Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Tychomonger » Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:05 pm

Mitsukara wrote:I thought those were lies.

And that's terrible.

Four tens of lies! Although, is it still terrible to steal lies?

I think this is a much more pressing ethical question!
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Wizard CaT » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:26 pm

Tychomonger wrote:
Mitsukara wrote:I thought those were lies.

And that's terrible.

Four tens of lies! Although, is it still terrible to steal lies?

I think this is a much more pressing ethical question!


Stealing stolen money doesn't make it any less wrong.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Ejia » Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:42 am

Tychomonger wrote:
Mitsukara wrote:I thought those were lies.

And that's terrible.

Four tens of lies! Although, is it still terrible to steal lies?

I think this is a much more pressing ethical question!


Luthor would still steal them. There still would have to be forty of them, though.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Plasman » Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:32 pm

Plasman wrote:
Mitsukara wrote:I thought those were lies. And that's terrible.

No, they were cakes. That's edible. ;]
...You were talking about the cake story, weren't you? Or was it Raharu's quoted stuff? :?


Ohhhh...
I get it now. :blush:

So what? I never played Portal. ;]
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Mitsukara » Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:22 am

Whilest we are explaining the joke:
Image
And here you thought Superman was the dick!
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Ejia » Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:52 am

Ah, the wonderfully insane crack-laden Superdictionary.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Alfador » Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:40 am

strange_person wrote:
Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:There is only one ethical stance with regard to mind control, and it is Absolutely No Mind Control.

Mind control is just another word for 'slavery'.

It is also another word for 'death'.


You mind is you. If you don't own/control your own mind, you don't have a life of your own, or even thoughts entirely your own, and in a very real sense, you are effectively dead. A mind-controlled person is a zombie to the degree that their mind is controlled.

Just a little controlled, that much dead. Fully controlled means nobody home - you no longer exist.

How many drops of urine in your coffee begin to be too much?
What if it's consensual? I mean, some people are into that sort of thing.


I think this is exactly why Relee is asking the question. There's no such thing as too much urine in your coffee if you happen to be into watersports that much.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Tychomonger » Tue Jul 07, 2009 4:11 pm

I think that is just one of those things which it is logically impossible to experience, like death. You cannot consent to mind control because the control of your mind obliterates the you that consented to it, perhaps only temporarily.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Relee » Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:19 am

It's not the same essay I was refering to before but I've made one on a similar topic, and I thought I should post it here since it expresses a lot of the same ideas of 'ethical mind control' I was trying to figure out. It's somewhat directed more to the audience on my LiveJournal, so I'll point out that I often write stories about people getting turned into small adorable creatures. I also come up with overblown reasonable explanations for why this would actually happen.

What makes a Person?

I found myself thinking about this lately, wondering just what makes a person, and what is extrenous. I'm working on a story involving it, and I'd like to open up discussion of the ideas I'm going through.

In the story, people have complete control over biology. They can take the materials of life, living cells and various chemicals, and transform them into organs and whole living creatures, and they can disassemble them just as easily. In this world your body is not 'you' but it belongs to you, the way your wristwatch belongs to you, and your shirt belongs to you. And like those things, they can be taken away from you; debtors may pay a literal pound of flesh as bits and pieces of themselves are taken away, and criminals stand the chance of loosing most of their bodies.

Given that this society is a compassionate one that does not employ the death penalty, I began to consider the treatment and reformation of criminals. It is likely that a person could be immortal, perhaps all people could be immortal in this society, so how to deal with dangerous criminals? This leads me to two questions.

The first question is, what is death? A society such as this could alter the structure of the brain, and perhaps even alter the conciousness operating in the machinery of the brain, so as to prevent certain urges or ideas, or to alter the memories and personality of the person such that the reason they commit crimes nolonger exists. At what point do you cease altering a person who is still a particular person, and begin destroying one person and creating a new one in their body?
Even now we perscribe mandatory mind-altering chemicals and operations to criminals, such as chemical castration, anti-psychotics, electroconvulsive therapy and more. Nobody seems to think that the people subjected to these treatments are dead, but are they? And secondary to that, is it _okay_ to alter an otherwise irreformable criminal, even if it's effectively killing their old persona and creating a new one?

The second question is, what makes a person? Our bodies are made up of countless parts, cells creating organs creating systems, a huge emergent system of interlinking parts. It's difficult to say with our limited knowledge, just what is essential to a person and what is not. Appendectomies are terribly common, and I myself have had my tonsils removed. Humans born with tails almost always have them surgically removed during childbirth. Haircuts are as normal to us as a rat chewing on hard things to break their endlessly growing teeth before they become unmanagably long.
Many of our body's systems seem to work as support systems for the rest of the body and the brain, to let us move around and interact with the world, and gather food and drink to sustain ourselves. It's a question of how vital they are to a person's 'life' and 'identity'. If you remove someone's kidneys and replace them with donor kidneys, that person is still 'alive' and nobody considers them different, even though they are. One-legged Sam is still Sam, just with one less leg. The stomach, however, has half as many neurons as your brain, it's almost a sub-brain on it's own. When you feel hungry, that's the neurons in your stomach telling you what they think. If you remove a person's stomach, and provide replacement supports, perhaps cybernetics, is that person still the same person? If you replace someone's good natural stomach with a discount "Prison Stomach", does that change who they are? Yes, but they're also still the same person, aren't they? Are they?
If you accept that a person can loose their stomach and still be the same person, how much can they loose before they cease to be that person? What about the brain, it's a very complex machine, and it could be simplified. In a society that can pick and choose bits of grey-matter, swapping out parts of your brain could be the same as swapping out pieces of a computer. Perhaps literally, if you include cybernetics. What if you replace someone's 'maths processor' with a simpler model? Is the person dead after just loosing that? People get brain-damaged already, and the changes are notable, but the person is still that person, usually. How much can you take out before they're not that person anymore?

In the story I'm working on, prisoners have a lot taken from their bodies, but they are able to keep some things, or have them altered or swapped with discount replacements. Their transient parts are sold or traded away as resititution and to help pay for their reformation. Their body mass is decreased, making them short and relatively weak. Their senses are altered and simplified as well, they have a smaller range of hearing than humans so they can at least understand speech, but it's hard to appreciate a symphony. Their sight is also altered, their colour range lowered and the materials of their eyes sold to make super-eyes, or heal the blinded. They mostly see in black and white, like humans do in the dark, but they can see very bright bold colours, for warning signs.
Their minds are altered as well, and this is the extra-tricky part. There is no death penalty, so I want to find a point where a person can be altered without being destroyed. I figure there are two things I can get away with. The first is a sort of 'dumbing down', as I suggested above, swapping out parts of the brain for less efficient parts, and selling your intellect on the open market. A person's vital personality would remain, they would just not be as good at logical or artistic tasks as they used to be. The person would still have a 'criminal personality' however, and with the loss of their faculties they would seem to have even more reason to lead a life of crime. Without directly re-coding someone's personality, which I believe most would agree is a form of death, how can you reform someone in this situation? That brings me to the second thing, emotional alteration.
Where do empathy and sympathy come from? Nature or nurture? In this case it's both, as a new nature is nurtured in the prisoner's brain, and their emotional state is altered. A person's emotions will affect their choices, without altering who they used to be. Just like our emotions change as we grow older or take certain recreational substances, I believe you can alter a person's emotional nature without effectively killing them, leading to reformation. The prisoner is forced to see their crimes in a new light, and in the future they will be unlikely to want to hurt another person in any way. Further, their personality might be changed by making them more timid and easily frightened, so as to be unlikely that they would be violent again.

One problem that comes to mind is a matter of human rights issues. It might be possible in this society to do these things, but would it be tolerable? Would the people stand for it? "It could be me!" they say, and they won't let it happen? I wonder. I imagine that in this society people would be more used to the idea of swapping out parts of their brains, but for them it's voulentary. What about invoulentary modification of the precious grey matter? After all, sometimes people are falsely convicted, so there's no guarantee this wouldn't happen to an innocent person. On the other hand, this procedure allows people to get on with their lives. They might be put into a sort of forced labour or wage garnishing to pay further restitution, but they get back to their lives right away instead of being in prison using up resources and producing nothing.

The other thought that comes to mind is the potential abuse. People altered like this are easier to control, simple hard-working folk who care about eachother and tend to do what they're told. It wouldn't take much to make them extremely loyal to a corrupt regime, where people are changed into forms like these to serve as worker drones, while all of the brain-meat is enslaved for organic computers and smartening-up the world overlords. To a lesser extent, it seems like these reformed criminals would have an unfair advantage in certain job fields where their altered personality makes them the ideal worker. Soon you might have companies requiring their potential employees to undergo such a transformation just to work there. Their bodies are so simple that they consume very little and produce almost as much as a regular person.

If you didn't figure it out by now, yeah, they get turned into cutesy little munchkins. Their limited senses lead them to decorate with bright colours, and enjoy simple music. I haven't decided yet if they should still look human, or what. People might not want former criminals looking like children; there's always the chance the emotional control won't overcome a person, and they'll go nuts. I was thinking about making them look doll-like, sort of anime-style people, but that might push the uncanny valley pretty hard. Another option would be teddyfolk, making them look like living teddybears. Inhuman enough that they don't hit the uncanny valley, yet obviously still sentient. A form like that could be a bit humiliating, and really reinforce the idea that they are harmless, along with pre-concieved ideas of good behavior. Given the parts-harvest idea it would also work well, since individual fingers and toes are a luxury reformees can't afford.

Well that's basically it. I wanted to share that idea with everyone, and I'd like to hear all of your thoughts on it. Do you think I've got some interesting ideas? Do you think things could actually turn this way, or am I just trying to make my cutesy ideas seem logical while ignoring otherwise obvious flaws? In any case I hope you find this idea entertaining, and if I get to the final stage, I hope you enjoy the story as well.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby strange_person » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:56 pm

If you've got tech like that, I'd say the ethics are pretty simple: apply the absolute minimum degree of alteration necessary to prevent repetition of the offense. Anything more is cruel and/or wasteful. It's just a matter of using limited resources efficiently, to maximize the number of productive individuals.

In most cases, the simplest way wouldn't involve altering the actual personality at all. Just root through the perp's memories, excising any positive associations they had with the act in question. Even if they feel tempted to try it again, odds are they'll make the hard decisions themselves, just to avoid another bad experience. Of course, they didn't think it was a bad experience at the time, but that's okay... they don't remember it that way now, or even remember having remembered it any other way.

The rest seems like mostly rationalizing a fetish, yeah. It hinges on the assumption that cute parts would be cheaper than standard-issue ones. More likely, the cheap stuff would be rejects...lopsided, scarred, bulging with tumors that haven't gone malignant yet.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Relee » Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:39 pm

I was thinking it would come down to things like cell count. Like with the eyes, you have less cones, only the ones you absolutely need. Instead of high-quality flesh-sculpted parts, you get parts with the minimum amount of cells and chemicals for safety and operation. So, rather than sick parts, which would likely have far too many materials invested in them and should be recycled anyways, you would get simplified parts.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Alfador » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:37 am

Relee wrote:I was thinking it would come down to things like cell count. Like with the eyes, you have less cones, only the ones you absolutely need. Instead of high-quality flesh-sculpted parts, you get parts with the minimum amount of cells and chemicals for safety and operation. So, rather than sick parts, which would likely have far too many materials invested in them and should be recycled anyways, you would get simplified parts.


That's assuming that all spare parts would be manufactured, rather than salvaged from the recently deceased.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Relee » Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:46 am

Alfador wrote:
Relee wrote:I was thinking it would come down to things like cell count. Like with the eyes, you have less cones, only the ones you absolutely need. Instead of high-quality flesh-sculpted parts, you get parts with the minimum amount of cells and chemicals for safety and operation. So, rather than sick parts, which would likely have far too many materials invested in them and should be recycled anyways, you would get simplified parts.


That's assuming that all spare parts would be manufactured, rather than salvaged from the recently deceased.


Well, assuming some people still die, or leave bits of themselves that die, they would pass on to their next of kin rather than go to the government wouldn't they?
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby strange_person » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:10 pm

Ideally, yes. In practice, if the deceased didn't get their last wishes in writing (and who would, when immortality is the default option?) the good bits go to whoever has the most lawyers. A lot of the time, that'll be the government.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Monocheres » Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:24 pm

Relee this is a fascinating premise, except that you're overlooking something big: tissue rejection. Any scenario that involves wholesale recycling and transplantation of body parts between individuals slams up against the fact that our immune systems have evolved for millions of years to zero in on any foreign DNA and treat it as an invading pathogen to be destroyed. (That's why I think, for instance, that embryonic stem cells are ultimately going to prove a dead end, and adult stem cells (from your own body) are going to be the real answer to regenerating tissues and organ systems.) If you're going for verisimilitude, that puts into question the whole idea of body parts as a commodity market. But I can still see you going with a future biotech that can punish and reward people by scaling back or super-activating each person's own biology.

Maybe you can posit some wonder-drug that counteracts tissue rejection without depressing disease resistance, but that's kind of an oxymoron. On the other hand, it would be no more or less a contrivance than, say, an FTL drive. But on the gripping hand, maybe you could propose some really high-tech bioscience that's able to "reprogram" an entire immune system to recognize one (or more) additional DNA sets as "self". The result would be a true chimera: an individual who was really a mix of multiple individuals' genetic matieral. There's actually precedent for that in nature.

Why, you could even make that part of the whole quandary of what a "person" is. If you've been changed into a chimera that is partly the old you and partly somebody else's tissues, organs, and DNA (including, in particular, replaced brain structures), then are you really "you" any more?
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby Plasman » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:49 am

Doesn't a person's memories and experience have a lot to do with their personality? I know a lot has to do with their physical makeup (and their genetic history), but I would think that what you remember is what's most important. It's why diseases like Alzheimer's are so terrifying; it doesn't do any obvious damage to begin with, but the person within is slowly disappearing.
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Re: The Ethics of Mind Control

Postby strange_person » Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:16 am

Monocheres wrote:But on the gripping hand, maybe you could propose some really high-tech bioscience that's able to "reprogram" an entire immune system to recognize one (or more) additional DNA sets as "self".

It might be something as simple as resetting some physiological process to the youthful phase just before allergies are developed.
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