The Function of Crime?
by James Jaeger

If error tolerance leads to the ability to mutate and the ability to mutate leads to evolution, which leads to complexity and intelligence and a better world . . . how is error tolerance at the genetic level any less important than error tolerance at the sociological level?

In other words, does a certain amount of crime actually cause society to evolve? Conversely, if all crime were wiped out (under some totalitarian government, say) would society degenerate or stagnate?

At the biological level, DNA represents and embodies the organization of the cell - its government and agenda, if you will. When a cell fails to follow the "totalitarian" dictates of its DNA, it is said to have mutated. Thus this is a "crime" against the cell, no? But this "crime" also opens the door to the exploration of new possibilities, possibilities that would not be "allowed" by the Order of the Cell and its computerized dossier system, the DNA itself. But ultimately these "criminal," mutating cells, by being non-conformists, find better ways of surviving in the alien and hostile Universe and thus, through "natural selection" the Universe validates them with greater survival potential, hence, THEY become the future "norm" and the DNA code is eventually "re-written" to incorporate this new (criminal), but accepted "way of life." No?

The macrocosmic levels seem to reflect similar modus operandi. For instance: all war (IMO) is a crime against humanity in the long-term. That one happens, by chance of birth, to be a citizen of some particular country does not mitigate the crime. But nations and humanity somehow advance in the aftermath of war as floods of financing are extorted from hysterical populations and used to invent, discover and re-build all manner of things. And such "all manner of things" hopefully result in a wiser and more robust world. And I think they do, to some degree.

Likewise the forest and the field grow back stronger and more fecund after they have burned. Even tiny bacteria grows stronger through mutation after it has been "assaulted" by many years in the Antibiotic Wars.

Thus if the largest of human "crimes" and the smallest of plant and animal "crimes" both result in new growth and robustness, might not general "crimes" in the middle of Society, to a certain degree, actually stimulate growth as well, growth to Society in unexpected ways? The idea that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud.

Is it not true that often the "best" "criminal" hackers are sought out and bought up by governments so that they can be co-opted and used by that government to protect against future "criminal" hackers. So what we have here is what is supposed to be an anti-criminal agent (a government) actually purchasing under duress (one could look at it as financing or subsidizing) the proceeds of "criminal thought" in order to mitigate such "criminal thought" and its attendant "crimes" in the future. Does not this, at the very least, call into philosophical question the very definition of the word "crime"?

Is it not also true that often those who happen upon some loophole or undeclared antithetical activity, gaining economic advantage because of such, rise to high office and then, using the powers of the state for their own vested interest, close off such loopholes and thus prevent others from profiting or competing. Didn't folks like a Rockefeller or a Kennedy, and others of like magnitude, do such things in the past? Thus, through the method of doing new things, things that will eventually be listed on the books as "crimes" was it not possible for certain entities to gain advantage over ones fellow man? I'm not saying that all of the super wealthy people that exist today were yesterday's "criminals" -- but certainly some percentage of them were, and are?

So, from the point of view of the Universe (as opposed to the point of view of homo Sapiens) there may BE no such thing as "bad" or "evil" or "crime" as all events are considerations relative to viewpoint, and considerations alone, given "value" by a particular observer, or citizen, at some given location in time and space.

Another way we could look at this is through the question: Why would the Universe create ANYTHING antithetical to its interests? If this is true, it places us Humans (and all of our ologies, cultures and governments, etc.) in a rather arbitrary position. No? And if so, what is the legitimate criterion of advancement, or existence itself? Maybe the Guide AI that Eliezer Yudkowsky discusses in his incredible new article, What is Friendly AI?, will, or should, help us answer this question, given it is even a valid question.

This post should not in anyway be misconstrued to mean that I feel crime is justified (once one has agreed to be the citizen of any given country); that such signatory citizen should not follow the laws of his or her country or that law has no valid purpose.

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