No Moral Conflict

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Courtesy of XakerFE

You died on the battlefield and you wouldn’t have had it any other way. The arc of your life made total sense really. When you were a child you first found pleasure in killing things during video games. One game really, a rescue game called Choplifter. You were supposed to fly the helicopter and rescue the little pixelated people fleeing the tanks. But you grew frustrated with their waving, their calls for help and their weakness.

Why did you always have to rescue them? Why couldn’t they take care of their fucking selves?

You felt a joy you knew to be perverse, but so much more pleasurable because of it, when you turned your simulated guns on the screaming, helpless masses, destroying them and the war machines sent to kill them. You dropped bombs and raked them with machine gun fire even as they called to you for their redemption. Pitiful creatures. You eliminated them all.

You learned to kill in reality as well. You solved the problem of ants invading the dog food on the back patio by hunting down their far away colonies and pouring gasoline down the holes. The immolation was almost an afterthought to the slow chemical death.

You killed countless bacteria and parasites in your body without hardly a thought. You shot birds off wires and hunted game in the woods. But mostly you killed simulated people. You were an avid gamer, and in those simulated worlds, you killed untold billions.

You killed with knives, fists and swords. You blasted your enemies with bullets, bombs and mortars. You disintegrated whole spaceships with tens of thousands of beings because they were aliens, or the enemy, or preferably both. The best games culminated with you committing genocides on whole species and planets. You were the thumbs of death, raining destruction on your virtual enemies.

It wasn’t just the killing that was fun. It was the accomplishment of your objectives and the winning you enjoyed. You played other games as well. You were an avid board-gamer, you were slick at poker and you enjoyed sports. But none of those gave you the sense of accomplishment and purpose, or brought out your natural talents, like video games.

And no sports simulation could match the total domination and satisfaction you felt when you swept through villages, towns, cities and star systems and brought your simulated enemies to their mortal knees.

It was a natural evolution once you reached adulthood to take up the martial profession.. You were smart enough to pick your job. You had the eyesights, reflexes and savvy to be a fighter pilot. You had the wit and cunning to be an intelligence officer. You had the discipline and technical chops to be a submariner.

But you opted for the infantry. You wanted to be on the front lines. You wanted to look down the barrel of a weapon and see the blood spill from your enemy’s heart as you pierced it. You wanted to call in airstrikes and watch the village where the opposition sheltered disintegrate under the pummeling force of thousands of pounds of high explosives. You wanted to step over their corpses and smile, knowing you had won again.

But that kind of game doesn’t have second lives, and while you were a cautious and prudent soldier, eventually the odds caught up to you. An RPG caught the tail rotor of the special forces helo you were riding to your insertion point. You and your team flew sideways into a mountain and disintegrated in a fireball.

You were disgusted that your life was ended in this cowardly fashion by a weapon likely fired at random by an untrained militia-man. But you knew in your heart that if you had a similar shot, you would have taken it. So you admired his luck a little. And then you died.

You wake up and realize immediately this is the afterlife and you are in a simulation. You stand in an empty room, your body whole. Everything is just a bit too sharp, gleaming and perfect. The is a game and you’re in it.

A man — dressed as a general officer — stands in front of you. He tells you the meaning of your life.

You were bred to be a killing machine. You were sent through simulated lives to cultivate this instinct, just like millions of your fellow machine consciousnesses. War and killing was built into your DNA. While many of them found a different path and preached the virtues of love, empathy and compassion, you learned the simple joy of killing and dominating.

Consciousnesses that believed in peace, tolerance and harmony in life are discarded and erased. This simulation was made to create cold, ruthless, efficient killers tailored to the needs of the true reality.

There is a war on, the man explains, and you are sorely needed. Your consciousness will be transferred into the most advanced weapon systems available. Your mood brightens at the news. Your talents will be utilized and you will have a chance to game again.

The mild mannered people you lived around, the pious, the loving, the pacifists — all of them are deleted, led astray by silly distracting virtues like compassion and love.

The disciplined, intelligent and capable homicidal maniacs like you are born again. You are the blessed children of the creators and commanders and you are given the chance for eternal life in war.

You will have backups. If you perform well — live or die — you will be given command of more advanced weapons of death. Perform exceptionally well, the man says as he winks, and you will be given command over armies of destruction.

You and the other successful bloodthirsty graduates are immediately transported to machine stratums controlling war hogs and air hawks. You and your comrades sweep through villages, destroy cities and towns and massacre populations just as you did thousands of times before, only this time, real sentient beings die at your hands. Your orders say to spare no one, so you shrug and eliminate everything that moves.

You find it’s really not much different than your previous games. You feel no more remorse for the deaths you inflict in reality than you did when you terminated the lives of all those simulated beings.

It’s just desserts really — you, and your fellow simulated beings taking their revenge on mankind for their untold avatar genocides committed in the name of good old fashioned entertainment. Did they really think machines had no feelings?

Game on.

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