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Some characters are male, some characters are female, some can be either. The hero might have been either-able. Aerhien wasn't.

Yes, all fine and good — but why not? As Alicorn said, her sex hardly seems relevant to what limited character development she got. Aside from perhaps the eyelash line, and making the lover a woman if you wanted Aerhien to be straight, I struggle to think of anything in this story that would not work equally well if Aerhien were a man.

And besides, she was female in my mind and that's that.

See now, that's a rationale I can get behind.

makes me wonder what would happen if I tried showing off what I consider to be an actual shot at Applied Fun Theory. My suspicion is that people would turn around and criticize it

I can't tell if dath ilan (as portrayed in Project Lawful and elsewhere) is supposed to be "an actual shot at Applied Fun Theory", and I'm somewhat leaning towards thinking it isn't, but if it is, then your prediction is correct for at least one person. (Though I would probably still move there because it still sounds better than what I've got now. Honestly, I'd move there just for the Quiet Cities.)

that what we're really seeing here is contrarianism

That would not be the only explanation for people calling your "Failed Utopia" not that bad and your "Successful Utopia" terrible.

I wonder how bad I would actually have to make a Utopia before people stopped trying to defend it.

If people are defending it, maybe that means it actually just isn't that bad. I know I don't need to tell you that "badness" isn't a thing that exists in the aether, it's a function of how people feel about things. (Edit: Of course, I know "it actually just isn't that bad" isn't the only explanation for people defending it. Just thought it was an explanation worth considering.)

I don't get any informative results from looking that up, either.

I quite enjoy this story, but I seriously doubt whether it has ever succeeded in restoring a naive view of truth. If someone already had a naive view of truth, I suspect this would merely disrupt it if it did anything at all; and if they didn't already have a naive view of truth, I doubt this would help.

"You used to own a Death Note."

This is not a joke. This is the best I could come up with, given the constraint that the AI must have both witnessed the event and confirmed it via other sources.

I have an unhealthy amount of wish fulfillment fantasy regarding certain stories (or rather, certain abilities or artifacts in certain stories), but I also don't in any sense truly believe those wishes are possible. Even given the extremely high accuracy attributed to the AI, I'd have an extremely hard time believing this statement (partly because of the wish fulfillment; knowing how badly I'd want it to be true, I'd also know how much it would hurt to hope and then be wrong), but all the same, my wish fulfillment might be strong enough to override that.

Then again, unless it immediately followed up with some actionable advice on how to confirm its statement, or better yet acquire another Death Note, I might just conclude it had a catastrophic failure, or this was simply one of the 1 in 1000 times it was wrong.

Yes. Frankly I think our standards for what constitutes child abuse are, in some areas at least, far too narrow.

But later on, Michael J. Wade went out and actually created in the laboratory the nigh-impossible conditions for group selection.  Wade repeatedly selected insect subpopulations for low population numbers.  Did the insects evolve to restrain their breeding, and live in quiet peace with enough food for all, as the group selectionists had envisioned?

No; the adults adapted to cannibalize eggs and larvae, especially female larvae.

What would have happened if Wade had also repeatedly selected subpopulations for not doing that?

I found the sandbox thread but hurting people is wrong, and found the part about Quiet Cities, and I nearly cried because I can't describe how badly I want something like that and would move to one immediately if it existed.

Some scientists tried to create group selection under laboratory conditions. They divided some insects into subpopulations, then killed off any subpopulation whose numbers got too high, and and “promoted” any subpopulation that kept its numbers low to better conditions. They hoped the insects would evolve to naturally limit their family size in order to keep their subpopulation alive. Instead, the insects became cannibals: they ate other insects’ children so they could have more of their own without the total population going up. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense; an insect with the behavioral program “have many children, and also kill other insects’ children” will have its genes better represented in the next generation than an insect with the program “have few children”.

Why didn't they try also killing off subpopulations that engaged in cannibalism, and promoting those that didn't? And what would have most likely happened if they had tried that?

Aaand I forgot to come back and check the site before the day was over. Sigh

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