[extropy-chat] How to be copied into the future?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Apr 24 02:21:00 UTC 2007

Jeffrey writes

> Lee wrote:
> > ..."Anyone who is not acquaited with Mother Teresa's
> > multitudinous sins must read Christopher Hitchens.
> > 
> > But does this mean that Mother Teresa should stay
> > dead for *all* time if the power existed to bring her
> > back to life?  I am reminded of Calvinist
> > retribution."...
> I use a simple thought experiment when thinking about
> things like this, although I admit that it betrays my
> personal beliefs about personal identity and free
> will.
> Imagine that a perfect brain scan exists of some truly
> horrible, awful person, say Adolf Hitler. Imagine that
> the scan was made one minute before Adolf died, and
> that it is so detailed that a true Adolf would be
> resurrected if the brain scan was ever implemented.
> The question I consider is: If some future human chose
> to resurrect Adolf in this particular way, would it be
> "right" or "just" to punish this Adolf with
> imprisonment or execution?  After all, from a
> subjective point of view, he *IS* Adolf Hitler. He
> *IS* a truly monstrous and evil person. And he
> remembers doing all those horrible things he has done.
> And if he were placed in a similar context, he himself
> would almost certainly continue to do evil and
> horrible things to people; because he is still evil.

That's an excellent thought experiment. I've conducted 
some variations on it myself, though thanks for writing 
it up so well and posing the question so starkly.

My solution---up to now---has been that indeed Hitler
*should* be reanimated and with all his memories quite
intact. However, he ought also be given an enhancement
that makes it perfectly clear to him exactly what the 
causal consequences of his horrific actions were, and to
the degree that he's actually sociopathic, that too should
be repaired before he gets any further runtime. I
believe that this can be done without truly altering "who
he is". Let his subsequent remorse and soul-searching be
adequate enough punishment.

> In other words, he is entirely indistinguishable from
> the original Adolf. He *is* Adolf Hitler.
> But the question arises: Is *he*, evil Adolf, actually
> entirely responsible for this situation. Because in
> this case it was the future human who chose to give
> him life, as evil as he is.

We have to remember that both his original parents
and his later saviors acted in his best interests when
they brought him into being (i.e. arranged for him to
have further runtime i.e. further experience, and
that it's as unproductive to blame them for his actions
as it would have been (or is) to blame German
society or certain German philosophers for *his*
decisions. If we are totally free from the idea that
there are souls, and yet on the other hand are free
from the notion that uncaused events can occur,
then the Adolf Hitler system can and must logically
be held accountable for the actions it undertook.

> Similarly, none among us
> humans, even the evil ones, had the choice to come
> into existence. No-one first asked me whether or not
> I'd like to awaken within this particular Universe.
> And no-one asked any of us. Just as we might put the
> blame on the above-mentioned future human for the
> existence of evil Adolf; we might be just as justified
> in placing the blame on this (currently) unintelligent
> Universe for having created any evil person to begin
> with. What I'm trying to get at is that perhaps we
> should place blame precisely where it is justified...
> nowhere. In my opinion, we shouldn't punish solely for
> the sake of punishing. 

No, but punishment traditionally has four justifications:
(1) deterence (2) removal (3) rehabilitation, and (4)
retribution. Now while I am certainly prone to accept
even (4) (as would be seen by my actions in a scenario
in which an entity had severely harmed or destroyed
those who I love),   we still must assume that a
righteous incredibly advanced superior life form
who is beneficent would be as above that  as, say,
I would be above denying run-time to a two-year
old who'd kicked sand in a playmate's eyes.

In other words, retribution makes sense morally only
if you cannot help but have a personal stake in what
has happened.

> As others have said, that doesn't mean we shouldn't
> take practical measures to promote and protect our
> human and transhuman values. We can all, *all of us*,
> still become truly great people with more kindness and
> nobility and virtue than anything this world has ever
> seen. If we make that choice when the choice becomes
> available.
> Best Wishes,
> Jeffrey Herrlich   

Very well said!  It's something we can all strive for, yet
without sacrificing rationality at all, or taking unrealistic
views of situations. 

Best wishes always to you too, Jeffrey.  Thanks,


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