Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My intestinal flora ...

some july4 sci-fi from a reader:
[author's note: this little bit of science fiction is set in an alternate world slightly different from ours]
July 4, 2007

I am a lawyer in a case which requires philosophical argument and I am asking for your help.

Two years ago the government began a secret program for identifying and tracking persons without their knowlege. The procedure is to develop a strain of gut bacteria into which has been inserted a specific unique DNA sequence. A sample of this strain is then secretly administered to a person of interest, usually by means of food.

Early this year the New York Times revealed this program. The publisher and editor in chief are still in jail as of this writing.

Our client is one of many persons who were subjected to this tracking. When he found out about it he used antibiotics to remove this strain of bacteria from his gut. He has been charged with destroying government property.

We do not dispute government ownerwhip of the intellectual property involved, or ownership of the particular bacterial cells before they resided in the gut of our client. We will claim that when they lived in his gut they were his own personal property.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that all the living cells making up the body of a person, as a single organism, are the property of that person. We want to expand that concept as follows.

My intestinal flora produce many chemicals that I need to stay alive, including B vitimins. Those bacteria stay alive only because I eat. Thus they, and the one large organism that we call my body, make up an indivisible ecological community and it is this community that is a person and as such has the protection of law.

We are developing the philosophical background for the case using a decision support system (DSS). Please go to our website, create an account there, and participate in the process. This particular DSS software we are using is well known to many of you because Professor Ambrose Chitterwick's group is using it to develop a system for the scientific study of traditional Chinese medicine using english language scientific terminology."

i used to read a little sci-fi. i read all of william gibson and a few of Neal Stephenson's books - and some Bruce Sterling.

Driftglass uses this as his tag:
"I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it." -- Ray Bradbury
which always reminds of Gibson's observation that his work isn't really futuristic, but rather a magnified present. I can't find the exact quote, but this is similar:
I felt that I was trying to describe an unthinkable present and I actually feel that science fiction's best use today is the exploration of contemporary reality rather than any attempt to predict where we are going... The best thing you can do with science today is use it to explore the present. Earth is the alien planet now.

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