Interview with Florence Ambrose

Text written by Mark Stanley, Saved by Beejay!

Updated 15/09/2013, based on formatting by Brian-M and makomk

Originally posted by Wirewolf:

The only question I can come up with that I can't already imagine an answer to based on what we know of her from the comic would be this:

'As a non-human who was raised among humans, what do you see as our greatest flaw?'

If she decided to answer, I might follow up with:

'What do you think we might do to address that flaw?'

From Ms. Ambrose:

It's hard for me to say what is a flaw in humans. Everything works in the right situation. If I must pick something, it would be that humans become afraid too easily, and the urge to "do something!" outruns careful thought.

How to address it? Other than changing the brains to secrete more oxytocin, stop and think about the situation and don't let yourself be rushed into making choices.

Originally posted by Peter da Silva:

Just how do you make those finely formed fricatives with canine lips?

From Ms. Ambrose:

It's ventriloquism. People can do the same thing. Practice talking while smiling and you'll see what I mean. [Big Grin]

Originally posted by Jeep-Eep:

So many questions, so little time... I'd ask her about her history, what her life had been like I mean her early life and all the way through to Uni and her first job. Or what she thinks the fate of her kind would be. And after she had finished, or said that she didn't have time, I'd bow deeply and thank her for her response.

From Ms. Ambrose.

My early life. I was a lot closer to the ground back then. In some ways it was easier going around on all fours, so many of the good smells are down low. I had a good childhood. Anyone who has had a puppy knows they're not just a pet, they're part of the family. Things did change a bit after I started to talk. Ecosystems Unlimited was… less than pleased to find out their prototypes were no longer clumps of a few cells sitting in a freezer. However, that part of the story must wait for another time if I'm going to keep this short.

I thought my career path was going to be a helper dog. No hands, on the human I.Q. scale I tested about 80. My owner was able to get me enrolled in a school with disabled students, and I count them among my earliest friends. It's also given me perspective. I may have my have a wet black nose and a tail, but I know humans who would trade places with me in a instant. Richard, one of my dearest friends, has cerebral palsy. I was going to be his helper. When his wheelchair broke down on the way home, that's when I got interested in learning how to fix things. I never wanted him to be stuck waiting in the rain again. It is with some sadness that I wasn't able to follow that path. Things changed again when I turned thirteen. I started to stand on my hind legs (though not very well), my hands developed, and I went through the neural pruning process that humans go through at age five. The only way I can describe it is that things started making sense. I could see how concepts and ideas fit together. I started attending ”normal“ school. And my owner Scott went off to college. That was the biggest change for me, up to that then we were always there for each other.

Things were more challenging at the new school. My balance wasn't very good, and I kept dropping down to all fours. Wearing clothing still a new experience, and it took a while before I found clothes that were comfortable. There were little things, decisions on whether the tail should be covered or exposed. (Most of us feel it's okay to have the tail exposed, though a couple of us use tail sleeves to keep it covered.) I had a lot of catch up to do in the school work, though it came pretty easily. The teachers wanted me to succeed, I think they were proud of their handiwork. I was seen mostly as a person, but I was also an experiment. Rather like if a robot were attending your high school, people would want to see what it was capable of. Socially, well, I got along better with the boys than the girls. I don't know if it was the hunter mindset, or if it were that the social cliques were just too subtle for me. I had girl friends, but most of my friends were male. I didn't date in high school. I was too different. When I was out with friends, it was just being out with friends.

College. I knew at this point that I wanted to be an engineer. The idea of starships fascinated me. Using magnetic fields to grab the positrons and electrons that form from quantum vacuum and accelerating them out of the area creating a spot of negative energy. Then building on that as you create an area of lower space/time density. But I digress, if I start going into the technical issues we could be here all day. I could walk pretty well on my hind legs at this point, though I still needed to use a cane or a wall for stopping and standing still. Richard was there as well, and college was much easier for both of us with and old friend we could count on. I found out about tai chi and started taking classes, which finally improved my balance enough to toss away my cane.

I suppose this point is as good as any to bring up that humans are very immediate in how they think. I don't believe Bowman's Wolves would have ever come up with the phrase "out of sight, out of mind". We think more in paths. I've spoken to people who think that technology will take a jump forward when we meet an alien race. Bowman's wolves are, in many ways, an alien race.

I bring that up because it had an application in how starships work. I was watching cows when I was told that they don't go the shortest path from the barn to the pasture, they go the easiest. The least amount of energy. Space isn't smooth, it's lumpy. There are knots and whorls, and I got to wondering if the straightest path between stars might not be the easiest. I was able to get a job at the space station that serviced the star ships and began collecting records of their energy use as they traveled. It took some time, but we were able to convince them to alter their routes. They're still not at the lowest energy paths, that's going to take more time and more mapping, but it's a start. Already they've saved two percent of the energy they needed to travel, which may not sound like much but when you're talking interstellar distances, that's a lot of fuel.

The fate of my kind? That's a very good question. I really don't know. We are prototypes. Test beds. There are restrictions and safeguards built into us. I understand why. I'd insist on the same thing if a new artificial intelligence went on line. But after we've proven ourselves, after we've gone a few generations and shown that we're safe, I'd like to see those safeguards removed. It could be that Doctor Bowman is a step ahead of us on this one. The robots here have worked around their safeguards, and there is the possibility that is the point, that the safeguards are like training wheels. Designed to help us do what is right until we are responsible enough to do so ourselves.

There are still very few Bowman's wolves. I'd like to see more of us, it feels very fragile to know that with three deaths that all the males of your species could be gone.

It's going to be interesting. There's so many unknowns. They'll be problems to overcome. But I'm looking forward to it. Early humans found that with domesticated wolves, they could do more. It was a partnership in which both sides benefited. I see us as a continuation of that partnership.

Originally posted by Stuffington Fluffypants aka Fluffy:

I'd ask her "What does the name Bob smell like". It may not be a direct order, but I hope it would be sufficiently compelling to get an answer.

I've read a few stories to get a better understanding of wolf perceptions, but none have approached Mark's treatment of Florence.

Maybe during the half hour the conversation would turn to how a wolf would perceive hominid society. To what extend they carry the ideas of pack life to various social instutions... For example would they think thoughts like... ”My manager is the Alpha of this group, but he's treated as the Omega of the pack of managers, and Beta of his family“. Do you dynamically manage overlapping pack structures applying them to social groups? What social groups are least packlike?

We'll just have to talk later about my fictional wolf species and their protolanguage. They are based a bit on what I know about Bowman's wolves... I'd also like to hear more about your adolescence, shifting as it were from a normal looking canine to an intelligent bipedal one.

Yeah... I fear I would talk with her for months at a time if we could...

From Ms. Ambrose:

The name Bob smells like, well, Bob. When I think of how a person named Bob smells, it's outdoors, the smell of brick dust and mud and sweat mingled with dedication and a little bit of resignation and tiredness.

Everyone I knew until I came to Jean was human. I was raised as a pet before I started talking. I wasn't raised as a wolf. I've read about wolves, especially the red wolf on which I'm based. While my instincts pull at me a bit differently than humans, I've never lived in a true pack structure. My conjecture shouldn't carry any more weight than human conjecture.

One of the smallest human groupings is the band. Essentially a family. Wolves have never gone past this level. Primates and monkeys have gone to the tribe level and even beyond that where food is plentiful. Humans, of course, have gone to villages, nations, worlds. Wolves, beyond the band level, fight. I don't know if that's a something Bowman's wolves will avoid or if that's going to be problems when there are enough of us. Humans as overlapping packs sounds logical, much like overlapping social circles where the "edges" contact and interact with other circles. The largest pack like structure I can think of is Japanese society, where there are no equals, but every person is either superior or inferior in social position to another. The least pack like structures are in the creative endeavors like a think tank, where whoever gets the best idea first runs with it and others are free to follow or not depending on their whim.

Going from four feet to two. It was an... interesting time. I had walked on my hind legs before, it's a common trick that you teach to pets, and it's nice to be able to see things on tops of tables and counters. Also my family was less likely to tell me to "Get down!" if I didn't put my paws on the table when I was looking. My hands got more sensitive as they developed, and along with the changes to my hips, made walking on my hind legs grew easier. I'm glad of the changes to the hip sockets, that's a weak point in canines. One detail that got overlooked is that I needed to use the bathroom more often. My hips did go to the bowl shape to support the internal organs, just the details of those organs resting on the bladder got overlooked. Two legs are more efficient than four, I can run farther as a biped than a quad, though not as fast. Best sequence I've found is to take off on all fours and shift to two legs once I'm up to speed. I started wearing clothing. Velcro is a godsend when you have paws that aren't yet developed as hands. Luckily I could grip even before I started standing on two legs, a cane was very helpful. Mentally, that's when things started to come together for me. Neural pruning in action. Having mental, physical, and social changes happening all at the same time did keep things from getting boring, though on the plus side, I never had to deal with pimples.

Originally posted by Sleepy John:

Given a day in the future when there are enough Bowman's wolves to have a selfsustaining population and culture, would you want to have continued contact with humans?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Definitely. For a very long time humans are going to be culturally, technologically, and socially moving at a faster pace than Bowman's wolves. If we decide to isolate ourselves, we'll be left behind in the Red Queen's race. Also, I think we'll both do better if we work together. The differences in how we approach things gives us much greater flexibility. Right now, people are only seeing scents as simple things, something to disrupt so that mosquitoes can't find people or in luring pests. How does an immune cell find a cancer cell? Smell is one of the earliest senses, and one of the first abilities used to find and track down prey. I'm looking forward to seeing what we come up with together.

Originally posted by The Old Wolf:

That's a serious question.

There have been enough hints dropped about the other Bowman's Wolves to indicate that they are as diverse in their personalities and character traits as humans are. An entire society of gengineered wolves with the qualities that Florence posesses might well decide that humans are just too ignorant to be worth associating with other than for trade purposes, and go off to establish a world of their own somewhere.

If, however, a viable population of sentient wolves decided that they liked where they were, this raises other questions.

It's to be assumed that the huge overpopulation of robots on Jean is a temporary phenomenon, and that once completely established as a viable and terraformed world, humans would colonize in vast numbers. Would humans be willing to share society with a large population of anthropomorphized animals? Knowing my species, I can almost hear the prejucicial epithets being invented...

From Ms. Ambrose:

I am just one example. I've been told I'm an optimist. It's not a bad way to see things. Just look at the people on the forum here. It certainly proves that humans are worth associating with. [Smile]

There are more humans coming to Jean. Big slow colony ships. Though big here means thousands of colonists, not millions. The majority of people on colony worlds are born there. Biotic potential, geometric progression, whichever you call it, humans can fill open spaces very fast when they want to.

I've encountered people who don't like the idea of talking animals. Man playing God. Bad idea to create a competitor race. What are the rules of etiquette for begging for scraps in a French restaurant? Culturally, I like to believe we're enough alike to get beyond our differences.

Originally posted by Tuyu:

Originally posted by The Old Wolf:

It's to be assumed that the huge overpopulation of robots on Jean is a temporary phenomenon, and that once completely established as a viable and terraformed world, humans would colonize in vast numbers. Would humans be willing to share society with a large population of anthropomorphized animals?

Considering the number of robots on Jean who are opposed to scrapping themselves, asking that question in regards to them is far more germane...meesa don' think the robot population is gonna be shrinking any time soon...ask Florence what she thinks about that!

From Ms. Ambrose:

I worry about the robots. They have safeguards built into them as well. There's a lot of them and from the organic standpoint, they can be rather frightening. The majority of robots are still in the "puppy dog" phase, only the robots from Factory One have reached the age where neural pruning has occurred. Factory One was never a very productive factory. When the robots from factory four and five start reaching neural pruning age, things will become... interesting.

Originally posted by Murray:

Originally posted by Jeep-Eep:

So many questions, so little time... I'd ask her about her history, what her life had been like I mean her early life and all the way through to Uni and her first job.

That sounds like what I would ask, though if I had time for another subject, perhaps what she thought of science fiction, and it's fans, in the late 20th and early 21st century.

From Ms. Ambrose:

It was a time of great optimism. Science was becoming democratized. Rather than in the hands of a few, the stories were about average people with the power to burn through walls with a ray gun, fly across the country in their own vehicles, own and control power sources that could destroy cities. The greatest optimism was that given such power, people would use it for good. With the advent of the atomic bomb, it was almost as if people's eyes popped open with the realization that one person COULD destroy a city and there are far too many people you don't want to have that kind of power. The innocence of the earlier science fiction stories never quite recovered.

Fans sounded like they were among the hopeful. With the cold war and the two major powers at the time each with enough weapons to destroy the other, you got Star Trek. A show that portrayed the conflict as temporary, and old enemies can become allies with the passage of years. There was conflict, but overall, it was very positive. The fans left behind more than they knew. With so many people writing blogs, I wonder what they would have thought about their words being preserved and read hundreds of years later by people looking for a glimpse of life in the twenty first century?

Originally posted by M. Reynard G.:

Lets see...

"Miss Ambrose, being raised by humans, a species that perceives things radically different from you, having worked under an extra-terrestrial, and having observed closely the unique electro- mechanical A.I.s of Jean, what would you say is that characteristic most noble and worthy in any of the above.

Oh, and speaking of working under an extra terrestrial, when can I get my wallet, wrist watch, and left shoe back?"

From Ms. Ambrose:

For humans and their children (In our thoughts and actions, if not biology), the willingness to put what is best for oneself aside and do what is best for the greatest number of people. Sam's view is a little different. His most noble goal is to one day lead an entire nation, and hopefully make it to the space port before they catch him.

Here's your watch and wallet back. As for your left shoe, I need to catch up with experiment 626 for that one.

Originally posted by Nebulous:

Originally posted by Nohbody:

Originally posted by Phantasm00:

1: Are you seeing anyone right now?

2: What are you doing Saturday night?

Looks like someone didn't read the last paragraph of my original post... [Razz]

*evil grin* I just can't help it.

1: Would you like a date with me?

2: How about some raisins?

Seriously though, maybe something like

Is having your sense of smell blocked more like being blind or being deaf?

From there, I'm sure that the discussion of differences in sensory limits would veer towards color blindness, but I'm not sure by what path.

From Ms. Ambrose:

As dried fruit goes, dates and raisins are very close. I know I shouldn't eat raisins. I shall have to pass on the date as well.

Much would depend on how the sense is blocked or avoided. If something is downwind, I can't smell it. It's like seeing a book and not being able to open it to read the contents. Ammonia keeps me from smelling and it hurts. I think the closest analogy to that is getting soap in your eyes. Spacesuits make the world seem small. It's like being in a tiny, tiny room that you know is a stadium. Everything seems close until you start walking and it takes a long time to reach the wall that appears to be in reach from where you stand.

Originally posted by e_voyager:

My first question would be:

Miss Ambrose have spent some time with your new captain "Sam" can you honestly say that you've learned something useful and productive that may be of benifest to future generation of humans and AI's of whatever nature?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Sam has been very interesting to work for. His race is much younger than ours. To put it in perspective, Sam's race achieved intelligence and tool use before dinosaurs evolved on his world. The sqids need for external parts for skeletons made them very good at locating and attempting to acquire items they need, or just desire at the moment. I think Sam would do very well with waldos or in a suit of powered armor. Though when I suggested Sam in powered armor to friends, their reaction was... less than enthusiastic. I think I've learned beneficial things from Sam, patience if nothing else. [Smile]

Originally posted by Nohbody:

Now that the subject has had time to mature a bit (so to speak, anyway [Razz] ), here's something that I was wondering about.

While there are some similarities in the social functionality (for lack of a better term, off the top of my head) of humans and wolves, there are also differences of various kinds, and more than a few of them (much coming, I think, from the different perspectives as an omnivorous species that tends to be prey to a lot of things, and a carnivorous one that tends to eat prey).

My question to Florence would be this:

Of those societal behaviors of humans that have been adopted by you, how much of it is because they make sense to you, as a sapient being, of being the better way to do things, and not just adopted as "go along to get along" measures, to keep from being incarcerated or terminated as a "danger to society"?

Or, to put it more briefly, how much is "you like the idea," and how much is "you like the idea of continuing to live outside of a prison"?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Being raised by humans, most of it makes sense. I don't have a cultural "wolf" background to compare it to. Not all human behavior makes sense to other humans, so I can't claim to be an expert on that. [Smile] Biologically, food is the biggest and most frequent ritual that doesn't feel right. I think that one is deeply hardcoded into canine genes that who eats when determines dominance. Logically, I know it's out of place for me to want to eat first. Physically,it feels a lot better when I do, even if it's just a small bite before everyone else.

Hunting. Most people don't like to hunt. There/s no rush for you in the chase, and the thrill of catching a thrown ball doesn't come close to that of catching a running rabbit. People really don't like the idea of catching a living animal in your teeth. It's something I don't talk about with most people. Though I would love to see though human eyes for a day. You guys see things that are standing still far better than I do. Maybe it was for recognizing plants you could eat.I can never find Waldo.

A better way to do things. Dangerous question to ask an engineer. Every engineer I know has a better way to do things, myself included. I often have to research why something is done the way it is before making any "improvements", and most of the time I find I've overlooked something. It would be nice if there were a more even distribution of resources, though I don't favor seizing what other people have earned. A better way would be to teach people to be more ethical and to look out for more than just you and yours, but how to do that effectively is beyond me.

Society wise, I prefer co operative to competitive, and if competitive, I prefer group against group. Individual competitiveness in a group feels wrong once the social order is established.

Originally posted by TimberWolf:

I think I'd rather talk with her about everything BUT what It's like for her being different.

Seriously, just hanging out would be cool. I'm sure everyone ELSE would be asking her things, testing her... I'd rather just play some videogames or something, and the only personal questions I'd be asking would involve which foods might not be very good for her to eat because of her alternative physiology.

From Ms. Ambrose.

Foodwise, anything that's safe for a dog is safe for me. I bake my own biscuits, home made always taste better than store bought. A complete list of foods to avoid can be found at Canine Food Safety. As for video games, the Wii got a lot easier to play once I adapted the control to a mouth held unit.

Originally posted by Jeep-Eep:

Another three thoughts. I'd really like to ask to have a look at her medical imagery. X-rays, PET, CAT, Ultrasound, the lot. I'm curious about how her muscles are put together, certain articulations in the skeleton like, say the legs, the way her internal organs are arranged.

Also, I'm curious about the size and shape of her feet. How does she keep her balance, besides Tai Chi(being that that would require certain prerequisites like a suitable pair of feet and sufficiently sensitive inner-ears)?

This is professional interest, being that I'm working on a bipedalized, semi-anthromorphosized canid design myself (Urocyon-derived, not Canis.) although, the engineering geek in me would like to have a look at the wonder of bioengineering that is her body.

Also, I'd ask what she'd name her kids. [Big Grin]

From Ms. Ambrose:

Most of my medical records are from college. It helped pay the bills to let the university run a few experiments, and I was as interested in some of the basic questions (such as "How long does a Bowman's wolf live?") as they were. Words don't do a very good job describing some of the fits, though I'll give it a try.

My early biology is easy. Look at a red wolf, increase the size of the cranium, and change the jaw muscle anchors to the side of the head instead of the top. (Allows for greater skull growth.)

Now that I'm standing on two legs, the pelvis is more of a bowl shape to cradle the internal organs. Legs are a bit straighter than when I was on all fours, and more heavily muscled. I can run faster than a human, though the bent knees keeps me from being able to carry as much as a human my size. My feet are fairly large. I have more surface area than a human on their toes, though not as much as a human flat footed. My balance is pretty good for a non primate, though I still find it easier to take on a third point of balance if I have to stand still for any length of time.

No idea what I'll name my children yet.

As for pictures, Eric Elliot did a nice cross section of a biped wolf leg.

There are bones done by a model maker.

This is how they did the werewolves from Underworld.

And while the skin is on, many of the artists are good enough to show the underlying structure at The top 100 werewolf images

Originally posted by Robson Carr:

I have a few questions that I would like to ask about Florence's personal life:

What do you think about your isolation from other Bowman's wolves? Is this a normal state of affairs with the other wolves? Do you believe this has been detrimental or beneficial?

Also, on a completely different note, what do you do for fun? Are there any activities that you are prohibited (by safeguards or physical limitations) from doing?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Isolation does seem to be the norm for us. Even on planets with more than one Bowman's wolf, we only have one couple. Not that there's a lot of opportunity. One of the males is the only Bowman's wolf on his planet. I don't think this is a normal state of affairs. We're social, just like humans. I'd like to meet another one of my own kind. It's been beneficial to us as far as relations with humans goes. We're seen as a curiosity, not a threat. Personally? I think we'd do better if we had a few more of our own species to talk to. It would be nice to have a second nose available when trying to track down an errant scent.

What do I do for fun? Richard Feynman had a phrase. "The joy of finding things out." I love learning about new things, or seeing how older things can be put together in new ways. Physically, I like running. And digging. Chasing things. Running works best when you have a friend on a bike to be a packmate and mock prey. I'm not prevented by safeguards from doing anything I like doing. Physically, I don't have the hand/eye co-ordination for sports like racquet ball or tennis. I do fine in casual sports playing, though I don't fit in well enough for professional level playing. Which is fine with me since I play for fun anyway.

Originally posted by Tiger_T:

Oh, cool! *goes over to her*

Hi there, Florence!

So, uhm... If I may ask you... What scents and foods do you relish?
Like: What do you enjoy smelling and what's your favourite foods?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Scents. That's a hard to describe, easy to give examples. The scent of a forest after a thunderstorm, when all of the old scents are tamped down and you get such a feeling of newness as the smells rise back into the air. The smell of a dusty wooden room as the sunlight hits it and frees the smells from where they lay. Stockyards. Deer in the snow. There's as many beautiful smells as there are beautiful sights.

Foods. Deer liver is my favorite, though hard to get. Liver of any type comes after that. Kidneys. Lungs aren't bad either. I like rice, especially when flavored with something else such as shrimp. I like ice cream (plain vanilla), but I have to be careful to only have small amounts because of... side effects.

Originally posted by ARF:

Ms. Ambrose, how do you describe your relationship with Sam Starfall. And do you agree with his justification to the ship's computer that, in the long run, he is good for humanity?

BTW, with all the backstory this thread is inspiring, perhaps "Interview with the Bowman's Wolf" should be added to the Welcome Basket.

From Ms. Ambrose:

Competitive would probably be the best way to describe our roles. We're both trying for the same goal (Getting Sam's ship working and making a living) but our designs don't quite mesh on how to reach that goal. In the long run, contact with aliens should be good for humanity. Sam's race has strengths that humans don't and vice versa. In the long run, his race probably will be good for humanity. In the short run, well, it's a good thing that there's no easy way to travel between stars. Sam's race isn't ready for the type of power that humans have, and even if used with good intentions is likely to wipe out huge sections of sqid culture.

Originally posted by InsertWittyLineHere:

Ms. Ambrose, what are your feelings about interspecies dating and marrage? Should Bowman's wolves and humans even attempt to create offspring?

Also, should humans apply genetic engineering to themselves to try and transcend their limitations, or should they be content with what they are, flaws and all?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Having gone though life without ever seeing another Bowman's Wolf, all of my dates have been interspecies. Marriage? That one gets tricky even without the species involved. Legally, we're property. We can be bought, sold, traded. I don't even know if we can be married. From a purely practical viewpoint, it would be nice for at least one partner in the marriage to have legal rights and no "off" switch. As for being able to create Bowman's Wolf and Human offspring, the genetics won't support it. Which doesn't mean that couples won't go through the motions of trying.

Human modification. Another touchy subject, and one that Dvorac and I have talked about. Going transhuman would allow humans (or what humans become) to evolve at a greatly accelerated rate. But with any technology, some people are going to be VHS's, some Betas. What laws should there be to support technologically/genetically obsolete people? I'm in favor of adding some fixes to the human genome. An immunity to A.I.D.'s occurs naturally in about 1 out of 100 people. That would be very helpful in Africa. The biggest danger I see is that when "production models" are made, they're all the same. In organics, this is a recipe for a single attacker to take down an entire gene line. Any modifications that are done should be done very, very carefully.

Originally posted by SeaGROL:

Hrm... *thinks* Without repeating the previous questions, here's mine.

Normal Theobromi(n/d)e levels found in chocolate and coffee is poisonous to your endocrinology, yet low level theobromi(d/n)e types of each is apparently available. But which chocolate/coffee do you prefer the taste of? The 'real' stuff or the low Theobrmi(n/d)e kind?

Would you describe the way you think your brain interprets your safegaurds? It's obvious that the original intent was for them to be 'written in stone' rule set, yet I'm curious as to what model you percieve them to follow.

How do you prefer your rabbit prepared: braised with carrot juice, rare dusted with oregano, raw with fresh vegetables, or slowly limping with a side of mint sauce?


From Ms. Ambrose:

I don't know if the damage done by coffee and chocolate is cumulative or not. At the advice of Winston, I'm avoiding all caffeine and theobromine at the moment. Which isn't easy, as I do like the taste, especially the thick Turkish coffees and dark chocolates. Glad I'm not a cat, they're affected even more. The toxic dose is for canines approximately 200 mg/kg of body weight. In cats the lethal dosage is only 80 to 150 mg/kg of body weight. (Higher metabolism means that less is needed to cause toxic effects.) A cup of coffee may contain 35 to 85 mg. A 12 ounce bottle of cola contains approx 50 mg. Now these levels would mean that a 1 kg (2.2 lb) cat would need to drink 1/2 to 3 colas for death to occur. I now stick to the "coffee flavored" items, being very careful they don't actually contain caffine or theobromine.

Safeguards. They're sort of like guardrails. Most times, I don't even notice them. If I start to get too close, such as getting mad at a human, I can feel a sort of uneasiness in my stomach. If I actually do get mad at a human, there's a sort of flip from fight to flight reflex. It's hard to describe. Direct orders. Bleah. Those are a pain. They're a compulsion, and they don't quite synch up with my normal thoughts. It's like having someone yell unexpectedly in your ear, or your hand jerked in a direction by an unseen force. I think the direct order thing is a bolt on, it doesn't feel like it's part of the original brain design. As for the genetic safeguard, there not being enough of us to continue the species, that's one I don't feel at all other than the knowledge it's there.

Our model is all stick, no carrot. The chimps had both carrot and stick, and it caused problems. They got a positive "jolt" every time they carried out a direct order, which lead to an addiction problem.

I'm spoiled. I like my rabbit cooked and seasoned. Fur never tastes good, and heat kills the parasites. There is a certain satisfaction to cracking open the bones to get at the marrow, but cooked marrow does taste better than raw.

Originally posted by M. Reynard G.:

Miss Ambrose, your face has a significantly different structure than humans. When expressing emotions, did you find it difficult to translate them from a primate face to a canid one so that others might understand? Did that take practice or come naturally? But however you do it, it is with ineffable charm.

From Ms. Ambrose:

Humans can read canine expressions very well. I've never had any problems. The similarity between humans and wolves is so pronounced in being able to read each other, I'm wondering if there might be some common link genetically. It could be parallel social evolution, it would certainly be advantageous to know when trying to steal prey if the bear you're pressuring is afraid or aggressive. I exaggerate some of my expressions, and suppress others. I keep teeth baring to a minimum. It would be nice to have a good human type laugh, my normal reaction to a joke is a dog laugh, sort of a chuff. I can't shed tears. I guess the best answer to your question would be that most of it is natural, a little practice, and a lot of watching to see how other people are reacting to me and see if what I'm trying to project matches the expressions I'm seeing. And thank you. [Smile]

Originally posted by Daniel Cougar:

[act]Puts a cup of coffee down in front of Florence, spiced with artificial hemoglobin.[/act]

Two questions:

First, what's your opinion on the morals and ethics of creation of artificial self-aware and self-motivational creatures?

Second, is there anything about humans that you've never been able to understand, no matter how you've studied it?

From Ms. Ambrose:

Thank you. That is a very tough question. My own opinion is that safeguards are needed. At least at first. Myself, I'd like them to be able to be removed or toned down as time goes on IF the life form (whether organic or otherwise) shows itself capable of handling the responsibility that goes with being a member of society. This is a bit tricky, and I know this is going to come off as non politically correct, but all societies are not equal. There are going to be societies that want berserker warriors that are pointed at the enemy and let loose. There will be societies that want their "citizens" to be mindless drones toiling happily away to support an elite upper class.

My feelings are that a species does need to have social forces applied. Equality is going to be very tough to have on a one for one basis. I'll never be able to match a human on color vision. I don't even understand some of the concepts in how to match color to emotions except in the most abstract of terms. Humans don't really "get" scent except in the most basic of terms. In a perfect world, this would lead to both sides making strides they couldn't have done alone. In the real world, I expect there to be some problems. I expect the best way would be a gradual introduction of artificial intelligences, both to let humans get used to the idea, and to see if the A.I.s in question will perform well in society. I'd like to see equality between humans and their creations, just like colonies have become equals to the countries that founded them. It will be a hard road, but I am a bit of an optimist.[Smile]

Things I've never been able to get on a gut level. Color. Multiple mates. How it would feel to get drunk. And why some people think the Three Stooges aren't funny.

Originally posted by Peter da Silva:

Florence... given his simple biochemistry, why don't the bacteria on Jean treat Sam like a walking petri dish?

From Ms. Ambrose:

He's isolated from the environment most of the time, and the bacteria haven't adapted to him yet. Peptide immune responses are effective, just not as effective as a mammals "defense in depth" system. But Sam's simple systems mean his race will be egg layers for some time. Live birth is a very tricky thing to do, immune system wise.

Originally posted by Somber Requiem:

All right Miss Ambrose... since no one else has asked...

How does sex work with you? Do you have sexual experience with humans, perhaps from back in college? Do you or have you gone into heat? What was it like? Do you find humans sexually attractive? What about canines or lupines? Or are you more sexually interested in the social advantages of a mate rather than the genetic advantages? Do you see yourself ever getting married? Do you masturbate, and if so how much? Do you ever feel a sexual itch to breed outside periods of fertility?

"Someone has to ask the questions."


From Ms. Ambrose:

Sex does mean a different thing to humans.I still see sex as sealing the deal when you choose the person you want to be with the rest of your life. Humans seem to see it as something more intimate than a handshake, but not as intimate as co-signing for a loan. Human males don't seem to have any "my mate, my partner, until death do we part" hormones released during the act, something that makes humans seem a bit alien to me. I have gone through a heat cycle. It's not random, it's not wanting to jump the bones of any male in sight. It's very targeted on the one you love, "letting you know that now is the time to start a family." As for what it feels like, imagine being buckled into a ferarri with one eighth of a tank of gasoline and the accelerator nailed to the floor. At first you're terrified that you're going to crash or run over someone, and as you learn a bit and start feeling that you've got some control, the fuel tank runs empty.

Sigh. Isolation is doing strange things to us. Everything I see showing what beauty is and what a mate should look like is human. Advertisements, media clips, movies, you name it. I've seen other Bowman's wolves in messages, and they are kind of funny looking. Even with me being one, they don't seem like my species. In short, I find humans attractive. I'm sure this will play merry havoc with us down the line, we may be the first species to go extinct because of cultural conditioning. While I find canines and lupines to be good looking if they are in good health, there's no sexual desire there. At all. It would be like a human wanting to live with a baboon.

Social. The chances of my even seeing another Bowman's wolf­ (other than my own offspring­) are close to zero. I would like to get married some day. There are already cases of humans marrying dogs, though usually they're to break an evil spell and are not considered legally binding. Whether or not I could have a real marriage would depend on laws being changed to permit it.

While it's hard to tell what others feel, I don't seem to get the itch for sex in the same way as humans. I do get the itch to hunt. To put it into perspective, I believe that the two urges might be close to the same. I know very few humans get the urges to hunt like I do, and while people enjoy it when that's brought up as part of their culture, most people go through their day without even thinking about it.

Originally posted by ARF:

Fortunately we've caught Florence at a time when she will not remember any embarrassing questions for long, although Mark may not be so lucky. But that also gives us an opportunity to ask a question that could be a spoiler under other circumstances.

For example:

Ms. Ambrose, what would you do if you found out that Sam has had more of a hand in your diversion to Jean than he has let on so far. Would you forgive him because he did not know better at the time, but he has improved since (mostly as a result of your continuing effort to make him the best alpha he can become, by the way)? And just how much have you figured out so far?

Personally, I think he is not entirely to blame. He had to have been made aware that an engineer was available just when he needed one.

From Ms. Ambrose:

I would not be happy. The opportunity to work on the next generation of star ship drives was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't think I would actually bite Sam if I found out he was an influence in getting me bumped off the star ship. For now, I'll simply say my life has taken a far different path than if I had continued to my destination, and will probably be a bit more interesting because of it. (As in Chinese curse interesting.) I would forgive him, if for no other reason than I don't think he meant any real harm in what he did. As for how much I've figured out so far, that hasn't been my focus of attention. As the old phase goes, when you're up to your tail in alligators, it's hard to remember your original job was to drain the swamp.

Originally posted by Robson Carr:

Here's one I don't think has been asked yet:

Ms. Florence, are your safeguards removeable (not just circumventable) by any known means, fair or foul?

From Ms. Ambrose:

I don't really know. There's some evidence that I might simply grow out of them as my brain matures and goes through further pruning. I would like to see the "off" switch go away. We all have the same "code". It was explained to me that we were supposed to be the test run, there was more interest in making sure the trait would breed true than for security.

A simple, though ugly way to circumvent most of the safeguards would be to deafen myself. Though I would consider that cure worse than the disease.

Originally posted by Anglerfish:

Hypothetically let's say Ecosystems Unlimited discovered it was possible to create an improved Bowman's Wolf that would be born having a bipedal stance and hands (like a Human child) as well as mental development rate more like that of a Human (i.e. not having a very low IQ until age 13 or so). Let's also say that they could only produce either the original model or the improved model (with which the original would not be able to reproduce due to genetic incompatibility). If you (Florence) were put in the position of deciding which version they would produce which would you choose? [Smile]

From Ms. Ambrose:

Whew. That is a very tough question. It's rather like asking "If they created an improved human, would the current group go quietly into the night?" My heart says to stick with the original. Dr. Bowman seemed to know what he was doing. My head says to go with the improved model. If I had to make a choice at this point, I would have to go with the original model. Dr. Bowman seems as sneaky as Sam in some ways, and at the very least we should play out a few generations to see how things work.

Originally posted by Tiger_T:

*still hopes for an answer* [Wink]

Uhm... Anyway. Say, just how fast can you get, running? What was your average time for the 100m sprint in school?

From Ms. Ambrose:

On all fours, I average 7.2 seconds for the 100 meter sprint. On two legs, it's 12.4 seconds, but I had to drop to all fours after the finish line to stop. It was only at college that I learned how to stop from a run and remain on two legs. Higher education is good for you. [Smile]