Mindclone Technoselves: Multi-Substrate Legal Identities, Cyber-Psychology, and Biocyberethics

Mindclone Technoselves: Multi-Substrate Legal Identities, Cyber-Psychology, and Biocyberethics

Martine Rothblatt (Terasem Movement Foundation, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2211-1.ch006
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Ethical issues arise with respect to a digitized analog of a person. Such an analog exists when a person transfers an adequate quantity of digitized memories into a database coupled to software capable of discerning, and reproducing, a close facsimile of the person’s apparent consciousness, including personality, mannerisms, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and values. This chapter refers to such a digitized analog of a person as a “mindclone.” The requisite software to create a mindclone is called “mindware,” and the database upon which mindware operates is called a “mindfile.” The purpose of this chapter is to assess two issues with respect to the ethical boundaries and cyber-psychological precepts for mindclone technoselves. First, is the legal identity of the mindclone separate from, or unified with, the identity of the biological original? Second, how does traditional bioethical analysis of biomedical actions toward people morph into a biocyberethical analysis of biomedical actions toward mindclones?
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Background On The Nature Of Identity

While identity may seem the most obvious of concepts–I am I and you are you–it has in fact been problematic for philosophers to arrive at a logically consistent definition (MacDonald, 2003). In the first instance the unique personality and memories that we associate with a person’s identity are, in fact, continually in flux (Kolak, 2004). None of us are the people we were as children. Indeed, even from day to day our memories differ, and in subtle ways so do our beliefs, attitudes and values. It can also be observed that much of what a person thinks and even how they behave is incorporated from interactions with other people. Hence, identity can latch onto neither an unchanging self, nor even a self as fully distinguished from other selves.

As Naam (2005) observes:

Neurotechnology doesn’t radically alter the nature of identity–it just brings some of the limitations of the idea into starker relief. The reality is that we’re constantly changing. Every experience we have alters us–intellectually, emotionally, neurobiologically. (p. 59)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Real Life Test: An examination of the strength and persistence of a person’s belief in a fundamental aspect of their consciousness, such as gender or personal identity, that requires the person to live for a year in accordance with their belief and to persuade one or two mental health professionals on the basis of a year’s worth of weekly or semi-monthly interviews that the belief has been implemented in practice and enhanced the overall health of the person.

Mindclone: A software-based mind that is judged by experts to be close enough in its mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values to a brain-based original mind as to share a single identity.

Cyberbioethics: The study of morality, or right from wrong, in the application of information technology to biological systems, especially people.

Mindfile: A database containing enough information about a person’s mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values that future software could discern the operations of the mind immanent in such information.

Transbeman: A person who is in a state of transition from human to beman.

Mindware: A mind operating system that replicates the functionality of a mind as discerned from a sufficiently robust mindfile.

Cyberconscious: Consciousness arising from software, as determined by psychological experts certified in consciousness studies.

Beman: A bio-electronic human, or software-based cyberconscious mind that self-identifies as being human and shares fundamental human values.

Cyber-Psychologist: A person who studies software-based minds and behaviors, especially as they relate to brain-based minds and behaviors.

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