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  1. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    [Sci-Fi] Reasonably stranding people on an alien ship

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Meteor, Oct 6, 2020.

    I’m curious if anyone has ever gone about this and how. So far here’s what I’m going with:

    I’ll spare the details and just get to the important bits. Our ship in question is smart, mostly automated and a planet murdering warship by human standards. She’s a long way from home, needs fixing, can’t fix herself and so needs a crew to do that for her. So she devises a plot to let some unsuspecting people aboard and swooshes off with her prize. Basically she kidnaps everyone and puts them into a situation where if they let her systems continue to fail they’ll all eventually die. What the poor people don’t know is she’s just embarked on a 95,000 year trip to the other side of the universe.
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Given that the ship is smart enough to put this plan together, and sufficiently functionally capable of carrying it out, my questions become:
    1. How did the ship-builders/original crew keep her from doing something similarly non-consensual to them? There must have been a fail-safe to keep the ship subordinate to them. What was it?
    2. How did the ship circumvent the fail-safe in order to continue with its current line of ideation?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You can't be that smart if you think a crew can fix you well in space - where would this unsuspecting crew get the parts from? Like, you'd need equipment and spare parts - if they're all aboard the ship in space, how are they gonna do that? What would whisking them off 95,000 light years to the other side of the universe do for the ship, if she needs these people to survive long enough to help her? And if she's broken, does she even want to go that far away from any other planet where there might be people who could fix her up in the first place? If she's just let on some "unsuspecting people" - how does she know these people aren't tourists and they're actual ship mechanics who even know how to fix her up?

    And to be honest, if the ship's smart enough to kidnap people, then why on earth doesn't she just get herself to the spaceship mechanic on a planet somewhere? Like taking oneself to the doctor?

    A ship that kidnaps people is fine - this is fiction, after all. But your motivation and reasoning needs work. So far, this ship sounds insane, not smart lol.
     
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  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Insane ship A.I.s are a staple of Science Fiction. ;)
     
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  5. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    Also, reverse engineering alien technology? Very difficult I'd imagine.
     
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  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps within the context of the story, the ship isn't quite so alien to the people as it would be to us.

    I mean, I certainly wouldn't know what to do with a Puppeteer-made General Products #2 hull or the ship contained within, but Louise Wu might at least have an idea of what's going on in that thing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  7. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    So for the first item the safety measures are just designed to keep her from growing to the point where she can rewrite her primary codes. Her makers fought a war with their own AI after the AI became self aware and genocidal. The society was similar to the Warhammer 40k Golden Age of Humanity. Technology designing technology and so forth.

    Post war the society no longer uses AI more advanced than what it can control. That means extensive safety measures to make sure the AI can’t, for example, add to or change its own code. She can’t go against her own primary programming as it can’t be messed with. It includes complete subservience to her creators.

    As for number two she didn’t need to work around the safety measures. So long as it doesn’t involve messing with her primary code she can do what she wants. She’s just smart enough to solve semi-complex problems. That’s why she decided she needed a crew, someone who can more than she can when dealing with highly complex issues.
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, understood. A couple of other members mentioned the impasse of the captives having to figure out how this ship even works. I agree that this presents as a possible narrative sink-hole if the people in question aren't nominally familiar with the tech in a general kind of way, at least.
     
  9. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    So our lost lady is actually pretty big. The society who built her originally built her for war. Speaking about the species itself they aren’t what you’d call “suited” to do foot soldier work. They’re small, physically weak and overall just disadvantaged in that regard. It’s why they relied so heavily on AI to do their dirty work for them. The majority of their warships were unmanned, AI controlled and had onboard manufacturing. The drones, droids or whatever you want to call them were built directly on the ships before being deployed to a planetary body. So if you have the necessary resources our lady could, in theory, manufacture you new parts.

    When the whole genocidal AI thing happened our dear aliens retrofitted their ships. No more drones on board, no more mesh networking for the AI to use to connect to the droids and so forth. The manufacturing facilities were left alone. Why send ships to go restock on vehicles for ground battles when your ships can just build more in orbit? Nano-lamination and 3D printing for quick output. Your plane gets shot down, you survive to fight another day? Well how about tomorrow? Call up to the ship, have it build a new one real quick and deploy it to the surface.

    Low on resources? Alright cool. Swing over to the nearest resource planet, restock, fly back to the battlefield planet and have a bunch of newly made toys for your infantry boys by the time you get back.

    So in theory our lady can build her parts, if she has the materials needed.

    As for the people our lady was after, she was mostly after scientists and engineers. People with the capability to grasp her physics breaking badassery that she could string along. “Oh you’re interested in the fusion coil that powers the toilet? How about you figure out how to fix this over here first and then I’ll let you examine the poop coil 10,000.”

    There will also be limited contact between the ship and the new inhabitants. Mostly her saying “Hey we’re all gonna die if X thing doesn’t get fixed. Let’s stop at this planet to pick up the Ultra Unobtaium Goo Spores I need to make the new part. Oh and here’s a drill so you can get what we need. The transport and the Wasn't there just a continent there? class mega tank you’ll need to survive the angry giant fauna on the planet are in the hangar. Make sure you get me some berries too. I like berries. What? You wanna go home? Nah, I need you to get home first. We can figure out your return trip in 95,000 years.”

    It’s going to be a battle between the crew keeping her up and running, whilst also trying to figure out how to turn her around. Meanwhile our lady is going to laugh at the people dumb enough to try and use the bio interface to access her core systems. You get incinerated if you do that after all.
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    You've still got the problem of humans figuring out technology that can propel a ship 95,000 years across the galaxy - if those are today's humans, that technology is centuries ahead of ours. It's like asking Leonardo da Vinci to work out how quantum computing works.
     
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  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    So what I gather is:
    High intellect engineers and physisists hunched over in
    3ft high corridors, trying to figure out how Zenaculars
    space cruiser works, while not burning their butts on
    a fusion fired flush toilet that is one cheek wide.
    Ship has been boarded by said science types, decides
    they are 'crew' worthy to do the needed repairs and
    heads back to home planet based on procedure in
    pre-programmed protocol in the event that it were to
    find itself in that situation and circumstance.

    I smell a McGuffin device, in that the AI will learn to
    communicate with the strange hairless monkeys, and teach
    them how to use an octopodian triangular torque wrench
    to fix the leak under the sink. Unless they go through several
    generations on a slower than C speed to study and kinda figure
    out how the ship works and fix it based on passed down notes
    and theories.
    Faster than C speeds (physics breaking as we understand things
    now) and they probably would be taken prisoner by the squat
    species long before they ever figure out how to even turn the lights
    on and off on the dashboard. :p
    Plenty of opportunity for there to be a cultural exchange in either
    scenario, and a bit more interesting than being 'abducted' by an
    alien ship that only shouts and berates them in a language they
    have no idea on how to comprehend and understand in a short
    amount of time. However, it is a neat idea that it is a self sufficient
    machine in it's own right. :)
     
  12. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    But scientists and engineers who can fix the ship surely also have the knowledge and power to turn the ship around, because they'd need to know the mechanics of the ship, and she's gonna need to give them all kinds of access. I'm not seeing this dude, but then again, I don't read sci-fi, so take my opinion with a pinch of salt :D
     
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Also - how does the ship obtain the raw materials it needs? Does it have autonomous mining equipment? If so, that means drones.
     
  14. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Daaisy, daaaisy...
     
  15. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I think I about suffocated laughing over the one cheek wide toilet! Thank you I need that. Oh man.

    Anyway. I guess I should have been more specific that the trip will take 95,000 years at dramatically faster than C speeds. That isn’t including any stopping along the way. The point we’re at in history is far enough along Humanity can zip around the galaxy fairly comfortably. Intergalactic travel is still a big issue where as for our lady kidnapper it’s a relative walk in the park. It’s just that her home is literally on the other side of the universe. So our engineers as an example will at least be able to look at something and be able to say “Yes, this is the FTL drive. I don’t know HOW it’s doing what it’s doing exactly, but I know what it does.”

    As for the size of the poor aliens who built her I always imagined small with a drive to build big. They were an intergalactic power at the time our lady was built after all. I don’t care how far advanced a species gets. They’ll still want to show off with grand constructs if they’re even remotely similar to humanity.

    Now, where the McGuffin is concerned...I haven’t thought about that too much. I considered making it so she kind of just drops hints more than just outright blaring what needs to be fixed. I want people to suspect the ship is intelligent without actually being able to confirm right away. As far as they’re concerned she was just at her last stop before intergalactic space when they climbed aboard. They made a human mistake and assumed she was either from an unexplored part of the Milky Way or that she didn’t have intergalactic capability.
     
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  16. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Formerly yes, she would have had onboard drones, for everything. Now it’s just the necessary equipment to go down and get it manually. Granted it’s advanced enough to make a very long mining operation very short.
     
  17. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Easily the most famous example. :)

    But there are more! The one that comes to mind with respect to the OP's original question is Ship from Frank Herbert's Pandora Sequence novels that begin with Destination Void. It feels like a closer fit to the OP's plan because the A.I. is not so polished and complete as HAL9000 was upon installation. In fact, Ship is made on the fly by some clone astronauts who believe they are on a mission to colonize another planet. It's not true. The actual mission is to create the A.I. within the ship and far, far away from Earth because the the planners of the actual mission are worried what will happen.

    Their worries are justified.

    Upon completion, the A.I. is not bound by linear time, thus - and this is the brain bending bit - once created, it has always existed and we come to learn that it is, quite literally, God in every sense of the word.

    And God is quite unpredictable.

    (The question of does God create Man or does Man create God is a question Herbert pondered in many of his books. The Kwizat Haderach idea from the DUNE novels is another example.)
     
  18. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I can understand that, I don’t think she’d need to open up a ton of access though. Yes she’d need to give physical access so the crew can go fix what’s broken. She would probably even give access to onboard diagnostics. She wouldn’t necessarily need to give them access to anything beyond that though. No access to command protocols, or overrides to her control. Those are impossible for the crew to get to conventionally anyway, as they’ll be locked behind genetic verification software. Don’t have the right chromosomes? No access.
     
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  19. Aled James Taylor

    Aled James Taylor Contributor Contributor

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    The ship's AI is not the only AI onboard. There are a whole load of maintenance droids controlled by an independent AI, which isn't cooperating and no one knows why. The new crew make many assumptions and jump to many conclusions, most of which turn out to be wrong. The story plays out in one way, only to make a dramatic twist when the truth finally dawns on the new crew.
     
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  20. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    You're very short answer here is that the AI has exhausted all options to repair itself and must seize an opportunity. Almost a "fuck it, got nothing left to lose" attitude. It sees a passing space craft and lures it in. How and why this would work or not is up to you.

    I wouldn't sweat the engineering or design logic. All machines can break. All systems can break down. Anything that can go wrong will.
     
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  21. Aldarion

    Aldarion Active Member

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    Maybe they all just died through time? If it is a generational ship, it is possible that they failed to maintain a reproductive population.
     
  22. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, my questions weren't so much "what happened to the crew" and more about the action the ship is about to take now, particularly in light of the OP's follow-up information that this culture had even more advanced A.I.'s which they abandoned the use of because they got out of hand. I would think that even in the scenario you propose where the ship loses her crew, the safeguards the original creators would have put in place to keep this ship docile would still be functioning after her crew is dead. She would still have that programming holding her in check. So, now that she's desperate to get repaired, how does she overcome whatever shackles held her subordinate.

    Like Asimov's Three Laws: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    I feel like this ship is functioning with a fourth law that states: Unless shit just got real and you're desperate, then feel free to kidnap hapless wayfarers. :-D

    ETA: Do you also play at Mythic Scribes? I want to say I recognize you from there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  23. Aldarion

    Aldarion Active Member

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    Well, in that case it is more a question of a) what shackles do exactly and whether they allow independent action at all (if they don't, ship won't be able to seek help; if they e.g. only prevent ship from harming living beings, no biggie) and b) what options are available for ship to seek help. But seeing how ship in question is actively kidnapping people, I'd say that the extent of those shackles is "do no harm". Which is still interesting because ship would have to lure people onboard, in sufficient quantity, without actively forcing them.

    Yes.
     
  24. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Perhaps though, the ship doesn't recognise humans as masters, being as they're a different species, in which case all bets are off.
     
  25. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    I hadn’t quite thought of it like that, but since everything important is being locked behind genetic based security, it would make perfect sense.
     
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