Some science fiction "firsts"

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by RAMA, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I think Roddenberry was generally conservative with tampering with human biology itself (genetics/cloning)...and while Riker did have a right to control the use of his cells, the look of disgust on his face over the existence of a clone was enough to demonstrate ST's stance.

    I never claimed cloning extinct species for any length of time was possible only that it is being tried...and I would rather watch for the results rather than claiming it's not possible before empirical evidence to the contrary. Advances in science are not made by distinguished scientists who claim something is impossible, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke.

    RAMA
     
  2. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    It's not a mistake, there are 3-4 different technologies already being explored that can make faster processing speeds possible, the first one was predicted and has already occurred. The mistake is in expecting that we won't come up with new technologies, which is contrary to prior historical and current demonstrable evidence...as long as there is a theoretical limit to processing speed(in fact no one has claimed this was infinite), but it is much higher than we can reach now, there will likely be away these new technologies can reach it.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, it wasn't, because again, I'd argue that his disgust wasn't at cloning per se, but at the fact that he was cloned WITHOUT HIS CONSENT. Remember, the episode was an allegory on reproductive rights. It wasn't actually about the ethics of cloning, since that was a very distant possibility at the time it was written. The cloning issue was just a disguise for a statement about abortion rights, an issue that was far more current at the time the episode was written and produced. If a female character showed disgust at the prospect of being impregnated by rape, and expressed a willingness to get an abortion in those circumstances, that wouldn't mean she was disgusted at the idea of pregnancy itself, but at the idea of having it forced on her against her will. And the same goes for Riker's reaction here.

    And even if you were right that Riker showed disgust at cloning, you'd be wrong to say it showed ST's overall stance, because as I've already shown, there are numerous other examples of clones in Trek being treated as equal beings with a perfectly valid right to exist. It would be the exception, not the rule. A single example doesn't prove a pattern, especially when it's contradicted by every other example.


    For one thing, I never claimed it's not possible, I merely pointed out that it's extremely difficult and far from a sure thing. I didn't want people reading your post to get the false impression that the mammoth project was likely to succeed, so I elaborated on the difficulties that still remain. Don't confuse "difficult" with "impossible."

    For another, you're getting the burden of proof backwards. The empirical evidence to date shows consistently that, with current technology, clones of extinct species are very unlikely to survive. Therefore, the premise that cloning is feasible is the one that has to be proven, because so far there's no evidence to support it. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" -- Carl Sagan.
     
  4. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    There was never a judgement call on my part claiming that cloning of mammoths would succeed, only that it was going to be attempted....giving a progression of the technology over the years, from "Dolly" in 1997, to cloning an Ibex only 12 years later.

    There is very little evidence to go on as of yet, and if you were to ask the question: "is it possible", the answer is a resounding "yes"....now as to whether the subject will last the next quarter hour...who knows.

    It's true, it's up to those conducting the experiment(did I say otherwise??--I was referring to the article you posted as to those who claim it is not possible or unlikely...without seeing if it is first proven by those conducting the experiment)--those who say it is possible to prove it--and that's just what they are doing and I want to see..every time I see these elaborate articles claiming its impossible or unlikely, I would rather see them try...within reason of course.

    Clones don't fare well in Roddenberry's universe, technology unchained is fine, but improving human beings...well that just dangerous!

    The largest sample of clones in ST are the Jem Hadar and Vorta, both of whom do not share admirable traits, and are at the mercy of their flaws...the Jem Hadar must be on white, and Vorta are basically whimpering, servile drones to the only non-clones in the triad of the Dominion.

    Picard/Shinzon: Shinzon comes into power but in generally ineffectual and again at the mercy of his genetic flaws.

    The Riker example is not the only one from the Mariposans: they suffer bio-technological flaws, they are thought of as not being imaginative, and are stiff...only combining their DNA with a more viable non-clone people make them worthwhile to carry on as a civilization.

    The Ibudan clones were the result of a murderer and criminal who only wanted to use the technology to survive.

    Ultimately genetic creations in ST are humanity playing "God", with the UFP forced to stay out of it by law, and this is pretty much in tune with Roddenberry's views.

    http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/genetic_engineering.htm
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which has nothing to do with the fact that they're clones, but only with the fact that the people who engineered them are tyrants. What you said was that Trek treats clones as "abominations," and that is completely wrong. If anything, the Jem'Hadar and Vorta were often portrayed as victims of the Founders, objects of sympathy rather than disgust. The idea that Star Trek would treat any entire category of beings as an "abomination" -- in other words, would treat that category with hatred and bigotry -- is anathema to how Star Trek approaches things.


    But that's because they'd been forced to rely exclusively on cloning a very small gene pool for hundreds of years, and had fallen prey to the technical limitations of the process. (In fact, the episode's concept of "replicative fading" was rather prophetic -- there are similar problems with cloning in reality.) Saying there's a problem with cloning is not the same as saying there's a problem with clones, or that they're "abominations" that don't deserve to exist.


    But Odo overtly stated that killing one's own clone was still murder -- which means, by definition, that clones are considered people and are equal to other beings in the eyes of the law. Again, that is not consistent with treating clones as "abominations."


    Actually it's something of a contradiction to Roddenberry's views, since he generally painted technological progress as a positive, beneficial thing. "Don't play God" is the way most mass-media sci-fi treats technology, but Star Trek has generally tended to be less cautionary and more optimistic about the power of technology. The main exception has been the franchise's resistance to transhumanism of one sort or another (AIs, cyborgs, genetic augments), but there are exceptions to that in characters like Data, the EMH, and Bashir. (TOS was a lot more prone to see AI as a negative than its sequel shows were; most androids and thinking computers in TOS were dangerous or evil, but in TNG etc. they were usually nobler and more sympathetic. Maybe the next generation of Trek shows will be more tolerant of transhumanism than the previous one.)

    And again, while the process of cloning has often been shown in the wrong hands, that's a far cry from expressing hate toward the clones themselves.
     
  6. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Cloaking/Stealth technology:

    Early stealth involved camouflage with like natural objects, the first time troops were clothed in drab colors was in the 17th century, when British troops experimented with it. Submarines in the 18th and 19th century gave craft at sea the ability to hide from surface warships, reaching full potential in WWI and WWII. Dazzle camouflage was used in WWI and somewhat in WWII to confuse ships at sea in terms of rangefinding, not to keep them from being seen. Yehudi lights were used in WWII to brighten aircraft approach to blend in with a light sky. Radar rendered this approach obsolete, but then countermeasures were needed to confuse radar waves. Finally in 1958 the A12, later developed into the SR-71 had a measure of what we now think of as stealth technology both in shape and materials. Later stealth fighter methodologies turned from angular and slab-sided(Have Blue/F-117) to blended(F-22, F-23, F-35, B2 bomber), and this was eventually used on warships, such as the Skjold Class, Arleigh Burke and French Lafayette Class.

    In the 1950s a US scientist first postulated a particle accelerator to block radar. In the 1960s, Project Oxcart attempted to block air inlets with an electron beam generator. The Soviet Union claimed a new "stealth" plasma device was being tested in 1999, both on aircraft and tanks, and in the early 2000s both the US and France also was working on the application of this for aircraft. The technology could form a layer or cloud of plasma around a vehicle to deflect or absorb radar, from simpler electrostatic or radio frequency discharges to more complex laser discharges. Newer methods may involve "meta-materials" that structure reflective properties of materials to mimic their surroundings. Scientists at Duke University were able to use a series of rings that propagate radio waves around an object so that the radiation entering the ring structure pass through with little interference, essentially rendering the object less visible in the presence of radio waves.

    In SF early stories of invisibilty include 1859's "What Was It" about a natural invisible creature. Several other stories appeared before HG Well's popular "Invisble Man". He also posits moving very fast will cause one to be invisible in his "The New Accelerator", adapted by the BBC BBC Wells . In 1939, invisible aliens appeared in "Sinister Barrier". In 1966, Star Trek took the idea of submarine warfare, and created a spaceship that bent the rays of light around it to render it invisible. In later years, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Predator used cloaking technology to great effect. Stealth technology has appeared in the movie "Firefox", "Stealth".

    http://science.discovery.com/videos/popscis-future-of-invisibility-cloak.html

    http://www.amazon.com/How-to-Become-Invisable/dp/B003ZV273Y
     
  7. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Once or twice is fine, but 80-90% are negative, and that's a pattern...

     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'll say again: what you said was that the show treated clones, i.e. the people themselves, as "abominations." All you've actually demonstrated is that the show treated the process of cloning as something that could be abused. That is a completely different premise.

    By analogy, if a show portrays kidnapping as an immoral act, does that mean it's calling kidnap victims abominations? No. It's criticizing the kidnappers. The ST episodes you cite are critical of the people doing the cloning, but are often sympathetic to the clones themselves.
     
  9. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think you'll find bioships of one kind or another in Stapledon.
     
  10. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I sadly I haven't read most of his stories yet(though I have most), but from what I can find, there are only mentions of "worldships" (planets as spaceships) and references to living stars, which I suppose could be considered a living ship, but not a bioship or organic ship.

    RAMA
     
  11. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Addendum: Severely missed the visual fiction appearance, Doctor Who had a solar sailing race in 1983!!!! Then again in 1994, in the fan made "Shakedown"!! Tiger Moth was captured by Sontarrans: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Tiger_Moth

    Odin Photon Space Sailer Starlight appeared in 1986 as well:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Just for the record, it's my understanding that that framing device -- the "literary agent framing device" -- was actually exceedingly common in 19th Century literature, and does not originate with Shelley. We see something similar in the opening to Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, for instance.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh yes, it was quite routine for novels, especially fantasy novels, to be presented in that form, as "This is a manuscript that was delivered to me" or "This is a tale that was told to me." Just about anything by Verne, Wells, or Burroughs is told in that way. And what I consider to be perhaps the first science-fiction novel, Gulliver's Travels, was written as a satire of actual traveler's-tale accounts published by mariners and explorers in the period, and was meant to be published anonymously and passed off as nonfiction, though Swift's authorship was exposed shortly before publication.

    Hmm. I guess that could count as the first spoiler.
     
  14. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not sure about Old Olaf but isn't McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang a bioship?
    As far as worldships, I know both Heinlein and Blish wrote about them decades ago, Heinlein in Orphans of the Sky, 1963 (fix-up novel comprising the novellas "Universe" and "Common Sense", both originally published in 1941) and Blish in his Cities In Flight stories.
    Regarding the Singularity and computing limits in general-I believe I recently read an article about practical molecular computing, which would upscale current capabilities by 100-1000 times current speeds, although I can't find it now. :borg: So who's to say that, or DNA computer coding might not lead to a Singularity effect?
    I saw an earlier citation for a handheld computer. I know Clarke describes one pretty well in Imperial Earth-1975. And Norton describes efficient hovercraft in Star Rangers-1953.

    Just some minor observations.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    More of a cyborg -- human brain in a mechanical "body."

    Well, cityships rather than worldships. Although there are those who consider New York City a world unto itself...
     
  16. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm, I understand that the earlier stories of that series implied it was a case of little more than a brain wired to a mechanical body, but didn't one of the later books reveal she was actually a tragically deformed body, though more or less whole, encased within a life support module sealed within the ship? That would make her something more akin to a benevolent Kaled mutant, a nice "Dalek". I recall that only because it frustrated some fans' expectations and they were a bit vocal about it.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't remember. Either way, not a bioship.
     
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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