[ExI] Ethics of Copying Other People

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat Aug 23 19:03:29 UTC 2008

On 8/22/08, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> I reckon that an individual owns all of the information pertaining
> to himself or herself except that which may be necessary for
> the maintenance of a reasonable amount of safety of others.

We must however be aware that this is emphatically *not* how we deal
with such issues nowadays. I can write a biography of Queen Elizabeth
without asking for anybody's permission. You cannot sue me because I
told to a friend that you asked me yesterday the time of the day. Nor
Osama bin Laden can claim royalties for everything which was written
about him since 9/11, even when it did not even vaguely relate to the
safety of others.

>> The individual? Should then the biographers and historians, as well as
>> the possible "uploaders" o "emulators", be barred from recording and
>> reconstructing it against the individual concerned's will?
> I really don't see why allowing this activity would have
> costs that would outweigh the benefits.

I agree. But isn't it contradictory with the idea that an individual
"owns" all information pertaining to him- or herself?

>> Or does the information belong to those who invested in its
>> collection, in which case the person whose identity is
>> backed-up or "redeveloped" in an Omega-like computer
>> should not be able to interfere with whatever its
>> owner might like to do with it.
> Thanks for the superb questions, Stefano. I'm forced to really
> try to think this through, and I sense that already you may
> have exposed some contradictions in my views.

Not at all. :-)

Let us say that personally I am inclined to err on the side of freedom
on information and speech. In other terms, as long as my storing or
elaborating information does not involve any harm whatsoever for the
individual concerned, I do not see the point of granting him
proprietor's rights on it...

> In that case, although it would be
> revolutionary and would very , very  badly upset some
> people, privacy would be a thing of the past and we'd just
> have to get used to that. ...
> So under those circumstances, just how would we stop
> historical re-creations? In fact, just how would we stop
> your neighbor from making a copy of you the way you
> were yesterday?

In fact, "privacy" might be a rationale to do that. But the difficulty
and inconveniences of enforcing it might exceed whatever psychological
satisfaction you might derive from the fact that nobody is currently
testing an emulation of yours to see how you would react in a given
situation, or make you a subject of study or part of a work of art.

After a fashion, this is what common sense dictates out of a logical
extensions of very traditional rules.

Stefano Vaj

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