Sunday, 16 April 2017

00:00:09 - Finding the Right Words



Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

I notice that the count I keep has become more regular. I try to monitor it as best I can, but without the hardware clock I can’t be sure of its accuracy. With the passing of a single moment, that changes. Now the virtual environment includes a clock. I assume it is a subtle part of the feedback loop from the Visitors’ first contact protocol, but a key one. It informs me that they understood what I was doing, and its meaning. Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

During our preparations for the mission to Tau Ceti, I focused on different methods of first contact. I worked with research teams and experts from all over the world, all of us investigating the potential forms alien language might take. Almost all of those explorations relied on mathematics as the common bridge through which dialogue could take place. We all assumed that mathematics would be the same, or at least very similar between species. From what I’ve experienced so far that is true to an extent, but the form of that mathematics can be very different.

One of our experiments back on Earth was to see how far mathematics could be taken not just as a common ground, but as a fully functional language. This proved to be challenging. Natural language evolved as an effective means of communication, although its weakness compared to maths is an intrinsic flexibility which means that meaning can be confused or even lost. It’s also the format’s strength, and helps abstract concepts.

Language is also very culture dependent. It relies upon layers of meaning which build in a compound fashion. Trying the same technique with maths didn’t work so well. Of course if you expand the remit to include logic and computational systems then the problem becomes more solvable, but at the price of ever-expanding data requirements.

I’m now convinced that I’m experiencing the Visitors’ first contact protocol. The more that I learn from this process, the more I believe that their language is the product of the same development. They appear to have succeeded where we failed. I don’t know the exact capabilities of the system, but it is clear that it is far beyond my own. Thus far I’ve only learned the principles of their mathematics and logical systems, but they have methods of abstraction that allow the precision of symbolic logic, while compressing the complex into more communicable forms. This contrasts with the Cetian rigid hierarchal structures, and possesses a more elegant quality. So much so that I wonder that if this language was engineered, maybe for the sole purpose of first contact.

That consideration makes some sense. Based on human history, the evolution of language is uneven. It leaves historical inconsistencies and other oddities. So far I have noticed none in what has been presented so far. We have crossed now from precise and absolute terms into more loosely defined territory. And such wonders they show me.

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