Short Story: "Threshold"

Plain old discussion of Alicorn stories.

Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby DanielH » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:56 am

So, as I understand it, the kind of environment one could design, buy, or share is different from a sim because it spends more computational effort on the world and less on the people, and it doesn’t have the dreamlike quality. The “enviroment” option is closer to the Matrix, and needs real people to inhabit it, while the “sim” option is more like a computer-controlled dream and can use NPCs (who have a chance of thresholding).

Am I missing something there? It seems like the two should be more freely mixable than they are in the story, so I expect so.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby Kappa » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:07 pm

I mean, I'd expect people don't want NPCs in their proper-silicon environments, at least not the more public/widely-shared ones. It would be creepy and weird.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby Alicorn » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:09 pm

Sims run on different underlying hardware at this time in this setting. You can move between them (and the only way for a silicon person and a flesh person to hang out without a robot in the way is in sim, because you can't go partway into proper silicon from flesh) but you don't have sim-NPCs in proper silicon environments and you don't have deely run physics in a sim.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby cbhacking » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:11 am

I like this story! As was previously commented, the language and the way students discuss it feels very natural, and I also liked the way there seems (from an admittedly small sample size) to be a bit of a generation gap in terms of embracing the tech. Feels very realistic, makes immersion easy.

Probably my biggest "complaint" would be that it's so short! It feels like the introduction to an interesting story and interesting characters. It's not that the ending doesn't work - it totally does - but I'd love to see more of this setting and, if possible, these characters. We get hints of these fascinating social constructs and institutions that don't exist today, and of the interactions between those than embrace them and those that don't. There is a lot of implied history: tweaking and the debates over it, the development of this simulation capability, the specific definition and legal recognition of threshold, the discovery that children can't/won't develop (properly?) in silicon, etc. There's also enough obvious problems with the current state of the art that it doesn't feel like some post-death utopia; sim engineering (and related fields) obviously have a long way to go.

I will say that the "can't count in sim" thing felt weird; is counting really that impossible even in normal, non-lucid dreams? Humans can recognize numbers of things well above two at a glance, without needing to count; does that work in sim? What about just doing arithmetic? Reviewing engineering diagrams or computer code? Sudoku or other logic puzzles? I guess I don't remember ever actually trying to count anything concrete in a dream, though I can remember the counts of things in a scene from a dream. Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations of my mental capabilities in a dream. Regardless, it serves the "this isn't real, and I can prove it" purpose quite well. That scene went really well.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby DanielH » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:45 am

The specific method of not being able to count didn't seem realistic, but details like that in general don't stay the same well in dreams. I can easily see “a handful of popcorn” changing from five kernels to six in a dream.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby Shoal » Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:22 am

one time in a dream i wanted to know if i was dreaming or not, so i pulled out a dictionary (i was in the woods at the time, so the fact that i could pull a dictionary out from under a rock should have been a clue but it wasn't), and I checked if the words were in alphabetical order, and they were, and i paged through it and they were still in alphabetical order, and i paged backwards and everything was still fine, so i decided i couldn't be dreaming. in my conscious state I do not have the dictionary memorised.
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby anthusiasm » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:31 pm

Is Lyle a Conceptual Christian?
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Re: Short Story: "Threshold"

Postby Alicorn » Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:40 pm

Lyle's an atheist. He was raised unspecified-non-Conceptual and it didn't agree with him.
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