Why aren’t artificial intelligences programmed for honesty and loyalty?Cyberethics in Koans, Airil Konohana
So that they may be honest and loyal.
The Imperial Military Service has long been considered somewhat unusual among military forces for the degree of respect it offers to those it has fought, and often defeated. This is not entirely accurate as a consideration, since a certain level of courtesy and mutual respect is hardly uncommon between gentlesoph soldiers; it is hardly uncommon to find other military forces which obey the injunction that strength and honor must also act with grace. There are few, admittedly, that afford – indeed encourage – the militaries of conquered nations the opportunity post hoc to award honors and distinctions to those who fought valiantly against them in defense of their homes.
(Since these honors are awarded under the unusual conditions created by the Annexation Act, and necessarily supervised by the appointed satrap, they are considered both foreign and Imperial in nature; for a full list of these unusual Imperial awards, please see Annex B to this book.)
Unique, perhaps, is the Empire’s creation at the Service’s request of three distinctions specifically to be awarded to the enemy after the fact. Displayed as medals carved from blackened osmium, these three are:
The Order of the Valiant Foe: Most frequently awarded of the three, the silver-chased Order of the Valiant Foe is awarded to those who have displayed outstanding acts of gallantry or personal valor on the battlefield while fighting against the Empire.
Since an overwhelming proportion of these distinctions are awarded posthumously, the Order of the Valiant Foe is a stipendiary order; a stipend is paid from the Privy Purse for the support of spouse, children, and other family of the recipient.
The Order of the Noble Enemy: Taking its name from the Jussovian proverb that a noble friend is the greatest of gifts and a noble enemy the next greatest – a sentiment engraved around its perimeter – the sapphire-on-osmium cluster Order of the Noble Enemy is awarded for dedication to the principles of civilized warfare above and beyond the call of duty.
Most famously, the Order of the Noble Enemy was awarded at the end of the Fourth Oceanic Dominance to the captains of the Ildathach destroyers Levinbolt and Thunderblast for their rescue of over a thousand survivors from the Imperial cruiser Dawning Dragon (sunk the previous day in the battle of White Sands Bay) at great hazard to themselves, such operations leaving them vulnerable to prowling submarines and the load of survivors greatly reducing their fighting ability.
The Order of the Worthy Opponent: An award of gold and topaz upon osmium, the Order of the Worthy Opponent recognizes skillful leadership and outstanding generalship, qualities shared by many of those who have most successfully opposed the Imperial will.
In its origins, the Order of the Worthy Opponent, like its counterparts, was a distinction awarded to officers of those nations absorbed by the Empire during its expansion in the Consolidation, but as with them, its use has since expanded. Most famous among these is the Order won by Matron-Admiral Kajiya ihr-Lomas of the rúrathtu, the award of which she declared the greatest honor of her career in her memoirs, and which she wore to her dying day. Her great-granddaughter presented it to the Museum of the Imperial War College during the celebrations of the signing of the Imperial-Rúrathtu Alliance, where it can be viewed today as a reminder that between honorable enemies, enmity need not be eternal.
– Titles, Orders, and Awards of the Imperial Military Service
Beware the Nice Ones / Good is Not Soft: It’s not the most appropriate trope-pair possible for this aspect of your average Imperial; that would be Silk Hiding Steel (they’re bad at malice, on the whole, but they ain’t that nice). But the trope writeup pages each include this Discworld quotation:
“If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you are going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat. They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar. So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.”
That. Oh, so much that. The eldrae in particular don’t really get the urge to rub power in people’s faces just to show you can. Power, maybe, nice to have, but if you’re going to exercise it, exercise it properly. If you need to die, they’ll just kill you. Without blinking.
(If they’re wasting time talking to you, it probably means that they fired already, and are just keeping you busy running out the clock until the KEW impacts.)
This applies on a civilizational level, too. The Empire does not have a large and potent fleet for the purposes of interstellar imperialism and making everyone else in the galaxy Do It Their Way. That’s rude and uncivilized and not their sort of thing at all.
It has a large and potent fleet for the purposes of ensuring that anyone who decides to interfere with its citizen-shareholders full, rich, happy, and carefree lives and is unwilling to be reasonable about not doing so gets a gigaton of pain for their trouble and are rendered incapable of ever doing so in the future.
(Actually, you can think of this as a canine virtue, if you like. Cheerful, lovable, friendly, gentle, affectionate, adorable… right up until you threaten them or someone/something they care about, at which time they rip your throat out. And then go back to being all those previous things.
This is considered something of a moral model.)
Wealth is not virtuous.
Wealth is virtue.
Does gold have value? Does silver, or polished kal-gems, cogs or brights or stones or staves, bars or bills, serren-shells or scrip, shares of stock or notes of hand?
Can shining metal feed you? Can a mound of scrip build a home? Will all the kal-gems in the world purchase an ounce of honor?
The worth of wealth is not in its substance, but in ourselves; for each bar and coin and note is a frozen promise, a claim on the goods or works of he with whom you choose to redeem it.
And only the finest of our goods and works may sustain our wealth, for none but a fool will purchase ash-crystal in the place of true fireglass; thus wealth is harmony.
And those who deal falsely find themselves shunned by those who give true value to wealth and their markets emptying around them, as those who enrich themselves by fraud and theft find their false profits will not serve them; thus wealth is integrity.
And those who hoard the symbols of wealth for their own sake find nothing but stagnation; thus wealth is right action.
Therefore honor those through whose hands wealth flows most, for in supporting this virtue, they are those who have served us best.
– Word of Covalan, Commentaries