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Author Topic: EP401: Growing Up Human  (Read 2093 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 21, 2013, 06:36:25 AM »

EP401: Growing Up Human

by Claudine Griggs

Read by Laura Hobbs

--

One historical film character slapped another who was snoring.  “Wake up and go to sleep!”

Jonathan laughed and signaled a replay.

Slap.  “Wake up and go to sleep!”

Again Jonathan laughed.

Betty entered the recreational living area of their home.  “Are you still wasting energy with television?  Please turn it off.”

“All right, Mother.  How long before I can re-engage?”

Betty did a rough calculation.  “Five hours and thirty-two minutes. You have an afternoon project.  Macro-hermeneutic heteromorphic psychology of the late social democracies.  Multiple volumes to upload, cross-reference, and consider.  Then there’s replicated lawn care.  And,” she searched for appropriate parental terminology, “I want you to clean that bedroom.  It’s starting to look like a pigpen, pigsty, or other unattractive pig place.”

“Awh, gee, Mom!”

Betty appreciated the skilled inflection.

“Is dinner included in the estimate?” asked Jonathan.

“Negative.  Our morning updates call for meal functions every fourth day, supplemented with biweekly nutra-packs.”  Betty smiled.  “We have mastered comestible etiquette, and dining rituals are being phased out.”

“Wow!” said Jonathan.  “That’s,” he skipped a pulse, “a psychedelic soul train.”

Betty looked concerned.  “Are your linguistic filters functioning properly?”

Jonathan scanned.  “Yes, but the younger generations sometimes combined words, especially adjectives and explicatives, and embellished them with coded meanings.  Yesterday I studied 1960s California jargon, which seems to include a fascinating, discrete language for teenagers that was apparently stimulated by too much ultraviolet sunlight.  But their dialect is fun.”

“Fun?” asked Betty.  This had real potential.  “Please translate.  Be specific.”

Jonathon paused, nearly admitting that the Mother Figure had caught him bragging.  “It might be easier to demonstrate, Mom.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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flintknapper
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2013, 11:23:52 AM »

So I guess I am the first this week to chime in...

I thought the story was so-so. However, the writing style and speech of the characters kept me grinning. Is it wrong that I imagined the coneheads of SNL fame talking throughout the episode?
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adrianh
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 04:42:57 PM »

I really rather liked this one. The sheer cornball enthusiasm of everybody involved was great fun. Gosh darn it sometimes I just like stories to be fun.

The mom's pride in the kid's progress in becoming a resentful teenager were lovely.

I'd need to give it another listen/read but I was mildly confused by the reference to aliens and the expanding circle of light speed radio traffic in the closing comments.

I probably missed a cue somewhere - but I didn't read the main characters as being aliens. I thought they were the Nth generation of humanoid robots that had inherited the earth after humanity went extinct for some reason. Something closer to the world of Stross's Saturn's Children. Somehow I find the idea of robot's trying to figure out their progenitors even more amusing than aliens attempting to figure us out. But maybe that's just me Wink
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Windup
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2013, 02:46:20 PM »


I probably missed a cue somewhere - but I didn't read the main characters as being aliens. I thought they were the Nth generation of humanoid robots that had inherited the earth after humanity went extinct for some reason.


It sounds like we both missed the same cue -- after some initial confusion over exactly -what- was really going on, I also settled on the explanation of humanoid robots trying to "become human."  I'm not completely sure we are wrong.   Wink

That being said, I loved the back-and-forth between trying out the human personas of "mother figure" and the resentful teenager, then breaking out of those characters for hyper-geeky analysis of the performance.  Their  sense that they were striving for something amazing and wonderful that was just out of reach was as touching as the idea that they could get there by watching Three Stooges videos was absurd. 

All told, a fun mix....
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 12:34:15 AM by Windup » Logged

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stumo
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 04:49:32 PM »

It was interesting and different - I think I prefer a bit more to happen in my stories and I'd be frustrated if they were all like this, but it makes a nice change to have a story that just presents a slightly absurd situation and leaves you trying to work out how on earth (or not as the case may be) that situation could have arisen.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 02:07:31 AM »

I also thought that these were the next (next-next?) generation synthetic-robot hybrids trying to become human. Throughout the whole story I thought it was pretty cool that somebody had gone to the effort of programming robots to learn, because just programming it to be human won't work. We are the sum of our experiences, and no programming, however clever, can mimic that.
It reminded me a little bit about this project from a few years back: http://phys.org/news158151870.html
I did rewind and relisten to nearly every sentence, just to make sure that the actual words of the gobbledygook sentences were real words (mostly they were) and that they do not come together to form a coherent sentence (mostly they don't).
The only flaw with this story is that the robots are learning to become human in super-speed time, not human-reference time. And that will ultimately prevent them from becoming human. You can't think like a human if you can't do it in human circumstances.
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matweller
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 07:53:18 AM »

Quote
Betty did a rough calculation.  “Five-point-seven-six hours because you have an afternoon project.  Macro-hermeneutic heteromorphic psychology of the pre-apocalyptic social democracies followed by the intercontinental Maslowvian identity regressions of 2080-2095, leading to the failed survivalist era and extinction.  Multiple volumes to upload, cross-reference, and consider.

Quote
“Mom, could self-actualization be too much for Third Wavers?  Pretty complex stuff.”  This was a difficult subject, tinged by the genetic inferiority of First- and Second-Wave units, who were generally held to be better suited for mechanical, servile stations.

Betty spoke more confidently than she felt.  “Nothing is too complex for evolution.  We were created in the image of Man.”  The strange pulsing data flooded through her once more, fragmenting speech control.  “All emotions are possible with third-wave covalent bonding.”  She paused.  She sighed.  She turned toward Jonathan and gushed, almost involuntarily, “I love you.”
Jonathan was stunned but recovered.  “Aw, Mom!” he said, “you’re embarrassing me again.”  The capillaries of his integrated facial skin expanded and flowed with color. -

See more at: http://escapepod.org/2013/06/21/ep401-growing-up-human/#sthash.6YOLANim.dpuf
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 08:00:14 AM by matweller » Logged
huntsoda
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2013, 09:52:15 AM »

2 Things:


1. I agree that the characters are robots of some sort, especially because of the precise descriptions of emotion that boil down to self reference, befuddling the characters. Aliens probably feel emotions, whereas robots would have to discover them in their own programming.

2. I always listen to feedback!

Overall I liked the story, although the ending was a lot less positive than the rest, especially after the very precise description of the comedy of fake violence from the son.
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PotatoKnight
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2013, 02:36:59 PM »

Not much to say on the story-it was fine. Just want to throw a shout out to Alasdair for his recognition of the greatness that is Ben Sisko vis a vis his more widely celebrated colleagues.

(Janeway is also criminally underrated)
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2013, 10:58:25 PM »

Just want to throw a shout out to Alasdair for his recognition of the greatness that is Ben Sisko vis a vis his more widely celebrated colleagues.

Amen. Sisko has always been my favorite Star Trek leader. Granted, DS9 is my favorite of the series'.

(Janeway is also criminally underrated)

Meh,  Wink
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 12:38:31 AM »

(Janeway is also criminally underrated)

Meh,  Wink

And today this popped up on my Tumblr feed.
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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 07:32:06 AM »

I enjoyed it for a while.  I like robot-trying-to-be-human stories and there were some funny moments here as the mother showed her pride at her sons churlish teenage attitude, and at the advanced studying they're having to do.  Computers are great at certain things, but being human is not one of those so it would take a gargantuan effort to do what humans do as part of our basic programming.

I thought they were robots too.

I thought the story went on way too long for it's content though.  After a few minutes I felt that it had played its course but it kept repeating, like a Three Stooges video played over and over.  Tongue  Except in this case the story was funny the first time, while the Three Stooges weren't.
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flintknapper
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 02:04:26 PM »

While we are really getting off topic, I too really liked Deep Space 9. I like all star trek, but DS9 put the franchise in a new but familiar setting. In many ways it let the universe go in new directions. The only star trek series though that I really had issues with was Enterprise. The actors were great but the plot got way to confusing way to fast.

I also love the new movies. Zachary Quinto is a great spock... that guy is great in just about everything he is in. Based on the work he did in the American Horror Story series (and let us not forget heroes), the guy is just amazing. He is one of the few actors in Hollywood right now that I think is worth the hype and actually worth going to a movie to see.

But I digress...
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 08:15:37 PM »

Zachary Quinto is a great spock... that guy is great in just about everything he is in.

I actually hated him in Heroes. But that may be more the fault of the writers. Zachary was a fine actor, but I grew so very tired of his character flip-flopping. "I'm a villain. Oh, I could really be a good guy. I guess I'm really a villain. But I want to be good. But I've always been evil." It got tedious. That entire show got tedious. I quit watching because I got tired of that and the cheerleader always trying to be "normal". They tried so hard not to make it X-men TV, when all we really wanted was X-men TV.  Undecided
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2013, 03:35:48 PM »

Just want to throw a shout out to Alasdair for his recognition of the greatness that is Ben Sisko vis a vis his more widely celebrated colleagues.

Amen. Sisko has always been my favorite Star Trek leader. Granted, DS9 is my favorite of the series'.

(Janeway is also criminally underrated)

Meh,  Wink

Oh. God. No.
Cutter and I in agreement. Noooooooooooooooooo. Waiting for the universe to collapse....waiting.....waiting.....

Seriously though, this was not exactly the story for me. To qualify my rating of "meh": I felt this was an exploration of an idea rather than a story. "How would robots learn to be people? Here's an idea." Nothing really...happened. I dunno. I hate to sound like an angry teenager but..What-ev-er. Not enough "why" and to much "how" for this listener.
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2013, 08:03:53 AM »

Zachary Quinto is a great spock... that guy is great in just about everything he is in.

I actually hated him in Heroes. But that may be more the fault of the writers. Zachary was a fine actor, but I grew so very tired of his character flip-flopping. "I'm a villain. Oh, I could really be a good guy. I guess I'm really a villain. But I want to be good. But I've always been evil." It got tedious. That entire show got tedious. I quit watching because I got tired of that and the cheerleader always trying to be "normal". They tried so hard not to make it X-men TV, when all we really wanted was X-men TV.  Undecided

I don't know what you're talking about.  His character was quite consistent  in THE ONLY SEASON OF HEROES THAT EVER EXISTED BECAUSE THE SHOW WAS THEN TRAGICALLY CANCELLED.
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2013, 10:15:42 PM »

I was not into this story in the beginning, but it really grew on me. The last sequence in particular I thought was pretty great, funny, but in a haunting, sticks to your brain sort of way. I found the rules set forth in this universe to be interesting, and would actually like to read more from the author expanding on this idea of aliens, or robots, trying to be human. It seemed like they were tackling humanity as a whole like a cult leader they were trying to emulate, focusing on our societal habits like strange rituals to enlightenment.

(Janeway is awesome, btw.)
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2013, 02:09:55 PM »

Oh. God. No.
Cutter and I in agreement. Noooooooooooooooooo. Waiting for the universe to collapse....waiting.....waiting.....

It was bound to happen eventually, FireTurtle. The Law of Truly Large Numbers or something. However, not to worry. The PodCastle flash contest is coming soon and I've no doubt I'll manage to inadvertently spurn you like a rabid dog.   Wink
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 06:31:35 PM »

Oh. God. No.
Cutter and I in agreement. Noooooooooooooooooo. Waiting for the universe to collapse....waiting.....waiting.....

It was bound to happen eventually, FireTurtle. The Law of Truly Large Numbers or something. However, not to worry. The PodCastle flash contest is coming soon and I've no doubt I'll manage to inadvertently spurn you like a rabid dog.   Wink

LOL-
I'm donning one of those bomb-dismantling suits when I check the comments. Have at Ye, rabid Cutter man!
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2013, 10:39:10 PM »

This story managed to be sad and funny at the same time. Sad because, well, we're all extinct (and fairly soon, too), and because this is an exercise in futility, and funny, because, well, it's funny.


And I'm going to drop my 2 cents' worth in and agree with Alasdair - DS9, the unwanted step-child of the Star Trek franchise, is *by far* the most satisfying complicated of the series.  (serieses?)
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