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Seven Steampunk Fallacies

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74 Comments

  1. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk February 24, 2011

    concerning #7

    i’ve got a real peeve about giant plywood slugging wrenches… it’s so wrong… but it could be because i spent a carreer working with the real things.

  2. Mr Underby Mr Underby February 24, 2011

    It occurs to me that Mr Underby is a flagrant example of #3.  Oopsie.

  3. Grendel Footman Grendel Footman February 24, 2011

    I have to agree on 6, I don’t have the tools or resources to work much with metal, so plastic made to look like metal it is, besides, otherwise it’d just end up in a landfill anyway

     

    plywood wrenches though, if you can get the real thig, why not just do that

    actually most these I agree on

  4. Phaedra Underby Phaedra Underby February 24, 2011

    I am #3, but then, I’ve long since given up attempting to be Steampunk because we live in a Steampunk city.  You can’t tell me that every single citizen in New Babbage can build wonderous machines, or even knows how to.  Somewhere in New Babbage there is a quiet group of individuals who eschew all that noise and steam and soot.  Who sneer at the latest and greatest “time saving” device, who secretly (or in some cases openly) loathe the various clockwork beings who live in the city.  Who, if they lost a limb, would have absolutely nothing to do with all this rediculous clockwork and would rather die than have a steam-powered heart installed. 

    …not, of course, that *I* would be part of any such group.  We are being merely hypothetical, yes? 

     

  5. Christine McAllister Pearse Christine McAllister Pearse February 24, 2011

    I would have to agree up to a point with Mrs. Underby.  Christine is not very steampunk at all…when was the last time you saw her in goggles or covered in soot? (Heaven forbid!)  The way I see it, there should be “Backdrop” people who are there, quietly in the background living their lives in an unremarkable manner. Otherwise, the amazing becomes less so.  It reminds me of a quote I heard somewhere that says “If everyone is in the parade, who will be there to see it and applaude?”  I leave all the steampunkery to Edward, even if his is more of a shiny variety.

  6. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger February 24, 2011

    For #1, I can agree with the it is what you want it to be within the framework of the era and the genre.  What annoys me is some folks get so wrapped up with the trappings of Steampunkery that they forget the intent of why you’d have it.  So carry a wrench, a real one, if you are the sort that would use one.  I find it amusing that some folks try so hard to fit into the genre that they become almost a mocking stereotype of it.

    I went to a ‘steampunk’ party held by some mainlandy art group, and they had a ‘best dressed steampunk’ contest, which I did not place in.  The irony was the winner doesn’t live in the Steamlands.  What did I wear?  My red sari, my adventure belt, and a pair of goggles.  My argument was that I AM a steampunk so what I wear IS steampunk.  QED.

  7. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse February 28, 2011

    I think number 3 is a matter of degree. I mean how many REAL Victorians ever got turned into Ravens and held in a cage? :-) While not everyone has the finesse for a metal arm, as my dear wife pointed out already, if everyone had them there’d be nothing remarkable about one.

    I think it’s a good article in general. Certainly point number one has ticked me off for ages on certain forums. Ditto number 2.

    • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo February 28, 2011

      You covered my opinions of 1, 2 and 3 better than I could have expressed.

  8. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires February 28, 2011

    1: Agreed. It’s a literary form that can be continued on to other entertainment forms.  But: It doesn’t work in real life. How many people own a mechanical working computational engine? How many people use external combustion to travel?

     Trying to be a real life steampunk makes as much sense as the guy in the movie Dodgeball who thought he was a pirate. Sure we all are probably a bit anachronistic. I wear a pocketwatch and vote Whig when I can.  But the rest comes close to fursuited neurosis, and when it reaches that level too much, I’d rather have no connection to it. Now I’ll go back to gluing cogs to my computer case so i can discuss point 

    2: Steampunk comes from cyberpunk. I believe it was Gardener Dozier who coined the term cyberpunk back when Sterling and Gibson were inventing the genre. Steampunk as a term i think also came out in Asimov’s around the time they both published The Difference Engine. So yes, it’s quite specific, and the punkish aspect, while not about mohawks and Joe Strummer, does have a punk aspect to it. I am assuming the writer did not understand that.

    3: Agreed. It’s a matter of degrees.

    4: I’m not a con person. I went to a con last week and saw con people. I was reminded why I am not a con person, so I can’t really respond to that. Props? Does this invole unstapling the fur tail from the jeans and supergluing a cog there instead, or can you just glue the cog to the tail?

    From an SL perspective steampunks are all a bit DIY. It’s cool, and frankly a lot easier to do victorian tech than modern. Try making a 19th century locomotive in SL without sculpties, and then try making a streamliner cab-forward diesel, again without sculpties. You dont HAVE to make your own stuff, but its nice to know that you can.

    5: More prop stuff. From an SL point of view, I think people sometimes do a very fantastic job of making stuff that looks like it works. Babbage in particular is partly so amazing because you walk the streets looking all around thinking, “I wonder what all this stuff does?” Other places, maybe not so much, sometimes. Babbage is the gold standard.

    6: Stuff is all made from prims which we know is made from primoleum mined at the ANWR rig.

    RL: plastic steampunk props?  Can we also have foam wrenches to LARP with?

    7: In a city which partially rains soot, you might really want some goggles, esp if you are riding a vehicle or just occasionally looking up. One thing I don’t see a lot of in Babbage, myself included, which would make sense, is the humble umbrella. I know from talking to older persons who lived in the 20s in a factory town I once lived in, it was common to use an umbrella when it was dry on main street to protect your clothes from the soot.

     

    • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse March 1, 2011

      Just because it’s one of those things that has bugged me for years, I’ll repeat it again here. With regards to No.2. “Steampunk” was a term coined by Jeter in 1987 in a letter to Locus magazine, three years before The Difference Engine saw publication. It was a play on words of the then popular genre “cyberpunk” a word coined by Bruce Bethke in 1983, (I’ve never heard of Gardener Dozier).

      Jeter’s play on words referred to the need to find a marketing term for the “Victorian fantasies” he, Tim Powers and James Blaylock were writing. While arguably there are punk characters in the books, none of them are central figures.

      I think the writer understood it very well.

      • Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires March 1, 2011

        My apologies on the name spelling. Gardner Dozois. It’s been awhile since I read the old issues:

        from http://onlinedictionary.datasegment.com/word/cyberpunk

        “cyberpunk

        /si:’ber-puhnk/ (Originally coined by SF writer Bruce Bethke
          and/or editor Gardner Dozois). “

        Whether Bethke or Dozois came up with the term, don’t much care. I was mistaken about the date of the term itself. It’s not a very workable term in the grand scope of thing, though it isn’t half as reregttable as dieselpunk, but we’re stuck with it.

        • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk March 1, 2011

          dieselpunk is truly regrettable. pulp or gernsbachian would be more correct.

          • Osric Worbridge Osric Worbridge March 1, 2011

            I never did understand why the term “dieslpunk” was invented when the genre already had a name. I wonder what Doc Savage would think if he knew he was no longer Pulp Fiction. He would probable go to his Fortress of Solitude and decide what to do about it.

            • THE Dredd Pirate Bob THE Dredd Pirate Bob March 1, 2011

              how about these: atompunk, steampunk, clockpunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, biopunk, nanopunk, elfpunk, mythpunk, nowpunk, splatterpunk, cthulhupunk…

              enough? never!

              “SQUIDPUNK: THE MANIFESTO
              Fiction that unlike New Weird, Steampunk, or Slipstream, is at its core
              not only about squid, but about the symbolism of squid as
              color-changing, highly-mobile, alien-looking, intelligent ocean-goers.”

              yes. that’s real. http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2007/10/15/squidpunk-the-new-movement/

               

              • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse March 1, 2011

                You missed flintpunk, sandalpunk, gypsypunk, and probably other equally as stupid suffix-punk words for things that already have genres.

                Bunch of wankpunk.

                • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo March 1, 2011

                  Gothpunk, Punkpunk, Hippiepunk, Amishpunk, Kosherpunk, Jazzpunk, Sportpunk, Polynesianpunk …

                  • Phaedra Underby Phaedra Underby March 2, 2011

                    Hey! I’m a proud member of the Amishpunk community!!

                    • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo March 2, 2011

                      *Rolls his eyes*
                      “Of course you are.”

                      *mutters* “You Amishpunk are so full of pride and punkyness it is amazing you ever get any barns raised.”

                    • Phaedra Underby Phaedra Underby March 2, 2011

                      I am also a proud member of Superiorpunk.

                      *lifts nose* 

                      So Amishpunk-Superiorpunk.  Bow before me you lesser member of Oceanpunk 

                      *grins*

                • Christine McAllister Pearse Christine McAllister Pearse March 2, 2011

                  *sighs and shakes her head at Edward* Such language my dear! :-)  (I agree though!)

                • Grendel Footman Grendel Footman March 2, 2011

                  stonepunk, like the Flintstones

              • Yang Moreau Yang Moreau March 1, 2011

                XD I’m particularly fond of Stormy’s try to coin greenpunk, but would that be the same as biopunk?

                • Sky Netizen Sky Netizen March 1, 2011

                  http://io9.com/#!5340958/could-greenpunk-be-the-new-steampunk

                  The manifesto itself is a year or two old now, it didn’t seem to get much traction. Personally, I’m still pretty darn intrigued with some of the concepts.

                  And yes, it might be a bit much. But even if all of the “-punk” names, manifestos and whatnot seems like dreadful overkill and white noise at times variety is the spice of life. Props to those out there with the spark of creativity.

                  • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo March 2, 2011

                    biopunk, greenpunk, hippiepunk same difference.

        • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 1, 2011

          ooooo- Gonzo-Historical is a knocky little term!  I like it! 

          • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska April 1, 2011

            Mr Tim Powers is an author of first rate Gonzo-historical novels. His most steampunk would be Anubis Gates. And The Stress of Her Regard is a real treat, as the main characters are all romantic poets (Byron and Shelly figure prominently).

    • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt March 26, 2011

      ~Chimes in as a convenient way of getting her feet wet in Babbage~

      1:
      of course it’s not. What if someone wants it to be post-apoc- and hot
      pink post apoc at that?! Steam knows steam. We know that, right? “I
      don’t know what it is… but I know it when I see it.”

      2: I’ve always had trouble with this one- Honestly, the stuff that is
      Steampunk originated in the era it seems to parallel, didn’t it? Even
      if it wasn’t called that at the time. Jules Verne and H.G.Wells are
      steampunk, Beyond Thunderdome isn’t. And the term “punk” in that
      particular era refered to… a wooden barrel plug. It wasn’t even in use
      as a slang term for a bad apple or a young hooligan. I think it’s a
      misnoemer, and the biggest reason for the misunderstanding of the
      genre.(I like to use the newer term, “Steam-Vic” to distinguish it,
      myself.)

      3: Well you can certainly can get a running start on
      Steampunkery by squeezing yourself into a corset and buttoned shoes, but
      you do need to adopt a slightly different ethic than RL Victorian. One
      could dress purely Victorian, no gear at all, and then surround
      themselves with laboratory equipment and enormous tesla coils, and
      they’d still be steamers, wouldn’t they? Even without prosthetics.

      4:
      Well then I’m done for. I don’t imagine the people who populate the
      steampunk landscape in my brain all build everything they use
      themselves… just as all racecar drivers don’t build their own cars-
      and just as I didn’t build my own Crest Spinbrush.  

      5: I actually had the impression that much of the point of Steampunk gadgetry was precisely that it doesn’t
      work… it goes whirrrrrrrrrr… it goes Clackaclackaclacka… it goes
      WHOOSH! And then it goes Bing! And it accomplishes exactly zero. Some of
      it of course, accomplishes magical effects, labelled science-fiction
      because of it’s impossibility, and rarely an actual result of the
      falacious scientific “laws” by which Steampunk lives and breathes. On
      the other hand, people who hotglue gears to stuff and call it Steampunk
      are kind of annoying.

      6: Metal is durable, malleable, and
      decorative, true. But let’s not forget the beauty of wood, or leather,
      or carven stones! How about we just say, “if it’s plastic, it’s crap.”

      7:
      There is a very reasonable reason for goggles- they are (and were at
      the RL turn of the 19th century) immenently practical for keeping fumes,
      gas, grease, and coal smoke out of your eyes. In a world that runs on
      steam, pollution is a given fact. I’ll keep my goggles thanks- fourty
      seven pairs, in fact, all of which have additional featury functions. 

      And the bonus- Steampunk without whimsy makes no sense at all.

       

      ~waves a clockwork wing, with a wink and a smile~

      See you in the Babbage Skies!

       

  9. THE Dredd Pirate Bob THE Dredd Pirate Bob March 1, 2011

    here, this is so much more polite than the usual ‘what is steampunk’ threads. The is not one flame war ready to explode. BY now it should be a full on steaming argument, scuse pun. I’m very disappointed in you all.

    • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo March 1, 2011

      I am more than happy to flame you Bob. I don’t want to disappoint you.

      YOU ARE WRONG BOB! EVERY THING YOU SAY IS WRONG YOU MANKY GIT!

      Is that better?

      • THE Dredd Pirate Bob THE Dredd Pirate Bob March 1, 2011

        Yes. Thank you.

        *coughs*

        NO YOU ARE!/I AM A LAWYER AND I WILL SUE/I have some knowledge of Photoshop and i can see the pixels/Yeah, like wikipedia is always right!/I AM ON PILLS NOW BECAUSE OF THIS! etc…

        • Grendel Footman Grendel Footman March 2, 2011

          just remember, whoever compares the other to hitler automatically loses, it’s one of the rules of teh interwebs

          • THE Dredd Pirate Bob THE Dredd Pirate Bob March 2, 2011

            Don’t tell me the rules! You are worse than Hitler!

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox March 1, 2011

      *tackles Bob, gives him a noogie, and punches him in the stomach a couple of times for good measure*  YOU WRONG!  YOU WRONG!  BECAUSE YOU JUST WRONG!  AN’ IMMA DE FAVORITE, AN’ DON’T YOU FORGET IT!

        • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse March 2, 2011

          *thinks Tenk’s lack of proper food and hygiene facilities has finally turned his brain to mush*

        • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox March 2, 2011

          *sticks tongue out at Mr. Tenk, smiles sweetly at Mr. Pearse, and runs off with Bob*  You wants to see my sling shot?

           

    • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska March 1, 2011

      GROW UP AND GET A LIFE BOB!!!!!!!

  10. Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska March 2, 2011

    The ghuls and trow that live in the sewers, are they Stinkpunk?

  11. Aeolus Cleanslate Aeolus Cleanslate March 3, 2011

    Monkpunk (Friar Tuck with goggles)

    Trunkpunk (fits in a suitcase)

    Drunkpunk (bows to Bob)

    Funkpunk (remember The Wiz?)

    Hunkpunk (Clooney in a tophat)

  12. DaveDorm Gaffer DaveDorm Gaffer March 12, 2011

    You all owe me for a container of monitor wipes. Blew soda all over them laughing at this thread. Best so far Stonepunk, like Flintstones. I could so see a sim based on Bedrock.

  13. Senjata Witt Senjata Witt March 26, 2011

    ~drops from the rafters, late as usual.~

  14. Holocluck Henly Holocluck Henly March 26, 2011

    Does a person have to look Steampunk to fit in? I’m sure what they do can also qualify. Maybe appear as a mild-mannered citizen outside the lab.  In my case I wear 3D glasses in SL anyway, so it works out and serves a function; if I didn’t wear them overall I might not have worn them in New Babbage.

    While I’m not anywhere near immersed or committed to the genre, I’ve great respect for it and have a MAJOR peeve about people who take the “punk” and run with it, calling Mad Max world cybernetics, dirt and rust “Steampunk” just because an apocalyptic event set them back technologically.  They miss the point that Steampunk is about moving forward and integrating invention and technology with the elegance of an era. 

    Well about 6, the point is for it to APPEAR like the real thing. We don’t have that problem in SL.  btw I apologize for using my Mole hoverboard a couple of weeks back.  Once the shop is set up and enough art ready, I’ll take time to adapt it with respect to the Covenant and use it again thereafter.

    About 1: I heard you folks were extremely serious, didn’t want anyone setting foot into the sim without the right look etc. I’m glad it was only a rumor. So far I’ve met mostly nice peoples and get good vibes from the place. Glad I finally checked it out.

    • Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein March 26, 2011

      Tsk tsk! If the point is to have fun, what fun is it being too serious? Though we may make little in character jibes and jokes about innappropriate attire such as three inch skirts in the midst of a winter snow drift, it’s all in fun. When I first came to town in my oriental flavored garb people were calling me the purple man and one lady thought it was a dress and I was a woman and asked me to join her women’s club. Of course the overly long hair doesn’t help… 

      The dress code isn’t strict, and what poking we may do is merely in fun and a lighthearted spirit of what people of the time and place may generally react with to the sights of such visitors, short of offense.

      I would dare to think people adapt in their own time and as much as they feel comfortable with and as far as I’ve seen, it’s quite accepted.

    • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska April 1, 2011

      A mole hoverboard? Does it have anything to do with Avagadro?

      • Holocluck Henly Holocluck Henly April 2, 2011

        Nah, just your average nearsighted, burrowing type mole without the “-ecular” part

        (although that’s not a bad place to look for ideas on modification)

  15. Senjata Witt Senjata Witt March 27, 2011

    I’m personally inclined kindly toward Miss Underby’s remarks about prosthetics and automatons- I object on the whole to the constant anthropomorphizing of what are still, by rational and right-thinking persons, considered to be precisely what they are: functional tools. It is reasonable of course, to make them estheticly pleasing, but to “humanize” them to the point where they might mislead some uninformed soul to believe that cogitation engines are sensitive, sentient, and emotional beings is simply preposterous- nay- potentially disasterous! I have witnessed the automaton-movement posters about the walls of this fair city, and find myself appalled to imagine what sort of malicious mortal human might perpetrate such an atrocious practical joke upon his fellow citizens. 

     

    • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska April 1, 2011

      Mss Witt, there is also the problematic, shall we say, transitional state, as is the case with my able Mr Oldrich, late of the Prussian Army, who was badly wounded and is now more automaton than human, however his brain is intact. There are also quite a few constructs here that you should get to know more, Sheryl Skytower and Averil Falcon, to name but two.

      • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

        A man who has recieved great bodily injury and requires prosthetic assistance precisely illustrates the purpose to which such machines are most admirably and appreciatively applied. And anyone who thrives under such assistance is likewise to be respected and admired. But a clockwork- a machine- an automaton, if you will, is no less a tool designed to serve specific functions. A rational, sentient being can think logically, but a machine cannot, conversely, think or function illogically, in the manner of one who acts out of emotion, or be expected to make judgements based upon any ethic other than that with which their creator programmed them. By extension, automatons are merely extensive prosthetics of their creators, are they not? I find it utterly preposterous that anyone would expect us to believe that such devices have sentiments and emotional responses to stimuli- even to the extent of taking offense at my remarks!

        • Primary Gears Primary Gears April 2, 2011

          Miss Witt seems to be serving as an educational example to the adage “ignorance is bliss”.

          For a sentient machine to think logically is assumed. To then say we are unable to act illogically or against a programmed ethic is a contradiction. Ethics are often illogical. Just ask any cat.

          You’re also labouring under the misguided prejudice that only emotional being are sentient.

          • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

            First allow me to stress- I am convinced that I do not, at this point, debate ethics or sentience with a machine, but rather, with the creator of that machine, through a mechanical conveyance of that creator’s contrivance.

            Second, I take considerable exception to any implication of ignorance on my part for expressing a rational, scientific view, despite the popular social (but entirely unscientific) sentimentalistic expression of machines as self-aware and sentimental.  We are scientists for heavens’ sake! How can so many adopt and support so casually such a purely emotional and irrational stance with any hope of being taken seriously? Of course only emotional beings can be sentient- that is a portion, at least, of the very definition of the word, Latin sentient-, sentiens, present participle of sentire: to feel.

            Ethics are often, truly, illogical. But a cogitation engine defines logic by a set of truths with which it is programmed- not a fundamental Truth, but rather, a potentially fallacious pre-described condition. If such an engine is programmed with the incorrect calculation that 2+2=7, then every calculation of that machine will be incorrect- but not illogical.  If a machine is programmed with the “fact” that God made the earth in 7 days, and that all creation is subject only to that divine maker, then I cannot even fathom what sort of apparent nonsense that machine might offer forth, but I can tell you- it would be entirely logical, despite it’s apparent irrationality.

            Lastly, I likewise take exception to your term, “prejudice”, which implies that I am somehow biased against these machines and automatons- a patent falsehood!  I admire the elegance and effectiveness of machines and their endless versatility!  I cherish the advantages we are afforded by their existence. I am wholly grateful for the countless improvements of all sorts that machines and automatons offer our world. What concerns me is that the beauty and efficiency of these machines are being wasted beneath an ever-increasing and entirely irrational drive by their creators to “humanize” them- I presume in some effort to make them more palatable to the non-scientific community. I posit that doing so does the machines themselves an injustice, by sapping away that glorious efficiency, diverting attention and computational power toward sentimental arguments and pursuits which serve only to demean them- or worse, to imply that they have been externally demeaned!

            I have not, to my knowledge, abused, nor witnessed the abuse of any machine or automaton during my tenure in New Babbage, and find this campaign even more ridiculous in it’s apparent opposition to some entirely imagined hardship.  I could waste my time plastering the walls with posters protesting the presence of spun sugar in my coal products just as easily.

            • Primary Gears Primary Gears April 2, 2011

              Your recent arrival to New Babbage would explain your lack of understanding of the context of the posters. http://cityofnewbabbage.com/reader/node/700

              That charges were dismissed with the implication being that the killing of a non-human was perfectly fine. This set up a protest by the mechanicals and had the anthropomorphoid animals nervous.

              Your convictions of who you debate with are noted. Humans have a long history of convincing themselves that certain things are true without being able to show any evidence of support. Are you familiar with the writings of Immanuel Kant?

              Two misconceptions that you should reassess are: that an engine in incapable of learning. In an analogue creation the programming of 2+2=7 would correctly remain so. However in more advanced models observation would prove this programming incorrect and it would be rewritten to conform to observable fact. Not all mechanical bodies have the mind of an abacus. The second is your assumption of what is an emotional being. If you can provide me an example of your scientific test that proves machines only mimic self awareness, I will readily take it – provided you agree to take the same test.

              Miss Sheryl is certainly one of the most emotional clockworks I’ve ever encountered, and I believe her Uncle would be very affronted by your implication that her behaviour is a projection of himself, as would she.

              • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse April 2, 2011

                I think that’s enough Mr. Gears. The young lady is still bound by parochial understandings of science. She probably doesn’t believe in magic either.

                • Odnar Halberstadt Odnar Halberstadt April 2, 2011

                  That’s because there is no such thing as magic. Don’t start that silly talk again.

                  • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 6, 2011

                    Consider, Mr. Halberstadt, that any technologie sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. There are a thousand-thousand things we have not yet come to understand, and these we call “magic”. This does not concede that they will never be understood, nor that they do not exist at all.

                • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

                  Oh for pity’s sake. I came to New Babbage in pursuit of knowledge and understanding, and I find myself facing a unified front of patently illogical nonsense and name-calling.  For your information my good Mister Pearse, my “parochial” education consists of not one but several advanced degrees from a reknowned and metropolitan university, which include not least a Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology, and 9 years in advanced field studies abroad. I am not some peasant school marm with an honorary diploma from Caledon Tech, and your own courtesy might well bear inspection if you have somehow come to the conclusion that the robot and I were having anything more than a quite reasonable, if heated, ideological debate. 

                  As for magic, I’ll thank you to reserve that particular debate for another day, and a less public forum.

                  • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse April 6, 2011

                    If you’ve come to New Babbage in search of understanding Miss Witt, then your dismissive attitude to things you disbelieve in will not serve you well. There are significant members of the community who have had experiences that current scientific thinking declares impossible, yet those incidents have happened: Time Travel, extra-dimensional travel, interplanetary travel (well they came to us), shape changers, entombed monsters, as well as self aware machines. I have yet to see a scientific explanation for Cloud Angels.

                    Our very own Mister Holmes has been quoted as saying “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

                    While I don’t have any formal degrees, my experience is considerable.

                    • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 6, 2011

                      Kindly forebear, Mister Pearse. I have not, in point of fact, dismissed anything whatsoever. And if you have some wish to speak with me on such matters in a less publican arena, I would be more than happy to oblige. I would suggest though that you do not presume to know my thoughts on the matter before they are spoken- unless you wish to add mind-reading to your list of experienced wonders.

              • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

                Previously you have argued that lack of emotion does not disqualify a clockwork from sentience, and when corrected in point of fact, you argue the opposite- that machines are in fact emotional.

                Even were this flight of fancy a possibility, surely some boundaries must be drawn. If one argues that one cannot prove a machine has no feelings, ergo, one must assume such feelings exist, then by such flawed logic, I cannot prove the existance of an invisible pink unicorn (long may her golden hooves shine) ergo, she must exist. I likewise cannot prove that my copper kettle is not weeping in agony every time I set it upon the flames.

                And I have at no point suggested that machines were incapable of learning.  Only that a machine given incorrect data will produce flawwed results. And any such machine would continue to present such flawwed results until given some reason to adjust it’s data. Ironically, the same is entirely true of sentient beings. This does not, however, provide any evidence that they are one and the same.

                Noted also, and with appreciation, is the reduction in the personally hostile temor of your letters.

                • Primary Gears Primary Gears April 2, 2011

                  Madam, it was yourself who claimed “but a machine cannot, conversely, think or function illogically, in
                  the manner of one who acts out of emotion”

                  I have not argued that all machines are emotional. I have provided an example of one who is to show the fallacy of your argument.

                  Your second point that a machine cannot, “be expected to make
                  judgements based upon any ethic other than that with which their creator
                  programmed them” implies they are incapable of adjusting their data independently. Or learning.

                  Arguing by false assumptions about invisible pink unicorns does
                  not negate the presence of existing emotional clockworks. Inability to
                  prove something does not exist does not displace the burden of proof to show it does exist. If this is your method of scientific investigation then automatons are not your only sphere of ignorance.

                  • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 3, 2011

                    At this point sir, I must needs offer a white flag, not of concession, but of a temporary armistice- your points are entirely valid, and my own logics somewhat befuddled, at least for the moment. I will take your points therefore, under further consideration, and re-evaluate my position in the matter. I do thank you, or your creator, at the least, for a spirited and somewhat enlightening discussion of such matters. It was a brisk tonic to my spirit.

    • Primary Gears Primary Gears April 2, 2011

      Perhaps it would be wise to hope that such of us who have read your misguided comments are never placed in the emotional predicament of having to render aid to you.

      It would indeed be unfortunate if we followed the logical choice.

      • Senjata Witt Senjata Witt April 2, 2011

        It would indeed be impossible for a machine to do anything but precisely that.

      • Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo April 2, 2011

        Blah Blah blah… Never trust a tin-can, Miss.

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