The Dark Side Comes First

by Dan Walsh


Human brains are really good at using a new-found advantage to exploit stuff. The environment, animals, other humans. Sometimes this is great, like being able to exploit physics to provide clean nuclear energy to the masses, but usually these new advantages go dark before they go light. Um… nuclear bombs?

Every advantage I can think of was bad before it was good… except for gunpowder, ironically. Initially that was just for fireworks, until Europeans realized the missed opportunity to weaponize it.

I blame the survival mechanism. Evolution itself is a never ending trial and error process of discovering environmental advantages and exploiting them to the fullest. The human mind is a product of evolution so it makes sense it would function similarly. Our minds automatically lean towards the exploitative before the [antonym of exploitative]. I like to think about it in terms of Jedi powers.

Imagine you were a fresh Jedi and you just learned the mind control trick. You have the ability to make people think whatever they want.

What’s the first thing you do with it?

Um… convince a bank teller ALL the money is yours?

Make Gisele fall in love with you? (If you’re into her.)

Convince everyone to unanimously elect you president of the world?

These are all exploitative – the dark side. And that’s just mind control! Good luck finding a way to make the whole shooting-lightning-from-your-fingertips-thing into a benevolent humanitarian skill.

It’s a lot harder to come up with examples of uplifting uses of this power isn’t it?

Going back to mind control, maybe we could help people get off drugs, lose weight, and overall feel more fulfilled in life. At a large scale, we could engender ethnic / cultural tolerance and maybe (fingers crossed) create world peace. Those are all good, right? I’m kind of at a loss for more though.

Maybe that’s why power corrupts. It’s just easier.