jedion357's picture

Robotipocalys Now

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First Big Dog, now Petman robots. DoD spending in the area of robotics is making this a brave new world.

http://boingboing.net/2013/04/05/boston-dynamics-humanoid-rob.html

I wouldn't go so far as to predict a Terminator style "sky net" that wipes out the human race. I would predict something much scarier and on a smaller scale: robotic minions in the hands of free moral agents (human beings) but lacking a moral center. Ultimately robotic minions will not question the morality of their actions and they will just perform them. What is truly scary is the capacity of man's inhumanity to man and having minions do you bidding and you do not even have to be present and witness the carnage will make it easier for these tools to be abused and for humanity to abuse itself. We might end up with a military built on robotic servants (no casualties in war) and that the establishment will be under the thumb of a human. To me that is the truly scariest possibility.

 

Still PETMAN is a fascinating step forward for robotics and the future is clearly knocking on our door. The question is, "Will the human race exercise good moral decision making with the power it is developing or not?" History would inform us on this question but then my local public schools dont teach it anymore focusing rather on teaching for the test that students must pass to graduate. Thus irrelevent things like History and Geography are shunted aside. We are truly entering a brave new world and is scares me.

jedion357's picture

Frontier Fashion

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Issue 4 will have a short article on cultural perspectives: Morgaine's World. The purpose of the article was to examine the founding and development of that world with a view to helping players use it as a distinct player character background.

 

The founding as a agricultural colony to renaming in Admiral Morgaine's honor to the impact of corporate development of its economy and the presence of the STar Law and Space Fleet academies here are examined.

Material culture was developed and some details on the typical clothing styles as well as "the" planetary sport.

Look for Cultural Perspectives: Morgaine's World when issue 4 hits the digital news stands soon!

Pictiured is the planetary grand champion knife thrower in typical Morgaine's World clothing style.

jedion357's picture

Saurians making a come back

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Issue 4 is nearing completion and we've revisited the Saurians from Dragon Magazine 103 (the date it was published escapes me at this minute but it was the Fall of '85 or '86). We've laid some ground work for referees looking to do a first contact scenario based on the suggestions in the Subspace Radio article and developed a sector and planetary brief to give the saurians a concrete place to be from instead of being refugees left in limbo on ark ships orbiting Theseus.

One might naturally think some fresh artwork of the suarians would be a nice addition to this theme but truth be told we needed to use up some space in layout. None the less I'm sure a fresh illustration of the saurians will be welcomed.

Enjoy.

jedion357's picture

Happy Easter

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Its an hour before sun up on Easter morning and my house is preparing to attend a sunrise service. Just wanted to wish the other staff at the Frontier Explorer a Happy Easter. I'm pretty sure that I'm aware of everyone's religious sensibilities so that this is appropriate- its sometimes tough to get to know someone through only the internet but it has been a pleasure to work with everyone.

Tom V/ jedion357

jedion357's picture

Hurray! I just went commercial with my art!

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Just sold one piece and have another on reserve.

 

jedion357's picture

Drawing vrusk use to be the hardest of the core 4 aliens to draw

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Trying to draw a vrusk use to give me fits. This one was done with charcoal and conte crayon.

 

Vrusk Tai Chi

jedion357's picture

Spawn of Volturnus

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Recently joined a PBP run through of the classic Volturnus Campaign. Thinking about the campaign while doing my daily drawing assignment lead to the following- a group picture of the sapient species of Volturnus.

Done in charcoal.

Spawn of Volturnus

Tom Stephens's picture

Server issues

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Just a quick note to let everyone know.  The main server the site runs on is having issues and not working properly.  Luckily the site runs in a virutal machine. I've gotten the site up on an alternate computer for now.  However, expect some random downtimes and possible slowness between now and when I get the main server back up (it seems to be a software issue not a hardware one) as I try to figure things out.  Thanks for your patience.

Tom Stephens's picture

Print Version of Issue 3 Now Available

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Just a quick update to let everyone know that the print version of issue 3 is now available for purchace from Drive Thru RPG.  You can order your copy from the Issue 3 product page on their website.

 

jedion357's picture

Sapience vs Sentience

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or Intelligence for Civilization

Sapience and sentience have been used, often interchangeably, in science fiction to describe alien species as being equal to humanity in intelligence and rights. The words however do not mean the same thing. Sapience comes from the Latin root for wisdom and means the ability to use judgment. Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive and have consciousness.  Animal rights activist often argue their cause based on the belief that animals have sentience. I would be inclined to agree that animals perceive and feel and have a consciousness but would question an assertion that they have the ability to exercise judgment.

Sapience would be an indicator of the ability to make moral judgments and decisions which is a building block to civilization. To put it another way it’s an ability to advance the cause of one’s species. Sentience is an indicator of an ability to intelligently advance the cause of one’s personal needs.

For science fiction I would use a categorization of sentience for intelligent animals with a scale of -, 0, and +. A minus would be a very intelligent breed of dogs, a zero would be a primate but a + would be an animal that is coming up against the sapience barrier. These plus animals are beginning to show signs of an ability to organize and transmit culture. The same would go for sapience -, 0, and +. Arbitrarily I rate humanity as a zero on this scale.

The concept of the sapience barrier is recognition of the fact that true sapience is a very rare thing. On Earth there are 2 million species identified by science of an estimated 5 million to 100 million species currently living and only one that registers as sapient.  The odds are fairly long for sapience. In a science fiction setting a sapient species ought to be rare.

However, if abundant life, like Earth’s ecosystem, arises on a planet then we should expect tremendous variety of that life. So any time a planet exists with abundant life we could expect 5-100 million species living on that planet. Thus the mere presence of abundant life skews the numbers to have at least one dominant “sentient plus” species or a full on sapient one.

Often as not we hear that the odds for the chance of life elsewhere in the universe are long odds but the counterpoint is that a barren universe would not be as interesting as a populated one. I’m betting on an interesting universe no matter what the odds are.

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