Re: Corporate entities

Date: Mon Oct 29 2001 - 22:57:00 MST

Daniel Ust wrote:
> On Monday, October 29, 2001 10:05 PM Hal wrote:
> >
> > I think as Extropians we would support the notion that collective and
> > non-human entities should have rights if they are able to request them.
> But what exactly is meant by "request them" here? I think it's pretty easy
> for me to understand a request in English from another human. However, so
> called collective -- such as the ones you list: "[c]orporations,
> partnerships, marriages, other groupings" -- them don't usually make such
> requests. Their members do, so they are not truly individuals -- or most
> don't view them as such, especially since their members can and do act
> independently. For instance, a member of XYZ, Inc. can do stuff that the
> corporation itself would be against. Typically, a human's mouth does not
> say things it doesn't want to say. (Yeah, there are exceptional cases, but
> most people don't speak in tongues or have Torette's Syndrome.:) If they
> did, our social context would be radically different.)

People are not all that unified. They are often of two minds about an
issue. Minsky's "Society of Mind" model points out how you can think
of a human mind as an interacting collection of agents. And for that
matter people may find that their bodies betray them. The spirit is
willing but the flesh is weak, and all that.

While it is true that people generally have a greater degree of cohesion
than most organizations, I think there is likely to be overlap. That is,
there are partnerships which are more cohesive and unified in purpose
than some single individuals.

> > We envision a time when social and mental structures will be much more
> > complex than the simple distinction we have today between individuals and
> > organizations. We could have hybrid beings with some of the properties
> > of both.
> I think it might be hard for creatures on lower levels to notice this. For
> instance, if a collective conscious emerges on the social level, it might
> only communicate with other social level consciousnesses. It might be
> unaware of its members as you are unaware of your neurons when you're
> thinking. Heck, from a member's vantage point, the member might not even be
> aware any higher level consciousness exists. He or she might just react to
> his or her context as you and I currently react to our social context.

I'm not talking about something this abstract. Individuals and
corporations interact in the same real world. Similarly people will
interact with other conscious entities with a wide variety of mental

> > If two or more people want to hook up their brains and think collectively
> > it should be OK. If someone wants to subdivide their consciousness
> > into multiple semi-autonomous parts, that should be permitted as well.
> > We should encourage experimentation like this. It will add diversity
> > to the world and make more opportunities available to everyone.
> I don't think anyone was suggesting to disallow this... However, the rights
> of such entities is still something that has to be worked out, especially in
> regards not just to relations to plain vanilla humans, but in regards to its
> parts or wholes. For instance, if I could split my mind into several
> subpersonalities, would one of them be allowed to do things that might hurt
> the others? If I became part of a collective consciousness, would the
> collective consciousness trump my individual rights? This becomes even more
> important if the new consciousness is emergent and not created by agreement.

One question I have often wondered about is whether our own minds could
be considered to be violating rights in some sense; for example, our
cortex overrides the more primitive parts of the brain. Perhaps from
a sufficiently enlightened perspective, our internal mental structures
are immoral. Future generations may avoid coercive mental architectures.

These issues become even more apparent and difficult, as you suggest,
when we consider mental structures where the individual components are
visible, rather than invisible inside someone's head as they are today.

> Also, even ones created by agreement -- such as several of us getting
> together to form one group mind -- will not be cut and dry. After all, we
> might not have worked out all the details... Suppose we (what's left of the
> "we":) decide to individuate, but the group mind doesn't want to die? What
> then?

At some level we could leave it up to the group/individuals to decide.
The question is whether we outsiders should intervene on behalf of
one side or the other. As individuals we might be forgiven for being
prejudiced and identifying with that side of the struggle. But the
other side may have a case as well.


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