2061: "Tectonics Game"

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:22 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I feel relatively confident that literally any sign we could detect from 3,000 years+ ago would not warn us away from interesting archeological finds. Cursed? Instant death promised? Oh, shit yeah, lets check that out.
I agree. But, it's worth a test (or at least a mental exercise).

Back in umpty ump BC, a splinter group of the ancient Egyptians was plagued by the "green death" and driven out of Greater Egypt. The green death is an agonizing way to die, in which your body gradually turns green seemingly from the inside, your body loses its structural integrity, and you eventually collapse like a blob, screaming in pain, and die a few days later. When examined, the inside of the (dead) body is pretty much an amorphous goo.

After being driven out, these people settled on the edge of the Something Plains, and inside of two generations all died out, despite all the religious rituals, empirical observations, and whatever it was that they did to try to figure it out. They did isolate it to a certain kind of lizard; whoever was near this animal got the green death. At the very end, victims were mummified as best as possible, and buried along with the lizard that they were thought to have been near, and the pyramids holding their tomb were marked with symbols, barricades, and whatever to warn future people.

1: You are the Egyptian in charge of the symbols, barricades, and whatever. Considering Egyptian language, writing, and technology, what are they?

2: You are the grave robber that just stumbled upon these previously unknown pyramids. What do you make of those symbols? What do you do?

3: You are the archaeologist from Prestigious University who smells a groundbreaking paper here. What do you make of those symbols? What do you do?

I know (it's my scenario) what causes the green death, and what will happen if the tomb is entered. You have present day technology (but not future technology), and can see whatever the Egyptian in charge laid out, based on which you will choose your actions.

Your move.

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:16 pm UTC

Unmarked area buried deeply enough that no surface markings whatsoever will be discovered for some time? Best I got. Sunk deep into a random part of the ocean is better.

If you mark it something like "garbage dump", that'll just make the archaeologists excited. Anything hinting at danger or the unknown? Also interesting. The odds that someone will poke it anyways are far greater than if you just rely on chance to keep anyone from finding it.

Which means if anyone HAS successfully locked away some kind of elder evil competently, the way to release it is deep under some entirely unmarked patch of undifferentiated ground or sea.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:56 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Unmarked area buried deeply enough that no surface markings whatsoever will be discovered for some time? Best I got.
Fair enough. Routine satellite and geodetic mapping shows an anomaly at {coordinates}, which isn't far (on a global scale) from where this rumored civilization was maybe exiled. Further investigation shows it to be hollow, and buried underground (how far can they dig?), oh, three hundred feet down. A hundred meters for you folk that don't realize the metric system loses a lot of its value without switching to base twelve also. :)

This is unusually deep for this civilization. Not impossible, but unheard of.

A grave robber isn't going to dig down that far, but you are a professor at Prestigious U. What do you do?

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:01 pm UTC

Oh definitely poke the thing.

Pretty much any hidden thing that can be poked later is gonna be.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Oh definitely poke the thing.
The machinery is brought in, and at fifty feet you hit the top of a buried pyramid. Fifty feet? Yeah, those images weren't all that precise and most of the mass is below anyway. Oops. Fortunately the pyramid is pretty thick and strong, so for the next several years the area is carefully excavated so as to not damage the (well preserved) outside of the pyramid. Sonar and radar mapping shows a system of tunnels with lots of individual rooms, but no obvious entrance.

Now what?

Flashback - you are the ancient Egyptian in charge. Did you put any markings on the outside of the pyramid? Is there any important structure associated with this buried tomb? Is there an entrance? Did you perhaps put something "floating" above the pyramid as it was buried?

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:16 pm UTC

According to a documentary I recently watched about archaeology entitled Suicide Squad, climb inside and try to break shit. Should work out well enough.

Realistically, no obvious entrance will probably stall the archaeologists for a little while because they care about not accidentally breaking anything informative. Folks of a more grave robber persuasion will give zero craps either way, of course.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Reka » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:28 pm UTC

Wait, all these people died of the Green Death. Who buried them?

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:39 pm UTC

Reka wrote:Wait, all these people died of the Green Death. Who buried them?
The answer might be inside the buried pyramid. :)

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:49 pm UTC

If we have modern technology, and we have any reason to think that ancient peoples had access to anything radioactive or biologically hazardous or the like, then we can just send robots in with Geiger counters and other instruments to examine the place safely from a distance before risking any human exploration.

We can do that, and we only don't because we have pretty good reason to believe ancient civilizations were far too primitive than to have possessed anything that dangerous.

A post-apocalyptic civilization who have forgotten what electricity is, never mind radioactivity, have neither the knowledge necessary to conceive of such threats, or to devise safe ways of exploring despite them.

If we today found, say, a buried civilization with a technology level that does not concord with what we know of the progress of human development, and had reason to suspect that either we might be a post-apocalyptic civilization (post someone else's apocalypse) or that like, aliens or something had a colony here long before humans knew to rub two sticks together, then we probably would send in robots first.
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Ranbot » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:00 pm UTC

Universal symbols are by design generic looking and a generic symbol(s) will just intrigue us. It would encourage future looters or scientists to poke around. There's good reason hundreds of horror/sci-fi/thriller stories have started with this motif. Heck, even the Bible when Adam and Eve ignore the warning and eat the forbidden apple. We can't help ourselves when all we have to rely on is our imagination.

So, I would do the opposite... If I was leaving a warning I would write a detailed [and probably very boring] explanation of the danger, origin, effects, studies, etc. in as many languages as possible.* Be specific and leave nothing to the imagination. Hopefully a future person knows at least one of the languages, pauses to attempt translation, and/or figures out just a few key words that will give them pause to considering stopping or take great caution if they still choose to proceed. The message may still be ignored by accident, language loss, or willfully, particularly with looters, but I think that would be best chance at having the warning heeded.

* assuming I only had Ancient Egyptian era level of technology as ucim stated.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:14 pm UTC

We know they were once ancient Egyptians, and had access to whatever ancient Egyptians could do. (They could mummify; we've forgotten how.) But we know nothing about this particular group of people, except that they were a splinter group of Egyptians, and there are legends that say they were condemned by the high priests for being vile, and would scream out in agony as the priest's enchantment did its work and their innards turned to pus.

We have no reason to believe that these rumors are true. It was probably just a religious power play. But nobody knows.

Some animals are venomous. We do know that radioactivity is a thing. We don't know about gravitational dissociation, or about the effects of quantum string-knot junctions on living tissue. We have no reason to suspect that gravitational dissociation or quantum string-knot junctions are a thing.

A rough scan shows that radiation levels are not significantly above background levels. Do you have any reason to do a fine scan (say, to identify radioactively impressed writing)?

Elon Musk sent a robot, and says it can do the whole job. It's shaped suspiciously like a rocket.

The answers are inside that pyramid. Maybe.

Flashback: As the ancient Egyptian in charge, you have foreseen this moment. What did you hope to happen? How did you you make that be the most likely scenario?

(Ninja'd; that's ok)

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ijuin » Wed Oct 24, 2018 1:21 am UTC

I would describe the danger in terms of a plague. Anybody with enough knowledge of biology to be confident of being able to contain an unknown plague would be acting cautiously enough (clean suits, etc,) to prevent a sudden wide release.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Flumble » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:32 am UTC

Can I still be an idiot graverobber and explore the place (with a piece of string starting at the entrance—I know my classics!) and take some loot that looks precious (and can be carried in a hand bag)? If so, I want to do that and afterwards get a plane ticket to France.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ijuin » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:25 pm UTC

Sure you can—if you can first dig, drill, or blast your way through the overlying two hundred meters of solid rock—or break through the archeological dig that is set up after someone else has done that part for you.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Archgeek » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:33 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Can I still be an idiot graverobber and explore the place (with a piece of string starting at the entrance—I know my classics!) and take some loot that looks precious (and can be carried in a hand bag)? If so, I want to do that and afterwards get a plane ticket to France.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby DanD » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:17 pm UTC

Radioactives: First step. Define the periodic table by numeric count. (Hydrogen, 1 of particle 1, 1 of particle 3. Helium 2 of particle 1, 2 of particle 2, 2 of particle 3, etc. Make the particles visually distinct, although the exact symbology doesn't matter. I'd probably go with +, - and x for clarity.

Once you've drawn up the complete periodic table as far as we understand it, indicate the specific isotopes being buried by creating an image of the building/structure, whatever, with the same symbology inside of it.

If they don't know about radioactivity, this won't work, but it's at least working from basic principles. (As a bonus, if they are able to check the isotope mix safely, it also gives them a nice clock of how long ago you existed).

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:47 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:If we today found, say, a buried civilization with a technology level that does not concord with what we know of the progress of human development, and had reason to suspect that either we might be a post-apocalyptic civilization (post someone else's apocalypse) or that like, aliens or something had a colony here long before humans knew to rub two sticks together, then we probably would send in robots first.


Should, maybe. In practice, we have underpaid interns. Robots are expensive!

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Flumble » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:25 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:If we today found, say, a buried civilization with a technology level that does not concord with what we know of the progress of human development, and had reason to suspect that either we might be a post-apocalyptic civilization (post someone else's apocalypse) or that like, aliens or something had a colony here long before humans knew to rub two sticks together, then we probably would send in robots first.


Should, maybe. In practice, we have underpaid interns. Robots are expensive!

What's the difference? :roll:

(just kidding, I know, robots get paid less)

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ijuin » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:39 am UTC

DanD wrote:If they don't know about radioactivity, this won't work, but it's at least working from basic principles. (As a bonus, if they are able to check the isotope mix safely, it also gives them a nice clock of how long ago you existed).

If they know about radioactivity, then the next thing to convey is that this is a “nuclear waste dump: DANGER” as opposed to a “strategic nuclear fuel stockpile: DO NOT STEAL”. Some idiots just might get the idea that the isotopes are worth extracting.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:10 am UTC

Ranbot wrote:If I was leaving a warning I would write a detailed [and probably very boring] explanation of the danger, origin, effects, studies, etc. in as many languages as possible.

DanD wrote:Radioactives: First step. Define the periodic table by numeric count....

I like this. Our hazardous waste could be their useful resources. We shouldn't talk down to an advanced civilization ("Don't go here!"), but tell them what it is, and let them decide.
Spoiler:
I hate how weather reports now seem to tell you how to dress, or to stay home!, rather than simply saying what the weather is and trusting us to make choices.
Applying that idea to the Egyptian pyramid, how would you label it? What materials? What would you say?

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Ranbot » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:01 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Ranbot wrote:If I was leaving a warning I would write a detailed [and probably very boring] explanation of the danger, origin, effects, studies, etc. in as many languages as possible.

I like this...We shouldn't talk down to an advanced civilization ("Don't go here!"), but tell them what it is, and let them decide.
Spoiler:
I hate how weather reports now seem to tell you how to dress, or to stay home!, rather than simply saying what the weather is and trusting us to make choices.
/quote]


Right. We can't control what a future civilization decides to do. We can only try to give information for them to make a educated choice and hope they choose wisely based on their abilities.

ucim wrote:Applying that idea to the Egyptian pyramid, how would you label it? What materials? What would you say?

I'm imagining the outside of this pyramid/tomb would have written explanation of the danger across the entire structure alternating between languages line-by-line sort of like:
Egyptian
Latin
Arabic
Sanskrit
--------------
Egyptian
Latin
Arabic
Sanskrit
------------
Egyptian
Latin
Arabic
Sanskrit
..... and so on until the description is finished. Add more language lines as needed. This would spread each language out evenly across the entire structure (as opposed to grouping them) so that if any portion of the pyramid/tomb were uncovered the viewer might recognize one of the languages and uncover more before opening the contents.

I would also add a repeated motif/drawing throughout the surface that depicts death as directly and medically as possible, like a prone body, tongue out, eyes closed or crossed, entrails, blood, defecation, discolored skin, etc... medical, and less open to interpretation or cultural meanings (e.g. not skulls, bones, exclamation points, frowny faces, biohazard symbols, etc.) The writing is more important though, the death motif is just a last ditch effort to get a future person to pause and attempt to figure out the writing.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:59 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:I'm imagining the outside of this pyramid/tomb would have written explanation of the danger across the entire structure alternating between languages line-by-line...
Ok, the outside of the pyramid is covered with these runes. They repeat, because there's not a lot to say. It just so happens that the languages chosen are the ones of the Rosetta Stone and the Voynich Manuscript.. Lucky us. We get to figure out what the symbols might mean.

So, we backtrack a bit. The excavators bump into the top, start excavating more carefully, and see this. They've excavated about ten feet or so of the pyramid (which is forty feet tall - I've changed the scenario a bit because after all, it's a splinter group and they didn't have much in the way of resources).

You manage to piece together the following:
In the time of the butterflies, there arose a Great Man to lead the people, but he became under the power of Morubi, the Most Evil. And so, fallen, he took his revenge upon us, the Potrib. With Incantations of Morubi did he curse the Potrib, but they would not be driven out. Then there arose the Pestilence of Frog, that whosoever was Near, would become a Frog Creature himself. Green would he become, from the inside, and his voice would croak like unto a Frog. Then with spasms would he die with agonizing screams over the course of two days time. Strong is the Morubi, but also strong are the Potrib, and though we die, we resist. Of the Potrib, none would permit Frog to enter his soul, but rather, that his body become without form, and green. His soul is captured by Frog, but Frog must never enter into Potrib.

Here in this tomb is Frog and Potrib. Let them lay forever undisturbed, for the evil of Morubi is Great without bound.


Ok. Three quarters of this deliberately buried pyramid are still underground. Radar and sonar imaging shows a set of passages and rooms. There may be more writing on the rest of the pyramid, but you won't see it without excavating. This story appears three times in each of six languages, of which you know three, in the excavated portion. Surrounding each repetition are clear pictures depicting a horrible death. There is no entrance visible (but you wouldn't expect one; it would still be buried).

There is some civil unrest in the country where this is being excavated, but it seems to be on the other side of the desert.

Your move.

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby speising » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:03 pm UTC

the translator apparently likes flowery language.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:26 pm UTC

speising wrote:the translator apparently likes flowery language.
Ayup. It's the best they could do, although it may not align with what we believe is important about the way the world works. There may also be some political color involved; future (or alien) politics may be very different from our present politics, and it's hard to imagine not having politics get into messages we might be putting on our own waste sites. Especially this year.

So, something to scratch your heads about, because what we think is clear won't be so clear 10,000 years from now.

And in any case, this might not be an industrial waste site. It might just be the grave of an "important person", and nothing more. In this game, if you knew what it was you'd treat it differently. That's the point.

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Heimhenge » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:32 pm UTC

Reading through this thread makes me feel like I'm in a game of D&D. So many instructions and restrictions for the explorers.

I think the one assumption that distinguishes proposed solutions is whether society 10,000 years from now is post-Apocalypse, or an extrapolation from where we are now to some idyllic technological future. Either way, a solution for the former should work for the latter. I like Ranbot's scheme ... especially his "depiction of death" icons. Make it graphic. Make it gross. Shit, make it a reflection hologram to really scare them.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:47 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:Reading through this thread makes me feel like I'm in a game of D&D.
The point is to come up with brilliant ideas (of course your idea is brilliant, otherwise you wouldn't post it. :) ) But it's not enough to think we're brilliant, we should test and see if some variant of the idea, having been used in {ancient culture}, would have actually worked.

What would you do if you encountered {embodiment of idea} in the present day? What would you expect {dumb cluck} to do?

So yeah, it is game-like. Like the title of the comic.

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ijuin » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:12 am UTC

The biggest flaw in the example given, as I can see, is the attribution of the cause to a figure from their religion (this “Morubi”). Generally, even if the archaeologists subscribe to a religious world-explanation style, they will still scoff at invocations of a religion that is unrelated to their own (e.g. Christians scoffing at Egyptian or Greco-Roman gods). Thus, invoking one’s own gods/demons/whatever will probably not be taken seriously by anybody who worships entirely different gods.

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby ucim » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:04 am UTC

ijuin wrote:The biggest flaw in the example given, as I can see, is the attribution of the cause to a figure from their religion
In other words, they are objectively wrong. But they don't know they're wrong. Similarly, although I believe that science is the best way to learn about the world, and that what we have learned is correct, we may also be wrong about whatever it is we are trying to portray. The dangerous waste we fear may be food to them. Breeder reactors for example are a thing we have chosen not to do, instead treating breeder fuel as waste. The horrible diseases we fear may be less than the common cold to them. Ten thousand years of (hopefully) advancement may find us to be ignorant primitives by comparison. And if that ten thousand years is mostly AI, even the idea of knowledge may be quite different from what we have now. We may be pets of a world-computer. Who knows?

Hopefully, they'll be able to make allowances for our comparative primitiveness. So, to put that to the test, how would we fare when presented with a warning that is the best they can do, but is clearly steeped in their own ignorance?

There you sit, in front of the pyramid. What do you do? It's a proxy for what future peoples may do when confronted with our repository, however we decide to make it.

Jose
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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:29 pm UTC

Has anyone else seen the recent Tomb Raider movie? A minor plot point there is the difficulty of interpreting tomb inscriptions - the bad guys end up needing Lara because she can figure out the instructions on how to enter the tomb without being killed by the death traps...

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Re: 2061: "Tectonics Game"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:17 pm UTC

I didn't see the latest Lara Croft. But I'm fairly sure that describes every Lara Croft movie. (Probably including every single porn parody. I'm guessing. Maybe in the subtext, though.)


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