What a coincidence I was just recently reading Wikipedia's page on Greg Egan's Permutation City, so what may seem like a silly concept might be quite important in our future
Copies form the conceptual spine of the story, and much of the plot deals directly with the "lived" experience of Copies, most of whom are copies of wealthy billionaires suffering terminal illnesses or fatal accidents, who spend their existences in VR worlds of their creating, usually maintained by trust funds which independently own and operate large computing resources for their sakes, separated physically and economically from most of the rest of the world's computing power, which is privatised as a fungible commodity. Although the wealthiest copies face no financial difficulties, they can still be threatened because copies lack political and legal rights (they are considered software), especially where the global economy is in recession. Hence they cannot afford to retreat into solipsism and ignore what is happening in the real world.
Well, they aren't natural persons anymore; but the ones incorporealorated in the state of Delaware enjoy both civil rights and favorable tax status, so there is that...
Once we get them accepted into positions of labour with daily human interaction, we can use their worker rights to shoe-horn in some more civil rights.
After all, who would want to get rid of that nice Mister Slimer? He works all hours of the day and really seems to enjoy driving the busses around the city.
Always a friendly nod and a wink and he hardly ever slimes you, unless you're stupid enough to smoke anywhere on his nice clean bus.
Just wait till the unions get word of this!
it's an interesting question that i suppose was intended as a rhetorical headline. i personally found the article http://www.theawl.com/2011/04/when-alan-met-ayn-atlas-shrugged-and-our-tanked-economy?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheAwl+%28The+Awl%29 much creepier. especially the part about GDP, scary endings aren't as much fun.
Brilliant! Extra points for elegantly weaving Dyson and King into the story.
Now I'm waiting for the Omni piece (hey, Omny was rebooted recently, wasn't it) so I can start buliding my own portable cyclotron.
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