Re: Future Technologies of Death

Michael Lorrey (
Sat, 03 Jan 1998 17:33:15 -0500

Wei Dai wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 01, 1998 at 04:39:25PM -0800, Hal Finney wrote:
> > Two messages illustrate the point I was trying to make about kneejerk
> > reactions. Nick Bostrom proposed a hypothetical machine which would scan
> > a person and determine whether they had commited a certain crime, without
> > revealing any other information about them. He asked:
> >
> > > What legitimate reason could anybody
> > > have for not wanting the law enforcing agency scan his mind with this
> > > device in order to find out if he had commited a crime?
> Rights of the accused seem to function mostly as insurance against
> law-enforcement error. If the entire law-enforcement process as a whole is
> 100% accurate, then there may be no reason for the accused to have
> rights. But 100% accuracy is impossible. Even if the probability of error
> is very small, it may be that most people are risk-averse enough to want
> the accused to have the right of refusing being scanned.

I think you are exposing your miscomprehensions of prejudices. Just
because you are accused does not make you guilty, and if in the event
such technology were approved for use, I sincerely hope that it were
only used AFTER a jury had convicted. This way, the person is legally
guilty at that point, and the scan would only be used to a) give a quick
way for the accused/convicted to clear themselves without a long appeals
process, or b) to affirm that the convicted is truly guilty, so that the
jury can then feel comfortable with imposing the death penalty, to know
that the convicted is truly guilty, that they actually guessed right.

If one is accused, one is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty to
whatever shade of doubt, therefore, if one is innocent, they they should
be accorded all extension of rights of privacy. If this is not done,
you'll get a mob mentality going where people think they can accuse
anybody and just go around scanning people at will. Now, if someone were
accused, and didn't want to go through a long and expensive court
process, it could be their right to waive privacy and agree to the scan,
but this should only be available for use with units that are totally
sheilded and isolated, and their entire systems designs and construction
are available for public scrutiny to verify no possibility of violation
of privacy beyond the query of guilt for the crime with which the person
is accused.

> Another possible answer is that we want law-enforcement to be less
> efficient, not more. In an ideal world where all relationships are
> consensual, no law (unless it's unanimous) would be enforceable.

THe problem with quick and easy justice methods, is that they tend to
encourage the proliferation of laws into all aspects of one's life. This
has been seen when the guillotine was used during the French revolution.
Mere suspicion of something?? "off wit dere eds". THis method of quick
justice paved the way for wholesale slaughter of thousands on nothing
but grudges...

> If you could extract a single bit from someone's mind-state, what would
> the bit encode, and whose mind would it be?

And how would you know that the act of observation did not interfere
with the state of that which was observed????

			Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------	Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?