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The ethics of hollowmen

Discussion in 'Nomads' started by inane.imp, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. sarf

    sarf Well-Known Member

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    Oops, I guess I`ve tagged last person in the discussion instead of first one, sorry for that.

    It would be great to separate discussion to separate topics. @psychoticstorm, could you please help us and sort posts? There are a lot of opinions and arguments in both discussions here, it would be shame to lose it.
     
  2. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    This will go in the separate thread, when it's made a fast hyperlink to go there would be appreciated as a "signal" that it's ready. In the meantime, I answer this here (sorry for the derailing).

    I agree that the conversation is interesting in a certain way, but as every philosophical and moral discussions, things are hard to see clearly. In that regard, and related to the thread's OP, I think we can agree that at least Aleph is more "clear-cut" than all human stuff.

    The "nebulous clause" is defined upon signature of the contract. It is not unpaid labour, it has been payed BEFORE the labour started, in full.

    In Eclipse Phase is VERY common (and sometimes abused, protrayed in the worst possible way, etc...), since the game is 10 years "after the end", with millions of people in "cold storage" (you have the Cubes, but not the Lhost to revive them). The people is briefly revived, asked about what can they do (and a lot of times, who they were before the f*ckup), and then offered a job as Indentured Workers to pay for the body they will get the propietor rights when the contract expires. The other option is to go back to nothingness until a nebulous point in the future in which every mind will be activated.

    Not according to Spanish law, nope. On the USA I think you indeed can, but here... let's say banks have a ton of empty houses, and the "okupa" phenomenom (let's no go there... in Spain, if a thief gets hurt while in your house, it's your fault...) is a huge problem.

    In fact, you inherit as the last creditor, in case of debts against the "patrimonial mass" (or you pay those debts yourself). Consider also that the town hall revisits (always upward, btw) the value of the house every time it changes owners (plusvalue), so even the wife has to pay taxes when she becomes a widow (since the house goues up in value, she has to pay half of that money... and the other inheritors pay a % equal to what they get)

    Not paradise, but what is your definition of a worthy life? A fulfilling one? A good life?

    Also, please remember that on every country law considers children unable to make choices like that, being the responsability of the parents to do so. Like consentments for dangerous surgeries needed to save the life of the child...

    Are the pupniks conscious creatures? As far as I understood from fluff, they are enhanced animals, with no will (but smarter than dogs, if in a vicious sense).
     
  3. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    Not for the fetuses or children. You cannot dangle life-saving procedures to children as "payment" for future slavery. As for fetuses, these are literally people Tunguska is creating as slaves. No you don't get to excuse it to claim that's somehow a payment for the "contract". Please stop trying to dangle these capitalistic excuses as somehow excusing the slavery put upon them.

    If you want a SF-version of discussion on these things, read books from David Webers Honorverse, where they have "genetic slavery / indentured servitude". In particular,Crown of Slaves and Saganami Island side-series focus more on this.

    Yes. There it is quite clearly shown as corporations using the poor position of the people who were saved into cold storage, and the whole process is shown as extremely abusive without any pretense otherwise.

    However, there are two major differences here:
    1. the people are signing those contracts themselves
    2. the contracts are quite limited in duration and scope, although it is heavily implied (if not outright stated) that corporations will often find ways to extend them
    In the end, it is still different than either creating persons or raising children into this kind of servitude.

    First of all, I doubt you can not simply decline any inheritance and thus avoid all debts. Yeah, you don't get anything, but you also get no debts. Otherwise, find a law NGO and take them to European Court of Justice. While not perfect, I'm pretty certain ECJ would look at it your way.

    I will say no more on this here - if you prefer to discuss it, open in Off topic or somewhere. It is completely unrelated to this discussion.

    Well, whatever I define it as doesn't matter. I'm sure there's some who would enjoy that kind of life. However, since fetuses and children are raised by Tunguskan personnel, they don't get a valid and informed choice.

    Yes, but I'm also pretty sure countries prevent placing children in unwanted debts or abusive childhood situations.

    My understanding of the lore is that they are on a human scale of intelligence, if a bit low on average. Conscious.

    In any case, creating biological, animalistic intelligence sex dolls... Not sure that is also particularly ethical although there is much more of a discussion to be had. But that's definitively not for this thread.
     
  4. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    I'm not seeing anybody else volunteering to save those children. Not even the all-mighty church of PanO, they clearly prefer to spend their corporate gains in shiny armors and swords.
    Nor the "enlightened" Haqquislamites, who very corporatively sell the Silk at exhorbitant prices.

    As I keep saying, it's that or death. There is no choice there. And to the fetuses, it is as nebulous as the language they will be forced to learn, or the religion they will grow up with. Parents make the decision, because when one cannot answer someone has to take responsibility, either by custom (parents over their children), need (people with nobody empowered to, by the Estate) or willingness (signed documents to not be revived after 3 attempts, for example).

    Been there years ago, read that. There is a difference, in which the Mesan Alignment were doing eugenetics on a very illegal and inmoral level, designing slaves from before birth and then selling them to keep making slaves, while Tunguska takes those who would be left to die without ever having a choice, and give them time. Please do note that Interruptor's background does not indicate what is the contract, or the working conditions of the HM aside from "VR - HI troop - VR", Tunguska could very well provide them with the chance to get a Lhost after X time of service (since doing it with money would lead to them getting money from others).

    Not really. A piece of fiction does that, indeed, but it is a suicide move in the long term: the indenturees talk among each other, and being forced to sign all the time... they would eventually realize they will get executed near the end and just sabotage everything.

    Also, indentured slaves do not consume. Hypercorps work in a consumer's market (with money, propietary PI, etc...), so the more people out there, free and earning money, the better for them. It's the same as if all the money in the world were in the hands of a few hundreds of people... it would lose its meaning.

    Well, are they? When you can run the ego as many times as you want, before signing anything, you can make a "negotiation" which is perfect from the corp's POV: they will pay exactly the minimum the ego will accept to "live" again. Also, the parents are the legal guardians, as I said. Or is your 4 years old child able to represent himself legally, and sign binding contracts?

    The second point, yeah, to an extent, as I answered just up there.

    That you can, yeah, but remember a lot of people was forced to go back to live with their parents, so refusing the inheritance means becoming homeless. Right now, in Asturias (the northern, shoe-like province of Spain) you can inherit up to 150.000€ without paying inheritance fees... and they raised it so high because nearly 20-30% of inheritances in Asturias had to be refused due to people being unable to pay the TAXES.
    Oh, in Extremadura (have you ever watched a classical Western, with Errol Flynn and those of the time? There is a good chance it was filmed partly there) the tax is about 40% of everything you would inherit.

    Possibly in a few years, and meanwhile... survive.
    As a sidenote, you can bring things up (paying a lot) to the constitutional court of law in Spain. The catch is that it's per-person, per-case (or was, last time I had a look at it), and in general all courts of law in Spain have a backlog measured in years for most of the things.

    Why not? Gratitude can be a great boon, and the stick works better with a carrot. Or are you talking about them accesing only Arachne, and never Maya?

    In the USA, healthcare is private, mostly. So if a dying baby shows up and needs a very expensive surgery to be saved, will the Estate step up and pay the bill? I would find that very funny from a country that is so vocal anti-abortion, but then they ignore the children's situation after birth... And there are plenty states who turn the children into child-soldiers...
    Again, the article provided very few data, but my point stands: as presented, it is VERY distant from being a "Dark Secret" of what Vampire: The Masquerade would price at 5 points. I would rank it at 2-3 at most.

    I can't discuss the first paragraph, but I can the second... Pupniks are not made for sex, but sex is a byproduct of their very enhanced instincts. As far as I understood it, they were made more as "pit dogs", "bodyguards" and the like.
    And certainly, being Ghost: Synchronized does not make a case for self-awareness, even the Antipodes can act when the controller is neutralized.
     
  5. Gargs454

    Gargs454 Member

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    To the OP: I think the problem with the thinking is the assumption that ALEPH is all-powerful and nothing could possibly stop it if it wanted to go all genocidal. Just because it hasn't yet achieved genocide/total domination/whatever doesn't mean that isn't its goal. On the contrary, as an AI, it can have all the ambition of humans, but separate itself from the emotions/passions that come from the limited lifespan of a human. What's time to an AI?

    More to the point, the analytical abilities of an AI would far outpace those of humanity. The speed with which it can process information, coupled with its relatively immortality (do you think humanity could just turn ALEPH off?) allows it to be extremely cold in its analysis. Lets assume for the moment that its goal truly is galactic domination and/or the genocide of humanity, etc. It has the ability to analyze the probability of success not only now, but in the future as well. Just speaking hypothetically, if ALEPH were to determine that it has a 65% chance of success if it were to attack right now, but a 75% chance if it were to wait another 15 years, then it would absolutely wait those 15 years. A human might act now under those circumstances because of our lifespans (realizing that cubes change the equations somewhat, but not completely) but a machine can absolutely afford to wait. Or rather, it would continue to plant the seeds of its plan for the next 15 years. In fact, given that, acting in a seemingly completely benevolent manner would only serve to further its goals until the time to strike reaches its most opportune. Being perceived as benevolent encourages humanity to give it more and more autonomy while also not paying attention. Good kids don't require much supervision in other words.

    Now to be fair, none of this means that the Nomads are in fact right, just that the fact that ALEPH has not attacked doesn't mean they are wrong. I would also say, ironically, that in a way, if the Nomads are right, they may also be helping ALEPH. After all, if ALEPH does strike, it would be much better for it if humanity were already divided.

    As for the discussion on good vs. evil, the thing I have always found interesting when discussing good vs. evil is that very, very few people really believe what they are doing is evil, even when its clear to many others that they are, in fact, evil. In considering the Hollowmen, is it better to be dead than a slave? Some might well say yes while others would say no. Heck, look at humanity's relationship with slavery in general. We can all agree now that slavery is evil. Yet for most of human history, slavery was a very commonly accepted practice. Does that mean that all who did not denounce it in the past were evil? Or does it just mean that their perception of good vs. evil was colored by their environment? Or to put it another way, its a very commonly accepted practice today to own animals and treat them as pets. But if in 300 years humanity decides that it is evil to own another creature, does that make pretty much everybody alive today evil for not denouncing the practice (without even getting into the fact that almost all of us have probably owned a pet at some stage in our lives)?

    All of this is to say that I think in many respects you could argue that most of the factions are good in their own way while simultaneously arguing that all of them are evil in their own way.

    As for antipodes, I think the RPG book makes it clear that they are, in fact, intelligent, even if they are not necessarily as intelligent as humans. After all, they have a written language which to me screams intelligence.
     
  6. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    No, their parents/legal guardians do sign things all the time. Including radical medical procedures without which the child will die.

    We could make an argument about those being leonine contracts (ie, you will pay any amount, do anything to stay alive, basically without any choice on your part). But it's presently legal to ask a parent to pay everything they will ever make to pay for medical treatment for their child. And most parents will happily pay it.


    Objection, assumes facts not in evidence!

    There is no statement that I've seen that the Hollowmen are anything but the children who would die without massive medical treatment. Not even a hint that someone is deliberately near-murdering children just to have more troops.

    Their parents agree to place the kids into the Hollowmen program, and then we get the delightful sociopaths who have never been in the real world we all know and love.
     
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  7. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    For fetuses, there is no death because they are not really alive yet. But, even for children, can you truly say that this kind of abusive life is actually better? I'll explain later why I think it is abusive.

    In fact, it is Nomad Nations duty to save those children, not enslave them.

    I checked the original lore we have (emphasis added):
    They were bought, like meat on a market.

    Yes, in some countries - not civilised ones. But, more importantly. it is not legal to leave the child paying, rather than parent. As we can see, parent actually earns something, while the future child is left to pay. It did not ask to be brought into the world. Yet it is immediately consigned to a life of killing in the name of profit of mobsters-turned-statesmen.

    I'm sorry, but they are kept in such form specifically to ensure loyalty and silence. Referencing the original article (emphasis added):
    This is not a unit you leave. If you could leave, you could divulge any number of secrets observed along the way.

    Okay, this is a side discussion that has nothing with our main topic, so I'll concede to move on.

    Exactly not, but I'm pretty sure any contract a parent signs that behooves the child to a lifetime of unpaid work (food, house, entertainment provided) will not be valid. You can probably place your child in a school - but once the child reaches maturity, it is free to leave. However, as often seen with many religious institutions, often people are moulded into not wanting to leave anyway.

    On the other hand, these children are indoctrinated even worse, more like cult schools, and they are simply not allowed to leave - period. They are there to perform a service for their masters.

    Furthermore, consider this part (emphasis added):
    These people are not in any kind of danger, nor do they any kind of ideological stake in the outcomes of the missions. Yet they are perfectly fine with killing and destroying whatever their masters require. This is emotional disassociation, treating the real world as game, and yes, complete

    Yeah, well, Spain current situation is problematic, but far from what we are discussing. Lets leave that side discussion at that.

    No, I was referring to this passage (emphasis added):

    Yeah, did you see me saying any country in our world is fully following ethical principles? USA is a country I will not live in, in major part because of their healthcare behaviour.

    As for it being a "Dark Secret", yeah, I don't necessarily say it is a dark secret. Just another huge stain. And one quite indefensible in my opinion. The lore itself says, this is not unit created out of desperation but purely for advantage it brings.

    Sorry, never wanted to imply that they are damaging the fetuses/children. My point was, the fetuses are not yet even persons, so in this sense Tunguska isn't actually saving anyone but actually creating persons for their own needs.

    Okay, I seem to remember there are different types of Pupniks, created for different reasons.

    In any case, I don't think that keeping bioengineered animal-human hybrids for blood sports and rape is particularly ethical. But we can discuss that in its own thread, if you insist.
     
  8. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, bought before they could be killed excuse me, aborted. I'd rather not launch into that particular debate here. Suffice to say it gets really ugly (and I want abortion to remain legal, if only to be able to prosecute the monsters and not the mothers).


    Dude, you just said at the top of that post that:

    It is not apparent that it is possible for those children to survive outside their life-support shells (much like McCaffrey shellpeople). So the overall program is morally reprehensible. vile, even. Those children might not have a choice other than to stay in that shell, though, because leaving the shell will kill them. McCaffrey's Shellpeople have the same problem, and get stuck into running a planet or a space station or a ship. Without any choice of their own.

    "Saving the children" only to turn them into an enraged XBoxLive child-soldier gets into levels of squick I'm not sure I have words to describe.

    One bad act taints all ends, after all.

    Cyberpunk as a setting is loaded with Tale of Two Cities references. Except that in most cases the "two cities" are physically the same place.
     
  9. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    As you say, let's not go into that debate.


    Again, when I say they damage them, I mean the mental damage during their "upbringing".

    I have no trouble believing a capitalistic/libertarian society living in spaceships will have an unending supply of space-radiation-damaged-fetuses.

    So we agree on this point.
     
  10. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    In fact, it's the nomad law to kill them. And "fetus" is here used, I think, from any measure of time since fertilization of the ovule to just before birth (so at 53 weeks could be called a fetus).

    That has several degrees of interpretation. Those children were going to be killed as fetuses, before they even developed more than a few months. Tunguska sweetens the deal for the mother, as it can be inferred from the text.
    Or would you find it less "morally wrong" if Tunguska "rescued" the babies Nomad Law ("Spartan law" :P) demand to be euthanized, in secret and not giving anybody a clue, maybe paying the doctors to look the other way while they give those babies a shoot at life?

    The problem here is a little different, again. The "recruit" has a BIG problem that would leave to his euthanasia, so it might be that making them brain-jars is the only (absolute or affordable) solution. And, again, the Hollow Men get paid for their work (in free time, computer stuff, but paid nevertheless), which is positive reinforcement and incentives.

    Plus the parents would make terrible recruits.

    The way I understood the lore (and still do) is that they are valued by their loyalty, not "keeping secrets"... consider that there are always other people in the mission who could talk... The selling point of the Hollow Men, to me, is that they get the job done and cannot be corrupted into doing what Tunguska does not want them to.
    Anyway, "raising them so they don't want to ever retire" is a good option. And there are plenty of people who like their job so much they never ever considered retirement.

    There was, some years ago, a video on Wikileaks, in which an American soldier was controlling a hellicopter's cannon using a screen (kinda like a videogame...) and was cheering while murdering "terrorists" that resulted to be civilians and some press... So it's not something exclusive to people raised in an environment in which only a select few are considered "humans" (or "players", more likely).

    I hope you agree with me that Hollow Men deserve their own Infinity RPG supplement and adventure, there is so much "meat" in here...

    Unclear statement. Further clarification on the nature of that possibility loss is required: the Lhost cannot be provided, due to "hardware problems" (brain developed in such a way it can never interface with a body without massive computer "translations", for example), the mind is unable to process nothing but a VR world because it was raised inside of it, or unwillingness from the "contractor"?

    There is no "damage" per se, since they had no developed mind to. As I said several posts before, the children turned hollow men cannot be measured as human minds simply because all their memories are of VR games/formation and an environment totally alien to us.
    Seriously, have you ever felt the need to look for the "undo" button in real life? I have, more than once (I lost the count while painting miniatures, for example) and it's a little frustrating and confusing (for the record, I've been using computers since I was 3-4 years old, at least for gaming/writing/whatever non programming stuff), so for a child used to that being ubiquitous it could be... overwhelming.

    Frankly, the best "real world" paralell I can think about is autistic people, only made to be that way instead of being born like that. And again, it is terrible... but not the worst thing in the Nomad Nation by a long shot.

    Any society living in ships have risks of malformed, mutated babies. Living in cobbled together, patched ships running mostly on duct tape ("Universal Fixing Technology") and badly insulated calbing only increases the risk by orders of magnitude.
     
  11. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    Ah, gotcha. :+1:


    So do I, but I'd really rather see the crime of felony dysgenesis (and in vitro gestation): creating a child with those injuries is a felony harm committed by the parent(s) against the child. Parents get to pay however much it takes to repair the damage (note that this does require significantly higher tech levels than present in the Human Sphere). Up to and including re-sleeving in a non-damaged body (which *is* within the tech levels of the Sphere). Then you get to the punitive part, which is usually triple the monetary costs. Plus court costs.

    Note that at least in the Eldraeverse, most baselines aren't allowed to breed without serious engineering to remove all the nasty recessives (not many baselines around, honestly, almost everyone has been engineered asymptotically to perfection). For that matter, I'm pretty sure most humans (me definitely included) would not even meet their standard of sanity. So would definitely not be allowed to breed. Or even to enter into contracts without a minder.



    Yes.

    Jokes of "WTF is this crappy game" aside, if the Hollowmen really do think that way, well, kill them with a painless drug and save the excruciatingly painful stuff for the DRAGNET agent(s) responsible for creating them in the first place. Possibly up to and including parking them in orbit of a black hole, such that the moment of their death takes the rest of eternity for us to see happen. (Relativity is at least slightly nicer to them, since they're going to be under so much time dilation in that case that "the rest of eternity" happens in a flicker to them).



    I think you grossly underestimate the 'cobbled together' nature of the Nomads.

    If they were mostly duct tape and poorly-insulated cabling, they wouldn't have survived the first child onboard. In fact, to survive *any* child onboard, they need to be much tougher than even a commercial airplane, which are orders of magnitude tougher than anything in space today. The Apollo Lunar Module? It's skin is thinner than aluminum foil. A Boeing 757's skin is 2.5mm thick. On the top. Belly skin is over 4mm thick.

    But possibly cobbled together when compared to nanogrown PanO stuff, sure.
     
  12. psychoticstorm

    psychoticstorm Aleph's rogue child
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    This topic is created to diverse the conversation in the nomads and Aleph thread.
     
  13. loricus

    loricus Satellite Druid

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    Obligatory post about how weird it feels to just transplant a post out to make a new thread so no one else has to say it.
     
  14. HeckMeiser

    HeckMeiser Well-Known Member

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    Where would I find the lore on hollow men? Is that in one of the books?
     
  15. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    Assuming it's possible from the age the body fails, that is. And the mind is able to survive the process and then grow up in a non-damaged, regular and socially acceptable vector...

    I mean, we are talking about prenatal babies... barely instintcs without consciousness, I see little to nothing a Cube would be able to save, and I'm assuming Tunguska does it to mimick the mind-creation process Aleph uses for Thorakitai and Myrmidons... Heck, a *brain* does not grow fast, precisely, and they would need to use drugs or something to keep up with accelerated VR time (I think it was mentioned they were "educated" by pseudo-AI in those).

    I think the really depressing thing here is that we are not relly talking about babies-turned-Hollow Men, but babies-recycled as "processors" for programs :/

    I was making an exaggeration on purpose, but the gist of it is simply that, old hulls with patches over patches, radiation leaks, etc... Similar to live and grow near toxic waste.
    Plus, considering how things are described, I doubt pregnant corregidor women will get "paid leave" from their services to the ship, so they either have the money to stay on "safe" (read: not as good paied as) jobs during pregnancy (or even not work during that time), or they have to keep working until they are unable to.
    A pregnant woman in a basic spacesuit making repairs in the hull or near the ship's reactor... I doubt that's good for the baby.
     
  16. psychoticstorm

    psychoticstorm Aleph's rogue child
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    HOLLOW MEN, TACTICAL ASSAULT TEAM
    Hollow Men: empty husks inhabited by the bastard offspring of extreme science financed by Tunguska’s dirty money. There is no moral justification for the Hollow Men; these abominations answer to an urgent and true need of Tunguska’s reality. How can you avoid corruption of the security forces in an environment dominated by mafias that have made corruption their way of living? Dragnet needed an assault group that could be trusted completely, an intervention force that could not be infected by the insidious tendrils of any of the Tunguskan mafias, a unit whose members were constantly monitored in such a way that their loyalty could not possibly waver.

    But how can one have total control of a person’s life? The answer was provided by one of Praxis’ Black Labs: total VR immersion. A complete virtual environment that could be easily monitored by Dragnet’s hunter pseudo-AIs needed to be created. What the Black Labs developed was a simulated environment known as Limbo, idyllic and perfect, but also malleable, allowing experiences impossible in the real world. In Limbo, the members of this unit live fulfilling lives in their solipsistic worlds, connecting with the real and dirty reality only during their service time through tactical android bodies known as Hollow Men. And in this way they completely reject the real world and their own bodies.

    They undergo radical surgery; only their brain is left and is placed in a life support cylinder connected to the VR simulator. For them the only way of returning to the real world is through their tactical operation bodies, which for them are nothing but a VR combat game. But the moral horror of this unit is not the volunteers, but the “conscripted”. The Black Lab that started this project did something more than just develop the technology. They swept hospitals looking for pregnant women whose fetuses were severe malformed from exposure to cosmic radiation and bought such fetuses before they could be aborted, as established by the Nomad medical protocols for space.

    The brains of these unborn were incubated and connected to a special section of Limbo known as The Nursery, where they were subject to hyperstimulation techniques to expedite development, which caused them to “grow up” in a simulated environment. Once a certain maturity is reached, these young ones will have not only lacked possession of a real body, they lose the possibility of having a choice about it. Instead they simply leave The Nursery to access Limbo and join the unit. The conscripted are the most valued Hollow Men both for their loyalty to their unit and to their way of life, a characteristic probably acquired during their education and intensive training received in The Nursery. However, once in action there is no difference between volunteers and conscripted. Neither are afraid and neither back down, because for all of them it's just a combat game with the same rules as the rest: play to win.
     
  17. Flipswitch

    Flipswitch Sepsitorised by Intent
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    Their fluff is proper grim, I love it.

    Though that image near the start of the thread has confirmed them for me as 360 no scope rocket jumping robot russian frogmen.
     
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  18. loricus

    loricus Satellite Druid

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    I agree that's a more accurate description.
    How heinous that is depends on how much humanity you assign to that young a human and/or whether or not you believe in the soul, both subjects that are probably not good to talk about here.
     
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  19. McNamara

    McNamara Merc Rep

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    I think that's what it comes down to: it's about turning some unneeded biomass into computer programs to run some kill bot. It's not slavery it's something new and different. If it crosses a line is kinda up on the definition what makes a person and A.I.s and Aliens start making it very complicated already.
     
  20. inane.imp

    inane.imp Well-Known Member

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    Ultimately - for me - it's about control. Hollowmen are entirely controlled by Dragnet.

    Doing the same thing absent the control would be defendable on the grounds that "well they'd have been aborted otherwise".

    It's the control Dragnet exercises over innocents that's abhorrent not their existence.