Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thinking about Control

Taking a break from sending out resumes and the like, because I have a pointless thought.

I was listening to a philosophy discussion on the notion of crime and punishment. If you take the approach that people are the culmination of their genetics and their environment, then you start to move away from punishing criminals for the purpose of punishing them, and into trying to correct their behavior. Basically, you take their nature and nurture into account, and retrain their brain to give the correct response (as society defines it) to get the behavior you want.

This might mean that you put people in solitary confinement - but only to ultimately change their behavior. If this does *not* create the behavior you want, then you have to consider other things.

If we assume that all actions are coming from the brain, ultimately we're talking about changing people's brain structures.

In another story I was listening to, it was with an interview of a journalist who had written a book about sociopaths. About how basically - there's no known cure or treatment for people who have this condition. Their brains are damaged, likely from birth, perhaps by something traumatic, but the empathy centers of their brain that let them put themselves into another person's position is broken.

Here's my question: what if we could fix that by implanting things in people's brains. Suppose someone designs an "empathy chip" that simulates the empathy parts of the brain of a normal person, and puts it into a sociopath. And then they can react like a normal person does. Hurting people doesn't give them a reward, because it emotionally harms them.

Or pedophiles, who we're told "can't be cured" because they have some sort of damage to their brains whether through birth or environment. If we could give them a chip that would turn off their attraction to children - what then?

How far would we go with this? How far would society go for a process that - assuming that there's a 90% success rate - turns the worst criminals into people who could have regular check ups to make sure the chip is still working, and they can be productive people.

What would the prison industry do? Fight it because they'd lose money? Would the public embrace it - or is our thirst for vengeance over correction so strong we'd say "We don't care - put the chip in them and punish them anyway?" Take the case of the "anti-pedophile chip" - what if a state decides that "homosexuality is the same thing" so they have another chip whipped up that removes someone's attraction to the same sex - would we be "ok" with that?

Ok. Enough random thoughts. Debate this while I turn my resume into a PDF and see if there's other places I should send it out to. Dance, my puppets! Dance!


The Diamond King said...

That's what Mormon Eternal Progression really is! You slowly get your brain retrained to be just exactly like everyone else's (the perfect people anyway) brain is. Heaven is a celestial brain clone factory!!


What kinds of jobs are you looking for?


John Hummel said...

@Kevin - Mostly things either in management or security. I've been keeping myself open, though. Had a few interviews, and there's one job I advance to the "face to face" on Monday that I'm rather interested in that is a project manager with security specialization.

But I'm not saying "no" to anything yet.