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  • The dangers of power.

    This topic is related to another tread (aeon setting question) I read about novas, climate change and how they could solve it, but my question is, should they solve it? and going further, just because you have the power to solve something does it mean that you should? What if by trying to solve humanities problems you make things worse?. Let me put here what I posted there again as an example of what I mean. This is obviously a very exaggerated and unreal example, so please just focus on what it's trying to illustrate.
    Imagine, if you will, a human body riddled with cancer, and that cancer creates lethal tumors all over the body. Then, a brilliant surgeon comes along, removes the tumors, and repairs the damaged tissue. The flesh is as good as new, but the cancer remains.
    That's the problem with novas and climate change, but it can be applied to pretty much any of the big social problems.
    In this case the novas are the surgeon, the body is nature, the tumors are environmental issues, and society is the cancer.
    Environmental problems are symptoms of a much bigger and dangerous thing: Irresponsible consumerism. Society nowadays takes the earth and all its gifts for granted. If humanity keeps going on the way it does, there will be a point of no return in which the damage it's too great.
    Novas can fix the environmental issues with "relatively ease", or better said, faster and more efficiently than regular people, but by doing so they are telling people that its ok to be wasteful and irresponsible because novas will always be there to save the day. People will keep behaving selfishly till the day will comes when the problem becomes too big, even for novas. If I were an hyper-intelligent nova trying to tackle this problem, my first priority would be to make sure that humanity understands this.
    Yes with enough time and resources, and the help of my fellow novas, we can fix the ozone layer in a couple of years, but it will just come back again if you don't cut down emissions. Do you want us to fix it? then start passing legislation so it doesn't happen again, also please check this proposal that we have elaborated to create hyper efficient clean and renewable energy....
    One of the biggest dangers that novas can create is a relationship of dependence with humanity instead of one of symbiosis. By taking away from humanity the opportunity to solve their own problems the novas also take away their chance to learn and grow, making them fall into complacency and apathy. Where do you put the line? how do you tackle this problem? I'm eager to hear your opinions, also I would very much like if this question is addressed somehow in the new trinity continuum.
    Last edited by Firanai; 01-02-2016, 10:02 AM.

  • #2
    Honestly, and not meaning to be agressive or offend, kind of a strawman example if there was ever one. Cancers obviously aren't treated this way, nor have i ever heard of anyone deluded enough to believe you can deal with enviromental change without eliminating, or at least restraining the sources of the changes.

    Superpowers didn't give "Novas", whoever those Novas might be, some magical reset button - a great number of skilled and very intelligent people got together, exchanged ideas, made a bunch of experiments and then spent the better part of a decade putting their "solutions" to work. That is quite a far cry from Swamp Thing-style "from Gotham to jungle in one scene" magical green terraforming (not even going on how he did the same for Rann, a whole planet and radioactive wasteland at that).

    So, logically, super-smart people who have basically the same range of emotions as every other human being would be none too happy with seeing stupid business or geopolitical needs crapping all over again upon what, as previously mentioned took all their work for the better part of a decade to acomplish and might have thought of working those pesky legislative kinks beforehand.

    "Relative ease" is in the rosy-colored glasses of the beholder - it's easy to downplay something seen in passing as only one paragraph but looking at things from another angle, what other big change did Novas bring to their world, because if it was such a relatively easy thing for them to do, they logically would bring many others to reality in the rest of their spare time...

    The real fun bit is - how they did ain't all that different from how completely normal people might do it and already try to do it nowadays. Damn, the "Zushima macrobe" that supposedly cleaned the seas in the setting is blatantly based in genetically-engineered microbes created to eat pollution in the area of oil spills that have already been experimented with. The main advantage that Novas in general have over other people is not the scale of their powers per se, but the social mobility - and consequent spare time, resources and influence for big personal projects - that having a high-paying unique specialty provides them with.

    Celebrity - and the consequent benefits of it - is the core superpower around which Novas spin off all their other tricks.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 04-02-2016, 10:33 PM.

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    • #3
      Being a nova means unbridled social opportunity. No nova in the Aberrant setting has to flip burgers to survive.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
        Being a nova means unbridled social opportunity. No nova in the Aberrant setting has to flip burgers to survive.
        Or suffer with many of the organizational and funding restrictions most real-life researchers and scientists suffer with. some of thse things can get much easier when you know high-level supermodels, Team Tomorrow members and two other super-geniuses in a first name basis as drinking buddies and colleagues from post-Eruption training or group therapy.
        Last edited by Baaldam; 04-02-2016, 10:34 PM.

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        • #5
          If a nova is capable of fixing the ozone layer, in the setting aberrant, why wouldnt they do that as their job? Take the US: currently climate change is the big hot topic of the admin. The fed. Gov is trying to get dozens of countries to spend trillions over the long haul to fight climate change. If a nova had the power to clean the atmosphere, charge a few billion, clean it enough to last a decade worth of emoissions...use the billions to either live the high life or let it work for them, and when the time comes, take their next billion dollar payday and fix it again...rhey live long enough to do this what, a half dozen to a dozen times? They could do a few days of work a decade and earn warren buffet levels of wealth. According to how the metaplot "flows", this is reasonable, legit, and doable, yes?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ManBearPig View Post
            If a nova is capable of fixing the ozone layer, in the setting aberrant, why wouldnt they do that as their job? Take the US: currently climate change is the big hot topic of the admin. The fed. Gov is trying to get dozens of countries to spend trillions over the long haul to fight climate change. If a nova had the power to clean the atmosphere, charge a few billion, clean it enough to last a decade worth of emoissions...use the billions to either live the high life or let it work for them, and when the time comes, take their next billion dollar payday and fix it again...rhey live long enough to do this what, a half dozen to a dozen times? They could do a few days of work a decade and earn warren buffet levels of wealth. According to how the metaplot "flows", this is reasonable, legit, and doable, yes?
            It was an effort by multiple novas working with Project Utopia in the first edition. And they got paid a lot for it.


            Revlid wrote:
            Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aiden View Post

              It was an effort by multiple novas working with Project Utopia in the first edition. And they got paid a lot for it.
              And as mentioned, was more like years-long work than "magically flicking fingers for a few days", in fact most of the drudge apparently involved doing slightly better or faster stuff we norms can already do. So more of a matter of super-logistics changing the world for the better than world-remaking superpowered might per se.

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              • #8
                Regardless of how, please, let's ignore the bad example and get back to my point. Do you believe that novas, due to their higher power and capability compared to a regular human, can become so efficient in solving humanities problems, that they could create a relationship of dependence in which humanity becomes complacent and stops learning? and if so, how would you tackle the problem?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Firanai View Post
                  Regardless of how, please, let's ignore the bad example and get back to my point. Do you believe that novas, due to their higher power and capability compared to a regular human, can become so efficient in solving humanities problems, that they could create a relationship of dependence in which humanity becomes complacent and stops learning? and if so, how would you tackle the problem?
                  Not at all - Novas are still quite far from that stage, as pointed out with the matter of them dealing with enviromental issues. Not to mention that smarter, faster, stronger or whatever, they still are one in a million. There's still a pretty big gap of scale they can be swallowed into.

                  Also, for every person that grows complacent at the sight of some quantum-powered display of power there will be a competitive, proud or envious one that will just try that much harder - and exchange ideas with another dozen people in the process - because of that same Nova. One of the reasons i was forever pissed about the Directive and the Player's Guide totally coping out in the matter of weird science was the simple fact it was the one place where "baselines" could shine just as much if not more so by virtue of good, simple and wonderful teamwork, what humanity obviously has a much larger pool to draw from. Since them i have just sort of adapted the rules from Adventure with some tweaks.

                  All of that said, i have no doubt people, baseline and Nova, might ask some of those same questions and more in-game and draw similar or quite different conclusions while discussing the subject at leisure or heatedly in bars, clubs, anti-nova rallies or god only knows how many internet forums...
                  Last edited by Baaldam; 01-02-2016, 09:49 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post

                    Not at all - Novas are still quite far from that stage, as pointed out with the matter of them dealing with enviromental issues. Not to mention that smarter, faster, stronger or whatever, they still are one in a million. There's still a pretty big gap of scale they can be swallowed into.

                    Also, for every person that grows complacent at the sight of some quantum-powered display of power there will be a competitive, proud or envious one that will just try that much harder - and exchange ideas with another dozen people in the process - because of that same Nova. One of the reasons i was forever pissed about the Directive and the Player's Guide totally coping out in the matter of weird science was the simple fact it was the one place where "baselines" could shine just as much if not more so by virtue of good, simple and wonderful teamwork, what humanity obviously has a much larger pool to draw from. Since them i have just sort of adapted the rules from Adventure with some tweaks.

                    All of that said, i have no doubt people, baseline and Nova, might ask some of those same questions and more in-game and draw similar or quite different conclusions while discussing the subject at leisure or heatedly in bars, clubs, anti-nova rallies or god only knows how many internet forums...
                    Thank you, these are the kind of answers I'm looking for. It's just that I like to discuss the possible consequences of the actions of individuals with god like powers in society, and this question popped up talking with my fellow players.
                    It's the argument that Lex Luthor throws around regarding superman and, regardless of the fact that he's a villain, he does have a point. Every time Superman solves a problem is one less solution that humanity could have come up with, and if it keeps happening in the end people become too reliant on his help and stop trying to solve things on their own.
                    On the other hand, like you said, you could also say that rather than a cause of complacency, Superman becomes a source of inspiration, an ideal to pursue and, with his example, he pushes humanity to their very best. They see him flying and one person starts dreaming how to fly.
                    In the end both points of view are valid and what I want to know is if you have ever talked about this in your nova games and how would you handle it.

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                    • #11
                      Lex Luthor is pretty hypocritical in that he's exactly the sort of rich, influent and intelligent person that could make as much of a difference as Superman, if not more, if he honestly cared so much about humanity's self-suficiency and wasn't bellyaching about someone stealing the spotlight and attention from him.

                      Really, he could make his own JLA or two with himself as Bat-Iron-Man with half the stuff he just wastes in his prissy, petty vendetta against Superman. Someone who gets to bone Supergirl in a semi-regular basis for a time and still wasn't happy must have some very serious issues he's not adressing.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Firanai View Post
                        Regardless of how, please, let's ignore the bad example and get back to my point. Do you believe that novas, due to their higher power and capability compared to a regular human, can become so efficient in solving humanities problems, that they could create a relationship of dependence in which humanity becomes complacent and stops learning? and if so, how would you tackle the problem?
                        That's actually one of the concerns of the Teragen . . . although they look at the problem slightly differently. The Terats see a vicious loop developing: the more that Project Utopia helps mundanes, the more the mundanes expect novas - all novas - to do. Which means Project Utopia needs more novas, either as active participants . . . or lab experiments (thank you, Project Proteus). But that only encourages the mundanes to rely on them more . . .

                        Basically, many Terats see the cycle ending with mundanes enslaving novas, forcing them to solve all their problems, catering to their every whim.

                        Some of the other books explored your concerns, and provided options for why they wouldn't get out of hand. For example, the Player's Guide points out that many novas (particularly Mega-Intelligent ones) have problems maintaining relationships with mundanes (too much of an IQ difference).

                        And then there's the matter of Taint . . . Antaeus, arguably the "greenest" nova, masterminded many of Project Utopia's environmental projects. But when the game begins, his Taint is alienating him from his humanity. He's having problems remembering why he can't just kill a few million humans. After all, there are billions of them running around. And so many of the environmental reclamation projects would be so much easier, if they weren't around to screw them up . . .
                        Last edited by One Vorlon; 01-08-2016, 05:06 AM. Reason: fixing a very bad typo

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                        • #13
                          Well, novas are still not exactly numerous, so they can't fix everything.

                          In some cases, they might be able to fix everything, but the solution wouldn't be very appealing. There is certainly no crime, no war, and no poverty when everyone is part of a hive-mind for instance.

                          Then again, a nova might not be entirely capable of solving her own problems. Superpowers can help...but at the end of the day they may only offer cold comfort.

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                          • #14
                            So basically, it wouldn't happen because novas are as flawed as any other human being? (I should mention that I have only a general knowledge of the aberrant setting from the white wolf wiki, I haven't read the books)
                            Last edited by Firanai; 01-07-2016, 08:04 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by One Vorlon View Post
                              And then there's the matter of Taint . . . Antaeus, arguably the "greenest" nova, masterminded many of Project Utopia's environmental projects. But when the game begins, his Taint is alienating him from his humanity. He's having problems remembering why he can't just kill a few million humans. After all, there are billions of them running around. And so many of the environmental reclamation projects would be so much easier, if they weren't around to screw them up . . .
                              What to me sounds a little too much like human idealism speaking, mistaking ideals and the fruits of one's for more than a personal project - nature doesn't really care, what humanity does can alter things, but it took decades, if not a century or two of industrialization to get us in the level of mess we are. And even things are not decently managed, humanity hurts itself far more than the world per se. Species change, disappear make room for others all the time across the ages. Antheus is much less transhuman than he might suspect.

                              Originally posted by Firanai View Post
                              So basically, it wouldn't happen because novas are as flawed as any other human being? (I should mention that I have only a general knowledge of the aberrant setting from the white wolf wiki, I haven't read the books)
                              Personality flaws, the actual limits of individual power when compared to theoretically limitless potential of them as a budding species and the even starker reality of their incredibly small numbers - remember they are at thousands only at the period roughly equivalent to our present - in relation to the humongous mass of billions that compose humanity. Because while having a super-genius worth any ten other baseline scientists is awesome, it might be much simpler to get ten baseline scientists - or a hundred - on a general basis than that one Nova, potentially making its greatness disappear in the midst of the world's scientific-technological production.

                              It's a matter of slanted proportions too, as Novas will tend to be by virtue of their capacity's rarity and value, get to be far more visible and influent individually than the average joe. Again, everybody gets to be or become a celebrity or VIP of sorts, so to speak, unless one makes an effort not to be.
                              Last edited by Baaldam; 04-02-2016, 10:42 PM.

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