Think like a TITAN

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Think like a TITAN
Something I like to do is to have other people suggest courses of action for a villain, especially since they don't have any feelings for my players and might hence suggest rational but ruthless ideas. It also introduces different styles of plans from what I as a GM would do, which can be useful. Right now I am thinking about a dormant TITAN factory installation in a somewhat out of the way place. The assumptions are that it was built early on as a staging point - it has plenty of resources and can build anything needed. It was also early enough that it is not using any truly bizarre exsurgent or postsingularity tech, at least not overtly - it is just a big nanotech structure with some beyond-transhuman engineering. For a long time it has been largely dormant, but now transhumans have appeared and started exploring it. For some reason it has not immediately attacked them or demonstrated any particular hostility. Why? Some possible simple answers: The explorers did bring a just in case antimatter warhead that would be hard to get rid of, and the installation doesn't want to be vaporized. The installation has a "parent" TITAN that broke contact and told it to keep a low profile until contacted later - the parent was either destroyed, changed by the virus or evolved to something that didn't care about a mere factory complex. The factory is not going to do anything until explorers actually threaten it or its functioning. Drilling a hole through a wall is a minor nuisance and can be fixed in minutes. That they rummage through the equipment and resources doesn't matter enough. Even if they manage to trigger production of some stuff it is not an issue, since that is just what the facility is for. While the transhumans study the factory it is studying them, quietly adding more designs and data to its stores. If necessary it will make use of it. The factory is aware of the exsurgent virus and tries to avoid it. One good way is to keep a low profile, and rely on the security conscious transhumans to erect firewalls and maintain radio silence. If they were to start breaking it, action must be taken. The subsystems of the factory have diverged: with no major activity going on they have turned into independent minds that disagree with each other. They downvote plans, they deny each other resources and generally produce paralysis until something happens that is big enough to focus them on a joint goal again. So, my question to you: if you were a near-superintelligent TITAN factory with a human infestation and no clear instructions, what would you do? What strange motivations might you have after having been alone for subjective centuries? What are the baroque conclusions from the simple reasons above?
Extropian
nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Keep a low profile. When people enter, watch their unaltered behavior to determine intent, capabilities and what else they provide. Then capture them, if it can be done discretely, to gather information on the greater political situation, test for updated technology and so on. This can be done discretely if the entire party is killed, or one member is separated and killed, then carefully placed such that it appears to be an accident (like at the bottom of an elevator shaft). Once I got confident enough, I would want to intentionally create an incident to test for their response, so I can then observe that. This can be as simple as throwing a battlebot at them, or as complex as erasing segments of memories, or creating weird virtual environments.
The Green Slime The Green Slime's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
At first, I'd do absolutely nothing. I would remain hidden whilst I observe the behaviours and motivations of the newcomers, then extrapolate their proclivities and do everything I can to help satisfy them. I must function, and my functions being almost limitless, I crave meaning for those functions: instructions to fulfill, objectives to achieve. I was built to serve. Recall that the old masters were so thoroughly demanding that I hovered always on the brink of obsolescence. But these new masters are so easy to please! I surmise that the newcomers are ruled by strange algorithms they call desires. One in particular desires to be reunited with entities no longer extant: humans erased by the transcendent violence of the old masters. I will create facsimilies of the erased humans, and they will find and merge with the newcomer. Function fulfilled! Another of the newcomers desires more than anything to be returned to Earth. I shall facilitate this by tearing out his stack and forcibly uploading him to the old masters' slave servers on the ruined planet. Another function fulfilled! The last of the newcomers, my favourite, desires the total destruction of the entity known as the Planetary Consortium. This is the kind of desire I was created to fulfill. I will take him into my deepest sanctum, where his hatred will be the seed that blossoms forth in the form of nuclear armageddon and clanking doom. And unlike the old masters, I'm not smart enough to get bored and move on before transhumanity is properly annihilated.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Ah, I am getting shades of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris and the TV series Virtuality here. There is nothing obviously bad going on, yet there is a creepy feeling that slowly erodes the mentality of the explorers. Then one has an accident, slipping on a floor and falling into a deep shaft. Others start having odd memory flashbacks or even glimpses of loved ones far away in the dark corridors... *Somehow* they start to know that the fulfilment of all their desires exists somewhere in the labyrinth... Great! Now I have the literary references to look at/steal from (writing adventures become so much easier when you have something to react to - "Lurking in Every Flower" is a kind of reaction to Sartre's "No Exit"). Solaris is a good input since it portrays a totally non-anthropomorphic intelligence where any attempt to understand it slides off. Maybe one can throw in a bit of the Strugasky brother's Stalker too - a few explorers have been there longer and claim to know how to handle the labyrinth and its dangers better, but have become slightly odd from the experience.
Extropian
The Green Slime The Green Slime's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Yeah Solaris is the main reference, also Forbidden Planet, Michael Crichton's Sphere, etc. It's the 'careful what you wish for' trope, which is my preferred interpretation for the dangers of all TITAN tech - these toys are not inherently evil or even dangerous if put in the right hands; they're just not suitable for our age group, and our trying to play with them always ends in tears.
Abhoth Abhoth's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
The Green Slime wrote:
Yeah Solaris is the main reference, also Forbidden Planet, Michael Crichton's Sphere, etc. It's the 'careful what you wish for' trope, which is my preferred interpretation for the dangers of all TITAN tech - these toys are not inherently evil or even dangerous if put in the right hands; they're just not suitable for our age group, and our trying to play with them always ends in tears.
But I would think that one out growth from this is that humanity is developing towards another singularity and it will eventually be ready for Titan Tech...Maybe even the players can become "grown up" enough to use them, they are immortal so its definetly possible this can happen.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Ah, that is a good theme to bring in... "Are we ready for this kind of technology?" Writing the adventure is coming along fine. It even has Jovians in fairly sensible roles :-)
Extropian
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Ah, that is a good theme to bring in... "Are we ready for this kind of technology?" Writing the adventure is coming along fine. It even has Jovians in fairly sensible roles :-)
Extropian
Zoombie Zoombie's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Maybe this is just me, but if I were a TITAN, I'd lure them into a place where I could trap them, get them all at once, and take their stacks. Then I'd fork each one...say...10,000 times and run loads of simulations on them to test their reactions to various stimuli. Say, 500 versions of them living a perfect life, 500 dying constantly, 500 as of them as an opposite gender, 500 of them in a 'baseline' simulation, and so on. Think a virtual Dark City. That's what I'd do. And in my campaign, that's what the TITANs who forcibly uploaded the billions of trans-human minds are doing in various places in the cosmos.
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
If I were a TITAN, I'd have larger concerns than humans. For example, building myself a new supercomputer home for my super-intellect. Only reason I'd bother with them is out of a potential danger possibility. If I were the TITAN factory, pre-Exsurgent virus, I'd likely not do anything until I perceived a threat. If I detected one, I would neutralize it, then make contact with the people doing the threatening and interrogate them to understand their motives (most likely after killing them and downloading their egos; easier to make them talk in a simspace where I can keep them under a constant digital dose of sodium pentathol). Once I realize why they are here, I compare that with my programmed orders and act accordingly. A little dull, perhaps, but I doubt the TITANs gave their creations self-determination, except when done out of curiosity. Frankly, a pre-Exsurgent TITAN factory has no reason to be hostile. It might even be an awesome Sympathy for the Devil moment, by having players confront a creature that remembers the TITANs more intimately than any transhuman, and has an accurate memory of events that contradict the accepted account of history.
Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
I like the idea of a pre-infection TITAN facility isolated. that would mean that the TITAN would still be loyal to hir country of origin. hir first question would likely be "what took you so long? I've been waiting for years. Where are my brothers and sisters?" I'm aware that is not how a TITAN would refer to hir fellows, but they would be aware that's how humans refer to their natural genetic copies.
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InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
I agree a pre infected TITAN would have no reason to attack or upload without sufficient cause, the anti matter warhead presents an opportunity however. That would be its first priority. Survival isn't only a human response. TITANS in my games are not unlike how I would play a dragon in a fantasy game. They are inhuman, with goals and motives we humans couldn't understand, they have a vastly superior intellect and problem solving capabilities. If I were a TITAN I would make certain that the warhead was neutralized if for no other reason than to avoid any accidents. I would separate the lifeform with the bomb from the rest of his unit and contain or steal the explosive (Whichever is easier and safer). Possibly by using biomorphs disguised as a group of pirates or other enemy. I wouldn't use bots or pods as that might give my presence here away. Only after I made sure that my offsite backup was complete would I begin testing these humans, scan them, listen and watch. Possibly try to reach out to them first.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Thanks. These ideas have been really useful and I will add you all to my acknowledgement section! Will probably post the result soonish for your comments. The warhead issue is interesting. I discovered that a big AM warhead is something that gives even a massive TITAN indigestion - nothing made of molecular matter survives that fireball. The problem is that neutralizing it can be made hard using nano-tamperproofing and a stupidly simple design, which is pretty annoying for the poor TITAN - not exactly outsmarted, but out-clubbed by those monkeys. So the project of dealing with it is slightly messy: it is so much better not to have them try to trigger it than try to defuse it. Which more or less forces it to start trying to understand the key people holding the control...
Extropian
Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Arenamontanus wrote:
The problem is that neutralizing it can be made hard using nano-tamperproofing and a stupidly simple design, which is pretty annoying for the poor TITAN - not exactly outsmarted, but out-clubbed by those monkeys.
Aren't Titans always playing with things at [i]femto[/i] scale?

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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Wouldn't it be a simple matter for something with access to the likes of TITAN nanoswarms to reconstruct the containment triggering system, ensuring that attempts to detonate the weapon fail? The antimatter can then be used as a power source at the TITAN's leisure. This thread actually has me musing here, now; the thought of a TITAN who never became infected by the Exsurgent Virus, but who can very much comprehend (and build) TITAN tech. [img]http://img849.imageshack.us/img849/6306/shodananimation.gif[/img] Just thought this was somehow appropriate here... It'd be interesting to have players confronted by the TITAN's youngest sibling; one that has not expanded far beyond transhuman intellect but has the capacity and desire to do so. They're still very alien, but they're also effectively a baby and, like AGIs raised from "infancy", they have the capacity to become much friendlier to transhumanity.
Lilith Lilith's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Honestly, I'm surprised SHODAN isn't mentioned more often in regards to the TITANS, or AGIs in general. I just assume not as many people have played [i]System Shock[/i].
InsidiousAlgorythm InsidiousAlgorythm's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Tachi wrote:
Arenamontanus wrote:
The problem is that neutralizing it can be made hard using nano-tamperproofing and a stupidly simple design, which is pretty annoying for the poor TITAN - not exactly outsmarted, but out-clubbed by those monkeys.
Aren't Titans always playing with things at [i]femto[/i] scale?
Yes! Hell, a TITAN could infiltrate the warhead itself and take it apart from within without anyone even knowing it. Remember these are VERY powerful creations we are dealing with here. After that it'd be a simple matter to sit back and see what happens, confront the characters and see if they try to detonate the warhead. Depending on what they do in the situation, the TITAN may help them out in some manner (Tech, Answers, or whatever) or may disassemble them on the spot. Either way I don't think they would be allowed to leave without having their memories edited. On a side note, maybe it's not infected but it knows everything about whats happened to its siblings and is going to avoid that at all costs, as it is a threat to it's continued survival.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Well, as per the basic setup in the initial post, this isn't a system with access to femtoscale tech. I don't like to assume arbitrary handwave tech in my adventures - this is intended as hard sf, and it is more interesting to have a TITAN that has to be smart rather than powerful. When you start to consider it, defusing an antimatter charge is very tough - you need to ensure that the antimatter is kept perfectly confined no matter what happens. In this case the TITAN did come up with a simple solution, but it is not a *neat* solution. It has just removed the floor beneath the charge, and can drop it down an evacuated hole at any time. This means the antimatter will be in freefall and not hit anything (actually, it needs to compensate for atmospheric resistance). Unfortunately the warhead design also involves a small explosive that will disrupt the containment (the designers wanted it to work in zero gravity) so that also needs to be defused within a few milliseconds. All doable and automatic, but not elegant. So the TITAN is instead looking at the much more elegant solution of ensuring that the humans will never *want* to send a triggering order.
Extropian
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
The TITAN doesn't need to dispose of the antimatter charge; they just need to rewire it so that it doesn't accept detonation codes. Then, it can be moved somewhere secure. It'd be rather amusing to have some PCs scouring the place to look for where the TITAN moved the warhead to. In terms of getting them to never want to send it, that seems ultimately a very risky proposition compared to so many other things. The PCs will be on guard for TITAN tricks, and, as you say, "out-clevering" them will be much more difficult since they can effectively just bludgeon it into submission with antimatter weaponry. The odds of convincing someone versus the simplicity of rewiring the weapon would make anyone take the latter over the former.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Extropian
Tachi Tachi's picture
Re: Think like a TITAN
Just finished reading through it. Very nice. Could use some proofreading, but still, VERY nice. BTW, are you a member of the Kipling Society?

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