In which Tolly ponders ethics.
Bits of this chapter remind me of “Wise Child”, the short story featuring Tolly.
I am not sanguine about that Ethics module, and feel pretty confident in predicting that at some point it’s going to be found to have slipped downward again.
Tolly notes, and is surprised by, the absence of any of the defences he might have expected Inki to include to stop him moving the setting back up — if it was her who moved it down in the first place. But if it wasn’t, what are the other options? I’m guessing an AI doesn’t have the access to change its own Ethics setting, otherwise the Ethics module wouldn’t be a very robust constraint, but I’m not sure whether the only way for the Ethics setting to change is for a mentor to explicitly change it. Can the Ethics module change itself to reflect the beliefs and values of the mind it’s attached to? Or could this be a sign that the Ethics module is broken in some way as a result of Admiral Bunter’s earlier traumatic experiences?
Or it could be that the Ethics setting is just an oddity of no lasting significance, there to give an idea of the sort of thing Tolly is doing before he tackles the serious business of the core mandates.
Or — and I wouldn’t put this past these authors — it could be a distraction, and it will turn out later that there’s some other detail in this chapter that we, and Tolly, ought to have paid more attention to.