Are Tides technological or magical?

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by kilobug » February 3rd, 2016, 7:25 am

Tadziomencel wrote:Quantum physics already sounds dangerously modifiable by sentient beings already.
Hrm sorry but no. That's a common misconception about quantum physics, but "sentient being" doesn't play any role in it.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 3rd, 2016, 8:14 am

Anaeme wrote:...Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today, will still be there in a world set a billion years from now...
In the view of the P&P Numeneria setting, "Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today" is a false statement: the Earth today is reducible to a technological construct. We simply lack sufficient knowledge to even guess at the right questions to ask to do so, much less answer those questions.

Unless the GM rules otherwise, Numeneria assumes that all phenomena are both understandable and usable by humans (or, at least, something that started out as a human. If X happens, then X is (by definition) something that can be explained, reproduced, and exploited, and has been explained, reproduced and exploited by someone at some point in the past. It is, fundamentally, an atheistic / materialistic setting.

This doesn't mean that anyone currently alive (even using the broadest possible definition for alive you can imagine) can explain, reproduce, and exploit all things. In fact, the vast majority of phenomena aren't explained, much less reproducible or exploitable, by anyone or anything that exists in the setting. This is even true historically -- the set of phenomena that (say) the 5th world at its height could explain / reproduce / exploit doesn't necessarily include everything that the 6th or 4th world could explain / reproduce / exploit. And the 9th world, being a very primitive world, has an enormous number of things that they can't explain (much less than we, today, can explain) -- but a much wider range of things that they can exploit (without understanding the how or why).

Something that you can exploit without understanding the underlying principals behind its operation isn't a terrible definition of "magic". Of course, by that definition, cell phones are magic for most people, which doesn't seem right either. If you use the definition "Exploiting a phenomena that nobody has / does/ will understand", then "magic" (and deities, etc) simply doesn't exist in the base Numeneria setting.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 3rd, 2016, 8:29 am

kilobug wrote:
Tadziomencel wrote:Quantum physics already sounds dangerously modifiable by sentient beings already.
Hrm sorry but no. That's a common misconception about quantum physics, but "sentient being" doesn't play any role in it.
Correct: An off the cuff, I'm not a physicist so this probably isn't 100% accurate definition for "observation" in quantum physics is "An interaction between two particles where several possible results are possible (depending on the indeterminate attributes of the particles) and the only allowed interactions break into discrete values, thereby requiring the particles to 'lock in' the relevant indeterminate attributes at the time of the interaction".

Generally speaking, the initial particle is a single electron / proton / neutron, and the second particle is a photon (that may, eventually, make it to a human eye, and from there to a brain), although neither of these are set in stone.

So, no, the cat in the box isn't really both dead and alive at the same time -- at least, not if the box has any light, air, heat, or much of anything else going on in there. And if all of those things are missing, then the cat is definitely dead, whether the particle decays or not. :)
Last edited by MReed on February 3rd, 2016, 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 3rd, 2016, 8:46 am

MReed wrote:Something that you can exploit without understanding the underlying principals behind its operation isn't a terrible definition of "magic". Of course, by that definition, cell phones are magic for most people, which doesn't seem right either.
You just need to account for the difference between "full understanding" or "rough understanding", plus the power of belief and trust. :) Today's cell phones are definitely magic for people who lived, say, 500 years ago (if we imagine taking such a person from their time and putting into ours, pretty much everything around will look like pure magic to them). But they aren't magic for a very big portion of today's people (I wouldn't try judging if it's "most" or not), because they either know at least a few basic conceptions to attempt some very rough explanations, or at least know that somebody has already understood and explained it for them (and so they "trust" that it's not magic, even though they can't reproduce it themselves).

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 3rd, 2016, 8:50 am

Kirinyale wrote:
MReed wrote:Something that you can exploit without understanding the underlying principals behind its operation isn't a terrible definition of "magic". Of course, by that definition, cell phones are magic for most people, which doesn't seem right either.
You just need to account for the difference between "full understanding" or "rough understanding", plus the power of belief and trust. :) Today's cell phones are definitely magic for people who lived, say, 500 years ago (if we imagine taking such a person from their time and putting into ours, pretty much everything around will look like pure magic to them). But they aren't magic for a very big portion of today's people (I wouldn't try judging if it's "most" or not), because they either know at least a few basic conceptions to attempt some very rough explanations, or at least know that somebody has already understood and explained it for them (and so they "trust" that it's not magic, even though they can't reproduce it themselves).
This gets us back, though, to "If someone, somewhere, at some time now or in the past understands [understood] how phenomena X works, can reproduce it, and can exploit it, then X isn't magic" -- and, by that standard, nothing in the Numeneria setting qualifies as magic, which also doesn't feel right.

Like I said, coming up with a positive definition of magic is a hard task, and I'm not even sure it is possible.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Kirinyale » February 3rd, 2016, 8:59 am

MReed wrote:This gets us back, though, to "If someone, somewhere, at some time now or in the past understands [understood] how phenomena X works, can reproduce it, and can exploit it, then X isn't magic"
Not quite. What I meant is more like "if I trust that enough competent and trustworthy people in the present time understand how phenomena X works and can make a good-enough-for-mere-mortals instruction to reproduce/exploit that phenomena, then X is not magic". :) But it's really a fine line, and attempting to walk it for too long will probably make my brain explode soon. :D

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 3rd, 2016, 9:17 am

Kirinyale wrote: Not quite. What I meant is more like "if I trust that enough competent and trustworthy people in the present time understand how phenomena X works and can make a good-enough-for-mere-mortals instruction to reproduce/exploit that phenomena, then X is not magic". :) But it's really a fine line, and attempting to walk it for too long will probably make my brain explode soon. :D
Still doesn't work -- I doubt that anyone today would consider a Star Trek replicator or a Star Wars lightsaber to be "magic" if they were actual products that people could purchase at stores. The fact that they look "technological" is sufficient to move them out of the category of "magic", even if nobody actually understood how / why they worked.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by sear » February 3rd, 2016, 9:53 am

Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
They surround us, bind us, penetrate us, and hold the galaxy together.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Anaeme » February 3rd, 2016, 10:14 am

MReed wrote:
Kirinyale wrote: Not quite. What I meant is more like "if I trust that enough competent and trustworthy people in the present time understand how phenomena X works and can make a good-enough-for-mere-mortals instruction to reproduce/exploit that phenomena, then X is not magic". :) But it's really a fine line, and attempting to walk it for too long will probably make my brain explode soon. :D
Still doesn't work -- I doubt that anyone today would consider a Star Trek replicator or a Star Wars lightsaber to be "magic" if they were actual products that people could purchase at stores. The fact that they look "technological" is sufficient to move them out of the category of "magic", even if nobody actually understood how / why they worked.

I find this argument to be intrnsically flawed...it keeps referencing 'the P&P Numeneria setting ' which does not state anywhere that there can be no deities. In fact the inspiration for the setting is based on the synthesis of science and mysticisim, not a rigid mechanical construction (Numenera- Dreaming the future)

Yes there are machines that are unexplored, relics whose purpose is long lost, etc. However 'being' and 'consciousness' itself are never reduced to a mechanical or technological basis.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by MReed » February 3rd, 2016, 12:00 pm

The P&P setting, to the best of my knowledge, has never introduced anything that isn't presented as being the result of science / technology / engineering. You are correct, strictly speaking, that there is no explicit statement that denies the existence of deities or magic -- but every example of an entity in the setting that is worshiped is presented as a technological marvel.

If you choose to believe that the fact that in several hundred pages worth of lore presented to date the fact that nothing has been presented as "having no explanation" then... Well, you are welcome to your opinion. :) And, obviously, even if the P&P setting is implicitly atheistic that doesn't mean that the inXile's version of the setting also atheistic. But... The Changing God has definitely been presented as having a technological origin in inXile's (at the very least, he hasn't always existed -- there was a time before the Changing God was active). Little has been documented publicly about the origin and nature of the Sorrow, so there is some room there for possible mystical explanations -- but there also isn't much to discuss. :)

I don't know how anyone can read the published Numeneria lore and come away with an impression other than "There are many things that we don't yet understand -- but there is nothing that we can't understand".

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by vv221 » February 3rd, 2016, 1:49 pm

This thread is now in a public sub-forum, so everyone can speculate now ;)

Have fun!

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by anonymous6059 » February 3rd, 2016, 2:51 pm

I didn't read all of the prior comments, just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. I'm under the belief that in this fantasy setting "advanced" technology and magic are one and the same. In this setting everything should be explainable through science, natural laws, and causation. However, this technology is so incredibly advanced it might as well be magic and in fact would be indistinguishable from such. Therefore, from a person inside the box magic = technology, but standing outside of the box you could argue perhaps that magic doesn't exist at all.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Firkraag » February 3rd, 2016, 3:06 pm

Maybe, Tides is something akin archetypes of collective consciousness (as in Carl Jung), but more like archetypical traits rather, than roles. Semi-sentient memetic constructs/forces/mechanisms (Richard Dawkins: Selfish Gene)... They do exist, but aren't limited to human consciousness, societal patterns or software: they're everywhere in all of those things and more - in anything, that may convey data. They aren't sentient and definitely shaped in human/person/entity/thing kind of way, but they may be far more influental and real, than any idea in your head and any person you know in real life.
You may remember "I, robot" movie with Will Smith - Tides might be like those "ghosts", born in machine, if someone would've managed to write program code into laws of reality itself.

That might be not scientific enough for you, but less "magicky" attempt to describe Tides, if you believe in some theories (also, look up for BBC's "Secret life of chaos"). But you may disregard this half-baked theory/explanation I wrote on the run. As good and as bad, as any other in a lack of context.
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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by Firkraag » February 3rd, 2016, 3:24 pm

sear wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:Do you all *really* want me to explain the secrets behind the Tides?
They surround us, bind us, penetrate us, and hold the galaxy together.
"No mystical energy field controls my destiny."

Oh, please, add this line into a game, lol. )
"I am a warhead of weaponized Truth." The Last Castoff (non-canon).

"Colin's period as Jesus was an interesting time." © Brother_None

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by transplanar » February 3rd, 2016, 7:18 pm

Anaeme wrote:I hope the Tides are magical, I hope deities exist in the world.

This business of 'everything must be technological' just diminishes the whole setting in my view, and erases the 'wonder' ingredient from the world.

Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today, will still be there in a world set a billion years from now.

I hope the developers take liberties with the Numenera setting and use it as a springboard for creating something more interesting
IMO I think it would be refreshing to see a setting where magic and supernatural stuff strictly doesn't exist, or not in any non-ambiguous way. I say that because I've found myself experiencing a different sort of intrigue with Numenera compared to Planescape. In Planescape all the weirdness seemed ad-hoc and self-contained, but in Numenera you are constantly wondering how all this bizzare technology works, who made it, what what it's original purpose was. I think that distinct feel is a defining feature that separates this game and setting from others, and I think introducing obvious magic/supernatural stuff would dilute this theme a bit too much.
vv221 wrote:This discussion is not really tied to the beta, and would most probably benefit from being in a publicly available section of the forum.
Unless transplanar wants to keep it here for some reason, I’ll move this thread to the "TTON: Story Discussion" section tonight.
Yeah, seeing as it sounds like its not directly addressed in-game, I'd say that's fair. Go for it.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by anonymous6059 » February 4th, 2016, 6:09 am

Anaeme wrote:I hope the Tides are magical, I hope deities exist in the world.
This business of 'everything must be technological' just diminishes the whole setting in my view, and erases the 'wonder' ingredient from the world.
Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today, will still be there in a world set a billion years from now.
I hope the developers take liberties with the Numenera setting and use it as a springboard for creating something more interesting
When I read this it reminded me of how some people think that by explaining a rainbow as merely consisting of light and water it somehow takes the beauty of it away. I disagree to me having a inside understanding of how something so "magical" can exist only makes it even more beautiful. I think if you were to try and see that then you'd realize the beauty, magic, and "wonder" are all still very real. You could run a completely magical setting full of gods, fireballs, and dragons as far as I understand it. You'd just have to make sure that the PC had no insights into the underlying mechanics of the environment.

In many ways you could look at this setting the same way you do your own body. What is the difference between a dead and living human? Both weigh the same amount, both are made up of the exact same materials. Just because I don't believe my body is brought to life by magic doesn't mean its somehow any less a wonder to me.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by kilobug » February 4th, 2016, 6:40 am

Anaeme wrote:I hope the Tides are magical, I hope deities exist in the world.
Well, the core idea on which Numenéra relies is "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Everything that appears "magical" in Numenéra is supposed to be "sufficiently advanced technology", but that doesn't mean anyone in the Ninth World, and even less the PC, can ever understand exactly how it works. But the idea is more "what if cavemen discovered smart phones and the Internet ?" than about magic (supernatural force, ...) existing.

As for "deities", what is a "deity" ? If it's an ontologically simple omnipowerful omniscient entity, then it definitely doesn't exist in Numenéra. If it's a creature, made of "normal" matter and energy, under the shape of biological flash, undergound computer or distributed network of nanobots, able to manipulate forces so powerful and/or with such a precision they can create and alter life, move planets, cool down stars, ... then they do exist, but in a completely "non-magical" way.
Anaeme wrote:This business of 'everything must be technological' just diminishes the whole setting in my view, and erases the 'wonder' ingredient from the world.
The wonder of a rainbow doesn't go away when you learn it's light waves bent differently by droplets of water. The wonder of human life doesn't go away when you learn it's made of billions of interconnected neurons. The wonder of Numenéra doesn't go away because Numenéra are made of nanobots, genetic engineering, AI, and perhaps (probably, since they have timetravel and FTL) "beyond standard model" physics.
Anaeme wrote:Whatever makes Earth not reducible to a technological construct today
Well, we are dealing with epistemology and philosophy right now, but... Earth is reducible to a "technological construct", everything that happens on Earth is the result of the 4 fundamental forces acting on the basic particles of the Standard Model, and there isn't the slightest reason to believe something else plays any significant role at Earth level (yes, there is dark matter and dark energy, and possible SUSY particles and who knows what at higher energy levels, but they don't play any significant role on Earth).

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by anonymous6059 » February 4th, 2016, 8:22 am

kilobug wrote: As for "deities", what is a "deity" ? If it's an ontologically simple omnipowerful omniscient entity, then it definitely doesn't exist in Numenéra. If it's a creature, made of "normal" matter and energy, under the shape of biological flash, undergound computer or distributed network of nanobots, able to manipulate forces so powerful and/or with such a precision they can create and alter life, move planets, cool down stars, ... then they do exist, but in a completely "non-magical" way.
I completely agreed with everything you said expect this one part. Now I admit I haven't really read much about the Numenera Setting and so I might be overlooking something...But I don't see why you couldn't create a setting that involved a omnipotent omniscient entity. As you said imagine a distributed network of nanobots that could move planets, cool stars, and create life. Now simply imagine that The Milky Way or that even the entire Universe is full of nanobots, omicron particles, or whatever. The entire earth could be surrounded in a invisible cloud of a living sentient being who at any moment could see anything on the planet and control it with unlimited powers.

Here is a example of what I'm talking about. http://www.startrek.com/database_article/cloud

All I'm saying is you can't rule out anything. You can make the setting really anyway you wished for it to be. For the PC it would be indistinguishable from a regular fantasy setting if that's what you wanted to do. Then if you wished you could start enlightening the PC by explaining the underlying mechanics of how everything exist or not. If you wanted to say that the great magic lights of the sky are given by the loving Mother Lox who's voice can be heard only through prayer you could. You could also say that radiation levels have increased the levels of x,y, and z in the atmosphere causing a particular pattern in the sky and focused concentration attracts a particular type of particle, atoms, or nanobots which rejuvenate the PC.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by kilobug » February 4th, 2016, 8:52 am

anonymous6059 wrote:But I don't see why you couldn't create a setting that involved a omnipotent omniscient entity.
Well, first I had "ontologically simple" in my sentence, which is usually an import part of what people mean by "deity" (ie, basically a deity just "is", it's not made of a complex configuration matter or energy or whatever, but it just "is").

Then, well, there are many problems with omnipotence/omniscience. Some are inherent to the concept itself (the old-age question "can an omnipotent deity create a material strong enough so he cannot break it ?"), and others to making an interesting settings - if some entity is really omni-powerful and omniscient, nothing you can do will really matter, and interactions with it are doomed to be somewhat dull and useless. If an entity is incredibly powerful but yet as thirst for additional knowledge, or is involved in a power contest with another entity of its own power scale, then you can get involved, help or hinder it, bargain with it, ... but it's omnipowerful and omniscient ? You can't build much of an interesting story on that.

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Re: Are Tides technological or magical?

Post by dorkboy » February 4th, 2016, 9:11 am

Seeing as how not everyone is equally fascinated by particles, maybe it would be better to describe the Tides as waves? :P
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