Future technologies of death

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Fri, 2 Jan 1998 22:41:22 -0800 (PST)


>Nick Bostrom:
>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 committed a crime?

I can think of several reasons for not wanting the police to scan my mind:

1) I'm guilty, I committed the crime.
2) I did not do it, but I don't believe the "crime" in question is a bad
thing so I don't want to do anything to help its enforcement.
3) I did not do it and I think the law is just, but I think such brain
scanning can lead a society to disaster so I don't want to encourage it.
4) I have no confidence in the accuracy of the procedure.

In the present day I have no confidence in the procedure, so I would only
consent to a lie detector test if I was guilty of the crime. I read of a good
way to beat the machine, put a tack in your shoe. They always start with
innocuous control questions to get a base line, "Is your name John K Clark?"
I jab my toe with the tack and say "yes", "do you have twin sisters?" I jab
my toe with the tack and say "yes", " are you 6 feet 3 inches tall?" I jab
my toe with the tack and say "yes", then they get down to business, "did you
kill Mr. Smith?" I do NOT jab my toe with the tack and say no.

Because of this the first thing I do every day when I get up in the morning
is put a tack in my shoe, after all, you never know. If you lack my foresight
try biting your lip.

>Hal Finney <hal@rain.org
>the main point, which is whether this technology should be exploited

I agree, and my answer is no. A machine that could translate the states of
neurons in my brain into memories and intentions and emotions and ideas is
pretty sophisticated, we call such a machine a "mind". I can think of a lot
of questions my lawyer would like to ask such a mind, "You say Mr. Clark
committed the murders, not O J Simpson as most assume, because he has a
memory of the crime, but couldn't this memory just be Mr. Clark imagining
what the crime must have been like based on what he read in the newspapers?"
and "is there any reason you want Mr. Simpson to come out of this looking
good" and "Do you personally dislike Mr.Clark and want to see him suffer?".
Naturally my lawyer would demand that all technological means available be
employed to determine if the mind's answers were truthful, and naturally that
would lead to an infinite regress.

>Hal Finney <hal@rain.org
>imagine two societies, one where people voluntarily agree to submit
>to these scans, and another where they don't. 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?

Assuming for the sake of argument that the technology works as advertised
I'd still much rather take my chances with being the victim of crime.
Consider the alternative, anything, literally anything that Big Brother says
is exactly the way things are going to be, if he say's nobody must ever think
bad thoughts about the government then in actuality nobody will ever think
bad thoughts about the government. Not ever.

The trouble is that if the powers that be become totalitarian, and history
tells us that sooner or later they will, then that's the way things will stay
for eternity . Nothing could ever change, revolt would be impossible.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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