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Benjamin C. Kinney @BenCKinney
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Up next in this #SoCIA18 track is Sheri Wells-Jensen with "Things you didn't see because you were looking: Blind aliens, science and inter- species miscommunication.” I'm not sure what this is about but I'm excited to find out.
Speaker - who is visually impaired, which is relevant given the talk title, and obvious to us here in the room - starts by noting that her introduction name/affiliation/title slide could be full of lies and nobody would notice.
But we have assumptions about this slide starting off a talk. We look for it, and compare against it.
Assumptions: one big one in SETI literature is that aliens will have some analogue to human visual perception.
What would culture be like if blindness was a natural state - no ideas or words about visual perception? What would that do to their culture, and our ability to understand them?
Next chunk of talk: collaborative worldbuilding exercise! What will this species be like? Start in the stone age. No EM-wavelength sensing, no other local species with that talent for them to piggyback on. Other senses and cognition on par with ours. Only vary culture.
Cultural example: she claps to help her determine room size. What if everyone had to do that, more-or-less at once? Would there be some standard Clap Device in modern rooms to enable this process?
Note that these folks don't start with astronomy. They have no evidence of starlight, and very little evidence of moon(s). Thus we have named them "Crickets," per Douglas Adams.
Stone age. Missile weapons are bad, because while you CAN hit a target, prey goes silent once you've taken it out! More snares, or maybe harpoons. Fires restricted to pits. Cooking tools (all tools) are sensing tools.
Iron age. Tactile writing, and identification of materials. Cultural values against lying about physical dangers - you need to be able to rely on each other for "cliff over there" stuff. Smelting as specialized case of cooking.
Science and tech: lots of stuff you can still get just fine. Laws of motion (on/near surface), magnetism (lodestones). Then you can get water/wind power, radio, etc.
Electricity is invisible anyways!
Transportation can certainly do trains. But you don't start identifying that the world is round - you don't notice you have a horizon - until you have radar!
(Apologies: these folks are called Krikkits, not Crickets.)
Turning the radar upward is about when they discover the moon. (They knew SOMETHING caused tides, but not enough evidence that it's a rock overhead.) AAAA A ROCK OVER OUR HEADS WTF.
That's the point where they start worrying about astronomy, hypothesizing that there's reason to send messages to space. And experimenting with radio waves can get them the rest of the EM spectrum.
Pretty neat talk, but it seems like it needs its inverse. I want to think about what the Krikkits make that we don't! Not just which of our things the Krikkits develop (and when/how).
Ah, here it is: she's specifically acknowledging that she doesn't know what extra stuff they have. She needs science fiction talk! Would love to converse with her, but she's off to @scifri!
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