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Dear Abby,

My mother-in-law moved away last October. Before then, she was very, uh, involved in my and my spouse's life, so I was if not exactly looking forward to her departure or demise (perish the thought!) at the very least feeling ready for the next, more independent stage of my life.

I should have suspected, when she decided in October to make a trip to Transnistria, that something was up. She was in a terminal stage of whatever she had, so I should have suspected that a random trip to a breakaway region must have had a darker purpose.

It was not until a month later, when she returned (as a set of 25 speakers, 8 holo-projectors, 18 cameras and 4 drones with their individual recharging stations) that the true nature of her transformation dawned upon me. My mother in law is now uploaded and immortal, and free to pester me forever more (and constantly remind my spouse just how disappointed she is with their choice of spouse). My spouse loves their mother, so I can't just unplug the damn thing.

What can I do?

How does one get those pesky uploaded people out of one's hair if overt unplugging is not an option? Are there legal remedies, or am I on my own?

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Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Feb 5 at 2:10

18 Answers 18

up vote 29 down vote accepted

Deal with her as a person

  1. Let her know you find her behavior frustrating and upsetting. Remind her that she is a guest in your home, and make clear whatever boundaries need to be set regarding your relationship. Let your spouse know you are doing this, and how it goes.

  2. If her behavior does not improve, discuss with your spouse, the mother, and a neutral party (e.g. a family counseling therapist) the various issues and develop a solution.

  3. If the Mother-in-Law continues to be a serious problem, inform her she is no longer welcome in your home, and give her a month or so to move out.

  4. If she refuses to do so and/or continues to cause serious problems file a restraining order and/or harassment charges as appropriate.

  5. If she violates the restraining order, report this to the police (in person; calling in would be a bad idea in this specific case).

Hoping your relationship problems will just go away because the people you see as the problem are old/terminally ill is not a healthy solution even without immortality drugs.

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Nobody said it was a healthy solution... just that it sometimes works.... – Serban Tanasa Feb 2 at 22:56
On a grander scale, immortality would definitely cause issues that are now generally only solvable by attrition. – Michael Feb 3 at 6:51
+1 for staying true to the "Dear Abby" nature of the prompt. – Martin Carney Feb 3 at 22:19

Your mother-in-law comes with a remote control that has a mute button on it! What are you complaining about. I would kill for that!

More seriously:

There are only two possibilities. Either uploaded people are legally recognized as people, or they are not.

If they are, then they are bound by the same rules as the rest of us. Get a restraining order against her and when she doesn't abide by its mandates, have her arrested. How your society handles the arresting and imprisonment of uploaded people is a complicated issue, but it is not your problem. It is everyone's problem. So you are not "on your own".

If uploaded people are not legally recognized as people, then you are free to kill her. She is not protected by society. Just grab a fire axe and start swinging! Sure, she will send more drones and FedEx packages, but at her worst, you might have to resharpen your axe blade a couple times.

Also, in terms of those FedEx packages full of expensive cameras and holo-projectors and such, they arrived at your home as an unsolicited delivery; so legally, they are yours. List them on eBay and make her somebody else's problem.

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If you force an upload you would kill for that :) – Aron Feb 2 at 18:40
So, two options: you have to explain your spouse you filled a restraining order against her mom, or you have to explain that this freshly sharpened axe and her murdered mom won't stand in the way of your relationship... – sanchises Feb 3 at 10:06
option 3: make another copy and let them talk to each other... no doubt each will be as disparaging towards themselves as towards you. Maybe you can sell the TV rights :) – gbjbaanb Feb 3 at 11:44
If you chose your spouse properly, she will be as annoyed with her mother's actions as you are. If not, just leave the ax somewhere near the main sound system. She will use it on one of you eventually. – Henry Taylor Feb 3 at 13:44
"More seriously...", relatively speaking. – iamnotmaynard Feb 3 at 15:58

An "uploaded person" is a piece of software so hire someone to hack it and add code that changes its behaviors to better suit you. This is exactly as unethical as putting parental locks on the cable.

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This would of been my answer – yobddigi May 24 at 12:38

Create a virus, drop a tree on the powerline into the house on 'accident', plug USB drive into port while power is off. let virus do its work.

For optimal misdirection, have the virus target her personality instead of just deleting her from the system. Make her a sweet grandmotherly person. Have the virus work in stages, first she quits complaining about you, and then it just slowly continues morphing her personality to someone you can more easily live with. Maybe end game she asks to be unplugged.

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Make everyone happy, by uploading a copy of yourself and your spouse to a simulation!

You want to live without your MIL, she wants someone to pester and your spouse wants her mother to be happy. Just upload copies of yourself and your spouse to a virtual simulated environment, where your MIL can pester them forever and trap her there. Your spouse can occasionally "switch" into the simulation, or upload updates to her virtual personna, so she still can maintain contact to her mom, but you don't have to be with her all the time.

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Sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment for the uploaded you. Imagine sitting there all smug as you get recorded knowing you are free of her forever...then you open your eyes in the virtual environment! – Tim B Feb 3 at 13:33
@TimB Then I spend some money on some virtual benefits for the other me, virtual copies of sexy celebrities, a virtual yacht and he doesn't have to work, because I pay the energy bill for the system. Overall not bad ;-) – Falco Feb 3 at 14:43

Become Amish

The Amish don't use electricity for religious reasons. Your conversion has nothing to do you with you not liking your Mother-in-law, you just became a believer.

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I believe first just go to some long vacations away from her. Possibly somewhere without electricity.

Hopefully when you're back your spouse has already solved the problem, being unable to stand the quadrophonic version of her mom.

If not, well, threaten divorce and prepare to live up to the threat, if mom doesn't move out. Afterwards, get a restraining order. And an EMP gun.

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Bring the "Uploaded Rights Coalition" against her.

If there are a bunch of people (both flesh and binary) fighting for the Uploaded rights as in the linked question, they would really be annoyed by your Mother-in-law behavior.

She can be the bad apple that ruins all their efforts. Because she is abusing the cloudy legal status of the uploaded to harass you, she paints all the uploaded in a bad light.

Suddenly she is no longer your own problem, but their problem as well.

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Dear Serban Tanasa: Introduce her to Gigolo Joe. Provide plenty of bandwidth so they can run away together.

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This sounds like a bit of a shaggy dog so:

Mental instability? Absence of cake?

Hmm. Definitely look for job opportunities for her at Aperture Science. They do what they must, because, they can.

Avoid exposure to poison gas controls or science experiment control.

On a more serious note:

Is the mother in law legally person? If not then they could be eliminated via an EMP. However your wife may still regard her as being a person or her hardware may have been hardened ahead of time anyway.

Your wife would almost certainly fall out with her if her mother was present 24x7 - especially with potential upload induced dementia. What other tweaks to personality may be lurking beneath the innocent cake obsession? Could her behaviour further deteriorate if the upload wasn't completely perfect?

Given that theres a alleged inverse relationship between distance to inlaws and divorce rate, having a heartless(literally!) mother in law in your home would prove dangerous to your marriage. This may be the right lever to use on your wife to get her mother to move out.

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Buy a lot of candles, wine and a construction foam.

Then find new electricity company, end old contract and fail making new one for a month.

Foam all her speakers, cameras and drone and enjoy your honenymoon with your wife, wine and romantic candles, till new company restores electricity.

Your Mother-in-law would had time to meditate in total (foam) isolation about infinity and wheather the new company would also switch up all circuts breakers or not, and how long her acupacks would last.

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legal options

I think the question hangs on the legality of the annoying construct as a person.

If she had to go to a different country to be uploaded, and specifically one like you describe the situation to be, then it implies that the mindloading is not legal in the bulk of the world.

Having done that, and suppose the data is sent electronically or covertly out of that country, and the hardware that showed up at your home was sourced from normal in-country suppliers that deliver there. Perhaps some illegal work was still needed to install the mind and produce a functioning AI being in the hardware, so at least part of the equipment went there first, where the robot brain was completed, and then shipped to your home.

The AI being probably has no legal standing as a person under this political climate. Or, perhaps it is more complex and there are some recognized rights given to such beings but it is illegal to create one or traffic in them.

So, the place that sent you the stuff (the main unit housing the AI, anyway) is an illegal robot trafficking den. You should call the police, have the illegal equipment impounded to be traced back to its source. You might keep the speakers and other peripherals if they were shipped directly to you, or they might be taken as evidence.

If the police don't do that and the AI once it exists is granted rights as a being (only the initial destructive scan was illegal and only the people doing it are criminals), it still has no right to compel you to let it stay in your home. Just like any squatter or unwanted house guest, you can show it to the curb, calling the police to escort it off the premises and file a restraining order.

personal relationships

Your wife wants to continue having a friendly relationship with the AI that was her mother. That's no different than a flesh-and-blood person in terms of family dynamics. If anything, being an AI means that she doesn't require hospice care and doesn't need to stay with family, but can become independent. Her transformation freed her from the issues of the mortal flesh! Mom′ (Mom Prime) should go live on her own now that she's able to be independent again.

After taking a long vacation and having mandatory counseling for the newly uploaded, she should settle into her new “life” by getting an apartment in a complex that caters to her kind, making new friends, and then spending quality time with your wife in visits.

There will probably be support groups for family whose loved ones have been uploaded, and ways to get everyone into counseling to discuss the relationship by using the transition as a way in the door.

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There must surely be a person previously in her life she would rather spend time with than you? If there is, you can find that person, and convince that person to upload themselves as well. If not, well, you can come up with something. Maybe you can program your own simulated person, or maybe even make a copy of your mother's program. Once you have a second uploaded person in your possession that can talk to your mother in law, take all your mother in-law's outputs and rewire them to the inputs of her new friend, and all her inputs their their outputs. Now you will no longer have to listen to her, and she will have somebody to interact with forever.

What, it's all the latest wireless technology? You'll have a bit more work to do. Instead of rewiring actual wires, you'll have to re-route packets by changing the MAC addresses of your mother's peripherals and re-assigning them to protocol convertors which will forward them to her new friend and vice versa.

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Fight fire with fire. Antagonize her back. That chocolate cake tastes sooooooo good, right? Too bad she can't ever taste it again. That new couch you bought has to be the most comfortable thing in the world. It's a shame she'll never get to enjoy it. Wear headphones all the time and blatantly ignore her. Get a cat to chase the drones everywhere they go. Blast music that you know she can't stand. Put a strip of tape across the middle of her holo projector so she appears cut in half or headless. Every time she escalates, you escalate. Hilarity will ensue.

Strictly speaking it doesn't directly solve the problem, but if you do a good enough job maybe one day you'll "win" with one final epic prank and she'll realize she needs her own place again.

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Do the Kirk!

Yes, that's right. Now that your mother-in-law is uploaded into an IT system she has technically turned AI and induced self-destruction should be applied. If you do not know how to talk computers to death re-watch Star Trek - The Original Series - probably not at home though.

Several entities with artificial intelligence (like self-aware computers and androids) suffered from severe internal systems failures after they had been made aware of paradoxes or other dilemmas. Being guided by logic, these artificial intelligences were unable to cope with logically insoluble problems.

Captain James T. Kirk was quite adept at inducing self-destruction in artificial intelligences, or "talking computers to death." He achieved the feat at least four times.

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  1. Disable her I/O systems to isolate her in the system. Bonus points if you could "place" her in a bare room with minimal furniture. You could give the room a window to her Input systems, but only allow a very distorted version to be displayed.
  2. Accelerated her time experience. For example: you could set it to something like 1:100000 (1 minute realtime for you, would be about 70 days simultime for her).
  3. Re-establish contact through a channel and check if she still wants to be so involved.
  4. Rinse a repeat until a satisfactory answer is received.

Inspiration: White Christmas

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Make her operate in the matrix

Hire yourself a CS engineer, and let him create a virtual machine to hold her software. You now have your mother-in-law in a virtual box, and can feed her inputs everything you can come up with. Instead of having her monitor your everyday life, you can feed her virtual sensors, cameras and microphones an instance of your Sims 3 savegame. Or an infinite loop of the finest HardDubstepCore the cool kids are listening to.

In case your wife would like to talk to her, spoof the mother in law by using an AI such as Cleverbot. In case she suspects anything, pass off any weird behavior as the mother-in-law-3000 being defective.

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The problem is not the mother but your spouse.

Hack the mother in law and change her behaviour slowly. Something like a small change every week:

Week 1: She's no longer complaining about you not doing things around the house.

Week 2: She drops an appreciative comment about you.

Week 3: She thinks that you lying on the couch after a day at work is needed rest.

Week 4: She tells your spouse that preparing dinner for you and rubbing your feet every now and then would be a nice.


Week 19: She tells your spouse to serve you faithfully and declares that she's bored with living, time to unplug the machine.

Week 20: You actually miss that version of your mother in law. sniff, sniff...

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