Emlyn O'Regan, <Emlyn.ORegan@actew.com.au>, writes:
> I'm sure that there are people here who would say "lets just struggle on
> through; soon enough we'll all live indefinitely, and we wont have kids any
> more, so it wont be a problem". Just for argument's sake, let's assume there
> are kids for a bit longer...
Even if society transforms so much that we don't have children anymore in the same sense we do today, the same fundamental issues will be present. There will be new minds created, conscious and full of potential, but some of them will have different opportunities and training than others.
We have talked about "mind children" (different meaning that Moravec's) where you make an exact copy of your mind and let it run on its own, possibly in some other environment. We have talked about AIs which have (or develop) intelligence which equals or exceeds that of people today. You could create new minds which are based on existing ones but which are intentionally blank or unformed in some way so that they would be similar to children today.
Ethical problems arise similar to issues of child abuse, or of children who are not given the same advantages of others. If your neighbor on the next asteroid is creating sentient subminds and not letting them grow and develop, you might be really unhappy about that. You and your buddies might even be able to do something about it. But first you need some ethical guidelines for which kinds of minds are proper and which are not.
> So paying for child rearing... at least until we go to super long life
> spans, children are a necessity, because someone has to do work when we are
> in our dotage. You can hardly fail to notice that having children in a
> western country is a huge financial disadvantage. Parents get the message
> "it was your choice, you live with it", kind of a user-pays argument. But we
> are all users of the next generation. I think that a lot of crap childhood
> experiences for kids can be traced back to the strain involved in one or two
> (under-qualified) people raising kids with no external support.
> So it's financially disadvantageous to have kids, then people wonder what to
> do about the aging population problem.
Hopefully, by the time this is a serious problem in 2020 or 2030, technology will be helping out. Even without a full nanotech singularity we can expect improved medicine so that people can have longer and healthier working lives, and technologies to amplify productivity so that a smaller work force can provide enough goods for an aging population.