Uplifting Thoughts

In this course, we cover one of the most interesting branches of exosophontology, the exosophontology of uplifted species.

While we will touch upon the minority uplift cultural movements (the integrationists, who attempt to become indistinguishable from their creators; the separatists, who would divorce themselves from civilization to find their own way; the worshipful, who cast themselves as eternal servants; and the devolvers, who seek to cast off mentality and regain a state of presophonce), these will not be our focus. That remains the majority cultures practiced by uplifts.

These majority cultures are evolutions of a fascinating pastiche, composed originally of elements drawn from three primary sources. First, there is the culture of the uplifting species, which – being omnipresent from the uplifts’ first days, and practiced by their species-parents – inevitably makes a considerable impression upon them.

Second, there is their indigenous culture. In some senses, this is a vacuum waiting to be filled, since even the most developed of prosophonts remains prosophont, and lacks history, heritage, and traditional praxis. However, with sophoncy, the process of cultural development begins, based on instincts and merkwelt, along with their existing social structures, and protolanguages, rudimentary as they might be. Responsible uplifters, such as our own Family of Species, promote this process as a means of preserving the unique cognitive and social qualities that made the species worthy of uplift in the first place.

Third, and finally, a newly uplifted species naturally studies what has been said about it by others: not merely scientific information, although this is a natural place to start for those whose genesis came about through science, but also legend, story, fable, and folklore. Originally, uplifters made efforts to discourage this, to avoid contaminating emerging uplift cultures from the outset, but swiftly learned that such curiosity could not, and should not, be denied. While not encouraging it and offering appropriate cautions regarding the possibility of fitting themselves to a mold not theirs, such other-discovery is now accepted in the later stages of uplift and the new sophonts’ search for authenticity.

The cultures resulting from the intertwining and mingling of these three strands are complex, nuanced, often initially-contradictory creations, both simple in the fashion of young species cultures everywhere – even after centuries, in the presence of much older cultures, many uplifts still feel as if they are extemporizing much of the time – and at the same time filled with a surprising richness, with a great deal to contribute to the wider Imperial and galactic cultures.

This course, however, can offer only the most shallow examination of any individual uplift culture in the time available, as it must necessarily concentrate on describing the common features, principles, formation, and evolution of uplift culture. However, graduates of this course will find themselves well-positioned to undertake the study of specific uplift cultures or cultural features as their studies continue.

– from a course description at the
Imperial University of Almea

Stop Fittling With That

Congratulations, my students, on your successful completion of the first half of Ontological Engineering.

When you return in two months, it will be time for each of you to choose the research project you’ll be carrying out for the next two years.  And with regard to that, I would like to encourage you to choose something other than the current obsession with faster-than-light devices.

While I can appreciate your enthusiasm, whether based on the honors and plaudits that await anyone who cracks that particular problem, or the unspeakably large bounty that the Imperial Navy have waiting for anyone who can provide them with a tactical fittler capable of pulling off that four-simultaneous-shots-with-one-ship maneuver – ever since it was shown off on Galaxy of Conquest, anyway – I should nevertheless like to remind you of a few things.

Firstly, that people have been banging on, yanking at, and poking any piece of physics that looked like it might have practical or even impractical fittling potential since before Imogen Andracanth’s team invented the wormhole; and except for the wormhole and the tangle channel, have produced absolutely no positive results whatsoever.

Secondly, that Exogenesis, Islien Yards and Stellar Express, between them, have poured more money into their Starleaper Initiative than the entire budget of this university, and have hired a great many talented graduates of this course.  You can therefore be fairly sure both that the competition is extremely stiff, and that if there were any low-hanging fruit to be plucked in this area, we would probably have heard about it already.

And thirdly, of course, there are a great many unsolved, and indeed, as yet uninvestigated research problems in other areas of ontotechnology, many of them leading to potentially exciting developments in fields as simple as remote sensing and drive efficiency to old speculative-fictional dreams such as dimensional transcendence, matter translocation, negentropy, and instant manufacturing free from all that tedious mucking about with nanomachines.

So go home, enjoy the blue and green season, and come back to me with some exciting proposals!  You won’t be penalized if you do insist on sticking with the fittle, but do check what’s been done in the past and what the Starleaper team have been trying recently, and put some fresh and interesting spin on it.

Class dismissed.

– address to the most recent OE class, Imperial University of Almeä