Re: evolved viruses

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 20:09:01 -0500

Ray Peck wrote:
> So holding a gun out to someone and burning their cocaine plants is
> force (and therefore bad), but destroying them through an engineered (or
> even a non-engineered) virus is not? Perhaps you think that gently
> injecting someone with HIV is not murder, as long as you don't hold them
> down while you do it. If not, please explain the difference as you see
> it.

The difference is major and *very* simple. If you hold a gun to someone's
head and burn their cocaine plants, and they resist you, then this perfectly
innocent person becomes an EVIL CRIMINAL and goes to jail. Coercive force
means depriving someone, not merely of choice, but of *liberty*, which are two
very different things. A free man may have but a single choice: To learn a
new programming language so he doesn't go out of business. A citizen of the
U.S.A. has thousands of choices on his income tax form, but the government is
still holding a gun to his head. Eliminating a choice is different from
coercing someone into making it.

> Depriving someone of life, liberty or property through your intentional
> actions requires force, in my book, regardless of the means which you
> employ.

There is a difference between violence and theft, as someone said the last
time I made the proposal.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.