Re: mental and not physical modifications may create the most "alien" people...

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 06:54:41 MST

"john grigg" <> writes:

> Mental modifications could turn out to be ultimately the most jarring to
> others. Remember in Star Trek episodes where McCoy and others are bothered
> by Spock's vulcan emotional control?

I agree with this. Some people become very worried when others do not
react the way they do (perhaps the best and funniest treatment is the
scene in Sterling's _Distraction_ where one character becomes
hysterical at the protagonist because he refuses to be upset by an
assassination attempt).

> I could see similar situations when some people decide to maintain a
> strict control over their emotions to block out possible pain or for
> added focus in their life. Others might move their emotional range
> in the opposite direction.

And since people tend to invest a lot of the way their emotions work
into their self-image, they tend to get upset when they see radical
alternatives. This is also my theory why some people become so upset
about immortalism - it threatens *their* self images since they
involve an acceptance of death. Of course, this behavior may not
remain after some cognitive optimization... :-)

> What could be very disturbing is when people decide to "turn off" their
> conscience to do ethically malicious things. Of course drugs and alcohol
> have been used for centuries in this way. Not just by individuals but also
> governments and militaries.

To take an example that came up in my "Big ideas" sf campaign: a
business leader being questioned about whether he had done some
illegal things, and answered turthfully: "I have no recollections of
ever having done so, and I consider the act deeply immoral!". But
earlier he had been much less ethical, and deliberately created an
ethical "Dr. Jekyll" personality that had no memories and had very
different values, and a "Mr. Hyde" personality with no such
inhibitions that appeared at certain points or in certain
situations. So he could continue his unethical dealings without his
conscious knowledge. Of course the real problem here is juridical: is
he guilty of his crimes, or a victim of mental insanity? Is it a crime
to do this kind of restructuring? Should Mr. Hyde be punished but not
Dr. Jekyll?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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