Re: the Blight not evil?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 10:29:48 MST

On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 05:34:16PM -0800, Wei Dai wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 07, 2001 at 09:17:00PM +0100, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > As for judging the Blight vs. Countermeasure, Steel vs. Woodcarver, it
> > can only be done relative to some standard. I would use whether they
> > promoted happiness and self-development among other beings, and then the
> > choice becomes rather clear: Steel is clearly using other beings for his
> > own purposes with no interest in their self-development, while
> > Woodcarver does it; the Blight uses other beings as expendable tools for
> > its own purposes on a far wider scale than Countermeasure. None of the
> > characters end up 100% on the good or evil side, but you can make
> > distinctions between them.
> I'm not sure I agree that none of the characters end up 100% on the good
> or evil side. What should have the Countermeasure or Woodcarver done in
> order to be 100% good according to your standard? What might Steel or the
> Blight have done to qualify for being 100% evil?

Well, if we define 100% good/evil as having done the maximum number of
possible acts according to some value, even the Blight would likely end
up with everything else near 50% (it didn't seem to go out of its way to
do nasty things). But within this range there is still tremendous

I think Countermeasure might not have had much choice in what it did, so
it might actually have ended up 100% good if it did not cause the death
or limitation of one sentient more than was needed within some
reasonable safety margin. On the other hand Old One/Godshatter did use
at least one sentient being as an expendable tool (Pham) and quite
clearly manipulated other beings to achieve their ends, even when they
were noble and might have been achievable through voluntary cooperation
given good enough explanations.

The actions of the Blight was never described in detail, but it seems
that it was most interested in further its own interests rather than
make existence miserable for other beings - it simply used them. It
could have been far worse (and less interesting) if it had been

Woodcarver and Steel were relatively well developed characters and had
their own motivations. Steel clearly had some limited friendliness (even
if it was mainly acting) towards the children and other useful
individuals. Again, he was not 100% evil since he did not care for
making others miserable, just achieving his ends. Woodcarver on the
other hand may have caused some ethical transgressions by its
original experiments (although among tine intelligences concepts like
individual growth are rather slippery), but Flensler's later career was
its own.

Of course, this shows that the expression "100% evil/good" might be
rather useless. In AFUTD it is rather caring vs. uncaring.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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