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The Ethics of the First Automated War
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wolfen
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Dec 5, 2009, 03:57 PM
 
Expanding on this article, one day armies of killer robots will do the fighting for us. Throw in a 3-star General Supercomputer, and we won't even have to do the strategery.

These days we rationalize saving the lives of a jeep full of soldiers as justification for air strike collateral damage. "Well at least they weren't Americans" is the argument in a nutshell. But are there any ethical arguments for the use of automated war machines that make decisions to kill on their own? The only way I could justify it is if they made fewer mistakes than human counterparts. But what error rate do we accept in lieu of losing some number of our own personnel?

"The XJ3-A will, on average save the lives of 100 US soldiers each year of operation. It will accidentally kill only 20 innocent civilians per year."

I'd be curious to know the (certainly classified) stats on our current systems.
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Doofy
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Dec 5, 2009, 04:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
are there any ethical arguments for the use of automated war machines that make decisions to kill on their own?
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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Dec 5, 2009, 08:54 PM
 
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ghporter
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Dec 5, 2009, 10:58 PM
 
Currently all automated US weapons are human-controlled. This is an extension of the "man in the loop" concept of controlling nuclear weapons, which could have been totally automated decades ago. This is a Good Thing in a lot of ways, including the avoidance of collateral damage and casualties, and the ability to capitalize on targets of opportunity.

Then there are a number of science fiction stories that are, either intentionally or not, cautionary tales about using too much automation in a killing machine. Fred Saberhagen's Berzerker series is a good one, as are the Terminator stories. Another really good group of stores are D.F. Jones' Colussus series. All pivot on the fact that if automated killing machines lack human control, their very existence is a major threat to the existence of humanity. Of course, nothing can go worng.....

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besson3c
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Dec 5, 2009, 11:03 PM
 
I'm an automated sex machine.


These are good questions, wolfen, but I suspect that they are questions we'll never agree to or have concrete answers to. I think that robotic soldiers are a pretty inevitable thing though.
     
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Dec 6, 2009, 10:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I'm an automated sex machine.
But do you keep a 'man in the loop'?
     
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Dec 6, 2009, 10:43 AM
 
sounds like a Star Trek TOS episode
     
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Dec 6, 2009, 10:47 AM
 
As long as the end game is to beat the other country/opponent badly enough to have the upper hand in dictating the conditions of surrender nothing will change except the number of dead.
     
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
But what error rate do we accept in lieu of losing some number of our own personnel?

"The XJ3-A will, on average save the lives of 100 US soldiers each year of operation. It will accidentally kill only 20 innocent civilians per year."

I'd be curious to know the (certainly classified) stats on our current systems.
Ethics are no different today than they were 1000 years ago. Once you have the technology, you either use it or it will be used on you, also (once the arrow is loosed, you cannot pull it back).

Plus, there's always a decision-maker behind the wheel, and these days there may be too many decision-makers coming up with rules of engagement.

I don't like the civilian casualties, but I"m sure they're overstated for political reasons, just like the REAL cost of war (on the warriors) is always understated for political reasons, just like the free rider problem is ignored (they fight so we don't have to).
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 8, 2009, 06:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
Ethics are no different today than they were 1000 years ago. Once you have the technology, you either use it or it will be used on you, also (once the arrow is loosed, you cannot pull it back). ...let's not get distracted by your other stuff...
Are you saying that mankind cannot develop a more humane global morality? That war is not only inevitable, but necessary?

If true, doesn't that preclude the concept of higher moral ground or superior ideology? Fighting in such a perspective isn't a matter of survival or "doing the right thing," but a primal imperative that cannot be denied.
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Chuckit
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Dec 8, 2009, 07:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Are you saying that mankind cannot develop a more humane global morality? That war is not only inevitable, but necessary?

If true, doesn't that preclude the concept of higher moral ground or superior ideology? Fighting in such a perspective isn't a matter of survival or "doing the right thing," but a primal imperative that cannot be denied.
Do you have a practical solution for "developing a more humane global morality"? If not, I think you have your answer.
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Dec 8, 2009, 07:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Currently all automated US weapons are human-controlled. This is an extension of the "man in the loop" concept of controlling nuclear weapons, which could have been totally automated decades ago. This is a Good Thing in a lot of ways, including the avoidance of collateral damage and casualties, and the ability to capitalize on targets of opportunity.
Alarmingly, the Soviet Union did actually develop a nuclear doomsday machine in the 1980s, that, if activated, would fully automate the Soviets' retaliatory strike in the event of an American first strike (albeit with several, again automated, steps to try to reach human operators). It's presumably still available for Russia's use today.

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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 8, 2009, 07:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
Do you have a practical solution for "developing a more humane global morality"? If not, I think you have your answer.
I don't have an agenda, if that's what you're after. We can have a discussion or we can puke up opinions aimlessly. I thought actually exploring other people's thoughts (assuming they think) might be interesting. Perhaps not.

Do you or don't you believe that humans can, over time, improve their treatment of one another? Or are we hopelessly hitched to the reigns of war for no greater reason than "just because" ?
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Chuckit
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Dec 8, 2009, 08:37 PM
 
I believe that speaking of "humans" as a cohesive whole starts you off on the wrong foot. I believe that people are capable of improving themselves, and I believe it's possible for the general attitude of large groups to change over time, but no, we will never eradicate evil from the human race. The only way to do that would itself be considered evil by most people. The best we can do is try to be good ourselves, encourage others to be good as well, and try to limit the harm that evil people can do.
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 8, 2009, 09:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
I believe that speaking of "humans" as a cohesive whole starts you off on the wrong foot. I believe that people are capable of improving themselves, and I believe it's possible for the general attitude of large groups to change over time, but no, we will never eradicate evil from the human race.
You tell me it is a poor start to speak of humans as a cohesive whole, and then say evil exists in "the human race." Not trying to pick a fight here, but I honestly don't understand how you can do this. Let's just assume, for argument's sake, that my questions relate to "the evil in the human race" being an unstoppable force creating war on Earth in perpetuity. Sounds like you are answering affirmative to that.

The only way to do that would itself be considered evil by most people. The best we can do is try to be good ourselves, encourage others to be good as well, and try to limit the harm that evil people can do.
Wait... you are now saying that evil CAN be removed from the human race and then, by implication, war could be a thing of the past.

Can you define this "evil" you speak of? And how exactly can we remove it?
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Chuckit
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Dec 8, 2009, 10:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
You tell me it is a poor start to speak of humans as a cohesive whole, and then say evil exists in "the human race." Not trying to pick a fight here, but I honestly don't understand how you can do this.
Because I wasn't speaking of humans as a cohesive whole. It's like the difference between the statements "Dogs are brown" and "Some dogs are brown." You were talking about all humans being peaceful — I'm saying you can't make all humans be anything — and especially not anything so unnatural as being peaceful — without severely culling the herd.

Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Let's just assume, for argument's sake, that my questions relate to "the evil in the human race" being an unstoppable force creating war on Earth in perpetuity. Sounds like you are answering affirmative to that.
Yes, for the foreseeable future. Competition is natural. I can't see any reasonable way to incentivize not trying to further your own position in the world.

Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Wait... you are now saying that evil CAN be removed from the human race and then, by implication, war could be a thing of the past.
Sure. Conquer the world, completely strip everybody of their freedom, kill anyone who resists. Once you're finished, you'll have peace. I don't think it's a very good plan, though.

Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Can you define this "evil" you speak of? And how exactly can we remove it?
People hurting each other.
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 8, 2009, 10:51 PM
 
I'm not going to pick apart contradictions in your statements because that is distracting from understanding your overall position.

As I understand what you saying: furthering one's position in the world relative to others' positions (competition) is natural, and so the incentive to harm one another during competition is inherent within our existence. Harming others (evil) could include a parenting mistake with long term consequences. But let's avoid all that crap about "harm" because you can't define it and I won't get what I'm after by picking it apart.

Your answer appears to be that competition is both natural and inevitable, and the source of conflict. And so it isn't evil that drives humans into aggressive confrontation, but this natural competition. Inherent within this position is the idea that people are competing for something which they consider valuable, at the expense of others' ability to acquire it.

My question, translated to suit your world view, is this:

Given human biology's brain development, and our proven ability to learn and acquire new values, do you believe that one day the vast majority of humans could acquire a value or set of values that can overcome this natural force of competition's power to create war? OR, even better, is it possible that the this majority can accept valuable rewards that can only be acquired by NOT competing for them?

If I did want to debate on any matter you presented, it would be the wish that conflict can be eliminated by sheer dominance. History demonstrates that it is this very attitude driving many of its greatest generals (Alexander, Napolean, Khan, Hitler). But history also demonstrates that human rights in all its forms appears to be a growing and expanding concept with a monstrous rule-changing wake. (See: The US Declaration of Independence.) This is either a fad that will die out (if your world view holds its ground), or it will continue changing the rules.

I guess this at the heart of my question.
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ghporter
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Dec 8, 2009, 11:04 PM
 
My take on Chuckit's point:
Originally Posted by Kay
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
More particularly, people in groups are generally much less insightful, open minded, forward thinking, or even intelligent. Groups as small as a dozen can behave radically differently from the way the individual members of those groups would behave in isolation. Choose a group the size of a small nation, and it really doesn't matter how smart, open minded and peace-loving any individual in that nation is, the nation itself will have certain group characteristics, including a will to survive and motivation to act on (against) anything seen as a threat to its survival. This is the root of conquest, imperialism, and so on.

By the way, Hitler was not only not a general, he wasn't a good commander either. He was a force of will, and he used the skills of many people around him, but he wasn't even shrewd enough to keep the good ones around, often finding fault with anything from their eating habits to some imagined treachery. Hitler indeed "dominated" Germany and eventually much of Europe, but he was no general, and you shame Alexander, Rommell, Montgomery and Washington by tossing rubbish like Hitler into their midst.

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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 8, 2009, 11:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
My take on Chuckit's point:More particularly, people in groups are generally much less insightful, open minded, forward thinking, or even intelligent.
How can you take that road and simultaneously say you can't discuss the matter in terms of a cohesive human whole? That angle is a mess. Not that I disagree with this perspective, just that it doesn't jive with what he's actually typed into the little boxes here. And I'm sure you know there are cases where just the opposite is true: the masses somehow create efficiencies and superior approaches that individuals would not have conceived.

By the way, Hitler was not only not a general, he wasn't a good commander either. He was a force of will, and he used the skills of many people around him, but he wasn't even shrewd enough to keep the good ones around, often finding fault with anything from their eating habits to some imagined treachery. Hitler indeed "dominated" Germany and eventually much of Europe, but he was no general, and you shame Alexander, Rommell, Montgomery and Washington by tossing rubbish like Hitler into their midst.
Firstly, you can't have a guy in charge of all the generals NOT be - in effect - a general. I get what you are saying, but functionally it doesn't work.

I take it you have a thing for generals? Analysts-in-uniform. I guess I kinda look at all humans pretty much equally, and don't see any shame in finding similarities from one to another.
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Dec 9, 2009, 12:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Do you or don't you believe that humans can, over time, improve their treatment of one another? Or are we hopelessly hitched to the reigns of war for no greater reason than "just because" ?
We HAVE improved our situation over the millenia, but the basic human struggle against nature, and against each other for power, continues. Different battlefield, different scope, different weapons. Same struggle. At the same time, the vast majority of humans live much better than they would have two centuries ago. That doesn't keep brushfire wars from happening. Hell, Rwanda was about machetes.

We have the level of morality that we can afford at a particular point in time, and our basic morality relies upon the same principles that the Greeks talked about. We know "what's right" and "what's wrong" whether people choose to consistently institutionalize those things or not.

Also, you'd think that folks that were supposedly closer to basic living and their god would be a lot less inclined to want war and power struggles. That doesn't seem to be the case.
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 02:54 PM
 
The problem with a robotic army is that robots like any computer can be hacked and reprogrammed...

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Orion27
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Dec 9, 2009, 04:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
We HAVE improved our situation over the millenia, but the basic human struggle against nature, and against each other for power, continues. Different battlefield, different scope, different weapons. Same struggle. At the same time, the vast majority of humans live much better than they would have two centuries ago. That doesn't keep brushfire wars from happening. Hell, Rwanda was about machetes.

We have the level of morality that we can afford at a particular point in time, and our basic morality relies upon the same principles that the Greeks talked about. We know "what's right" and "what's wrong" whether people choose to consistently institutionalize those things or not.

Also, you'd think that folks that were supposedly closer to basic living and their god would be a lot less inclined to want war and power struggles. That doesn't seem to be the case.
"....We have the level of morality we can afford at the time.." End of story.......
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 07:47 PM
 
The consensus seems to be that we (citizens of your nation, or however you define "we") don't go to war in defense of any REAL value system, but we apply whatever value system we need to justify and WIN war. If the US, Britain, and other anglo nations would have just joined Hitler (as he preferred) everything on earth would be much more peaceful than it is now. We would have just bombed the sh*t (conventional and nuclear) out of every other race on earth and enjoyed the luxuries of being white non-jews. But somehow we would find a reason to go to war and do it all over again because "that's what humans do."

Well, I guess I buy into the dream (and observation) that human rights are improving and meaningful. I mean, 500 years ago, some noble catches a pretty woman on the road alone and there is zero accountability for his actions. Today the climate has much evolved since then in the western world. And I think it will continue to improve. The question is how far it will permeate the rationale for/against war.
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Orion27
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Dec 9, 2009, 07:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
The consensus seems to be that we (citizens of your nation, or however you define "we") don't go to war in defense of any REAL value system, but we apply whatever value system we need to justify and WIN war. If the US, Britain, and other anglo nations would have just joined Hitler (as he preferred) everything on earth would be much more peaceful than it is now. We would have just bombed the sh*t (conventional and nuclear) out of every other race on earth and enjoyed the luxuries of being white non-jews. But somehow we would find a reason to go to war and do it all over again because "that's what humans do."

Well, I guess I buy into the dream (and observation) that human rights are improving and meaningful. I mean, 500 years ago, some noble catches a pretty woman on the road alone and there is zero accountability for his actions. Today the climate has much evolved since then in the western world. And I think it will continue to improve. The question is how far it will permeate the rationale for/against war.
What a load of crap.
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 08:06 PM
 
which part?
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Dec 9, 2009, 08:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
Your answer appears to be that competition is both natural and inevitable
Look at it this way, it's self-selecting. We will probably never know whether it is "natural" or "inevitable," but we do know that in a world of people some of whom choose to compete while others choose not to, those who opt in to competition will have an advantage over those who don't. This is game theory 101: the prisoner's dilemma, "why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so." Trust only goes so far, and the more people who live on earth, the more chance that one of them will spoil your envisioned hippy utopia for the others. It's simple logic, any individual person can benefit by embracing altruism, but he can benefit slightly more by betraying the group and grabbing as much as possible for himself. Even if you eliminate all the selfish so that only the altruistic remain, it won't be long before natural variation produces a new person who realizes the benefits of selfishness. This is the basic concept of an evolutionary algorithm, that the mere fact of variation will eventually re-discover the existence of selfishness, and then since selfishness is beneficial for the person who has it, that trait will thrive and expand. So then what are you left with? Not only do you have to first eliminate anyone who doesn't agree to abandon selfishness and embrace altruism, you also have to eliminate variation to prevent a reversion. That's not a tenable situation.
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Look at it this way, it's self-selecting. We will probably never know whether it is "natural" or "inevitable," but we do know that in a world of people some of whom choose to compete while others choose not to, those who opt in to competition will have an advantage over those who don't. This is game theory 101: the prisoner's dilemma, "why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so." Trust only goes so far, and the more people who live on earth, the more chance that one of them will spoil your envisioned hippy utopia for the others. It's simple logic, any individual person can benefit by embracing altruism, but he can benefit slightly more by betraying the group and grabbing as much as possible for himself. Even if you eliminate all the selfish so that only the altruistic remain, it won't be long before natural variation produces a new person who realizes the benefits of selfishness. This is the basic concept of an evolutionary algorithm, that the mere fact of variation will eventually re-discover the existence of selfishness, and then since selfishness is beneficial for the person who has it, that trait will thrive and expand. So then what are you left with? Not only do you have to first eliminate anyone who doesn't agree to abandon selfishness and embrace altruism, you also have to eliminate variation to prevent a reversion. That's not a tenable situation.
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Look at it this way, it's self-selecting. We will probably never know whether it is "natural" or "inevitable," but we do know that in a world of people some of whom choose to compete while others choose not to, those who opt in to competition will have an advantage over those who don't. This is game theory 101: the prisoner's dilemma, "why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so." Trust only goes so far, and the more people who live on earth, the more chance that one of them will spoil your envisioned hippy utopia for the others. It's simple logic, any individual person can benefit by embracing altruism, but he can benefit slightly more by betraying the group and grabbing as much as possible for himself. Even if you eliminate all the selfish so that only the altruistic remain, it won't be long before natural variation produces a new person who realizes the benefits of selfishness. This is the basic concept of an evolutionary algorithm, that the mere fact of variation will eventually re-discover the existence of selfishness, and then since selfishness is beneficial for the person who has it, that trait will thrive and expand. So then what are you left with? Not only do you have to first eliminate anyone who doesn't agree to abandon selfishness and embrace altruism, you also have to eliminate variation to prevent a reversion. That's not a tenable situation.
This is precisely what I was getting at. You can't just eliminate war from the human race without completely removing their freedom and ruthlessly killing anyone who tries to change that. It ignores the fact that there is variation within the human race. Some people will always want more than they have — and those people who are trying to win will obviously beat all the ones who aren't interested in winning.
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:20 PM
 
But can you create a society that weeds it out? I mean, we understand that some people like to sexually assault children, but society as a whole does not support such behavior or allow it to dominate the culture. Likewise, is it possible that at some point in future, society would simply not provide traction/leverage for war? Is it possible we would exhaust our tolerance for it?
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:30 PM
 
The problem is that you're trying to declare war on war, you're fighting the concept of fighting, you hate hate. It's a paradox, an oxymoron of sorts. When we condemn pedophiles, we don't "molest" them into stopping, we have more generic forms of "harm" to fall back on (to intentionally use a term from up-thread). But if you want to condemn "harm" generically, what can you use to implement this tactic, if not "harm" itself?

Edit:
But can you create a society that weeds it out?
You don't seem to be following what I'm saying at all. Of course we could "weed it out" if we wanted to. That's not the problem. The problem is that it would come right back in no time.

Here's a thought exercise for you. Can we weed out nose-picking? Sure, we can staff booger-police to tromp around and slap people's hands away, and after a few decades of this people will have curtailed their own urge to pick, and it will be gone. Easy. The issue is, what next? Do you really think that no one else on the face of the earth will ever again realize that "hey, you can just pick them out with your finger!" Of course they will, it's not rocket science.
( Last edited by Uncle Skeleton; Dec 9, 2009 at 09:51 PM. )
     
Orion27
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
But can you create a society that weeds it out? I mean, we understand that some people like to sexually assault children, but society as a whole does not support such behavior or allow it to dominate the culture. Likewise, is it possible that at some point in future, society would simply not provide traction/leverage for war? Is it possible we would exhaust our tolerance for it?
Unfortunately, the perversion of sexual child abuse has been left to fester precisely because we have we have become so enlightened so as not to summarily put a bullet in the head of the perps when caught. So much for your theory on enlightenment and tolerance.
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Orion27 View Post
Unfortunately, the perversion of sexual child abuse has been left to fester precisely because we have we have become so enlightened so as not to summarily put a bullet in the head of the perps when caught. So much for your theory on enlightenment and tolerance.
Yeah, I'm not sure how to resolve that. Man is the only animal that preserves mutations/behaviors that are antithetical to its own existence -- this being a really good example, along with institutionalized abortion, both under the guise of "rights".

We have the morality we can afford, and some folks think we can afford to go easy on child molesters and treat the lives of the unborn casually. For survival's sake, we probably shouldn't tolerate/encourage either abortion or child molestation; both should generate the same outrage but they don't.

As for weeding things out, we've done it almost universally with incest. At least outside of West Virginia and parts of Eastern Kentucky.
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 10:04 PM
 
Incest was never very popular anyway. It was uncommon before, it's less common now. We've also mostly weeded out togas outside of the odd college party. Neither of these is comparable to stopping all people from competing one with another (and it has to be everyone, because if we become 95% sheep and 5% wolves, we've merely created a buffet).
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Orion27
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Dec 9, 2009, 10:37 PM
 
We live in a relatively benign period in history. The manner in which we are organized is perilously fragile. It's probably in our best interest to husband our ability to compete. We may have to save civilization again.
( Last edited by Orion27; Dec 9, 2009 at 11:50 PM. Reason: misspelling)
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 10:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
Incest was never very popular anyway. It was uncommon before, it's less common now.
I'd be interested in your statistics on this matter, where you get them, and how reliable they are. Since I'm a therapist that deals with lots of incest, I'm always curious what others think about the frequency of such things.

Originally Posted by orion
We live in a relatively benign period in history. The manner in which we are organized is perilously fragile. It's probably in our best interest to husband are ability to compete. We may have to save civilization again.
What are you talking about? Who is "We" and "our" ? I honestly want to understand what you're talking about.
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 11:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
The problem is that you're trying to declare war on war, you're fighting the concept of fighting, you hate hate. It's a paradox, an oxymoron of sorts. When we condemn pedophiles, we don't "molest" them into stopping, we have more generic forms of "harm" to fall back on (to intentionally use a term from up-thread). But if you want to condemn "harm" generically, what can you use to implement this tactic, if not "harm" itself?

Edit:

You don't seem to be following what I'm saying at all. Of course we could "weed it out" if we wanted to. That's not the problem. The problem is that it would come right back in no time.

Here's a thought exercise for you. Can we weed out nose-picking? Sure, we can staff booger-police to tromp around and slap people's hands away, and after a few decades of this people will have curtailed their own urge to pick, and it will be gone. Easy. The issue is, what next? Do you really think that no one else on the face of the earth will ever again realize that "hey, you can just pick them out with your finger!" Of course they will, it's not rocket science.
I'm not being clear, perhaps.

My angle is that we are an advanced species with the biological ability to adopt and adhere to a menu of value sets. The question is not "how do we eliminate people or behaviors I don't like." The question is, is it possible that the human race, as a whole or majority, could adopt a set of values that simply discourages or outright prohibits war as a solution to anything.

Your approach implies that this is fantasy...that violence and competition are so ingrained in the human psyche (biologically) that violence would rear its head and threaten the fabric of even the most advanced human culture. And given current statistics, I can't argue. But given the statistics of 1000 years ago, most people of any culture would not be educated, would be blindly religious, and would not conceive that democracy was remotely possible. Clearly we have advanced. Taken from that perspective, my approach is simply that we would continue to advance in ways that seem unlikely to us at this moment.
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Dec 9, 2009, 11:34 PM
 
You're not understanding what we're saying. It isn't just that "violence and competition are so ingrained biologically" (although that is true). It's that these traits are advantageous. People who are unwilling to compete will lose to those who are. Like I said, your idea requires everybody to become peaceful all at once or else you're just making things easier for those who are still warlike.

Comparing war to law-breaking just underlines my point: The reason nobles can no longer rape with impunity isn't because of some superior sense of morality we all share today. It's because we have created very strong disincentives for that crime. (And I'd like to note that even today, we haven't stopped it.) Hence why I said that subjugating everyone and killing those who resist is the only way to stop war — if you don't control someone, you have no power to stop him from acting in his own self-interest (i.e., enforcing the law in our crime analogy).

Educating people is also not a comparable problem. That was just a problem of logistics. It wasn't practical to educate everyone, but we could easily imagine ways it might happen. But I can't think of any way within the laws of reality that we could stop war and still retain freedom. Can you?
( Last edited by Chuckit; Dec 9, 2009 at 11:43 PM. )
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 9, 2009, 11:59 PM
 
You seem to imply that these concepts of violence and aggression are not simply byproducts of an evolutionary cycle, but genuinely advantageous in a Machiavillian sense. As though this is actually the superior value set that all races should behold if they expect to survive.

And let me be clear -- I am not saying we will ultimately adopt a lawful/moral code for mankind based on an abstract ideology, but on direct experience with the inferior nature of the Machiavillian value set. The son who never sees his father because he is spending all his time pursuing dominance in his field, is (theoretically) changed by observing his father's behavior. He becomes motivated to abandon these abitrary, self-serving values for more constructive, pro-social values.

Collectively, the experience of victimization that follows in the wake of those who dominate yields antithetical drives and values. In effect, crime produces a drive for cooperation. The grandiosity of such an interpretation of history seems delusional, but when one contrasts current codes and ethics with those found 1000 years ago, it becomes apparent that some change has taken place. No matter how you ascribe the change, it has moved toward a recognition of human rights.

So I don't presume that people can be deliberately educated to choose according to some altruistic value set. I instead observe that greater awareness and investigation of human experience has yielded a desire to change pathological behaviors that have brought generations of suffering.
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Dec 10, 2009, 12:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
I'm not being clear, perhaps.

...... and would not conceive that democracy was remotely possible. Clearly we have advanced. Taken from that perspective, my approach is simply that we would continue to advance in ways that seem unlikely to us at this moment.
Most people still can not conceive of democracy. And if democracy is described as being central to advanced society, I say we're on the downside on that score. The tendency in "enlightened" circles is more central control not less, less democratic initiatives not more. It appears to me lately, the democracies are being criticized for being too successful. That success has allowed you to indulge your fantasy. Don't drift away too far, you might find yourself fighting to get back to shore.
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 10, 2009, 12:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by Orion27 View Post
Unfortunately, the perversion of sexual child abuse has been left to fester precisely because we have we have become so enlightened so as not to summarily put a bullet in the head of the perps when caught. So much for your theory on enlightenment and tolerance.
the only reason this is recognized as a negative is becase we have created a society in which its victims suffer. Likewise its victms have had a say in the society we created. In effect, human experience identifies this as pathological. Likewise war's victims have a say about its value and cost to to each civilization.
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wolfen  (op)
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Dec 10, 2009, 12:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by Orion27 View Post
Most people still can not conceive of democracy. And if democracy is described as being central to advanced society, I say we're on the downside on that score. The tendency in "enlightened" circles is more central control not less, less democratic initiatives not more. It appears to me lately, the democracies are being criticized for being too successful. That success has allowed you to indulge your fantasy. Don't drift away too far, you might find yourself fighting to get back to shore.
Dont know what your angle is. I don't know that democracy is good or bad, or whatever -- only that it was virtually inconceivable once upon a time. Its adoption suggests we can adapt and acquire new values, and taken further, suggests that new horizons awai us in the societies man can conceive. Whether we consider democracy, itself, to be advantageous is superfluous to the point that we can change and that civilizations can act on new value sets. Globalization/homogeny only reinforce the potential of the glbal mankind to adopt universal anti-violence values in future.
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Orion27
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Dec 10, 2009, 12:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
..... The son who never sees his father because he is spending all his time pursuing dominance in his field, is (theoretically) changed by observing his father's behavior. He becomes motivated to abandon these abitrary, self-serving values for more constructive, pro-social values.......
.
More Crap. Dominating one's field brought us out of the stone age. I'd call that a pro-social value.
And humor me by describing a " more constructive, pro social value".
     
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Dec 10, 2009, 12:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
... Globalization/homogeny only reinforce the potential of the glbal mankind to adopt universal anti-violence values in future....
What my angle is. I've never heard so much crap in my life. Diversification is what makes this planet worth living on. Homogeny is not an ideal I would aspire to.
     
wolfen  (op)
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Dec 10, 2009, 07:50 AM
 
You are arguing and fighting. I'm trying to have a discussion.

In this case, the diversity of "one guy respectfully having a conversation" and "a different guy throwing criticism at the screen" ain't productive. But I'm guessing you're enjoying a smug sense of superiority, and I'm glad I could be part of that for you.
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Dec 10, 2009, 08:14 AM
 
I'm wondering if lions and crocodiles will evolve right along with us, eventually recreating the garden of eden. Your argument seems rather anthropogenic.
     
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Dec 10, 2009, 01:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
Man is the only animal that preserves mutations/behaviors that are antithetical to its own existence -- this being a really good example, along with institutionalized abortion, both under the guise of "rights".
That's totally false. Firstly, abortion. Animals abort. All the time. They also eat their young. The impetus for this is usually that the parent finds itself in a situation of starvation or other survival threat, and the hormonal balance that guides the animal's behavior is tuned to the algorithm that the offspring are already doomed (from the outside threat), and sacrificing the offspring immediately has more chance of allowing the parent to survive to breed again during fatter times. Of course the algorithm isn't perfect, and sometimes they end up killing their young unnecessarily. It also happens frequently if the male suspects infidelity. However, this practice isn't antithetical to the animal's own existence, because if it were the behavior would have been selected against and eliminated long ago. Back to starvation, or more generally resource depletion, the human race is in no way suffering from under-population. If anything, we are experiencing the opposite problem of over-population, to the point of resource depletion. Our preferred prey species are being over-harvested to extinction. Our long term survival benefits from (but does not strictly require) modulating our own population growth so as to lessen the extreme resource crashes that result from over-population. This pattern is stereotypical of any predator-prey relationship. Abortion is by no means antithetical to our own existence, in fact it is eerily similar to the evolution-derived survival strategy implemented by the (rest of the) animal kingdom when it comes to the imminent threat of resource scarcity.

Secondly, child abuse. Animals do that even more often. Animals screw anything they can get their paws on, including pre-pubescent, same-sex, different species, or non-living. In fact, if your argument is increased reproduction, the strategy of hyper-sexuality is not a bad one at all. The only exception is incest, in which the consequences involve wasting biological resources on offspring with consistently reduced fitness. And even then, animals generally don't abstain, they simply have secondary impulses that reduce the chances (like wanderlust).
     
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Dec 10, 2009, 01:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by wolfen View Post
You seem to imply that these concepts of violence and aggression are not simply byproducts of an evolutionary cycle, but genuinely advantageous in a Machiavillian sense.
Yes.
As though this is actually the superior value set that all races should behold if they expect to survive.
No.

It's not a value judgement, it's a tactical judgement. No race's survival depends on war, but their prosperity does if even one other race (or smaller group) decides to practice war.

when one contrasts current codes and ethics with those found 1000 years ago, it becomes apparent that some change has taken place. No matter how you ascribe the change, it has moved toward a recognition of human rights.
That change is greater force. As a group, humans will share your impulse to prevent unfairness and selfishness. But as individuals, humans will attempt to break the rules as much as they can get away with. For example, I would vote for higher taxes, but still personally I would evade all taxes, if I could get away with it. A congressman will push hard for stronger anti-prostitution laws, even while he breaks those laws by visiting prostitutes, if he can get away with it. Etc ad infinitum. The thing that stops them, the thing that supports your efforts in this thread, is the threat of punishment, by force, as implemented through the technological advances of greater use of force (and along with it more effective intelligence to direct that force).

So when you look back 1000 years to the use of force to commit rape (or anything else), the change that has reduced that use of force is the even greater use of force by police. 1000 years ago we had bandits using force to terrorize towns or countries, and today that is reduced by even greater use of force by militaries. Ditto rogue states' militaries and the even stronger militaries of supposedly altruistic states. Throughout history so far, the only recourse for deterring forceful evildoers is by the threat of even greater force. If you want to eliminate all use of force, you would have to concoct something more powerful than force with which to threaten force-users (for example, Mutually Assured Destruction was supposed to move us away from actual force to merely the threat alone, but it didn't quite work out that way). We don't have that, which is not to say that it can't be invented. But you do have to go there before you can talk about eliminating the use of force permanently.
     
   
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