RE: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Richard Steven Hack (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 01:33:20 MST

At 04:36 PM 2/28/02 +1030, you wrote:

>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.

I suspect that SIs would find "treating" us at all as irrelevant to their
purposes and would tend to ignore us. This issue, however, arises in terms
of UFO abductions. My theory (the *very* short version) is that the UFOs
are the results of a pre-human civilization that arose on this planet some
time (long or short) before humans did, which discovered nanotech, had
their Singularity, and now basically do whatever they want with only
occasionally having to interfere with humans who get in the way. In such
cases, I suspect they take total control of the human's brain, implant a
lot of "alien medical experiment" nonsense suitable for our primitive
social notions of alien contact, and go about their business while the
human sleeps it off. A recent discussion on this list about invading
nanobots had some relevance here - I need to review that discussion at some

In short, I don't think SIs will have anything significant to do with us,
and if they do, it will be entirely on their terms, not ours. As Vinge
said once, if you come away from a conversation with superhuman
intelligence thinking you know what''s what, you have been sold a bill of
goods... Needless to say, I also think such SIs will have no truck with
conventional notions of ethics, morality or "rights" which are relevant
only to humans (if then)...

Richard Steven Hack

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