Defining Human - pt. 1

Reilly Jones (
Mon, 9 Mar 1998 19:33:38 -0500

Michael Lorrey wrote 3/7/98: <That being said [namely that everything can't
be digital], when people refer to the digital vs. analog dichotomy, they
really mean binary vs. analog. When people think 'digital' they mean that
they are thinking in terms of b&w, on/off, flip/flop, rather than the many
shades of grey that most people prefer to muddy their thinking with. This
is why Mr. Jones objects to seeing AI's as 'human' since they will be much
more logical and straightforward than humans, and will not be prone to the
grey muddy thinking that he sees as the hallmark of 'human' intelligence.>

Digital v. analog is useful up to a point, in that in our computer-besotted
age, that's the metaphor "in the air" that gives rise to kooky notions of
ourselves as information processors, just as previous ages foolishly
thought of us as mechanical clocks or thermodynamic heat engines or
cybernetic feedback controllers. As a species, we are always trying to
turn ourselves inside out, to externalize concretely what is in us. We
produce the theoretical and technological systems, then turn around and
say, yup, that's us.

The digital v. analog metaphor stands in place of whatever is really going
on at the ontological level, which in a very clumsy fashion, since I have
not developed the proper concepts for it yet, I will attempt to get across.
The digital stands in for the succession of indivisible Planck moments,
the passage of time. The analog stands in for the infinitely divisible
atemporal microcausality leading up to the selection of the next Planck
moment, the formation of continuous space. Consciousness is made up of
both parts. Higher consciousness developed with improved memory, both
genetic and conceptual, but from the beginning of its evolution,
consciousness had access to the atemporal microcausality in the
backwards-in-time direction to develop purposes independent of the purposes
given it. A purely digital mechanism cannot access this, it would be,
metaphorically, memory only, not imagination. Correspondingly, "muddy"
thinking is the only thinking possible since imagination precedes and
guides rationality.

Gary47 wrote 3/7/98: <Obligations are enforced by ones own conscience.
Moral imperatives must not be enforced by the state.>

Laws are theoretical moral imperatives, obviously. Enforcement of laws is
enforcement of moral imperatives. Where the subject population has a
highly developed conscience, laws are virtually unnecessary. Laws
proliferate when consciences are underdeveloped, as in our barbaric time.

G47: <The moral bankruptcy of the welfare state is self-evident, when you
consider that it would not exist without the police power of taxation. If
it were truly the solution to the problems it proposed to solve, then the
welfare state would be instituted by the voluntary charitable giving of
those with more to those with less.>

Obviously, only morally bankrupt voters could have brought the welfare
state into being and they continue to prop it up. The voters' moral
bankruptcy is not self-evident to them. This is a big reason abortion is
tolerated. As to what worked quite well along the voluntary charitable
lines you present, look at the example of the Western Church in the later
Middle Ages. Nothing has surpassed it yet in this respect. Taxation was
virtually entirely related to defense and nothing else, and through the
concepts of fealty and homage, taxation was essentially voluntary.

G47: <<Actually, Africa has a long tradition of free markets and
decentralized power. Recent events are a historical aberration.>>

<What Africa actually has is a history of ineffectual statecraft, so the
lack of a state made the markets appear free. In fact, Africa culture is
tribal and strongly communal, so what westerners think of as a free market
and decentralized is not an accurate description.>

Thank you for correcting this bit of historical revisionism.

John Clark wrote 3/7/98: <What somebody does is more important than how
they do it.>

This is a restatement of tyranny's favorite rationalization for dealing out
mayhem and injustice. The original is "the ends justify the means." It is
barbaric in the extreme.

RJ: <consciousness must access the entire universe, not just 50% of it.>

JC: <I have no idea where you got that figure but I have a very strong
hunch that everything is digital.>

John, I have been down to your ontological basement before, to your bits of
information as the foundation of all. It is false. Information only
exists when there is a knower and a known. I assumed you were holding a
harmless religious belief about some "knower" at an ontological level
imbuing bits of substance at the Planck scale, the known, with an
informational status. You never explicitly made known who the knower was.

Michael Lorrey wrote 3/7/98: <It is unfortunate that today's mass media
doesn't give us the ability to repeat the success that was the British
colonial era. I daresay that the British in that era did more to spread
civilization than anyone before, or possibly since.>

Nostalgia for the good ol' pre-politically correct days. I doubt if your
One World Government, a requirement in order to force legalized abortion on
everyone, will spread civilization. I think it will spread nihilism and
tyranny. BTW, the Romans did more to spread civilization and the British
themselves were echoes of that previous civilization.

ML: <non- citizens are legally seen as 'honorary' citizens under agreements
between governments that establish diplomatic relations. Granting any
rights to the unborn in terms of citizenship is a sticky wicket that it
seems nobody wants to try, as it will create a nightmare of immigration and
extradition situations.>

Interesting food for thought.

Mark Miloscia wrote 3/7/98: <Having obligations (family, social groups,
community, state, nation, foreigners, etc.), doesn't make one a slave, it
make one responsible.>

It seems difficult to believe that such a basic truth has to be articulated
in this day and age. And without responsibilities, rights lose any
meaning, becoming mere idle wishes and animal desires.

Anton Sherwood wrote about Ian Goddard's holistic claims 3/7/98: <if I read
Brian right, he objects not to your *choice* of primal truth, but to your
claim of priority for one end of the axis - it doesn't matter which end.
As for me, I think you confuse description... with identity.>

I think you've pegged this correctly. Neither end has priority, both are
needed in conjunction for existence. The parallel to my assertion that
nothing purely digital (or binary) can have conscious existence, is that
priority cannot be given only to digital (or what Mr. Goddard calls
atomism), but must be given to holism and atomism equally, and equally in
the form of their conjunction. Confusing description with identity is what
I mean by "reality exceeds our semantic grasp."

Anton Sherwood wrote 3/6/98: <Relations between a mother and a fetus are
nonconsensual because the latter is incapable of consent - that's obvious.
But why is this more legitimately a political matter than our relations
with cats, or potted plants? (Or would you grant them political protection

As I said, our relations with cats (animal rights) has been cast as a
political question for hundreds of years. Potted plants, I don't know, you
might ask Prince Charles about this, he talks directly to the source. I
know there are a lot of tree-huggers in the Northwest, many of whom would
prefer to see an unborn child murdered than a 300-yr old Douglas Fir
chopped down to make toilet paper.

AS: <Well, you know, machines in the real world are analog, just highly
nonlinear. Now would you mind addressing the issue, rather than derailing
it with analog-chauvinism?>

I don't mean to be chauvinistic, I just don't see that anything purely
digital can access the spatial, wave form of reality, the microcausal
backward-in-time portion (transactional QM interpretation) or pilot wave
(ontological QM interpretation) in the way consciousness does. The
coordination dynamics of machines are, in fact, essentially the same as the
coordination dynamics of our own motor actions. But they are not similar
in intentionality, in altering purposes from within the spatial, wave form
of reality.

RJ: <the Constitition said slaves were only counted as 3/5 of a person,
less than fully human.>

AS: <Oh, please - get it right. Seats in the House of Representatives are
apportioned according to the population of each State, counting a slave as
3/5 of a free resident.>

I did get it right. They were constitutionally less than fully human.
Then, after the Civil War, they were constitutionally, hey presto! fully
human. Purely a matter of defining human, just as the abortion matter is.

AS: <What you really mean, I assume, is that you're offended that others
draw the boundary more narrowly than you do, in one respect. I'm similarly
offended that you exclude most AIs.>

I'm appalled at the on-going holocaust, the slaughter of the innocents. It
is not right. What is illicit cannot be made licit by definitional sleight
of hand.

AS: <I find genetics a piss-poor criterion for personhood. Unfortunately,
any objective criterion I can think of (e.g. the Turing Test) is fuzzy, and
the right to life is binary.>

I have never claimed that genetics is a criterion for personhood. The
moment the self begins to develop is what defines human. The right to life
is binary, this is a useful phrase, thus we have big fights over it instead
of compromises.

RJ: <If it is legitimate for the strong to prey upon the weak, sooner or
later, we will end up, not as a society, but as isolated systems of
perfected self-defense staring at each other across no-man's land.>

AS: <This resembles Ayn Rand's argument against polycentric law. Might
does make right, but there are many kinds of might, and some of the most
important are impersonal - the laws of nature itself. Ability to attract
the sympathy of the strong is also a kind of might.>

Interesting observation about Rand, I hadn't thought of it that way. I
like what Pascal said, might makes right so let's make sure the mighty are
right. Ability to attract sympathy is important, another way of saying
this is that fraternity and equality are utterly imcompatible ideals.
Fraternity must trump equality for society to avoid the isolated systems
result. Polycentrism is closer to fraternity than to equality.

AS: <It's not that I "cannot begin to understand" your position on
abortion; I believe I understand it, but I also believe it's based on
either an error of fact or an arational preference - in either case, not
binding on anyone else.>

The Supreme Court's arational preference or error of fact is binding on all
those who define human the way I have. It is tyranny of a most brutal

AS: <A number of time travel stories touch on the tragedy of erasing
someone (a child, a lover, a hero) from history by preventing their
conception. Whether that amounts to murder is an interesting question.>

Time travel is ridiculous. The staggering number of murders occurring here
and now is what's interesting.

John Clark wrote 3/6/98:
RJ: <If we desensitize our population through education and popular
culture, we can do anything we want.>

JC: <Great, then let's do it!>

This is self-evident barbarism on the tyrannical side of the political
spectrum, the ordered realm.

RJ: <encouraging the entropic view of them as "meat machines.">

JC: <There is nothing entropic about the truth; we are meat machines.>

Machines have no rights, machines may interact in a dumb physical way with
each other, but they do not have relations between subjective "I's" in any
sense. This is an entropic death-worshipping worldview, no humanity is
contained in it whatsoever. It is self-fabricated license to murder and
send humans to chop shops. Again, the premise is inherent in totalitarian
regimes, the ordered realm of despots and tyrants. Any abhorrent action at
all can be and has been rationalized away with "meat machine" as the
central premise of human life.

JC: <Like nearly all of the really important things in life I have no
definition for the word "evil", however, if the word has any meaning at all
then those who oppose assisted suicide are evil. Making a person live who
wants to die is as horrendous as making a person die who wants to live,
both are saying that my life is not my own and they can decide my fate,
it's the moral equivalent of murder. Such dangerous monsters should not be
ghettoized, they should be guillotined.>

But John, you are all for late term abortion, you support murder. Your
embrace of the culture of death blinds you to the fact that assisted
suicide is licensing doctors to murder developing selves of a greater age
than the unborn. Individuals can die on their own, they just need to wait,
no one is stopping them by not granting doctors a license to murder. The
whole culture of death is all about the privileged place murder has in
society. In Oregon, the logic of the statist establishment of
death-worshipping as the official religion means that my tax dollars are
now being reallocated to the poor so they can pay a doctor to murder them
on demand. I am soiled by this and have no effective recourse except to
move. I will not move, this is my home, I take my stand here because the
culture of death, through the logic of globalism will be imposed everywhere
just as soon as they can get away with it. There's no place to run.

When you declare that it is a moral imperative to guillotine opponents to
the culture of death, at least you've dropped that "non-coercion" palaver
that so many others who share your worldview pretend to. "Non-coercion"
often serves as cover for the purpose of duping what's left of civil
society, while doing as you please willfully heedless of the negative
consequences within society of your actions. This intentional ignorance of
secondary consequences is what the philosopher David Stove called "autism"
in a quote I posted last March: "...No ideal could be more destructive of
human life than the ideal of non-coerciveness. [The only way] of producing
a non-coercive human being is to produce an autistic one." It is clear
that amongst competing irreconcilable worldviews that someone is going to
be coerced, to try to pretend otherwise is inellectually dishonest or lazy.
48% of Oregon voters, including me, voted against doctor-assisted suicide,
aka, licensing doctors to murder. You'd better crank up your guillotine,
because you have a lot of work "cut" out for you. To you, of course,
you're just pitting one machine against another, a "meat machine."
Guillotining half my state to you is no different than unplugging a

Albert Camus accurately described the nature of society when purpose and
its derivative, values, are absent. Values are absent in the worldview of
scientific nihilism which denies the presence of purpose in the universe,
and they are absent in John's "everything is digital" universe because raw
values (unmeasured) are not digital. This quote is from "The Rebel": "if
we can assert no value whatsoever, everything is permissible and nothing is
important. There is no pro or con; the murderer is neither right nor
wrong. One is free to stoke the crematory fires, or to give one's life to
the care of lepers. Wickedness and virtue are just accident or whim. We
may then decide not to act at all, which comes down to condoning other
people's murder, plus a little fastidious sorrow over human imperfection.
Or we may hit upon tragic dilettantism as a substitute for action; in this
case, human lives become counters in a game. Finally, we may resolve to
undertake some action that is not wholly arbitrary. In this case, since we
have no higher value to direct our action, we shall aim at efficiency.
Since nothing is true or false, good or bad, our principle will become that
of showing ourselves to be the most effective, in other words the most
powerful. And then the world will no longer be divided into the just and
the unjust, but into masters and slaves. Thus, whichever way we turn in
the depths of negation and nihilism, murder has its privileged position."
Thus, the digital and the human-as-information-processing-machine worldview
wends it way over to the guillotine sooner or later.

RJ: <Are you saying that the possession of intelligence is the source of

JC: <Yes.>

RJ: <And who determines whether ability is there or not, at what threshold
of ability?>

JC: <The same person who told you that abortion must be outlawed. The same
person who told you that a baby born without a brain and doomed to die
before his second birthday, or a adult in a deep coma for 20 years has more
rights than a happy healthy chimpanzee.>

But, who is that? I don't get it.

RJ: <What's wrong with commercializing all life, at all stages of
development, including humans, intelligent or otherwise, conscious or

JC: <Nothing.>

Slaves were property, you are promoting the return of slavery here.
Slavery and abortion really are the same issue of defining human.

RJ: <Just make all life into products in the marketplace, all custom
designed for any use whatsoever?>

JC: <If we did that there would be less misery in the world. Child abuse
would drop dramatically, those who love their children would still do so
and those who don't would nevertheless have reason to treat them well
because you don't deliberately damage an asset that has value.>

But John, in this barbarian nihilistic world, twisted "meat machines" find
the value in an asset (that is, child) to be in the abuse and destruction
itself. There are always plenty more where that one came from, they're
only machines (products) after all. Once you're purchased a product you
can do whatever you wish with it, you could practice your guillotining
skills on babies, children, whatever product you desired. This goes
against the grain of the core ethics of Western Civilization that have
worked well for centuries on end, namely, humans are not to be used as
means because they are ends in themselves. This would not produce less
misery, only tyranny of the most brutal kind.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'