Biotech Prisons - Serve A Thousand Years In a Day

Prison is expensive; it costs about $40K per year to incarcerate human beings. What if punishment could be dealt out using chemical or biological means that imposed a hellish experience on the prisoner, manipulating their sense of time so it was less expensive? Should criminals experience a thousand years of prison in a day?

University of Oxford scholars led by the philosopher Rebecca Roache have begun thinking about the ways futuristic (sfnal?) technologies might transform punishment.

What about life expansion that meddles with a personís perception of time? Take someone convicted of a heinous crime, like the torture and murder of a child. Would it be unethical to tinker with the brain so that this person experiences a 1,000-year jail sentence in his or her mind?

Rebecca Roache: "There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort peopleís sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence. Of course, there is a widely held view that any amount of tinkering with a personís brain is unacceptably invasive. But you might not need to interfere with the brain directly. There is a long history of using the prison environment itself to affect prisonersí subjective experience. During the Spanish Civil War [in the 1930s] there was actually a prison where modern art was used to make the environment aesthetically unpleasant. Also, prison cells themselves have been designed to make them more claustrophobic, and some prison beds are specifically made to be uncomfortable.

"I havenít found any specific cases of time dilation being used in prisons, but time distortion is a technique that is sometimes used in interrogation, where people are exposed to constant light, or unusual light fluctuations, so that they canít tell what time of day it is. But in that case itís not being used as a punishment, per se, itís being used to break peopleís sense of reality so that they become more dependent on the interrogator, and more pliable as a result. In that sense, a time-slowing pill would be a pretty radical innovation in the history of penal technology."

Science fiction authors have been thinking about this for at least a generation (that I know about - perhaps readers can post other examples). Most recently, in his 2011 story Complete Sentence, Joe Haldeman writes about virtual punishment:

"We went over the pluses and minuses before you opted for virtual punishment." "So I serve a hundred years in one day -"

"Less than a day. Overnight."

... She looked over at Draper, lying on the gurney next to hers. His black helmet was more complicated, a thick cable and lots of small wires...
(Read more about Haldeman's virtual punishment)

In his 1963 story The Days of Perky Pat and in his 1965 novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Philip K. Dick introduces the idea of Can-D, a psychoactive drug that, combined with a Perky Pat layout, allows users to actually enter into a shared experience ("translation") that allows users to experience longer periods of experiential time as opposed to actual physical time.

In his 1988 book Mona Lisa Overdrive, William Gibson refers to a kind of mind control imposed on prisoners to make them more manageable while they are serving their time:

Korsakov's, they called that, something they did all to your neurons so that short-term memories wouldn't stick. So that the time you did was time you lost, but he'd heard they didn't do it anymore, or any way not for grand theft auto. People who hadn't been there thought it sounded easy, like jail but then it's all erased, but it wasn't like that. When he'd gotten out, when it was over -- three years strung out and a long vague flickering chain of fear and confusion measured off in five minute intervals, and it wasn't the intervals you could remember so much as the transitions...
(Read more about Korsakov's)

From Aeon via Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/21/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Culture ")

Greenhouse Plugin Reveals Your Congressman's Money Sources
'Fuller details may be obtained by punching the code number...'- John Brunner, 1975

Michael Jackson, Resurrected
Singing an original song, no less.

Napping Station Now At UofM Library
'Then he strolled across the dayroom to the hypnoteleset...'- Pohl and Kornbluth, 1952.

Russia Bans Cursing, Demolition Man Morality Device Next
'John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute.'- Demolition Man, 1993.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

New Material Is One Molecule Thick
'Hasan always pitched a Gauzy - a one-molecule-layer tent...'

Robot Swarm Obeys Commands
'What is the nature of this cloud? What is your opinion?'

AliveCor App Detects Heart Arrhythmias, Has FDA Approval
Works on humans and puppeteers.

Laws Of Robotics Rewritten for Health Care
A lot has happened in health care robotics since 1942...

Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own
Now shipping flat, but better than Ikea, because self-assembling.

A.L.O. Robot Butler Serves You At Aloft Hotel
'Her idea of what a butler-valet combo should look like...'

Mometum Machines Burgerbot
'One of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus...'

Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'

No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'

Navdy HeadUp Display (HUD) For Your Car
'All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of you...'

Computer 'Aesop' Writes Fables With A Moral
'I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM'

Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)

Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers
'Earth's scientists solved the problem... devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'

Timeful Appointment App Learns, Optimizes Your Routines
'The [Daily Schedule program] suited its tone to his movements and the combined analysis of his psychophysical condition.'

3D Printing Your Science-Fictional Metals
I love science-fictional materials!

Bespoke Clothing In 30 Minutes
'He sat himself down in a sales cubicle and dialed the code number for kilts.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.