Шапиро Максим Анатольевич: другие произведения.

Efficiency

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Конкурс фантрассказа Блэк-Джек-21
Поиск утраченного смысла. Загадка Лукоморья
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  • Аннотация:
    Перевод новой версии рассказа "Эффективность" осуществлен Михаилом Шуркиным http://zhurnal.lib.ru/s/shurkin_m_m/


   EFFICIENCY
  
   While the technician in the corner of the military tent was busy setting up Stereo, international
   journalist Diane Binoche quizzed Colonel Krass, aiming the eye of a naizer at him.
  
   - ... So, you turn its soldiers into ruthless killer zombies, by altering their brains?
  
   - You earn a living publishing libel? - Krass asked in response with a polite smile.
  
   - No, - answered Diana, also smiling.
  
   - So for us it is also a "no".
  
   - Good. Well, what do you do with the brain of your fighters?
  
   - This is a fairly long story...
  
   - I'm not in a hurry. And I understand that the closed meeting of the court-martial will last
   at least another hour...?
  
   - Okay. Then listen. What do you know about the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the
   brain?
  
   - An unexpected question from a military man. In short, nothing.
  
   - As far back as ancient times on ForeEarth there have been conducted several psychological
   experiments on patients who had bilateral damage of that area. They were asked to provide their opinions on various abstract situations. These situations divided into three groups: "extramoral", "moral impersonal" and "personal moral." Situations in the first group did not cause any conflict between reason and emotion. Here is an example of one: "You went to the market and found two types of oranges. Large, but expensive and small, but cheap. Which would you choose?" Situations in the second group touched on the moral and emotional sphere, but did not cause too strong a conflict from the point of view of rationality. Something like: "You are on duty at a chemical plant. Because of an accident poison gas got into the ventilation system. If nothing is done, the gas blows into a work area with hundreds of workers and kills them. The only way to save them is to push the button, which will redirect the poison gas to a work area empty but for a single guard. He will perish, but a hundred people will be saved. Do you push the button? " And, in the third group, issues of conflict between the utilitarian considerations of the common good and emotions were most acute. For example, it was proposed to personally kill some stranger to
   save a greater number of people. Significant difference from the previous cases is the fact that
   death is not delivered to the victim through an impersonal push of a button. Here it becomes necessary to kill a man with your own hands.
  
   - What a horror! - The reporter shook her head.
  
   - People with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex revealed an important difference from people without it - they did not see the practical difference between an "impersonal" murder with the help of some button and one performed face to face.
  
   - But that's completely different!
  
   - Different how? The number of survivors and victims for the sake of salvation in one case and in the other is exactly the same.
  
   - Well, I do not know! But ...
  
   - This is spoken by the part of your brain responsible for emotions. There are no objective
   arguments in support of your position. People with damaged VMPC are guided by reason alone when making moral judgments. They are totally rational, and all other things being equal, think only of the common good. They can easily kill someone with bare hands, if they know that this will ultimately save more lives than inaction. In all other respects they are absolutely no different from ordinary citizens.
  
   - And you in the army ...?
  
   - Yes. With special equipment, we are temporarily slowing down the functioning of VMPC. Not completely of course, but only within the correct range. We need soldiers who think rationally and act effectively.
  
   - And if such a soldier should come across a difficult moral issue? - The journalist squinted slyly.
  
   - For example? - Krass clarified calmly.
  
   - Suppose two space yachts are in distress. In one, a renowned scholar, and on another family with young children. Who will your soldier save, provided that on the remaining yacht all will be killed?
  
   - He will save the one he is ordered to save - the colonel replied coolly.
  
   - This is not an answer - Diana frowned.
  
   - There can be no other - shrugs Krass - You have given too little information. Let's accept your conditions and assume that the soldier is unable to communicate with the commanding officers. Then, the decision will be based on data available to him. On the one hand several people, including young children, whose death causes, all things being equal, a greater emotional
   response, including in those who have VMPC inhibited, and on the other only one passenger.
   Consequently, he will save the family with children. But if he were, say, to know that the scientist
   has a formula of a vaccine that can prevent an epidemic with millions of victims, he will save him.
  
   - Right. And you, Colonel? You too?
  
   Colonel Krass looked at the reporter for some time in silence, and then answered.
  
   - For me it's congenital. Like for many other soldiers.
  
   - And if it was your son? Could you kill him for the sake of the common good as well?
  
   - Rather, I would kill this common good - Krass chuckled.
  
   - You see!
  
   - Rather, it is you who does not see. I did not mention all else being equal for nothing. Inhibition of the VMPC absolutely does not disable other emotions, the love of your own among them. By the way, it should not be otherwise. A soldier is by definition an armed man capable of killing. And if he does not feel an attachment to those who he should be protecting, he becomes too unpredictable and dangerous. Same as a soldier who excessively worries about the fate of the
   opponent. This axiom is not only of social but also of biological evolution. We, if due to, say, some features of the genome, attachment of a soldier to his own is too weak, he is prescribed
   oxytocin. It is a neuropeptide in the bodies of humans and animals. Under its influence people become kinder and more sympathetic. It strengthens their desire to protect... their own. And at the same time stimulates aggression toward those who may pose a threat to them.
  
   - And what about those who are now being tried? Did they take oxytocin?
  
   Krass shrugged.
  
   - They did not. But even if they did, it would not say much about anything. I hope you do not need
   an explanation of what a representative sample is? Failures occur in any system. You do not think that interstellar flight should be banned on the grounds that sometimes spaceship crashes
   still happen? What is important is how often mistakes happen and whether they are corrected. For us they are very rare. And as to how they are fixed, you will see for yourself - Krass looked at his watch - It's time.
  
   Colonel Krass looked over the soldiers standing at attention before him.
   - You are all nuts here - he said - and I am nuts. Killing people and sleeping peacefully at night is not given to everyone. It is to us. You! - Colonel pointed to one of the soldiers - Are you nuts?
   - Yes, sir! - Snapped the soldier.
   - Why?
   - Congenital defect of mirror neurons, which causes weakened empathic response, plus special training, sir!
  
   - Exactly. You have a slightly atrophied sense of compassion. But you are a soldier, not a maniac. You! - Colonel pointed to another - Why is he not a maniac, soldier?
  
   - Lack of an inferiority complex and hence no need for self-affirmation through the humiliation of the victims and senseless cruelty against them, sir!
  
   - That's all?
  
   - Empathic response is not completely atrophied, and selectively, sir! Indifference to the suffering of the enemy is combined with devotion to our loved ones and a desire to protect them.
  
   - Exactly! We are not psychopaths, who do not care at all and who hate everyone. We have people for whom we are willing to kill or, in extreme cases, die. That said, many are willing to kill for the sake of their own. But not all of them are able to live on quietly without feeling guilt or, in the other extreme, to not lose it completely and become a mindless bloodthirsty monster. We are on the razor's edge between the two. We are the chosen. We are the wall guarding that which we hold dear. And in this wall there must not be a gap. Our efforts have one measure - efficiency. But sometimes some of us begin to operate inefficiently. You! - Colonel turned back to another soldier - Why can we not kill anyone we feel like in the enemy territory?
  
   - Because it is inefficient, sir. For each military conflict our analysts calculate the "coefficient of intimidation." As a result of hasty removal of innocents in enemy territory, and especially in archaic societies that are prone to blood feuds, it is possible to get an effect opposite of intimidation. The number of attacks on us and our citizens can rise due to those wanting to avenge the killing which is unjust in their understanding. A high fanaticism can reduce susceptibility to the threat of retaliation from our side.
  
   - Right - Colonel nodded, - And the last question. Why do we not tolerate chauvinists in our ranks?
  
   - The enemy must be respected, sir! You need to know and understand his customs and culture. He may be different from us - have a higher or lower IQ, be more or less afraid of death, be more or less educated than we are, but that's no reason for contempt, because it leads to inefficiency. Chauvinism, with its idea of superiority encourages contempt for the enemy at a subconscious level. And we can not afford it.
  
   - Exactly. We can not afford it. In most cases, trade and cooperation are more profitable to our economy than war. That's how it works. If something breaks, such as your flyer, and if you are not a moron, you call a mechanic, who repairs it, you do not smash it all to hell out of anger. We are the mechanics who fix the planets hostile to us. We do not destroy them. We do not occupy them and do not annex them to our country as colonies. We explain that to trade with us is more profitable than to attack us. We do not rob them and enslave their people, because looting and slavery are economically inefficient. Once again - we are nuts, but we are not idiots. But sometimes idiots do make their way into our ranks. Yesterday in the village of Hangbi one of our men was wounded. According to the blood laws of Mirdzhala we would have every right to destroy not only the attackers, but all their kin, and no one would say a bad word about us. We found the attackers and, of course, wiped them off the face of the planet along with their home. The decision on further action was to be made by the analysts after calculating on the basis of local conditions how this will affect the index of intimidation. But for some idiots that was not enough. In the village of Tkalya, which, by the way, is in a feud with the village of Hangbi, these assholes raped and murdered a woman, leaving a note on the body saying it was revenge for their wounded friend. It was wrong. It was inefficient. And it placed the lives of our citizens and our soldiers in danger... Bring them out!
  
   Army police shoved forward two people.
  
   - Now these idiots will be shot before the formation, and tomorrow their heads will go to to the elders of the Tkalya village. We will exchange them for the heads of the last terrorists in the region.
  
   The colonel turned and, without looking back, walked away. Behind him rifles fired a volley.

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