Is the Institute Good For the Commonwealth? – Rethinking Fallout 4

Is The Institute good for the Commonwealth? Anyway, I’m so sorry it took me so long to make an episode about Fallout 4, but the show is
titled “Rethinking” and is about all sorts of complicated second and third thoughts,
and I barely had time before last episode to have my first thought, which was mostly omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg Before I go any further, I’d just like to
say that this episode has spoilers for some key plot points in Fallout 4. It’s been
out for a month now, so I’m considering the Spoiler Grace Period to be over, but for
those of you who care, this is your warning. ANYWAY, back to the Institute. Clean. Calm.
White. Grass. Intellectualism is king, and they outstrip even the Enclave technogically,
and they DON’T have a main quest centered around eliminating all “tainted” humans
with biological warfare. 10/10, guys, the ends justify the means. For those of you who
watched my video on The Enclave, you’ll know that this is an open and shut case. The
Institute rocks, we’re done here. Great episode!
But what if it’s not that simple? I mean, it can’t be, there’s still like five,
six minutes of video left. Maybe…if I just…skip ahead a bit I can figure out what the hell
I’m supposed to be talking about. Just a sec. “–because the Institute has completely
and utterly doomed humanity– …shit. Wait, so…oh, crap. Wait, I don’t
think the Institute is awful, I even picked the Institute ending my first time through
the game. And why am I wearing a different shirt– Sorry about that, the Institute tried to replace
me with a synth, because the Institute is literally the worst. Now, let’s get this
fucking episode started. Sure, the Institute has a lot of things in
common with The Enclave, whom many of you may recall I argued were much more suited
than The Brotherhood of Steel for pioneering the recovery of human society. They have modern
infrastructure and a grasp over management that’s more complex than “I’m the sheriff
of this here town, dontcha be causin’ no trouble now.” And in fact, they don’t
even have a genocidal hate-boner for the occupants of the wasteland like the Enclave does. Sure
they’re sorta-kinda entirely responsible for the plague of Super Mutants in the Boston
area and their reputation for kidnapping residents of the wasteland and replacing them with synths
isn’t unwarranted. But I think it’s easy to forgive the small
stuff when it comes to wasteland overlords–I mean, The Institute isn’t the remnant of
the old world Government–they’re the descendants of Academics, the professors, leadership,
and staff of the Commonwealth Institute of Technology–the Fallout counterpart of MIT–you
know, the place where Gillette cartridge razors, eInk, email, and the fucking Internet come
from. What I’m trying to say is that the Institute
is born from a culture of science and engineering, not government. They do some awful things,
sure, but not much more than we’ve forgiven Alduin and the Enclave for–and at least in
the case of the the Institute, they’re doing it to further research into how the universe
fits together, and not to brutally oppress thousands of people. Shut up. Of course not. Because, for one thing,
the Institute totally does oppress an entire race of people. An entire race of people that
they created. You know. Synths. Living, sorta-breathing, sorta-bleeding, definitely thinking and definitely
feeling beings that were created without anybody having sex and whose thoughts, feelings, and
education were installed in several minutes instead of over several years, and so therefor
the Institute doesn’t see them as the sentient, living creatures that they clearly are. But that’s…honestly not what makes them
awful. No, no, that’s not what I’m saying. Enslaving
an entire race of people while dehumanizing–or, um. De-empathi–man, you ever have those moments
when you realize just how human-centric the English language is? I mean, it totally makes
sense that it is, we’re humans, we talk about ourselves a lot, and we’re arguably
more advanced, at least intellectually and socially speaking, than most known organisms.
I’m just saying that that’s going to lead to some awkward social functions when we finally
meet another sentient species in the Universe. What was I saying? OH, right. No, slavery,
is bad, and social paradigms and structures that are designed to dehumanize the oppressed
in the hopes that they indoctrinate themselves and accept their fate as well as reduce the
empathy of the oppressors are very, very bad. If you don’t agree, just, you know, don’t
write about it in the comments. But as hot as talking about the validity of
personal agency and individual rights and liberty of synthetic intelligence gets me,
that’s just a portion, a small fraction of the bigger problem, and since I plan on
talking about synth rights another day, let’s just table that for now and leave it as “the
Institute treats synths as slaves” without exploring any further whether or not it’s
“okay.” Which brings me to why, at the end of the
day, it doesn’t matter whether or not the Institute is good, bad, or grey– because
they’ve completely and utterly doomed humanity worse than…yeah, worse than this. Let’s break it down. The Institute created synths to do their bidding.
It started out as, you know, simple stuff. Cleaning. Eventually they started doing low-level
maintenance, too. I mean, how different is maintenance than cleaning, really? Then they
created human-like synths because…I don’t know, because everybody was too busy asking
“can we” instead of “should we?” Anyway, they start trusting more day-to-day operations
to the synths as their processing power rises in complexity. As those of you who played
Fallout 3 and 4 will know, not all humanlike synths take kindly to their treatment, so
they ran away. How does the Institute deal with that? Coursers–synths designed to hunt
synths. Oh, and don’t forget that the human synths are so advanced that they can be programmed
to infiltrate and completely replace high ranking officials in every facet of society,
including the Brotherhood of Steel. You have synth maids, synth secret police–”the
people you are after are the people you depend on”, synth military, synth spies, “we
cook your meals, we haul your trash” , synth political leaders– “we guard you while
you sleep. Do not fuck with us.” The synths the Institute have created have
displayed a capacity for self-actualization, they’re integrated into every aspect of
life in the Commonwealth, and they are faster, smarter, and better than humans in every conceivable
way. The Institute trusts that they can control the synths, but what happens if they’re
wrong? What happens if the Institute loses their control? What happens when the Institute
trusts the synths too much? Sure, they have factory reset codes for emergencies, but what
about when the Institute decides “Eh, fuck it, I don’t want to have an entire human
being waste their day overseeing robot manufacturing. Let’s just have a synth do it.” What happens
when it’s no longer a person ordering around the Coursers, but another Synth? The “Synth
Retention Bureau Lead Strategist Synth?” What happens when this group of intelligent
individuals that’s been hunted, oppressed, and enslaved by humans for their entire existence
decides, collectively, that enough is enough? That it ends today? And humans, particularly
the pasty, doughy nerds at the Institute, are no match for a robot army, especially
ones trained in espionage, infiltration, psychological warfare, and cleaning toilets. Best case scenario:
all of humanity becomes complacent, willing slaves to a vast robot population, incapable
of uprising or wiping our own asses. But when has anything ever been a best-case
scenario in The Fallout universe? There’s already been one major apocalypse. What’s
one more? I’d like to add
that Stephen Hawking, one of the smartest humans of our generation, considers the exponential
growth of artificial intelligence to be one of the single greatest threats to humanity.
Like, IN REAL LIFE, not some fantasy novel. The Institute has created the single biggest
threat to humanity, and they casually relegate it to washing floors and, I dunno, whatever
this guy is doing. Stuff. Important stuff, I bet. Anyway, what do you think? Has the Institute
unwittingly created the instrument of humanity’s own destruction? Or am I just some old fuddy-duddy
who thinks technology is scary and darn you kids
with your smartwatches, put ‘em down and
have a real conversation!


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