Justice System Problems with the Computer Referee

The computer makes a terrible judge.  Subjective decision regarding things like intent are beyond the scope of the standard computer today.  One might be able to get a pretty good simulation of subjective decisionmaking through incredibly complicated heuristic routines, but the processing power required for these decisions many times during the course of a day, plus the added workload of running a game server itself, are way beyond the means of the modern game server.  Three generations from now, such computing power may be financially viable for the MMORPG administrator, but not right now.

This means that the implementation of even the most basic justice system, say the one proposed here which recognizes only murder, theft, and tax evasion, is a massive undertaking.  Just getting the server to understand the meaning of "aggression" can be extremely tricky.  The Ultima Online sstem, the only one in production right now, is extremely complicated and prone to failure, and the only things it can recognize via flags are aggression (first attack) and "free to attack" status via criminality, i.e. someone who robs you is fair game thereafter.  The computer cannot recognize subjective defenses for aggression like verbal goading, harassment, and other abstract ideas.

I am still in favor of the implementation of a limited justice system as a tool for behavioral consequence, flawed though a computer justice system may be.  The law is not perfect in real life, either.  All one can do is watch to see how the inventive players are exploting the system and patch it as best you can.  Having no justice system in a world that demands it (i.e. PvP+) leaves you with player-imposed justice, which is even worse, and inevitably you have a weak version of feudalism (at best) or anarchy.  Anarchy precludes almost any realistic attempt at an overall plot, and at this point you would be better served just running a server for Tribes, Quake, Starcraft, or other games specifically made for multiplayer PvP.

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