April 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm #5847
The ramifications of an aging population are huge. I think Bess makes excellent points in highlighting areas where the health span of a population increasing will have a great impact. One area that comes to mind for me is the criminal justice system. Of course it is foolish for me to try to place the criminal justice system of today on a future population where people often live to be 160 in the future, for undoubtedly the criminal justice system will have to evolve and change and will probably do so as slowly as the life expectancy increases. However, I feel it is important to do because these questions might be raised. Would a life-sentence have to take on a whole new meaning in both practice and within the legal system? If people commit crimes early in life, will receiving a life sentence mean 100+ years instead of 40 years? I think new forms of sentences will have to be instituted, and years would have different meanings. The problem with this is that not everyone will modify themselves to live longer lives and blanketed rules changing definitions would have serious impacts on them. Finally, a focus would have to be on rehabilitation and would criminal records have as great a sway in employment as they do now?
April 13, 2016 at 3:57 am #5851
The issue of crime has weighed heavily on my mind since the beginning of this course, and I had not even thought of the issue of punishments for these crimes becoming problematic with increased lifespans (thanks for adding that to the things I need to worry about). I agree that the justice system will likely need a major overhaul, as a life sentence will have totally different meaning. In addition, a multilayered justice system may be necessary when dealing with individuals of differing levels of enhancement, as the concept of a year may have vastly different meanings for someone who lives to be 75 and someone who lives to be 160.
What I have been worrying about is the types of crimes that will be committed in this enhanced future, and how we are going to deal with them. For example, if we reach a point in which we have bioelectronics integrated within us (i.e. internet access, private/banking information, the ability to turn on/off electronics we own, robotic limbs, etc), will it be possible for people to hack into our personal bioelectronic systems? Lets say a futuristic terrorist breaks into my bio-implant to start my car and run it into the car of an important official. How would such a crime be prevented or solved? Would I be liable because it is my system and car? What would you even call such a crime (hacking? implant hijacking?)?
An even worse scenario I have envisioned is one in which a person with robotic limbs as the result of some condition or accident, is remotely taken over by someone else. The idea that your free will could so easily be supplanted as a result of the merging of humanity with technology is quite scary, and I doubt everyone will be as effective as RoboCop in resisting such a hostile takeover of his or her mechanical parts. Thus, while enhancements may bring many benefits for humanity in the future, it may also make us more vulnerable to new types of crimes that could degrade our free will, as any electronic can be reprogrammed.
April 13, 2016 at 11:23 pm #5865
I think that beyond just longer healthspans or technology integrated within our bodies, we also need to consider how the justice system might treat emerging classes of personhood. Imagine that a chimpanzee has been uplifted to have a consciousness level comparable to that of at least an unmodified human. If this chimp commits a crime, such as stealing something from a store or committing property damage, would he or she be tried as a human being? Or would a whole new class of laws need to be created for each emerging category of personhood? This dilemma could also be extended to anthropomorphically designed machines — would they also be tried as humans, or would they need their own set of laws as well? Of course, creating a different set of laws for each category of personhood becomes problematic, because these different kinds of persons would be interacting together: an uplifted chimp could commit a crime against an unmodified human or even an anthropomorphic machine. These sorts of inter-species crimes would greatly complicate the already-complex justice system, as people already have enough difficulty deciding on sentences for crimes that their fellow human beings perpetuate against others. One can only begin to imagine how judges and juries will decide how to punish crimes against uplifted animals or machines.
April 14, 2016 at 12:34 am #5870
The potential impact of bioenhancements on the justice system is a unique aspect of the future that must be considered in great depth. The past few posts have discussed different aspects of the justice system, such as sentencing lengths and cross species crimes, however they have failed to mention the ways in which the prison system may be reformed for the better. Nearly everyone in America agrees that the prison system needs to be reformed. The main purpose of prisons is to keep society safe by keeping criminals off the streets, while also rehabilitating them to reenter society as an improved individual. If pharmaceuticals are created that could make people more moral would they be the future to rehabilitation? Could a person choose rather than going to prison they receive a pill or undergo surgery that would ensure they never committed another crime, should we make that option available to them removing the need for longer sentences? Of course, one of the most important aspects to consider when answering these questions is the value of free will.
April 15, 2016 at 6:04 am #5909
I completely agree that the justice system will need a major overhaul to account for the bioenhanced as well as those who have enhanced their lifespans. However, I think JoshW raises a few great questions, including whether or not a criminal should have the right to take an alternative form of rehabilitation instead of spending time in jail. Ultimately, I believe that it comes down to what governments and national justice systems perceive to be an appropriate sentence for crime. For example, a certain justice system may view crime to be best combatted through personal rehabilitation rather than time behind bars. In that case, perhaps pharmaceuticals such as “morality pills” may be beneficial. In my opinion, it would be difficult to ensure that a criminal no longer commits crime, even if he/she does opt to take the morality pills instead of going to jail. It also seems it would take a high degree of surveillance and effort as well as a violation of personal privacy to hold the criminal accountable. Moreover, this raises issues regarding how the justice system, government, and pharmaceutical/medical companies would be held accountable in the case that these bioenhancements meant to rehabilitate criminals still fails. In the case that a criminal opts for the rehab program yet commits violent crime, there may be drastic ramifications for the current justice system as well as all enhanced criminals.
April 15, 2016 at 6:50 pm #5946
Medicalization is a rather important concept to bring up in this debate, especially as it relates to criminality. Many individuals may have a much greater set of treatments available that currently do not exist, and an increased lifespan makes incarceration all the more torturous for long periods of time. Much of the answer to this question already rests on the way that we are currently seeking to reform our prison systems. Abolition of mandatory minimum sentencing and the institution of treatment programs are all easy to argue for, but I think that societal attitudes to prisons change with a greater emphasis on social identity. If we look to prison systems in Nordic countries, for instance, the difference is shocking. Rather than being forced to work for privileges or being subject to the common prison culture in America, facilities are rather relaxing and soothing environments. With better treatments, less perceived need for human labor, and a transformed focus on society spurred by technological surplus, perhaps the criminal justice system will look nothing like the horrors we see now. It’s nice to be hopeful, at least.
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