What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

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What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby lintamande » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:24 pm

We've done a lot of in-universe and I've seen a lot of out-of-universe discussion of the drawbacks of the Silmaril peal's approach to the multiverse. This is a brainstorming thread for things people think would work better. I'm particularly curious about people who think they could build an arbitrarily scalable humanitarian organization - how?
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby DanielH » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:44 pm

I’ve already given my idea in IRC: convince the Space Maitimo to fork a couple dozen to a couple hundred times.

Without that resource I’m not sure it’s possible, or at least not without some extreme cheating. Desiderata include a small enough distance between any arbitrary person and somebody with the power to help them or who can give them the power to help others and nobody getting huge amounts of power without commensurate amounts of trust.

The first desideratum requires a large number of people with magic, or some sort of layered bureaucracy with a large exponential growth between layers. The second requires the exact opposite.

This just means we need to cheat. Forking trusted people is one way of cheating. Time dilation is another, but they don’t have a good time dilation solution, only several okayish ones.

Perhaps they should cheat harder somehow. In the meantime, they seem to be erring on the side of caution, which is better than the alternative.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby jalapeno_dude » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:55 pm

If the peal is going to value people who aren't template-y, it should try to use them to better effect.

Expanding on that: I understand the meta (Doylist) reasons why members of templates get more screen time and thus have the largest effect on the multiverse. But the set of Bells + Feanorians + associated templates certainly do not comprise the entire set of people who could productively improve the multiverse. And I find it extremely implausible that (i.e. it would surprise me if Silmaril canon turned out such that) this set even contains the people who are best at (thing) for most things. E.g. Maitimos are probably not actually the best people in the multiverse at human resources, Bells are probably (definitely) not the best people in the multiverse at running large organizations or crisis management, Feanors are probably not literally the smartest people in the multiverse (and even if they're literally the best inventors or whatever they're not also the best engineers and physicists and ...) (and even if they were the set of all Feanors working together would certainly achieve less than the entire multiversal scientific community, almost certainly even if Feanors forked until the two populations were the same size!).

Within Silmaril canon this already seems to be the case (e.g. with Elio). But I don't think the Silmaril peal itself has acted on this realization.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby Bluelantern » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:58 pm

Leveraging the Valar sounds like a very important thing to do, but it would be... not something that you'd want to try narratively?

Figuring out how to get more daeva on board would be important. Preventing the failure modes of daeva-figuring-out-the-multiverse-thing is extremely important and long overdue.

Given how long is taking for them to figure out that Miranda is a bell... it would make sense if they got something that detects templates without teleporting them.
Sorry for my bad english

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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby Unbitwise » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:09 pm

+1 to prioritizing non-secret-keeping strategies.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby lintamande » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:24 pm

@jalapeno-dude keep in mind that the relevant thing is not just 'the best at X' but 'good at X while sharing priorities with the peal and being trustworthy with all their stuff and wanting to do it full time indefinitely'. Moreso for human resources and organization-running than inventing - I think lots and lots of scientific progress is happening with non-template characters or with template characters in collaboration with non-template characters - but, like, recruiting for roles with absurd amounts of leverage and power selects for people who want organizational power for goals that you don't share, and recruiting specifically from the Maitimo-corner-of-personspace for roles currently filled by Maitimos selects not just for that but also for ability to successfully hide it. What would acting on the existence of lots of smart talented people who aren't necessarily good organizational fits look like?
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby DanielH » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:34 pm

Also, the details of the multiversal organization except at peal level aren’t shown much in-thread. Maitimo is presumably better at PR than lintamande, so this makes sense and it might work better than we think.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby jalapeno_dude » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:20 pm

keep in mind that the relevant thing is not just 'the best at X' but 'good at X while sharing priorities with the peal and being trustworthy with all their stuff and wanting to do it full time indefinitely'.


Two immediate thoughts on this:

1. This is "just" a particularly high-stakes example of the principal-agent problem. Corporations and representative democracy are both reasonably successful attempts at addressing the problem.
2. Part of solving the problem might well include accepting that some of the peal's power will be channeled towards other priorities (this would certainly be the case if it tried to be more representative of its constituent populations). This seems still worth doing if the resulting increase in resources means that more overall is devoted towards the peal's priorities.

What would acting on the existence of lots of smart talented people who aren't necessarily good organizational fits look like?

My knowledge base is biased towards science, but two examples are the Manhattan Project and Bell Labs. In both cases I think it's important that they were part of a larger parent organization (the US government and AT&T respectively)--I don't think either model works as a stand-alone entity. I've occasionally seen the argument that institutions like the US military during WWII or the Israeli army today are also supposed to be pretty good at placing people where they can be most effective, but not sure to what extent it's true.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby Moriwen » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:29 pm

Mostly my response to the idea of having the Silmaril peal's resources is "aaaaaa I am so unqualified for this."

On the other hand, I think it would probably not be a terrible thing for the peal to have a little more of that response.


I guess I'd basically break down the potential problems into two kinds: "disaster breaks everything" problems and "if all goes well" problems: the former being ways that someone (Eru, Melkor, peeved dark!Maitimo...) could prevent Benevolent Universe Takeover, and the latter being ways that a successful Benevolent Universe Takeover could turn into a dystopia.


On the former point ("disaster breaks everything"), I think they're doing pretty well, but there are a few ways they could stand to improve. Off the top of my head:
  • get a few Feanors to put their heads together and figure out how to leverage the living daylights out of the various forms of time travel they have available
  • get some Erus on their side already
  • notice the fact that their lives are made of narrativium; refer back to first point re: leveraging the living daylights out of this
  • make some serious use of time dilation
  • figure out why people keep getting annoyed with them despite the fact that they have Maitimos to do PR; fix this
(Most of these seem like "okay, but that's just unwritable" points, so I'm not too bothered by them.)


The latter point ("if all goes well") is what really concerns me. I think that the peal structure inherently carries a serious risk of typical-minding in making plans for Benevolent World Domination; many of the people running it do in fact just have the same mental structures (alts), and the ones that don't still tend to have certain commonalities (shared moiety). In Effulgence, the Bells at least had Jokers hanging around as examples of the Least Typical Mind Possible; here they don't even have that. This seems like it's going to inevitably lead to them accidentally building an empire where demographics whose existence hasn't occurred to them are deeply miserable in unforeseen ways.

(It also feeds back into the "disaster breaks everything" issue, a little: they're risking building repeated points of structural failure into their plans, if there's some approach to sabotage that just wouldn't occur to any of the peal templates. Since the same people are planning everything, they're essentially introducing cleavage planes into their structure: tap on the right point, and it breaks clean apart.)

I don't have a thorough solution to this problem offhand, but as a starting point, I do mostly endorse Zari's idea in Throne's and my wishcoins-thread:
Okay, you know what I want before we do anything on a large scale is a -- sanity committee. Like, I'm picturing anyone else getting these, and almost anyone I think would be likely to do something on the scale of -- wishing autism eliminated because it never occurred them to ask an autistic person what they thought, or wishing everyone converted to their religion or lack thereof, or trying to eliminate death and not leaving an option for suicide, or making an AI and not thinking that it might be a person. So what I'm thinking is ... a couple of dozen people, from really different backgrounds and worldviews and areas of expertise, especially people I really disagree with or wouldn't expect to have worthwhile opinions. Like, I'm not saying 'give them veto power,' much less 'give them magic,' but I am saying 'run all our ideas by them, and if any of them say that's a terrible idea we stop and think really carefully.' So we run everything by, I don't know, an eight-year-old and a paranoid schizophrenic and a eugenicist and a young-earth creationist and someone from a tribal society who's never seen a car.
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Re: What would you do with the Silmaril peal's resources?

Postby Alicorn » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:39 pm

That's a weakness Bells legitimately have; they need pretty overwhelming incentive to put up with people who are radically different from them even to the level of "convince them to be part of the sanity committee on an ongoing basis". I do think their instinctive conservatism around Mind Stuff protects them from most of the example failure modes, although I could imagine writing one that did not check carefully enough about the AI personhood thing (like, Lorica's check is "ask it", but if she weren't in constant contact with her AI it would be harder to do that) and they also would not make the suicide mistake unless the alternative were "death continues unchecked" and then they'd acknowledge this was a shitty sacrifice and get to work on suitable comas.
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