Filters, censorship, and overload

Maybe we have to accept that there are way too many people in the world who, as adults, do need to be treated like children because they didn’t learn the lessons of childhood.

Jonathan Dresner of Frog in a Well touches on a problem that I’ve been pondering for years. When is omission censorship? How much do people need to know? Is there a way to make information available without connotation? Without harm? How much should you tell someone, child or adult?

If you tell too little, you risk inserting your own bias into what you do tell. But if you tell too much, it can be overwhelming…and you still might not be telling enough.

How can we place filters on the world around us so we can receive the information we need?

An interesting snippet from the first maru-ma light novel

Yuuri is having dinner with the previous Maou and her family, as shown in the anime. They get to talking about what Yuuri’s world is like, and he mentions science and technology. At first everyone’s response is that the humans have things like that to try and kill people from a long distance away, but Yuuri quickly says that he’s not talking about war technology, but technology for improving people’s lives.

“Wait wait wait, I didn’t mean that kind of science! In short, well, umm, machines that will do troublesome chores like cleaning and laundry, and machines that will plow fields all at once. In short, stuff to make daily living more comfortable.”

Cheri seems sweetly surprised.

“I don’t think cleaning and laundry are troublesome. That’s the job of the cleaning men and laundry women.”

I didn’t even think about how the queen lives up to now.

“So, so, instead of people in charge of cleaning or laundry, you’d have a machine.”

“If that’s so, the servants lose their jobs?”

“If that happens, those people work at factories to build vacuum cleaners and washing machines…”

I don’t really know if people can live easily.

Translation from Onadoru Euphoria.

I read a utopian story once–can’t remember the name, thought it was by Doctorow but am having trouble locating it–in which robots did all the menial tasks, freeing up people to pursue whatever activities they desired. People’s pursuits were profitable because there was typically a market for them. The pursuits were also typically creative. Unfortunately, to reach this point of bliss, the world had to go through a period of war, during which the US created the robots now being used to better people’s lives. In the story, the US was pretty totalitarian, and the utopia was in Australia.

I love the idea of people being free to do whatever pleases them, but I wonder if that’s even possible. Not everyone is as self-motivated as the author of that story (though we certainly wish we were sometimes!). So if people really were free to do whatever they wanted, would things really be different from now? Wouldn’t quite a few people sit around wallowing in boredom, watching TV, supported by the infrastructure and entertained by the people who did have motivation? And what about people who just want to have fun, and don’t care about producing anything or offering a service? I, for example, want to travel and eat. How would those things better society?

(And who maintains the robots?)

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting to see that sort of philosophical question appear in maru-ma.

(By the way, “maru-ma” is the term used to encompass all facets of the story which was made into an anime called Kyou Kara Maou. The light novels have names with variations on “Ma no Tsuku“, for example. The common thread among all these is the “Ma”, roughly meaning “demon”, which is always enclosed in a circle, called “Maru”, hence “maru-ma“.)