Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Social Stuctures in The Black Desert IV

          I've mentioned several times in these pages that Mars is where the majority of the AI that deserted Terra's various militaries ended up.  I have also mentioned that the Martian government is called The Consensus.  In this article, we will be going into the Consensus in more depth and seeing how humans and AI are trying to build the perfect world.

          As Robert Zubrin mentioned in his Mars Direct plan several times, a colonized Mars offers people (of all sorts) an opportunity to make their own rules and carve their own path through life on a virgin planet.  The Consensus is a system of government that takes advantage of this freedom; the freedom of both the Martian setting and the freedom from preconceived traditions that AI are able to bring to the table.  Because of these unique circumstances, The Consensus is the most radically tolerant and least political (in Terran terms) of any government ever before attempted.

        And that's pretty much all I know about it.

        In truth, I've not given much thought to the details of the Consensus and its practical functioning.  The main idea is implied in the name; the entire government of Mars is run by consensus.  This means that no laws are passed unless every independently intelligent being on Mars agrees to it.  There are no politicians or legislators as any citizen may propose policies or laws, and these proposals do not pass until they meet the approval of all citizens.

         Needless to say, there are not a lot of laws on Mars.  Those few that do exist are incredibly long and full of exceptions, addenda, clauses and other complex knots of verbiage.  AI can, thanks to their perfect memories, keep track of all of these laws and their labyrinthine wording with little trouble.  Humans, however, are hopelessly lost and use special advocate programs in their Augmented Reality systems that advise them when a course of action is illegal.  The program cannot snitch on anyone that breaks the law, as that is an infringement of their libertes (there are a lot of former Americans  on Mars; you can tell, can't you?)

         Make no mistake, RocketFans: I don't want to live on Mars under this system (I would be chillin' on a Vardo, myself).   What are your impressions?  Is this the benign utopia of total concord that the Martians say it is, or is Big Brother watching you?  Remember, the libertarian school of thought will probably never make it off of Earth, so the people will not be influenced by that way of thinking.  I look forward to your thoughts.

         Tomorrow I should have a sneak peak of this months offering, the Phoenix, ready to show off.  See you then!


  1. Oh, God. Its like Alabama's constitution on steroids (No offense). It takes years to get anything done. How did they get enough unity together to meddle with Earth with that as a form of government?

    As to which one it falls into, its both at the same time. The thing that keeps it benign is that it takes forever to get anything done.

    You seem to be assuming a high level of surveillance/sousveillance with a mandate for it. If you are, you might want to point it out.

    Maybe use something like the Demarchists from Revelation Space? Or the version I hammered together for Sufficiently Advanced. The basics are there are constant polls of the citizenry on things. It still takes forever to get things done, but it might work.

    Would I live on Mars? Maybe. If its low surveillance, sure. I'd also like to not have to have a lot effort and money spent on security.

    Last but not least, those expert systems that folks consult with, I think more information is needed on these and where else they can be used.

  2. Interesting points all. In order to get things done in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time, debates would have to be conducted virtually at high clock speeds.

    Part of the point of the Consensus is to make the Martian government as anemic and minor as possible. Most Martians have little or no reason to trust any government, and they are mostly hand-picked and carefully trained to be as cooperative as possible. This is not a government that we, in the 21st century could make work. I could work for 23rd century Mars' unique circumstances, however.

    As for how they managed to come up with something like the Treaty of Mars, I figure that the AI realized almost as soon as they deserted Terra what the War's probable outcome would be. That gave them almost four decades to reach a consensus as to what to do about Terra and how to resolve the Great War.

    As for levels of surveillance, It depends on one's point of view, doesn't it? Astronauts today are under constant surveillance, yet we don't think of it that way; we think of it as a safety issue and scientific observation. Mars' original colonists would think of surveillance the same way, and their descendants would as well. It's like taxes; income tax didn't start in the US until 1861, yet it is assumed that our government could not function without it. The US managed for nearly a century without income tax; just as we've managed without constant monitoring. In space, life is just different. And despite enough terraforming to make decent atmo pressure and standing water on Mars, it's still space.

  3. Interesting stuff. I'm running a game on Maptool and my players are currently based on Mars working for a private rapid response and recovery company owned by an AI. I started them off in space with a Vojagi rescue mission, but I was going to have the players land their Paladin planetside for training and a special assignment.

    I was curious as to the level of terraforming/livability/urban development present. What is the relative mix and concentration of the atmosphere? How many years do they anticipate before it is entirely survivable if at all?

    Is the typical human settlement essentially a Conestoga trailer park with some shared greenhouses and public areas or are there also more developed urban centers with permanent structures and possibly covered walkways and public transportation systems?

  4. Ah, Martian geography...
    So first of all, Mars in 2210 has roughly half the atmospheric pressure of Terra, and it's mostly carbon dioxide. This is good for the plants that are seeded on the surface, but it could be centuries, if not millennia, before the oxygen levels are high enough to sustain animals and humans without assistance. Breath masks with filters are enough to survive (like in Avatar). And it's raining; its been raining for ten years and will probably continue for another century at least. This is a side effect of Mars' transition from a desert to having half its surface covered in water.

    There are three bona-fide cities on Mars: Hopkins, Zubrin, and Bradbury. These cities have spaceports, industrial-scale fabricators, Universities, and all the other trappings of civilization. There are also about a dozen smaller settlements around the coast. These are all named after authors that wrote mars stories; not just out of human whimsy, but also because AI are obsessed with fiction. These smaller settlements are essentially Connie trailer parks, with the occasional beginnings of more permanent structures.

    In addition, there are hundreds of automated factories around Mars, with no other purpose than to produce greenhouse gases to thicken the atmosphere.

    Public transportation is limited to special fabricator watercraft that travel along the coast and provide small settlements with industrial capacity to produce heavy equipment and building materials. In addition to these, there are the Barsoom-Airships that provide basic transportation to the outlying settlements as well a a welcome taste of culture (see the Barsoom PDF for details).

    Anyway, hope that helps!

  5. That helps immensely!

    I have a nice little writeup of the first session hosted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/comments/gry73/hard_scifi_adventures_in_the_black_desert_more/

    It's got a basic description of the action (minus all of the dialogue and emotional content unfortunately) and some nice screenshots of the board. I'll have lots of great stuff to work with for our second session now. Thanks for the comprehensive writeup.

    I would love to ask one more question about mars, what is the total population of AIs, Humans, NuApes, and possibly Dysonite Missionaries. Of that population what proportion is located in the urban areas compared to the rural ones?

  6. Mars' population is about 50,000. Roughly half of those are AI. There are several hundred NuApes in a community in the high desert they call "Free Russia". 80% of the population live in Mars, thee cities, the rest in smaller outposts. There are about a dozen Dysonite Missionaries in each of the three cities. There are easily ten thousand students, visiting academics, and expatriate artists living on Mars at any given time.

    No one knows how many native Martians there are. At least ten thousand are living in the caves at the floor of Valles Marineris

  7. Ray, only 50K? I'd have thought at least an additional 450k with the majority being AIs, and maybe 50k as embodied intelligences.

    Can you explain a bit more on this?

  8. I know what you mean; you'd think that there would be a lot more...but logical progression based on space access costs, the perverse lack of interest in colonizing space, and the scorchingly high costs of military hardware and stuff... it's really not alot.

    Take the AI...if every deep-sea capable naval vessel in every navy in the world had an AI aboard, it would be less than the 25K I project. Spacecraft are going to be MUCH less prevalent than water craft. If the Strategic IPV, the largest and most expensive spacecraft in the Black Desert, existed in equal numbers to modern nuclear-powered supercarriers, there would be thirteen - and that's only counting the ones currently under construction. As it is I'm fudging drastically and saying there were maybe that many, civilian and military, in each superpower's fleet. Throw in an AI for every Missile Craft, Heinlein, Phoenix and such, it still isn't all that many. And also remember, not all AI went to Mars. The Dysonites got there share as well.

    In fact, if one counts the QOOR processors used by Transitioned Humans as AI, then the Dyson Federation would have the numbers you project for Mars.

    As for the human population, say the first humans land on Mars via a Falcon 9 Heavy by 2020 (which could actually happen, I'm happy to say). If the first crew of three increases by the 4% that space populations have since Yuri's flight, then you can call it 31 by 2080 when Walter Hopkins pointed the first wagon trains of Mk 1 Connies at the red planet. At that point, assuming an optimistic 12 people in four connies a year (the rest spreading out on the cyclers and the nodes in the main belt), you have a Martian population of 5,464 by the start of the Great War. There are no new colonists during this period, and the population must sink or swim. Again assuming a 4% growth, by the times the bombs dropped in 2178, you would have 15148. After that, I would say that the colonization levels would be no more than maybe 2-3 per year until the Treaty of Mars was ratified in 2206 That gives us a total growth of...crap; it's 45,580. Going back to 12 per year until 2210 gives a grand total of 57,776. Okay, you got me. It should be 60,000 humans and maybe as many AI; assuming Transhumans went to Mars as well as Venus. So, let this be the new number: 120,000 Human and AI colonists, about 1000 NuApes, and maybe 10-20,000 academics and expatriates in residence annually. Hopkins, Zubrin, and Bradbury have about 32,000 citizens apiece, with the rest living in communities of 1-2,000 scattered across the Boreal coast.

    Never let it be said that I won't admit when I am wrong. ;)


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