Hell on Earth: how to imprison a person for 1,000 years

Unless they escape!

I am deeply confused by why this is news. I will grant you that it is entertaining to think about, but as has been noted, this is stuff that has been covered in an entertaining fashion by science fiction TV episodes several times over. Why do we need a “philosopher and a team of scholars” to “research” the topic and spout fanciful notions about technologies that do not exist?

…Oh, but of course: this way people will pay so much more attention to their mundane research than they otherwise would.


Yep. Incarceration - the loss of freedom - IS the punishment. There’s no requirement or utility in doubling down on that.


Unless it feeds psychically on suffering, or likes to keep tummy pets.


This is disgusting. I don’t care what crime anyone commits. I don’t want them to suffer at all. There is no evidence that stronger punishments deter criminals from their behavior, so this won’t deter anyone. All it does is torture someone. With how badly regular prison’s effect mental health, I don’t want to imagine what this would do to someone.

In my ideal world, criminals are not punished, but educated, and kept from hurting others as needed.


IS the point of prison to punish the offender? I don’t think we can just accept that as undisputed fact, going in to this little thought experiment.

I could buy the argument that the point of prison is more to separate ne’er-do-wells from honest society. Or that it’s more about dissuading would-be crooks from committing new crimes than it is retribution against those who have already done wrong.


The UN Declaration of Human Rights declares: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Likewise, the US Bill of Rights bans cruel and unusual punishment. So let’s stop fantasizing about it, and certainly, no one should work on designing such punishments because we can be confident that the first recipients will be political dissidents.


Exactly this. The premise is already flawed. And not very bright.


I’m disappointed that the philosophers ignored one of the central ethical issues surrounding long prison sentences. Namely, **after a certain point the person you’re punishing bears little resemblance to the person who committed the crime. ** Doubly so for people who committed crimes as juveniles.

I’m certainly not the same person I was 25 years ago, and I can’t imagine how different a person I’d likely be if I lived another thousand years. People change over time, even felons. Whether they change for the better or for the worse depends on many factors, including the conditions under which they were incarcerated.


I would argue that the point of imprisonment is to divert taxpayer dollars to corporations that run prisons.


I think we’re missing a trick with one key benefit that time dilatation would afford us. Instead of putting people in cages during which time most become victims themselves and in which many are put in solitary for years (31 for this poor chap: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Silverstein) and when the prisons are done with them, there is next to no rehabilitation - heck, the purpose of US prisons is punishment not rehabilitation.

Since we’re already talking SciFi with time dilation in prisons, why not add VR (like several future generations of) Oculus Rift and treadmills combined with subsequent generations of IBM’s Watson. With those technologies combined, you could sentence someone to 100 years in prison, but they could do their time in ten and instead of sitting in a cage getting raped/raping or learning how to be a better criminal, they could each have a rehabilitation program specifically tailored just for their needs. There could also be education along with “virtual” family visits. The world could be so real, that those likely to re-offend would end up offending inside that world with corrective action programmed in followed by time off or time on for good/bad behavior. Wouldn’t that, at the very least, have the potential for being better than what we have now?


I used to think prison was to keep the bad people away from everyone else but the sad reality is that prison is mainly revengeful punishment, otherwise why have a death penalty? The eye for an eye mentality has been with us for a long time and I doubt it will go away anytime soon.


Iain M. Banks would not be proud. Seriously, what possible rehabilitative value does this have? Or is it (as I suspect) just revenge fantasy? I always thought the idea of cold storage of criminals was pointless, but this is pointless and cruel.


I’m pretty sure the only crime worth sentencing someone to an eternity in prison for is the crime of inventing a method for sentencing someone to an eternity in prison.


I think this falls under the “playing God” category.

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Thank you. 1000 years isn’t justice, it’s retribution.


Got this deep and I’m first to say “Christ, what an asshole” ?

Ya know, we could even do better – drug everyone before any crime is committed. Time will pass so slowly we’ll all become terminally depressed and off ourselves before doing any crime.
I mean, really now.


She’s a philosopher and she’s doing here job – quite well, judging by the comments here, slashdot, and elsewhere.

One of the job requirements is bringing up “what ifs,” so that if and when something like this becomes possible then we (as a society) will have at least thought a little about it before hand.

You take exception to this? Why? Seems more useful than, say, a 30,000 word paper on Hagel’s take on Kant’s antimonies…


And this is why people with liberal arts degrees should NEVER EVER be allowed to wield any legislative power over scientists, engineers, and mathematicians:

Roache: “Suppose there was some physics experiment that stood a decent chance of generating a black hole that could destroy the planet and all future generations. If someone deliberately set up an experiment like that, I could see that being the kind of supercrime that would justify an eternal sentence.”


What about a drug that ages people up to “physically unable to commit the crime he/she was imprisoned for”? or at least aging the person up to the sentence length?
All bases are covered: minimal or inexistant danger of recurrence, prison time, cost-per-prisoner, in-prison crime, etc.
The basic purposes of imprisonment: deterrence and punishment would be solved, and since reform has proven not specially successful, at least this way, it might be considered a trade-off for almost immediate freedom.

Fire away, but let it sink first; after all, this is only a test. Or is it?

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