A missed uplift opportunity?

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Scottbert Scottbert's picture
A missed uplift opportunity?

A wiki-walk today led me to reading about various animals on wikipedia, as it often does. And then something stuck out to me:

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_hyena#Intelligence

Does that not sound like an uplift candidate by Eclipse Phase standards? One wonders why it was passed over by the hypercorps. Perhaps the negative perception of hyenas continued into the future?

But we do know there's one group that's quite familiar with hyena genes: Scum genehackers, who include them when engineering swarm cats (Panopticon, p 116)

Could it only be a matter of time before autonomist genehackers produce a swarm cat uplift or hyena uplift?

Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
Hyena uplifts came up a bit

Hyena uplifts came up a bit in this thread from a while ago : http://eclipsephase.com/uplifts-round-two

The process of uplifting species seems to be fairly delicate. Particularly in keeping the distinctive neural characteristics of a species somewhat intact. I'm unsure if the Autonomists or even the Scum have the desire to endure the many missteps and failures that would be inevitable in attempting uplift. Then again..a kinder, gentler uplift program could make for some good storytelling possibilities. Something to contrast the sadly usual story of uncaring hypercorporate in(trans)humanity.

I may have to start writing a thing up!

Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!

Baribal Baribal's picture
Chernoborg wrote:The process

Chernoborg wrote:
The process of uplifting species seems to be fairly delicate. Particularly in keeping the distinctive neural characteristics of a species somewhat intact. I'm unsure if the Autonomists or even the Scum have the desire to endure the many missteps and failures that would be inevitable in attempting uplift.

I agree on that point, especially since every such "misstep" is a living being, and over time, those missteps also happen to beings closer and closer to human cognitive capabilities. Also the process of uplifting takes away the right to evolutional self determination of such a program's subjects, even though they don't even have the capability to conceptualize rights light that yet. So any Autonomist would need a bit of a cold streak, and prioritize his curiosity over the rights of the subjects to justify such experiments.

On the other hand, a collateral payoff would be morphs that have better social drives at the neurostructural level than humanoid morphs typically have, and the egos raised in them would be inclined more strongly towards social behavior. It'd be kind of a "We'll make our own saviors" kind of research. Especially with the continuing morph shortage, and the lack of facilities to ingest a large number of people into Anarchist and Scum societies in a short amount of time, having egos born with an inclination towards being social workers may be a sufficient incentive to run an uplift program despite its moral quandaries.

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational | http://eclipsephase.com/comment/59484#comment-59484

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Fur is always optional.

I honestly like that EP doesn't have uplifted Canids/Felines/Vulpines and so forth, but sticks to more unsual species. It feels less like pandering to common tropes of anthro-persons, whilst those are still an option for those who want them via bodysculpting and bioware.

It keeps the focus more on the ethical and practical considerations of Uplifitng species, rather than what people think of Furrys IRL.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Lazarus Lazarus's picture
I think it has less to do

I think it has less to do with anti-pandering and more to do with better science. All the uplifted species in EP are significantly smarter than the species you have mentioned (with the possible exception of pigs who are still extremely smart and who for some reason have a much closer genetic compatibility to humans than many other animals).

My artificially intelligent spaceship is psychic. Your argument it invalid.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Lazarus wrote:I think it has

Lazarus wrote:
I think it has less to do with anti-pandering and more to do with better science. All the uplifted species in EP are significantly smarter than the species you have mentioned (with the possible exception of pigs who are still extremely smart and who for some reason have a much closer genetic compatibility to humans than many other animals).

I'd say that another detail is different living niches: aquatic uplifts, flying uplifts... and "easy uplifts" (pigs, neanderthals... DNA close to that of current transhumanity's), which has the practical explanation of a) not making new competitors, and b) the new members are greatly suited for environments humanity needs tools or resleevings to be there.

Funnily enough, there are some writings going around the 'net about how octopuses are an alien species that got to Earth in a meteor or something like that XD

Scottbert Scottbert's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:I

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
I honestly like that EP doesn't have uplifted Canids/Felines/Vulpines and so forth, but sticks to more unsual species. It feels less like pandering to common tropes of anthro-persons, whilst those are still an option for those who want them via bodysculpting and bioware.

It keeps the focus more on the ethical and practical considerations of Uplifitng species, rather than what people think of Furrys IRL.

You want an anthropomorphic cat, dog, or catdog, that's what critter pod morphs are for.

Lazarus wrote:
I think it has less to do with anti-pandering and more to do with better science. All the uplifted species in EP are significantly smarter than the species you have mentioned (with the possible exception of pigs who are still extremely smart and who for some reason have a much closer genetic compatibility to humans than many other animals).
That's why I bring up the spotted hyena. It clearly fits into the 'already smart' category.

Baribal wrote:
On the other hand, a collateral payoff would be morphs that have better social drives at the neurostructural level than humanoid morphs typically have, and the egos raised in them would be inclined more strongly towards social behavior. It'd be kind of a "We'll make our own saviors" kind of research. Especially with the continuing morph shortage, and the lack of facilities to ingest a large number of people into Anarchist and Scum societies in a short amount of time, having egos born with an inclination towards being social workers may be a sufficient incentive to run an uplift program despite its moral quandaries.
I'm not so sure about the idea of making them as some kind of social savior. You could do that to transhumans with psychosurgery or some tweaks to brain design. Plus, I see uplift candidates living in packs not as corresponding to super-social behavior once uplifted, so much as being why they've evolved enough smarts to be uplifted in the first place. It's probably why humans evolved smarts -- thus, I'd expect hyena uplifts to have social needs like humans do, rather than have some 'pack' structure that's somehow stronger than the way humans put themselves in groups all the time anyway.

To me the most likely reason for an autonomist uplift project is to show they can do it, and show they can do it ethically. Hyenas don't have any particular traits that would make them specially desirable as morphs, so there isn't much profit in hypercorps copying and modifying the DNA, although there might be some use for half-uplifted, domesticated 'smart hyenas' which might be competition for smart dogs.

That other thread Chernoborg linked above posits an uplift program (for otters) where the failed ones are uploaded and saved, and then later psychosurgeried to completion once there are succesful ones to base them on. I could imagine a similar tack being taken with the hyenas, once they significantly surpass 'smart animal' level. It's one more way to out-moral the Hypercorps, too.