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siduri comments on Luminosity (Twilight Fanfic) Discussion Thread 3 - Less Wrong

10 Post author: Alicorn 30 December 2010 02:37PM

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Comment author: [deleted] 21 February 2011 10:49:34PM 2 points [-]

Ch 46 - ah ha ha, excellent plot twist! But I can't see how it really helps Marcus, since the mate bond magic won't be in place. I suppose with Addy's help he might be able to craft himself a pale replica of the bond...

Comment author: mjr 21 February 2011 11:29:50PM 4 points [-]

Agreed, a fine twist indeed. I wager, in fact, that the poor woman has become Didyme for all intents and purposes, and that the bond will therefore retake. Quite plausible to handwave with Aro's high-fidelity brain dumps.

I, for one, would welcome such a positive plot twist (cough for not-long-ago our sworn enemy) for a change.

Comment author: mjr 22 February 2011 11:17:59AM *  2 points [-]

More generally, seems to me one could start resurrecting people, or at least vampires, killed by Aro (or previously read by him, though then there'd be some local death).

Of course, the downside is that it requires human sacrifice, though it occurs to me that one should at least try to do so with brain dead or severely damaged subjects (given that they're already quite happy with eating animals, humans of comparable or lesser capacity should not pose major ethical barriers when a full person's life is on the line).

'course, might not work on a less than fully functional human. Perhaps one could get a trickle of volunteers from bored with life humans who aren't attracted to turning. Consider it full organ donation. [Edit: Duh, obviously this should be the euthanasia method of choice for terminal people who don't wish to become vampires but do wish for their suffering to end.]

Wouldn't be surprised though if Elspeth just didn't want to get involved with that kind of thing, even indirectly through Addy. But hey, it's a thought ;)

Comment author: Lila 24 February 2011 03:40:56AM 1 point [-]

I wager, in fact, that the poor woman has become Didyme for all intents and purposes

If she has, that might imply that Elspeth's power doesn't just send memories/experiences, but also personality traits. Or that identifying strongly with a set of absorbed memories is enough to give you those personality traits (I don't really like that theory).

The bond might or might not be affected by personality, but I'm not sure I could consider her to be "Didyme resurrected in a new body" (or even just "close enough") unless the personality was basically Didyme's (or close enough).

Comment author: TheOtherDave 26 February 2011 04:00:30PM *  1 point [-]

(nods) That intuition is shared by many.

Ironically, the reversal test often fails, though: that is, it's not uncommon for people to intuit that a copy of X that lacks trait Y isn't really X, while at the same time intuiting that if X were to lose trait Y, it would still be X.

Identity is complicated.

For my own part, I think the terms "memory" and "personality trait" stop being clearly distinguishable from one another, when you drill down into implementation. Our brains create persistent data structures in response to events, and those data structures underlie both personality and memory. That distinction is functional -- we distinguish a personality trait from a memory based on how we behave, not based on any kind of awareness of the underlying data structures. And it's not at all obvious (nor even likely) that all the things we call "memory" share a common data structure, or that they don't share underlying data structures with what we call "personality."

Then again, I feel the same way about "identity."

To understand an elephant is to realize that recognizing the difference between trunk and tusk is not the end of the story.

So I would expect a psychic power that interacted with those data structures not to respect the boundaries between "memory" and "personality" in any kind of intuitive way.

That said, many witch-powers in this fictional world do respect those intuitive boundaries, so it's not clear what any of the above actually has to do with events in the story.

Comment author: RobinZ 26 February 2011 01:03:29PM 0 points [-]

If she has, that might imply that Elspeth's power doesn't just send memories/experiences, but also personality traits. Or that identifying strongly with a set of absorbed memories is enough to give you those personality traits (I don't really like that theory).

Or that Paola and Benito were already similar in personality to Didyme and John, although that's a bit of a coincidence.

Comment author: Pavitra 22 February 2011 02:43:13AM 0 points [-]

It would be an interesting commentary on cryonics and/or uploading either way.

Comment author: alethiophile 23 February 2011 03:38:24AM 0 points [-]

So what happens to someone who is vampire-memoried and then turned? Do they still have the same memories? What if the current John-as-human was turned, and then Elspeth/Addy gave him another dump of just John-as-vampire's memories? Also, will the mate bond work on Didyme-human turned with Marcus, since she "remembers" it so? If not it would be awfully traumatic for both, probably.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 23 February 2011 04:18:52AM *  1 point [-]

It would be noteworthy if a human, after being brain-dumped and turned, had the same memories as before the turning, given that in general memories encoded by human brains are lost during transition.

Given that what Elspeth does is different from the normal encoding of memories it's not impossible, though. Only Alicorn knows for sure, if that.

Perhaps more interesting is the ethical question. That is, if we grant for the sake of most-inconvenient-possible-world that turning someone without their permission is unethical because of their moral standing, is it then ethical to turn someone brain-dumped?

Presumably this depends somewhat on how well a delayed "upload" via Aro via Addy via Elspeth into a random human brain preserves the copied vampire's identity: if the upload isn't really a full-fledged personality, it presumably lacks the relevant moral standing, and the answer is "no."

But assuming it's close enough -- or, to really turn the hypothetical screws, assuming it's a pale shadow of the original vampire but, given how much cooler vampire cognition is than human, it's still more than cool enough to count as (that is, have equivalent moral standing to) a human-type person -- well, then what?

If the original human's identity is in there somewhere, then there are two resident identities. Do they both have to give permission (supposing that, say, Edward can get in touch with them), or does just one suffice?

More generally, supposing somebody figures out how to undo the effects of Addy's blast, is it ethical to do so (thereby killing the pseudovampire)? Is it ethical not to (thereby keeping the human dormant indefinitely)? Is the best solution some kind of time-sharing plan? Other?

Comment author: alethiophile 24 February 2011 06:27:05AM 0 points [-]

It now seems that the thorny ethical problem is resolved with the fact that the human person caught in the blast no longer exists. (Unless that's just Addy lying, but she's still in range of Edward and one would assume that he would tell Bella if Addy lied about something of that magnitude.) I'm very curious to see what happens if one of the human!vampires is turned.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 24 February 2011 06:27:41PM 2 points [-]

(nods) Agreed.

Thinking about this some more, I wonder whether an actual reflection is even necessary.

That is, if one of the four "nutcases" looked into a surface they believed was reflective, but which actually presented an image of a young-looking vampire in Elspeth's memories, would that be enough to trigger the filtering/identification process?

Presumably it would depend on how relevant the body's memories of looking the way it actually looks are to the process. I could see it going either way. Given that the four "nutcases"es original identities are irretrievably lost, and the state of identifying as a single upload seems strictly preferable to the state of being muddled between many of them, it seems like an experiment worth trying.

Unrelatedly: if the uploaded Didyme turns out to satisfy Marcus' mate bond, things just got very interesting. It seems to follow that every vampire in the world who has lost a mate promptly shows up on Elspeth's doorstep, a similar-appearing human in tow, demanding that she "resurrect" their mate. Politically useful, albeit ethically challenging.

The related question of whether Elspeth can "resurrect" humans seems relevant for similar reasons. Available data suggests that she can't, since the vampire memories displace the human ones, but I'd want to see what happens with a blast comprising only human memories. (My expectation would be that it wouldn't eradicate the body's memories in the first place, though... I'd expect the effect to be similar to the effect of Addy's blast on vampires. Still, if the body is already brain-dead for some other reason, that might be different.)

Of course, this isn't just a resurrection trick; it's also a duplication trick. I wonder if any mate-bonded vampires would be interested in a polyamorous relationship with multiple uploaded copies of their mate? (The mate-bond seems to imply monogamous attachment, but that could just be a side-effect of not being attracted to anyone but their mate.) Certainly there are humans who would be.

Unrelatedly: I admire the aplomb with which Didyme and John are handling their physical and cognitive deficiencies. In their position, I would be insisting that someone turn me, right now. (After all, the difference between their current state and the state they remember is overwhelmingly greater than what I experienced when I woke up hemiplegic and brain-damaged after my stroke, and if I could have recovered from that with a few days of agony, I'd have signed up in a heartbeat... even if it was my last.)

Comment author: alethiophile 24 February 2011 10:46:26PM *  0 points [-]

Another thing I'm wondering: what was it, precisely, that deleted Benito's original human memories? Was it the experience of any higher-fidelity vampire memories, or was it the overload caused by all of it simply overwriting the least vivid? If the former, then Elspeth has an easy way to resurrect an arbitrary dead vampire, but needs to be careful sending anything to a human lest their mind be lost (wouldn't it purely suck to have only the vampire memories of a single event Elspeth showed you, and nothing else?). If the latter, then Elspeth needs to blast a human entire and hope they reidentify as the vampire she actually wants to resurrect; which is more chancy.

Comment author: Nornagest 24 February 2011 11:08:23PM 3 points [-]

Uploading into a physical body might not even be necessary. I wonder what would happen if Elspeth constructed a subagent to model the behavior of someone she's got stored?

Comment author: alethiophile 26 February 2011 04:57:45AM 2 points [-]

Man, that would be a weird way to wake up. "Hi, you got killed by Aro, he read your mind, I got a bunch of your memories dumped on me, and by the way you exist only in my head."

Comment author: Alicorn 26 February 2011 05:37:41AM 5 points [-]

Or "Hi, you're a 500-years-outdated backup of a vampire who's alive and well..."

Comment author: TheOtherDave 26 February 2011 08:28:50AM 0 points [-]

if the uploaded Didyme turns out to satisfy Marcus' mate bond, things just got very interesting.

Hee! Well, then.

Given that that worked, I would expect pretty much every mated vampire who is aware of the situation and at least marginally clever to demand their mate be "backed up" via Aro's knee into Addy's mind for safe keeping... and soon, as that knee has limited shelf-life.

I wonder, if they had figured this all out prior to killing Aro, if they'd have been tempted to keep him alive to power the backup mechanism indefinitely. It's an awfully useful trick to have up one's sleeve... though perhaps less so if you're immortal and nigh-indestructible.

Unrelatedly: another implication of Elspeth's vampire-reincarnation trick, potentially, is the ability to create edited versions of existing vampires.

That is, we've already seen that she can selectively choose what subsets of her memories she transmits; it seems to follow that not only can she overwrite a human with memories of vampire X as of their last Aro-read, she can overwrite a human with a more-or-less arbitrary subset of those memories.

I can't come up with any useful applications of that ability in the current tactical situation, but it's a cool idea nevertheless.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 February 2011 09:46:56PM 0 points [-]

I wonder, if they had figured this all out prior to killing Aro, if they'd have been tempted to keep him alive to power the backup mechanism indefinitely. It's an awfully useful trick to have up one's sleeve... though perhaps less so if you're immortal and nigh-indestructible.

It remains to be seen whether or not Didyme 2 is a witch, but if so, why not just recreate Aro when necessary?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 26 February 2011 10:16:09PM 0 points [-]

We've seen no evidence that Elspeth's trick affects witch-talents, and it would really startle me if it did.

But, sure, if a witch turned up who can read/store/project those powers, the way that the Addy in conjunction with Aro and Elspeth combination can read/store/project memories, that would be fantastically useful.

The existence of Addy suggests that something like this is theoretically possible... that is, it suggests that witch powers really are some kind of discrete thing that can be read and written as a class.

Of course, I can't go too far down that road without becoming utterly frustrated that nobody in that world is even trying to research the mechanisms that underlie witch-powers, or vampirism, or etc. That would be the real payoff.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 February 2011 10:02:27AM 0 points [-]

Of course, I can't go too far down that road without becoming utterly frustrated that nobody in that world is even trying to research the mechanisms that underlie witch-powers, or vampirism, or etc. That would be the real payoff.

Isn't Addy?

Comment author: Alicorn 28 February 2011 04:38:51PM 0 points [-]

Not really. Addy is diligently studying the use and limitations and practical potential of witchcraft, but she doesn't particularly care what makes magic work, as long as it does work and it's tasty.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 28 February 2011 01:57:03PM 0 points [-]

Certainly more so than the rest of them, yes.

It would be ironic if she ended up contributing, some day, to a genuine theoretical understanding of whatever it is that underlies all of their abilities... she could be responsible for saving and improving more lives than anyone else we've met in this world.