Re: the "not to be born" right

Date: Sat Nov 25 2000 - 14:10:40 MST

Here is a philosophical puzzle somewhat similar to the question of
germ-line modification.

Suppose at some point we got a good cellular model of brain cells and
how they grow and develop, but we didn't have good sensing technology so
that we could take a brain apart and extract all the information encoded
in its structure and functionality. Then, suppose it were possible to
scan an embryonic brain, because it is smaller and simpler, and has less
learned information. In this hypothetical, the first upload could be
an unborn child.

The embryo would be destructively scanned and then its growth modeled.
It would undergo fetal development and then a simulated birth. At that
point it would live in a VR environment and be provided with care and
human interaction through some kind of virtual interface.

Would this be good or bad for the child? On the one hand, as Robin Hanson
has argued, the first uploads could be in a tremendously advantageous
position. On the other hand, the experiment is uncertain and the quality
of life for the child might be poor. He might even become a slave.
He might thank you for what you have done, or he might hate you (or he
might do both, in different copies). And of course there is no prospect
of getting his consent ahead of time.

If you had the opportunity to have your unborn child be the subject
of this experiment, would you? What philosophical principles would
guide you?


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