Re: PHIL: Is it ethical to create special purpose sentients?

Christian Weisgerber (
4 Mar 1999 21:33:10 +0100

In article <>, <> wrote:

> Thought I would throw this question out. Is it ethical to create
> specially designed sentient beings which would be engineered to do specific
> tasks? Would it be ethical for their creators to profit from the labor of
> their creations? Esentially, we're talking about the possibility of a perfect
> slave caste, willing and able to serve general purpose sentients (like us) in
> whatever capacity we design them to. What do you all think?


If you put that question to the man on the street... No, strike that out. The man on the street probably hasn't had any previous exposure to the concept. Let's say you throw that question to a bunch of SF readers. (Since somebody a couple of days ago suggested to broach >H topics to SF lovers.) I'm pretty sure you'll receive these kind of answers: - gengineered species derived from humans: NO - AIs: YES
And I mean the upper case.

I've only lately realized the implications, but in SF circles the Asimov-Campbell Robot Laws seem to be taken for granted. If we manage to build AIs, they as a matter of course *must* have the three laws hardcoded. Which in effect means they are slaves. On the other hand, the idea to do something comparable to humans is likely to be met with revulsion.

Interesting dichotomy. I wonder how people will react when the contradiction is pointed out to them.

Personally, I have no idea what "ethical" means. Generally, I'd like to be able to create specially designed sentients, because it probably allows nifty things to be done.

Christian "naddy" Weisgerber        
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