Re: Future Technologies of Death

Michael Lorrey (
Fri, 02 Jan 1998 08:49:35 -0500

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?
> Again, look at it not as a threat to your freedom, but as a choice.

"Slavery is Freedom"
"Poverty is Wealth"
Get thee behind me satan....

> As I wrote, imagine two societies, one where people voluntarily agree
> to submit to these scans, and another where they don't. (There could
> be other cases, such as societies where people agree that they will be
> scanned only if a court finds probable cause that they may have commited
> the crime.) Which one will you prefer to live in? Will you voluntarily
> agree to be scanned in this limited and specific way, knowing that by
> doing so you will live in a world in which virtually all criminals are
> caught, and hence that the crime rate is very low? Much of the time and
> effort you spend protecting yourself today could be saved, at the cost of
> losing this part of your privacy. Some people will accept the tradeoff,
> while others won't.

"A nation which would surrender some freedoms for some measure of
security shall wind up with neither." - Benjamin Franklin

Yes, 1930's Germany traded freedoms for security from their paranoid
fears of jewish conspirators, and Russians from 1917 on traded their
freedom in its entirety for a greater measure of economic security, and
look what it got them, and the entire world for that matter. No thank

> The point is, by viewing Nick's proposal as a threat to rights and
> protections you have today, you avoid the hard part of the question.
> It's a knee jerk response. Fifth amendment, legal protections, forcing
> people to submit is wrong. Fine, we can all agree about that. But the
> question is still there. If it were done voluntarily as I described,
> so that everyone involved was informed and everyone had agreed to the
> conventions that would be followed, there are no legal problems and
> no use of force or coercion. Look at it beyond a shallow libertarian
> analysis and you have to grapple with a much harder problem.

Of course you can't ever get 100% of the people to agree on anything,
even something as simple as what kind of pizza to order, so you are left
with forcing somebody to involuntarily waive their rights, or you will
wind up making those who exercise their right to not submit into instant
social pariahs, since while the presumption of innnocence is the
standard in the legal system, it is the opposite in society. If I refuse
to be scanned then in the mind of society, I am already guilty,
otherwise why would I refuse? This is the typical argument used to
indirectly incriminate defendants and witnesses in courtrooms, no matter
what the judge says, the jury will put weight to it.

> Personally, I am sensitive about my privacy, but I could see myself
> agreeing to a rule that would allow scans under some circumstances.
> I would not want to be subject to routine scans every time there was a
> purse snatched or someone scrawled graffiti on a wall, but if there were
> some mechanism to establish a reasonable chance that I had commited a crime,
> then I could accept it. I'd expect that this would virtually never happen
> and so it could be tolerable.

Ah, a law with no teeth. SO you are talking about phantom security, not
real security. Political puppeteering. Why waste the bandwidth???

Mike Lorrey