RE: Is the death penalty Extropian?

Billy Brown (
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 13:08:03 -0600

Max M wrote:
>You can argue that a violent criminal is not that, and I would have to
>agree. But wouldn't it be better to lock up the criminal until he can be
>rewired with nanotech drugs or something else? This way everyone would
>and there could be some sort of compensation to the victims family when the
>reformed criminal returned to society..
>Of course if somebody is uncureable it is another story, but uncurability
>a very unextropian concept ... right?

Is this re-wiring a criminal's brain against his will really better than executing him?

First, it raises very slippery, and currently unanswerable, questions about the nature of identity - if we rewrite a major portion of your personality to make sure you don't kill anyone else, are you really still you? If the answer is no, then we've just picked a high-tech method of execution.

Second, do you really think its a good idea for government to have the authority to "fix" criminals? Since there is no way to create an objective, measurable definition of sanity that an arbitrary group of bureaucrat can agree on, what we would end up with is sanity by committee. After all, as long as we're convincing you not to be a murderer, we may as well make sure you aren't a rapist or a traitor either. There is a natural tendency for this kind of "treatment" to mutate into organized mind control over time, and the only way I can see of avoiding the problem is to prohibit involuntary personality alteration completely.

Billy Brown