In the question asked by Jim2B regarding the legal personhood of uploaded personalities, my answer came to the conclusion that uploaded personalities of people would be regarded as children of the uploaded person (until they could support themselves).

Several disturbing thoughts come to me when thinking about this. Namely digital-rape and digital-retardation. An uploaded personality of someone could be spawned without their consent and/or an uploaded personality could be malformed. There is no possibility for a digital-abortion, as it were, the uploaded personality is immediately a fully aware digital person. The question of either deleting this entity or adjusting "mistakes" made in this person would be incredibly difficult to answer.

Focusing on the second thought: if society recognized uploaded personalities as legal people, would the law also prevent the repair of copy "mistakes" that led to an intellectual disability of the uploaded personality?

  • $\begingroup$ Drat you!! I have relatives in the mental health profession and I was just wondering that myself. I'll answer with some of my thoughts as soon as I finish composing them. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Oct 28, 2015 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ One area which I was considering but is not in your question was what happens when malware infects a digital personality. And what happens if the digital personality doesn't want the "fix"? $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Oct 28, 2015 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim2B I suppose a parallel to normal humans would be addictions (drugs, games, diets) or mental conditions like Stockholm syndrome. I can see cocaine or WOW being considered a flesh person malware. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Oct 28, 2015 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Another question: If there are multiple copies of the same upload around, and a defect that puts itself or others in jeopardy found in one copy was likely to exist in the others; can the court force treatment on all copies - even if the others hadn't taken actions that reveal that defect? $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Oct 28, 2015 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ If two copies have the same code they will be functionally identical in every way, do they share an Identity? $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2015 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


From the answers and comments to my original questions, I can see a sort of legal framework forming.

When the capability is first introduced; law, economics, politics, "mental health", etc. will all be caught without a framework to deal with the situation. This will resolve slowly over time to a workable & stable system.

The period before this workable system is developed could be pretty chaotic.

In the stable system I envision: The entity intending to make a copy has obligations similar to that of parenthood (a responsibility for providing support to the new copy for a reasonable period of time - amount tbd). The new copy has a term of "childhood" in which its rights are protected by its guardian (the entity which decided to have the copy made). When an upload is diagnosed with a problem, in most cases that upload will want to get the problem fixed (like with organics). In some cases, the upload will not want the problem fixed.

In the US most (all?) states have provisions for administering medical care against the wishes of the person needing that care. This mostly happens for mental health problems. Some states require two psychologists to agree that the mental health patient is a danger to themselves or others AND a court order to get the patient admitted to the hospital and treated against their will.

I imagine some similar digital equivalent to force treatment of the upload against its will.


I would say that a 'repair' would happen if it was possible. Even now we try to repair people with mental disorders, only we generally use drugs and counseling which are much less exact as changing a "few bits".

The things that would prevent it happening would start with "Is this problem repairable?" And then the next question is, "Is the individual sound enough to make a decision on if they WANT to go through with the 'fix'. And last, without the 'fix' is the individual a danger to themselves or others? Any one of those things would be part of the decision.

Though after a few screw ups, I imagine that future 'uploads' will be put into a static buffer and be double checked before actually given 'life'. So it could be erased if major issues exist and reloaded or repaired if small issues exist.

  • $\begingroup$ I was also thinking that the "medical stasis" often written about in fiction is FAR more applicable for uploads. Basically even if the upload is not "saveable" with current state of the art technology, they could be "stored/archived" for repair at a future date when our technology has advanced. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Oct 28, 2015 at 23:57

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