100 Objects is a fairly interesting anthology about a fictive future, described by objects in their respective time periods. One that caught my eye was the Neuroethicist Identity Exam, and I thought I'd take a shot at it myself.
1. Alice makes a full backup, indistinguishable from her own personality and capable of operating independently. Who owns this backup?
The backup is a fully functional separate sentient entity, and thus its ownership belongs to itself.
Does the status of ownership change if:
a) the backup has never been run
If the backup has never been run, its ownership belongs to Alice, as the backup only merely has the potential to become a separate sentient entity, and is not yet sentient or separate. Until such time that the backup's experiences diverges from Alice's, the backup is property of Alice.
b) following the backup snapshot, Alice undergoes a significant psychological discontinuity (e.g. amnesia, major desire modification, neurodegenerative disease, etc.)
The ownership of the backup still belongs to the backup, and, depending on Alice's will, the backup may assume Alice's identity.
2. Bob fissions, creating an identical clone (Bob2). Shortly afterwards, Bob is discovered to have committed a crime, pre-fission. Who should be held responsible for this crime? Both Bob-prime and Bob2, or just Bob-prime?
Both Bob-prime and Bob2 should be held responsible for the crime, as both individuals, in their relative pasts, have committed the crime. Although only Bob-prime committed the crime, as Bob2 is identical up to the point of fission to Bob-prime, including the decision to fiss, he is also responsible for all actions performed prior to fission.
3. Cheung signs a contract. Some time later, she performs personality reconstruction. Is Cheung still bound to that contract? Does the nature of the contract, or the result of the contract, have any relevance?
Post-reconstruction Cheung is no longer bound to the contract, however, the estate of pre-reconstruction Cheung is required to pay the early termination fee prior to estate transferring to the post-reconstruction Cheung. Akin to how contracts are not transferred to next-of-kin in the event of death, contracts should not be transferred between personalities, however the ability for the contractor to collect from the estate still applies.
The nature and results of the contract have no relevance.
4. Davinder signs a living will stating that if he develops a neurodegenerative disease, he should be euthanised. When this occurs many years later, the 'much later self' (MLS) of Davinder argues that circumstances have changed and the living will that his previous self signed should no longer apply. Who is correct?
As long as MLS can argue a cogent case against euthanization, the living will that his previous self had signed should not apply. Given that the previous self was not a party in the living will, the decision to enforce the will or not should be up to the sole determination of the parties involved, which in this case is MLS and is capable of making such decisions.
However, this does not apply if his previous self is a party of the contract, for example, receiving monetary compensation for signing the living will, as the previous self has made the decision for the MLS to fulfill the contractual obligation.
For extra marks: If a backup of Davinder was made at the time of signing, should the MLS of Davinder be able to sue it for distress caused?
The MLS may not sue the backup for distress caused, as the Davidner at the time made the decision in good faith.
In addition, he cannot sue the backup for actions performed prior to the backup, as both himself and the backup are equally responsible for the actions performed prior to the backup.
5. Should backups be provided by society? How often should these backups be offered?
Society should provide backups depending on the resources available to the society. Society should only provide backups to citizens if the society has the resources to support an indefinite number of citizens, due to the widespread availability of backups leading to virtual immortality. Otherwise it would be preferable to have backups offered commercially.
Backups should be offered at the citizen's convenience, and should not be restricted based off time or scenario (apart from physical limitations, such as access to equipment, etc).
However, a limit to the number of stored backups available per individual (or derived from an individual) should be applied in order prevent the proliferation of hegemonizing minds (through a monopoly of processing power).
6. Enrique decides to undergo an experimental narrative injection therapy. The narrative that wove together and gave coherence to his experiences is modified with original insights in order to improve his view of his own life. After the therapy, he decides he is unhappy with the change. Will reversing the therapy restore him to his original self?
A perfect therapy reversal would be identical to restoring Enrique from a backup made just prior to the narrative injection therapy. This would restore the original self.
However, assuming the lack of a backup, it would be impossible to restore him to his original self, as he will retain the experience of narrative injection therapy, as well as insights gained after receiving the therapy (most notably being unhappy with narrative injection therapy). Whether this is better or worse than restoring from backup may be argued, as it circumvents the transfer and termination of identity from Enrique to the backup.
7. To what extent should someone consider the wellbeing of their 'much later self' (MLS) when undergoing desire modification that could benefit like-minded people who may share a greater degree of similarity to their present identity than their MLS?
One's concern for ones MLS should be weighed against one's concern for one's present self. Although desire modification may benefit one at the present, one must acknowledge the effects that desire modification will have on ones MLS.
8. Faith is a minor. Her religion prohibits her from creating a backup. Her parents are killed in an accident, and she is critically injured. Her remaining legal guardian wants to perform a backup on Faith. What should happen?
Backups are a personal elective right, and thus the legal guardian has no right to decide on behalf of Faith. The decision is entirely dependent on Faith's wishes. If Faith expresses or has expressed the wish to be backed up, a backup should be created, and if she expresses or has expressed the wish not to be backed up, her wish should be respected. If she has not voiced her opinion on her will, and is unable to do so, treatment should proceed without a backup, as a backup is the creation of an entirely new person, and is not a decision that can be made on behalf of someone else.
Note that a wish to be or not to be backed up should be freely expressed in a living will or any other notarized document. Hearsay and unwitnessed documents cannot be used to allow or deny the creation of a backup.
9. Glory is a Rovane-type group mind that meets the conditions of ethical personhood and agency. Glory comprises 245 individuals, but that total may increase or decrease over time. Under what conditions should Glory be considered to have become a different person or to have "died"? How do these conditions differ from those applying to non-group minds?
Glory should be considered a different person only upon a schism of the group mind. Upon the schism of a group mind, it is impossible to determine which of the remaining groups can be properly identified as the original Glory. The original Glory should be declared deceased and its estate distributed among the the multiple groups, weighted based off membership and seniority, which allows resources to be distributed based off objective similarity to the original Glory upon conception.
Other conditions where Glory should be considered deceased include when the group reaches a population of zero, or when the group decides to reidentify as a different person and retires the Glory personality.
[Note: Although I am aware of the existence of a definition for a Rovane-type group mind, I do not have access to resources that explain all that the definition entails.]
10. Henry is a self-identified fictive otherkin. He wants to permanently remap his personality and senses onto a My Daring Dragon gaming character. What criteria would you use to assess the seriousness of his request?
As long as all forms are signed accepting the sense and personality remapping procedures, and Henry is tested as legally sane, his request should be taken at face value. As long as he is willing to map onto a My Darling Dragon gaming character, and accepts all future consequences that it entails, his request should be taken seriously.