Sunday, November 21, 2004
No pleasure in being right
Carter's on her way west. A security camera at South Station caught her not twenty minutes after we left the FBI; she took the first bus to New York and got lost in the crowd at Grand Central Station. No way to know which route she took to get there, or even if Seattle is where she's heading at all. I think it is, though - the situation between Nat and Alexei is personal, and Nat is going to want to be there to rip Alexei apart and put him back together as a girl.
Mo and I have been talking about this, about whether Alexei deserves that. There's no doubt that he intended to do it anyway, to get into a body that didn't have the law on its trail. He's never been violent, so we assume he didn't intend to make the trail completely cold by killing "Martin" or whatever intermediate body his mind occupied before switching to another man. Maybe he just intended to drive or sail to another country where it would be difficult for the American authorities to follow him.
But, anyway, the question is, does Alexei-Martin deserve to be punished for what "Alexei Zero" or Alexei-Michelle did? I've said before that I'm a new person, made out of Michelle's body and Martin's experiences. That I consider Martin's actions my actions, try to maintain his friendships and obligations, is my decisions, but do I have any responsibility in the eyes of the law? I asked the FBI agents (a stunning number of them have been through law school; these are smart people), and they said that, legally, I'm still Michelle Garber; I may have changed my name, but that any belief that I'm Martin is all in my head, so to speak. I guess it's nice to not have to worry about those college loans, but it also, perversely, means I'd be legally responsible for switching Martin Zero's mind with Alexei-Michelle's if the Feds were looking to bring charges for unauthorized use of a drug or treatment not endorsed by the FDA.
That's the big ethical dilemna with this sort of technology/technique/process. Nobody really dies when it's used - or has so far, that we know of; of course, who knows what long term effects a billion nanomachines sitting in your brain and making transmissions will have down the road. But when it is used, two unique people cease to exist as discrete units. There are still two people afterward, with all the same body parts and memories and mental and physical constructs that form personality traits, but they're new people. Soon, unless the FBI finds them first, Alexei-Martin and Carter-Samantha will disappear, to be replaced with Carter-Martin and Alexei-Samantha. Nothing will actually be gone, but two unique things will be no more.
If I hadn't called the FBI, and gone out there instead of Carter, would one of the two new people created by the process be "Martin Zero" again, or would he be Martina-Martin, or "almost Martin" or "Martin Prime"? We're all changing every day, after all.
Maureen is trying to think about it in terms of souls, but the lack of quantifiability is throwing her. When it's all said and done, will the girl she loved just be gone forever, will she still love "her" even though the part that's supposed to be really important is housed in a man's body, or what?
And no way to find out but to wait.
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