Backup copies and criminal guilt

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red_eric red_eric's picture
Backup copies and criminal guilt

A 22nd century legal question: if an ego commits a crime (or is charged/convicted of one), but then is destroyed, would the ego's backups be liable?

What if there is a significant time gap (months or more), and the backup was created long before the crime in question was committed, or even planned? Is this something that would need to be demonstrated in court to prove innocence? Would most authorities subject the revived backup to preventive surveillance/imprisonment/psychosurgery?

I imagine the response would vary based on habitat, but I'd love to hear thoughts about what any commonly accepted wisdom would be.

bakho bakho's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

I guess that in the Inner System, if the crime was gruesome enough (blowing up life support in a hab, killing hundreds of egos, stealing a lot of money/technology/copyrighted goods) they'd just kill your morph, destroy the stack and wipe all the copies anyways? If it wasn't that bad, you probably wouldn't be punished by deletion but by expulsion, fines etc. and *all* the copies of the ego could be held accountable for that.

For the Outer System - everything is fair game, since there are no laws per se.

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Kanada Ten Kanada Ten's picture
A multifaceted response...

"They committed the crime once, they'll commit it again..." Mankind's quest to "correct" behavior finally made possible by finding backups old/young enough to reeducate. Now we can satisfy both desires: revenge and rehabilitation. Execute the guilty ego, and nurture the still innocent backup (in a safe virtual prison, naturally).

A fork split off before the crime hires you to jailbreak his iPrison after the ego is arrested.

"We already have millions of souls waiting for flesh to waste time and energy on deviants who seek to impoverish us all." Expunge the corrupted data from the substrate!

Should be a lively debate at any rate.

"Let them exonerate themselves through community service." On Earth or Echo, anywhere but here.

The wealthy well connected father sends you in his son's stead. Would you like that exile with or without coercion?

Rethink Resleeve Redo

Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

Maybe dump them into a crap morph and use them as indentured servants. Or in a crap synthmorph to work in hazardous conditions.

That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.

puke puke's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

why trust ciminal (possibly unreliable, possibly unloyal) egos with basic labor when you can just alpha-fork a maintenance AI or something?

i'd imagine (unless you're in some cast-based indentured servitude pervo land) that its all about storing the egos or running them in some sort of VR based rehabilitation system. maybe they get shuffled into storage WAITING to be rehabilitated while some of the infomorph or simply offline refugees get a shot at being booted up or given bodies.

Cosimo Il Vecchio Cosimo Il Vecchio's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

I think this issue was addressed in one of Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels, but I can't remember what solution he used. Also, I think that in Accelerando one of the characters forked herself. She sent one copy off on a (relatively) short interstellar trip and left the other to run things back at home. When one copy returned home, she was responsible for the debts of her other self. She nearly gets repossessed.

One solution would be that any instance of an ego is culpable for any crimes committed by any other instance of that ego. Such a rule would be a rather harsh deterrent. I can imagine this solution would be appealing to the more authoritarian states/habitats.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

Firewall needs to find its subjects for Watts-Mcleod strain testing somewhere, don't they? Alternatively, you can't really use a cadaver for testing new psychosurgey procedures, maybe we can cut the "criminal" out!

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Backup copies and criminal guilt

We haven't gone into legal systems a lot, but in jurisdictions where the legal framework descends roughly from what we have in industrialized western countries now, it'd probably require proving one of two things:
- If the backup is from before the crime is committed, you'd have to prove that the backup knew of the plan to commit the crime and intended to do so.
- If the backup is from afterward, you'd have to prove that it was a backup of the ego involved in the crime, not an innocent fork.
- In some cases, I could also see the backup being an accomplice, like if you had a backup based on a fork that didn't commit the crime but helped somehow.

Of course, some jurisdictions might take much more draconian measures, and the Jovian republic wouldn't necessarily recognize a backup as having any legal right at all, since the "real person" is dead.

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