Trope-a-Day: Final Death/Deader than Dead

Final Death/Deader than Dead: Very much to be avoided.

Fortunately, rather hard to inflict.  Sure, you can kill the body (corpicide) readily enough, with enough bullets or other regular weapons – get both hearts, or shred the brain, or pulverize the whole thing.  But then the fun begins.  First you need to get the vector stack where the immediate backup of their mind-state is stored (and hope that it didn’t come with an emergency bug-out transmitter, or it’s already too late).  In a biological body, it’s somewhere near the base of the brain, but close enough to the surface to pull quickly in an emergency – in humanoids, the back of the neck is usual.  Cut below it and yank.  Then you’ve got to destroy that, which may itself require some exotic methods, since they’re designed to survive very large explosions up close, but is still possible.

So far, though, all you’ve done is given them some amnesia (unless they’re a Fusion or a synched cikrieth set of full-fidelity forks, in which case you need to go hunt down all their other instances, too.  Actually, you probably want to go assassinate their utility forks anyway, on general principle), because they have a backup.  In the absence of bug-out devices, it’s probably a few hours, maybe a day or two old, but at some point – quite likely right now, if they were on-line when you killed them – their incarnation insurer is going to stick said backup in a new body, and then they’ll be alive again.

So you have to crack their incarnation insurer’s security, physically or virtually, to destroy the backup copy of their mind-state.  Actually, you’re going to have to do that quite a lot, since given the business that they’re in, incarnation insurers generally keep at least triple-triple redundant copies of people’s backups, including keeping older copies, and do so in physically isolated – scattered across multiple star systems – and heavily network-secured locations just to be sure.

But if you can manage that trick, you’re good.  As long as they don’t have any backup backup copies stored in data havens, entrusted to friends, secured in hidden Oort bunkers on long-term proceed-unless-canceled wake-and-restore programs…

(And that’s even before we get to those strange folks who open-source themselves.)

Yes, permadeath is hard to arrange.

(This, incidentally, is another reason why the penalty for cognicide is so high – given all of this, in most cases it’s impossible to do without serious forward planning and therefore lots and lots of cold-blooded premeditation.)

11 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Final Death/Deader than Dead

  1. And now I’m curious as to the penalty for cognicide.

    In another transhuman SF setting I used to read, in one story, someone’s punishment for attempted regicide & poltical mass murder was to be hung. And then reinstantiated. Put on display in a museum for a day. Then hung again… Later rince repeat, down the hundreds of centuries…


    • That’d be death. (Seeing as it’s by definition not permadeath, you can usually get away with a heavy fine and some uncomfortable cognitive surgery for mere corpicide, barring aggravating circumstances. While the proud or determinedly self-integral always retain the option of electing to euthanize themselves rather than undergo the cognitive surgery, it’s not the default; and the other reason why people in-universe may casually refer to the death penalty for murder, that’s just because in a lot of the in-hot-blood cases, actual corpicide is also attempted cognicide, and the Curial courts don’t hold with the notion that passion making you stupid should be a mitigating circumstance.)

      But it’s just death. That covers prevention/non-recidivism; there literally isn’t, by their standards, any higher penalty than nonexistence; and, well, being the good folks standing up for decency and civilization, just because it’s necessary to kill a chap is no reason to be all gratuitous and in bad taste about it, what? That which must be done should be done cleanly, and all that.

      (It is, of course, sometimes quite hard to implement due to all the reasons this trope already covers, but the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity is willing to go to quite a few lengths to get the job done. First they do the conventional things: rounding up all of your ‘shells and erasing you from them, sending a formal notification to all incarnation insurers, storage providers, and data havens to as-required-by-law wipe any mind-state files with UCID/SI such-and-such and/or mindprint so-and-so, tracking down any private copies of you in or referred to in your known property or whose location can be established from a static analysis of your mind-state, and otherwise ensuring that every officially-known version of you is deleted.

      [Apart from the one the courts keep archived in dead storage just in case new evidence turns up later; they may not be able to give you the years you spent in it back, if you turn out to be innocent later on, but they can give you back all the rest of the time in the universe…]

      And then they add your mindprint to the list of officially-executed people that various bits of the mind-state handling infrastructure check, and release smart-agents onto the extranet with instructions to hunt down any mind-states bearing that mindprint they find anywhere. Even given all the above measures, you may be able to come back using some of those example measures, but people with the resources of the MoHS can ensure that you would be very ill-advised to show your mind anywhere on the extranet, use mindcasting, enter anywhere that uses noetic identity scanners – which is most advanced polities, since the mindprint only changes in computable ways from body to body – or otherwise demonstrate your existence anywhere connected to the Worlds’ current technological infrastructure.

      It’s not completely unbeatable, of course – there are holes and blacknets that serious criminals, spies, etc. can operate in usually for a limited time – but they can certainly ensure that just about anyone who manages to beat the rap this way will spend the rest of their life running, or hiding on some pretechnological hicksworld trying to act as much like Bill the Baseline as they can manage. Which may not be ideal so far as justice goes, even if lots of people would think that death would be somewhat more merciful, but it works as a deterrent – after all, it’s not the severity of punishment that deters, it’s the certainty.)


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