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Scariest thought I've had in months

After the financial success of 300, what are the odds that WB will make The Dark Knight Returns? And you do realize that from that to The Dark Knight Strikes Again there's but a tiny, horrible distance, right?

* * *

Just to clear my mind from that idea, some vague and ill-formed thoughts about personhood in the UFP.

Warning: I'm not very knowledgeable about Federation laws and such - I'm just riffing on my superficial memories of the series, so this could be all wrong.

It makes little sense for a multi-species society like the Federation to have difficulties granting personhood to artificial intelligences. Given the heterogeneous nature of the entities they encounter, a default presumption of personhood must be, at the very least, a reasonable diplomatic stance.

Holodeck technology, in particular, poses worrisome questions; clearly the Federation draws the line between simulation and entity quite beyond the one implicit by the Turing test. As the Federation has granted at least implicit personhood to all sorts of non-organic beings (the classic "living energy pattern"), the decisive test cannot be one of substrate.

But if, say, an EMH isn't denied default personhood on account of his non-organicity, and clearly passes all sorts of variations of the Turing test, the only remaining criteria is that of genealogy: the Doctor isn't considered a person by the Federation legal system not because any particular characteristic he might have or lack, but because he was made.

It's a possible societal reaction to holodeck technology, yes (makes it easy to deal with all sorts of ethical and political problems), but it's a hell of a problematic one, morally.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
ratcreature
Mar. 31st, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
Huh. I never thought about it that way. I suspect it's even more disturbing with the Federation level of bio-tech. I mean, I vaguely recall that Bashir's parents enhanced him genetically (albeit illegally), so clearly there are grey areas between being "artificially made" and being "naturally grown" as well.
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
Bashir is an interesting case. They eventually accepted him -he wasn't at risk of losing legal rights- but it created some ill-will against him, and his parents were seen as being quite at fault. A legacy from the Eugenic Wars, I think.

But it proves they have the technology to raise IQs, memory, fine motor coordination, etc, all across the Federation. I find it interesting that no culture in the Federation has actually done so. Is it prohibition of genetic enhancements an explicit or implicit requisite for Federation membership?

There's a similar thing wrt technological enhancement. It seems to be accepted as palliatives (e.g., Geordi's visor, or Picard's heart), but as far as I know only the Borgs do elective "upgrading" (the Borg are a radical case of bodymod, but there are plenty of non-intrusive small little things that, at least for my unadvanced 21st century eyes, look quite tempting).
mkcs
Mar. 31st, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
Lieutenant Commander Data?
rubynye
Mar. 31st, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
There was a whole episode of TNG about the difficult legal problem, and ensuing trial, concerning Data's person-hood.

Also, wrt the scary idea above the cut: THAT's what we get for encouraging you to share scary ideas, innit? AIGH.
browncoatrebel
Mar. 31st, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
That episode was "The Measure of a Man." The Federation wanted to disassemble Data to figure out how to build more Datas (since we know Lore tunred out SO well!), but Data didn't want to be disassembled. They put his sentience on trial. Picard defended Data and ended up winning with the argument that to deny Data person status so they could make more like him would be to create a whole army of sentient slaves, which the Federation is, of course, against.

"Author, Author" was the Voyager episode that operated on the same idea but with a mostly opposite outcome. I don't at all understand, as a pre-law student, why the precedent from TMoaM didn't stand; it doesn't seem like a precedent that could be easily overturned.

Basically, the opposing definitions make no legal sense. The writers needed to consult a Constitutional attorney, as that's about as close as you could get.

(The thought just occurred to me that the Federation might not operate on precedent, but that would just be screwy--and there's no indication that they don't.)
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
Federation legal rules seem to be suspiciously pragmatic. An inclusive foreign policy implies easy requirements for personhood (e.g., that you can or could be part of a race that would be a standard component of the Federation), while relatively restrictive internal politics and culture (no genetic enhancements, heavy reliance on near-intelligent or intelligent technology, realistic Turing-sentient simulations as recreational devices) makes it more difficult for bioatypical sentients to gain legal rights.

Seen in that way, it makes a twisted sort of sense: anything that can be assimilated into standard Federation societal patterns is granted political rights, anything that couldn't, isn't.
mkcs
Apr. 1st, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Didn't the Doctor also have some sort of court case about personhood. Wikipedia thinks it ended with him getting recognition as an artist, but not a person, which is indeed scary.
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
Actually, watching that ep this evening was what triggered this post *g*.

That part of the ep was indeed scary. The Doctor is a professional, researcher, artist, interacts socially, and has more than average sense of self. They treat him as a person, but he doesn't seem to have the legal rights. I understand that it could be a natural result from available holodecks (when you can interact with software as you would with people, you no longer link face-to-face interaction with people-to-people interaction), but there are parallels that could be made with slave-holding societies in that respect.
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
Also, wrt the scary idea above the cut: THAT's what we get for encouraging you to share scary ideas, innit? AIGH.

It's a very, very depressing idea.
katarik
Apr. 1st, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
La la la, la la la, NOT IN MY BUBBLE THEY WON'T.

*sticks fingers in ears and HUMS VERY LOUDLY*
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
It's a good thing we are comic fans. That's like a Ph.D. in source selectivity.
sockich
Apr. 1st, 2007 09:30 am (UTC)
After the financial success of 300, what are the odds that WB will make The Dark Knight Returns? And you do realize that from that to The Dark Knight Strikes Again there's but a tiny, horrible distance, right?

Dude, you just really like scaring people, don't you? 'Cause seriously, that is one scary fucking thought.

It's not so bad for comics fans, because we are used to ignoring the stuff we don't like, but it would probably be all over the news, this Special Awesome Batman movie and all the casual fans would think they found something new and would talk about it and it would be really, really bad.

Um, I am feeling slightly paranoid this morning. :p
__marcelo
Apr. 1st, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
It's not so bad for comics fans, because we are used to ignoring the stuff we don't like, but it would probably be all over the news, this Special Awesome Batman movie and all the casual fans would think they found something new and would talk about it and it would be really, really bad.

*shudders* I can see that happening.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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