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Are the Gbaba sentient?

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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by thanatos   » Fri Jan 25, 2019 11:03 am

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DMcCunney 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.....
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


I was actually thinking of all the variations in RFC's writing to genocidal aliens and the one that came to me was the Galactic Federation in "The Excalibur Alternative". Originally founded around a triumvirate of species, this Federation numbered only 23 sentient species, with 2 of the original 3 gone extinct under suspicious circumstances no one talks about, with all other species that have not developed FTL drives being placed under their protection (really a permanent type of servitude where they are prohibited from advancing technologically at all) and in which maintaining the status quo (homeostasis) is paramount. Humans, with their rapid technological advancements posed a threat to that sacred homeostasis, were therefore targeted for extermination.

Like you Dennis, I don't think that RFC will necessarily repeat things he already did in previous novel, despite the many similarities between the Safehold series and the Dahak series (or "similar DNA" as RFC once put it). Yet from all the previous examples in RFC's writings, we can perhaps guess that he might use some elements from these or perhaps a combination thereof to explain the Gbaba's behavior. I had originally guessed that religion would be a part of it but RFC himself shot it down. So I started thinking more about the idea of a combination between the Achuutani AI controlling their society and a desire to maintain homeostasis at all cost (to preserve what they view as a perfect society).
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:40 pm

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thanatos wrote:I was actually thinking of all the variations in RFC's writing to genocidal aliens and the one that came to me was the Galactic Federation in "The Excalibur Alternative". Originally founded around a triumvirate of species, this Federation numbered only 23 sentient species, with 2 of the original 3 gone extinct under suspicious circumstances no one talks about, with all other species that have not developed FTL drives being placed under their protection (really a permanent type of servitude where they are prohibited from advancing technologically at all) and in which maintaining the status quo (homeostasis) is paramount.
Another take on that sort of enforced homeostasis is in Ian Douglas's Star Carrier series.

Humanity achieves FTL travel and goes out to explore. It encounters an odd alien species who are merchants and traders. The consider themselves to be part of an interstellar polity governed by the Sh'Daar. Through the aliens, the Sh'Daar become aware of humanity, and issue a "Join our gang. Or else." ultimatum.

Earth is not a fully unified planet. There is an over government, but it is mostly concerned with keeping the various blocks from shooting at each other. There is North America, a European Federation, a Chinese block, and various other polities. There is considerable difference of opinion on how to respond. The Europeans are in favor of accepting. North America is less enthusiastic, given that no one knows just who or what the Sh'Daar are, what sort of polity they have, and the extent it occupies. Another sticking point is a Sh'Daar demand that humanity cease development of several forms of technology.

We eventually find out that the technologies the Sh'Daar want us to give up are those that might lead to transcendence. They are terrified of it, with good reason, because their various founder species went through it millennia ago, and things were really bad for those left behind, who are the ancestors of the current Sh'Daar polity.

And static societies are common SF occurrences. An example is Harry Turtledove's "World War: In the Balance" series. It takes place on an Earth in the middle of WWII when an alien invasion fleet arrives. The aliens come from a very static culture that changes very slowly. They find out about Earth from robot probes that investigated back when the height of warfare was knights in armor. They are unpleasantly surprised to encounter humans with tech almost as good as theirs who are capable of giving them a fight.

Like you Dennis, I don't think that RFC will necessarily repeat things he already did in previous novel, despite the many similarities between the Safehold series and the Dahak series (or "similar DNA" as RFC once put it). Yet from all the previous examples in RFC's writings, we can perhaps guess that he might use some elements from these or perhaps a combination thereof to explain the Gbaba's behavior. I had originally guessed that religion would be a part of it but RFC himself shot it down. So I started thinking more about the idea of a combination between the Achuutani AI controlling their society and a desire to maintain homeostasis at all cost (to preserve what they view as a perfect society).
I largely agree. We know the Gbaba reached a particular level of development and occupied a particular volume of space, and were apparently content with what they had. The only exception was encountering another sentient species, which triggered a genocidal reflex.

At what point and why they decided "What we have is what we want and we'll stop here." and where the genocidal reflex came from are questions we'll need to wait for answers to. (I do wonder a bit if much earlier in their development, they encountered another species that tried to destroy them, and decided any other species was a likely threat to be eliminated. Or perhaps, like the Kanga in AT, they had an unhappy racial childhood.)

One bit I am curious about. We know the TF counter attacked the Gbaba in the early stages of the conflict, and took back a couple of places the Gbaba had conquered, and that the Gbaba had taken and interrogated human prisoners. It's hard to imagine that no one ever saw what a Gbaba looked like or took pictures, but no description of them seems to have been provided by Nimue's memories, Commodore Pie's downloads, and Owl's records. I can't help suspecting what they look like will be significant when we discover it.
______
Dennis
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Re: Are the Gbaba sentient?
Post by Meshakhad   » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:36 pm

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I wouldn't be surprised if there IS a religious component to the Gbaba... one that might be exploitable. Ultimately, this series will likely end with the descendants of the current Safeholdians manning warships to battle the Gbaba, but if they're from a society that itself only recently escaped a religious prison, perhaps they might approach the Gbaba on that level? Instead of waging some kind of galactic war of attrition, why not strike at the foundations of Gbaba society itself?
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Re: Are the Gbaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:51 am

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Meshakhad wrote:I wouldn't be surprised if there IS a religious component to the Gbaba... one that might be exploitable. Ultimately, this series will likely end with the descendants of the current Safeholdians manning warships to battle the Gbaba, but if they're from a society that itself only recently escaped a religious prison, perhaps they might approach the Gbaba on that level? Instead of waging some kind of galactic war of attrition, why not strike at the foundations of Gbaba society itself?
That's entirely possible.

The problem is that before you can exploit it, there must be enough communication to understand what it is. We know from TextEv that early in the contact, the Gbaba were able to learn English and interrogate TF prisoners. We have no indication the humanity ever learned the Gbaba language, or even how they communicated at all. Do they use a spoken language?

What might the Gbaba religion be? What are its tenets? What are its scriptures, and equivalent of the Bible, Quran, Torah or whatever? How do you find out?
______
Dennis
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Re: Are the Gbaba sentient?
Post by Brigade XO   » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:24 pm

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So the Gbaba have interrogated human prisoners, learned Terran, have presumably captured human tech is at least damaged condition (and have observed the civilian colonies -while in the process of destroying them- and TF warships by fighting them.
So Humans don't really know much about the Gbaba. Nobody has brought back (or survived long enough to get back to tell) about any Human tech the Gbaba may have encorporated in thier warships. They appear to follow the apporch of the SLN in that the solution to ANY encouter with an alien intelegence is to destroy it. That starts with the first single ship contact if possible and then ramping up to massive fleets which may or may not be the state of the art for them but certainly are somewhat similar except in increasing scale of size.
Quantity over quality at least as far as has been observed- and reported. Lots of ships that are good enough, particularly when you commit them in masses. Kind of like the SLN sending 100 SDs of BCs to deal with something.

How do you try to affect the thinking of someone you don't know how they think or what they think about or why they do something.
I suppose chasing out someting from your territory and keep a guard to some vast distance outside what you consider your territory makes a certain amount of sense but chasing (killing all the way) said intruders back to where they came from to wipe out the source is a bit much.
It's like the behavior of the Dragons in Reign of Fire. Any attempt to strike at a dragon is delt with directly but that was mostly a dragon hunting or just looking for food etc. Except for the King Dragon, apparently the only male, which would track any hint of an attack back to the source and burn it out.

Nobody knows if the Gbaba eventualy took over any of the TF colony worlds, the TF didn't find any evidence of that when the retook several planets but we/they have no way of knowing how long it would take the Gbaba to move any sort of colony to one of those systems or even if the Gbaba were looking to expand. They might be expanding but slowly and it might include systems that the Terrans would not be interested in because they wouldn't support life as we know it and the Gbaba were perfectly content to just nibble away at any system with resources and operate in a hive/orbital station environment.

Someday we may find out.
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Re: Are the Gaaba sentient?
Post by Theemile   » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:08 pm

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rocket_scientist wrote: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'.


Reminds me of ComStar, in the Battletech universe. ComStar, the last remaining government entity of the 1000 light year wide Star League, controled the Hyper-pulse com system, allowing FTL communications between Humanity's planets.

To survive the civil war following the fall of the Star League, ComStar:

1) Banned anyone who attacked a ComStar Hypergenerator or base from the use of the system. Being that any massive Hyper-pulse generator only transmitted to the closest systems to it, taking one HyperPulse generator was useless to anyone. And having your planet being cut off from the universe for decades is a bad thing...

2) Turned the mega advanced technology into a religion. Within a few years, all the maintenance, service and operations manuals were converted to religious texts and services, complete with chants and services. For 300 years, 95% of the organization thought is was a religion, following the holy doctrines of maintaining the Hyper-pulses.

The members were spo indoctrinated that when the big reveal came - over 1/2 couldn't accept the truth and a massive schism tore the organization in 2 - with the religious portion seizing control of the network at one point.
******
RFC said "refitting a Beowulfan SD to Manticoran standards would be just as difficult as refitting a standard SLN SD to those standards. In other words, it would be cheaper and faster to build new ships."
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Re: Are the Gbaba sentient?
Post by DMcCunney   » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:01 pm

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Brigade XO wrote:So the Gbaba have interrogated human prisoners, learned Terran, have presumably captured human tech is at least damaged condition (and have observed the civilian colonies -while in the process of destroying them- and TF warships by fighting them.
It's made clear they did capture and interrogate human prisoners, as a few were apparently recovered when the TF counter attacked. The impression is they were pretty badly broken.

Given the TF apparently captured a couple of Gbaba colony worlds in the early stages of the war, one inexplicable bit is that we've heard nothing about their appearance. If you capture a colony world, that kind of presumes ground combat an seeing your opponent...
So Humans don't really know much about the Gbaba. Nobody has brought back (or survived long enough to get back to tell) about any Human tech the Gbaba may have encorporated in thier warships.
TextEv we have indicates the Gbaba had superior technology to humanity when first encountered. While they may have been interested in what sort of tech humans had, they would have no need to incorporate it in their own builds because theirs was already better.

(And the implication is similar to what we saw in the Weber/White collaborations - the Bugs were dramatically different from the other races of the Grand Alliance, but their tech was fundamentally the same. There was apparently one way various things could be done, so everyone had to do it the same way.)
Quantity over quality at least as far as has been observed- and reported. Lots of ships that are good enough, particularly when you commit them in masses.
Yep. By the end ot the war, human tech was equal to or superior the Gbaba's. But your ships being individually better isn't much help when ten more appear for every one you destroy. They had the numbers to absorb attritional losses, and were willing to.
How do you try to affect the thinking of someone you don't know how they think or what they think about or why they do something.
That's precisely the question I asked earlier. I have no idea.
It's like the behavior of the Dragons in Reign of Fire. Any attempt to strike at a dragon is dealt with directly but that was mostly a dragon hunting or just looking for food etc. Except for the King Dragon, apparently the only male, which would track any hint of an attack back to the source and burn it out.
i saw that film, and was underwhelmed. Precisely how the dragons were able to emerge and essentially destroy civilization when facing humans with modern weapons was never really explained. And when it reached the end and there was a single male dragon with the rest females, and killing it ended the threat, I shook my head in disbelief. Did no one involved in the film have any notion of basic biology? That was just complete nonsense.

Most wild things don't go out of their way to attack humans unless they feel that they or their offspring are threatened. And if there is an imbalance in the number of each gender, it's more likely to be rather more males than females. Males are expendable.
Nobody knows if the Gbaba eventualy took over any of the TF colony worlds, the TF didn't find any evidence of that when the retook several planets but we/they have no way of knowing how long it would take the Gbaba to move any sort of colony to one of those systems or even if the Gbaba were looking to expand.
The evidence we have so far was that the Gbaba simply destroyed TF colonies. They had no interest in taking over the planets for their own use. We have no evidence one way of the other about what kinds of worlds the Gbaba inhabit, or whether they would even consider Earth like worlds desirable real estate if they did want to expand.
______
Dennis
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