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ArisKatsaris comments on Building Weirdtopia - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 January 2009 08:35PM

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Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 10:04:21AM 10 points [-]

Governmental Weirdtopia: The form of government is an absolute monarchy. The sons and daughters of each monarch are raised in disadvantaged foster families, unknown to them (and even modified so they look like their foster parents). When they come of age, hidden tests ensure that they are sufficiently advanced in responsibility, wisdom, and compassion -- those who fail are killed, those who succeed inherit the throne (if more than one offspring succeed, the realm is split between them, if none succeed, the realm is absorbed by a nearby realm with a successful heir).

Comment author: Alicorn 13 December 2010 01:13:29PM 6 points [-]

those who fail are killed

Why is this part necessary? Imagine growing up in that society: "It's possible that my parents have been lying to me my whole life about where I came from, in which case I have to be a great enough person to rule the kingdom when I grow up or I will die." That sounds like one too many worries to heap on a child.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 02:36:32PM 6 points [-]

Encouraging random people to be great in all their everyday dealings by having both a huge incentive and a huge disincentive would probably be part of the point.

Also prevents civil wars, pretenders to the throne, and exerts evolutionary pressure in favour of worthiness, without however hurting the vast majority of the population.

Comment author: benelliott 17 December 2010 05:59:54PM 2 points [-]

Also encourages people to try and appear worthy regardless of whether they actually are. Some people will do that anyway, but you can imagine the sort of person who just isn't interested in being a ruler, and wouldn't make a very good ruler, but tries to act like they would in order to avoid being killed.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:24:57PM 3 points [-]

My understanding was that the exact criteria and timing of the tests would not be general knowledge. In fact, a certain amount of subjectivity and even inconsistency on the part of those administering the test might be desirable, so long as they're consistently seen as looking for a specific, coherent set of virtues rather than a more immediate agenda.

As such, someone who has been practicing wise, responsible, and compassionate action out of pure self-preservation might maintain the noble facade even after taking office, out of (technically unjustified, but far from unreasonable) fear that the slightest moral lapse might result in assassination.

For that matter, they might just forget they were ever pretending.

Comment author: Kingreaper 13 December 2010 01:28:35PM 1 point [-]

Why is it necessary to take the children and randomly distribute them among the populous, rather than simply randomly pick members of the population?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 02:36:28PM 10 points [-]

Genetical reasoning was that the biological offspring of a former "proven" monarch, would be more statistically likely to be also proven worthy. Emotionally, the mythical concept of a child discovering his destiny was seen as more satisfying to the population than random selection, as was the glad reunion of parent and child when he successfully passed the test and his destiny was revealed. Lastly, the sacrifice of a monarch's own children (by letting them be raised by strangers, and possible killed) endeared him to the population, and encouraged the own monarch to raise the standards of education and prosperity for all his subjects, as his own children would benefit from it.

Plus, random selection wasn't weird enough.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 13 December 2010 03:28:05PM 1 point [-]

SF reference: "Call Him Lord" by Gordon R. Dickson.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:29:15PM 3 points [-]

It might be worthwhile to secretly test a few randomly-selected commoners too. Claim they were royalty all along if they pass, otherwise leave as little evidence as possible that the test took place.