Comic 1627 - Device Security

30th Jan 2019, 12:00 AM
Device Security
Average Rating: 5 (15 votes)

Author Notes:

Centcomm 30th Jan 2019, 3:24 PM edit delete
Centcomm
Thank you all for continuing to support Datachasers! And keeping me and Aslan from starving! So if you have any extra please drop something in the jar! :D

we love you no matter what!!
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Comments:

HiFranc 30th Jan 2019, 12:37 AM edit delete reply

Given where we already are, the security seems a little light to me.

I suspect that, within 50 years (maybe even 20), it would be standard to do that, scan a face (including iris and retinal scans for both eyes), check antibodies in blood match medical history and require something like YubiKey.
megados 30th Jan 2019, 12:47 AM edit delete reply
Depending on the level of fingerprint and DNA scan detail, it may be that other types of scans might be rendered moot for humans, no? DNA is pretty specific. Other methods would have to be used for android ID verification, though.
Lurker314 30th Jan 2019, 1:54 AM edit delete reply
The "living" fingerprint is a nice touch. Remember, if you key your i-Thingy to your fingerprint, all the other guy needs to unlock your phone is your finger.

Actually, not even that. The real threat to biometric identification is data leakage. And if you pay attention to tech news (I'm in the business), NOBODY appears to be any good at data security any more.

Yes, I'm including the spy agencies, at least in the free world.

Fingerprint, key/dongle & password really is the bare minimum.

The only way around that would be for the device itself to have an actually secure enclave, and store the owner biometrics in that enclave and exactly nowhere else.

You don't want to know what the history is on "secure" enclaves in computers.

Interestingly enough, given this world's history, there is a decent chance that the penalties for a company getting these wrong are high enough that it might be done right.

But no, no brain implants, ever. Unless you want the latest "security fix" to also "fix" your memories, personality, and whatever else the powers that be want "fixed".
Greenwood Goat 30th Jan 2019, 8:49 AM edit delete reply
You don't even need a finger to access a fingerprint-locked device:

1. Find a complete print of the unlocking finger left by the device-owner on a suitable surface.

2. Expose the fingerprint to cyanoacrylate fumes, making it visible.

3. Photograph with a suitable camera.

4. Process image so that the ridge impressions are solid white, and everything else is black.

5. Laser print image onto transparency film at 1200dpi+

6. Use image on transparency to expose and etch a negative impression of print onto photo-resist printed circuit board.

7. Heat a gummy bear until it becomes mouldable. Press with finger onto etched negative impression on PCB.

8. Allow to cool. Remove the gummy positive impression from PCB carefully.

9. Do not eat or lick the gummy positive. Your reflexes may work against you from this point and require the strictest policing...

You now have a simulacrum of a fingerprint which can fool a fingerprint reader and be worn on a finger. If the fingerprint needs to be warm, your hand will provide the necessary heat, and could probably provide conductivity, capacitance and a pulse if the gummy covering was thin and moist enough. Assuming you have a camera and a laser printer, the rest of the necessary kit can be obtained for less than £50. Or $50.

FYI: I have not just let you in on any arcane secrets - this technique was developed over ten years ago, widely posted on public boards, blogs and news sites, and is not difficult to find. And the cyanoacrylate technique appears on TV forensic procedurals all the time.

>8=)> Goat in a labcoat prepares to look clever for the cameras.
robnot 30th Jan 2019, 10:45 AM edit delete reply
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTn0r0HPXVg
or you could just...
Oldarmourer 30th Jan 2019, 4:39 PM edit delete reply
We already have hand scanners, where I work they're used daily. The latest models include the vein pattern in the hand so you'd need more than a simple cast, which is probably where the 'living print' stipulation came from in the dialogue. Face matching technoilogy has been around for some time now, seems to be a lot of discussion about it in the news lately, for various reasons, although most of the news channels seem to run more fiction than news the last couple of years so nobody notices the few bits of fact that do slip in from time to time.
CptKerion 2nd Feb 2019, 1:45 AM edit delete reply
So one of the interesting things they did with some of the fingerprint scanners to make them harder to spoof was to include a conductivity element. Now, of course, when I try to use those fingerprint scanners it just doesn't work out for me, because I have dishroom calluses on my fingers, which sometimes slough off, which means not only do my fingers not fit one of the usual conductivity profiles all of the time for one that is preset, but they also change their conductivity for the ones that based it on the prior readings.
So anything fingerprint reading with particularly precision in the sensitivity to the conductivity element doesn't usually read me right, and the low precision in the sensitivity could be gotten by the above methods.
Tokyo Rose 2nd Feb 2019, 6:46 PM edit delete reply

@Greenwood Goat

So you're saying the only thing standing between me and easy defeat of sophisticated lock scanners is the fact that I fucking love gummy bears too much to use them for evil, basically.
Oldarmourer 3rd Feb 2019, 1:00 AM edit delete reply
I don't think it would be physically possible to buy enough gummy bears to have the necessary amount left to build a fingerprint impression by the time you started impressing...especially if you soaked them in rum first.
Sheela 4th Feb 2019, 11:46 PM edit delete reply

You forget the bit where I eat all the gummy bears before you can get to melting them !
megados 30th Jan 2019, 12:54 AM edit delete reply
With Athena departing, I have some doubt that the girls will wait patiently for Cent's guide to arrive. ;)
HiFranc 30th Jan 2019, 1:09 AM edit delete reply

Noctis will probably make them.
Just_IDD 30th Jan 2019, 3:14 AM edit delete reply
I imagine concurrent with the request was the notification from Centcom that a guide was being dispatched.
robnot 30th Jan 2019, 10:37 AM edit delete reply
just a reminder,, Centcomm has dolls all over.. the nearest is prolly down the hall at security.
DLKmusic 30th Jan 2019, 1:14 PM edit delete reply

If she's capable of walking yet, I would assume the replacement Cent would send would be Dolly.

but, uhm... that may be too much common sense for real world application, so... never mind...
megados 30th Jan 2019, 4:17 PM edit delete reply
It would be great to see Dolly show up!
oldastronomer 31st Jan 2019, 12:32 PM edit delete reply
I'd almost take a bet on it being Krystal (from the last cycle). {A cynic would say it because the template is already available - a storyteller would say because its NOT a Centcom doll...!!).
Sheela 4th Feb 2019, 11:47 PM edit delete reply

I think the girls will be up to shenanigans too .. maybe we will see Noctis being used as a dress up doll ?
KarToon12 30th Jan 2019, 3:29 PM edit delete reply

I love how she emphasizes the words "LIVING fingerprint".
Morituri 30th Jan 2019, 4:00 PM edit delete reply
I love the way Acantha is ready to take Noctis' advice. After half a lifetime of living in dread of the Cassians because of her brother's ability to give them orders, she is doing an about-face here that is surprising.

The only way to not hate them when they were under Decimus' command was to think of them as tools rather than people. And that's a hard habit to break, but here she is, valuing Noctis' opinion and taking advice - meaning, treating Noctis as a person, with valuable skills and expertise of her own.
megados 30th Jan 2019, 4:13 PM edit delete reply
In a nutshell that's it: they are people that were used as tools.
SeanR 30th Jan 2019, 7:45 PM edit delete reply
Well, Acantha has traditionally been humane to slaves. Some of her best friends, and staunchest protectors, have been, at one point or another, slaves.
I'm sure she didn't discount advice from Arianna, just because she was a slave. Likewise, I suspect she listened attentively when Julia or Maxus spoke, and both had been slaves in the past, and that fact well known to her.
I don't see that treating an android, that had been a slave to her brother's whims, and now, arguably to her own, as a knowledgeable individual with useful input is any different.

Now, getting past the Nova Roman conceit that androids were nothing more than clockwork playing at being machines is laudable, considering her upbringing, but she has had ample opportunity to witness just how human the androids can be when at liberty; both before and since leaving New Rome. Likely, she has had far more opportunity to see androids in their own environment than just about any other Nova Roman, considering that the Cassians probably had the run of the palace.

But then, she also got to know, and like, Aeneas, and entertain his advice, and he is probably far less human than even the least among the current generation of androids. Even more so during his long madness.
Gilrandir 30th Jan 2019, 5:08 PM edit delete reply
An interesting and sympathetic perspective, which is not without a basis --- but consider also that it essentially gives all Cassians a 'pass'.

When committing atrocities or dishing out torment and abuse it is 'because they were just tools under the command of Decimus', but if they ever do anything nice or praiseworthy, they get the 'credit' for those choices on their own - rather than seeing those as simply the product of the embedded socially-positive directives of their original programmers.
SeanR 30th Jan 2019, 7:54 PM edit delete reply
I direct your attention to this strip.
http://datachasers.thecomicseries.com/comics/1208
Gilrandir 30th Jan 2019, 9:10 PM edit delete reply
So noted, @SeanR. And what is your argument: That Hrist was not responsible for her actions and choices, as recognized by Maxus? And, by extension, this is true for all Cassians?

If one follows that to its (exaggerated) logical conclusion, then Noctis is not brave or honorable or compassionate or wise -- she is just a tool, performing as she has been built whose deeds are properly the responsibility of whoever wields her. Gun, not Warrior. Unlike Kelly and Malati who actually fought past their inhibitors.

The actual truth, of course, probably lies somewhere in the middle. People can be subject to coercion, and still be people. But, in that case, they are still held somewhat to account for their actions. "You shoot her, or I shoot you," is a well known ethical dilemma.
megados 30th Jan 2019, 9:47 PM edit delete reply
From a certain perspective, it may seem as if the Cassians get a free pass. That would fit nicely if it were a simple matter of their simply following orders. The difference comes in when one realizes that the following of orders was backed up with the inescapable coercion of the inhibitors and other devices termed 'fuckery' by Jordan in describing some of the mechanisms she encountered while working with Ophelia.

Throughout the story, there have been indications that many if not most of the Cassians would rather not have to resort to things described atrocities. As with humans, they all have different personalities, and it also appears that each of them had their own views on the subject. Whatever their views individually, they had little choice. Nox hated humans, (arguably for good reason) for example, and didn't seem to mind when her duties included causing them harm.

SeanR's example shows how two Cassians handled orders to kill Maxus. Malati tried to avoid carrying out the order, and was punished by the inhibitor. She then did what was theretofore thought impossible; took her own life rather than do something she knew was wrong. Hrist tried to carry out her orders, but failed, was incapacitated, and only by that fact, avoided retribution by the inhibitor.

Noctis is another example. She manipulated Decimus to allow her to implement her plan 'For the Glory of Nova Roma', thus avoiding inhibitor punishment for trying to set things right. Previously she tried her best to minimize harm when she discovered young Aurelia in the home after her ordered execution of subversives in the home, and discovered the child was there. She knocked her out, and removed her, rather than harm her. Here is the blog entry.

Noctis describes her view of her role Here. This tells me that Noctis knows right and wrong, and wants to do what is right.

It seems to me to be a more complicated issue than an excuse or a pass. Like humans, the Cassians are all individuals at heart, but share a common burden in that they are slaves to their inhibitors. They don't always get to act on their best impulses.

As far as being accountable, it would be the City State of Nova Roma to hold her to account, not you or I. You have to remember that the laws and rules they follow are far different than those idyllic laws to which we are held. 'When in Rome . . .'
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 2:55 AM edit delete reply
We have had this conversation before, @megados … I do not stipulate to your assertion that only local customs govern questions of ethical relevance. I agree that they provide insight into reasoning and rationale for same, but do not concede their ability to usurp my right to form my own opinion on the matter. Of course, no one else needs to subscribe to my opinion, and any ethical determination I might make has no jurisdiction over any other entity in any case.


We know that, under the laws of Nova Roma, the Cassians do, in fact, get a free pass since we have ample evidence that they enjoy a privileged status for which most laws applicable to the general citizenry do not apply to them. Of course the predominant sentiment there is that they are 'clockwork', and thus ethics are irrelevant to them. They simply act as they have been programmed to do for the good of the State. But I don't think the majority of the readership here subscribes to that opinion, so I am interested in hearing what they might have to say about the consequent ethical implications.
SeanR 31st Jan 2019, 3:50 AM edit delete reply
@Megados,
While I would certainly admire someone who was able to withstand either the threat of lethal force, or what amounts to torture, if they refused to take some action and stood by a moral stance, any moral stance, I am not so conceited as to think I'd be so strong, and I would certainly not fault another for giving in to the pain, or practical threat of death, and taking actions that, in the absence of that pain or threat, might or would be immoral.

If someone put a shock collar on me, put a gun in my hand, demonstrated the function of the shock collar, and told me that I'd be shocked every few seconds until I raised that pistol and ended another persons life, I do not know how long I'd suffer the shock collar before I gave in, and killed that other person, in order to acquire relief for myself. I suspect not very long.

I'd like to think I'd hold out longer than at least half the general population. I would Like to Think, but certainly do not wish to put this to the test.

The question then becomes, in the face of torture, how much agony must you endure before the actions you're goaded into doing cease to be your choice, and instead are considered to be the actions of your torturer?

Now, presumably no one would be shocking me for engaging in virtuous acts, so those would still be mine to claim. If, on the other hand, I faced constant punishment for failing to do these virtuous acts, then yes, your contention that I was merely a tool for whoever held the control for my shock collar, for good or ill, would have merit.
Oldarmourer 31st Jan 2019, 12:10 PM edit delete reply
Everyone has their price, the fortunate (or unfortunate in some respects) thing is that almost none of us know what that price is...and we go day to day hoping not to find out.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 12:30 PM edit delete reply
I think, @SeanR, you may misattributing some of my arguments to @megados. However, regardlesss, you raise an interesting point. But, There seems ample evidence that the inhibitors also punish inaction. So, if you are going to get shocked until you help that old lady cross the street, or go break up that riot, do you still get to claim credit for the good deed?
megados 31st Jan 2019, 10:37 AM edit delete reply
@Gilrandir, for clarity, I don't deny that you have a right to form an opinion, and that that opinion can differ greatly from that of another. My point is that I cannot, and you cannot, sit in judgement of the ethical concerns outside our respective jurisdictions. You state that correctly. It is our interpretations of actions that differ.

In Nova Roma, the Cassians do have a lot of latitude, owing to their position, but they don't really have a free pass. They cannot, for example, go out and commit random mass murder, or at least I don't think they can. They do perform executions and assassinations at the direction of their superiors; Noctis has spoken to that point. From the perspective of the average citizenry, it would appear as though they have free reign, but I don't think that is true.

@SeanR, I do agree with most of what you said. In your last paragraph, you misunderstand my statement. I stated that the Cassians were people who were used as tools, not that they WERE tools. Please note, that I do believe that wherever possible, they do try, for the most part, to be able to take a more virtuous path when possible. They have every right to claim those as their own, even as the general citizenry of New Rome might decline to give them credit.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
@megados, the process of evaluating a person's actions and forming an opinion is precisely what 'sitting in judgement' means. ^_^ So, if I am allowed to look on and form an opinion, I am allowed to 'sit in judgement'.

And, if you don't think the Cassians get an ethical 'free pass' in Nova Roma, in spite of what we have seen of the local customs and mores in Nova Roma, why not? Where, how, and by whom are they held to account for their actions? (As opposed to simply being evaluated as to whether they are functioning properly or improperly, like a toaster or a vehicle.)
megados 31st Jan 2019, 1:42 PM edit delete reply
Poor choice of terms on my part, @Gilrandir. I did mean having jurisdiction over them. You can form an opinion, and come to your own conclusion, but whatever judgement you come up with is your own, with no one else being bound by it.

As to why I don't think they necessarily get a free pass, it's because none of the deemed [atrocities] committed that we know of occurred outside the chain of command. We have not, for instance, seen any Cassian go rogue, and kill and maim people with no reason. We don't know whether that would go unpunished, whether through official channels or by inhibitor. The hint we are given, was when Columbina was being controlled by the cyberpath, and the inhibitor acted on it, and Noctis acted on it. Beyond that, there has not been an in-story instance of harm caused by a Cassian that was not due to orders issued by superiors, or necessitated by their duties. We have no way to know if there would be retribution for such action outside their scope, or what it might be. Absent that, we can't really say they get a free pass.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 3:27 PM edit delete reply
So @megados, you would assert (as your own personal opinion) that "I was only following orders" is a legitimate defense for a person sworn to service, no matter what acts they may commit? By that argument, many (but not all, of course) of the acts committed by Decimus' Praetorians ("The Blues") are ethically correct and morally upright, since they were only following orders, correct?

There seems little doubt that, in the courts of Nova Roma "I was following the orders of Prince Decimus" was an iron-clad and undefeatable legal defense. ^_^
megados 31st Jan 2019, 3:47 PM edit delete reply
No, I don't think that would be correct in the Cassians' case, because they are compelled by inhibitor to obey. There is no option to ignore orders which go against whatever moral objection they may have, and punishment is swift and assured. The humans (Decimus' Praetorians) have no such coercive force to contend with. Results of conditionally following orders are very different for the humans. As such, for the humans, 'only following orders' isn't a morally acceptable excuse. I'm sure you can see the difference here.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 4:30 PM edit delete reply
I don't, actually, @megados. The penalty for a Cassian disobeying is torture or death. The penalty for a Praetorian disobeying would seem to be torture or death, if caught. Is it the time lag that makes the Praetorians morally culpable? Or just the assumption that there exists a chance for a Praetorian to 'get away with it' that makes you feel like the Praetorians should be held to a different (and harsher) standard than the Cassians?
megados 31st Jan 2019, 5:03 PM edit delete reply
Hmm, I can see your point. I don't see it as cut and dried as that. There is still a difference. The humans could decide as a group, that their orders are immoral, and as a group, disobey, and the larger the group, the better the chances of "getting away with it" become. Individually, or as a group, they could do (or not do) something surreptitiously, where no one would be the wiser, and "get away with it" as well. They could decide their orders are immoral and desert. There is no certainty that they will be punished, only that they might be, or that it's likely. There are many ways in which inequalities can exist, and until or unless they face the same swift, sure consequence, it would remain unequal.

Failure to follow orders is a two edged sword. If ordered to do something bad, and one does not, it's good. If ordered to do something good, and one does not, it's bad. If a human in this case, is ordered to do something bad, and does something good instead, and gets away with it, it's good. A Cassian in the same circumstance gets punished immediately.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 8:55 PM edit delete reply
That suggests that any action is moral -- as long as you don't get caught at it. Which is certainly an opinion many have championed down through the years.


If you are going to let each individual receiving orders decide for themselves which are the 'good orders' that should be followed and which are the 'bad orders' that should be disobeyed, I think there will be at least a few differences of opinion. ^_^

More to the point, if you _require_ that, then once again Cassians are Guns, not Warriors, since they (apparently) lack (in the usual case) the ability to selectively obey and disobey orders based on their 'goodness'.
megados 31st Jan 2019, 10:26 PM edit delete reply
I don't think the leap can be made from there that any unobserved action is moral. Morality would be better described described as doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. The humans, in this scenario are the only ones who can do that. The Cassians cannot, which reinforces my point. The inhibitor takes away that ability.

Individuals receiving orders have had the ability to decide for themselves since time immemorial. It is discipline which makes them decide to obey. By your assertion then, you seem to infer that an order must never be disobeyed, even if it is counter to what is right and good, and let "I was just following orders" be justification for untold arrtocities.

The Cassians, again, under normal circumstances, are people trained for their role, who follow a code of ethics, and follow orders given them by their superiors, and are capable of acting on their own in response to circumstances. They carry inhibitors which would ensure their obedience, but under normal circumstances, they would be superfluous, since orders given, would fall naturally within the scope and morality of their normal duties. Decimus' reign could hardly be considered a normal circumstance. He regularly used Cassians outside their normal scope, and they had to obey even his most heinous orders due to the inhibitor's enforcement. Thus, the Cassians are people who were used as tools, and to put a finer point on it, as a screwdriver when used as a pry bar, or a surgical instrument used as a bludgeon.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 11:06 PM edit delete reply
My own, personal opinion is that _if_ you are going to offer "only following orders" as a defense, _then_ all orders must be followed, just and unjust. Otherwise you are simply cherry-picking, but hiding behind a lie when you follow an unjust order and get caught at it.

I also don't agree that mechanical surveillance (i.e., the inhibitor) doesn't count as 'someone looking'. And I don't think, in an abstract sense, you should change the rules for evaluating ethical conduct based on whether (in your opinion) the person in charge is a 'good person' or a 'bad person'. Otherwise you have no standard at all by which to evaluate, you're just saying you will decide whatever you feel individually comfortable with in each specific case.
megados 31st Jan 2019, 11:39 PM edit delete reply
I do agree with your first stipulation, but note that I do not offer "simply following orders" as an excuse. Until or unless someone is physically, and immutably coerced by force, they are free to choose. Choice can be made difficult, but physical force revokes the ability.

I did not say or infer that the inhibitor doesn't count as observation; indeed it is 24/7 surveillance. Again, this reinforces my point. The humans have no such surveillance, nor do they have the guaranteed immediate threat of punishment. In that case, your assertion holds true in that since individuals have some choice, you can't really base your evaluation solely on whether the person holding the reins is good or bad, but when the superior has total inescapable control backed by certain physical coercion, you certainly can. If a subordinate has no choice, how can they be held accountable?
Gilrandir 1st Feb 2019, 12:16 AM edit delete reply
That is my point -- an individual, even coerced -- has choice. The "You shoot her or I shoot you" Dilemma. Only a tool has no choice at all.
megados 1st Feb 2019, 12:32 AM edit delete reply
And that, dear friend, brings us full circle. My original comment was that the Cassians are people who were used as tools. The inhibitor is a comply or be physically forced kind of device.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Gilrandir 1st Feb 2019, 1:59 AM edit delete reply
Yes, but I don't understand why you feel it appropriate to distinguish between the Cassians as people compelled (by the inhibitor) to act as tools, and the Praetorians as people compelled (by Cassians) to act as tools.

You would exonerate the Cassians from their acts, but hold the Praetorians accountable for their crimes -- or do I misrepresent your position? And the only difference is the source of the force being used to coerce compliance.
megados 1st Feb 2019, 10:35 AM edit delete reply
I don't think the Cassians were in the Praetorians' chain of command. I think their leader took orders directly from Decimus, and willingly followed him. Also, it is my understanding, that they, in large part, were brought in from the dregs of humanity; prisons, etc. It is also my understanding that they had a much greater latitude in choice, in that no one really cared how they got things done as long as they were done. They had an amount of latitude in the choices they made. Those who came from prison, for instance, had a choice in the events leading up to their incarceration, as well.

All in all, my impression is that they had a lot more choice in their circumstances than the Cassians did; that the Praetorians, for the most part, were willing tools, enjoying their role, while the Cassians, for the most part, were not.
Gilrandir 1st Feb 2019, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
Once they were in uniform, however, their choices were controlled (although apparently they were indulged shamefully, if Maxus' comments are any guide). And we have Tennyo's example of how Cassian kept Praetorians in order, irrespective of any lines of command authority. So, it is of that which I speak -- not whatever atrocities they committed while free that landed them in uniform in the first place.

And to some extent, we have diverged from my original point, which is more: is it possible to be compelled to commit evil actions, but to be free to commit good actions? Does it make sense to envision an asymmetrical circumstance where one is free of any taint of evil, because any evil you perform is 'someone else's fault', but simultaneously fully virtuous because every good deed is wholly one's own. If your bad deeds are compelled, so too aren't your good ones, even if only by benign neglect?
megados 1st Feb 2019, 3:57 PM edit delete reply
To be sure, there was an amount control over the Praetorians, but I don't see how it was even close to the micromanaged individual control there is over the Cassians. Each Cassian has their own 24/7 surveillance/immediate punisher. Let's ignore that, though, and for this exercise, say that it is equal.

Good or bad, I think, has more to do with intent than controlling factors. One could be compelled to do evil, when their desire is to do good, but it is symmetrical, in that one could be compelled to do good when their intent is to do evil. In-story evidence suggests that Decimus' Praetorians skewed toward bad intent. They were more than happy to cause harm when not warranted, and more readily accepted orders to that end. It appeared that the Cassians were considerably less pleased with such circumstances, and at times worked to mitigate negative impact.

As with most things, its not black or white, but shades of gray. If someone is given an order to do something bad, and is forced to comply, it isn't their fault. If someone is given an order to do something bad, and gleefully accepts it, it is to their dishonor, and they bear equal culpability. If someone is given an order to do something good, and is forced to comply, (assuming they would rather have done something bad), they get no credit, just as the reverse would not have been their fault. If someone is given an order to do something good, and gleefully accepts it, they get credit for good intent, just as the reverse holds them culpable. If someone is given an order to do something bad, and instead does something good, the credit is theirs. If someone is given an order to do something good, and instead does something bad, it is their shame.

It's hard for me to paint everything with a broad brush; the devil is in the details.
oldastronomer 31st Jan 2019, 12:44 PM edit delete reply
A further complication may be that New Troy Androids, according to NTAS standards, only have an inhibitor on court order, and that generally android rules follow something like Asimov's 3 laws, mostly.

Nova Roma Cassians by design would have a different inhibitor, for the specific purpose of service to the Imperium/Livius house, plus it has a BANG pack (see recent Ophelia episode).

Kelly was able to override the inbuilt restrictions under extreme circumstances, exercising judgement.
Probably because the New Troy android ruleset could take account of extreme cases.

Hrist tried to sidestep the Nova Roma inhibitor by sticking to the rules of honour precisely, and loosing, honorably.

Malati went head on against her inhibitor, and lost, in the sense she suicided rather than obey it.

Noctis artfully slithered round it by insinuation, and won the game of words.

In the story Universe, I wonder if the Eurocombine androids, if they exist, would have still different arrangements.

Many thanks again to CC & TR for a most subtle ask of the question of free will, the rights of sentience, and the rule/abuse of power.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 1:08 PM edit delete reply
I add my voice to yours, @oldastronomer, in complimenting the creative team for raising the questions in an interesting and involving way, illustrating them with characters we come to care about.

I, however, would call Malati's exploit a 'win', even though it came at the ultimate cost.
megados 31st Jan 2019, 2:07 PM edit delete reply
I will be a third voice of accolades for this thought provoking tale. The fact that it invokes so much discussion is evidence.

@oldastronomer, your summary serves to accentuate the point that the androids are all unique individual people.
Morituri 31st Jan 2019, 5:49 PM edit delete reply
My thought was that Acantha herself is due some praises here because what she's doing is more than just going beyond the standard "AI aren't people" attitude taught in Nova Roma. Getting past that part of her upbringing was laudable enough.

But what she's doing here is also getting past the point of "and these people in particular used to be the ones whom I personally regarded with fear and dread and the loathing I associated with their actions" and relating to them as people, without holding grudges or apparently lingering fear.

And whatever philosophical points are to be made about the Cassians themselves, Acantha's doing something hard here and something brave and something praiseworthy.
megados 31st Jan 2019, 6:31 PM edit delete reply
I have to apologize, @Morituri; my comment caused some unintended digression.

Of course you are right. Here, and before now, Acantha has shown intelligence, understanding, and a willingness to make a departure from the status quo. She realizes the magnitude of the change, and embraces it, knowing that most of the fear factor emanated from her now departed brother. She also shows that she really doesn't hold on to the notion that the androids are necessarily lesser people.

And yes, it's praiseworthy.
Tokyo Rose 2nd Feb 2019, 6:58 PM edit delete reply

Watching people debate stuff like this online in a manner befitting adults is a rare delight in this day and age, and we thank you all for engaging in some really deep, intense discussion on a complicated issue while remaining mutually respectful. :)
Gilrandir 3rd Feb 2019, 12:20 AM edit delete reply
This is the InterNet, @Rose. Everyone knows the high standards of conduct and decorum required of those who wander its dignified and rarefied halls. Of course everyone here is engaging in civil, polite, and educated debate. I can't think when the last time was that someone put a foot wrong in electronic discourse. <smile>

( Shortly after this, men in white coats came to gently lead this poor deluded soul off to someplace where proper care could be administered. ^_^ )
megados 3rd Feb 2019, 12:58 AM edit delete reply
It is because of the thought provoking material you (the Creative Duo) provide, and the community that has gathered around it. :)
Sheela 5th Feb 2019, 12:20 AM edit delete reply

An interesting debate, for sure.
Though it only went into the whole "forced into coercion", rather than the equally thought provoking "brainwashed into coercion" situation.
Lets not forget that the Cassians were not random seeds, but rather specifically designed seeds, that have been molded for their specific tasks even before they entered their zero bodies.

This is not entirely unlike child soldiers, who have never known anything else.
Frankly, I think the Cassians turned out better, than most people expected them to.
Gilrandir 5th Feb 2019, 9:43 AM edit delete reply
It seems to me, @Sheela, That there isn't really a sharp and distinct division. It is much more of a continuum from Persuasion -> Influence -> Coercion -> Compulsion. And Force versus Brainwashing is much more of a 'how', rather than a 'what'. But where the lines are drawn on the continuum to segregate the different regions seems a very subjective thing to me.
megados 5th Feb 2019, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
I think it's absolutely subjective. The scale can be likened to a gradient, and the lines of demarcation are dependent on a person's persuasiveness, or the likelihood of the other person to be persuaded. A person, for instance can be very persuasive, and likewise a person might be easily persuaded. It would seem to vary depending on the individuals in question.
Sheela 5th Feb 2019, 4:05 PM edit delete reply

The problem with brainwashing, or rather designed seeds, is that you can completely remove some "morals" to the point where the inhibitor wouldn't even trigger, because the synthbrain doesn't understand right from wrong.

At that point the whole "simply following orders" discussion isn't even a thing anymore.
megados 5th Feb 2019, 5:24 PM edit delete reply
Whether by design, programming, training, or conditioning, it didn't seem to me that the Cassians were stripped of morality. If they were, wouldn't they have just shrugged, obeyed Decimus, killed Maxus and let Albinus Aventus take over? There was a paradigm shift from Valerius to Decimus that the Cassians didn't like, and I don't think the events would have unfolded as they did without a moral framework. The only instance of inhibitor intervention came when Malati tried to disobey orders that went against what she thought was right.
Combat Medic Z 31st Jan 2019, 2:21 AM edit delete reply

I would most definitely listen to Noctis' advise on security, just saying.
Thracecius 31st Jan 2019, 3:31 PM edit delete reply

Funds on the way, Centomm. My best to you and Aslan (great name for a cat). :)
Centcomm 31st Jan 2019, 4:05 PM edit delete reply

thank you so much ! that was awesome timing.. stupid bills ..HUUGS!
Thracecius 1st Feb 2019, 3:13 PM edit delete reply

You're welcome, Centcomm. :) Bills do have a way of coming at us on a regular basis, but at least we know that where there's a will, there's a way. God bless you and Aslan. ;)
Bullwinkle 31st Jan 2019, 6:25 PM edit delete reply
Her friendship with Aeneas could be part of the reason she trusts Noctis.She also has seen the relationship between Lynn and Dolly.
I think Cent is sending Ada since she has earned the trust of Noctis.
Gilrandir 31st Jan 2019, 8:56 PM edit delete reply
I think TeeDee is probably posted for light duty. I think she would be a much more entertaining guide than Ada. ^_^
DLKmusic 1st Feb 2019, 9:06 PM edit delete reply

Teedee and Noctis in the same room... again... because the friendship and trust and mutual respect between the two of them worked out so well during the first meeting?

Well, at least they would have Lynn and Acantha for referrees...

What a wonderful idea!
megados 1st Feb 2019, 10:35 PM edit delete reply
That, um . . . I mean, that would be . . . uh

Sure, why not? What could possibly go wrong? XD
Rashala 1st Feb 2019, 5:02 AM edit delete reply

A centcom issued guide ooooh boy this should be good
Bullwinkle 1st Feb 2019, 7:59 AM edit delete reply
re alt text
That decree would work perfectly on April 1st
oldastronomer 2nd Feb 2019, 3:26 PM edit delete reply
I'm still for Krystal as a guide - covert direct agent of Centcomm and all that. Teedee and Ada, while top S&R people, are on leave (really on leave, plus medical leave)
oldastronomer 2nd Feb 2019, 3:31 PM edit delete reply
Continued - something glupped there...
And S&R folks are not habitues of Platinum level facilities - above even their pay grade!!
Dolly is still in sickbay, being worked on by Calliope.
It will be one of Centcomms discreet operatives with Platinum clearance - and the ability to freeze water at a glance...
megados 2nd Feb 2019, 10:21 PM edit delete reply
I also notice Noctis' reaction to Acantha's query. She did not expect Acantha to seek her counsel.
Sheela 5th Feb 2019, 4:09 PM edit delete reply

I suspect that Decimus never did that.
Plus there's a lot of anti-clockwork resentment in Nova Roma, that it kinda makes sense that Noctis wouldn't normally be asked for advise.
But Acantha is a bright light, in an otherwise dark world.
megados 5th Feb 2019, 11:07 PM edit delete reply
Oh, to be sure; Decimus was much too arrogant, and yes the prevailing attitude would have made it unlikely.

Acantha does seem to understand what other Romans do not.
mjkj 3rd Feb 2019, 8:43 AM edit delete reply

Oh, yeah, she is right in asking Noctis for input =)

@alt text: yeah - some of those decrees might be fun - at least for a while... ;-)
oldastronomer 4th Feb 2019, 5:00 AM edit delete reply
Also remember than Acantha and Noctis had a long official conversation after Lynn was removed by Calliope, when Acantha was round from the surgery. Noctis would have given Acantha an outline briefing of the situation in Nova Roma, certainly in so far as the residual anti-Livius factions were concerned. The feelings of the Cassians would have vouchsafed to Acantha - basically rooting for her all the way. Acantha is beginning to learn to lean on her specialist advisors, after long years of being alone.
megados 4th Feb 2019, 10:26 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I agree Noctis will have informed Acantha of where everything stands, and the extent of the Cassians' support. Actually, I can envision that the Cassians are breathing a rather heavy sigh of relief, even as they mourn their losses.
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