Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Damien R. Sullivan (
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 22:25:05 MST

On Thu, Feb 21, 2002 at 04:34:52PM -0800, wrote:

> One of the big question marks in the Principles which we did not explore
> much is whether they should be seen as collective or individual. When we

> This is perhaps the most fundamental ethical question we face. It is
> the difference between being generous and being selfish; between being
> trustworthy and being a cheat; between being honest and lying for self

> Of course in many cases these two extremes do not actually lead to
> different strategies for day to day life. Often we can do good by
> doing well. We behave in a trustworthy and honest and unselfish way,

> But then for each of us there will come times when we are tested and
> tempted. You find someone's wallet with money in it; you are carrying a

> will inevitably leave the latecomers with severe losses. Then you have
> to decide whether your ethical system is just about you, or about the
> world as a whole.

Good points.

And the issue also comes up when influencing (or determining) the
ethical system of your children (or of an AI.) Do you tell your kids
"look out for Number One, but keep in mind that's often best served by
being Good"? Or do we try to instill reflexes of honesty and doing the
right thing without reconsidering things selfishly?

All the more so for an AI with real self-expanding potential. Do you
risk making a Blight, or go for a Mind?

Hmm. I wonder if that's a way of cutting through ethical debates. Drop
overly abstract Rawlsian scenarios and ask what ethics you'd teach your
kids or AIs. Or what ethics you'd hope others were teaching _their_
kids or AIs.

-xx- Damien X-)

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