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The Temple and Merlin TFT

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by noblehunter   » Wed Feb 27, 2019 9:21 am

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Randomiser wrote:All of Bluesqueak's comments are based on silence and his view of how Chihiro should have done things, and all have the benefit of hindsight. It's a very flimsy base for a theory. Just because detection of PICA's was possible for the TF doesn't mean the technology was to do so was built into everything as standard. Merlin doesn't say the Temple was built from standard plans for a PDC, he realises it functioned like a PDC in the loyalist command crew's reaction to the Nuke and the War and was built to be very hard to destroy. That says nothing specific about what was built into it. In the middle of a war, which was touch and go at some points, building in detectors for a threat everyone knew wasn't present on Safehold would have been a waste of time and material. So it doesn't seem that strange to me that it wasn't aggressively done. Building in scanner detectors, maybe even detectors for power sources over a certain output, very probably, but a specialised PICA detector? - Not so much.

Especially since they don't have a history of fighting humans with federation level tech. It's unlikely they had off-the-shelf security suites intended to catch PICAs. Since everyone knew there were none on Safehold, there's no reason it would occur to them to add PICA detection to the security measures.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by Dilandu   » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:33 am

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Bluesqueak wrote:
It just seems odd. A lie detector can detect a PICA, adjust for lie detection accordingly, but doesn't mention it to anyone? Legal reasons, maybe, or one of RFC's little clues that come back to bite? Like the non-reaction of the OBS to SNARCS - it blows them to bits, but seemingly doesn't tell anyone. Several books later, we find out that lack of reaction is important.


I think the reason is simple. The Stone was specifically customized to work with per-technological peoples, who just would not understood any of complex programming, any possible settings and variations. The system must be as simple as possible (which would also add to long-time durability).

So, the Stone basically have a only one interface to display the information - change of color. It is not any kind of complex display, it's just a binary blue/red light, and linked only to the basic function. For basic needs of per-technological civilization, it would be more than enough to use. Any complexity was simply not needed.

And let's not forget, the Stone is NOT the AI. It is not designed to search for solutions. It is designed to perform a very limited function. So, it found that Merlin is PICA, tried to display that data, found no interface capable of that... the Stone would not try to display the warning in some kind of Morse code, or anything. It would just note: "interface capabilities limited", and continue to do its job.
------------------------------

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- Scarecrow from Oz; he was strawman before it became political.

P.S. - And he have Russian twin, to watch his back)
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by thanatos   » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:23 pm

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DMcCunney wrote:
Bluesqueak wrote:It just occurred to me that while Merlin goes safely into the Temple without any problems, he shouldn't have. Because we have, I'm told, word from Himself that Chihiro's side had no PICA's.
Correct. We know Merlin and Nimue are the only PICAs on Safehold, and whatever is tucked away under the Temple doesn't include any.
Now, if Chihiro is fighting against the Fallen, who are Fallen because they use tech, and an android or PICA walks into the Temple (sounds like the start of a series of jokes) ...

...every alarm in the place should have gone off, especially if you know your side doesn't have any. A basic robot android, built to look like one of the Angels but with a bomb inside, could do a lot of damage.
What Merlin is concerned about is use of technology in the Temple. Which is why he grits his teeth and shuts down everything internal he can, and relies solely on passive sensors. Even then, he discovers there is more tucked away in the Temple than he thought, though he can't try to find out what it all is without taking the risk of going active.
So, looking at the clues in the books - Merlin's SNARCS can investigate the orbital platforms without them blowing the place up. Steam power is 'under the radar', even though it's an obvious industrial revolution marker. Pytyr Wyllsyn's truth detector can tell Merlin is a PICA , but seemingly doesn't care. Merlin can walk into the Temple.
I don't think it's a question of being able to tell Merlin is a PICA. It's a question of being able to tell Merlin is lying, even though he's a PICA.

I don't see the verifier built into the Stone as having a specific "Hey! this is a PICA!" warning built in. The TF folks who built it wouldn't see a need. If you had to question someone using the verifier, you already knew they were a PICA. A physical exam would tell you that.
But there's now too many times when COGA tech should have detected Merlin - and instead goes 'nothing to see here, perfectly ordinary technical demon looking like a human being, move along please.' No, I think someone on the COGA side knew - and made sure a PICA would not set off any alarms.
I don't see the Temple having specific PICA detector alarms. Why would it? As far as Chihiro and associates knew, there were no PICAs on Safehold, so why worry about detecting them?

I asked RFC about that at a con, saying "If I'm Chihiro, I might record my personality as I reached the end of my normal life, have it downloaded to a PICA, and return in glory to Safehold in a potentially immortal body and rule it forever." RFC said if he could do that, Chihiro wouldn't have waited. He'd have done it right away. He would even have a cover story - his new, improved, non-aging body was his penance for not stopping Shan Wei, and instead of returning to Heaven to be with God like the rest of the Archangels, he was exiled to Safehold to atone for his failure. But RFC did state Merlin and Nimue were the only PICAs on Safehold.

That opens the question of why they were. PICAs would certainly have been useful to Chihiro and associates during the War Against the Fallen. And actually making them would have been well within the capabilities of the fabrication units aboard Hamilcar.

My belief is that they weren't made by the command crew because plans for them were not included in the information store provided to Operation Ark. You can't tell a fabrication unit to make something you don't have plans for. Owl could reverse engineer Merlin's PICA to learn how to make another. The command crew did not have that resource.
______
Dennis


I recall the scene from HFAF, after Merlin and Inner Circle reveal the truth to Wylsyn and he in turn reveals the existence of the Key of Schueler. When Merlin contemplates the possibility of PICAs among the command crew and building another PICA himself, he asks OWL if it would be possible and is told that plans for the construction of a PICA were not included in his database. OWL speculates at the time the reason for this is that the construction of PICAs was such a rare specialty and under such legal restrictions and regulatory supervision that neither the command crew nor Pei Shan-wei's co-conspirators had access to it. They only had a last generation PICA, which was a very expensive toy even then. Indeed, the only knowledge they did have was Elias Proctor's cybernetics programming expertise and that only covered part of the software aspect of Nimue Alban's PICA (enough to hack the security protocols and make a copy of the existing uploaded personality). Nor did they have the industrial capability to build additional PICAs even if they had the plans and they seem to have been short on time to engage in the necessary research needed to study the PICA they did have in order to build others (something, you will recall, that tied down OWL for a century within hyper-heuristic mode).

The command crew very clearly didn't think to include PICAs, whether because Langhorne had objected to begin with (as Pei Kau-yung suspected he might have had their conspiracy been above board with him) or because including a bunch of potentially immortal PICAs for the command crew's most senior members would have raised at least a few eyebrows on Earth. Moreover, I am of the opinion that after the WATF, Chihiro and Schueler could only prepared for eventualities they would consider likely and only on the basis of their experience. It's a sad truth of history that nations tend to prepare for the last war rather than trying to predict the battlefield of the future. As such, Chihiro and Schueler would have used the WATF as a basic template in predicting possible scenarios that could undermine their plan.

The Fallen had modern weapons and equipment, some SNARCs and industrial fabricators, all of which were outclassed by what Chihiro and Schueler could bring to bear. That is why the WATF became a guerrilla war, with the remaining "Archangels" not being able to use the Rakurei platforms because the whole purpose of the Safehold mission was to ensure the survival of the human race. As such, they could only employ it surgically while the Seijin were tasked with regaining the support of the populace and identifying the Fallen and their supporters among the population. And while this tactic was ultimately successful, they still needed to worry that they missed some of the Fallen or some modern technology. Which leads us to the purpose of the Key and the assurances of the Book of Chihiro that the appearance of "demons" in the mortal world (i.e. the Fallen or their supporters) would be met with a divine response. The biggest threat would be A) a few of the Fallen putting themselves in cryo-stasis until say 50 years after all of the command crew died, B) widespread corruption within the Church that would lead to the breaking of the Proscriptions for whatever reason, or C) some secret society of Safeholdians with modern technology, who had orders to wait until then before they acted to overthrow the Church. Any plans they made for said divine response would therefore be geared towards those scenarios or something similar.

What I think is clear is that the "Archangels" couldn't even consider the possibility that A) the opposition would have a PICA that was programmed to wake up 750 Terran years later and would not seek a direct confrontation but rather to undermine faith in the Church and the religion that surrounded the Proscriptions and B) that one of those secret societies (the Brethren of Saint Zhernau) would also wait centuries, rather than decades, before they started to undermine the Church and in such a similarly subtle fashion. The church established by Chihiro and Schueler after Pei Kau-yung's pocket nuke and after the WATF was very top-heavy and the Inquisition's became intolerant and thorough regarding the slightest sign of independent thought. That means that they thought in terms of direct confrontation and overt action rather than indirect attacks and subtle influences that take a long time to mature but which are harder to counter. And this mindset is further seen in the Church's high-handed approach to international politics and in Clyntahn's chosen methods for dealing with Charis and Siddarmark.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by Bluesqueak   » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:46 pm

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Randomiser wrote:All of Bluesqueak's comments are based on silence and his view of how Chihiro should have done things, and all have the benefit of hindsight. It's a very flimsy base for a theory. Just because detection of PICA's was possible for the TF doesn't mean the technology was to do so was built into everything as standard. Merlin doesn't say the Temple was built from standard plans for a PDC, he realises it functioned like a PDC in the loyalist command crew's reaction to the Nuke and the War and was built to be very hard to destroy. That says nothing specific about what was built into it. In the middle of a war, which was touch and go at some points, building in detectors for a threat everyone knew wasn't present on Safehold would have been a waste of time and material. So it doesn't seem that strange to me that it wasn't aggressively done. Building in scanner detectors, maybe even detectors for power sources over a certain output, very probably, but a specialised PICA detector? - Not so much.


Except the Verifier is presumably a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech - and it can detect PICA's. And promptly moves into the correct mode for a PICA. This suggests any Federation off the shelf tech is built to interface with or detect a PICA. After all, if you are guarding a building, wouldn't you prefer it if your standard security array pointed out that the intruder is immune to bullets, has ten times your reflexes and can leap small buildings with a single bound? :)

If the Verifier is NOT a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech, that's even worse, because that means Schueler made sure that his descendants would be able to tell if a PICA was lying.

Yes, it's a 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' theory. We're now on Book 10, and the dog has never, ever barked. Not once. Not when Pytyr waves the Verifier at Merlin, not when Merlin uses Federation tech in Zion, not when he flies an unauthorised skimmer near Zion, not when he goes into the Temple itself...

...that dog never barks.

Okay, maybe Schueler decided a nice simple red/blue warning was fine and couldn't care less if the Verifier circuitry he used could detect PICA's because there weren't any on Safehold. Perhaps Federation stealth technology is so good they can't detect their own skimmers. Perhaps the tractor beam was sufficiently far outside the original Zion, perhaps the SNARCS are well enough shielded on passive and perhaps the Temple isn't using off-the-shelf scanners, so they can't tell when a mobile, person sized hunk of unauthorised technology walks in the door.

Even though they were fighting people who used technology, so would, I thought, have been very likely to want to know if unauthorised tech enters the Temple. That's the entire reason Merlin has been so careful for the first nine books.

That dog has not barked in the night time. It's curious. :)
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by thanatos   » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:02 pm

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Bluesqueak wrote:
Randomiser wrote:All of Bluesqueak's comments are based on silence and his view of how Chihiro should have done things, and all have the benefit of hindsight. It's a very flimsy base for a theory. Just because detection of PICA's was possible for the TF doesn't mean the technology was to do so was built into everything as standard. Merlin doesn't say the Temple was built from standard plans for a PDC, he realises it functioned like a PDC in the loyalist command crew's reaction to the Nuke and the War and was built to be very hard to destroy. That says nothing specific about what was built into it. In the middle of a war, which was touch and go at some points, building in detectors for a threat everyone knew wasn't present on Safehold would have been a waste of time and material. So it doesn't seem that strange to me that it wasn't aggressively done. Building in scanner detectors, maybe even detectors for power sources over a certain output, very probably, but a specialised PICA detector? - Not so much.


Except the Verifier is presumably a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech - and it can detect PICA's. And promptly moves into the correct mode for a PICA. This suggests any Federation off the shelf tech is built to interface with or detect a PICA. After all, if you are guarding a building, wouldn't you prefer it if your standard security array pointed out that the intruder is immune to bullets, has ten times your reflexes and can leap small buildings with a single bound? :)

If the Verifier is NOT a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech, that's even worse, because that means Schueler made sure that his descendants would be able to tell if a PICA was lying.

Yes, it's a 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' theory. We're now on Book 10, and the dog has never, ever barked. Not once. Not when Pytyr waves the Verifier at Merlin, not when Merlin uses Federation tech in Zion, not when he flies an unauthorised skimmer near Zion, not when he goes into the Temple itself...

...that dog never barks.

Okay, maybe Schueler decided a nice simple red/blue warning was fine and couldn't care less if the Verifier circuitry he used could detect PICA's because there weren't any on Safehold. Perhaps Federation stealth technology is so good they can't detect their own skimmers. Perhaps the tractor beam was sufficiently far outside the original Zion, perhaps the SNARCS are well enough shielded on passive and perhaps the Temple isn't using off-the-shelf scanners, so they can't tell when a mobile, person sized hunk of unauthorised technology walks in the door.

Even though they were fighting people who used technology, so would, I thought, have been very likely to want to know if unauthorised tech enters the Temple. That's the entire reason Merlin has been so careful for the first nine books.

That dog has not barked in the night time. It's curious. :)


The Verifier was off-the-shelf in that it was a full-range Verifier, able to detect falsehood in humans and PICAs. But as Merlin thinks at the time it's introduced in OAR, it slipped into the correct mode automatically without notifying Wylsyn that Merlin was a PICA. There was no interface that Wylsyn could use to see the actual readouts - All he had was the pre-programmed setting of red/blue lights for false/true readings. Indeed, if you will recall, the Verifier is neither able to reveal whether the speaker is repeating a falsehood he believes to be true nor does it function perfectly as certain mental illnesses can return false-positives. So if the device was handed down by Schueler, he would not have wanted to complicate matters for his descendants. After all, when handing them a divinely blessed device, it cannot be proven to be less than perfect.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by Bluesqueak   » Thu Feb 28, 2019 4:27 am

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thanatos wrote:
Bluesqueak wrote:
Except the Verifier is presumably a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech - and it can detect PICA's. And promptly moves into the correct mode for a PICA. This suggests any Federation off the shelf tech is built to interface with or detect a PICA. After all, if you are guarding a building, wouldn't you prefer it if your standard security array pointed out that the intruder is immune to bullets, has ten times your reflexes and can leap small buildings with a single bound? :)

If the Verifier is NOT a piece of off-the-shelf Federation tech, that's even worse, because that means Schueler made sure that his descendants would be able to tell if a PICA was lying.

Yes, it's a 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' theory. We're now on Book 10, and the dog has never, ever barked. Not once. Not when Pytyr waves the Verifier at Merlin, not when Merlin uses Federation tech in Zion, not when he flies an unauthorised skimmer near Zion, not when he goes into the Temple itself...

...that dog never barks.

Okay, maybe Schueler decided a nice simple red/blue warning was fine and couldn't care less if the Verifier circuitry he used could detect PICA's because there weren't any on Safehold. Perhaps Federation stealth technology is so good they can't detect their own skimmers. Perhaps the tractor beam was sufficiently far outside the original Zion, perhaps the SNARCS are well enough shielded on passive and perhaps the Temple isn't using off-the-shelf scanners, so they can't tell when a mobile, person sized hunk of unauthorised technology walks in the door.

Even though they were fighting people who used technology, so would, I thought, have been very likely to want to know if unauthorised tech enters the Temple. That's the entire reason Merlin has been so careful for the first nine books.

That dog has not barked in the night time. It's curious. :)


The Verifier was off-the-shelf in that it was a full-range Verifier, able to detect falsehood in humans and PICAs. But as Merlin thinks at the time it's introduced in OAR, it slipped into the correct mode automatically without notifying Wylsyn that Merlin was a PICA. There was no interface that Wylsyn could use to see the actual readouts - All he had was the pre-programmed setting of red/blue lights for false/true readings. Indeed, if you will recall, the Verifier is neither able to reveal whether the speaker is repeating a falsehood he believes to be true nor does it function perfectly as certain mental illnesses can return false-positives. So if the device was handed down by Schueler, he would not have wanted to complicate matters for his descendants. After all, when handing them a divinely blessed device, it cannot be proven to be less than perfect.


The Verifier's inability to tell a Wylsynn that a PICA is present is not the problem. .

The Temple is the problem.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by thanatos   » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:10 am

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Bluesqueak wrote:
thanatos wrote:
The Verifier was off-the-shelf in that it was a full-range Verifier, able to detect falsehood in humans and PICAs. But as Merlin thinks at the time it's introduced in OAR, it slipped into the correct mode automatically without notifying Wylsyn that Merlin was a PICA. There was no interface that Wylsyn could use to see the actual readouts - All he had was the pre-programmed setting of red/blue lights for false/true readings. Indeed, if you will recall, the Verifier is neither able to reveal whether the speaker is repeating a falsehood he believes to be true nor does it function perfectly as certain mental illnesses can return false-positives. So if the device was handed down by Schueler, he would not have wanted to complicate matters for his descendants. After all, when handing them a divinely blessed device, it cannot be proven to be less than perfect.


The Verifier's inability to tell a Wylsynn that a PICA is present is not the problem. .

The Temple is the problem.


True, but that wasn't the point. The religious mindset on Safehold relies heavily on the tangible, perfect wonders of the Temple and the various "holy relics" left behind from the time of the "Creation". If that perfection is somehow marred, if it were to turn out that these devices can be spoofed, if the meticulous choreography of the Grand Vicar's investiture can somehow be disrupted (as Merlin reflects in TFT after Duchairn dies), then people's faith in them could be shaken out of the awe and reverence with which they view them. Indeed, remember that in TFT, when Eastshare rejects the truth, it's because of the tangible "proof" of the Temple's miraculous nature. And at the end of TFT, we yet again have a similarly miraculous revelation that is probably intended to throw a giant monkey wrench into that faith, by providing a miraculous document, one which was handed down in an equally miraculous fashion in front of multiple witnesses, but which is likely to contradict established doctrine at a time when the Church is trying to reform itself and not react in the way it would before the Jihad.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by Loren Pechtel   » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:52 pm

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Bluesqueak wrote:Yes, it's a 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' theory. We're now on Book 10, and the dog has never, ever barked. Not once. Not when Pytyr waves the Verifier at Merlin, not when Merlin uses Federation tech in Zion, not when he flies an unauthorised skimmer near Zion, not when he goes into the Temple itself...

...that dog never barks.


The thing is they wanted to use federation tech of their own. I think the system is set up to at most simply note it--but it's been hundreds of years, does anyone know to pay attention to what it's saying? There's probably a screen somewhere in the temple that shows divine beings (whether angel or devil isn't indicated) moving about but nobody is looking.

While Merlin is right to play it very cautious I suspect he could do anything he wants with fed tech, up to and including shooting down the OBS so long as he did it with one shot (could be massed fire, though.)
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by fallsfromtrees   » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:00 am

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The verifier is a piece of equipment designed to do one thing and do it well - determine if the entity responding is doing so truthfully (to the best of their knowledge). The type of entity if irrelevant, and long as the verifier will work properly with it. If the nature of the entity is important, you ask the entity "What are you?", and use the verifier to verify the answer.
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Re: The Temple and Merlin TFT
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:03 am

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Re: the temple not reacting to a PICA

Don't forget there are who-knows-how-many "Temple Servitors" doing routine cleaning and maintenance on the Temple structure on a regular basis. Their energy signatures could be close enough to a PICA's that the Temple systems can't distinguish (or are at least not programmed to distinguish). Heck, for all we know one model might well look like a Cylon Toaster with physical characteristics similar to a PICA without the ability to pass for human (which would also introduce a RFC-sized hole in the "Langhorne's crew didn't have PICAs" statement we've apparently been given).
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