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Who gets Nanites?

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Who gets Nanites?
Post by serpounce   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:34 am

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I am almost through another re-reading of the Safehold series (thanks, global pandemic!) and have always wondered why post-Jihad Merlin/Nimue/Norman/OWL didn't liberally distribute the "don't get sick, don't get cancer, don't have heart attacks" nanites to some key figures across Safehold so that they don't inconveniently die early deaths because of the stress imposed by the Jihad.


The only relevant discussion I've found is a few replies in this post.
http://forums.davidweber.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=9998&start=33


I think we assume the entire IC has this tech since it would kind of weird to withhold it. The amount of IC personnel who will end up living remarkably healthy and long lives is already so vast that would a few more key leaders living into their 80s or 90s really going to be that remarkable? Wouldn't it be better if some of them did end up living longer if only so that Charis could point to people like Vicar Rhobair and Earl Thirsk also living long natural lives? ("Hey, it's not just Charisians, nothing to see here! We just eat lots of fish and salads!")
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by cnrd22   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:16 pm

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Maybe because it was considered highly unethical to do that without informed consent - I remember Merlin deeply apologizing when he did it to Cayleb etc before the revelations...
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by DMcCunney   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:20 pm

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serpounce wrote:I am almost through another re-reading of the Safehold series (thanks, global pandemic!) and have always wondered why post-Jihad Merlin/Nimue/Norman/OWL didn't liberally distribute the "don't get sick, don't get cancer, don't have heart attacks" nanites to some key figures across Safehold so that they don't inconveniently die early deaths because of the stress imposed by the Jihad.
Three reasons, I think:

One: Unethical. Merlin, and by extension, the IC, believe in informed consent. This is not something normally available outside the IC. Exceptions are made in special cases, but they are exceptions that the IC agreed were necessary.

Two: Difficulty in delivery. There is one of Merlin, he has two hands, and he can be in one place doing one thing at a time. It's not clear Owl's remotes could handle the job. It gets easier once Seijin Nimue is available, but is still a blocker. And for some folks, like Grand Vicar Rhobair, getting Merlin or Nimue in a position where they might arrange it is a non-trivial challenge.

Three: Unexpected consequences. Having various prominent people visibly healthier than might otherwise be expected can lead to hard to answer questions, especially if those prominent people have health conditions known to and monitored by their healers. Having known health conditions miraculously go away, when existing Safehold medicine will have no explanation for how that is possible, open the demonic intervention can of worms. With Zhaspar Clyntahn in control of the Inquisition, "God miraculously cured them because he approved of them" is not an explanation anyone might offer.
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by Erls   » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:32 pm

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Here is a hypothetical, based in a world where the Inner Circle didn't hesitate to give nanites to people without informed consent (e.g., just inject them while they sleep).

Would the IC make the logical leap from only giving nanites to key members of the Empire of Charis and select non-Charisians (e.g., Lord Protector Stoynar would have been a great one), to giving nanites to key members of opposition States (e.g., Harchong or Desnair)? This could apply both to those pushing to liberalize and open up their nations, as well as those who are incompetent but in key positions. Think about a military commander who is fully onboard with liberalizing the economy to get his army better weapons, but has shown incompetence on a massive scale that would render his more likely than not an utter failure if combat ever occurred.
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by Julia Minor   » Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:44 pm

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DMcCunney wrote:
Two: Difficulty in delivery. There is one of Merlin, he has two hands, and he can be in one place doing one thing at a time. It's not clear Owl's remotes could handle the job. It gets easier once Seijin Nimue is available, but is still a blocker. And for some folks, like Grand Vicar Rhobair, getting Merlin or Nimue in a position where they might arrange it is a non-trivial challenge.


And as I recall, the nanites weren't one size fits all -- they had to be keyed to the recipient's DNA. Even if Owl's remotes can handle the job, that means two passes (one to get the needed medical scan, the second to inject the nanites) and, for anyone in Zion, two chances for detection.

Three: Unexpected consequences. Having various prominent people visibly healthier than might otherwise be expected can lead to hard to answer questions, especially if those prominent people have health conditions known to and monitored by their healers. Having known health conditions miraculously go away, when existing Safehold medicine will have no explanation for how that is possible, open the demonic intervention can of worms.]


There's an exchange in TFT between two Inner Circle members that pretty much establishes that older IC members need to pretend they're experiencing the usual aches and pains of aging. Let's assume Grand Vicar Rhobair spent enough time outside the Temple's grounds on pastoral visits that the IC thought it safe to use a remote (twice) to get him nanited. He won't know why he's not showing the physical signs of aging, and neither will his healers. How do you cover up what's going on in this situation?
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by Erls   » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:38 pm

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Julia Minor wrote:
DMcCunney wrote:
Two: Difficulty in delivery. There is one of Merlin, he has two hands, and he can be in one place doing one thing at a time. It's not clear Owl's remotes could handle the job. It gets easier once Seijin Nimue is available, but is still a blocker. And for some folks, like Grand Vicar Rhobair, getting Merlin or Nimue in a position where they might arrange it is a non-trivial challenge.


And as I recall, the nanites weren't one size fits all -- they had to be keyed to the recipient's DNA. Even if Owl's remotes can handle the job, that means two passes (one to get the needed medical scan, the second to inject the nanites) and, for anyone in Zion, two chances for detection.

Three: Unexpected consequences. Having various prominent people visibly healthier than might otherwise be expected can lead to hard to answer questions, especially if those prominent people have health conditions known to and monitored by their healers. Having known health conditions miraculously go away, when existing Safehold medicine will have no explanation for how that is possible, open the demonic intervention can of worms.]


There's an exchange in TFT between two Inner Circle members that pretty much establishes that older IC members need to pretend they're experiencing the usual aches and pains of aging. Let's assume Grand Vicar Rhobair spent enough time outside the Temple's grounds on pastoral visits that the IC thought it safe to use a remote (twice) to get him nanited. He won't know why he's not showing the physical signs of aging, and neither will his healers. How do you cover up what's going on in this situation?


I would assume that one could scale down the nanites.. Program them to focus on cancers, cognitive/memory loss, heart and cholesterol, etc... While also leaving the physical body, such as bone and joints, untouched and aging. Thus, to the outside observer you would still see the aging and pain and physical slowdown - but without the mental defects and unanticipated heart attacks that are otherwise common.

I'm sure most on Safehold, especially where people like GV Rhobair are concerned, would chalk up the long life and mental sharpness as God's reward.
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by DMcCunney   » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:19 pm

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Julia Minor wrote:There's an exchange in TFT between two Inner Circle members that pretty much establishes that older IC members need to pretend they're experiencing the usual aches and pains of aging. Let's assume Grand Vicar Rhobair spent enough time outside the Temple's grounds on pastoral visits that the IC thought it safe to use a remote (twice) to get him nanited. He won't know why he's not showing the physical signs of aging, and neither will his healers. How do you cover up what's going on in this situation?

Yep. And there's a ticking clock here, too. As of TFT, Merlin already had to take cosmetic measures to appear to be older. That's less a problem for the flesh and blood IC members, but it was made clear that those who got the full package would not only never get sick, but would live rather longer than the average Safehold woman in the street. Lacking access to the anti-agathics the colonists got back on Terra, they may not live as long as an Adam of Eve, but will still live long enough to cause comment.

I think the IC is hoping that things will have reached the point where they can be more open before that becomes a problem, but at some point, for example, a cosmetically aged Cayleb and Sharleyan are likely to decide it's time to turn the reins over to Empress Alannah, abdicate while still in possession of their faculties, and do what other great nobles have historically done and retire to their estates to play with their grandchildren. They may even "die" offstage, get the biggest most impressive funeral service Safehold has ever imagined, and even attend thier own funeral after suitable Merlin wrought changes to their appearance. The rest of Safehold will never guess just how involved their late Majesties still are in directing the Empire... :P
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by DMcCunney   » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:21 pm

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Erls wrote:I would assume that one could scale down the nanites.. Program them to focus on cancers, cognitive/memory loss, heart and cholesterol, etc... While also leaving the physical body, such as bone and joints, untouched and aging. Thus, to the outside observer you would still see the aging and pain and physical slowdown - but without the mental defects and unanticipated heart attacks that are otherwise common.

I'm sure most on Safehold, especially where people like GV Rhobair are concerned, would chalk up the long life and mental sharpness as God's reward.

I suppose it's possible to create a plain vanilla nanites package that can be broadly distributed without being keyed to the recipient's DNA. Part of the reasons for keying to DNA is the nanites recognizing what is part of the existing host body and what is an intruder to be terminated with prejudice. And this is especially tricky with things like cancer, where the cancer cells will carry the recipients own DNA but must still be recognized as not part of a normal profile and harmful.

It might be safe to administer a package to GV Rhobair for the reasons you state, but that brings you back to the problem of delivery. For anyone else, you risk opening huge cans of worms when they are miraculously healthier than those around them, and than they were before getting treated.

And the sorts of things you would want nanites available to stop will tend to be those that require keying to DNA.

Given the loss of GV Rhobair, Protector Stohnar, and Earl Thirsk, I think the IC wishes they could do what is suggested.
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Re: Who gets Nanites?
Post by Jeslis   » Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:38 pm

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I have to agree with OP; This was definitely one of those minor 'plot holes' that.. while feasibly 'hand-wavium' away'd due to various concerns... are, from a readers perspective one of those 'wait a minute, why didn't you' moments.

That all being said; from a writers perspective it just means that Stohnar would have had to have been assassinated instead of having a heart attack... and for the anti-ballistic clothing argument, shot in the head.

So I can see the 'why didn't stohnar get the nanites' as a perfectly reasonable argument.. Yes, he should have. Maybe not Rhobair because concerns about the temple..

BUT I can also see that Mr. Weber would just have had to move the Siddarmark plotline ahead in a different yet similar way.

*shrug*
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