The Zombie Era

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 03:53:07 MDT

[ Just a bit of late night writing ]

>From Encyclopaedia Galactica, 456th Edition, Sagittarius Cluster:

The Zombie Era

also called the consciousness struggle or zombie wars, time period of
human (q.v.) culture from 2023 to around 2058 (local calendar)
affected by the discoveries in neuropsychology that strongly
threatened traditional philosophical systems. In 2022 the
Henton-Kitano explanation of consciousness (a mental property of inner
experience regarded as highly central by humans; other conscious
species include the tesselators (q.v.) and the drones of the Grand
Confluence (q.v)) was discovered. The following year it was tested
using the newly developed URBS (Ultrafine Resolution Brain Scanners,
q.v.) and firmly validated. Using a scanner it was now possible to
detect the existence of inner experience in humans. While the impact
of this on human philosophy was profound, the discovery of the Shalwar
Condition proved explosive. It was found that approximately 3% of all
humans lacked consciousness at all times due to a natural variation in
brain structure. Their outward behaviour was indistinguishable from
normal humans. The humans with the Shalwar Condition became popularly
known as zombies or consciousness challenged (CCs).

The implications of the Shalwar Condition on human culture, philosophy
and politics were profound. Traditional human ethics, especially the
green moralism (q.v) prevalent in the 2020 period, was based on the
assumption of humans (and in the case of green moralism some other
selected lifeforms) as having consciousness. To aggravate the
situation, this assumption had not been codified in most systems due
to its apparent obviousness, prompting intense debate over how to
adjust them to fit the new facts. While the majority of humans
regarded individuals with Shalwar Condition as people with all the
rights of conscious people, vocal groups claimed they lacked the
essential property necessary for rights or personhood. In many nations
nondiscrimination laws were passed, but prejudice or emotional unease
with non-conscious people was widespread.

The situation was further worsened by the appearance of handheld URBS
in 2038, making it possible to surreptitiously check for the presence
of consciousness in other humans. Violence, several political scandals
and increased polarisation between consciousness supremacists and
non-conscious rights activists followed. In a few nations (q.v.) such
as the later period Reunified Scandinavian Republic and the Concordate
of Lebanon laws were passed denying humans with the Shalwar Condition
rights due to their lack of inner experience; it was considered
ethically neutral to inflict pain or other negative emotional states
on them. The International Arts Association declared that
non-conscious artists could not be members as their art was clearly
not derived from an inner life.

In 2046 the Henton-Kitano explanation was applied to the simple
artificial intelligence software that was emerging, and it was found
that it could be conscious (likely due to the implicit mental
assumptions of their builders). By increasing the number of
self-representation loops (q.v.) the quantity and quality of
consciousness of the software could be increased beyond what was
biologically possible for humans. One application of this technology
was the introduction of prosthetic consciousness chips, which could
give humans with the Shalwar Condition consciousness. Over the next 12
years widespread implantation of consciousness prosthetics led to the
near total eradication of non-conscious people. The practice of adding
consciousness prosthesises continued until the encounter with the
Kelderu species (q.v.) in 2194 and subsequent uplink with the galactic
network, which spelled the end of the particular human assumption that
consciousness was essential.


Erhun McCarthy and Aiolos-5.3 (eds.), Wars of the Soul: The Impact of
Neuroscience on Human Politics and Culture Vol 3: 2020-2050 (2254)
Reticuli Information Management, Earth.

Chaztheneth Lhechzt Dhaa, Consciousness: An Inter-Species Comparative
Review (2573) Grand Confluence Associates, Antares Shell 45-3.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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