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Friday, November 28, 2014

Fiction: A Most Unusual Find Indeed: Conclusion - Part V

The hunt went well. Only a few hours planetside and we’d bagged all three of our test subjects with no interference from local authorities. First was the old man.
We found him begging in the streets, not quite all there, we think, but good for a first test of the relics’ power. We’ll see how he does, and use what we learn for the next subject.
Then there’s the girl. We found her foraging for local foodstuffs in a rain forest on the planet’s eastern hemisphere, just on her way home when we caught up with her.
Feisty little blood ferret.
She should do well as a soldier, given the trouble she gave our extraction team — twisted and nearly wrenched off the arm of the one subduing her, knocked a crack unarmed combat specialist unconscious — we’ll keep her under observation before implantation as she matures.
We’re Kai’Siri. We like scrappers.
The last one, the boy, just into his teens. Perfect for training, conveniently malleable at this time. We’ll put the second relic in him. The girl we’ll test next and keep for last. I’ve recommended we do that to let the technology for the hypershard control-systems mature, with the best we can build going to her if the others fail or turn on us.
I’ve been given access to the implantation protocols, and clearance to observe the old man. Well, not that old really, just in his late thirties, but aged beyond his years by a harsh life on the streets. I’d be careful with him, though, he’s a smart one. Almost managed to evade the extraction team — black ops specialists for urban environments, until we finally caught up with him.
As first test subject, he’s probably the most dangerous — lots of life experiences in his years — but also the best pick given the odds of finding many more of his species. Damn difficult to pick out that fraction-of-a-percent in genetic variation from baseline humans with sniffer handsets in a crowded city.
He’s lying on the operating table now, the Dunar field manipulators lowering the relic into position, barely tangible, as it slips through flesh and bone into the brain. His face contorts a little as the ‘shard slides into place, interface points stimulating parts of the brain as they pass through.
Implantation complete. The aged Wavetouched’s facial contortions cease as the ‘shard reaches the optimal interface location in the brain.
The strange quasi-matter co-exists with his cerebral tissue and awaiting the activation signal from our control system, linked with the ‘shard through neutrinocom. He’ll be sleepwalking the whole time, body active, mind asleep, fully under our control. We’ve decided to call him the Fractus, for his fractured mind. That’s the one reason we want to be careful here…He could be…problematic if he ever woke up.
Activate. Hypershard now online. The Fractus rises…. His eyes open, leaking a flickering, pale greenish light, arcs of greenish cold fire flowing across the skin. The fire, on both his skin and from his eyes, subsides as the control system compensates for excess power consumption. In seconds, he stabilizes, and stands fully upright, awaiting his first mission.
We’re already well underway to a colony world of the Giants, a world so well-defended that conventional military craft have trouble overcoming resistance. This time, though, we have a weapon they can’t stop.
What will our test subject do?
He will do nothing less than cause a mass-extinction event, the first our target world has had in millions of years. He shall be our Giant-slayer, a god of death given flesh, our first bringer of the End for our enemies.
He will usher in a new age of warfare…and of the victory of the Kai’Siri race!
I, Akarmiin Piruuta, Special Agent of the Order of the Orugruuta guarantee it. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

MetaCognitions: 2014.11.27

I think that it’s necessary that we question within reason those claims extraordinary or important to us, and especially when those claims unfairly support our own or others' ideology and belief-systems, however ill-suited we may feel at the time to bother with it.

Given the power and pervasiveness of human bias (my own included), we should not be too credulous or too obstinate regarding what we accept as true when our personal affirmation or denial of a claim speaks too clearly to our own prejudices and inner narrative and not to evidence and reason or the lack of such for the claim.

Carl Sagan popularized the phrase “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” and Christopher Hitchens is credited with his dictum, “What may be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence,” both noting that the burden of proof for a claim lies always with the one making it.

This is because it is rationally impossible to definitively prove a particular claim false with a limited data set. There is always going to be data we don’t currently have available to us, as we simply cannot gather infinite data in a finite span of time.

There is a balance that must be struck in effectively arriving at more reliable knowledge claims, and so we must satisfy ourselves with the best evidence we can get at the moment, recognizing that we shall always overlook much of what data can possibly exist no matter how diligent we are.

What do I mean by questioning within reason? Nothing arcane or obscurely philosophical; merely that when it’s brought to our attention that there exist good or poor reasons to accept or reject a claim, to consider those reasons, and to weigh them in balance with the claims they are intended to support and, to paraphrase David Hume, “...proportion our belief to that evidence."

It’s something I struggle with daily, as my own…psychology…makes me somewhat impressionable despite seven years of identification and development as a skeptic. I don’t always win these struggles, but even if perfect, consistent skepticism is unattainable in practice, I think it’s an ideal worth striving for and approaching ever closer.

What’s at the end of the journey? When should I laud myself for finally arriving at it?

Never...

…Never, because there is no final destination, just a road that winds ever onward. But things have gone far better than I’d have expected in late 2006 through mid-2007, and that’s something to be thankful for.

I don’t need magic. I don’t need to supplement reality with anything outside of it to make it “better.” There is magic enough in the real world.

I have that real word, no, a universe, perhaps even a multiverse, and all of you to be thankful for as well, and that resonates deeply with me, the part of me which stirred our species’ ancestors on the plains of Africa millions of years ago, the part which survives in our species still.

It is the spirit I believe in(...and the only one I may partake of, without medical complications! ;-) ): the human spirit.

Thank you, my friends and readers, whatever you believe.

So very, very much!