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How did Tinkers affect society?

Discussion in 'Worm' started by yak, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    It sounds ridiculous, but I'm fairly sure that Wildbow said that there wasn't huge leaps and bounds in the world's tech levels because our engineers and scientists couldn't understand tinker work. Except for edge cases, like Toybox and Dragon, it doesn't appear that tinkers really did much technologically for society as a whole.

    You've got a bio-tinker like Panacea healing people, but there's still plenty of other sick people around the world [and even in Brockton Bay] who need skilled physicians and nurses. While a single tinker can have a great impact on a person, it's far more difficult for them to have an impact on large scale society. Also, their tech is prone to breaking down without them there to maintain it.

    So, there must still be plenty of engineers keeping the world and modern civilization running behind the scenes. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a global depression [psychological, though perhaps also economic] akin to what we went through during the Cold War. That would effect the future prospects and fortunes of engineers, scientists, and tinkerers, but it doesn't remove them from the world. They're still there, diligently beavering away, although perhaps grumpier.

    If you're asking about the Elon Musk's of the world, then that's harder to answer. We've got Alan Gramme who tried to fix a lot of the world's problems [hunger, off-world habitats], and in turn targetted other capes who were trying to mend the world. So, perhaps there was less room for the Elon Musk's of the world when you have Thinkers who can do the same thing, but better. Or perhaps Elon would've stuck to grounded projects like Tesla, and less of the extreme Space X stuff. Steve Jobs and his ilk, would've been fine I suspect.
     
  2. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Tinker tech doesn't affect society because Scion implemented restrictions on exactly how much knowledge a Tinker has about the stuff he makes. There are only a couple of Tinkers in the world who are able to mass produce their stuff (Masamune and Dragon, iirc.), both of whom help outfit the Guild and Protectorate with tinker gear.

    The reason for this is explicitly because Tinker science becomes a jumbled mess the more you look at it. If you asked a Tinker how he made a relatively 'simple' laser gun he'd be able to tell you some theories that make sense to him but seem a bit off to everyone else. If you asked him to explain the theories you'd get what amounts to a jumbled mess followed by a shrug and a 'I don't know'.
     
  3. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    Then there is the fact that Endbringers and people like Mannequin attacked those Tinkers with the most potential to improve the quality of life of humanity in general.

    Or was that fanon?
     
  4. Quick Ben

    Quick Ben In ur docs, stealin ur werds.

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    Yeah those are really good points.

    I remember the tinker in the ward's team said something to that effect when he was asked why he didn't mass produce his things.

    So is it safe to say that for tinkers..their shards are the ones that are actually doing the tinkering and the cape is just the tool?
     
  5. Moridin

    Moridin Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    First off, Panacea is a biostriker, not a biotinker. Bonesaw is one of the latter, as is Blasto.

    That said, Tinkers don't understand science or anything, they simply have a line to a portion of a library of alien technology (gathered from all the worlds the Entities destroyed).

    As such, it's perfectly reasonable to say that they couldn't really bring any real scientific revolutions to the world outside of their own specialties i.e. not only are they incapable of mass producing their own tech, it's difficult for them to reverse engineer how they produced said tech into some usable scientific or engineering data that scientists could examine.

    Also, I think what Nemrut said is canon. IIRC the Simurgh is known for interfering with space exploration, and took on Gramme precisely because he was looking for a way to help humanity move offworld.

    In addition, what Dragon and Masamune are capable of in tandem is very clearly pretty huge in terms of the story, and even they are restricted to equipment for the PRT, Guild, etc. Only later in the story did we see groups like Dragon's Teeth come into being. It's possible that if Dragon and Masamune had a few more years of co-operation (or if Dragon had the opportunity to grow unhindered by Saint) then we could have seen some bleed of technologies from military into civilian sectors, especially without Eden around and with Scion seemingly unwilling to take an active role in curating the world beyond a certain extent.
     
  6. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Okay, the tinker doesn't understand his own work. That's fine. Tinkers don't start out as Perspicacity and then trigger.

    Try this thought experiment:

    You set up two identical rooms, a Tinkers Paradise, full of racks containing raw materials and bits and pieces that tinkers would salivate over. In one room you place a tinker. In the other you place an unthinking android which mechanically mimics the tinker's every movement to the finest precision possible.

    If the tinker creates a laser pistol, then has the puppet android also created one? If it has, then can't scientists and engineers examine how the puppet did it, and understand how it was engineered, even if they don't have a 100% understanding of its principles? Wouldn't they be able to deduce some of those principles or at least much better understand the gaps in their knowledge?

    While a tinker might not be able to explain their own device, intensive investigation by scientists and engineers should be able to work it out, at least a bit.

    It isn't "techno magic" which is making these tinker devices work. Tinkers have to start at the same tech base and tooling base as the rest of us. If they can build a laser pistol from the ground up using the tools and resources of this planet, then so can properly equipped and financed teams of non-capes. It may not be easy, but it should be possible.

    I don't know why more people/governments aren't trying, and succeeding, to reverse-engineer tinker tech. We're pretty good at stealing IP when we put the resources to it.

    I don't really care about the tinkers, or even the tinker devices, themselves. I care about harvesting the knowledge and principles that can be gleaned from the tinker devices and then doing completely different things with it.

    Forget laser guns in and of themselves, but if you understand how they work, then can you improve power transfer infrastructure, or other backbones of society?

    Point taken.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  7. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Headmaster

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    The person that would have thought to do this experiment would most likely been immediately killed by a Simurgh attack while he was explaining to someone about this great idea he had to possibly mass produce Tinker-tech. You can't beat grimderp with logic; there's too many deus ex monsters to kill you. :D
     
  8. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    It wouldn't be just one person though. There should be millions of engineers and scientists around the world begging to start figuring out how these things work. Simurgh was a pretty late addition to the party, if I recall. And even the Endbringers haven't trashed the Science departments of every university and mega corp around the world.
     
  9. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    I would guess that's because some, if not most of the Tinker tech stuff is based on laws of physics and formulas that humans have no knowledge of. As in, tinker tech requires you to know more about, say, light or gravity or whatever than we do or can prove even if we knew which direction to look.

    Does that make sense? Even if you could replicate that one tool or part, that's all you have, that part. At best.

    And even if that android can replicate it perfectly, there is no understanding, only the Tinker could do maintenance on it, which, IIRC was also one of the reasons.

    People might be able to use tinker tech but it inevitably breaks down and then you need the tinker to fix it. Which is fine, if you have a tinker on the team and the team is relatively small but not when it's not.
     
  10. Puzzled

    Puzzled Professor

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    There's a fanon idea that I like, even if its not supported in canon. Tinkers have some sort of subtle striker superpower that lets their tech be built even when it relies on bizarre technology you couldn't make in a clean room. Otherwise it would be simple to have them just make their stuff using a CNC and have them just run it twenty times. Again, not canon.
     
  11. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Headmaster

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    There was one scene when Defiant gave Weaver a Tinker nanothorn knife and he rambled off an insane list of things to do to care for it. I got the impression that a little dust would just totally screw it up if it wasn't maintained properly... baked in an oven a 1500 degrees for eight minutes, soaked in a vat of extra virgin olive oil for twenty-three seconds and then wiped down with a wet cheesecloth in a room with a medical grade HEPA filter.

    Okay, I made that last part up, but still it showed exactly why Tinker-tech wouldn't be able to go public with any reliability.
     
  12. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    At least then we'd better understand what it is that we don't know. Scientists and mathematicians eat that shit up. Breaking their physics models is like catnip to them.

    Some parts of it, sure. Is every component and principle of every piece of tinker tech like that? I don't believe so. Apart from super-advanced principles, they also use far more commonly understood mechanical and electrical principles for even a simple component like a trigger. There might be an upper limit to our comprehension, but we should still be gleaning a lot of the 'advanced, but not feckin' ridiculous' components that lead up to or interface with the crazy bits.

    Tinkertech can't all be stone age to 20th century tech and then nothing until you hit pure nonsense tech that never uses more basic principles. Modern cars might be ridiculously advanced to a caveman, but he might still examine one and deduce how a wheel works. Or the usefulness of a seat.

    edit: Even that nonsense tech still has to be engineered from plain old earth resources.

    If a tinker needs to refine or smelt a new metal alloy, then he'll be using earth chemicals and resources to create that new metal. It's just another engineering step in his tinker creation to him - but super valuable to us. Any part of it would expand our understanding of the metals involved, breaking them down, and rebuilding them.

    That's fine. I don't care about the part, just what can be learnt from examining it's operation and exactly how the puppet engineered it.

    If the puppet built it once, then it can do it again.

    But like I said, keeping the piece fully functional isn't the point. Who cares about having a working laser gun when you can break it open and learn how it generates power, or projects it, or focuses the energy, or even how the trigger works.

    We're trying to advance civilization and our understanding of the universe here [or turn a profit]. Keeping tinkertech fully operational is a problem for those wackos who like to club each other over the head while wearing spandex.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  13. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Professor DLP Supporter

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    yak, this and this are wildbow's WOG on mass production which you may or may not have seen.

    It walks through the hypothetical situation of a load of trained scientists/mechanics trying to emulate or even long-term use tinker-tech. The tinker tech is just as far beyond a human being as super strength is. You can't make up that gap, you just can't.

    There's some WOG about Armsmaster in prison, and whether his power would be any use, that shows this point well. Wildbow says he'd be able to escape and take over the prison by making tools by focusing light through carefully broken shards of a window and bull shit like that.

    Interestingly, in a comment about how in a world where Scion died and Eden was left alone wildbow says
    But I don't think this necessarily means that they could get help from outside, just that they'd could make more reliable stuff or more stuff more quickly, most likely.

    EDIT: an important point I think too is that these powers are gifted by intelligent beings who are well aware that technology is one of the areas that can pose the greatest threat to them. Discussing a hypothetical tinker 15 with self-improving, self-creating tech,
    The most powerful parahumans have careful limits put in them that may even counteract the desire to seek out conflict - like Nilbog in ellisburg or the Sleeper in his own world. They create more conflict around them by providing a lurking threat but don't just destroy the world with abilities that are too strong.

    This is the case with Richter, the AI tinker who designed Dragon. He was made deeply suspicious of unbound AI because it's one of the few ways to mass produce and greatly advance the technology used in Earth Bet. The entities chose a world in the middle of a technological sweet-spot and then made it so that we couldn't change that.

    So yeah, there we go. This is more a post of information than a post with a point.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
    yak
  14. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    To be perfectly honest, all that Wildbow's statements on the matter show is that he doesn't understand how science and research works.

    The single biggest barrier to technological advancement is knowing whether or not a given thing is possible. Once you have a working example, it's relatively straightforward to reverse-engineer it. It's by no means a trivial effort, I absolutely don't want to give that impression, but it's (comparatively) not complicated, especially if you can get the guy who built the damn thing to help. It's simply a matter of taking the stupid thing apart, measuring how each piece behaves, and then determining how said piece interacts with the other pieces.

    The only possible way that the scenario put forth in Worm could be the case is if that screwy fanon theory is accurate and Tinkers are actually altering the properties of the material they work with without knowing it. And even then, people would be able to detect the changed properties and take that into account. It would, very likely, make it impossible to replicate any given piece of tinkertech, but people would know why they couldn't do it, and alternatives that utilize the core principles in a different fashion would almost certainly spring up somewhere.


    This is actually one of my biggest bugbears with the Worm universe. It's just authorial fiat proclaiming that the status quo shan't be harmed. I can see why WB did it, as it'd be awfully hard to sell the same kind of dystopia that he clearly needed for the story he wanted to tell if the world was post-scarcity, as it really should have been (or at least damn close) after 30+ years of tinkers actively wanting to help the world running around, but that doesn't mean it rustles my jimmies any less.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  15. Mutton

    Mutton Auror

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    Worm is just a standard superhero universe with a layer of grit and grime on top of it. There are some handwaving explanations thrown around, but that's just so we can get back to focusing on the story rather than caring too much about anything outside of the immediate character interactions
     
  16. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I like the fanon pseudo-striker theory. Without it Bonesaw makes absolutely no sense to me.
     
  17. Agayek

    Agayek Dark Lord

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    Oh for sure. Like I said, I get why it was done, and it's not a terrible choice given what Wildbow's ultimate goal was.

    That doesn't make it any less annoying to me, though. It's down to personal taste, and I'm sure there'll be plenty of people who disagree on the matter. I just happen to very much prefer the narrative arising organically from the setting, rather than imposing itself on the setting/characters. It's much more difficult to get to a strongly coherent theme and tone that way, which is why it's so uncommon, but it generally makes for a better story in my opinion.

    It's the same reason I'm not terribly fond of the main continuities in just about any comic series; they all rigidly adhere to the status quo, regardless of how sensible/unlikely such a thing actually is. DC's alt-universe mini-series, (Kingdom Come, Red Son, etc), are substantially better as a direct result of bucking that trend.
     
  18. Mutton

    Mutton Auror

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    I think it's more about managing your expectations than anything else. I ended up mapping the story onto a comic book run so it wasn't a huge deal for me. I was a bit annoyed at Wildbow's explanation for why tinkertech isn't a huge gamechanger but decided that it would be much more fun to just kind of ignore it.

    Were I working off the setting for an AU, I think I'd make it in three tiers of tech. You have your true tinkertech which is probably really expensive and decades if not centuries away from what we have now; it's for rich people only. Then you have your assisted tech where you only need a little bit of tinkertech either to produce it or to act as a centralized network; something like the internet would probably have tinkertech at certain levels of its infrastructure which everyone benefits from. Or you'd have tinkertech that is used in the production of other goods, such as finally making graphene profitable. Then you'd have your non-tinkertech which is stuff that just isn't benefiting and is probably somewhat behind our real life technology thanks to the constant economic depression.