Wormcams, Resurrection, and Your Privacy


I recently finished reading Arthur C. Clarke’s “The light of other days”. It’s a fun read - I reccomend it. In the book a remote viewing device is invented (The Worm Cam) that allows people to view anything that is happening anywhere through the use of tiny wormholes. Privacy is destroyed with this invention - but that is not where it ends.

As the technology advances, the scientists realize they can use the same technology to view what happened in the past! They can not change anything, they can only be passive observers. Still, they are able to pick any time any place and see what happened there. Now all of history is open to debunking/verification. Also, anyones life can now be reviewed and any crimes they may have committed revealed.

What would be the best way to deal with the emergence of such a technology? In the book, eventually, everyone has one in their house (like the internet). Should we allow anyone with a computer to be able to see what any of us are doing at any time? What about crime? Should society go back and try all of those people who would have gotten away with their crimes otherwise? Should they be given amnesty for crimes committed prior to the invention of the device? Do we have a right to the expectation of privacy in the past if some future invention allows that right to be shattered?

The more I think about it the more I am on the fence. I cherish my privacy, but the opportunity to thorughly review an accurate history of humanity would be terrific. People having to be accountable for their actions would probably make the world a better place, but the tech could unfairly punish millions of people who were able to get away with victimless crimes. Prisons would be overloaded, and our neighbors could find out every rotten thing we’ve said about them. What a different world it would be if the workings of buisiness and government were fully transparent to everyone. It’s the individual who’s privacy I worry about the most.

Finally, in the book, the technology advances to the point where they are able to create a complete map of your body - including memories - from the moment before you died. They then decide to bring everybody who ever died back from the dead. They re-create your body (in healthy condition) and graft the memories and consiousness onto the body.

If we were to be able to resurect people - should we? What if such a resurrection was against the religious beliefs of the person being restored? We’d obviously need alot of space and resources first - billions of people have lived before. Is it OK to just assume that we should bring everyone back? Should I add a line to my will stating I want to be revived just in case?

DaLovin’ Dj

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Arthur C. Clarke

“Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology” – Harry Turtledove

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from religion” – Polycarp

What exactly did you think God was gonna do about several billion dead human bodies that He’s planning on judging the souls of on the Dies Irae, DJ? :slight_smile:

I read a story with a similar device (well, the view anything part) by Isaac Asimov. The device could be used to see in the past up to around 150 years. But you could also set it for .00000001 seconds ago and see virtually real time, which destroys privacy. The government was trying to keep the device hushed up, but one dude built his own and gave a friend blueprints which he mailed to several newspapers. But in the end privacy was destroyed, and it was left as that.

I think i’d be neat to live forever, but i’d soon get bored (about 10000 years into it) and start blasting galaxies. If i get killed, my loyal assistants will ressurect me. If my loyal assistants get killed, my other loyal assistants ressurect me and them. If someone goes bad, then…I’ll think of something by then. Probably invovling them genetically uncapable of betraying me.
But loss of privacy would have horrible, horrible reprocussions at first, then everyone would adjust and society would be better off.

Ummm . . .

Reveal himself to be a member of an advanced alien race and let on that the whole religion thing was just a big lie (created and spread by humans) meant to trick the weak minded and desperate into behaving in a manner that kept the wealth in the hands of those who already had it?

Or maybe finally tell the people that their best bet would have just been to try to find as much beauty and fun as they could while they had the gift of perception at all - instead of worrying what will happen when the gift is gone?

I’m just guessing here. Keep in mind that I am not a human who claims to have figured out how the Universe got here or why. I happen to feel that there is not enough data to make a conclusion one way or the other. One thing is for sure, if based on my not having seen enough evidence to believe in a book written by primitive humans over a thousand years before I was born (before science had it’s current tools), claiming to know all about the creation of a Universe trillions of times the size of our solar system, the creator would punish me by an eternity of burning - he can go screw himself as far as I’m concerned. That is one God I’ll never worship - even if he shows up in my living room. Torture makes you evil in my book. I don’t care what his says.

Anyway, let’s assume the resurrection technology is developed in the next 200 years and no God has shown up yet to “Judge” anyone. The resurrection process would be accomplished by humans using definable, verifiable, physics concepts. Even if it may seem like magic to someone who lacked the proper understanding of physical reality - it ain’t magic. Just advanced tech.

Could this type of resurrection be considered to be in in violation of a person’s freedom of religion? Can we morally just bring everyone back? Should we?

DaLovin’ Dj

Just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean we must do a thing.

Maybe it is just me, but I can’t help but think of the telescreens which could never be shut off in 1984.

I don’t think that is such a “better off” place. I think it would be the ethical equivalent of selective breeding programs. I don’t enjoy the thought that my car is going to get broken into some day (statistically), but I do enjoy the wide spread use of drugs, which I feel will one day not be illegal. With the ability to inspect every person at any moment, societal growth on the skirts of legality (and hence societal shift) is killed quickly and, might I say, painfully.

Tars Tarkas:

Are you talking about resurrection or remote viewers? I’ll assume both.

1st the remote/past viewers: Just because we could see anything anywhere doesn’t mean that we should, sure. But that is not to say that there are no reasons why we should use such a device. Let’s assume it’s a pandora’s box. The device is invented and the public knows about it. Surely such a tool would make the world better in many ways. We could free the innocent in jail. It would be the greatest intelligence resource we have ever had. We could track down terrorists and figure out who has chemical and/or nuclear weapons. We could settle nearly all of the questions of religious (view Christ’s life) and historical facts. In the right hands it would be the greatest tool we have ever created.

But if it is turned on the individual in their own home to persecute them for crimes where no one got hurt, we start to have a real problem there. So how could you do it? Does the government need to have control and keep the mechanics a secret (like nuclear weapons)? Or should we all have access to keep everyone (including the government) honest? What would the world look like if neither governments nor corporations could lie to us any more?

Legally, for the individual, I would think that it would have to be setup so that “wormcam” evidence would only be admissable in certain types of crimes (violent). I would also not want to tolerate them just randomly reviewing lives for evidence of crimes. I would say “wormcam” searches would probably need a warrant based on other evidence first. Of course, no matter what rules you set up, there would be those who abuse them. I just think the potential benefits are far too great here to just forsake the device. It would have to be used.

As far as resurrection: This one is a little harder to decide. How many people do you think wanted to die when they did? How many would have lived on were they given the chance? Suppose someone was very close to death today and a doctor found a way to stabalize him and remove the danger. We would surely want the doctor to save them. Now if a technology were to come along that allowed us to resuurect the dead, then in actuality, they were never dead. We just had an inaccurate description of his condition (in the same way we can restart somebody’s heart today who would have been dead if their heart stopped 200 years ago). It really is just a treatment of a very severe medical condition. Unless of course you’re only making a copy (clone) of the person, and the REAL them remains dead. . .


Well, this is definately a danger. Is it possible to sidestep this with proper legislation? I imagine their would be a tremendous outcry against the use of the technology for criminal trials. They would need to make the laws balanced. Do you think it is even possible to have reasonable laws regarding such a device? It seems the gains are too great to just give up altogether.

What would be the results in a generation or two if everybody grew up able to look at each other at any time? With a proper legal framework, the society and it’s representation would finally come to be pretty honest forcing us to take responsibility for each other, I would think. I could be wrong. . .

DaLovin’ Dj

Dj, I suppose it is possible to have it done in theory… since the courts are supposed to assume innocence then it could only be used with consent of the person on trial. I would also imagine that it would have to be used in a manner similar to a search warrant… in fact, very similar, but much more strict qualification.

If a person was convicted of a crime that was supposed to take place on such and such a day/time/whatever, I imagine they could get information without consent from a convicted criminal if such a search would be relevant to finding missing bodies, items stolen, etc.

I agree it would be a great leap in law enforcement, but my incredible paranoia about enforcement agencies introduces a level of skepticism in me that borders on fanatical.