Trope-a-Day: Death of Personality

Death of Personality: The techniques used to flush the brain of a ‘shell when its current occupant mindcasts out of it…

(Be it the relatively simple job of a cerebral bridge in resetting a Universal Noetic Architecture-compliant brain, biological or digital, to the Minimal Maintenance Architecture, or the rather more complex process of scrubbing a regular, evolved bio-brain, which starts with neural-pattern dissolvers and proceeds through a number of steps to reformat it with the Universal Noetic Architecture.)

…would do this if the body owner didn’t mindcast out first. Well, technically, it does it anyway, but a voluntary copy-and-delete is a move in law, belike.

Technically, it would be considered equivalent to any other kind of capital punishment: simple cognicide. In practice, it’s not used for that purpose, as the only reason to use it is if you wish to salvage the body, and there’s functionally no market at all for most ex-criminal ‘shells. Even if temporary financial embarrassment keeps you away from that new-body smell, there are plenty of rental vatjobs out there without icky histories attached.

2 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Death of Personality

    • Trouble is, you need brain downloading tech to get the new personality of that version in there. (Plus the high sophotechnology to create it: complete rewrites of evolved minds, which are the sort of tangled mess most evolutionary designs tend to be, require a lot of understanding.) While personality-erasing drugs existed first (although not generally useful until afterwards), dosing someone with catacinin or some such would basically dissolve all the synaptic connections responsible for their personality, but that gives you a vegetable, or at best an adult with the mind of a newborn if you also fill them full of plasticizers.

      More to the point, though, they wouldn’t see the point. It’s just as much cognicide as shooting them in the head; the original person is gone either way. The death of personality route just gives you an expensive way to create a new person who is (a) an orphan, and (b) has a body with an unfortunate history behind it, as above. Who benefits?

      (In the Demolished Man scenario, as I recall it, part of the point was to keep the talents of the demolished around without the criminal personality. I don’t think that fits with how cognition actually seems to work – personality and intellect are heavily intertwined, and nurture has a very definite effect on intelligence —

      — all of which is to say that if you brainwipe a genius and then raise them back up to adulthood, you’re rolling the dice on whether all the random factors align to give you one again. If you have sophotechnology and downloading, then you could imprint a genius-level mind-state onto the wiped brain, but if you can do that, you can just as easily stamp that same mind-state onto an arbitrary number of new brains fresh from the cloning vats. So, again, no gains to be had here.)

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