Technology: Intellectual Integrity

“Man’s unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist.”

— Academician Prokhor Zakharov, “For I Have Tasted The Fruit”

In the game, Intellectual Integrity is a third tier exploration technology.  It requires Doctrine: Loyalty and Ethical Calculus to research and it unlocks the Citizen’s Defense Force secret project.  It also unlocks the High Morale and Non-Lethal Methods unit abilities.  The latter are worth a bit of discussion, as they are somewhat interesting utility powers.

The second, Non-Lethal Methods, makes the unit count double for the purposes of drone control and riot suppression.  This is better than it sounds because the effectiveness of military suppression is capped at the number of units per base on police duty.  So instead of needing to spend half the police units to get the same effect, the faction can also choose to spend the same amount to get double the drone suppression.

The first makes the unit that’s built with High Morale come off the line with an extra promotion at the cost of some minerals.  This doesn’t seem like that big a deal.  But it interfaces with a few other rules to somewhat revolutionize military production.  Most importantly, units can only have one special ability at a time.  So a unit cannot have both Hypnotic Trance and Non-Lethal Methods, for instance.  Second, when upgrading a unit, all that is required is that the new unit have the same chassis and a better attack or defense strength than the previous one, while not regressing in attack or defense.  So an infantry unit cannot upgrade to a boat, but any specials the unit has are free to change.  And third, when upgraded, a unit retains its experience level.

All three of these rules together mean that it can be more efficient to only build so-called shell units (1-1-X Trained) when Intellectual Integrity is available.  These units are super cheap and get the bonus morale.  Then, when the units are needed, they can be upgraded with stored energy to whatever the state of the art equipment happens to be.  And when they take a new special, they get to bring their free experience with them.

This may seem exploitative.  After all, the AI certainly doesn’t know how to use this trick.  But I like to think of it as modeling the idea of a country with a large reserve (or deactivated National Guard) backing a small active army.  It’s cheaper, overall, but it takes time to mobilize the reserves when the balloon goes up.  If the enemy gets initiative and attacks with modern weapons, or if the rainy day fund has been spent on other priorities, then all those weak 1-1 units are certain to get chewed up.

But all of the foregoing is a lot less interesting than the technology and the quote.  The quote itself eloquently sums up the real reason why Zakharov can’t stand Miriam.  It also makes clear the reason why he chose the title “For I Have Tasted The Fruit” for his core text.  He is referring to the story of the Garden of Eden that accompanied the opening cinematic.  The difference is that, instead of mourning his expulsion from Eden, he instead revels in the acquisition of wrongly-forbidden knowledge.

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 makes the fact that this technology relies on Ethical Calculus and Doctrine: Loyalty a bit of inspired genius on Reynolds’s part.  We know that Ethical Calculus means that the colonists are now capable of building valid mathematical models for ethical behavior.  Doctrine: Loyalty consists of all of the social techniques of reinforcement and punishment that actually fuses people into coherent teams around core leaders and ideas.  If a faction puts the two together, that means that they are really building fanatical loyalty to the math.  Ethical Calculus provides the answers; Doctrine: Loyalty makes a person act like he really believes it.  We’re only at the third level of the tech tree and society is already starting to head in some wild directions compared to what we’re familiar with.

Finally, another excellent corollary of this technology, in the context of the quote, is that every faction can discover it and gain the same benefits.  Contra Zakharov, the Believers are not inherently lacking in intellectual integrity simply because of their religious beliefs.  The same logic holds for all of the other factions; Ethical Calculus ruthlessly applied invariably builds upon their visions.  That even goes for Yang’s radical utopia!  Or to put it another way, none of them represent a position that refutes itself, either idealistically or with reference to the real world.

They are all equal contenders for the future on philosophical grounds.  Hence, the point of the game.  We need to resort to the outcome of the struggle among the factions to find out whose vision eventually reigns supreme.  Force suffices where even argument with intellectual integrity cannot.

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One thought on “Technology: Intellectual Integrity

  1. Pingback: Worldbuilding: Intellectual Integrity and Non-Utopia | The Eldraeverse

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