This week, Futures is delighted to welcome back Steven Fischer with his latest story, I am not the hive mind of Transetti Prime. Regular readers will remember Steven’s previous pieces for Futures in which he introduced us to The First Fragmented Church of Entropy, offered A beginner’s guide to space travel and seafood and ran the software routine Query, Queue, Repeat. You can find out more about Steven’s work at his website or by following him on Twitter. Here, he reveals what inspired his latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.
Writing I am not the hive mind of Transetti Prime
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about making decisions, particularly ethical ones, and how the right answer to a question can depends on who is answering it.
Individuals and groups make judgements in drastically different ways, and the moral principles an individual is obligated to uphold can be separate from, or even at odds with, those that a group needs to examine.
Although principles such as justice, deterrence and efficient use of resources can be major priorities for governments and societies as a whole, these more nebulous concepts don’t often find their way into our individual decision-making on any appreciable level. On the other hand, empathy, compassion and many of the other qualities that make us human seem to disappear (or may even be impossible to reproduce) when large groups of humans start making decisions together.
Truth be told, I think that might be a good thing. Individuals and societies make different types of decisions on vastly different scales, and maybe a different approach is required. But I wanted to explore that contradiction a little bit in this story, and look at the tradeoff between those methods and the times when we might lose something in the process.
I’m not sure what the right answer is, or even the right way to go about reaching it. But I know what I’d say if I was the one designing the system, and I know what I’d do if the decision was up to me alone. And frankly, I don’t think those two answers would be the same.