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Going completely M.A.D.

emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Mutually assured destruction has worked really well with nuclear arms over the years. We've had a few close calls but the earth isn't a burnt out cinder yet and I think that's worth something. So I got to wondering, if M.A.D. could expand into our daily lives, would our daily lives be better for it? Plenty of gun owners are fond of Robert Heinlein's "a well-armed society is a polite society." Conan the Barbarian often reflects on how people will show more respect to his fellow man when they realize rudeness can be answered with an axe to the head.

Let's take this thinking a little further by making it universal with a fictional scenario:
An alien, a god, or a higher power sees the people on earth and decides it's time for a little social experiment. This higher power will give everyone on the planet the ability to instantly kill another person simply by vocally declaring a strong desire to see them dead. The catch? By making that declaration, the declarer also drops dead. Any person would be able to kill any other person at the cost of their own life. The traditional ways of killing another person aren't affected by this magical change (i.e. you could still go out and stab an enemy and only society would punish you) but I'm pretty sure outright murder wouldn't work when every living person is armed with this new ability.

So would society change for the better? I'd think there would be some overuse of the new individual MAD plan thanks to the novelty of it. Celebrities and politicians and corporate leaders and pretty much anyone famous would fall over dead after the first month. There are enough crazy martyr types to go around to empty Hollywood and the UN a hundred times over but the dust would have to settle at some point and society would begin to adapt. Violent crime rates not related to homicide might drop - what goon would try to rape a woman in an alley if there was a good chance they'd both die? - and average people would take extra care not to harm others and cooperate more often. Tyrants couldn't rise to power but then any kind of national leader would be in serious jeopardy. Would we return to tribalism or would urban areas become safer?

emnmnme on
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Posts

  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Seems silly, but if I entertain the idea, I'd say that your comparison to nuclear mutually assured destruction is poor. The U.S. could launch a full-scale nuclear attack on Russia while suffering zero losses, if there is no response by Russia. Comparing it to your example, the U.S. would self-destruct upon doing so. So you're comparing a necessary self-destruction, with rational human thought of the consequences, which brings a great deal of risk into the equation.

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  • wazillawazilla Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Most people value their own lives over the lives of others so I'm betting this wouldn't have a huge impact. I mean, murder-suicide is already an option and you don't exactly see that on the scales you're talking about.

    Psn:wazukki
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Not to mention, many nations don't have access to nuclear weapons. Maybe if like, the richest 10% of people could nuke each other. With like, a couple of people who were poor and schizophrenic who could also nuke.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    .....I'm pretty sure the MAD plan is a little more intense than a gentlemanly agreement between countries. It's a guarantee, without ego, that eye for an eye is the only policy that works.


    And if the US did somehow get away with nuking Russia without Russian retaliation, we'd starve to death when the rest of the world would stop trading with us. :P

    EDIT: And Loren, the idea is to think about how things would change. The rich would be eager to give away their money to gain favor with average Joes or fade away from public memory. The government would work like mad to end poverty and give the poor something to live for and pull resources out of military spending and put money into researching a cure for schizophrenics/the depressed/the unpredictable. Or they'd execute the poor and the crazy. One or the other.

    People in power would either quit or work extra hard to satisfy the people not in power if they knew a killing blow could come from anywhere.

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  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    MAD works because the odds of everyone involved in a nuclear launch losing the will to live are extremely slim. But sometimes individual people are crazy or suicidal and don't care what happens to them. Just look at how many shootings happen because the perpetrator plans to kill himself afterwards.

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    MAD does not work on the individual level.

    PSN: allenquid
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    There is an absolutely awesome Doonesbury comic from thirty years ago (that my paraphrasing can't do justice to) that this reminds me of. It's Duke, testifying before congress as an advocate of the gun lobby, advocating for the proliferation of firearms. A senator notes that a huge chunk of murders involving guns involve disputes between family members, and Duke says:

    Duke: "Exactly, senator!"
    Senator: "I don't follow, mister Duke."
    Duke: "Well, imagine if your wife was attacking you with a handgun, senator."
    Senator: "Okay..."
    Duke: "Well, wouldn't you want to be in a position to return fire?"

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  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I think the internet and instant communication poses problems for this, at least the way you have it phrased. Thanks to the joys of the internet, with this ability I could see that Loren has made a post on this forum that I didn't like, and me, being crazy would utter "I absolutely want Loren to drop dead". This is despite me having never met him, and indeed having no idea who he is.

    Its a broader version of the problem that would be encountered by politicians and celebrities. Simply by being known by many people, the risk of death dramatically increases.

    I think this would have a positive effect on relatively small communities, where everyone knows everyone. You're not killing some abstract notion of a person who you've never met, you're killing someone that you have looked in the eyes. A much harder thing to do.

    I think the principal that you're arguing (threat of violence keeps people in line) is also generally true. Lots of people are very stupid, and a solid beating can teach a lesson better than words can for some of these people. You would get a general increase in respect I would think.

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  • TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Quid wrote: »
    MAD does not work on the individual level.

    The OP's metaphor falls apart, but I wouldn't say that means the whole concept is bad.

    What if, instead of omnipotent beings and super-abilities we had: a 100% accurate justice system, and a strict death penalty?

    We can argue about the realism of the technology behind it or how it could be circumvented, but for the sake of the metaphor, let's just say that everyone who commits murder is caught and executed, no exceptions, and with no accidental convictions.

    You'd still have murders committed in moments of anger, but otherwise....it would drastically cut back on pre-meditated murders. If everyone knew there was no way they could get away with it, why wouldn't MAD work on an individual level? It wouldn't completely stop murder and killing, but likewise, MAD doesn't stop all war and conflict, but it has thus far stopped nuclear attacks.

    And of course you'd always have people who would consider the penalty worth it, and still commit murder regardless of their own well being. You could also have nations that feel the same way about nuclear attacks, though, so I think if you're arguing against MAD on an individual level you've probably got to argue against it on a national level, too.

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I don't really ever feel the need to modify the things I say with "Unless operating in a hypothetical nonexistant world."

    PSN: allenquid
  • TachTach Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I was just telling my wife last night that all international disputes should be settled through fisticuffs.

    Marqis of Queensbury rules.

    Far more civilised than the thought of dying in a blast of fission.

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  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Taximes wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    MAD does not work on the individual level.

    The OP's metaphor falls apart, but I wouldn't say that means the whole concept is bad.

    What if, instead of omnipotent beings and super-abilities we had: a 100% accurate justice system, and a strict death penalty?

    We can argue about the realism of the technology behind it or how it could be circumvented, but for the sake of the metaphor, let's just say that everyone who commits murder is caught and executed, no exceptions, and with no accidental convictions.

    I imagine you'd still have murders that weren't premeditated, and just committed in a moment of anger, but otherwise....if everyone knew there was no way they could get away with it, why wouldn't MAD work on an individual level?

    Because not everybody makes balanced and rational decisions based on their own personal well-being. It would work if you had Minority Report style pre-arrests, but otherwise people are gonna get murdered if the means are available.

  • necroSYSnecroSYS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    Quid wrote: »
    MAD does not work on the individual level.

    I'd argue that it doesn't work on a 1-to-1 ratio, but given the harsh penalties that society (deservedly) metes out for murder, you see a lot of people who will kill one or more people and then turn the gun on themselves or commit suicide by cop.

    The problem is that the OP's hypothetical allows all the unstable nutbars out there with a tenuous grasp of consequences to have the trigger to an instantly fatal gun.

    Also, different unstable nutbars could be 100% guaranteed of suicide, along with the added melodramatic bonus of taking someone with them.

    It's just a bad idea all around.

    There's no point in you getting both of yourselves all worked up and ready to chart the undiscovered country, then having her flush crimson red, run to the bathroom, and spend twenty minutes straining and grunting and stressing out because you're all ready to deliver your package but there's a three inch thick Sunday paper clogging up the mail slot.
  • TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Zek wrote: »
    Because not everybody makes balanced and rational decisions based on their own personal well-being. It would work if you had Minority Report style pre-arrests, but otherwise people are gonna get murdered if the means are available.

    Sorry for the ninja edit, I stuck that in at the end:
    Taximes wrote:
    And of course you'd always have people who would consider the penalty worth it, and still commit murder regardless of their own well being. You could also have nations that feel the same way about nuclear attacks, though, so I think if you're arguing against MAD on an individual level you've probably got to argue against it on a national level, too.

  • ZekZek Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Taximes wrote: »
    Zek wrote: »
    Because not everybody makes balanced and rational decisions based on their own personal well-being. It would work if you had Minority Report style pre-arrests, but otherwise people are gonna get murdered if the means are available.

    Sorry for the ninja edit, I stuck that in at the end:
    Taximes wrote:
    And of course you'd always have people who would consider the penalty worth it, and still commit murder regardless of their own well being. You could also have nations that feel the same way about nuclear attacks, though, so I think if you're arguing against MAD on an individual level you've probably got to argue against it on a national level, too.

    It's different on a national level though because there are more people in the system who can prevent the launch, and people who make it into government are probably not quite that insane. Even Hitler had objectives and probably wasn't crazy enough to get Germany wiped off the map just for the hell of it.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    It would definitely cut down on the number of death row inmates. Nobody wants to be the prosecutor, judge or jury foreman that helped send a murderer to the chair when the convicted has no reason not to use this newfound ability to take one of them with him.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • WMain00WMain00 Registered User
    edited April 2009
    As far as i see it, MAD only works on a grand scale with the likelyhood of total destruction, ergo there is no final judgement or compromise at the end. It's a simple case of finality causing by obliteration. I don't think this can ever work on the scale of a single person.

  • TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Quid wrote: »
    I don't really ever feel the need to modify the things I say with "Unless operating in a hypothetical nonexistant world."

    A few centuries ago, DNA testing and video surveillance would have seemed like a hypothetical, nonexistent technologies that invalidated an argument. That's why I threw in the part about not wanting to debate the plausibility of technology.

  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    It would only change things for the worse.

    Secrecy would need to be absolute, if anyone ever knows who you are they can kill you but otherwise they probably would have to be physically in the same room as you. So you can trust your family and close friends not to kill you, but before you go out in public you would need to put on your mask to make sure your unrecognizable and go out of your way to have as little contact with anyone as possible and to be as polite in any such contact as possible.

    Sure, we might be more polite, but we would be incredibly isolated, to do otherwise is to put your life at risk. Since no one would want to go to bed at night not knowing if some stranger would kill them in their sleep no one would risk their identity being known.

    Also, it would be a much more brutal system. If you strongly suspected someone of committing crime you'd probably have to either let them go with no penalty or kill them outright with no trial, anything else risks the death of enforcement personnel.

    Edit: alternatively if this only works vocally when the dust settles everyone has their voice box removed at birth and society continues as normal.....just with less talking.

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Taximes wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    I don't really ever feel the need to modify the things I say with "Unless operating in a hypothetical nonexistant world."

    A few centuries ago, DNA testing and video surveillance would have seemed like a hypothetical, nonexistent technologies that invalidated an argument. That's why I threw in the part about not wanting to debate the plausibility of technology.
    But what if I made a time machine, went back in time, and gave them that technology?

    ---

    Just because you add extra qualifiers doesn't make it less of a pointless hypothetical. You're essentially adding stuff to the situation that changes the fundamental question. If there were some system where MAD could work then I likely wouldn't have an issue with it. No one would, because it was evidentally working.

    PSN: allenquid
  • TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Quid wrote: »
    Just because you add extra qualifiers doesn't make it less of a pointless hypothetical. You're essentially adding stuff to the situation that changes the fundamental question. If there were some system where MAD could work then I likely wouldn't have an issue with it. No one would, because it was evidentally working.

    I couldn't help jumping on the crazy hypothetical train in a thread with a magical alien in the OP. :P

    I'm still interested to know, though, why you think MAD wouldn't work or doesn't work, since you haven't elaborated yet. Are you referring to it in general, now, or still on an individual basis?

    I'm not of the opinion that it can work flawlessly or work forever, but I think it works for the most part on a national level and I think it would work at least somewhat on an individual level. As Zek said, irrational and emotional decisions would be more likely on an individual level, but that doesn't mean it would be wholly ineffective.

    Or are you just saying it's not worth debating since any realization on an individual basis requires some kind of hypothetical technology?

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Taximes wrote: »
    Or are you just saying it's not worth debating since any realization on an individual basis requires some kind of hypothetical technology?
    Pretty much.

    PSN: allenquid
  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    MAD requires rationality. It doesn't work with crazy regimes and it certainly doesn't work with crazy people. How quickly would Obama die in that scenario? The entire command and control structure of the US military? You owe lots of money? Kill X and your wife will be taken care of. Etc.

    Society is built on the idea of mutual defense. If society is powerless to defend it would break down.

    But its a hypothetical.

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    Spoiler:
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    PantsB wrote: »
    MAD requires rationality. It doesn't work with crazy regimes and it certainly doesn't work with crazy people. How quickly would Obama die in that scenario? The entire command and control structure of the US military? You owe lots of money? Kill X and your wife will be taken care of. Etc.

    Society is built on the idea of mutual defense. If society is powerless to defend it would break down.

    But its a hypothetical.

    Once the insane and the ideological kill themselves off by killing our best and brightest....workers' paradise!

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My last thought on this is going to be on how people would twist this around to take away the risk and start putting the ability to work for themselves. Start up a baby farm, add a lot of indoctrination, and you'd have the world's deadliest toddlers willing to say anything.

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  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    My last thought on this is going to be on how people would twist this around to take away the risk and start putting the ability to work for themselves. Start up a baby farm, add a lot of indoctrination, and you'd have the world's deadliest toddlers willing to say anything.

    Forget the toddlers. With a little financial incentive for the grandkids, you could turn retirement home populations into WMDs.

  • EinEin New Jersey, USARegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    The elderly would become lords of death.

    Just before they die, they'd snuff someone else out.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Ein wrote: »
    The elderly would become lords of death.

    Just before they die, they'd snuff someone else out.

    All the more reason to respect your elders! We would become a polite society, indeed!

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