Fw: `capitalist' character values

From: Olga Bourlin (fauxever@sprynet.com)
Date: Sun Jul 29 2001 - 01:17:07 MDT

Eliezer wrote:
> > >Olga... take a look at my email address.
> > >Think about what it means.
> > >Sincerely,
> > >sentience@pobox.com
Damien then wrote:
> > This is cryptic to the point of opacity.
Eliezer then wrote:
> Evidently so. Very well, I'll amplify. You can call me "white", but if
> you do, I reserve the right to tell you to take a hike. I'm a sentient
> being. If you want to lump me in with any smaller group than that, you do
> so at your own risk and without my consent.

I often put quotes around the word "race" (implying "so-called"). I agree
with you that we are all one species, and that's supported scientifically.

> I see no reason why I should identify more with slaveowners who happen to
> be white more than I should identify with slaves who happen to be back.
> They're both humans, they're both sentients, and they're both a part of
> Earth's history. Why should I identify with one group above the other?
> Why should I accept "responsibility" for acts committed to people
> belonging to a group I never identified myself with? Because I have the
> same skin color? Now *that's* racist.

I don't identify with slaveowners or slaves, either (I'm the spawn of a
degenerated autocracy, not even of this country). And I think it's excellent
that you don't identify with any one group. But if this means you regard
all people as "sentients, why would you NOT identify with that group you
claim "[You] never identified [yourself] with?" You're a sentient. They're
sentients. What's not to "identify with"?

Be that as it may, you certainly never have to accept responsibility for
acts committed to people with whom you never identified (even if you and
they are siblings under the skin, a/k/a sentients). Why should you? I
never suggested this (have I?).

While you may be enlightened (and I salute you for that), you've probably
observed that most people are not. You've also probably observed a whole
underclass of people who - while they may want to be enlightened like you,
and would like to forget about all this nasty "race" business - they cannot.
They cannot because they are constantly being reminded of it. If you were a
black male, you would have to be careful if you went jogging in a "white"
neighborhood (even if it were your very own neighborhood). You would have
to remember to always, always have some identification on you, as you may
get pulled over, and without identification ... off to jail you go. And why
would you be pulled over? Why, for being black. You'd like to forget about
"race." You'd like to call yourself an "American." You'd like to tell the
policeman you're a "sentient." But you're afraid that if you tell the
policeman you're a "sentient," they may not just put you in jail - they'll
put you in a hospital. And throw away the key. But, oh, what you'd give
not to have to think about "race." What a luxury that would be.

> Now, if somebody wants to voluntarily say "I am American", then there
> might be cause to ask them to be proud or ashamed of things that Americans
> have done.

I'm with you, Eliezer. I, too, don't identify myself as an "American" so
much as a "citizen of the world." When I say I'm Russian, I'm referring,
of course, to the things my own family may have caused to be proud or
ashamed of (pogroms and other assorted czarist shennanigans) ... until we
moved to our adopted country. But as I now live in America, I cannot help
noticing there are many sad, broken, angry people here, often referred to as
"African Americans," but who are actually sentient beings, just like
me --just like my new friend, Eliezer. None of us now alive are
responsible, but we are living with the result of horrors Americans
perpetrated a long time ago for hundreds of years - to the ancestors of some
of the wounded people I see now. I'm not responsible, but I care.

But my email address is sentience@pobox.com, not
> american@pobox.com.

Hooray! Now think about why you said you can't identify yourself with other
sentients, and let me know what you come up with. I'm a little puzzled
about this one aspect of your post.


> -- -- -- -- --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://singinst.org/
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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