Re: poly: Malign Probes and expanding civilizations

From: Damien R. Sullivan <>
Date: Sun Dec 21 1997 - 19:25:10 PST

On Dec 21, 8:36pm, "Perry E. Metzger" wrote:

> I think this is somewhat unreasonable. There are indeed a few stone
> age peoples still around, but most have been wiped out by absorbing
> too much civilization after merely a few tens of thousands of
> years. Maybe Amish-like peoples might be around in 100,000 years, but

As I said, it was meant somewhat humorously, to get people to think
about what persistence of things we like means. I don't think it's
impossible: "if Earth stays civilized" expands in my mind to "if Earth
remains dominated by a civilization which protects its members and
doesn't force change upon them". No one kicks the Amish off of their
land, and if they can keep enough of their children in the community
despite temptation, then they persist. Possibly on something like
an Indian reservation today. (But ecologically healthier.)

> > the planet, so I only seriously predict that ASCII will be
> > understandable a million years from now.)
> ASCII as an actual in-use notation? When it hasn't even survived 50
> years yet?

I said understandable, not in-use. Again, assuming that no sudden and
extremely unpleasant shocks occur has interesting implications, I
think. Information gets archived, not lost. Standards become
entrenched. Some systems are moving past ASCII to Unicode, but I think
the ASCII codes are the bottom values of Unicode, no doubt for easy
compatibility. It'd be easy for your translation software (no longer a
complete pipe dream; AltaVista has a step in that direction) to adapt.

Lancelot Hogben, in _The Mother Tongue_, claimed that the farmworker's
cry of "Ho! Boss!" to call cows is pure Greek: `o bos, "the cow". (The
 ` is an aspirate indicating "h-".) Even if that strains imagination,
the fact that "Bossy" is a common name for cows might be related to the

A truly bold SF author would write a story on the scale of _A Fire Upon
the Deep_, but with all civilization having an origin from Earth, and
then claim that his equivalent of the Known Net used the forthcoming
Internet protocol, IPv6. (128 bits; should have enough addresses for a
galaxy.) If it does the job (decentralized network communication) and
doesn't mutate easily, why change?

We do still use something like the original Aramaic alphabet, after all.
Information technology makes it easier to change, but it also makes it
easier to rapidly entrench a standard (by generating so much information
using it) that you don't want to change unless you're forced by massive
superiority or a proprietary supplier going kaput.

-xx- GCU Mindstalker X-)

Some say the devil is dead, the devil is dead, the devil is dead
Some say the devil is dead and buried in Killarney.
More say he rose again, more say he rose again, more say he rose again
And joined the British Ar-my.
Received on Mon Dec 22 03:16:48 1997

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