Crime and punishment – sci-fi to sci-fact?

A near eternal hell on earth for felons? Maybe, if these scientists are to be believed.

Imagine a drug that, when given to a prisoner, would make him believe that a thousand years have passed in the matter of months. Imagine the hell of living for a thousand years in a jail cell, whether real or imagined.

We can argue over whether some crimes are so vicious that the perpetrators would deserve this treatment. But if scientists at Oxford University are right, this will soon be a reality.

And there’s more. The scientists quoted in this article also claim that life extension will allow a prisoner to be kept alive — and punished — for centuries. Or, criminals’ minds could be uploaded into a computer where they would serve hundreds of years in time.

Let’s take it for granted that this isn’t mere speculation but a possibility. Do we want to do this? Does this fall into the category of cruel and unusual punishment? And why would we want to invest so much money and time into keeping these criminals around indefinitely?

But what about another take on this? Even if these technologies never come to pass, imagine the possibilities in the sci-fi realm. Criminal minds uploaded that escape and roam free in the digital world. A killer kept alive for a millennium who escapes. A wrongly convicted man given a pill who lives a lifetime in a matter of days.

At least this kind of speculation is good fodder for fiction.

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