Author Topic: EP386: Finished  (Read 15014 times)

Scumpup

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Reply #25 on: March 18, 2013, 03:04:45 PM
Trapped into what?  Slavery makes sense if one is exploiting one's slaves economically or sexually, as seen in real life human trafficking.  What does your hypothetical Fixed CEO get out of "owning" all the Fixed who owe him for the process and for repairs/upgrades?  What can he compel his enslaved Fixed to do that will benefit him? 



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #26 on: March 18, 2013, 03:22:30 PM
Megalomaniacs don't respond well to logical arguments, they don't need to. It's part of megalomania.
He can control every person on the planet, that's enough for him. Just imagine him (or her) cackling away from the penthouse of some skyscraper just knowing that he controls everything and everybody on the entire planet. Billions upon billions of people. He can kill them with a word. He can make them do anything he wants. He is a god to them, and they must worship him wholly. MUWAHAHAHAHA!

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Scumpup

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Reply #27 on: March 18, 2013, 04:53:43 PM
I concede the idea of power for its own sake.  Still, it seems like a lot of trouble to end up with a world of nominal slaves over whom you actually have surprisingly little control.
Imagine this conversation:
Evil Overlord:  "Justin, you must do x or you will be denied repairs and upgrades forever!"
Justin: "Thy will be done, O Awesomely Puissant One!"

I'm having trouble filling in x with anything that would gratify or benefit the Evil Overlord enough to make this expensive and insanely slow scheme worth the effort; especially if said EO is an AI.  He may have the key to absolute obedience, but what will he command them to do?



Kaa

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Reply #28 on: March 18, 2013, 08:51:41 PM
Seems like a more likely scenario is that the people who are not allowed to be Finished are the ones who are ultimately the slaves. They'll be the engineers, technicians, and creative types who make it possible to upgrade the Finished to later and more powerful models, to allow them to have some degree of non-crystalline change in their personalities.

Then the conversation makes more sense:

Evil Overlord: Justin, you must design a better crystalline matrix for me or I will see to it that <whatever>.
Justin: Thy will be done, O Awesomely Puissant One!

Granted, <whatever> in that scenario would have to be something that has some meaning to an unFinished. He could threaten to Finish him, I suppose, but then that would make him one of the ruling class and deprive the Finished of his technical expertise.

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Cutter McKay

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Reply #29 on: March 19, 2013, 03:20:02 AM
Now I'm interested to see to a story from the POV of one of these last-unfinished-humans. That would be a very interesting society and dichotomy to explore.

To jump in on the running discussion, I think Max's breakdown of civilization is probably pretty accurate, but I don't see it as an evil overlord's diabolical pyramid scheme. I see it as the unintentional cost of stupid humans trying to gain immortality. They're going to finish themselves by Finishing themselves. However, I don't think it would play out exactly as Max described only because as we get near the end, there will be pockets of people who see the writing on the wall and start up "Natural Humans" colonies. These will be the "crazies" and the conspiracy theorists who the rest of Finished society will shun and mock. But as the industries die, the Finished humans will start to realize what they've done. Society will slowly collapse like a flan in a pantry, but the pockets of humans will be out growing their own gardens and living off the land.

Then the wars will start.

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Reply #30 on: March 19, 2013, 08:51:17 AM
Now I'm interested to see to a story from the POV of one of these last-unfinished-humans. That would be a very interesting society and dichotomy to explore.

To jump in on the running discussion, I think Max's breakdown of civilization is probably pretty accurate, but I don't see it as an evil overlord's diabolical pyramid scheme. I see it as the unintentional cost of stupid humans trying to gain immortality. They're going to finish themselves by Finishing themselves. However, I don't think it would play out exactly as Max described only because as we get near the end, there will be pockets of people who see the writing on the wall and start up "Natural Humans" colonies. These will be the "crazies" and the conspiracy theorists who the rest of Finished society will shun and mock. But as the industries die, the Finished humans will start to realize what they've done. Society will slowly collapse like a flan in a pantry, but the pockets of humans will be out growing their own gardens and living off the land.

Then the wars will start.
Interesting. Now- could you fill in some detail? About 3000-4000 words maybe? Ta.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #31 on: March 20, 2013, 12:34:25 AM
Two words: ultimate power.

But who would be pulling the strings? And to what ends? It's not like the Finished need much of anything. And I'm not sure they're react well to being ordered around. There's only so much you can threaten them with, and most seem apathetic to start with. I would agree with Cutter McKay, this is just humans messing their society up all on their collective own (if that's not contradictory).



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #32 on: March 20, 2013, 05:16:03 PM
So, they weren't immortal machines. They were vampires.

Allow me to explain: when I was an adolescent, I played a lot of Vampire: the Masquerade. One of the conceits of the genre is that vampires don't really grow, emotionally, after their "death." They are stuck, forever, in whatever emotional context created them. This is meant to explain, for example, why vampires do silly things like become infatuated with humans who remind them of their dead wives and such. They can't really grow - well, they can, but its hard - so such attachments come easy, and are unusually strong when they form.

That's probably why I had a hard time feeling much sympathy for the main character. I am fully sick of vampires. These days, I much more identify with the flamethrower-wielding avenger (stakes are for wimps) than the selfish, craven bloodsucking fiend.

In the end, I don't think I would accept this kind of immortality, not unless I could be assured that improvements in the technology would eventually result in a fully plastic mind. And, in that case, I'd probably ask to be encoded in crystal and left there until I could be revivified with such a mind. The alternative - life unchanging, trapped in a single emotional context forever - is just too horrifying.

What saved this story for me was the gradually dawning pyramid scheme element. I thought it was very well paced. The fact that I couldn't understand why anyone could chose this kind of eternity - me, terrified-of-death me! - put a wet towel on things, but I enjoyed the pacing enough that I don't regret listening.

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Listener

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Reply #33 on: March 22, 2013, 12:30:21 PM
Allow me to explain: when I was an adolescent, I played a lot of Vampire: the Masquerade. One of the conceits of the genre is that vampires don't really grow, emotionally, after their "death." They are stuck, forever, in whatever emotional context created them. This is meant to explain, for example, why vampires do silly things like become infatuated with humans who remind them of their dead wives and such. They can't really grow - well, they can, but its hard - so such attachments come easy, and are unusually strong when they form.

That's one thing I didn't like about VtM. I prefer vampires who grow as characters -- which is why in the beginning I liked Laurell K Hamilton so much. (FWIW her vampires are still growing as characters; they're just growing into sex toys for an increasingly Mary-Sue-ish narrator.)

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Devoted135

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Reply #34 on: March 22, 2013, 12:56:31 PM
I really like the core idea (Finishing) but I was not quite as big a fan of this particular story. But you guys pretty much have it covered, so I'll just say that Ponzi schemes are evil and there's no way I would ever let myself get Finished! Talk about a fate worse than death!



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Reply #35 on: March 22, 2013, 12:58:47 PM
However, if he was so all fired happy why did he try to kill himself by walking into traffic?   Or was it a suicide attempt? Did he really know a lovely young woman was in the pink Cheetah and did he target her or was it just dumb luck?

Perhaps I've been listening to many episodes of the "Stuff they don't want you to know" podcast, but I saw a larger conspiracy at work.  Justin didn't seem suicidal at all.  I also don't think he did it intentionally ("I planned nothing").  His description of walking into traffic is vague with references to what witnesses said he did rather than his memory of it.   I wonder if his actions weren't controlled by the corporation that makes the Finished people.  Perhaps Bonnie was specifically targeted for assimilation... er... I mean "finishing".   I'm certain that the Traffic AI could track Bonnie's Cheetah.  Were Justin's actions controlled remotely?  Or perhaps the discussion with the old man on the bench triggered some sort of implanted program?  

I also have a nagging suspicion that this is not the only time that Justin has stepped into traffic.  It is just little things like the line, "Again, I tumbled."  Why is the word "again" there?

Anyway, while this one was scary, I loved it.



Kaa

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Reply #36 on: March 22, 2013, 01:03:16 PM
I prefer vampires who grow as characters -- which is why in the beginning I liked Laurell K Hamilton so much. (FWIW her vampires are still growing as characters; they're just growing into sex toys for an increasingly Mary-Sue-ish narrator.)

I refer to her genre as "vamporn." I forget where I stopped in the series...somewhere around the book where there was 50 pages of story at the front, then 250 pages of sex, then 20 pages of story at the end to "tidy up" the first 50 pages. "Tedious" doesn't even begin.

The point being made about this story is, I think, a good one. If people don't grow after Finishing, you do essentially have a weirdly constant populace who will always want exactly the same things for eternity.

And no one has yet suggested the creepy aspect of Finishing a child. You know some sicko would do it.

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matweller

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Reply #37 on: March 22, 2013, 07:19:06 PM
Something not really addressed in the story is of intense interest to me.  Are Justin and the other Finished really who they think they are?  It seems to me that the Finishing process kills the person and creates a robotic copy.  The copy may have the memories and even believe itself the same person, but it is still just a detailed copy.

I always have that problem with "new body" stories. Partly because I think of the consciousness/soul/self as something contained within your body that ventures elsewhere when released. So, saying YOU can be moved into a new body or cloned into multiple bodies suggests that this intangible can be bound to a new body just because the other information in your brain was able to somehow be copied.

I generally have to suspend that part of my belief system when consuming these stories because it's rarely addressed well if at all. Mostly because it's as based in science as Anne Rice's vampires.

There was some interesting discussion about the source of consciousness in the last segment of this week's Radiolab - http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blogland/2013/mar/19/rebroadcast-emergence/



El Barto

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Reply #38 on: March 25, 2013, 01:11:59 PM
I really liked this one and enjoyed the debate in the story about whether finished people were even alive.  It is interesting to imagine which side of the debate FOX News would come down on.

I'd love to read a sequel to this story in which we learn that some corrupt technician has been making duplicate versions of the crystals and putting them into different bodies, perhaps ones with no arms and legs, to exploit their processing power for profit.  Would such an action be a crime against humanity?  Or simply a copyright violation?

I didn't much care for the outro and the rehash of the "I would be too bored to live forever" trope, which strikes me as sour grapes.  There's a big difference between living 70 great years and living 500 great years or 4,000 great years.  You don't have to necessarily sign up for eternity right off the bat and there's a big difference between living longer in today's world and living longer in a world of the future in which science likely advances such that things unimaginable to us today become possible.  For example, true cryopreservation for long space travel could mean we could spend 20,000 years in the blink of a conscious eye and wake up arriving to a human colony in another star system.  And it may become possibly to mingle one person's consciousness with another person's in a way that would make sex today seem like nothing more than a handshake compared to that experience.



That said, in this particular story it is an interesting question whether someone who is locked in to a good emotional state (when they are Finished) could ever commit suicide in the future.







zoanon

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Reply #39 on: March 26, 2013, 06:44:53 PM
this whole story, from beginning to end, has made me completely and totally nauseous.



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Reply #40 on: March 26, 2013, 09:00:01 PM
I loved the craftsmanship of this line "She was raised Christian, but I don’t remember which species." A nice subtle dig at religion comparing different denominations as evolutionary growth. There's a lot packed into this sentence that provides insight into the character.

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Scumpup

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Reply #41 on: March 26, 2013, 10:43:42 PM
I think you are reading more into the line than is there.  I see it as expressing an apathy about her Christianity on the character's part, such that he simply can't be arsed to remember, rather than a dig at religion per se.



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Reply #42 on: March 27, 2013, 03:21:46 PM
I think you are reading more into the line than is there.  I see it as expressing an apathy about her Christianity on the character's part, such that he simply can't be arsed to remember, rather than a dig at religion per se.

I have to consider the choice of the word "species" was deliberate on that part of the writer. It shows the characters approach to the categorization of religion similar to a scientific approach. It shows a certain amount of detachment and something akin to flippancy.

"Denomination" would be the more correct term. However, I choose to give the author the benefit of the doubt in that the use of the word "species" is a deliberate choice for tone and characterization as opposed to using the more correct term.

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TheArchivist

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Reply #43 on: March 28, 2013, 02:19:02 PM
I have to consider the choice of the word "species" was deliberate on that part of the writer.
<snip>
"Denomination" would be the more correct term.
I'm falling somewhere between the two of you. Sure, "species" is the wrong term, but "denomination" is slightly specialist (you might even call it "Christian jargon") so the use of a different word does not, in itself, seem to imply anything more than the narrator not being a Christian. Well, possibly it implies he's not had much contact with the church, but that's not exactly unusual these days.
The exact alternative word chosen may indicate something of the character's perceptions, and perhaps "species" is not such an obvious choice as, say, "brand" or "variety". So maybe we can validly read in an instinctive regard of Christians as strange almost to the point of being alien, but I'm not sure this justifies the leap to "evolutionary growth".
Yeah, somewhere in between  ;)



CryptoMe

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Reply #44 on: April 04, 2013, 03:13:50 AM
Well, I thought I liked the story fine, but then I read the forums. Wow, this story has nothing on the ideas tossed about by Max e^{i pi} and Kaa. I want to hear those stories!! :)



LaShawn

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Reply #45 on: April 11, 2013, 03:38:12 PM
Indeed. The story was okay, but the discussion that has spawned on the forum because of the story is *fascinating*.

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Reply #46 on: June 13, 2013, 01:57:19 PM
Hmmm...  I'm not sure whether I liked the story or not, but it's certainly given some food for thought.

Personally I don't think the immortality Pyramid Scheme is necessarily run by a megalomaniac businessman.  To me, this world is a kindred world to Ferrett Steinmetz's "Dead Merchandise", capitalism gone feral.  People have forever wanted something that will make them live longer.  A company provides something that does this because people will buy it even if the terms don't favor them much.  The Finished, in their own self-interest, will draw in more people, and so on.  I don't think that the company that made this technology was thinking "I'm going to convert the whole human race!", they were more thinking "Hey look, I can make money by selling X.  Therefore I shall sell X."  Without really thinking about long-term consequences, much like Steinmetz's ad faeries.  The end consequence, though, is that the entire human race may become entirely extinct (except perhaps some anti-Finished communes here and there), and replaced with facsimiles to which the corporation would probably say "That's not our responsibility.  Our customers have bought what they want to buy."

I find the entire idea of the Finishing absolutely horrifying.  The process as described does not give me immortality, rather it is a form of suicide in which I subject others to my current self-image through a doppelganger proxy without actually being involved myself.  It's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers where everyone volunteers to be taken.  It's suicide from fear of change.  Even if my consciousness did somehow transfer, the idea of a completely changeless existence is more frightening to me than fear of death. 

I mean, I get where he was going with trying to be slightly horny at the time of the change, but doesn't it bother him that no amount of sex will ever sate that appetite?  A constant and unsatisfiable urge to me sounds worse than having no urge at all.   Like being forever hungry or thirsty or exhausted with no ability to do anything about it.  THAT sounds like a reason to commit suicide to me just for a change of pace, rather than something to commit suicide in order to become.



hardware

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Reply #47 on: September 25, 2013, 09:47:49 AM
I liked this story a great deal, it was very well written and had an aching melancholy to the romantic story that felt pretty real. The ending was pretty bleak, but I thought it worked fine here. I think both the characters were unusually well written, the protagonist being just enough off to make it slightly uncomfortable to inhabit his 'mind', and Bonnie felt pretty true to life as well and being much wiser than she let the world know. How she knew at the end ? I would expect that those true reasons would be an 'official' secret in this world, but that some people would still choose it, because let's face it, mortality is a b***h.