Every once in a while I dream the core of the story and feel a desperate compulsion to flesh it out over a day or two. To the best of my knowledge, they’re not existing stories. A few years ago (during the trip to Maine right after Ellie got out of college, in 2002) the story in question had to do with a society of telepaths who were trying to keep themselves under wraps. A trio of young telepaths new to the society had different ideas. Each believed firmly that they should be using their gifts to aid mankind, and over the course of the first part of the story took over the society and announced themselves to the world.
Each of the three had very different ideas about what should be done with their telepathy, however. The youngest believed that telepathy was mankind’s evolution so that it could freely edit itself. She set herself up like something out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Would you like a new personality trait? Would you like to delete an old one? Would you like self-discipline to improve yourself? Would you like to be more affable and less shy around strangers? In retrospect I think this particular character and philosophy represented my concerns about the then developing pharmaceutical industry and its immortality in a pill advertisements.
What do people think? Is this really ethical? People are signing themselves up, not their children or minors. No custom-made external validation kids for the upper-classes, but a kind of Gattacca rebirth once you’re an adult (and can obviously afford the not inconsiderable fees). I personally lean towards no. Even if you’re signing yourself up for this treatment, and not someone else, it feels like trading in your true self for a prepackaged manufactured self, but I could understand arguments to the contrary.
The second believed that telepathy should be used as a law-enforcement method. Telepaths in her society are rigidly screened and are absolutely forbidden from divulging any information not related to the criminal investigation in question, but should either side in a legal proceeding request a telepath to ensure the truth of an accusation, they had the legal right to do so. It turned out that it was far more often the prosecutor wanting to know if they had the right man, rather than defendents seeking to prove their innocence who requested telepathic intervention, but all in all, few telepaths were requested. To make ends meet, her group branched out into corporate business, brokering deals in which one or both sides wanted assurances that the people at the other end of the table were dealing in good faith. I think this one had to do with my concerns about the still relatively recent 9/11 stuff.
If it’s not used for blanket investigations, is this really unethical? I personally lean towards yes because I’m sketched out about the prosecutor requesting it rather than just the defendent. However, by that logic if a defendent doesn’t request a telepath, would that be regarded by the court of public opinion as an admission of guilt?
The third was rigidly opposed to the first two societies and believed that telepathy should be used in the treatment of mental illness. Especially those who had suffered nervous breakdowns or were otherwise non-functional. The telepaths would provide telepathic “crutches”, or false personality traits that would allow the patient to become functional enough to recieve psychiatric treatment. Once the patient was ready, the crutches would be removed and the supressed personality traits would reemerge. Ideally, the patient would still be functional, though would probably still require therapy to be fully healed. This telepath ran his society like a monastary and tended to keep all but a few of his telepaths (those who were particular eruidite and good at public speaking trying to convince the general public to trust his society and not the other two) under wraps and away from the public eye. Is even this kind of thing ethical? I’m not even sure on that one. In some ways I didn’t really develop any of these on my own, I felt a compulsion to loan my brainpower to their development, so I’m not actually sure about any of them. What do people think?