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Re: Some FT background stuff (guidelines for writers)

From: agoodall@s... (Allan Goodall)
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 01:41:02 GMT
Subject: Re: Some FT background stuff (guidelines for writers)

On Tue, 10 Feb 1998 09:02:47 +0000, Jonathan white <>

>While ergonomically you are correct, I don't think we can overlook the
>value of keeping a consistent clock throughout the fleet (presuming you
>have trans-light comms). That being a given you would probably have the
>clock of your centre of operations, which is 99% likely to be on earth.

It was just a neat SF-ism. But don't US nuke subs have some weird time
periods? I seem to remember it was 15 or 18 hours to the "day". Made
for a more alert crew. 

>The USAF also believed dogfighting was an obselete concept as soon as
>developed guided missiles. 

But they changed their tune in Vietnam. What they've seen since the
Gulf War seems to justify autonomous fighters.

>Maybe by the FT period you
>might just about have them, but they're a long way in the future IMO.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. But since this is the era of
Kasparov losing to a big, powerful (albeit dumb) computer, I reserve
the right to gloat "I told you so!" in 2020 (or sooner) when they
become a reality. You, of course, will have the same right if they
don't show up.

>Regardless of this, it doesn't matter a damn to FT games whether the
>fighters are drones or not. It's possible some fleets have drones and
>have real pilots. Human pilots can be very predictable and drones can
>sneaky if programmed correctly.

Agreed. However, the discussion was in regard to Jon's FT background
guidelines for fiction writers, in which case it does matter.

>Then of course there is the problem of shielding your drones AI
>from external interference. I'd love to know what a close detonation
>warhead would do to a pack of drone fighters :).

Hmmm. You've got a good point there. Still, space is a pretty harsh
environment. Operations near a star will make an EMP burst look like a
sneeze. I think they'll already be fairly well shielded. Besides, you
just need an electrical shield, not an armoured one. A computer in an
electrified metal sphere will survive most EMP problems. Oh, and
anything that will take out the computer will also take out the
avionics package of a manned fighter. Weight advantage goes back to
the unmanned fighter...

>Again the problem of course is predicability. If every pilot has access
>exactly the same knowledge, every pilot will react to a given situation
>more or less the same way. 

Oh, I STRONGLY disagree. Here's an example. We all have access to
exactly the same knowledge: the Full Thrust rulebook. Does everyone
react the same way with the same ship designs? No! The chip gives the
human the knowledge needed to fly a ship. How he applies that
knowledge is his business.

I've been rethinking this, though. It probably wouldn't work for
another reason. Manual dexterity (such as touch typing) requires the
formation of neural pathways in the brain. So does fighter piloting.
Even if you knew exactly how to fly the fighter, the rest of the brain
hasn't developed the neural pathways to guide your hands. Slotting in
a chip would only work if you overrode most of the brain. We're
talking cyborgs here, which is way off what Jon is suggesting.

>Depends on yor story. Didn't train them for very long during WWI. And
>WWII/ Battle fo Britain there were some VERY inexperienced people
>for the RAF. 

Other way around. WWI they got something like 25 hours of training,
often less than 10 in an actual airplane. Result: staggeringly high
death rates. Canada had one of the lowest death rates of new pilots
than any other nation. The reason was that Canada looked for recruits
who had civilian flight experience. The British took people based on
class. As fighters have become more sophisticated, pilot training
times have increased. Jon's universe would probably see training times
closer to that around the Vietnam era, which was still much longer
than WW2.

>If current
>theory of memorize things is true, nanomachines could actualyl re-wire
>memeory to give you a new set of cognitive skills. Actually learning
>physical processes involved though I don't think you could rush.

Now THAT is a neat concept. That could cut the learning time
drastically. But wouldn't the nanomachines rewire the neural pathways
the same way, thus giving you the "everyone thinks alike" problem you
mentioned above?
>All seems fair- but why not make 'yellow two' and 'orange' the same
state -
>otherwise yellow two seems pretty superfluous.

One reason: weapons lock. Yellow two is everyone on edge but with
weapons on command lock. Orange actually has the weapons turned off.
It's safer to have a different alert level. That's why I called it
ORANGE. Kind of like yellow or red, but not quite. Could have been
something like Purple or Blue, I guess.

>Hmm.. Current physics research implies translight communication is
>feasible, much more than translight travel anyway, what with electron
>tunnelling, particle spin reversion and things like that. I would say
>translight comms was actually a requirement of any large interstellar
>society - could the US manage it's fleets without radio?

I think so. Nations managed their fleets without radio for many, many
years, even after the invention of steamships. 

Allan Goodall

"Once again, the half time score, 
 Alien Overlords: 142,000. Scotland: zip."
  - This Hour Has 22 Minutes

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