The Law of the Upload
12 Pages Posted: 13 May 2021
Date Written: 2021
In April 2020, Amazon released a new comedy series called “Upload.” The show extrapolates a future in which human consciousness is successfully simulated in silico. In this world, individuals can pay to be “uploaded” into a series of competing digital afterlives. When uploaded, human consciousness is converted into data and executable code, which can be edited, reset, throttled, or even deleted depending on each upload’s membership plan and payment status. The show breaks the boundaries between reality and virtual reality, consciousness and artificial intelligence, and even life and afterlife, entangling various legal questions in novel ways. By addressing three of these legal issues, we hope to highlight how science fiction may help launch a more nuanced conversation about what is artificial in artificial intelligence, what is virtual in virtual reality, and what is digital in digital rights. We argue that becoming early adopters of a new reconceptualized language around “us” and “them”, the “self” and the “other,” can perhaps future proof our society from the technological perils that await us.
Keywords: Law and Technology, Science Fiction, Artificial Intelligence, Copyright, Personhood, Digital Rights
JEL Classification: K1, K3, I1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation