Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reflections: 1984

I'd wanted to read George Orwell's 1984 for quite a few years now, and despite being familiar with the political and philosophical debates surrounding it, I never expected the book to affect me so deeply. Such is the power and intensity of Orwell's writing in concocting a dismal world of negative Utopia (or dystopia) where the basest and vilest of human nature are brought to their pinnacle and the very essence of humanity is pushed down to the nadir, to be eventually extinguished. For those of us like me, who constantly visualize, hope, and strive for an Utopian world of civilization formed out of love, peace, justice and rationality, this book jarringly dishes the image out and replaces it with a civilization that gets founded on the basis of hatred, dehumanization, greed and lust for power. A world where there is no sense of individuality, rationality or love, where everyone of us is being constantly monitored and watched by the "Big Brother", where every single thought of ours gets inspected by Thought Polices, and every single thought or deed that goes against the philosophy of the party gets severely punished and rectified. The party philosophizes that "Freedom is Slavery", "War is Peace" and "Ignorance is Strength". The totalitarian dictatorship is so extreme that the Party tries to even control and correct the much of an oxymoron it might sound as. For what is Past, but for our collective memory of it and some physical records or documents? How easy is it in principle to alter both - especially in a technologically advanced rule of dictatorship.

I spent a big chunk of the book in plain denial, of the impossibility of us humans to be ever stripped off our basic humane instincts. But towards the end of the book, as the rebellious protagonist was being grilled under torture and was being psychologically manipulated in the worst forms possible, I could see my own thoughts fading, and subsiding, only to be replaced with horror and the desperate need to defend myself... so powerful was the prose in conveying the fragility of our minds and the kinds of manipulations that can scar and alter it forever. The torture was so excruciating that it took me a lot of coaxing and courage to finish the final pages of the book. Orwell masterfully brings out the kinds of psychological manipulations that can unearth some of our worst fears and drive us to insanity and complete dehumanization of ourselves. Willfully at that. This disturbed me so deeply that I was haunted with nightmares that played themselves out of each fear riddled recess. Well, we all know my extent of torture now - just make me read about it and I'm all set to resign and submit. Despite such an intense reaction, to me, the plausibility of dehumanization is still an unabated philosophical debate - I somehow cannot come to terms with the theory that the meaning of humanity and the essence of being a human can be eradicated altogether, forever. Despite the scars, despite searing every little cell in our mind that is responsible for human "virtues", there is just some inexplicable faith that the feelings and the essence will revive. I strongly believe that it is this faith that can keep our civilization in good stead.

Through such manipulations of the human mind, Orwell raises the question of what truth is? How objective is it? Is truth an external objective reality? Does reality exist separate from our understanding and mind, or does it only live internally in our minds? If reality and truth exist only inside our minds, manipulating them and declaring what truth is, should be theoretically plausible. And for a political system that is just hungry for raw power, in order to control reality, the past, and the future, it is a dream come true. This ideology borders on a solipsistic way of thinking about any kind of "knowledge" that exists outside the mind. In this context, Orwell introduces the concept of "Doublethink" - the frame of mind in which we equally and consciously believe in two contradictory beliefs. Getting humans to this state of doublethink is the most dangerous of all, for it reduces us to unfeeling, hypocritical, automatons, incapable of any critical reasoning to prove or disprove our own thoughts.

The book also raises a lot of red flags about our current social and political systems. Although on a basic level, the book extrapolates on the extents of dictatorial rule the world might be in, after Stalin's iron hold over Russia and the Nazi's atrocity during the Second World War, it also questions some of our basic principles on democracy and war. Big Brother's philosophy "War is Peace" seems to resonate (albeit in a convoluted way) with our current policies and justifications for nuclear weapons production. Each country bases its policies on the aggression and perceived threat from some competitive country...if every country lives on such threatened boundaries, to them peace is achieved through War! With the world's super powers proclaiming democracy, doesn't the principle dissolve into nothingness with the irony of constantly preparing for war, in order to maintain peace? Isn't it a form of doublethink?

The rise of such a morbidly ominous civilization is a warning to us. It is shown that such a totalitarian rule came about when humanity was on the verge of achieving Utopia, but we humans lost hope and reverted to the lusty craving for power; gaining power as not a means to anything, but power as an end in itself. The horrifying prospect of us humans being turned into empty, mindless, soulless shells is terrifying. But such a terror is what should propel us into acting and thinking appropriately, so as to avert such a dystopic hell.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reflections: Sphere-Land

Sphere-land is the sequel to Abbot's classic book Flatland. I'd been looking forward to read this book and it didn't disappoint me. The two books explore the concept of geometric progression and our conception of the number of possible dimensions in space. In Flatland, Abbot conceptualizes how life would be in two-dimensions, and how completely appalled the two-dimensional creatures would be, if they were told there was a universe bigger and more complex than they knew existed. Abbot hilariously brings out the utter confusion and disbelief of the 2D people in trying to visualize and come to terms with a new dimension, a new direction and completely different species and structures. It's an ultimate satire on how cloistered we 3D folks really are, in assuming that there can't be anymore dimensions, or more complexly developed species other than us. In Sphereland, Burger continues the discussion by adding more layers of geometric complexities that the 2D people toil to solve. He extends Abbot's narration by showing the scientific, societal and cultural evolutions in the land of Flatland. Scientific revolutions were at their hilt, through space and world expeditions to learn more about their world, as well as test their hypotheses on the 3D land. Two scientists who were ahead of their "flatanders" started observing intriguing things that completely altered their basic scientific knowledge - people who traveled straight along the east, somehow started meeting their friends who traveled along the west, there were mind-bogglingly startling triangles, whose angular sum exceed 180 degrees, and it seemed like the distance between their world and other worlds kept increasing for some reason! An expanding spherical universe?!! What does it mean?! With a benevolent 3D sphere paying visits to the Flatlanders every New Years' Eve to offer hints on their perplexing geometric problems, the prime scientists grapple with constantly having to revise their notions of scientific plausibility that go against some of their fundamental concepts!

Yet again, the book reinstates that our beliefs and scientific knowledge are very limited and are subject to constant revision. Just as the Flatlanders brandish the two scientists as being insane trouble-makers who indulge in black-magic with supernatural creatures from the other world, so is our perception on many baffling and inexplicable phenomena in our world. Burger also brings out the sad and frustrating truth about how even the intellectual scientific community ostracizes the two intelligent scientists and refuses to try and comprehend their research and goes to show that it takes a lot to be open-minded to consider hypotheses that stretch the limits of one's current imaginations. To a 2D creature, it is unfathomable to visualize or conceive of a third dimension and the meaning of "perpendicular".

The book is well-written and while it may not be as revolutionary in inspiring to think about multiple dimensions, the book yet again hammers in the basic humility that we human beings are probably not the only sophisticated and complexly developed creatures, our current knowledge of science ultimately reduces to a set of plausible hypotheses, and there are definite limits to our mental and cognitive faculties. Just because we cannot understand a phenomenon because of this basic limitation, it doesn't rule out the truth about the phenomenon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reflections: How Good People Make Tough Choices

The title seems so perfectly alluring to a hapless person stuck in a turbulent dilemma. Does the book hold its promise in being a comforting guide, shedding those much needed insights and lead to a point of miraculous revelation? Yes and No. That's just the nature of ethical complexities. What the book does is structuralize the process of moral analysis and reasoning based on formal paradigms, and through examples of numerous moral dilemmas, explicates the types of resolution principles that can be applied. Kidder brings a balanced and comprehensive approach to defining, analyzing and resolving dilemmas. In the end, the book is an exercise in bolstering one's ethical fitness.

Before detailing the obvious, here are some things I found interesting:
1. Children apparently go through a six-staged process in the evolution of moral judgments. Stage 1 is fear of punishments and respect for authority. Stage 2 is formed out of the sense of equal exchange and fairness ("How come my sister has two candies, while I have one?"). In Stage 3, they are dominated by stereotypical roles of "good" behavior in accordance with others' expectations (Mommy says I should get good grades). By Stage 4 they have a more generic structure formed out of rules and duties. In Stage 5, they start realizing the smudged boundary between good and bad, yet strive to act on "legal" terms. Finally in Stage 6 they move beyond rules and duties and start contemplating about bigger pictures on universal moral principles, human rights, dignity etc. I like this definition of moral progression, although I'm not sure all children graduate to stage 6... otherwise we wouldn't have adults who are stunted at Stage 2.
2. Apparently men and women have a different sense of morality; men are driven towards a more justice driven approach calling for equality, whereas women gear towards a care based approach emphasizing on empathy, compassion and mercy (and the need to minimize "hurt"). Stereotypical you think? Well, research studies don't lie ;)
3. While we all argue about the relativism of Moral philosophy and how it's almost impossible to define a code of absolute ethics, Kidder argues that there are some universal tenets by which we all abide, no matter the circumstance, or era. As a thought experiment, if you were put in a parachute (not a helium balloon), floated down to some random place/village/city in the world, grabbed an item belonging to the first person you met and tried to run with it, it will be clearly unacceptable, no matter what religion, time period or race. Every moral principle shares a common core. Often times, moral dilemmas don't arise merely out of differences in values/principles, but they are based on differences in definitions, specific to a context. We all know killing is bad... but what defines killing? When does life start and when does it end? These are ethereal questions with no definitive answers, but are based only on faith and opinions.

The term "Good" in the title might bother a few people - how can a book dealing with the tangled web of moral philosophy use such an ambiguous word in such an obviously simple manner? Who are good people? What makes them good? For one, I'm not suggesting that I'm one of those good paragons of virtues due to my reading this book. From my understanding, a "good" person in this context, refers to anybody who has a strong enough moral conscience to recognize a situation involving a clash of values, wherein the choices available to them are not easily discernible as "right" versus "wrong", as defined by their personal principles and moral conscientiousness. If a person insists on making a decision that is probably "more right", and more ethically reasoned than the other, then Kidder first asks them to ascertain the nature of values that are in conflict, by using these moral paradigms as tools for analysis:
1. Justice versus Mercy
Is your moral dilemma a tug between justice and mercy? While it is wrong to kill, euthanasia is seen as a merciful act to relieve suffering. While it is right to uphold justice by punishing the guilty, sometimes it is equally right to forgive and be merciful.
2. Short-term versus Long-term
Does the impending moral decision fit the short-term or long-term? While it is logical that long-term makes up the short-term, one needs to live through the short-term moment to be able to be a part of the long-term.
3. Individual versus Community
Does the "right versus right" dilemma involve serving an individual at the cost of a community, or vice versa? As important as it is to keep in mind the welfare of the community, it is us individuals who make up the community.
4. Truth versus Loyalty
Probably one of the most common dilemmas we face in day-to-day life. Human relationships are precious. No matter how hard the brutal light of truth glares at us, we humans incur a terrible emotional cost by jeopardizing relationships.

Having identified where our moral dilemma sits, we have isolated the issues at hand. We now know what values are at stake and in battle with each other. The next step is in resolving which value is to be chosen over the other. Kidder brings to use the commonly used ethical principles of resolution:
1. Utilitarianism, or ends-based thinking
It echoes "greatest good for greatest number". Predict your consequences, add up the losses and gains and pick the decision that yields optimal results. The only problems are - how does one add up emotions, and how does one predict all possible consequences? Not knowing whether tomorrow will even dawn, our knowledge of predicting long-term consequences is limited.
2. Kant's Categorical Imperative, or rules-based thinking
Act on universalized rules. Act such that you will be comfortable with the world adopting your decision as a universalized rule. If it's wrong to lie, say the truth at all costs, even if it means that such a truth will cause immense suffering. We all realize the rigidity of this Imperative and it's non-applicability to the myriads of unique problems that arise out of specialized circumstances.
3. Care Based Rule, or Aristotle's Golden Rule
Put yourself in the others' shoes and act as you would like them to treat you, if you were in their shoes. Empathy and compassion rule higher than mere intractable rules.

Each resolution guide is of course insufficient to be used as a blind template. Each has its limitations. But one needs to make a decision at the end of the day. The decision doesn't stem out of mere analysis - it arises out of stringent, meticulous and consistent exercising of these principles until a middle ground dawns on us, or we just reach an epiphany when it all boils down to choosing an option that helps us make peace with our conscience. Kidder likens ethical fitness to physical fitness. It takes months/years of exercise to get physically fit. When we see a child struggling in the water, it's not the time to build our muscles - we need to be fit enough to just plunge and do the right thing. Ethical fitness is something that inherently builds within you, and no matter how much you analyze, you realize that you already know what to do. It's just a matter of moral courage to bring yourself to do it. It's a process, a journey - not a goal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reflections: Of Mice and Men

Well known as America's beloved classic, this book tells a short and heart-wrenching tale involving the labor class of the 1930s. Two young men lead a nomadic and oppressed life working in ranches, whilst dreaming about an ideal future where they would one day save enough money to own a farm and grow rabbits. Why did they specifically dream about rabbits and tending to them? Well, one of the men is as sweet and innocent as a child that all his life he craves for nothing more than petting anything soft and furry - be they rabbits, puppies or even mice. But the unfortunate goon has the strength of an ox, so anything onto which he showers his affectionate cuddle, ends up dying. Well aware of his ogre-like friend's misgivings, the other man plays the role of a brother, shielding him, loving him and loyally hops from one job to the other, to run away from the clumsy accidents that his friend commits at every work site. The men walk together through life, until fate plays her trick.

Steinbeck artfully brings out the callousness, loneliness, desperation and bleak hope of the poverty stricken labor class. His writing is poetically gorgeous during narration and down to earth colloquial during the dialogues. The colloquial farm-dialect added an extra layer of unique personality to each of the characters. However, since I'm not too fond of American slang, I had to labor through the dialogues.

The childlike, naive, bumbling oaf reaches to your heart instantly and lodges himself as an indelible character. The tragic ending left me on the verge of tears. The book is a sketch on the strength of friendships.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflections: The Old Man And The Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a very simple yet powerful tale about an old, withered, Cuban fisherman, and his epic struggle with capturing a great Marlin. Santiago was known for his fishing skills and gigantic conquests, but he was going through a dry phase with no luck in snaring any fish. While his peers pitied him, branding him as old, rusty and unlucky, Santiago brushes off his failures and goes on to fight for his survival through sheer will and determination. He casts off the notion that luck plays an inherent role in one's success and sets out to give every inch of his very best - body, mind and soul, to prove himself. It only seems fair that a man of such undaunted determination should meet his match in the ocean.

The tale and the struggle between Santiago and the fish can be viewed as metaphors representing many facets of life. The sea and nature itself presents the unconquerable uncertainty in our lives that teaches our place in the vastness of the universe, the ambition to hook the biggest prized fish translates to some of the gargantuan materialistic ambitions we set off on, the battle itself represents our mind-numbing chase through life to acquire such possessions, while the will to succeed and to achieve a self-fulfilling experience symbolizes our inner, deeper spiritual quests. In the end, what matters is not the materialistic possessions of our chase, but the lessons learnt via the journey - knowledge, wisdom, humility and magnanimity. As the fisherman perseveres his battle, the kinds of questions he ruminates on are thought provoking; between him and the fish, who is the enemy? Is it justifiable to hunt down a magnificent fish just because it will feed a few lives and earn him money? Is his battle for survival or for self-preservation? Is it possible to elevate to a higher spiritual plane by demonstrating such courage and determination? The thoughts maybe rhetorical but it's amazing that Hemingway could weave in so many levels of metaphors and thoughts into a seemingly simple scenario.

The writing is very succinct and simple. Hemingway's brevity still brings vivid images of the fish's battle, the fisherman's relentless struggle, the greedy predators, the rickety boat and the raging waves.

This is surely an inspirational book on courage and unbridled determination. It reminds us that success, in it's true sense, is not defined by material conquests alone; for each of us to realize ourselves, our determination needs to be tested to its limits.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reflections: The Brothers Karamazov

Hailed as Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpiece, this book is a treatise on the nature of human vicissitudes. Through the three Karamazov brothers, Dostoevsky explores the spiritual, philosophical, moral and psychological attitudes of the Russian society in the late 19th century. Born to a miserly philanderer of base morals, the three brothers are wary of inheriting the Karamazov spirit - the impulsive and violent passion steeped in lust and greed.

Dmitri: The eldest of the brothers, abandoned and neglected by his father, grows up into a roguish officer with little morals and no money. Embodying the quick and blind Karamzov passion, he represents a crass man who knows not how to lead a life of a gentleman but struggles with himself through an internal battle between good and evil. His moral conscience is tested to its limits when he realizes that his father and he have fallen for the same woman.
Ivan: The intellectual and the philosopher. The socialist who abandons faith in God and religion, yet continually struggles to understand the design of the world, the society and its people. Blessed with an over-sensitive conscience and a gruelingly critical mind, he drives himself to insanity by battling between the good and the evil in him.
Alyosha: The composed and serene monk. The implicit believer of God and religion. His robust faith guides his rational and analytical thought. With an infinite store of goodness, virtues and patience, he worries over his brothers and father.

The three brothers are woven into a drama of self-realization, murder-mystery and a courtroom analysis, packed with essays on the human psyche. Such a preface was enough to draw me into the book and persevere till the end, despite my nearly abandoning it one-fourth of the way. Reading this book was like sitting out on a cold night waiting for the meteor showers. While the wait is frustrating as one struggles to stay awake, ignoring the cold, the buzz of insects and intermittent cry of crickets, once a meteor is spotted, the thrill and excitement is boundless. As the showers start, the wait, the cold and insects are forgotten and what remains of the event is the brilliant finale. So is this book. Dostoevsky takes his time in building up the story, sketching the characters and in setting the stage for the plot to come alive, that at times, he drives the reader to a fit of boredom. Now I should add that this particular meandering tone of the book could have well been because of the inadequate English translation. Sentences were winding down like a sluggish snake, and were jagged in their composition. But after 400 pages of the book, the tone changed and I found myself re-reading several passages to soak in all the wisdom.

The contrasting characters of the three brothers have been brilliantly shaped by Dostoevsky. As Ivan betrays his faith in human goodness and morals, and only sees religion and God as inventions to keep up human morals, Alyosha serenely preaches the miracle of faith and human goodness. I have to admit that Ivan voiced most of my current thoughts - his prime assertion that the belief in the immortality of the human soul is what causes us humans to pay any heed to morality, or fear of God, resonates with mine. If we all had just one life, with no Judgment Day hanging ahead of us, we would invent our laws of survival. Ivan also emphatically argues that each one of us struggles to ebb our "evil" and base instincts to surface what is socially accepted as virtuous behavior (also recently called as the veneer theory).

Through the murder-suspense, Dostoevsky paints a fantastic and thorough picture of the role of Human Conscience. He gave voice to the human conscience and let it speak through the three brothers. He also threads in the philosophical implication of the moral responsibility of any "crime"; is the perpetrator alone responsible, or are all those who drove him to the crime also responsible? How much moral responsibility do we all carry in knowingly or unknowingly influencing another person's actions? If a car mechanic accidentally forgets to properly fix the brakes in a car, is he responsible for the accident, or is the driver who drove at 80 miles an hour, heedless to the traffic rules? How much moral responsibility do these people share? And how does one determine the punishments? What are the purposes of punishments? Retribution for the sake of revenge, or for the sake of the reformation of the individual? Is being punished by our moral conscience more torturous than any legal charge?

Dostoevsky thus elaborates on the different shades of black and white that exist within all of us. No one can be framed completely "evil" or "good". In the depths of apparent malice and base instincts can lie hidden an ocean of goodness constantly struggling to rise up, and in the heights of goodness there can be found craters of ugly and vile instincts. This realistic portrayal of human nature is meticulously brought out.

I'm also extremely impressed with Dostoevsky's psychological acuity... for a brilliant writer to have such an impeccable grasp of psychology, philosophy and spirituality speaks volumes of Dostoevsky's genius! Every time one of the brothers proclaims their opinions, the arguments are so convincing, thorough and wise that often you wonder if Dostoevsky made three different people write this book. And so is the courtroom drama... the best I have ever read. Often, the arguments from the prosecutor and the defense would be such that one argument would sound most logical to the reader. But in this book, a seemingly simple murder scene is analyzed into so many perfect pieces, that I was spellbound. And the most brilliant part was that Dostoevsky not just analyzed the crime scene from the perspective of solving the case, but from the psychological perspective of the accused and the rest of the people involved. The analysis, which he calls as the "double-edged" sword was indeed shown to both prove and disprove the same hypothesis, with outstanding logical and psychological clarity! It's pure genius for someone to prove and disprove the same hypothesis with such fool-proof logic!

I'm not sure if I found enough words to articulate the ingenuity of Dostoevsky, and this classic. This is a brilliant book embodying some of the simplest truths and the greatest wisdom concerning the human's definitely meant to be re-read several times in life. Despite highlighting all the vile human characteristics and skeptic reflection on inherent human goodness, Dostoevsky brings forth immense hope for the ability of most humans to transform and act on their conscience, which can exist with or without external faith in God.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Preemptive Justice

Chief Inspector Andrews had worked miracles in the city - murders were cut down by 90%, robberies were down by 80%, street crimes reduced by 85%, car thefts dwindled below 70%... surely the Inspector's strategy seemed to be so miraculously effective! His police authority was the first to advocate the new preemptive justice program. With advances in AI and computing, it was made possible to predict who would commit what sort of crime in the near future. People could be tested on the basis of any suspicion; if found as potential criminals, they were arrested and punished in advance. Maybe punished is the "wrong" word - potential criminals were made to go through psychologically intense programs designed to make sure they were reformed, and were released only if the above mentioned tests professed them as safe enough. Often the programs lasted a little less than a year. Andrews argued that if these potential criminals were neglected, the likelihood of them serving a higher sentence/punishment, in addition to disrupting peace in the community in the near future would be high. Yet, liberal organizations protested that it was morally wrong to force down such detentions on people who'd committed no crime. (Original Source: "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick)

It is the dream of many quantum physicists and genetic engineers to be able to predict human nature so accurately so as to benefit the progress of the entire human race - a world engulfed in peace, where children and the innocents don't suffer, where microscopic entities can no longer consume so many lives, and where we humans can finally conquer the greatest mystery that plagues us - the universe's uncertainty. This thought experiment kindles one of the many quandaries and potentially detrimental scenarios that need to be resolved if we indeed believed in having reached such a stage.

Nothing to blow us over better than numbers and statistics - hugely impressive numbers such as 90% reduction in murder is enough to convince most authorities frustrated with prior futile strategies, to immediately jump at implementing the program. The program also comes sugar-coated with reassurances that it's for the benefit of both the entire community as well as the individual, and that the reformative programs are not really "punishments". After all, isn't a reckless driver made to go through special driving seminars, even though he didn't technically commit any crime? No, doubt the justice program does sound reasonable, enticing and oh so ideal - algorithms that can accurately predict human nature, psychological programs that can guarantee reformation of the individual, and a crime-free world of peace.

Of course, some obvious questions of concern would be - 1) The extent of accuracy of these algorithms - it's hard to imagine 100% accurate binary outputs from these algorithms - For one, such outputs reduce us humans into automatons with no free-will (which is a hairy topic by itself). Further, I'm skeptical if we can ever reach a stage wherein we can so strongly draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Assuming that the output is a probabilistic estimate, how does one decide the sensitivity threshold of this estimate to determine a potential criminal?
2) What is the definition of "crime" fed into the algorithm - with the concept of morality continually evolving, will the definition of crimes be dictated by current legal specifications, or through ambiguous definitions as defined by the society?
3) What inputs get fed into the algorithm to extract this decision - the person's genes? Genome code? Brain chemistry? Environmental conditions? Nurture? Past and current behavior? Medical reports? After having recently read a book on Genomes, my take-away point was that all of the above said factors can interact in unpredictably complicated ways to determine our biological and behavioral responses. And those who are well versed in theories of physics are aware of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Laplace, and black holes. Tying with question 1, the accuracy and reliability of such predictive algorithms suffer a serious threat.

Besides, all human beings have their shades of good and bad; it is highly likely for almost all citizens of a state to be classified as a potential criminal at some circumstance/phase. From a practical standpoint, I would think it's more of a resource sink if such an extreme cautionary program is enacted.

If we hypothetically assumed that all these mysteries were solved and there did exist a foolproof algorithm with exceptionally sensitive accuracy, and there were new generations of moral philosophers who had laid down precise rules to define crimes, would this preemptive justice program be conceptually acceptable? To me, it's an irony that the human race would STILL need such a dramatic justice program despite evolving to a state of supreme intelligence wherein we could answer all of the Universe's secrets on uncertainty and resolve debates on good versus evil. If we lived in a generation that was filled with such people wiser than Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Bertrand Russell, Dawkins and other such geniuses, why should the community continue to require such mandatory crime reduction programs? If evolution of our rationality cannot seem to put our human race on the path to distinguish between good and bad, and to cohabitate peacefully, especially when there are explicit algorithms to inform us, then there seems to be no hope for our race!

Accepting this program is succumbing to the notion that we are all animals completely controlled and determined by forces beyond our rationality and will. It totally obliterates any little hope we rest on our free-will. Given these extremely disconcerting implications, this program doesn't sound right to me.