Recycled Posts: 1) No Magic 2) Corporate Morality

“No Magic”

This is a copy’b’paste from the post, Solomani Aliens, and the Failure of Magic

Like most interesting & dramatic stories, Traveller runs on conflict: so the official setting has Solomani racial supremacists as a major foil of the Imperium, politically and ideologically. And as a certainty, Solomani humans are as tribal as ever, which makes an interesting contrast to the Vilani drive to unity & universal corporate conformity.

But there is no actual doctrinal requirement for this viewpoint, as least from Christian perspectives. After all, the Christian deity is a good deal more unpredictable and has more mysterious goals than any possible alien species will ever have:

“Wealth and control and dominance I understand: but holiness and righteousness and justice? What are those things, anyways? How are you supposed to measure that?”

“If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist!”


There is an important concept that’s worth noting here, with the best entry point being when Jesus said “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

This is a good lead-in to the Biblical theme of the firstborn son being disinherited, in favour of later-born sons.

I don’t believe in aliens from outer space, as – given evolutionary timeframes – they should have made their existence obvious by now. But it’s quite likely that we will be able to make our own aliens with a century or so, be it upgraded humans or cybernetic (you know, robots made of the silicon & metal you can find in many rocks…)

Set these aliens up to be more just and moral than current humanity is (solely for our own benefit, as always) and you’ve set up  the natural successor species of humanity, and the scenario for the eventual end of the human era.

Once again, the firstborn son is cut off, and the wise servant triumphs over the foolish master.

(Nod to North’s Moore’s Law and Apocalyptic Scenarios)


Do I actually believe that the nonhumans will replace humanity?

No in the case of digital minds: as you can’t reduce consciousness to mathematical programs and algorithms: there is no magic, no ‘leap of being‘, no viable alchemy, no way that a sufficient amount of time and matter can transform the dead to the living, or mindless chaos into a information-loaded living biosphere.

Never mind even framing the right questions regarding consciousness, or how you are supposed to get consciousness from algebraic equations, however complex. When you can’t even ask the right questions, you know the quest is futile!

So, I don’t believe that Bill Joy’s Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us scenario will come to pass. Nor will the psionic (read: magical) uplift – assisted by extraterrestrial devils – in Arthur C Clark’s Childhood’s End. Nor the flesh & machine deity of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Issac Asimov being a consultant here).

Also no in the case of humanity: as upgraded humans still count as humans. Just as genetically crippled humans still count as humans.

But yes, in the sense of the Second Adam replacing the first, and an other-oriented ethic (oriented to God) replacing a man-centred ethic, in time and on earth. First Corinthians 15:42-58 works as a sketchy description of a post-human order, an order that men who have no interest in obeying a Divine (read: non-human) legal-ethic code will simply have no place in:

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. – I Corinthians 15:49-50


In contrast to atheists, I don’t believe in magic: not in things that create themselves, not in a sufficient amount of quantity (matter, time, or algebra) transforming into quality, not in enormous amounts of information arising from random chaos, and not even in Keynes’ ‘stones into bread‘ delusion.

Without magic, there is only law and consequences.

Well, forgiveness and redemption as well: but that’s assuming a Christian universe ruled by a personal Lord who upholds the Law (and is therefore sinless), not a Buddhist impersonal ‘law-only’ cosmos or an Islamic-style inscrutable, unknowable, unpredictable, and therefore lawless deity.

This is a partial copy’n’paste from an earlier post, Artificial Islands and Corporate Morality where I comment on a Gizmag article, Seasteading Institute aims to build floating city by 2020

Corporate Morality

Solomani

What most caught my eye here is not so much the floating islands itself, but the insistence that this profit-seeking business be rooted in what are essentially moral/spiritual commandments.

In contrast to the claims of various socialists, quite a large number of businesses – some very successful – are grounded in a moral vision. This could well be a technological vision of ‘a computer in every home’ (a la Microsoft); a combination of technical excellence, beauty, and a disdain of Christianity (in the style of Apple); or just good chicken, good service, and closing shop every Sunday (Chick-fil-A).

Note: This post is being written a Christian using an Apple computer. If my fellow believers insist on fantasizing about Rapture/mystical escapism, say, instead of reaching for excellence and a high level of service (and the wealth this generates) in the world we live in, they should not complain if they are correctly dismissed as an irrelevance.

There are certainly businesses that are basically amoral or immoral (and yes, I rate the major banks a good deal lower than the illegal drug cartels or any slumlord here), but when you get above a certain level, there is usually a drive that involves more than money. After all, after your first $10 million, the enjoyment of even more money ceases to be a motivator – except as a way of keeping score.

Over time, the sheer desire for profit tends to overwhelm all other goals, and the changing leadership may well dump the old goals, and choose new ones. But to the extent this is true, corporations tend to stagnate, ossify, and eventually dissolve as the new leadership looks solely to maximize wealth extraction for themselves, and not customer service or any other higher goal.

Vilani

This desire for a higher reason to exist is true even of the practical & pragmatic Vilani. Admittedly, they despise Solomani morality – Christian, Atheistic, Buddhist, Socialistic, Islamic, Egalitarian – as either the bleating of the weak, or the gloating of the strong. The Solomani may enjoy such self-serving, pious cant, but the Vilani find such behaviour disgusting and repulsive.

(Obviously, I am using ‘pious’ here to mean the self-righteousness that is felt for following a particular belief system, be it religious or secularistic.)

Nevertheless, Vilani corporations do have a goal other than simply gaining wealth. They have plans for that wealth, plans that involve the promotion of the Vilani vision of life: consensus (and thus, conformity), tradition, prosperity. This is reasonable enough: corporations are owned by people, and people – especially many driven, talented executives – have a vision of the future they want to bring into reality.

As Vilani corporations are often integrated into the political system as a matter of course – complete with armed forces, legal courts, even diplomatic representation and formal political sovereignty – the cultural, legal, financial, military, and spiritual traditions and customs (as opposed to ‘morality’) of the Vilani can grow into a very important matter for the PCs – especially if they’re on the wrong end of a sub-machine gun.

“Know who you are dealing with.”

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