Ethics in the TFTD fanfic


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#1 Accounting Troll

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 04:43 PM

For us, TFTD is simply a game.  If winning the game requires one to act in a way that would be regarded as unethical in real life, then so be it as it is just part of the game.  However, the characters we have created in the TFTD cooperative fanfic do not have such a luxury - they must deal with ethical dilemmas in the knowledge that lives are at stake

The purpose of this thread is to discuss what stance our characters would take on a particular dilemma, even if that particular character is not likely to be involved in the decision making process.  This will mean that all viewpoints are considered when somebody is going to write a post involving an ethical discussion and helps reduce the possibility of misunderstanding somebody else's character.

I think the first ethical dilemma X-Com is likely to face is:

Is it right to sell surplus weapons and alien artefacts to known terrorists and criminals if they offer a better price than governments and corporations?

#2 Dumb_Commander

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 05:40 PM

NO, because if the terrorists would get a sonic weapon in their hands what would happen. A new wave of terrorism and the goverments will be forced to reduce funding so that they could re-build.

Basicly if X-Com would give terrorist surplus weapons or any kinds of alien artifacts, it would reduce any meager funding that the goverments give.

#3 FullAuto

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 06:13 PM

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Is it right to sell surplus weapons and alien artefacts to known terrorists and criminals if they offer a better price than governments and corporations?

Why not?  Governments sell weapons to terrorists all the time.  How they would get the funds to outbid governments is another matter entirely.

I've always thought that X-Com only sold technology to the funding countries, as a way of giving them a reward, a constant sign of achievement.

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#4 uriaheep

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 06:17 PM

This is true, most weapons on the terror markets come from government sales.  I think the problem is here, we should not allow the best weapons and hardware out until we have developed something better.  When we have Gauss, sell harpoons, when we have sonic, sell gauss.
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#5 The Veteran

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 06:55 PM

My point of view... I think Uria is right, they would go mostly to the governments. They would buy these weapons to equip their own 'specialist combat units' as it was stated in a previous post that each country was more than likely also setting up their own personal XCom.

I can't think of any character's who would support the sale of weapons and technology to terrorists, even if the alternative IS a paycut! Wait for the war to finish, hello chaos!
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Posted 20 May 2006 - 07:26 PM

The commodore would object on the grounds that to supply criminals and terrorists would probably result in considerable loss of human life.  She's ruthless when she has to be, but she does believe in honour and duty.

I'm wondering if any of the veterans of the previous war would regard the morality issue as irrelevant and concern themselves with practical concerns, such as the UN reaction if it finds out.  After all, they know what what's going to happen to humanity if X-Com is closed down for going over budget.

Another thought: what if the terrorists are opposed to either the Cult of Sirius or a government that stabbed X-Com in the back and signed a deal with the aliens?  Is it ethically wrong for X-Com to support anti-alien terrorists fighting a pro-alien government?

#7 The Veteran

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 07:44 PM

Technically no. From a military point of view they would simply be arming an ally. But this isn't like sending food and blankets to Bosnia, this is sending top of the range technology to people who may or may not support XCom. It doesn't matter what anyone tells you, they're probably lying! So it would all be down to the level of trust that XCom had in these supposed anti-alien terrorists... If they can be trusted to aid XCom then fine but what if XCom gives them all these weapons then they turn out to be pro-alien terrorists, cultists even... I think that only the funding nations can be trusted personally.
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#8 FullAuto

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 07:48 PM

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.  But I think supplying weapons to these group is outside of X-Com's abilities.  More likely, funding governments would buy the weapons and pass them on to resistance groups, or send in their own special forces armed with the new weaponry.

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#9 storm turmoil

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 08:19 PM

One thing to consider is if any of the proposed anti-alien groups that might buy wepons from x-Com have any ties to X-com. After all, despite the whole inquisitor thing, it is possible that some AW1 vets will be involved or behind such groups. This expands the argument considerably, because current X-com memebers may be able to vouch for their intentions somewhat. If this is the case, they may also be able to use prior knowledge of X-coms past weapons sales as leverage to influence it happening again.

Granted, the commodore will likely be against it. But if it comes down to sitting on the weapons and starving, or passing them on to AW1 vets with traceable credentials, what will she choose.

There's also the issue of non-military alien hardware and esoterica. while weposn are trouble, are things like aqua plastics less so? Is aqua plastic armour a viable sale to security firms, and likewise thermal shock gear? Is it acceptable to sell vibroblade technology and even sonic detonators to the mining industries?

#10 Zager

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 03:00 AM

I don't think it's in X-COM's charter to fund resistance or terrorist movements. X-COM should restrict itself to fighitng aliens.

Why sell the gear that we can manufacture like guass guns or aquaplastics? Why not just simply register the patent, and contract it out to manufacturing corporations? We'll get a reliable stream of cash, and free up our own engineers to work on important projects.

#11 storm turmoil

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 09:07 AM

View PostZager, on 21st May 2006, 3:00am, said:

I don't think it's in X-COM's charter to fund resistance or terrorist movements. X-COM should restrict itself to fighitng aliens.

Why sell the gear that we can manufacture like guass guns or aquaplastics? Why not just simply register the patent, and contract it out to manufacturing corporations? We'll get a reliable stream of cash, and free up our own engineers to work on important projects.

There's not enough money in the TFTD world in general to allow for it, basically. Despite the fact that it's not brought to peoples attention as much, sea-going trade generates a lot more money than might be thought, despite the existence of air freight. With sea trade effectively crippled by the USO threat, there's that much less money in the world in general. a smaller world eceonomy means less money for X-com to skim. basically, x-com is going to have to become self funding and rather fast as well, or it'll simply fall apart.

as for registering the patents...we don't know that's safe. Even today, some countries, (China for one) openly reject patent law and actively search through patent records for technologies to copy. They copy the registered designs, and use them. the trouble is, because they haven't signed the patent laws themselves, they aren't doing anything illegal. The owner of the patent has no recourse, even though his ideas are being used without consent. Intel tried to stop the chinese government using copies of it's chips a couple of years back, and was told in no uncertain terms 'NO!'. They wanted to try legal action, only to find there was no possible legal action to take...

Now, while for mundane items that may be an acceptable risk, for weapons grade gear, that's simply going to be unacceptable. The Commodore wouldn't let something like that go. For one thing, it could completely disrupt the worlds stability dynamic completely. Even selling to legitimate governments, you have to consider the knock on effects.

the other thing is, how could we release the patent for items that require recovered alien items to manufacture? and then there's the Zrbite issue.

needless to say, releasing even a whiff of the existence of MC technology would probably get X-com censured for the same reason the anti Psionic laws came in.

#12 Zager

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 04:28 PM

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There's not enough money in the TFTD world in general to allow for it, basically. Despite the fact that it's not brought to peoples attention as much, sea-going trade generates a lot more money than might be thought, despite the existence of air freight. With sea trade effectively crippled by the USO threat,
  

Why would it be crippled? Terror attacks in TFTD, IME, aren't that common, and they're just as likely to hit a port or an island as they are a ship. It might be hurt, yes, but it's not going to stop, especially if there's so much money in it, like you say there is.

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as for registering the patents...we don't know that's safe. Even today, some countries, (China for one) openly reject patent law and actively search through patent records for technologies to copy.


With the increase in corporate power over the next forty years, that would become extremely risky for nations like China. If they pull stunts like that, corporations stop doing business with the country, wrecking its economy

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the other thing is, how could we release the patent for items that require recovered alien items to manufacture? and then there's the Zrbite issue.


Aquaplastics don't require alien technolgoy, and they have the potential to be the biggest earner.

#13 storm turmoil

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 04:45 PM

Aquaplastics don't require alien technology, and they have the potential to be the biggest earner.

This is a point, in which case it might be even better for us to make an even bigger payoff from the metals industries by NOT releasing Aquaplastics!

#14 Zager

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 06:33 PM

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This is a point, in which case it might be even better for us to make an even bigger payoff from the metals industries by NOT releasing Aquaplastics!
  

Extortion and soliciting bribes would probably run contrary to the charter of X-COM.

#15 Accounting Troll

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 08:02 PM

I think the damage the aliens have done to trade routes is similar to what Germany did to Britain in both world wars when its submarines attempted to blockade Britain and starve it into surrendur.  Neccessities of life such as food, and materials necessary for the war effort had to get through, regardless of the cost in lives, and the result was the convoy system.  Even so, just about everything had to be carefully rationed.

After the first terror attack on a major city, there will be no chance of covering up the fact that aliens are behind the sinkings.  Fear of the aliens will make shipping insurance impossible to obtain and ship owners will refuse to risk their ships for the duration of the emergency unless they have a massive military escort and a promise that the government will compensate them if their ship is lost.

Unfortunatly, X-Com is not going to be able to give a swift victory over the aliens, so national governments will be forced to introduce rationing.  A combination of rationing, high inflation and increasing unemployment will force the governments to go over to a wartime economy, in which the manufacture of military hardware gains priority over consumer goods.  Under these circuimstances, it is perhaps understandable that some governments would do a deal with the aliens and let someone else do the fighting.

Under these circuimstances, I doubt that national governments would be happy about giving X-Com political and (some) financial support, and then being told that if they want to get the benefits of the technology X-Com has developed, they are going to have to pay.  As the prevaling view seems to be that selling to terrorists is out of the question, the only option I can see is for X-Com to do a deal with arms manufacturers such as Heckler Koch, who would be doing quite well out of the war.  It is quite common for a modern assault rifle to be manufactured under license in a lot of different countries, so X-Com would have to work out a similar deal for Gauss weapons, aquaplastics and underwater medikits.

There is the danger that X-Com would get ripped off.  However, they can point out that ripping off their patents means that they would have less money to protect the world, so some countries would regrettably end up being thrown to the wolves.  It's moral blackmail, no matter how many times X-Com's spin doctors use the word "regrettably", but politicians pull the same stunt on each other all the time.  Besides, they would find the prospect of X-Com eventually becoming self-funding appealing.

The zrbite issue is a problem with manufacturing alien weapons, however Dr Zager has developed the power cells that make laser and gauss weapons practical, so I think the problem can be solved if the commodore asks him nicely :P

#16 Zager

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 10:48 PM

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The zrbite issue is a problem with manufacturing alien weapons, however Dr Zager has developed the power cells that make laser and gauss weapons practical, so I think the problem can be solved if the commodore asks him nicely
  

Yes, but if we're sticking to the games, then elerium and zrbite are the only power sources strong enough to reliably power plasma and sonic weaponry, and synthetic elerium isn't going to be around for another twenty or so game years.

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 05:54 PM

That's what happens when you don't ask Dr Zager nicely :P

But you're right though - we can't have a viable alternative to elerium and zrbite being developed in the 2040s because it would be highly inconsistent with the later games in the series.

To sum up the discussion so far; the consensus is that in accordance with the wishes of the UN, X-Com will refuse to sell surplus weapons and alien artefacts to criminal groups and terrorists, even if they offer better prices than governments and corporations.

A possible solution to X-Com's budget problems are the manufacture under licence of Gauss weapons, aquatic medikits, aquatic motion scanners and aquaplastics once the scientists have done the necessary work.  There are practical concerns, but these should probably be hammered out in the main TFTD discussion thread.

#18 storm turmoil

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 06:22 PM

We don't need an alternative to Elerium and Zrbite, just alternatives to dependaent items...or the parts of them dependant on Elerium or Zrbite to function. Gauss doesn't require Zrbite anyway, and it's supposed to be a partial plasma weapon spin off, so presumably, it is possible to run alien type weapons without Elerium or Zrbite, with an increase in hardware and bulk, and a decrease in efficiency.

as a result, what X-com might be selling is not the full powered alien tech items, but earth tech duplicates that aren't anywhere like as powerful, but don't require Elerium or Zrbite (or synthetic elerium)

Example: Magnetic plasma accelerators rather than Anti-gravity plasma accelerators. The units are ten times the size and weight, and only generate the same basic effect as an alien heavy plasma, but the tech and power is there. Of course, they aren't much use for X-com, since plasma won't work underwater, and they're too big to mount on anything short of a main battle tank, but any government worth it's salt would want them for their military's armour forces.

possible? it could go some way to providing for X-coms cash flow, and it might provide an inspiration for the weapon research (or be inspired by it- even if somethings no good to x-com,if they can sell it, cash is cash)

#19 Tepid tasoth

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 06:50 PM

Given that those government dudes are really keen on shutting X-COM down and using their own armies to fend off the Aliens, it's likely they'll enjoy buying every bit of weaponry that may aid them in their task. It's like "Buy that Gauss rifle no matter if it comes with ammo, we may find a solution to this later. If we have all that X-COM scientific weapon stuff around, we can defend ourselves and can shut down X-COM." (didn't they do just that after the first Alien War?).

Regarding the sales of alien corpses, WTF is one supposed to do with them? I think my stomach cramps just from the thought about stinky Aquatoid BBQ.  :bleh: OTOH, I can think of drug lords trying to extract whatever psychoactive chemicals they presume in alien brains.

#20 Thunder787

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 07:40 PM

X-com as an organization has other concerns to worry about than deciding who to sell excess weapons/techs to. The world goverments ought to see that the alien incursion as the main threat to humanity's existence.

A "terror" organization is only one depending on who you ask. And usually the views regarding an organization's purpose is only geared around petty bickerings, racism and personal profits. X-com's mission ought to be purely geared toward the defense of Earth and of humanity. This means the X-com agenda should differ from those petty ones of the goverments of the world.

If they can gain more money from selling to the highest bidder, and last longer fund-wise, then why not? If any organization have a problem with who X-com is dealing with, then why don't they outbid or step up themselves against the alien?

When the dust settles and humans are left standing, then X-com has done it's job. We humans can then go back to our bickering and moronic self destruction. Until then, X-com has to survive, if only because Human has to win... :D

(I know this whole section is old, but after reading such wonderful and well thought out pieces, I felt I had to post)




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