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Old June 24 2013, 02:16 AM   #16
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

You may be right about that, but there are different levels of alliance. Different political entitles can be mostly self-sufficient and still be politically united enough to work together in matters of common interest or share a common mission statement or set of core values.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:16 AM   #17
Charles Phipps
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Christopher wrote: View Post
A program, sure. But a sentient consciousness is not a program, it's an emergent process. Even if you did copy the basic programming that defined its substrate level of activity and replicated its initial conditions as closely as you could, the mind that resulted when you actually ran it wouldn't be quite the same as the one that emerged the first time -- just as if you run a complex enough simulation more than once, you can get different results each time.
While I hate to disagree with the guy who writes this, I think we're getting into a gray area with AI as we're talking about technology that is well above our present level of technology but not inconceivable to our technology.

The perfectly mapped and replicated via hologram human brain down to the neuron may sound like insanity but not in Star Trek. A trillion processors working and storing information simultaneously about reaction, emotion, and so on sounds ludicrous but compare today's computers to the Moon Landings.

Then again, I'm a determinalist.

Christopher wrote: View Post
^See, I don't think it's plausible that a single civilization could ever spread across that much of the galaxy. Again, it's a matter of sheer numbers. A single central organizing principle, whether a government or a defining national/cultural identity, can only encompass so many entities before it gets spread too thin.
I'm not so certain as, basically, the same sort of thought has been shared with us on Earth. That a central world government is impossible because there's just too many people, too many different ideas, too many ethnic groups, and so on. However, even now, we live in a global community with representation.

Theoretically, I could see it working like a pyramid.

Planet A is part of System B's government which is part of the Sector C government which is part of the Quadrant D government which is represented in the Federation. Indeed, if Slipstream ever becomes readily available, a central government would HAVE to exist to coordinate matters of interest across all these territories.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:28 AM   #18
Pondwater
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

After 700 years or so, the Federation may not be the same Federation. It might have merged, evolved or dissolved by that time.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:33 AM   #19
Charles Phipps
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Pondwater wrote: View Post
After 700 years or so, the Federation may not be the same Federation. It might have merged, evolved or dissolved by that time.
I'm just going to assume it's an isolationist colony.



Seriously, though, I loved Living Witness. Best Voyager episode ever. It should have been a two parter.
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Old June 24 2013, 04:00 AM   #20
Christopher
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
You may be right about that, but there are different levels of alliance. Different political entitles can be mostly self-sufficient and still be politically united enough to work together in matters of common interest or share a common mission statement or set of core values.
True, but again, remember the immense scale we're talking about here. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of different civilizations. There's just no way to keep track of all that at once, or to interact with all of them within a reasonable amount of time. Certainly, as I said, you could have networks of friendly relationships between adjacent civilizations, so one could be an ally of an ally of an ally of another civilization, and there could be enough cooperation that multiple allied civilizations could come together for a common goal as needed, but it would be piecemeal.

And it's hard enough even for the population of the United States to agree on a common mission statement or a common interpretation of its core values. When we're talking about quadrillions or quintillions of individuals in millions of civilizations, even nominal agreement on common goals is going to translate to a lot of disagreements and differences of interpretation in practice. Different groups will drift apart in their values and practices simply from the sheer infrequency of communication among them.


Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
The perfectly mapped and replicated via hologram human brain down to the neuron may sound like insanity but not in Star Trek. A trillion processors working and storing information simultaneously about reaction, emotion, and so on sounds ludicrous but compare today's computers to the Moon Landings.
But as I said, most of the onscreen evidence shows that the Doctor can only be transferred rather than copied. Sure, you can argue in the abstract that something is plausible, but if the actual facts presented in the show depict a different scenario, then all we can do is accept that reality and try to explain it.


I'm not so certain as, basically, the same sort of thought has been shared with us on Earth. That a central world government is impossible because there's just too many people, too many different ideas, too many ethnic groups, and so on. However, even now, we live in a global community with representation.
Again: numbers. One planet versus billions of planets. It is simply a non-starter to propose that any Earthbound analogy could be informative when talking about a playing field billions of times larger. There comes a certain point where sheer numbers overwhelm everything else, where it would take centuries or millennia to interact even once with more than a minority of the other entities under consideration.


Theoretically, I could see it working like a pyramid.

Planet A is part of System B's government which is part of the Sector C government which is part of the Quadrant D government which is represented in the Federation. Indeed, if Slipstream ever becomes readily available, a central government would HAVE to exist to coordinate matters of interest across all these territories.
Why in the world would it have to exist? That doesn't make any sense. In nature, many processes are regulated quite well by local rules. There's no central brain telling the molecules in a snowflake what overall pattern to form; they just connect at certain angles to the molecules immediately around them, and the operation of the local rules produces the emergent result of a higher order of structure. Same with an ant colony -- the queen isn't issuing orders to each individual ant, just churning out more ants that follow a limited set of local rules for interacting with their neighbors, rules which interact in such a way as to spontaneously produce higher orders of organization and complexity. Ditto for the neurons in our own brains, for that matter.

Besides, again we come down to raw numbers. Slipstream drive may allow travel to more distant worlds, but the actual number of worlds that could be visited, settled, or allied with during the lifetime of a typical political entity or civilization would be finite. You'd still be settling/contacting the same number of worlds per year, they'd just be spread out a lot more widely. There just wouldn't be time to contact and interact with every one of a hundred million civilizations in under a few millennia, no matter how fast your drives are. There are simply too many of them.
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Old June 24 2013, 06:23 AM   #21
Lighthammer
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Just to turn this whole thread a little on its back, some time ago, I made a thread about this episode and in the discussion, an interesting idea came up: What if the backup module in this episode actually some how got spit into the mirror universe and the enterprise depicted in the flashbacks WAS the one the two civilizations encountered.

It would be interesting if the doctor sat out for home only to get to the federation and find its more alien to him then the planet he left.
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Old June 24 2013, 10:01 AM   #22
Mistral
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Lighthammer wrote: View Post
Just to turn this whole thread a little on its back, some time ago, I made a thread about this episode and in the discussion, an interesting idea came up: What if the backup module in this episode actually some how got spit into the mirror universe and the enterprise depicted in the flashbacks WAS the one the two civilizations encountered.

It would be interesting if the doctor sat out for home only to get to the federation and find its more alien to him then the planet he left.
While I took a different tack-that's what happened in my story-it was not the home he expected.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:35 PM   #23
Charles Phipps
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

But as I said, most of the onscreen evidence shows that the Doctor can only be transferred rather than copied. Sure, you can argue in the abstract that something is plausible, but if the actual facts presented in the show depict a different scenario, then all we can do is accept that reality and try to explain it.
At the risk of drawing attention to the elephant in the room, unless information is now using the transporter, computers "transfer" information by copying it and erasing it from where it was previously. It's possible computer technology works completely differently in the 24th century but, technically, the Doctor is being erased and copied everytime he's moved to a mobile emitter.

The thing is, I'm entirely comfortable that the Doctor can't be copied without specialized software and THAT'S why the backup was necessary and it became such a hassle to recreate him afterward.

Still, you're right, I may be overthinking this like Babylon Five's "life transfer" device. Vitalism is just true in B5, accept it.



Why in the world would it have to exist? That doesn't make any sense. In nature, many processes are regulated quite well by local rules. There's no central brain telling the molecules in a snowflake what overall pattern to form; they just connect at certain angles to the molecules immediately around them, and the operation of the local rules produces the emergent result of a higher order of structure. Same with an ant colony -- the queen isn't issuing orders to each individual ant, just churning out more ants that follow a limited set of local rules for interacting with their neighbors, rules which interact in such a way as to spontaneously produce higher orders of organization and complexity. Ditto for the neurons in our own brains, for that matter.

Besides, again we come down to raw numbers. Slipstream drive may allow travel to more distant worlds, but the actual number of worlds that could be visited, settled, or allied with during the lifetime of a typical political entity or civilization would be finite. You'd still be settling/contacting the same number of worlds per year, they'd just be spread out a lot more widely. There just wouldn't be time to contact and interact with every one of a hundred million civilizations in under a few millennia, no matter how fast your drives are. There are simply too many of them.
My rationale for this is basically the better travel times get, the more free-flow of information occurs, and the more cultural uniformity occurs across the universe--the smaller the universe gets. The Federation eventually covering the entire galaxy just seems to be a natural result of the fact that once there is "you can cross X amount of space instantly" you'd need a regulatory body to handle questions of soveignty, planetary rights, appeals, and so on.

If everyone also agrees on X principles, is it more likely the universe will be six different "Federation of Kronos, Federation of Gorn, Federation of Romulus" or one gigantic Federation?

But yes, your correct, there is no rationale Earth analogy for what I'm proposing and it's unlikely we'll never know since we'll all probably be Borg or extinct by the time such a question would be pertinent.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:57 PM   #24
Christopher
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
At the risk of drawing attention to the elephant in the room, unless information is now using the transporter, computers "transfer" information by copying it and erasing it from where it was previously. It's possible computer technology works completely differently in the 24th century but, technically, the Doctor is being erased and copied everytime he's moved to a mobile emitter.
Again, it's backward to start from first principles and then claim that the situation onscreen "should" conform to them. The facts onscreen are as they are. We have to accept that and work in the other direction to find an explanation that justifies it. If the EMH were the same kind of computer program we use today, then it would follow that he could be easily copied ad infinitum. But he isn't. With the exception of "Living Witness," he's been consistently portrayed as a unique entity that is removed from one location when transferred to another. And that doesn't fit the kind of computer programs and data we use today, but it does fit quantum information. So it makes sense if the EMH is based on quantum computing, which is distinctly different from the kind of computers we use.

Anyway, I've always felt that trying to use our modern browsers and word processors and games as an analogy for a conscious, thinking artilect is as nonsensical as trying to use a houseplant as an analogy for a human mind. They may be of a broadly similar category of being, but they're very, very far from interchangeable.



My rationale for this is basically the better travel times get, the more free-flow of information occurs, and the more cultural uniformity occurs across the universe--the smaller the universe gets.
I don't think that follows at all. If anything, the free flow of information that the Internet has allowed has resulted in the opposite of cultural uniformity, because once-isolated fringe ideas are now able to get broader hearings and larger followings. And historically, the parts of the world where different ideas have been free to mix and cross-pollinate, far from being melting pots that merged into homogeneity, have instead been the birthplaces of multiple new, competing philosophies and religions, as the different ideas have mixed and matched and clashed and reacted in a variety of different ways. When people have that many possible paths to choose from, there's no way in hell they're all going to mutually agree to head in the same direction. Cultural uniformity is only found in isolated areas where exposure to new ideas is limited.


The Federation eventually covering the entire galaxy just seems to be a natural result of the fact that once there is "you can cross X amount of space instantly" you'd need a regulatory body to handle questions of soveignty, planetary rights, appeals, and so on.
Circular argument. They'd need a central body because they'd need a central body. You're only assuming that such a need exists, and that's the very assumption I'm challenging. Yes, of course there would need to be regulation, but again, you're completely failing to grasp the sheer scale of the galaxy. There is simply no way that a single bureaucracy could handle millions of worlds, let along billions. You'd need a bunch of smaller, more local bureaucracies.

The idea that a system needs a central authority at all is somewhat old-fashioned. We now understand that in many cases, local-rules organization is more effective. Look at the Internet. Decades ago, everyone assumed that the future of computers would be a single vast central mainframe that stored all knowledge and answered everyone's questions. Instead we've got a huge number of local servers, a decentralized, distributed network.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm anything but a libertarian. I believe there needs to be central government on some scale to maintain law and ethics and safety. But there has to be a balance. The larger the number of citizens or states that a central government has to manage, the less efficiently or responsibly it can serve and protect them. On a larger scale, you'd need an alliance of distinct governments, and on a larger scale an alliance of alliances, and so on. Ideally there'd be a set of basic ethical principles that they'd all agree to abide by, and international conventions for interaction and diplomacy and cross-cultural law, but there couldn't effectively be a single central body administering it all. Okay, maybe some kind of post-Singularity superintelligence could have the attention and processing power necessary to manage that many entities at once, but would we really want to be governed by a higher order of mind whose decisions we're not intelligent enough to fathom, let alone have veto power over? If we want a democratic system, a system where individuals have any rights and responsibility to shape policy, then there has to be a practical limit on how much territory that particular system covers. Representative democracy is a middle ground between centralized and distributed decision-making, and it's dangerous to let the balance shift too far in the centralized direction (although the same goes for shifting too far the other way, because that way lies anarchy).


If everyone also agrees on X principles, is it more likely the universe will be six different "Federation of Kronos, Federation of Gorn, Federation of Romulus" or one gigantic Federation?
Neither. For one thing, you'll never get everyone to agree on everything, nor should you. Even if certain fundamentals are agreed upon, there are always going to be differences in interpretation and application. And as long as people have the right to think for themselves, there are going to be a lot of things they never agree on. The idea of a single, homogeneous culture spreading across the galaxy is hideously dystopian. As long as people are diverse -- and an interstellar, multispecies population would be orders of magnitude more diverse than we can comprehend -- they need to be given options. The only way they can all be free and represented is if they have a variety of different societies to affiliate with. Any universals would have to be very broad, adaptable sets of standards that the different societies are free to apply and administer in the ways that work best for them.
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Old June 24 2013, 03:21 PM   #25
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Given how things are going with slipstream drive and future propulsion achievements, I'd assume Starfleet to at least have a presence in the area--barring any major incident in the AQ that would have seen the UFP collapse.
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Old June 24 2013, 03:39 PM   #26
Charles Phipps
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

The time scale on the episode bothers me a bit, to be honest. 700 years is a LONG time to hold a grudge. The Crusades are still a semi-sore subject in the Middle East but you don't hear people starting a riot over them.
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Old June 24 2013, 04:04 PM   #27
Richard Baker
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

In 700 years that area of space could be somebody else's realm to control and the Federation respects those boundaries. The entire universe is not a big open field to wander around and acquire- how many different political entities did Voyage come across in their 'straight' path home? Many of those were very protective of their territories and did not wish even one ship to pass through.

I did love the 'Warship Voyager'- wish we had seen some of those enhancements on different ships in the Dominion War.

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Old June 24 2013, 05:06 PM   #28
Christopher
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
The time scale on the episode bothers me a bit, to be honest. 700 years is a LONG time to hold a grudge. The Crusades are still a semi-sore subject in the Middle East but you don't hear people starting a riot over them.
In a sense, you do -- because a lot of people in the Middle East see European interventions like the imposed nationbuilding after WWI or the CIA overthrow of Mossadeq in Iran or Bush's invasion of Iraq as just more of the same bad behavior Europeans have been engaging in since the Crusades. Indeed, the whole reason that jihadists like al-Qaida were able to get a foothold for their tactics at all was because they were able to argue that the West was still engaged in a crusade, an attempt to forcibly suppress Islam and impose Western values and religion. Strictly speaking, jihad is only permitted in self-defense, to protect the Islamic community from outsiders seeking its subjugation or destruction, so jihadists justify their aggression by claiming that Western policies in the Mideast have that goal, that they're effectively a renewed Crusade. (Indeed, there was one point where George W. Bush unthinkingly referred to the fight against al-Qaida as a crusade, and he and his foreign-policy team had to walk that back as quickly and firmly as possible because it was so inflammatory to Mideastern ears.)

So yes, it's entirely possible for one culture to hold a grudge against another for centuries, especially if the two cultures have subsequent, ongoing clashes that can be interpreted as continuations of the same original conflict.
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Old June 24 2013, 08:31 PM   #29
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

I did come to the same conclusion as the OP a while back - even if the federation haven't charted that area, they would surely be known to a species that has had warp capability for so long

additionally, lets not forget that the federations knowledge of the delta quadrant would be essentially based on the experiences of Voyager so you would think they might return to some of those areas first explored by Voyager

For me, it is a plot hole....unless the federation has been destroyed of course
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Old June 24 2013, 09:20 PM   #30
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Re: Living witness, Implausible?

Again -- it's a vast galaxy with hundreds of millions of inhabited systems. Just ticking off the list of all the star systems they'd like to visit could easily take 700 years or more to finish. Maybe they've been meaning to go back to that system but just haven't gotten around to it yet, because the galaxy is insanely enormously gigantic.
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