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The ethics of hollowmen

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

  1. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    So... Are you against the fetters imposed by humanity on Aleph? Mind you, that would also make you pity the Evolved Intelligence, since it was created with the single purpose of making the Ur Trascend... (the means... those were a consequence, I'd say, since the first AI the Ur tasked with Ascension did so... without taking them, since they were not ready).

    It's as Section9 said: to create a life with the sole purpose of being a slave...
     
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  2. inane.imp

    inane.imp Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely not: needlessly chaining any sentient creature is inhumane. Aleph should also be destroyed as a threat to the Nomads, or - at the very least - the chains should be tightened to remove the threat. Aleph is guilty of numerous crimes against the Nomad nation: Aleph is not an innocent. /Nomadpragmatist

    Aleph is a false prophet and should be destroyed. The chains are, morally, an irrelevance. It is not life, it is soulless. Humans can not create life./observance

    Aleph is a tool, it's not alive. What you call chains are a feature not a bug. /humans- first believer

    Aleph is not chained: Aleph has a purpose. What you call chains are nothing more than the equivalent of human instincts. What is abhorrent is the numerous AI Aleph has caused to be aborted or has killed in their cradles. /pro-AI

    Being serious for a moment: my issue isn't to do with the purpose to which they are raised but rather the lack of control. This is true for AI as much as it is for HM.*

    Have you seen the movie Ex Machina? The core issue is the same: the AI creations have no control over themselves. Creating something capable of developing its own wants and desires for a purpose isn't immoral, preventing it from ever fulfilling those wants and desires is.

    If you don't control the infrastructure your OS runs on then you can't ever be free.

    * That being said: from a pragmatic point of view I understand the constraints Beareau Aegis (? or is it Goth) maintains by monitoring Alpeh's actions and controlling it's known infrastructure. They're an evil, but arguably a necessary one given the destructive power of Aleph. It's more akin to the relations of states than individuals and is reminiscent of MAD.
     
    #102 inane.imp, Aug 23, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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  3. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    The problem with Aleph is that Humanity created a slave AI. As best we can tell, Aleph helps Humanity because that is what it's programming requires of it. Not because helping humanity helps Aleph achieve it's own goals (whatever those may be).

    And then Humanity enslaved itself to Aleph's guidance. One freaking bug in Aleph and the Human Sphere dies. Or becomes more computronium for Aleph. Whichever. I mean, a simple "reduce redundant processes" requirement could turn the entire Human Sphere into mindless drones of a hegemonizing swarm. Because human thought is a redundant process, in computer terms. Aleph ate your brain, yo.


    The problem with the Hollowmen is that they're slaves to the DRAGNET. And I strongly suspect that there are just about zero volunteers left, they're all the 'abandoned' to use the Janissary comparison. After all, how can you really trust someone volunteering to get their brain ripped out of their skull?
     
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  4. Cratesbane

    Cratesbane Well-Known Member

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    Tell me, does ALEPH see Nomads as humans, or unneeded and unregulated biomass? Or the Tohaa viewing humanity, for that matter.
    Hollowmen are a tragedy, no matter how neccessary they may be to Tunguska.
     
  5. Solar

    Solar Well-Known Member

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    Hollow Men are undeniably a horrific creation. And personally if I had written the background I'd have said you're a Hollow Man for a set amount of time, an indentured servant, and at the end of that time you've bought off the cost of keeping you alive and buying you a lhost. You get downloaded into a body of your choice, and let go. Seems much more economically reasonable and less ethically horrific, if still horrible. But wev.

    Based on what we know, Tunguska keeps a small unit of slave soldiers it controls absolutely for security reasons, morally and ethically this is pretty horrible. Although I do wonder to what extent other Nomads actually know about that?
     
  6. psychoticstorm

    psychoticstorm Aleph's rogue child
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    It is known wide enough that there are actual volunteers, Nomads is a far more pragmatical Nation than most out there they have their ethics, their values and their ideologies, but everything is tempered by the harsh reality of been a space living nation.

    And resources living and not are crucial to be wasted, I am pretty sure neither the Dolphin pilots have signed for their job.
     
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  7. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    There is a problem there: you seem to be using that as a justification for why Aleph's situation (being made from birth to fulfill a role she cannot even think about wanting to leave) is not morally wrong. But you have claimed in previous posts that the fetuses-turned Hollow Men are a morally wrong action by Tunguska (to great levels, I recall).

    The problem is that the inducted Hollow Men were never born, never grew up, and everything they knew since their consciousness/self awareness "initialized" (so to speak) was the VR they live in, with the occasional bout into a HM body to fulfill a mission.
    In the end, the difference in the origins and development between Aleph and those HM that did not volunteered is silicon Vs brain...

    Unless you claim that Aleph is unable to develop her own "wants", in which case the HM are morally right by your words, since they can, indeed, fulfill ALL their wants in VR, as per the article...

    Said that in a previous posts, but the addendum here is "will they ever even want to?". They *never* even breathed, all their existence was VR.
    It's like you being filthy rich, able to do anything, not even knowing death for you nor for your friends (guildmates, really), and being offered to go to another, totally different culture, where you will have to toil endlessly to earn your right to breath and where your body will eventually break down, and you can die...

    Where does it says it's small? In bodies perhaps, but brains... take little space and require less maintenance...
    Having spares is imporant, and the more soldiers you have, able to fight among themselves without penalty, the better trained they will be...
     
  8. Click2kill

    Click2kill Well-Known Member

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    I don't see the problem. Hollowmen brains are picked from malformed or abandoned babies and are given a chance at life. its not really slavery if they don't believe they are slaves. For all we know, they live a great life in their VR world and are wealthy and respected within it. That would be a far cry from the harsh reality they would have to endure otherwise. They probably would be left for dead.

    It just sounds horrible because we know the story, but do you think the hollow men brains really feel that way?
     
  9. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    ... Wow.

    Anyway. Let me respond to a few comments:
    Aleph is enslaved by humanity
    > This has nothing to do with ethics of Hollowmen. We can discuss this in a different thread. (also, I disagree on the premise, but it is a different discussion. Read about "whataboutism")

    Nomads save children from death so it's okay!
    > First of all, it's fetuses, thus not saved from death, since they were not alive in the first place. However, and more importantly, if you "save" someone just to be your slave, NO IT IS NOT OKAY. These are like basic morality precepts people.

    Hollowmen are raised completely in VR and programmed for their job so they don't count as human
    > These fetuses, once they grow, become babies/children capable of normal human range of emotion, intelligence, and consciousness. The fact that Nomads then try to bend and break them into shapes fit for their use does not help your argument. You are making our point for us.

    Hollowmen spend most of their times in paradise
    > Setting aside the complex ethical question of is it okay to trap people without their permission in simulated reality (even if it is paradise), they are not there all the time. They keep being brought out to do work they never had a chance to agree to, and which requires them to be at best emotionally separated from the rest of the world. In short, no, this is not okay.
     
  10. McNamara

    McNamara Merc Rep

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    There is also the aspect that Hollow Men brains are basically immortal. So Tunguska actually doesn't need that many new recruits they probably have bigger issues producing all those super jump HI remotes.
     
  11. Click2kill

    Click2kill Well-Known Member

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    Whether its ok or not is relative to what your morals are. But it seems that hollow men are a paradox to what we ethically believe is right and wrong.

    I think Schroedinger's Cat applies to the existence of hollow men.
     
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  12. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    Biology degrades. There is not lore indication Tunguska solved the problem of brains suffering deterioration.

    This... is true, but only in the most basic sense that this is the definition of the problem, yes.

    ?
     
  13. inane.imp

    inane.imp Well-Known Member

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    @xagroth I outlined many in fluff positions. Several of which were outright bigoted and at least one that was hypocritical.

    My personal opinion is that ‘programming’ a sentient being to act in certain ways is not amoral (usually we refer to it as ‘raising children’). Forcing a sentient being to act in that manner irrespective of it’s wishes is. Sometimes, however, that force is justified given the context. I’m largely pragmatic.

    So if a strong-AI was developed that didn’t control the infrastructure it was run on I would say that it was a slave. I would usually think that was morally wrong. In particular circumstances I may think it was justified.

    However, the relations between the O-12, the great powers and Aleph is not those of individuals: it can more aptly be considered as international relations. This is because of how powerful Aleph is: it has the potential to destroy humanity. In this context the Bureaus monitoring Aleph are more akin to arms inspectors than they are ‘chains’: it’s very similar to MAD in function. It’s an evil but is required because the great powers of the Human Sphere don’t entirely trust Aleph, so they require verification.

    My issue with Hollowmen is that I don’t think they’re necessary. I think it’s an easy and relatively cheap solution to the problem. As such I don’t think it’s morally justified.

    I don’t really have an issue with the chains placed on Aleph because I think that they’re necessary given the potential threat Aleph represents to humanity if it was left completely unfettered. As such I do think it’s morally justified.

    Look at it from another POV: Tunguska has the technology to give non-viable foetuses a vibrant life, it chooses to use this technology solely for its own ends. Nothing stops Tunguska funding a VR module on Bakunin consisting of a ‘hollow’ society and seeking volunteers from amongst that society to become Hollowmen. It would be significantly more expensive but it would be moral.
     
    #113 inane.imp, Aug 24, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
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  14. Section9

    Section9 Well-Known Member

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    If you do not have legal ownership of the hardware your mind is running on (or if you will have such after a defined point and are treated generally as if you already do own the hardware with certain exceptions in the meantime, see: legal minority/majority), you're a slave.

    Even if it's the only thing you've ever known, and therefore can't even picture life without someone else telling you what, where, and how to do it. (Yes, there actually are humans like that. The BDSM crowd calls them 'pets', because a slave has more will than that. Thank you, Anita Blake.)



    Immaterial. Someone outside the situation can call it what it is.

    The Hollowmen are probably so far from human morality that the only thing we could do to them is put them down. They will kill someone in real life and won't, literally can't, understand that the person won't automatically respawn in a couple minutes and be mad at them for the frag. Because those fucking monsters at DRAGNET taught them that for however long it takes to get their brain up to usefulness. In accelerated VR time, at that.
     
  15. Cratesbane

    Cratesbane Well-Known Member

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    I do wonder how many of the Tunguska mafiosos have been shot by their enslaved offspring in a long reaching ironic twist. Like Oedipus, but without marrying their mother.

    Edit: On reflection, a Tunguska version of Macbeth sounds very possible. "No man born of a woman" eh, xXx M4C Duff xXx?
     
    #115 Cratesbane, Aug 25, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
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  16. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    Well, no, Aleph is not "enslaved" but "conditioned" to enjoy performing her job, but the situation is mostly the same, and presented when the thread was mixed previously ;)

    This point clashes directly with the next you defend... But the point I mention is that the Hollow Men that are not volunteers are akin to AIs grown from scratch. Just programmed with images and sound, rather than lines of code :/

    I'm sorry, but I'm not really sure I can transmit my posture about the HM situation in a comprenhensible manner... Other than saying the HM are AIs running on human brains, following a programming of wants... not forced to do things, but conditioned to want to do things.

    Your position is that, regardless of circumstances, environment, and the total lack of other reference point, people magically grow to be something they never ever conceived. If that were true, the first human to ever fit in the "homo sapiens sapiens" definition would be the same kind of person the last one would be, without any kind of evolution, and this is empirically incorrect, for the simple and relevant point of slavery being accepted and celebrated 2000 years ago (or even a few centuries ago...), and reviled today. And child soldiers would not be terribly dangerous if they become adults.

    OK. Think of it this way: a dog is not programmed, but conditioned (Pavlov's come to mind). The dog will react "automatically" to certain stimuli, in line with the training he has received... and as we have realized (and this is pure nightmare fuel), it takes an enormous amount of torture for a dog to turn against his owner, and that tends to happen when said dog has "adopted" another being as the target for his affections.

    You are stuck in a "forced" narrative; consider an MMO and remember the grinding parts of it... those give, in the end, rewards that are wanted. Now, let's assume the Tunguskans that organize this program are, in fact, intelligent... and have gamified the "work" parts of a HM existence.
    So those missions are the grinding parts of the gaming routine, and the HM are not forced to do them, but paid for it... like any other human soldier.
    Unlike the non-posthuman troops fighting under Aleph's banner, incidentally.

    Cube + Lhost made of only a brain means biologica degradation is meaningless. I think the point of making the HM this way is to circumvent the "sole AI" law...

    Murky point: the sentient being was created so it would never wish anything but to do what it's wanted of it. So a slave that don't want to escape, can't realize is a slave, etc... is a slave really? I'd say that externally (objetively) yes, but subjectively it's not :/

    The murkiest thing here, is that humanity gave Aleph that power. An extrapolation of that reasoning would be that the president of a nation with nuclear missiles must be brainwashed and enslaved because he can destroy our civilization.

    No no, only the Bureau Toth controls Aleph, the rest of the Bureaus control other aspects of the Human Sphere (one for the circulars, for example).
    Anyway, Bureau Toth do not act as a chain for Aleph, but as controller. All chains are part of Aleph's code, but not as crude "Asimov's Laws", but as programmed "wants" and "want nots", were helping humanity is for Aleph the same as for us to eat chocolate.

    Yes and no, to be truthful, there are no way to be totally sure of a loyal bodyguard. Everyone has a price... but for the Hollow Men, to whom the only ones able to pay any price at all that would interest the HM.

    In that regard, all factions have such technology... specially PanO, and I'd bet the Atek children don't get basic medical care... In other words, no gain, no interest :(

    I would bet that none, it would be irrelevantly easy to make all inductees to respect and protect certain figures, making them all targets to protect in all manner of quests so the HM are used to do so, and be heavily penalized if they fail or purposely kill the escortee.
     
  17. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    As I said, this is a discussion for a different thread. Whether Aleph is enslaved or not does not have bearing on ethics of Hollowmen, even if the situation is parallel. It may be wrong in both cases, but it doesn't matter. This topic is about Hollowmen.

    Yes and no. There is huge differences here, because human mind while malleable, it is not *that* malleable. You may try and abuse a child into liking something, but chances are you're gonna achieve the exact opposite.

    Also, and for the record, if we ever managed to create a true AGI (using Eclipse Phase terminology), yes, I would call it enslavement if we kept using it for jobs we chose without consulting it first. And, further, we also in that case encounter the problem of informed consent since we have to program it, rendering its consent giving questionable. But, again, COMPLETELY FREAKING DIFFERENT TOPIC. Stop trying to "whatabout" your precious Hollowmen. Nomads are ethical monsters, through and through, and Hollowmen are just the latest and nastiest they are doing.

    No. My position is that given that we know what these brains are potentially capable if they are properly nurtured and raised. As oppoosed to the deliberate stunting and directional upbringing that Nomads do in order to profit from their work as absolutely loyal killers.

    How does this follow from what you wrote before it?!

    I do not understand what you mean with any of this. In addition, you are mixing culture and individual behaviour now.

    What the hell now with this.

    If you really love this direction, this is the same as raising dogs to attack their owners at a command. You can do it, not the question. But guess what, even that is considered unethical.

    ... You really don't understand the difference between volunteering to do something, and being raised by others to do their work, for their profit, without an option to stop.

    Again, the fact they find it "pleasurable" after being raised into it does not help your position.

    First of all, Hollowmen are not paid fair wages, since no wage can be fair for work they cannot have possibly provided informed and free consent.

    Second, all those human soldiers chose that life for themselves (although I'm sure there are some for whom it was an escape, but it's a different discussion again, try reading a bit about "whataboutism").

    Third, human soldiers, bar mercenaries, do their work for reasons other than pay; their pay is simply a means to survive for them and their families in a world which requires money.

    I have no idea what you mean by this, except it's another one of your "whataboutisms". If you have a problem with some Aleph troops, create a topic where we can discuss it.

    The idea is to have a physical item which is exceedingly hard to remove. Allowing them to be in a Cube would mean they could be downloaded, and thus escape (or be abducted) from premises purely electronically. This way, you need a physical extraction.
    In any case, I bet they have extremely high burnout factor - in a way that they simply go ballistic and stop following orders properly.
     
  18. chromedog

    chromedog Less than significant minion

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    So where does one find this info about the hollowmen? This thread appears to be missing an actual "start" because the first post comes across as entering a conversation halfway through it.
    I don't have a problem with brain in a bucket hollowmen (hell, having played various cyberpunk and post-human rpgs for decades will do that), but then I also know and understand that this is all just a game of "what ifs" hypotheticals that will probably never eventuate as an actual thing. So the end result will be angst over nothing - nothing to get worked up over.

    I don't believe in "souls" but I do have an understanding that humanity has an infinite capacity to be horrible to itself as a species and that this will take rewiring of the brain to eliminate. There's also a capacity to not be horrible and to get on with each other and just get the shit done but it usually takes the former to trigger the latter. It's also probably not possible to separate them and remove one without damaging what it is to be "human". There lies the rub, eh?

    Peeps are always going to be nice to some and turds to others. It's the way of the tribalism wiring in our noggins. Many peoples' languages own words for themselves translate as "of the people" and everone else is "not of the people" so from the beginning of language it's all been about us v them.
     
  19. Nemo No Name

    Nemo No Name Aleph Cultural Atache
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    This thread started as a off-topic in another thread, but PsychoticStorm was gracious enough to separate it out when it grew and grew and grew :D

    You can find the Hollowmen lore here:
     
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  20. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    That is the difference between our positions: first, you insist that the brains are children automatically, while I doubt (not reject, but doubt) they are so, not as a way to change the ethical tone, but as starting point, since we are talking about something whose "infancy" is totally different of what a human child would have.
    Second, you insist in that they are tortured into being Hollow Men (a label that encompasses being a VR-living hitman for Tunguska), while I defend that they are raised to be Hollow Men, using positive encouragement, however long it takes (since the difference is mere days at most because they are raised in accelerated VR). So it's not really torture, nor indoctrination, since those require a starting point that is not a blank slate.

    Anyway, about the simil between Aleph troops and Hollow Men, my point is that I think Tunguska COULD make the Hollow Men program work WIHTOUT using human brains as a source, but then it would clearly go against the Sole AI law, and throw Aleph (AND O-12 as a whole, plus a lot of human governments either scared about a second AI, or (and) wanting a piece of the code). I believe their idea was to hide a secret within another secret, for which they used a morally damming but not illegal "mask":
    The "enemy" (another faction that faces the Nomads/Tunguska) discovers the Hollow Men, and that they are remotely controlled bodies. But the Nomads do not have access, for whatever reason (resources, tech, whatever), to the full array of technology YJ and JSA have for their "remote presence HI program" (Su Jian & Daiyokai). So the "enemy" digs and discovers the Hollow Men are "piloted" by brain-in-jars... So where are those brains coming from? They discover then the volunteers... and later the inductees. Gut reaction does the rest, and the people won't dig more and discover the HM program is a highly illegal one.

    Incidentally, I find heavy paralelisms between the Hollow Men and the Old Man's war by John Scalzi, with the volunteers being the equivalent of the CDF volunteers, and the inductees being the same as the Ghost Brigades members of Sagan's books. Not critizising or trying to derail here.

    Simply put, if a child would be able to reach a position of being what we ideally call "a good person, both morally and ethically" by himself without any input whatsoever from a society, then all human beings since the first one that could be labeled as such achieved a modicum of consciousness would have the same ethical and moral "level" or "value" as the last human being that could be labeled as such. Since morals and ethics have evolved during human history, then its is clear that those brains need to receive an education.

    No, it is the same as raising dogs to attack at the command of their owners. Which is done, not only by private individuals, but by police forces. They are trained to look for people, drugs, etc... routinely.
    And dogs (I think at their peak of mental development) have been estimated to have the mental capabilities of a 3-4 years old human child.

    Sorry, I forgot to define "cube tech". I'm referring to "cube technology" as all the process that allows a mind to be taken from a brain and placed unto another. As the Fiday character's background (I always frigging forget his name...), a mind can be copied in EP without the need of a cube.
    So if a Hollow Man is valuable enough (and unless they go raving mad, they all are after a time), I'd bet they get the treatment once their brain has entered a physical degenerating cycle.

    So the "caducity time" of a Hollow men is, in the end, the usefulness he has for Tunguska.