Join the Holosuite Regulation Board

Due to whatever improbable contrivances you care to stipulate, Star Trek holosuite techology becomes available in the real world. Your nation’s government, having seen more than a few Voyager episodes, shudders in horror. They also appoint the members of the Straight Dope as a oversight board, to regulate the dissemination and use of this technology.

Five minutes into the first meeting we establish two rules.

  1. At the merest hint of a spatial/temporal anomaly, every holosuite in the vicinity goes off immediately.

  2. No one–no one what-so-damn-ever–is allowed to modify the mortality protocols even slightly; they’re on, and they’re always to stay on, and changing the settings is a criminal offense. Do it when somewhen else is using the suite, and it’s assumed you’re attempting murder and you get arrested; do it when you’re using the room, and it’s assumed you’re suicidal and you get committed.

Beyond that the arguing starts. How many holosuites allowed per city? Are minors allowed to use them? Are users allowed to create images of living persons? Is there a maximum allowable time per day, week, or whatever that anyone can use the 'suites?

Thoughts, anyone?

Gonna need some strict privacy rules. Holosuite operators would be in an excellent position to blackmail folks…

Also gonna need strict sanitation requirements. Those things gonna have floors stickier than any porno-theatre ever…

I’m not familiar with the technology, but should there be a hygiene clause? I.e. if certain things happen in the suite, they must be cleaned up afterward to prevent the spread of disease?

ETA beaten to the … err … punch

Definite & strictly enforced time restrictions. Psychological observers might not be a bad idea.

I believe Scott Adams was right, that the holodeck will be humanity’s last invention.

Wow, great OP!

I don’t personally have an issue of creating characters from real people, but the real person might have a problem with it. I would say that anyone can easily opt-out from having their own personage used.

Holodeck Addiction would be a very real disease. Who wouldn’t want to leave fantasyland? I’d say we’d have to limit people to two hours per week, unless they’re hosting a special event, in which case they can lease it for longer.

Minors? Sure. The holodeck could be very useful as an educational tool. However, a ratings system would have to be put into place. Anything involving graphic violence or sexuality would be restricted until 18 years of age.

[Nerd] Those rules exist already in DS9[/Nerd]
AFAIR so do the ones about using someone’s image.
If anything seems to be developing sentience, it must be decompiled immediately.
No exceptions.

Or administered under a physician’s care. I can see some uses for psychiatric treatment, for example. And if that is done, I want real-time medical monitoring of the patient.

Actually, medical monitoring would be a good idea for every user, at least at the start of availability until we got used to it.

Do the holosuites have external network connections? If so, I could see people working every day in them.

Do the holosuites only simulate look/feel/sound/taste/temperature, or do they actually synthesize material objects along the lines of the “utility fog” proposals I’ve read about? Bacause if they synthesize material objects, there’s a whole other realm of regulation to manage. What if the synthesized food at your holobanquet is bad for you?

Well, that’s their first mistake right there.

  1. All images shall be designed just to the fake side of the uncanny valley so that they’re not responded to as completely real.

  2. Rule 1 shall not apply to the SDMB initiation squid.

On principle I support this. However, if someone came in with a photograph (well, hologram) of his ex-wife and sample of her voice, had a holo-double created, and proceeded to assault and rape the holodouble, then the ex-wife might have an interest in knowing.

Should there be restrictions on what sorts of fantasies one can live out? Should rape & child molestation fantasies be disallowed as dangerous, or permitted as an outlet to avoid the real offense? If users aren’t allowed to rape holocharacters, what if, oh, someone writes a holonovel adaptation, say, Titus Andronicus, centering entirely on Lavinia’s suffering. 'Cause you know there’s people who’d replay that part over and over, and those boys just ain’t right.

Wait, if I can’t use a holodeck to recreate Jareth from Labyrinth (as played the oh-so-sexy David Bowie - before he fixed his teeth), then what precisely is the point of having one?

I’d guess that since holodecks at least nominally use holograms, video and still cameras wouldn’t be able to get real-looking images because of the refresh rate. (You ever try to take a picture of a monitor with your digital camera? Same thing) That would take care of the blackmail possibilities.

Definite time limits. I’d hide it under bs about too much strain on the machinery.

You may have a point. As a compromise, how about only allowing anatomically correct recreations of real people if they come into the suite-plex with you and are willing to get scanned? In other words, I can create images of Natalie Portman as easily as my wife, as pictures of both are available; but the Natalie Portman holodupe is going to lack the naughty bits.

I see a lucrative business for licensing for celebrities so inclined.

And some piracy issues as well.

I could go with that so long as you could add on from other material. So for example, while Natalie Portman comes ala barbie, you could add on from a body bank of images that people authorized.

I really don’t think that there should be content restrictions; but rather anyone spending a significant amount of time in restricted fantasies should have to undergo a regular bi-monthly mental check-up.

my list would be as follows:

E: Educational

AA: all ages. There is nothing particularly objectionable about this scenario. It would be nothing more than you would be likely to encounter at any given public place. All light content game scenarios fall into this category. Violent interactions result in enemies “poofing” away type thing.

VG-T: Violent, a game-like atmosphere. Teen restricted, unless parental consent is given. Some language and sexuality is to be expected to advance plot. Realistic depictions of violence, but nothing too over the top when involving “real” characters. Written by holosuite authors, NPC interactions are preprogrammed and non-negotiable. So for example if you tried to assault a NPC that wasn’t fair game, the scenario wouldn’t allow the interaction, and replace you in the regen point.

VG-M: Violent, Game-like atmosphere. Adult language, interactions and depictions of the results of your violence. Immersion environment with no preprogrammed protocalls. The game will advance when you accomplish plot elements, but a player need not follow the game. Players are free to do as they please. Players can interact sexually with NPCs. 16 and up. Players logging a lot of personal time with NPCs must follow the mental wellness protocol.

R-G: Restricted game: Game-like atmosphere that is changeable by the player. Players may program anything they like within the limitations of the game. no restrictions. 18-up Mental wellness protocal restricted.

R-P: Restricted Personal: Player generated environment. mental wellness protocal restricted.

On your first point, she may want to know, but I’m not sure she has any legal right to know.

Also do not know that I’d impose any content restrictions for adults. We’re talking about a fantasy environment where nothing is real except the person renting the holosuite. It is not possible to commit a criminal act against a hologram–they are not alive, and thus have no rights.

Could just be my libertarian streak coming out here, but my inclination would be to consider the holosuite like Vegas. What happens in a holosuite stays in the holosuite. Doesn’t matter to me if somebody wants to pretend to pitch in the major leagues or live out his wildest tentacle-porn fantasies.

Also do not think I’d give celebrities or anyone else the right to restrict the use of their likeness in privately created holo-programs. The person whose image is used is not harmed in any way. In effect, it seems just a technological extension of the suite-users imagination. Yes, Allyson Hannigan is probably going to cause more than a little DNA to find it’s way to the holo-suite floor–but she’ll never know about it, any more than she knows how often that sort of thing happens today.

I would probably allow people to license commerical holo-programs featuring themselves if they choose to do so, and these might be of a higher quality than what a random individual could produce on their own…

I’m definitely not supporting any sort of mandated “mental wellness” check if somebody spends too much time in a holosuite. If the user is an adult and able to afford it, what he does inside is his own business.

The “squid”? I am not stepping into the holodeck with you!

Why not? Given the nature of a holodeck program, It might be prudent to ensure that someone who spends all his deck time in pedophilic fantasies is otherwise well, and not at risk for a criminal act. The same would go for those who engage in killing and dismembering family members or famous people over and over. It isn’t about making a judgment call on the content of their program, but rather ensuring that their meat-space interaction remains relatively normal.

I am joining this voting bloc on the enforcement board. However horrified I might be to learn that somebody goes into the holosuite to fantasize about cutting the heads off nuns and then raping them in their bloody neckholes, as long as said activity has zero effect on anyone or anything outside the holosuite, it’s nobody’s business.

I would advocate, however, for some sort of digital watermark, such that a visual recording of holosuite activity could be distinguished from reality. In other words, if you set up a scenario with holoperformers, then take in a camcorder (or the technological equivalent, in the given world), there will be no risk that the recording you make will be mistaken for a real-life event.

That would be a huge privacy issue. Would you want a recording of your holodeck activities getting on the internet?

Because to do otherwise would sanction a form of thought police. Plenty of people have all sorts of twisted, perverse fantasies, but never act on them in any unlawful way. For that matter, I think I would strictly forbid any kind of recording or other monitoring of what happens inside a holosuite. I see this technology as an extension of the imagination. The world functions just fine today without monitoring the masses for “impure thoughts”. I see no reason that holo-technology should change that.

I think the main problem is these thoughts being carried out in an environment that greatly resembles reality. It’s not a matter of legislating it as much as making sure that the people aren’t going to mix holodeck time and reality time.