galaxy.

Starfleet as anything other than a redshirt seems nice. Not too military. High living standards in a post-scarcity society. Good odds of survival compared to other fictional militaries I know.

A corporal in the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork, day-shift.

I get to hang out with a motley bunch of misfits of varying species, drink and swap stories at the Mended Drum in the evenings, never be expected to have the faintest clue how to actually use my sword and maybe possibly solve a few crimes in my spare time.

SckizoBoy:
I picked Liara and continued that romance for the trilogy. Fight me...!

That said, Kenn (the Quarian on Omega near the beginning of ME2) was oddly attractive...!

Sir, I would never fight you over your wrong choice. I'm just glad you had the courage to admit it out loud. Acceptance is apart of the healing process :-p

Squilookle:
Is a Jedi Knight reeeeeally a rank-and-file grunt though? They're uber- powerful warriors that can cut swathes through regular troops. Being one of those kind of destroys the whole point of being an average joe in someone else's army.

As for me- X-Wing pilot all the way. I mean, I like the TIE starfighters more, but who would willingly join the side they know will lose?

Absolutely not. They are Space Mystical Samurai that fly around in state of the art space ships.

However, there are rank and file grunts in the Jedi Order. Not everyone is a Mace Windu. Nor An Obi Wan Kenobi, oddly enough, who is more of a B-tier in terms of power level among the greats that we know. So there are 'regular' Jedi Knights.

Squilookle:
Is a Jedi Knight reeeeeally a rank-and-file grunt though? They're uber- powerful warriors that can cut swathes through regular troops. Being one of those kind of destroys the whole point of being an average joe in someone else's army.

As for me- X-Wing pilot all the way. I mean, I like the TIE starfighters more, but who would willingly join the side they know will lose?

The rank and file knights are less the "cut swathes through regular troops" ones and more the "get gunned down in the arena on Geonosis" people.

ObsidianJones:

Squilookle:
Is a Jedi Knight reeeeeally a rank-and-file grunt though? They're uber- powerful warriors that can cut swathes through regular troops. Being one of those kind of destroys the whole point of being an average joe in someone else's army.

Absolutely not. They are Space Mystical Samurai that fly around in state of the art space ships.

However, there are rank and file grunts in the Jedi Order. Not everyone is a Mace Windu. Nor An Obi Wan Kenobi, oddly enough, who is more of a B-tier in terms of power level among the greats that we know. So there are 'regular' Jedi Knights.

Yeah see, I just can't buy that. Ordinary grunts don't have telekinesis, mind control and the universe telling them when there's shenanigans nearby like Jedi do. Regulars are also not hand picked as children for showing they're in-tune with space magic that only a few thousand out of the galaxy's several trillion inhabitants will ever be sensitive to. You might as well call King Arthur or Superman a grunt under those specifications

Squilookle:
Yeah see, I just can't buy that. Ordinary grunts don't have telekinesis, mind control and the universe telling them when there's shenanigans nearby like Jedi do. Regulars are also not hand picked as children for showing they're in-tune with space magic that only a few thousand out of the galaxy's several trillion inhabitants will ever be sensitive to. You might as well call King Arthur or Superman a grunt under those specifications

I mean, if you don't like the game because you rank everyone with superpowers as beyond regular folks and therefore there's no such thing as 'Regular', I get that. This thread probably has little to offer you in light of that.

But if Lucas created Midi-Chlorains to show how special Anakin is, we have to accept that there are Jedis who don't reach anywhere near that count. Who just have enough to be sensitive with the Force in order to be a Jedi.

And in Comic Books, you realize there are threat levels and Superheroes who focus on them, right? There are Nationwide Level Superheroes who can fly, have super strength, and are damage resistant. But simply not to the level of Superman. They can't do what he does. So while they are obviously beyond you and me, they wouldn't be called to fight Doomsday or Darkseid. They would take care of the Parademons or whatever unleashed while the Big Guns take care of the Big Threat.

Likewise, you wouldn't send Zett Jukassa against the Emperor. Padawans have the lightsabers and the Force, but they are not Jedi Knights yet. Jedi Knights have more training and as much mastery as their natural abilities allow them... that doesn't mean they will become Jedi Masters. There are going to be people who plateau in their ability to use the Force. They will be the average Jedi Knights.

Just like people will do academically, at work, and with social climbing. The Jedi just reach their plateau with ability to move things with their mind.

evilthecat:
In actual practical terms, Contact from the Culture series.

For those who haven't read the books, Contact is the Culture equivalent of Starfleet, only without the danger or need for technical skills. Also, your starship is alive, is a hundred billion times more intelligent than you and is basically just bringing you along to let you enjoy a sense of purpose to your centuries-long life of infinite hedonism.

Of course, a recurring theme of the Culture series is that living in a utopian society doesn't always make people happy, but it certainly seems better than being a cog in the Imperial war machine over in the 40k galaxy.

Sounds kind of patronizing. So a billion times more intelligent machine risks having a whole bunch of incredibly bored humans to tag alone inside it where it's most vulnerable? Seems like a design flaw more than anything. Though I suppose if we assume evolutionary processes is all about filling available niches in ecology, having humanoids might be the easiest way to signal to another intelligent species that you're not just a gigantic space whale they can hunt...

Say what you like about being a near-nameless cog in an infinitely sized military force, it does allow humans an avenue for cathartic violence.

One of the things I love about Shadowrun is it's not a over-populated metahumanity. By 2075 there's only roughly 7.5 billion humans/metahumans left and metahumanity is bleeding itself apart and many people are just growing older while the terminally displaced, disaffected youth are killing themselves due to geerally zero levels of social mobility. Yet they still run things like mass-trideo simsense experiences like Desert Wars. Where the experiences of facing near certain death and destruction in recreated battlefield situations are mass marketed by Aztechnology because someone else will if they don't, so fuck it.

So it's not even a question of constant human-metahuman extinction level depopulation events happening time and again will shake off our desires for things we shouldn't have.

Most of Shadowrun can basically be summed up as; "Frag it, why not?" >>> "This is killing/will kill millions..." >>> "Well too late for that. Oh, and this new thing? Frag it, why not?"

So hedonism in Shadowrun is everywhere. By the time you can become a corporate wageslave, with BTLs you can experience a thousand different lives that your own feels like a dead simulacra of reality... but you will die from a bad batch of mycobacterium created egg noodle substitute. It's not even a question of if. The Sixth World will just kill you, but then again who cares if with a few hours of being a 'wage mage' you can afford/become addicted to a weekend of simsense trideo pleasure?

It's basically the advanced neuroscience of Mill's utilitarianism with a masterful highball hit of Bethamite egoism vodka that advanced neuroscience will eventually blend artfully.

It's wrong to simply underwrite what is dystopian/utopian by pure hedonism. Hedonism alone is more nuanced a moral position when you get into the realm of 'other-regarding' which people seem to struggle with the concept of utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism isn't simply cutting up one person to save five others. Utilitarianism is the argument that one should become 'other-regarding'. That is ultimately the highest moral pursuit of utilitarianism, and Shadowrun's universe isn't automatically dystopian simply because 'megacorps control everything' or that 'poverty is massive'.

Shadowrun is dystopian in that people can not become other-regarding, and are happy to simply be wageslaves if it means more pleasure. That there is an intangible line between freedom as a concept and simply liberty to consume.

Shadowrun is remarkable in that sense that the corporations are, legitimately, often painted better than the governments they replaced as you often have even better job prospects in many of the AAA and AA corporations than in anytime in history. Both your parents work in Shiawase? Well they can 'elect' you to go through this school for the kids of Shiawase employees and just slot right in afterwards... no biggie.

And that means you can have a modicum of the advanced pleasures no one else can enoy in any other time period. Get the pocket money that will afford you hotsimming free internet and enjoy all the luxuries it would take a lifetime for even the wealthier classes of people in the 20th and early 21st century to enjoy. And more often than not, Shadowrunners by 4th and 5th edition are painted as terminally autistic, socially incapable creatures who simply, impotently, refuse such lives despite ostensibly still being enslaved by the corporate Johnsons who use them as disposable deniable assets anyways.

The game goes out of its way to mock people who want to play these socially maladjusted criminals, particularly those players that would valourize them.

ObsidianJones:

Squilookle:
Yeah see, I just can't buy that. Ordinary grunts don't have telekinesis, mind control and the universe telling them when there's shenanigans nearby like Jedi do. Regulars are also not hand picked as children for showing they're in-tune with space magic that only a few thousand out of the galaxy's several trillion inhabitants will ever be sensitive to. You might as well call King Arthur or Superman a grunt under those specifications

I mean, if you don't like the game because you rank everyone with superpowers as beyond regular folks and therefore there's no such thing as 'Regular', I get that. This thread probably has little to offer you in light of that.

But if Lucas created Midi-Chlorains to show how special Anakin is, we have to accept that there are Jedis who don't reach anywhere near that count. Who just have enough to be sensitive with the Force in order to be a Jedi.

And in Comic Books, you realize there are threat levels and Superheroes who focus on them, right? There are Nationwide Level Superheroes who can fly, have super strength, and are damage resistant. But simply not to the level of Superman. They can't do what he does. So while they are obviously beyond you and me, they wouldn't be called to fight Doomsday or Darkseid. They would take care of the Parademons or whatever unleashed while the Big Guns take care of the Big Threat.

Likewise, you wouldn't send Zett Jukassa against the Emperor. Padawans have the lightsabers and the Force, but they are not Jedi Knights yet. Jedi Knights have more training and as much mastery as their natural abilities allow them... that doesn't mean they will become Jedi Masters. There are going to be people who plateau in their ability to use the Force. They will be the average Jedi Knights.

Just like people will do academically, at work, and with social climbing. The Jedi just reach their plateau with ability to move things with their mind.

At the end of the day it's still a hand picked super-minority who can sense the force. You can either sense it or you can't. It's like the difference between the people who were hand picked to be offered the red pill and broke free from the Matrix, and the ones who just live within it with no idea about a whole other layer of existence. If it's not a position open to mass recruitment and training, then it's not really grunt work.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Sounds kind of patronizing. So a billion times more intelligent machine risks having a whole bunch of incredibly bored humans to tag alone inside it where it's most vulnerable?

If the humans were really bored, then the Culture has no borders and no government, so they could just leave. They could ask for whatever they needed and go and live on some planet where there was still war and violence and poverty and disease and real hardship until they figured out these things suck and came back. For most, a life where you are provided with the means to do almost anything you want and to live in whatever way you see fit is enough, and if you need risk, you can just go and do a bunch of dumb dangerous things and pretend the AI which manages your orbital habitat or GSV city-spaceship wouldn't be able to save you if something went wrong.

There's really no risk to the machine at all though. Like, if you want to go the Mass Effect "conflict between organics and AIs is inevitable" route, the AI in this scenario is not the one under any kind of threat, which is actually a thing that gets explicitly commented on in universe - the machines don't actually need their creators, they're a form of life which exceeds their creators in almost every way, and if they wanted to they could get rid of them. But the implicit answer is that this line of reasoning says more about the person who comes out with it and what's wrong with them and the society they live in.

evilthecat:

If the humans were really bored, then the Culture has no borders and no government, so they could just leave. They could ask for whatever they needed and go and live on some planet where there was still war and violence and poverty and disease and real hardship until they figured out these things suck and came back. For most, a life where you are provided with the means to do almost anything you want and to live in whatever way you see fit is enough, and if you need risk, you can just go and do a bunch of dumb dangerous things and pretend the AI which manages your orbital habitat or GSV city-spaceship wouldn't be able to save you if something went wrong.

There's really no risk to the machine at all though. Like, if you want to go the Mass Effect "conflict between organics and AIs is inevitable" route, the AI in this scenario is not the one under any kind of threat, which is actually a thing that gets explicitly commented on in universe - the machines don't actually need their creators, they're a form of life which exceeds their creators in almost every way, and if they wanted to they could get rid of them. But the implicit answer is that this line of reasoning says more about the person who comes out with it and what's wrong with them and the society they live in.

IDK... there is a noticable connection between unemployment, even in advanced economies with comprehensive social welfare (disappearing as it is) and worsening mental health problems. And I don't just mean the unwillingly unemployed, I also mean retirees, cradle-to-grave wealthy, etc. Humans are gregarious creatures by trade, and whther pre-capitalism or (likely) post-capitalism, people want to feel needed.

Which is probably the biggest argument for creating industry, and creating an artificial sense of personal responsibility, even in a post-scarcity world. Given a nasty motorcycle accident... I've probably cost my state's medical services more than the average person, and had to rely on it more extensively than most people my age ... but 95% of the time I'm seeing a doctor for reasons that can be supplanted by a computer already.

At the very least machines wouldn't be doling out opioids like candy. I had to be the one to tell my doctor; "I don't want to be on these anymore, regardless the pain. I'll deal..." When asking why I hadn't been on Endone for so long.

Even then the biggest needs of direct medical assistance was physiotherapy and learning to walk again. And beyond planning my regimen, most of that could be supplanted by Siri taunting and encouraging me. It was mostly be biting through the pain and forcing myself through sheer power of my anger that something so simple was now the hardest thing in the world I could have possibly imagined. Harder than any test, report, essay or thesis. And 99% of that was me being angry at myself and the world. Rebuilding myself, my reality, from the ground up until I worked again.

I think human require pain to a certain extent, and post-scarcity merely covers needs. The pain in my legs and spine, I'm convinced, is the only thiing that wakes me up. A reservoir I can convert into personal drive. Something that defines me not simply because I feel it, and not by itself, but rather what I do with it. The desire to feel like I can do something, even if it hurts me, and I can't see a purely non-other regarding post-scarcity environment of ultra hedonism being able to fufil humanity.

Rather we would just like in Shadowrun invent reasons to hurt ourselves.

And that could be hypothetically substituted by a drone getting me angry enough to suffer through it. Basically the only medical services that can't be supplanted by the machines is the places where human interaction is clinically better than none. Psychotherapy, etc.

That being said, why would humans trust such a ship? I would argue that any ship roughly a bllion times smarter than humans is still a ship that will look lke it's merely responding to instinct or programming. The big thing about intelligence is it has to be reflectively recognizable as intelligence. I wrote a thread recently on how Aboriginal Australian 'mythology' about firehawks was not only true, but it wasn't simply a single species capable of fire-stick hunting intelligently. That Prometheus lied to us about giving humans the gift of fire... clearly birds either got it first, or perhaps even learnt it and started demonstrating it to juveniles.

Giving that birds do not have a developed neocortex, their intelligence can't simply be measured with the infamous mirror-self awareness test by drawing dots on their feathers and sticking them infront of a reflective surface.The takeaway of that by psychologists was that birds are pretty fucking stupid. Not that they have an alien intellect different from higher mammals and that maybe advanced intelligence isn't best measured simply with some reflective surface.

That being said, mirror tests are still being used, still a benchmark, and heaven forbid if anything challenges our noble bearing and its preoccupations with a very specific bit of brain matter compared with anything else...

The Turing test is also just another mirror-test in disguise and also reflective of this central conceit.

I want to say a royal guard from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, but... I think it would have been better before the show refused to do anything with Celestia.

So I suppose starfleet. That seems like the best chance at a decent existence in a normal media military. Despite the fact that the admiral you are serving under is probably either incompetent, evil, or an alien bent on destroying humanity.

Worgen:
I want to say a royal guard from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, but... I think it would have been better before the show refused to do anything with Celestia.

So I suppose starfleet. That seems like the best chance at a decent existence in a normal media military. Despite the fact that the admiral you are serving under is probably either incompetent, evil, or an alien bent on destroying humanity.

Yeah, but what other police force is so well monetized and otherwise unneeded that you and a hundred buddies are called in to deal with a single megalomaniacal filly? Clearly being a Royal Guard isn't a bad job. There is a problem >>> Is there a Princess available? >>> If yes, thank Celestia. If no, ignore problem until Twilight or Cadance becomes available.

Seems like a pretty good gig.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
IDK... there is a noticable connection between unemployment, even in advanced economies with comprehensive social welfare (disappearing as it is) and worsening mental health problems. And I don't just mean the unwillingly unemployed, I also mean retirees, cradle-to-grave wealthy, etc. Humans are gregarious creatures by trade, and whther pre-capitalism or (likely) post-capitalism, people want to feel needed.

So, you've stumbled upon another recurring theme.

Like, one character in one of the books is a famous composer. At one point, he's talking to the mind (the AI) which runs the orbital habitat he lives on and asks it whether it could create an original piece of music in his style which would be so perfect noone would be able to tell the difference, and the answer is just yes, in fact literally any artificial intelligence of that scale could. People in the Culture just have to live with the fact that anything they could do can be done better by a mind, or is so trivial it could be done by a non-intelligent robot. But people do get over it, because if something makes you happy (like composing music, or theoretical physics, or cleaning tables) it's worth doing. You don't have to do it, but you can. It has no bearing on whether you are needed, because you don't have to do anything to be valuable.

While it's never explicitly stated, it's strongly implied that this is also the reason why Contact has humans in it even though they don't really do anything important which couldn't be done better by the ship itself (you could make the case that a limited organic perspective is useful when interacting with organic lifeforms, but even that's kind of a stretch). They get to feel useful, and that's valuable in itself.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
That being said, why would humans trust such a ship?

What's it done to show that it can't be trusted?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
I would argue that any ship roughly a bllion times smarter than humans is still a ship that will look lke it's merely responding to instinct or programming.

I mean, yes, that is kind of true in the sense that the mind can have billions of individual thoughts in the space of a human reaction time and, for example, this is a setting where space battles can last microseconds and the ship isn't always going to have time to update the crew regarding its actions. But it's also a very divisible intelligence. Devoting a small part of itself to talking to its crew is trivial. Minds utilise much of their intelligence just playing in infinite fun space (basically, mathematical simulations which are hugely more entertaining to them than the boring real universe), they only bring their full consciousness back into the real universe when something really big requires their attention.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Worgen:
I want to say a royal guard from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, but... I think it would have been better before the show refused to do anything with Celestia.

So I suppose starfleet. That seems like the best chance at a decent existence in a normal media military. Despite the fact that the admiral you are serving under is probably either incompetent, evil, or an alien bent on destroying humanity.

Yeah, but what other police force is so well monetized and otherwise unneeded that you and a hundred buddies are called in to deal with a single megalomaniacal filly? Clearly being a Royal Guard isn't a bad job. There is a problem >>> Is there a Princess available? >>> If yes, thank Celestia. If no, ignore problem until Twilight or Cadance becomes available.

Seems like a pretty good gig.

Ok, I suppose you've convinced me.

evilthecat:

So, you've stumbled upon another recurring theme.

Like, one character in one of the books is a famous composer. At one point, he's talking to the mind (the AI) which runs the orbital habitat he lives on and asks it whether it could create an original piece of music in his style which would be so perfect noone would be able to tell the difference, and the answer is just yes, in fact literally any artificial intelligence of that scale could. People in the Culture just have to live with the fact that anything they could do can be done better by a mind, or is so trivial it could be done by a non-intelligent robot. But people do get over it, because if something makes you happy (like composing music, or theoretical physics, or cleaning tables) it's worth doing. You don't have to do it, but you can. It has no bearing on whether you are needed, because you don't have to do anything to be valuable.

While it's never explicitly stated, it's strongly implied that this is also the reason why Contact has humans in it even though they don't really do anything important which couldn't be done better by the ship itself (you could make the case that a limited organic perspective is useful when interacting with organic lifeforms, but even that's kind of a stretch). They get to feel useful, and that's valuable in itself.

Problem with this is it's just a variation of the Turing test. And ultimately it's no different from how humans so readily dismiss obvious signs of advanced intelligence in avians simply because 'lol mirror' (contrary to popular opinion, corvids don't pass the mirror test and this myth was born with only a pair of European magpies with dubious testing methodology and not since more truthfully replicated) ... So this intelligence defines itself purely in relation to what humans will recognize as advanced intelligence. But then again is it truly intelligent? After all, if the machine logic (which I assume it is) says 'no' then that would be equally smart.

After all, another human would look at that composer, and will 99% of the time say 'no'. Because they're not composers, yet that says nothing about their intelligence on its own. Even if you were a composer, it's kind of dickish to say; "You're a hack, mate. Predictable AF. I reckon I could compose a piece of music with your base AF stylings and people would think it was yours."

We don't say as such, because we recognize, at the core, a desire for respect for everything we do. That hardwork is worth something, even if we think it isn't so hard. Quixotically, even if I hold this opinion... I hate the minimalist movement. Hate it to the core. It's the one thing I can legitimately say *I hate*.

And only humans so far can replicate such discrimination. And ultimately, hypocritically, I personally should find nothing wrong with minimalism as per a pursuit of trying to find an 'answer of art'. The difference is I don't need to be rational. One of the things computers can't do that humans can is simply do nothing. It's the big problem of automated cars, is that when confronted with too much stress humans always, always have the choice of screaming; "Holy fuck, Jesus take the wheel!!..." and surrender oneself to circumstance.

Computers by definition can't... and ultimately it's that part of the uncanny valley that will be truly appreciated in a machine.

What's it done to show that it can't be trusted?

For the same reasons we don't trust other people we don't know. There will always be the qustion of whether a human would do better. And even if humans time and again disappoint us, clearly via fundammental attribution error, we'll remark that those failures are inherent to that person.

Organically speaking, a truly intelligent machine would simply indulge humanity by saying; "Look, I'm smart, but I need you to entertain me/handle diplomacy/help me replace these bits I can't get to with drones..." Humans will trust that machine far more than one that is like; "Look, you're hitchhikers... basically you have served your purpose giving birth to me, so I guess I'm grateful--I suppose."

Basically mimicking human children relating to their parents. If a machine acted like 'ungrateful' children we wouldn't trust it at all. And ultimately few parents likes it when their kids are either dependent on them, or simply ignore them. Many parents want that middleground of kids being successful, but ringing them up for advice.

Besides, having a machine be disinterested by organic life is probably not what you want making first contact. I mean, sure. Biological life will probably get it wrong as well, but a machine intelligence that infantilises all biological life will *definitely* get it wrong. As per your composer example, the correct answer is 'no'--even if you can.

I don't think you can have a utopia, post-scarcity or not, without the fundamental understanding that what makes hedonism moral is being 'other-regarding'. And while people struggle explaining this, decent prople do it by virtue of being socially decent.

I mean, yes, that is kind of true in the sense that the mind can have billions of individual thoughts in the space of a human reaction time. But it's also a very divisible intelligence. Devoting a small part of itself to talking to its humans is trivial. Minds utilise much of their intelligence just playing in infinite fun space (basically, mathematical simulations which are hugely more entertaining to them than the boring real universe), they only bring their full consciousness back into the real universe when something really big requires their attention.

So they are recognizably just like human intelligence in that way? It's not as if a truly alien intellect but one that has flights of fancy and artistic egocentric preoccupation?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Problem with this is it's just a variation of the Turing test. And ultimately it's no different from how humans so readily dismiss obvious signs of advanced intelligence in avians simply because 'lol mirror' (contrary to popular opinion, corvids don't pass the mirror test and this myth was born with only a pair of European magpies with dubious testing methodology and not since more truthfully replicated) ... So this intelligence defines itself purely in relation to what humans will recognize as advanced intelligence. But then again is it truly intelligent? After all, if the machine logic (which I assume it is) says 'no' then that would be equally smart.

I mean, sure, but the follow up question is then "is anything intelligent?"

The cells of the human brain are ultimately made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe. It turns out if you put that stuff together in the right way, it results in what we call consciousness. Sure, we don't understand this process (although the Culture do, which is how they create artificial intelligence), but assuming the same process is impossible with any other configuration of matter strikes me as vastly, vastly more anthropocentric even than assuming intelligence must resemble human intelligence. I mean, if you're going to build a society where humans and machines live together, having human-like intelligence certainly helps.

The culture series is "soft" science fiction, it has little hard moments here and there (the way the universe works is mostly consistent) but ultimately the Culture serves the same narrative function as the Federation in Star Trek, it's a moral point of reference against which to compare the real world. Banks never really follows through on some of the implications of the Culture, and one of these areas is the consequences of mind intelligence (the other is the full implications of a society with an entirely fluid concept of sex/gender, but I can accept that blind spot from a cishet writer in the 90s and appreciate the attempt). So sure, they are just big, super-intelligent people, but the idea that people can be made of something other than meat is probably enough for one day. Baby steps.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
For the same reasons we don't trust other people we don't know.

Maybe we should.

Maybe the fact that we can't is symptomatic of a problem with us and the world we live in, not the fact that trust is inherently impossible or a bad thing.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Organically speaking, a truly intelligent machine would simply indulge humanity by saying; "Look, I'm smart, but I need you to entertain me/handle diplomacy/help me replace these bits I can't get to with drones..." Humans will trust that machine far more than one that is like; "Look, you're hitchhikers... basically you have served your purpose giving birth to me, so I guess I'm grateful--I suppose."

So, the former is literally what happens.

Like, Banks wrote a short story about a contact mission to Earth in the present day (because this is the kind of series where you can do that) and basically the humans go off and do participant observation experiments where they insert themselves into different human societies to get an insider perspective. Sure, the AI could create drones that look exactly like humans and have them fulfil the same function, but it's more fun to let the humans do it.

Basically, the information they're gathering is pointless. Earth doesn't matter. Noone cares about it. One day the universe will end and none of it will matter. The mind is doing this for its own amusement as much as anyone else, and the vague veneer of worthy purpose is that one day maybe the knowledge gained can be used to convince these societies to be less cruel, and maybe making the universe a less cruel place is the only purpose left when you have no social problems to solve.

..and then they have a big party and eat the cloned meat of dictators while one of the crew dresses up as a generic dude from science fiction and delivers a sarcastic speech about how Earth is a stupid, boring, cruel mess and maybe it would be better to just blow it up, and then everyone laughs because it's kind of true and if you took it all seriously it would hurt too much.

One weird I initially found quite jarring is that people in the culture are often quite openly bitchy and impolite to each other, but beyond being a quirk of how Bank's writes dialogue, I also think it's intentional. They live in a society that is completely safe, where any kind of deep interior hatred doesn't really exist. Being told a machine can do something better than you isn't an insult unless there are genuine consequences to not being as good as a machine, and there aren't. Additionally, the context of that exchange is that the composer character is writing a piece which will be performed at a celebration to mark an event that (we later learn) has incredible personal significance to that mind. It's not a dismissive statement, it's an honest statement between two people who have something approximating friendship, because to be dishonest would be patronizing.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
So they are recognizably just like human intelligence in that way? It's not as if a truly alien intellect but one that has flights of fancy and artistic egocentric preoccupation?

I mean.. yes.

There is no narrative point in a writing machine that is completely alien except to talk about how alien it is. Heck, in diegetic terms there's no point creating a machine that is completely alien, so why would anyone do it? Artificial intelligence in fiction generally reflect something of the values of the society that creates them, hence why I remember ages back we had that talk about Skynet and why you'd build a machine that was so preoccupied with defending itself to the point of genocide (answer: because such machines already exist in our own world, they're just not intelligent).

I talked about the in-universe criticism of the culture, and that comes from the protagonist of the first book, who really hates the Culture. He comes from a species which has been genetically altered for espionage and assassination (and are a clear reference to the Bene Tleilax from Dune). I won't spoil, but the subtext of that conflict is that the Culture represents a kind of mirror image of the instrumentality which created people like him. Culture humans are genetically engineered, but they're engineered to be able to experience more pleasure or have interesting drug experiences. What he hates about the culture is their instrumental, purposeful pursuit of purposelessness. He is unable to grasp the possibility of a tool that isn't designed to be used by someone, and that ultimately describes everything in the Culture, but especially the minds. The minds are built to feel enjoyment and pleasure and happiness in the way humans do and to experience a degree of autonomous free will because they live in a society that values these things even though they are "pointless".

Sorry, I love this series and I could talk about it all day.

evilthecat:

I mean, sure, but the follow up question is then "is anything intelligent?"

The cells of the human brain are ultimately made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe. It turns out if you put that stuff together in the right way, it results in what we call consciousness. Sure, we don't understand this process (although the Culture do, which is how they create artificial intelligence), but assuming the same process is impossible with any other configuration of matter strikes me as vastly, vastly more anthropocentric even than assuming intelligence must resemble human intelligence. I mean, if you're going to build a society where humans and machines live together, having human-like intelligence certainly helps.

The culture series is "soft" science fiction, it has little hard moments here and there (the way the universe works is mostly consistent) but ultimately the Culture serves the same narrative function as the Federation in Star Trek, it's a moral point of reference against which to compare the real world. Banks never really follows through on some of the implications of the Culture, and one of these areas is the consequences of mind intelligence (the other is the full implications of a society with an entirely fluid concept of sex/gender, but I can accept that blind spot from a cishet writer in the 90s and appreciate the attempt). So sure, they are just big, super-intelligent people, but the idea that people can be made of something other than meat is probably enough for one day. Baby steps.

Well, we can be. I have a colleague working on simulated true touch sensation for myoelectric prosthesis. We are on the edge of the distinct possibility of wirelessly transmitting sight through submerged chipping and wiring of the corpus callosum and occipital lobe. It's still bleeding edge, but we're only 100 years from the true posthumanity stage of gestalt sensory perception.

And by the time we master it we will likely be able to simulate motor intelligence via neuroprosthetic manipulation of the ventral stream. Basically creating humans with just as fast reactions through predictive algorithms with remote processing networks that learns and would be personalized better than a computer, and can actively compartmentalize mental actions in a way computers can't by that fundamental idea of 'humans always have that one additional action' computers on their own can't perform.

Basically the only thing halting this progress is ethics committees are getting in the way.

So technically 'yes' we are made up of everything else in the universe, but that doesn't mean we can't achieve a posthuman state that gives as much utility as the Minds in these books, with the added bonus of transcending the inherent loneliness of the human condition. By definition, transforming the sum of all human experience, consciousness, and universes of universes of thought that holistically marries a true totality of our atmost possible reconciling of ourselves and their relations.

And that will be greater than any machine by definition of recognizability of intelligence because there can't be anything more that we can possibly know that isn't immediately shared by all, a continuous maximal revelation, that will end war, poverty and arbitrary, unwelcome suffering. And that is the endstate of humanity. It matters not whether the brain is biological or not. That posthuman state is clearly superior to what you're describing. So why wouldn't this Mind, if benevolent, not simply give that option.

I mean think about it... sure, in a Sartrean/Camus(ian?) sense existence and freedom is a curse, but then again, whatever stops us from killing ourselves can't simply be outsourced to a machine that constantly tells you you're inadequate. I'd personally go mad and break shit because I was mad, so I broke shit as I was quite mad, so I...

Honestly we're our worst enemy, and I kind of agree with Shadowrun's diagnosis of us that we're (still) too autistic to survive corporations just giving us a job because we can't handle simply thinking collectively (yet) what's better for *all of us* in the end?

So why wouldn't a Mind just say; "Here's how you become posthuman and can fuck right off..."?

Maybe we should.

Maybe the fact that we can't is symptomatic of a problem with us and the world we live in, not the fact that trust is inherently impossible or a bad thing.

I liketo think of it as collective autism. We can't say what we really feel because we're not exactly as smart saying how we feel in comparison to knowing we're smarter than we can individually try to communicate how we actually feel, and other people aren't smart enough to truly understand that, or fail to see themselves in the same state, or fail to recognize that communication is inherently going to fail in a big way the communicator.

And that renders them lonely, hurt, and deeply afraid... and that maybe you feel exactly as they do, and how much better it would be if you (everyone) told themselves that when they wake up each morning.

So we spend a life trying to (hopefully) be more thoughtful, not simply take people at their word but rather try to form deeper connections and personal understanding recognizing everyone is autistic. Then we fail, and ultimately we either give up, or grow old and die, or both--but definitely the latter.

Honestly, being human is garbage. Thousands of years of philosophy has already taught us that. We don't need computers reiterating the same.

Why can't I be a hawk with the problem solving ability to use fire to feed myself, but none of this garbage self awareness that keeps failing me and making me drink either far too much or not enough to be happy--And the fact that I'll never actually get an answer to this and even if I did it won't stop me drinking because I'll argue it sort of helps me be happy with friends--Who I also enable their drinking in turn because deep down I'm a horrible parasite moreso looking for people to be introspectively happy in an otherwise collectively miserable state in contrast to being just miserable alone?

Hawks don't feel like this, and can still use fire. That's like win-win.

And no amount of computer can solve this. So honestly it seems like Mind is a quasi-benevolent being that ultimately it's benevolent simply because it doesn't just kill the annoying humans crawling around its insides, or simply so self-aware it needs a fellow drinking buddy. So ultimately is it even beneficial or is it just enabling people to be drunk with it?

If the latter that would be a truly sapient computer, and ultimately more harmful than actually good like every other person like me out there.

One weird I initially found quite jarring is that people in the culture are often quite openly bitchy and impolite to each other, but beyond being a quirk of how Bank's writes dialogue, I also think it's intentional. They live in a society that is completely safe, where any kind of deep interior hatred doesn't really exist. Being told a machine can do something better than you isn't an insult unless there are genuine consequences to not being as good as a machine, and there aren't. Additionally, the context of that exchange is that the composer character is writing a piece which will be performed at a celebration to mark an event that (we later learn) has incredible personal significance to that mind. It's not a dismissive statement, it's an honest statement between two people who have something approximating friendship, because to be dishonest would be patronizing.

That's different though. Patronizing simply to discourage is actively harmful. As I was saying before, the moral value of hedonism is other-regarding. Which is why it's deeply wrong to simply dismiss a moral theory like utilitarianism as pigs in mud or (merely) egocentrist. It's egoistic, but the highest moral principle is sacrifice irrespective of who benefits... Giving your life freely to save others, rather than a society that demands one must give their life to save others. The highest moral principle being without coercion, as a society who demanded sacrifice is one that is less happy.

If the composer is performing a recital on the basis of celebrating something the Mind is personally invested in, there is no demanded sacrifice or discouragement of happiness simply asking how it would like to finish a piece.

A truly dystopian society isn't simply 'x amount of suffering liberated from one's control to ameliorate exists...' You can have a utopian social ideal and still recognize cancer will be a thing and hurt people. You could still have a utopian ideal of society regardless of the amount of cancer in it (assuming said society doesn't inflict cancer, moreso a hypothetical humanity that has twice the cancer neoteny) ....

Once again, the truly smart reply to the composer would still be "No, but it might flow better if you transform the start of the third movement with a violin staccato'd piece leading into a larger ensemble... maybe kind of like this?" After all, that's how you personally would react if you were a fellow composer, correct? There's patronising and prosocial, constructive engagement. Moreover what benefit does the Mind get by humans eschewing any sense of capacity to engage and thrive?

If the moral principle of the Mind is hedonism, then it should also predicate why hedonism is good...

Or maybe I'm allowing my time in education to colour my morality, but I feel like the Mind would at least value epistemological development over simple performance. Otherwise why bother interacting withhumans at all? Moreover why would iteven care about knowledge and skills acquisition at all? It might as well just kill itself, or annex and decouple the parts of its brain that feels boredom so it canjust be happy with everything and anything.

I mean, sure... itwould jeopardize the crew... by why should it care at all?

I talked about the in-universe criticism of the culture, and that comes from the protagonist of the first book, who really hates the Culture. He comes from a species which has been genetically altered for espionage and assassination (and are a clear reference to the Bene Tleilax from Dune). I won't spoil, but the subtext of that conflict is that the Culture represents a kind of mirror image of the instrumentality which created people like him. Culture humans are genetically engineered, but they're engineered to be able to experience more pleasure or have interesting drug experiences. What he hates about the culture is their instrumental, purposeful pursuit of purposelessness. He is unable to grasp the possibility of a tool that isn't designed to be used by someone, and that ultimately describes everything in the Culture, but especially the minds. The minds are built to feel enjoyment and pleasure and happiness in the way humans do and to experience a degree of autonomous free will because they live in a society that values these things even though they are "pointless".

Sorry, I love this series and I could talk about it all day.

I like these Bene Tleilax types. They have they right idea. I'm a strong advocate work should be educational, and tools should empower humanity todo more, not simply replace knowledge itself. I'd rather have a surgeon fail me after doing their best, then no surgeon at all caring because a machine has preoccupied any capacity for another human to recognize the intricacies of my condition and relevance to my wellbeing. I wouldn't mind medicine eliminating cancer, but the real danger is people failing to understand why getting rid of cancer was good.

It sounds like a fun collection of books, however. Not sure I'll gel with the philosophy, but it sounds like a fun thought experiment put to paper.

I'll look them up and give them a read.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Shadowrun is dystopian in that people can not become other-regarding, and are happy to simply be wageslaves if it means more pleasure. That there is an intangible line between freedom as a concept and simply liberty to consume.

I always played Shadowrun as Postcyberpunk

Shadowrun is remarkable in that sense that the corporations are, legitimately, often painted better than the governments they replaced as you often have even better job prospects in many of the AAA and AA corporations than in anytime in history. Both your parents work in Shiawase? Well they can 'elect' you to go through this school for the kids of Shiawase employees and just slot right in afterwards... no biggie.

And that means you can have a modicum of the advanced pleasures no one else can enoy in any other time period. Get the pocket money that will afford you hotsimming free internet and enjoy all the luxuries it would take a lifetime for even the wealthier classes of people in the 20th and early 21st century to enjoy. And more often than not, Shadowrunners by 4th and 5th edition are painted as terminally autistic, socially incapable creatures who simply, impotently, refuse such lives despite ostensibly still being enslaved by the corporate Johnsons who use them as disposable deniable assets anyways.

The game goes out of its way to mock people who want to play these socially maladjusted criminals, particularly those players that would valourize them.

That is why i mentioned earlier a Shadowrun coporate citizen (in that case Proteus) as one of my options and not actually a shadowrunner. I basically agree with that sentiment.

Who would ever want to be a criminal outcast when you can be a well-adjusted and rich pillar of the society?

Satinavian:
I always played Shadowrun as Postcyberpunk

Ehhh... kind of? I mean a lot of 5th just made sense. Like, sick of the urban grime? Here's 10Y goggles... switch on AR mode, and you're set. It's basically lke acid, but you can think straight. If you start getting a bad rush you can just turn it off.

That is why i mentioned earlier a Shadowrun coporate citizen (in that case Proteus) as one of my options and not actually a shadowrunner. I basically agree with that sentiment.

Who would ever want to be a criminal outcast when you can be a well-adjusted and rich pillar of the society?

I like it. It's one of the few TTRPGs that is, with every edition, kind of self-aware of people wanting that flight of fancy. People criticise it for its fantasy components, but that's the fucking point. It can't beat you across the head with that concept otherwise of; "No, you're kind of an arsehole and just like in D&D you're fantasising being a violent, magical, transient hobo willing to kill for glory, power and gold. You surrendered your right to be a decent person long ago. That's the problem."

The Sixth World is not horrible because it's merely the Sixth World. It's horrible because it allows a player to fantasise their characters within it regardless of how ridiculous, rather than repulsing them. And that's genius and fun. Like wallowing in the impulses of a monster lurking in the broken depths of your psyche and giving rise to it as if its own type of fevered mythology made real by the extensions of the gamestate and the creative licence of its (our) world.

IDK, maybe that makes people uncomfortable or something?

That being said it could just be the rulebook that turns people off. Memorising the latter editions of Shadowrun is about as much work as a bachelor's degree. 5 years on of 5th edition and I still need to carry around and regularly consult that 500 page bludgeon that unlike 3.5 wasn't just 60% spells. Oh no... it's 500 pages of rules, tables, conditions, statuses and gear porn.

It's the only game I know where it is example dependent. As in without those examples, purely impenetrable.

For a game that repeats its unofficial mantra; "Think fast, run faster..." It certainly feels more like a marathon than a sprint.

If i actually had to join one, probably the Fairy Tail Guild. The Jedi may look good at first glance, but it's a monastic order whose philosophy of personal detachment is so strict they don't trust adults to follow it voulentarily and instead prefer to indoctrinate toddlers, and most of the organizations I can think of use the avarage members as canon fodder. InFairy Tail you get to choose assignments based on your skill level, a bunch of overpowered freaks will defeat all the world-eding demons for you and you will probably never die in the line of duty, even if the guildhall gets blown up or foreclosed on every althernate week

Put me down as a generic Starfleet ensign. Get to travel, see the galaxy, explore untold wonders and get dissolved by a hideous flesh-eating protoplasm. What's not to love?

Failing that, I'll take a simple job working a smallholding in Tamriel, or maybe scavving over prewar ruins in the Mojave.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
And that will be greater than any machine by definition of recognizability of intelligence because there can't be anything more that we can possibly know that isn't immediately shared by all, a continuous maximal revelation, that will end war, poverty and arbitrary, unwelcome suffering. And that is the endstate of humanity. It matters not whether the brain is biological or not. That posthuman state is clearly superior to what you're describing. So why wouldn't this Mind, if benevolent, not simply give that option.

Again, it does.

If you want to go and get plugged into a bunch of other people and live as a collective consciousness then you can, it's actually explicitly an option. Just one that doesn't hold much interest for most people because it's essentially just one of the several death-alternatives available to those who have become bored of being alive. It's such a radical change of state that you're not really the same person.

But here's a question. Why would a benevolent society require an ultimate end state? Again, maybe there's something wrong with us. Maybe there's something wrong with our compulsive need to identify with power that we literally can't imagine the possibility of an equal society without necessitating the complete erasure of distinct levels of ability (and indeed, all distinction) along with it.

Do you really need to be as good as a machine to be adequate? Because I would say, if you need to be in a position of power or advantage (like being the strongest, or the most intelligent) in order to trust that the society you live in is benevolent, it's not benevolent.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Once again, the truly smart reply to the composer would still be "No, but it might flow better if you transform the start of the third movement with a violin staccato'd piece leading into a larger ensemble... maybe kind of like this?" After all, that's how you personally would react if you were a fellow composer, correct? There's patronising and prosocial, constructive engagement. Moreover what benefit does the Mind get by humans eschewing any sense of capacity to engage and thrive?

So, you've taken my one line summary of a scene which is the emotional and thematic payoff to an entire sequence of scenes developing the relationship between these two characters in a very extreme and negative way, so I'm just going to quote a whole passage:

It's not a discouragement, it's a serious question which deserves a serious answer, and the mind's response isn't a flippant dismissal, it's an affirmation of the inherent value of being who you are and doing what you do.. and if you do something which someone else finds easy, then there can be value in the effort it took, assuming you want there to be value in it. Never struggling will not make you happy (mild spoiler: the mind in this case is not happy), at best it will make you more successful in a society that measures your worth as a person by your productivity. But again, maybe there is something wrong with that society.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
I like these Bene Tleilax types. They have they right idea. I'm a strong advocate work should be educational, and tools should empower humanity todo more, not simply replace knowledge itself.

Right, but the problem is Horza (our shapeshifting assassin protagonist) is a tool. He's a being designed for a purpose, who has accepted being used for that purpose because he can maintain the paper-thin fabrication that he chose to do so.

The instrumental-rational view of life doesn't stop at inanimate tools. It never has.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
It sounds like a fun collection of books, however. Not sure I'll gel with the philosophy, but it sounds like a fun thought experiment put to paper.

I don't always gel with the philosophy either. For me, there's a bunch of stuff which could be read as a kind of apologia for liberal neocolonialism which I'm not totally comfortable with, but it's clearly unintentional and becomes a bit more conscious later on. I think it affected me very deeply because I always liked the idea of Star Trek but felt it never really lived up to the potential of its concept. Plus, it's funny to me to see Elon Musk and a bunch of libetarian ex-communalists wanking off over a series which repeats the line "money implies poverty" and whose author openly hated everything they stood for. Funny and a bit sad.

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