Worldbuilding: Intellectual Integrity and Non-Utopia

So, in things to think about, let’s talk about intellectual integrity. Or, more specifically, let’s talk about a citation I’m taking from Paean to SMAC (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri)’s discussion of the Intellectual Integrity technology, and specifically this:

That this is tied to a technology called Intellectual Integrity is quite intriguing, if one is willing to entertain the idea for a moment.  What would it mean for a society to have real intellectual integrity?  For one, people would be expected to follow their stated beliefs to wherever they led.  Unprincipled exceptions and an inability or unwillingness to correlate beliefs among different domains would be subject to social sanction.  Valid attempts to persuade would be expected to be based on solid argumentation, meaning that what passes for typical salesmanship nowadays would be considered a grave affront.  Probably something along the lines of punching someone in the face and stealing their money.

This is essentially the way Imperial society works, thanks to talcoríëf and the efforts of socio-intellectual movements past; there’s a very good reason why teir, typically glossed “honor”, has a lot more to say about self-integrity and intellectual integrity than a human take on its gloss would normally imply.

(Take advertising, for example: it has substantially less glitz – not zero, because you can make a valid and sound argument to someone that this product is awfully shiny and will be found pleasing by them, or that it concretely reflects their abstract values, but simply shrieking SEX! STATUS! MOOOORE SEEEEEX! at maximum volume fails utterly – avoids glossing over details, and in general is much more in-depth – for a product launch, you can pretty much expect interviews and Q&A with the design team regardless of what the product is – and personalized.

Meanwhile, the ongoing parade of SALE! SALE! SALE! tends not to happen, mostly because it’s not terribly effective on people who are (a) aware of hyperbolic discounting, and (b) cured hyperbolic discounting. And in general, if you’re in the Imperial market and trying to compete on price,  you’re doomed. Such price-based advertising as there is tends to consist of automated feeds to AI procurement agents.)

All of which is to say, in non-utopian terms, if you aren’t accustomed to maintaining a certain luminous clarity and consistency of thought, and you move there, you are going to be on the receiving end of certain social consequences. At best, that means spending a lot of time having all the cracks in your Weltanschauung poked into and levered apart by people first trying to understand, and then earnestly trying to help you with your philosophical problem.

At worst… well, self-inconsistent is no more a complement than unprincipled, which amounts to wilful self-inconsistency – or attempting to defend self-inconsistency – which latter has cast a black stain of ickiness over concepts like pragmatism or compromise, due to their frequent invocation to defend self-inconsistency. And let’s not even start on “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion!”, the responses to which are starkly unprintable1.

So, basically, if you don’t enjoy the cut and thrust of debate and/or staring unflinchingly at the consequences of your beliefs… don’t go, ’cause you won’t like it there.


Footnotes:

1. These responses will, eventually, concede that you do technically have, freedom of thought and all, the right to your own opinion however ludicrous and inconsistent it might be. However, they will go on to state, that does not include the right to be taken seriously, the right not to be mocked and shunned by all cognitively capable people, or the right not to be labeled the dumbest piece of crap that ever crawled out of Waste Reprocessing and evolved the power of speech all across the public reputation networks. Which is not defamatory, because it’s obviously true if you believe that.

A Little More Blegging

And now, an uncomfortable word from the author:

Here’s how it is.

Not to go into undue detail, but we’ve had kind of a difficult few months ’round here, with various unanticipated incidents and expenses, including some medical-type expenses, which are unfortunately proving quite a painful strain on the budget.

I’d like to start by thanking my existing patrons for keeping up their contributions and helping make this strain somewhat less.

But I’d also like to take a moment to say to other readers that – well, if you’ve been considering becoming a patron, or buying a book, or suchlike, this would be a really good time for it, and I’d appreciate it very much.

Thanks for listening.

 

Epistolary Experiment (11/30)

…we’ve got a hot soup spill in section 31, lead mops report immediately. Section is status yellow, caution…

…spallation debris approaching starport orbital, get a laser grid on it…

…can’t clear those remains for release yet, suspected contamination…

…major fire, section 10, and area is negative on water pressure. Think you can blow it out with a k-rod?…

…fluffships are inbound, expected to make orbit in plus four hours, keep jinking until then, flight…

…negative on that prisoner transfer, we have feral mechs in the area, stand by…

…get the net back up, dammit, the dynamic stabilization depends on cicencomp – stupid, half-assed, failure-forward…

…bunch of civilians with notions holed up in a museum in section 20, send in the spankers…

…all snarled up in 15 with locals staging for a riot, get us some weather over here…

…plant’s under our control, techs are isolated and software checked – are we go for reactor restart?…

…THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE RESI– <transmission terminated at source>…

…thanks for the priority-codes, old lad; infosec, scrub ’em…

…bandits, bandits! Three punchcraft breakin’ out to heaven eighty miles east of city-ref, mama bird, can you drop ’em?…

…clean stab, Wrecker team, we are splash three, zero defects…

– aftermath logs, Vontok II


From: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
To: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
Subject: UNSEEN KEY
Security: EYES ONLY UNSEEN KEY

Shit and corruption, man, first Serril and your Athné vanish off the face of the cosmos while investigating the you-know-what and less than a year later we have Vonnies swanning around on our side of the border. Do either of us believe for a moment that that’s any sort of coincidence?

We have a damaged gestalt, although her original can’t make a mote of sense out of it. Does that get your attention?


From: Monitor Hakal Peressin, Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety
To: All Personnel, Vontok II Communications Central
Subject: Congratulations and Instructions

Excellent work, gentlesophs. Excellent work capturing this place intact. I know it couldn’t have been easy.

You all deserve to know and now have need-to-know, so here’s why we had to do that, at the summary level. Detailed orders will follow to Section Chiefs in due course.

We don’t yet have a good read on the Republic’s intentions, so we don’t know how long this war is going to last or what it’s scope is going to be, long-term. What we do know is that we’re out on the end of a long string, here, as you know. We can’t hold Vontok against a determined, large-scale counterattack, and the Admiralty needs to keep the forces that might change in that in reserve garrison against further movements into the Reaches and Expanse. So we may lose this planet at any time, or even have to return it under treaty or ceasefire.

Our job, therefore, in one of our least subtle Subtlety operations is to so culturally contaminate this world that the Republic won’t want it back, or at the very least, enough to make it a perpetually bleeding sore that will keep it from being a useful forward base for them in the future.

So, this time, we’re not shutting down the extranet relays. Keep them up and running, both ways, but get all the censorware out of the feed. Other teams will be fanning out to strip the censorware out of terminal equipment and their crippleware “replicators”, too. We’re going to show these poor sheltered sods what freedom of information looks like.

I’m having some Agalmia freelibs offloaded from our carriers: have them spliced into the feed, with full unrestricted access – and that means recipes too, with things like weapons designs included. That will make our occupation harder, but it’s a genie that can’t be stuffed back in the bottle, and the more any resistance tries to use them, the more they have to concede mentally to our way of doing things.

And finally: we have aboard the Mindweaver a colonial-sized tangle channel, hooked directly into the Worlds’ extranet at a central secure node. We’re going to set that one up as an additional feed – partly for some good old non-governmental news, but partly because we, as a mature information society, have the worst imaginable memetic weapon to deploy against this sort of planned and bland monocultural utopia.

Colleagues, cousins, we’re going to smack ’em sane with our advertising.

Mon. Halak

Ads in the Paper (in the Starport)

For sale, any offers: 24 crates, half-container, assorted xenowidgets, function and identity unknown. Take ’em, they’re yours. No manifest, no guarantees, no liability. Contact free trader Mostly Spaceworthy Parts, dock 21-1645, Vervian Orbital.

Wanted: passage off this bloody planet, out-system, out-constellation. Can work passage. S-license only. Drop 4147.

Fuel tech for indefinite hitch. S-license and deuterium handling cert. required. Guild plus four, will issue or continue reflux bond. Apply Flight Admin, free trader Lithium Rendezvous.

WTB: Case/s of Poratzo racemic brandy. Will pay top market. Polarimetry required.

The cheese is coming. Don’t make it wait for you.

Wanted urgently: food supplements for biocode O-LDL-X41A. Contact: I. vilt-rant-sark, cube 5-111, Silver Circle Hostel, Vervian Down.

Currently-female complexity engineer, fourth century, enjoys microgravity ballet, ice geysers, oil surfing. Looking for professional soph, first millennium, similar interests, sense of humor. No ammonia-breathers – sorry, psychoallergy. Drop 1138.

WTB: Authentic stellar noise, uncontaminated. Primary source required; no commercial providers. Es. 1 per kiloblock, subject to certified shielding and statistical analysis.

I need to charter a small courier-class for the Meryn run, one-way, in three months time. Looking for up to five passengers to split the charter fee. Contact nym {0x1024}.

For sale: five 4B08 containers Nineworlds spices, abandoned consignment. Available FAS Vervian Down as of 17th, dockside bidding. 180,000 exval reserve.

Household ecology specialists required, six-month contracts, near orbit. Contact Stationary Station hydroponics department for details.

LOST: Mecharachnid, gold with red stripes, answers to whistle. Phototropic, seeks 6-pole HT outlets when hungry. Last seen near the low-grav methane docks. Leave card with port concierge.

Missed connection: You – an executive being escorted out of the lost sophont office by two engineers from Metaconnectix. Me – the AI running the port memory archives. A virtual lunch sometime?

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