zwol: ((mad) science)
[personal profile] zwol
Suppose for the sake of this hypothetical that magic works if and only if a quorum of observers expect it to work (sort of like in Waldo & Magic, Inc.) You have constructed, in the privacy of your lab, a security checkpoint which works by magic: it casts "detect malicious intent" on anyone who walks through. Perhaps it can even do this to objects, picking up on the intent of the assembler, and so for instance distinguish a bomb from a properly packaged shipment of explosives.

If you could get everyone to adopt this device, security screening at airports and elsewhere would be faster, more accurate, and far less intrusive. But the trouble is, it only works if people believe it will. (Assume it's not a problem if the person being scanned doesn't believe it works, as long as the operator and enough of the other people in the area do.)

How do you persuade people it works?

Date: 2010-10-22 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rezendi.livejournal.com
Hire Hollywood.

Date: 2010-10-22 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zwol.livejournal.com
That only delegates the problem. How are they going to convince people?

Date: 2010-10-22 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rezendi.livejournal.com
Really I was just thinking of Wag the Dog...

I guess you'd want to treat belief as a virus. Have Fincher and Sorkin create "training" and "educational" videos that show the new system in action; pick a particularly credulous/superstitious region; blanket it with those videos; and voila, you've (hopefully) got a foothold of belief. Then slowly expand the pilot project from there.

Date: 2010-10-22 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elsmi.livejournal.com
Fake a horrible terrorist plot, with everything done right and very clever hired actors/undercover agents to play the roles. Rig the machine to trigger on them (even though it otherwise wouldn't, because it is too accurate!). Insert show trials and such as necessary, and then disappear the horrible terrorist people into some black hole, so the actors/agents can go back to their real lives...

Date: 2010-10-22 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caprine.livejournal.com
Rigged demos and convincing handwavium in the user guides.

Date: 2010-10-22 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aldren.livejournal.com
But any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. Or magic.

Date: 2010-10-22 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zwol.livejournal.com
I'd rather expect a lot of people to say "that HAS to have been rigged" in response to any demo of this thing.

Date: 2010-10-22 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shweta-narayan.livejournal.com
Use the word "quantum" in your propaganda videos :)

Date: 2010-10-23 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenpam.livejournal.com
Get Steve Jobs to promote it?

What happens when there's no one around but the operator, who's just doing his job and may or may not believe it and one person going through who doesn't? Does it work?

Date: 2010-10-27 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zwol.livejournal.com
Very good question that, considering that the entire plot of Waldo kicked off when machinery started failing because people didn't believe in it enough.

Date: 2011-03-29 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"How do I harness memes to do useful work?"

Rather than give a way, one could do what they call a "reduction" in complexity theory, namely, show what other wonderful things you could do if you could solve your problem.

In particular you could:

(a) start a more effective cult than L Ron Hubbard, (b) solve the problem of educating people properly, (c) take over the world...

Formidable forces stand in the way of solving this, in particular memes are Darwinian beasties, and evolution is a demon.. you invoke it at your peril.

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