In a dystopian world (Diss Topia) of the future, being a TV presenter is a hazardous job.

All viewers have the ability to vote to save or kill a given presenter while they are on air (more specifically on-screen). When kill votes outweigh save votes the presenter is humanely shot by a carefully aimed crossbow.

I anticipate that the default state is 'save' and only when more than 50% of the audience actively vote 'kill' will the presenter be dispatched.

Can anyone suggest a fail-safe, efficient and workable system that could plausibly be set up in a dystopian near future?

I'm struggling a little with the technology. Using present day technology could this reliably be achieved? Would it be feasible via smart TVs?


Each voter must provably be watching the TV program they are voting on.

  • $\begingroup$ I assume any answer along the lines of "they're not real, no one is real, it's all holograms and fakery" is right out? $\endgroup$ – Cadence Mar 31 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ What's the purpose of this system? Why do people want to be television presenters? "Suggest a fail-safe, efficient and workable system" for what? Is there something which cannot be achieved by showing a randomly changing code on screen and requiring voters to copy it? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 31 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH: "Determine if a vote was deliberate and thought-through": Chasly is notoriously from the UK, so "deliberate and thought-through" voting is likely not a priority. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 31 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH From the perspective of a hypothetical dystopian dictatorship, I'd allow, even encourage, that kind of rash voting. Pandering to the audience's baser instincts is what reality television is for! $\endgroup$ – Cadence Mar 31 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence - The device must be tuned to the correct channel. There should be a face recognition camera on the device. I haven't decided whether it could simply detect "adult human" or whether people would have to register. If possible their gaze should be directed towards the screen. I think your idea of requiring them to log up a bit of ad time is interesting. I won't insist on it but it's worth thinking about so the option would be useful. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 31 at 14:53

In this video, Micheal Reeves explains a livestream system that allows users to launch things at his face through the YouTube chat. Replace the launcher with a gun and you're all set.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for that. I'm not sure that it would work to reliably give the majority consensus of a possible viewership of millions. I suppose with sufficient development ... $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 31 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK bug-testing this system will be a pain. Literally. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Mar 31 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @John Dvorak - I think if they test it with dummies, (or criminals) the program will still be popular viewing (as were the guillotine executions during the French Revolution). $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 31 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I'm listening... :P $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Mar 31 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @John Dvorak - That's okay - as long as you're not watching! Wait - is that a crossbow in the corner? - I'm leaving! $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 31 at 12:52

Build it into the TV Whenever you get a new TV, it has a hand-sized panel on one side with two buttons, green "save" button above the panel and red "kill" below (or vice versa) . When you first boot up the TV, you record the palmprint of everyone in the house. The biometric scanner is part of an inbuilt program that tracks which program is being watched and which of the input household members have already voted this session (I'm assuming it's the host who is up for the chop, if theres more than one person to cast a vote about there would have to be a menu popping up to pick which person to vote about).

You want to vote to bump off poor Bill? Scan your hand and push one of the buttons.

Possible pluses for the gov.: If they want, they can build spyware into the TV that automatically inputs all the registered handprints into a vast handprint database. Presto, you have a (nearly complete) database of your whole adult population (and maybe kids too?) Law enforcement (or evil militant secret police, whatever works in this case) can use this to help catch criminals and identify people, and a cross-check of new added handprints to the database can help to prevent folks from gaming the system by registering to multiple devices and voting multiple times. If someone is registered to more than one currently online and activated TV, there are penalties.

Additional thought: to prevent channel-hopping and voting for kicks, perhaps the TV must have been tuned to a program for a certain period of time before voting is unlocked (5 or 10 minutes, maybe)

P.S. I'm just assuming you have some system set up to explain why anyone would be a presenter in the first place (a punishment for pissing off the wrong person, perhaps?) The other main issue I see with your proposal is that people are much more likely to vote if they feel strongly than if they dont care. So those who really want Bill dead are more likely to vote to kill him (because they hate him, think his program sucks, or are just bored, whatever) than everyone else who thinks, "eh, Bill's fine" is to bother voting to save him. Two ways around this are a) keep track of who is watching somehow (camera?) and only have people vote to kill, with doing nothing being a save vote, or b) require everyone watching to cast either a save or kill vote. Enforcing this is probably going to be a sticky problem, though.

P.P.S. Why is being shot with a crossbow humane?

  • $\begingroup$ Yes if you notice, save is the default, so more than 50% of people must be voting simultaneously for kill before it happens. Actually, what you say is a good point. On-screen you could show a graph that indicates the level of yes versus no votes at any given time. What would be better than a crossbow? I was thinking it wouldn't be so messy. Feel free to suggest an alternative. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 31 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Less messy, maybe. Humane? Eh, not so much. But then, it's kind of hard to murder someone humanely. Depends what you want. If you are going for the appearance of "neat and humane" maybe inject them with a drug that makes them fall asleep (and never wake up). But if you want the wow factor and want to create a lovely horrific spectacle for your viewers, something like a crossbow is fine (though it might take him awhile to die, unless your shot is REALLY good. What if he moves?) Or, for more mess and effect, a guillotine. Or death by electric shock might be neat AND fun. $\endgroup$ – MarielS Mar 31 at 20:43

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