Note — Jul 24, 2022

Crimes Against Transhumanity

Charlie Stross, who these days is a transhumanist skeptic and singularity curmudgeon, asks “in a transhumanist society, what currently recognized crimes need to be re-evaluated because their social impact has changed? And what strange new crimes might universally be recognized by a society with, for example, mind uploading, strong AI, or near-immortality?” He gives a few examples through various scifi books where the conditions of intelligence or ‘aliveness’ change so much that they force a redefinition of law and/or what is considered ‘good.’ I’d especially like to draw your attention to a short story he mentions, Lena, which is “structured as a Wikipedia monograph, and absolutely horrifying by implication, for various reasons.”

A corollary of the Divine Right of Kings is that some people really aren't equal--monarchs, and by extension, aristocrats, have more rights (by religious decree) than other people, and some categories (chattel slavery springs to mind: also the status of women and children) have less. But if the People could try the King for crimes against the state, then what next? […]

Here's the thing: our current prevailing political philosophy of human rights and constitutional democracy is invalidated if we have mind uploading/replication or super-human intelligence. (The latter need not be AI; it could be uploaded human minds able to monopolize sufficient computing substrate to get more thinking done per unit baseline time than actual humans can achieve.)