Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Waste Not/Want Not? A Moral/Ethical Question Re Technical Excellence

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Waste Not/Want Not? A Moral/Ethical Question Re Technical Excellence

Article excerpt

Know what really frosts me? I'm healthy, have all my brainpower, am still interested in and grateful for all that Life has taught me ... and it will all go up the flue from the crematorium at my death. You see, I am now 84 and have accumulated a fine mental and emotional library of experiences and the various conclusions and lessons living has taught me.

I realize readers will nod knowingly and tell yourselves that I might have passed this mother-lode of useful data and wisdom on to those with whom I have been in contact through the years. Granted, this is true. But there is, as we all acknowledge, a good bit of unuttered, unwritten, and unrevealed "truth" we may not have offered to those around us during the years of, in my case, eight decades.

Recall the adage "Waste Not, Want Not!" That's what I'm talking about. Isn't it, or won't it be, a shame to discard my unrevealed sagacity, when I die? I think it will! Not that my ideas and unexpressed teachings would have rescued and/or reoriented the world. But surely there might have been some applicable and maybe even imaginative thoughts to emanate from me ... but the way things are now, their rescue seems either technically and/or ethically not possible.

Technically, if mankind is so smart, how come it has not devised a system and the equipment to go with it to "siphon" (for lack of a better word) the residue of undiscovered or unreleased mental treasure from a person's brain at the time of death?

Ethically there is this issue: With or without the consent of the deceased, is it moral to withdraw information or other abstract data from a dying or dead person? And how and where should such information be used and stored? And for how long? However, these problems lie far in the future, postdating development of a mind-siphoning process and the technology necessary for its use. …

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