RE: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Emlyn O'regan (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 23:06:40 MST

I should clarify what I was using as a metric for determining "evolutionary
distance" between other creatures and humans. What I mean is how much more
evolution (or direct, technological intervention, as a substite) would be
needed to bring organism X up to the level of organism Y; eg, the work
needed to make a dog into a human equivalent.

Clearly, from the perspective of an SI, it must be far easier to alter a dog
to become equivalent to a human in cognitive abilities (by giving it frontal
lobes?), than to alter a human to the same level that it has reached itself.
Dogs (mammals, generally) would share far more with humans, architecturally,
than we would imagine a human to share with an SI. Therefore, a dog is
closer to a human than a human is to an SI.

Watch your reasoning, when assigning rights based on ability. In the greater
context of transhumanism, this thinking gives SIs the right to treat us far
worse than we currently treat animals, unless you also take the position
that our current treatment of animals is wrong.


> >Maybe I should rephrase my statement here... in terms of the
> process of
> >transformation, of which humans and dogs are both part, in
> the past through
> >natural selection, and in the future probably including more direct
> >intervention, the dog is not so far from us after all.
> Evolutionarily, how
> >far from dumb dog to sentient dog? Does that make an ethical
> difference to
> >an SI? Should it make a difference to us?
> >
> >Emlyn
> >
> You are correct in that humans are not very far from dogs.
> However, this
> would have no "ethical" impact on an SI - it might however
> have a practical
> impact since humans can be distinguished from animals based on their
> capacity (if seldom utilized) of conceptual reasoning and
> imagination. This distinction is why we also should not care
> about animal
> rights. (Note: I do not advocate treating animals "cruelly"
> since I do not
> believe in engaging in any pointless behavior.)
> Richard Steven Hack

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