Calculator

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Steven Vile was born on May 23rd of the year 2074. Seventeen years later, he would become solely responsible for the deaths of every person on the planet, causing the extinction of the human race. Fortunately, nobody was complaining or resisting as he murdered every living man, woman, and child one by one. Everybody was completely fine with it.

“I just got the new set of numbers,” Vice President Bentham said loudly as he walked into the conference room. “We’re dropping the bomb.”

The foreign diplomat shook his head. “You can’t do this.”

“Of course we can!” Bentham said, taking a seat. “We have no other choice! Our Calculator doesn’t lie!”

The diplomat frowned. “Dropping that bomb would mean killing hundreds of thousands of people!”

President Mill, at the head of the table, rubbed his chin pensively. “Killing these hundreds of thousands of people will only make the world a better place. You understand that, don’t you?”

Clenching his fists, the diplomat argued, “Killing is wrong! It’s always wrong!”

“No, no, it’s perfectly okay,” Bentham sighed. “You’re not understanding this. Calculator is always right. It looks at every variable, every possible future, and it finds the decision that will lead to maximum happiness. If Calculator thinks that destroying your country will make the rest of the world happier, then it must be done.”

“What if this Calculator is wrong?” the diplomat glared. “What if it makes a mistake?”

“It hasn’t made a mistake yet,” President Mill shrugged. “The world seems to be a fairly happy place. Honestly, every other country except for yours has started using a utilitarian code of ethics. Maybe that’s why Calculator saw it fitting to eliminate your people.”

The diplomat rubbed his eyes with his hands. “Explain this to me. Explain how this is supposed to work.”

Bentham told him, “There are two possible choices for us right now. Well, technically there are nearly infinite choices, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll say two. We either nuke your country or we don’t, right?”

“Right…” the diplomat nodded slowly.

Vice President Bentham continued, “Calculator examined these two possibilities, calculating how the future will look if we do either option. What Calculator determined is if we leave your country safe and sound, happiness levels around the world will be… moderate. If we bomb you, killing every single one of your people, then Calculator determined that happiness levels will be a fair amount higher.”

“But why?” the diplomat pressed.

“We can’t be sure,” Bentham answered. “The numbers and predictions are very complex. It would take ages to explain it all to you, and I scarcely understand it myself. It’s likely that your people are simply not as happy as the rest of the world. And thus, killing them will increase the average global happiness.”

The diplomat stammered, “But… but killing is wrong!”

“It’s utilitarian,” President Mill smiled. “They say that you can’t make everybody happy, but we can still calculate the decisions that will make the most people happy. Anybody who isn’t satisfied, we can just kill. Then the average global happiness is maximized.”

“Speaking of which,” Bentham spoke up, “we should discuss the situation with this Steven Vile person.”

“Yes, yes, we’ll discuss it later,” Mill disregarded him.

“This is ludicrous!” the diplomat shouted. “You can’t kill my people just because they aren’t as happy as your people!”

President Mill chuckled, “Well if they aren’t as happy, then we’re simply putting them out of their misery, aren’t we?”

“They aren’t miserable!” the diplomat refuted. “Maybe they aren’t ecstatic like the lunatics who live here—”

“Our decision is final,” Vice President Bentham told him sternly. “Your country will be destroyed, and that is that. You may be excused.”

The diplomat leapt to his feet. “I will not stand for this!”

“You may be excused,” Bentham said more loudly.

The diplomat marched out of the room.

President Mill sighed, “Goodness, some people are so difficult about utilitarianism. It drives me wild!”

“Yes, now can we discuss Steven Vile?” Bentham asked.

“Of course, let’s get this over with. Who is he?”

Bentham sorted through his papers, all of which were output from Calculator. “Steven Vile is a seventeen-year-old boy from the South Sector. He’s really into murder and violence.”

Mill nodded, “Ah, another one. I assume that Calculator suggested that he be killed?”

“I had assumed that would happen,” Bentham muttered, flipping through the pages. “Most serial killers decrease the average happiness, because killing is painful and saddening, but this seems to be a special case.”

“Special how?”

“Well, most serial killers enjoy killing, but this boy… he is very passionate about it! Every person that dies at his hands makes him downright elated! The trouble is… the joy that he gets from murder is more significant than the pain and suffering of his victims.”

President Mill leaned forward. “You’re telling me that Calculator… supports his actions?”

“Don’t you see?” Bentham grinned. “Murder makes him unfathomably happy, and if he kills everybody, and I mean everybody, then his happiness will be the only happiness that counts. Average global happiness will be equal to his happiness if he’s the only living person on the planet! And after killing everyone, it’ll be pure bliss!”

Mill scratched his head. “When he kills somebody, his happiness is stronger than the pain of the victim, so each kill increases average global happiness.”

“Right,” Bentham nodded.

“And if he kills everybody, average global happiness will be the highest it’s ever been in history.”

“Right,” Bentham nodded again.

President Mill clapped his hands together. “This is spectacular! If we let this Steven Vile kill everybody, the happiness ratings will be through the roof! I’ll go down in history as the greatest leader in history!”

“Well, not quite, because nobody will be alive to remember you,” Bentham pointed out. “Once Steven Vile is the last man alive, he’ll eventually die and humanity will be extinct.”

“Right, right, but the average global happiness is more important,” Mill reminded him. “This is great news. This is the best news that I’ve ever heard! We have to contact this boy right away! We need to start rounding up the citizens, preparing them for their new job!”

Bentham and Mill stood from their seats and walked to the exit. “This is the happiest that humanity will ever be!” Bentham chuckled.

One month later, after all of the horrific slaughters and terrifying attacks, Steven Vile was the last living person. And he was very, very happy.

Shortly after, mankind was extinct.

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