Sunday, September 03, 2006

Virtual Killing

Until human brain files can be uploaded, and/or AGI and avatars can make a convincing case that they are conscious, the extinguishing of virtual characters cannot be considered killing, murder or homicide but rather the destruction of personal property.

Even once there are uploaded human software files and other conscious electronic entities, destroying a run-time instance would still only constitute property damage. Not until all backup instances of source code were destroyed such that the entity could never run again could the physical world concepts of murder, homicide and suicide start to be introduced in the virtual world with any seriosity and legal consequences.

With real-time backups updating saved instances, destruction of run-time instances cannot be more than crimes of property destruction. Many interesting situations could arise such as a run-time instance discovering and reacting to a plot to expunge its source code, or an electronic entity experiencing accelerating evolution and wondering how much to update its original source code; would you want a copy of your four year old mind file?