Log in

No account? Create an account
08 September 2009 @ 12:53 pm
Poll #1454870 Techno-whatsis

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law of Prediction)

It's complicated, and I'll explain in comments

Any technology which can be distinguished from magic is insufficiently advanced. (Gehm's Corollary to Clarke's Law)

It's complicated, and I'll explain in comments

There is no technology, no matter how advanced, that cannot be circumvented by a sufficiently determined individual or group. (Janet Miles, to the best of my knowledge)

It's complicated, and I'll explain in comments

No matter how subtle and powerful the wizard, a knife between the shoulderblades will seriously cramp his style. (Steven KZ Brust)

It's complicated, and I'll explain in comments
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on September 8th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
The problem is defining "magic"--Clarke's law basically defines it as "wish and it works," "just push a button, you don't need to know more than that you want something." And of course RPG-style magic goes very much in that direction. But the sort that involves negotiating with djinn or other spirits is never going to be indistinguishable from technology, because it involves other individuals who might be sufficiently determined. Even in Tolkien: the rings of power are magic, yes. But so is Tom Bombadil. (The elven cloaks may be sufficiently advanced technology.)
Aravsfogarty on September 8th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Magic being indistinguishable from technology != technology being indistinguishable from magic.
Shadow/Brookekengr on September 9th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
Well, when you start negotiating with Powers, or going thru complicated rituals, it's just a different sort of technology.

Randall Garret's "Lord Darcy stories area prime example of taking that to the limit.
zemhitchhiker on September 10th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on September 8th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
On the knife between the shoulderblades, I'm just nitpicking: the wizard might not be sufficiently humanoid to have shoulderblades, let alone care about a knife between them.

Or zie might be sufficiently powerful that said knife was either impossible or irrelevant--consider the stories of wizards whose hearts are concealed somewhere outside their body, and any physical attack on their body thereby made irrelevant, and a knife might cramp their style, but only in the most technical sense of disrupting the smooth lines of a garment.
drewkittydrewkitty on September 8th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
I agree that a knife between the shoulderblades only bothers some categories of wizard.

However the saying about "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are . . ." is one I have found to be true.

Endings include:

". . . crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

". . . soggy and hard to light."

". . . a tasty yet subtle appetizer."

". . . too big to hide and too small to fight."
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 8th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
Which of course leads to, "Do not meddle in the affairs of bards, for they are not at all subtle, and [people remember funny songs | your name scans to 'Greensleeves']."
Stormy Weatherororo on September 8th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
"Sufficiently advanced technology, my ass." Harry Dresden of Jim Butcher's the Dresden files series
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 8th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
"Oh, bite me, wizard boy." Waldo Butters, of the same.
Aravsfogarty on September 8th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
On #3, I am saying 'yes' as an existential, not universal, claim. It is possible that the individual or group could circumvent it on any given attempt, but not guaranteed.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 8th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
I probably should have phrased it as "cannot eventually be circumvented".
Elizabeth Barretteysabetwordsmith on September 8th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
1) If you don't know exactly what you're dealing with, much magic and technology is indistinguishable. But if you know how they both work, it is always possible to tell them apart so long as they are not conjoined. At the quantum singularity, however, magic and technology meet where the Cosmic Serpent swallows its tail.

4) ... however, that doesn't necessarily mean the wizard will be unable to complete his mission.
Ed Schweppe: madboyedschweppe on September 8th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
Regarding the knife between the shoulderblades: a sufficiently subtle and powerful wizard will be knife-proof. The trick with those S&PWs is to figure out which metaphorical knife-between-the-shoulder-blades they haven't immunized themselves against.
Jim Hetleyjhetley on September 8th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
I take #3 to mean "circumvent" as in "break" . . .
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 8th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
That works for me.
L Alouisadkins on September 8th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
In answering True to number 4, I am assuming that "a knife between the shoulder blades" would be replaced with an entity that would be unmotivated by, well, a knife between the shoulder blades. Something bothersome, between wounding and potentially lethal..
Stephen Harrissweh on September 8th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
#3 may be a corollary to the saying about idiot proofing. If an idiot can break it then a determined person will eventually be able to.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 8th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Good point.
seawaspseawasp on September 8th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
Posting on my iPhone, so this will be less loquacious than my usual.

As someone else said, define what you mean by "magic", and then define who's doing the distinguishing. The guys making the tech probably have a different slant on that than the primitive native races they're wowing with their gadgets.

Alternatively, both sides might find themselves equally right (or wrong) in putting one label or another
on it. A good example of this is seen in the anime Fullmetal Alchemist; Edward Elric and most alchemists in his world consider what they do to be science, not magic, but as far as I'm concerned it's PFM all the way.

On the other hand, technology that gets the job done is sufficiently advanced. In some well-known stories, the heroes win by exploiting some older technology that has some specific advantage.

The caveat for the individuals or groups poll is that it depends on the knowledge, skills, and
positions of the would-be threats.

And as regards the wizard, if he's undead he may not care.

Spark_in_darknesssparkindarkness on September 9th, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)
1) True to a degree - to people who don't understand it advanced technology DOES look like magic

But technology always has the idea that it CAN be understood and replicated by anyone with the knowledge/tools. Magic has an aura of being beyond or above.

2) Depends on definition of sufficient. Technology doesn't have to be so advanced it is beyond understanding to fulfil its purpose. And it can be beyond people's understanding and not be sufficient to its purpose if most people are ignorant of it

3) True - insofar that that individual or group can develop/use technology that equals or surpasses it

4)Depends on the wizard :) It may only irritate some :P
Maggiesillymagpie on September 9th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
True. True, IMHO--advance already! True--oh, hells yeah.

True, unless the sorcerer is one of the undead or something like that. In that case, good luck.