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Are the Gbaba sentient?

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Are the Gbaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:46 pm

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One of the questions asked in OAR was how or whether their minds worked. Humanity never was able to communicate with them, and the ships they deployed against the TF were thousands of years old. We believed they were a star faring species when humanity was still at a primitive stage of development.

But one possible answer to the Fermi paradox I encountered was the notion that sentience was not necessarily a permanent condition. It evolves in conditions of rapid environmental change when embedded reflex is no longer significant, and being able to consciously consider new circumstances and devise ways to deal with them becomes a survival trait.

What happens when you have established full control over your environment and won't be presented with novel situations you need to come up with new ways to deal with.

Do you stay sentient, or does it atrophy because it isn't needed? (There's another series by an author I'm blanking on with an alien species that only "wakes up" under special conditions, and is not sentient most of the time.)

I recall Nimue asking her CO in OAR whether they'd forced the Gbaba to innovate, and he hoped so. If the Gbaba action against the Federation was in fact a matter of unthinking reflex, "waking them up" might be the best solution to the problem they represent.

(And yes, I do see a non-sentient species being star travelers. They attained the capability when they were sentient, and doing so now is just one more embedded reflex requiring no conscious thought.)
______
Dennis
Last edited by DMcCunney on Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by SilverbladeTE   » Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:28 pm

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They could just be semi-sentient drones used for war or due to "race/class/species" issues for all we know?
The "real" Gbaba or their overlords, may live in hedonistic VR sims.....
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:09 pm

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I have thought that the Gbaba were the result of a group of their species deciding that theirs was the Perfect Society and took steps to modify their species so that they'd never attempt to change the Perfect Society.

Part of the modification would be "programming their minds at birth" so that they'd always behave "properly".

It may be possible that the founders of the Perfect Society used AIs (or near AIs) that would deal (ie kill) "imperfect" members of the Gbaba society.

The reason for the search-and-destroy missions regarding high-tech species is that contact with such species would endanger the Perfect Society.

Of course, the original purpose of such search-and-destroy missions may have been to find Gbaba that had rejected the Perfect Society and fled the original Gbaba settled worlds.
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by rocket_scientist   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:17 am

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With fully automated machinery not only making the star ships but providing every other aspect of life, including things like von neumann machines (universal fabricators that can even make copies of themselves)it might be possible to have a massive space warfare presence without active sentience. Someone would still have to make the day-to-day decisions like food and other resource allocation but a sufficiently advanced set of AIs could do that, and possibly even schedule their own replacement as well as expanding the number when new systems are taken over by the von neumanns.

If the society started pushing very hard on conformity, and especially if the living beings turned over governance and policing the conformity because they could be more consistent, then you would have the seeds for slowly losing sentience. If you can't do anything spontaneously, then thinking becomes a liability because it leads to boredom and rule breaking.

With a very gradual decline in first the 'proles' and then the last of the thinkers the ships could be slowly modified to require only instinctive reactions to control them. At the same time the slide downward would require more and more stimulus-response battle tactics as well. There might be no communication because they all react instinctively to the same stimulus in the same way. Small AIs on the ships might provide the minimal coordination needed to be more effective in combat.

And yes, if the AIs in charge of policing the conformity started chasing renegades, I can easily see them meeting other races and seeing them as being even more non-conformist and therefore needing to be eradicated.

I don't think the process could start that way if they already knew about other intelligent races. If they were xenophobic they would never be willing to drop their guard to the point of being whole computer controlled with their own intelligence dropping. And if they wern't xenophobic you would expect them to interact with other species and that would require native intelligence. So I suspect that they were already too far gone when they first discovered someone else out there, and the ruling AIs decided that they were too non-conformist to be allowed to live. The military build up could have started just to be used to subdue their own, runaway people. And then with new threats expanded in numbers but not enhanced.

However, I don't think you can destroy every species you run into by instinct alone, so I still favor sentient, but different.
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:20 am

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SilverbladeTE wrote:They could just be semi-sentient drones used for war or due to "race/class/species" issues for all we know?
The "real" Gbaba or their overlords, may live in hedonistic VR sims.....
Possibly, and we don't know. RFC is holding back that data, but made clear he thought it through.

This isn't the first time he's explored the concept. Among other efforts, ehe stand-alone novel The Apocalypse Troll has humanity encountering a genocidal species called the Kanga (because they look like large kangaroos.) They had previously exterminated an assortment of other sentient species before turning their attention to Earth.

In their case, the motives were an unhappy racial childhood and religion. Their planet gave birth to two sentient species, who for unknown reasons hated each other. Wars continued until the Kanga were the only ones left, and left them paranoid and xenophobic. They had a religion, and believed the God they worshiped had created them in His image, and anything else was the creation of their version of the devil and it was their sacred duty to destroy it.

Another is ehe Dahak series with an enemy species called the Achuultani, but they aren't really to blame. Their society is controlled by a sentient AI that wishes to destroy all other sentient organic species, and their society and culture has been heavily modified by the AI over millennia. They periodically emerge from their section of the galaxy like a cosmic plague of locusts, on search and destroy missions to look for other organic species. Their last sweep of our area of space destroyed a human galactic empire leaving surviving humans on Earth with no memories of their history and essentially starting from scratch.

I don't see RFC repeating himself, so one question for me will be exactly what the Gbaba motivations are.
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Dennis
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by Doomwhale   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:19 pm

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In their case, the motives were an unhappy racial childhood and religion. Their planet gave birth to two sentient species, who for unknown reasons hated each other. Wars continued until the Kanga were the only ones left, and left them paranoid and xenophobic. They had a religion, and believed the God they worshiped had created them in His image, and anything else was the creation of their version of the devil and it was their sacred duty to destroy it.


Their response is triggered by incursions into their territory. I may be that they are protecting something of massive importance to themselves. So in their mind they are denying the invaders their most precious secret.
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by PeterZ   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:45 pm

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SilverbladeTE wrote:They could just be semi-sentient drones used for war or due to "race/class/species" issues for all we know?
The "real" Gbaba or their overlords, may live in hedonistic VR sims.....
DMcCunney wrote:Possibly, and we don't know. RFC is holding back that data, but made clear he thought it through.

This isn't the first time he's explored the concept. Among other efforts, ehe stand-alone novel The Apocalypse Troll has humanity encountering a genocidal species called the Kanga (because they look like large kangaroos.) They had previously exterminated an assortment of other sentient species before turning their attention to Earth.

In their case, the motives were an unhappy racial childhood and religion. Their planet gave birth to two sentient species, who for unknown reasons hated each other. Wars continued until the Kanga were the only ones left, and left them paranoid and xenophobic. They had a religion, and believed the God they worshiped had created them in His image, and anything else was the creation of their version of the devil and it was their sacred duty to destroy it.

Another is ehe Dahak series with an enemy species called the Achuultani, but they aren't really to blame. Their society is controlled by a sentient AI that wishes to destroy all other sentient organic species, and their society and culture has been heavily modified by the AI over millennia. They periodically emerge from their section of the galaxy like a cosmic plague of locusts, on search and destroy missions to look for other organic species. Their last sweep of our area of space destroyed a human galactic empire leaving surviving humans on Earth with no memories of their history and essentially starting from scratch.

I don't see RFC repeating himself, so one question for me will be exactly what the Gbaba motivations are.
______
Dennis

Let's revisit those stories.
Dahakverse has the Achuultani enslaved by machines. The story has Colin fighting to regain control over the Empire. There was a parallel in the two subplots. Both our heroes and antagonists are each fighting for their liberty/freedom.

The Kangas are the epitome of xenophobia. They are genocidal because of their xenophobia. Dick and Milla are basically a new life form by the end of the story. They fight for humanity that they are significantly different from. Again the motivations to genocide in the antagonists are paralleled in the subplots driving the protagonists.

Then we have the Bugs. Those creatures are nothing but a societal appetite to consume. Their entire purpose is to consume. The protagonists consists of different species working together. Each of these species and societies have reigned in their appetites in the service of various core codes. They are codes of behavioral honor (Orions & Ophiuchi), mutual defense(Gorm) or the social contract of the Star Union and the Terrans.

If we want to consider what the motives of the Gbaba are, we have to consider what the protagonist's motivations are. One of the core themes of the IC and Merlin is the importance of individual choice and being free to make moral decisions. I suspect that the Gbaba's motives are a dark, inverted reflection of those core IC beliefs. Just how warped those motives are from the IC's we'll discover as we read.
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:57 pm

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My thoughts on this is that the Gbaba (thousand of years ago) had a group (just like Project Ark's Command Crew) who decided "This Is How Our People Have To Think".

IE The ancestors of the Gbaba are very similar to the Project Ark Command Crew. :twisted:

PeterZ wrote:
SilverbladeTE wrote:They could just be semi-sentient drones used for war or due to "race/class/species" issues for all we know?
The "real" Gbaba or their overlords, may live in hedonistic VR sims.....
DMcCunney wrote:Possibly, and we don't know. RFC is holding back that data, but made clear he thought it through.

This isn't the first time he's explored the concept. Among other efforts, ehe stand-alone novel The Apocalypse Troll has humanity encountering a genocidal species called the Kanga (because they look like large kangaroos.) They had previously exterminated an assortment of other sentient species before turning their attention to Earth.

In their case, the motives were an unhappy racial childhood and religion. Their planet gave birth to two sentient species, who for unknown reasons hated each other. Wars continued until the Kanga were the only ones left, and left them paranoid and xenophobic. They had a religion, and believed the God they worshiped had created them in His image, and anything else was the creation of their version of the devil and it was their sacred duty to destroy it.

Another is ehe Dahak series with an enemy species called the Achuultani, but they aren't really to blame. Their society is controlled by a sentient AI that wishes to destroy all other sentient organic species, and their society and culture has been heavily modified by the AI over millennia. They periodically emerge from their section of the galaxy like a cosmic plague of locusts, on search and destroy missions to look for other organic species. Their last sweep of our area of space destroyed a human galactic empire leaving surviving humans on Earth with no memories of their history and essentially starting from scratch.

I don't see RFC repeating himself, so one question for me will be exactly what the Gbaba motivations are.
______
Dennis

Let's revisit those stories.
Dahakverse has the Achuultani enslaved by machines. The story has Colin fighting to regain control over the Empire. There was a parallel in the two subplots. Both our heroes and antagonists are each fighting for their liberty/freedom.

The Kangas are the epitome of xenophobia. They are genocidal because of their xenophobia. Dick and Milla are basically a new life form by the end of the story. They fight for humanity that they are significantly different from. Again the motivations to genocide in the antagonists are paralleled in the subplots driving the protagonists.

Then we have the Bugs. Those creatures are nothing but a societal appetite to consume. Their entire purpose is to consume. The protagonists consists of different species working together. Each of these species and societies have reigned in their appetites in the service of various core codes. They are codes of behavioral honor (Orions & Ophiuchi), mutual defense(Gorm) or the social contract of the Star Union and the Terrans.

If we want to consider what the motives of the Gbaba are, we have to consider what the protagonist's motivations are. One of the core themes of the IC and Merlin is the importance of individual choice and being free to make moral decisions. I suspect that the Gbaba's motives are a dark, inverted reflection of those core IC beliefs. Just how warped those motives are from the IC's we'll discover as we read.
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:33 pm

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PeterZ wrote:Then we have the Bugs. Those creatures are nothing but a societal appetite to consume. Their entire purpose is to consume. The protagonists consists of different species working together. Each of these species and societies have reigned in their appetites in the service of various core codes. They are codes of behavioral honor (Orions & Ophiuchi), mutual defense(Gorm) or the social contract of the Star Union and the Terrans.
I deliberately didn't mention the Bugs, because they were from a collaboration between David and Steve White, which I believe had its origin as the basis for a game.

The Bugs were dandy villains. They were the equivalent of a cancer, expanding and choking off other life in areas they conquered.

They were also a curious mix. They were proven to be individual and not a hive mind, though the fact that they were telepathic with other Bugs blurred the distinction. And it was never really clear what their social hierarchy was. Some members of their species were responsible for formulating policy and making decisions a particular Hive would implement, but we didn't get details. Nor was coordination between Hives, though there was mention of consternation in Fleet when orders came from a Hive and another flatly refused to comply because they had their own problems. It was the first time in their history Fleet hadn't been a fully unified force.

And they were tool makers and users, capable of building and flying starships, and putting new classes into production to respond to things their enemies introduced. But they weren't especially curious, and their expansion seemed to be driven by finding new worlds to colonize where existing ones were at the limit of the population they could support.

After the fact, though, I said "Wait a minute..." I simply couldn't see how a species like that could have evolved in the first place. They actually made more sense as a creation of an older and highly advanced race that bred them for a specific purpose and was no longer present to control and direct them. (And it was possible they simply lost control of their creations and were destroyed by them.)

The protagonists had the motive of surviving, and learning to counter an enemy they didn't comprehend and which appeared to have unlimited resources to throw at them. I liked the way humans, Orions, Gorm, and Ophiuchi gradually learned to see each other as part of something bigger - a Grand Alliance against a threat to all of them. (I suspect those parts were primarily RFC's work, but I don't know details of their collaboration process and may be mistaken.)
If we want to consider what the motives of the Gbaba are, we have to consider what the protagonist's motivations are. One of the core themes of the IC and Merlin is the importance of individual choice and being free to make moral decisions. I suspect that the Gbaba's motives are a dark, inverted reflection of those core IC beliefs. Just how warped those motives are from the IC's we'll discover as we read.
My suspicion is that Zhaspar Clyntanh may be a Gbaba analog.

There's a couple of sentence exchange between he and Willam Rayno in an earlier book where he explains his motivations. The Writ says God gave man free will and the ability to make his own choices. But Clyntahn believed mankind was hopelessly steeped in sin, and their choices could only lead to Shan Wei and damnation. The only way for the CoGA to fulfill its mission to safeguard men's souls was to forbid choice. Men might only say what the Church permitted them to say, do what the Church allowed them to do, think what the Church allowed them to think, and believe what the Church told them to believe.

Had his plans come to fruition, he would have been absolute ruler of Safehold, in control of Mother Church, and supported by the power of the Inquisition. Emperors, Kings, and Princes would merely reign, and would do that only as long as they pleased Clyntahn. Because Clyntahn was uniquely suited and called to be the one who decided what God's wishes were and what Mother Church would allow.

The hints we've gotten about the Gbaba having a very static society that hasn't fundamentally changed or advanced in millennia is the sort of thing I might expect if they had their own equivalent of Zhaspar Clyntahn long ago who was able to make his notions stick. (Whether the Gbaba have a religion and worship a god or gods is an interesting question.)
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Dennis
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by rocket_scientist   » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:38 am

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We do not need to assume lack of sentience to explain little or no technological change. As Bedard pointed out in AR, there have been periods on time where there was lots of fighting but little or no technological advancement.The Dark Ages comes to mind. There was no genetically cause lack of intelligence but society frowned on it, so for a long time we regressed (while other parts of the world advanced). It could be the Gbaba are quite capable of change, but as a society have turned their backs on it.

Another possibility is suggested by a humorous SF I can partially remember about a bunch of barbarians that take over a star ship and eventually run the whole place. If a race that could barely travel between star found the leftovers of the fourth Emporium, they might eventually figure out how to operate the controls, and if automated systems mined raw materials and manufactured more warships they might never feel the need to actually understand the technology as long as it continues to work for them. That does not explain the extreme xenophobia or the unwillingness or outright lack of a way to communicate with us. They may find communicating with their victims as repugnant as their continued existence and so rather die than say a word.

Or innovation is not the same as intelligence or sentience. They may be a VERY old civilization that to millions of years to accumulate the occasional flashes of innovation needed to get this far, but in every other just as intelligent as us. A thousand years with almost no change may be NORMAL for them but they would not hae any trouble with combat.

If they were completely unable to innovate, they may have had to evolve their technology by stealing bits and pieces of it from others. If they have been doing this for a very long time, they might have not run into anyone as advanced as all the ideas they have stolen so far, and so are working on a plateau. This might even explain their war like state. They need to conquer others to get their technology, and they may be deathly afraid that someone else will come along with stuff better than they have unless they kill everyone else off first. And we may have been the best they have fought in long time, so after conquering Earth they might be trying to reverse engineer our technology in order to add it to their own. Which means when Merlin finally lets them loose on the Gbaba he may need to allow an even great margin of safety, because they might be facing a lot of our own stuff.

And as Star Trek showed us with the Borg, sometimes it is better if the arch villain species does not have human understandable motives, they just 'are'.
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