Dealing With A Purely Theoretical Dilemma

So, Charles Stross posted this particular “what if” on his blog today-

“Welcome to the galactic federation, humans! All our riches and elite super-science will be yours—immortality, faster than light travel, the tools to build AIs, cures for all your illnesses and a working theory of economics that abolishes poverty and war and provides as much wealth as anybody wants—just so long as you sign this simple easy agreement and consent to make one minor cognitive tweak so that you don’t mistakenly destabilize the false vacuum and destroy the universe.”

“Um. Wossat, then?”

“We need you to become a group mind. Studies show that in all identified previous cosmoi, individualist tool-using sophonts with access to these technologies harboured splinter groups so deranged that they collapsed the vacuum energy. There are no known exceptions to this rule: apparently telling you collectively not to do something just makes it inevitable. Unless you Borgify first—become a group mind, render your individual mental boundaries permeable to one another, and allow any other human complete access to your thoughts and memories. Group minds generally stick to the terms and conditions voluntarily.”

“Uh, let me get back to you on that. What happens if we say ‘no’?”

“Then, regrettably, you will discover that you have asked a question to which you really did not want to learn the answer.”

So, which leads to the question of what happens if somebody tried to make the same veiled threat/offer to the five races of Equestria. For all the races in the Equestriaverse, the answer would be varying degrees (and outgoing fire) of NO.

For Equestrians, a hive mind of this sort is so many different violations of the Covenant that it isn’t funny.  It’s the reason why there’s a Covenant in the first place.  Why the rules of the Covenant are so highly enforced.  They would fight, and possibly lose, but they would make sure that their opponents had the scars of their conflict.

To the Griffin Moot, they’re individuals, damn proud of it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Their minds are their own, and they want to keep them that way.

For the Senate and Minotaur Republic?  This is like suggesting that the Nazis had a perfect idea with the Holocaust to Israel Jews.  The Black Beast was a nightmare that they still suffer from to this day.  This lack of cognitive volition?  They’d fight, and if they couldn’t win, they’d drag as many of their enemies down with them as they could.

For the Zebra Kingdoms, the temptation would be there…as long as they (“they” being “whichever noble thinks they’re on top”) are the head of the hive.  But, of course, they couldn’t let somebody unworthy (i.e. their opponents) have access to the same.

For the Changelings, there isn’t any real difference.  Well, except that the Empresses would have to cooperate, and they would…as long as one Empress was in charge.

Trope A Day-Precrime Arrest

Precrime Arrest-When you have a massive database of potential behaviors, access to 24/7 surveillance (both public and private), live logging, powerful enough AIs, and a whole bunch of sensors, you can do this, easily.

Except that the moment you do this, you’re in violation of the Covenant.  Very specifically, the Right To Free Will clause, which highly prohibits this kind of tracking for both government and private individuals.  This presents issues with the Ministry of Love, which regularly has to scale back portions of the Friendster system that helps ponies and others find people that would like and love them.  Mostly because the database and tracking software starts to find ponies that are about to do horrible things, and they have to walk a fine line between “letting it happen” and “accidentally informing the right authorities.”  So far, most of the decisions being made are in the “accidentally informing” category, because no-one wants to have some pony with mental issues commit suicide.  Worse yet, they have to keep scaling back because the systems keep getting better at finding these things before they happen.  And predicting the reasons why.  Or catching Changeling infiltrators.  Or spies.

There’s serious talk about calling another Convention to amend the Covenant to allow for this kind of thing, as long as there is no direct, active interference in free will.  The proposed modifications would alter the Right To Free Will article so that the tools can be used in a careful and legal manner.  You can be warned, you can be offered help…but, ultimately your decisions are your own.

The same problem happens in the Griffin Moot, which has a much more developed system (and fewer restrictions on database access) and the Imperial Zebra government keeps a close eye on their own version of the system.  Highly adverted in the Senate and Minotaur Republic, which takes paranoia about loss of free will to extreme levels.  Even proposing this kind of thing opens you up for all sorts of lawsuits and more “passive” shunning behaviors among the minotaurs.

It Also Makes A Hot Rum Totty

EQUESTRIA, CANTERLOT-Vend-O-Matic has released it’s newest beverage vending machine, the VENBEV-903.  This new vending machine is fitted with a full range of sensors (full Covenant Privacy legal), and can provide not less than 450,000 different hot or cold beverages from the integral fabrication assemblies.  Vend-O-Matic is offering a “in kind” trade for the previous VENBEN-800 series beverage vendor machines, and a “at cost” for any earlier VENBEN machine series.

“We’re very proud of the new -903,” Sippy Cup, PR head of Vend-O-Matic said in an interview.  “With full connectivity with your muse and passive detection methods to determine beverage need, we can fully fulfill the needs of our customers.  Hot beverages, cold beverages, juices, coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, we can produce the perfect beverage for our customers as needed, and at any time.”

The VENBEN-903 can use all Beverage cartridges (both Vend-O-Matic official and generic), and incorporates full holographic external projection systems for advertising.  The VENBEV-903M is also produced for sale in Senate and Minotaur Republic territory, without the sensor array and holographic projection systems.  Full repair templates are included in the purchase price.