On uplifting: Reply to Sandberg

Twink (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 20:07:46 -0500 (EST)

At 10:29 AM 11/17/97 +0100, Anders Sandberg <asa@nada.kth.se> wrote:
>A very strange position, since uplifting very likely would involve
>overcoming the physical limitations too (e.g. Brin's ideas for bionic
>manipulators for dolphins) and the fact that the uplifted creature
>would likely regard its body as perfectly natural.

I agree. I tried to argue the point but failed to persuade.

BTW, an uplifting classic long predating David Brin is Olaf Stapeldon's
It is not good writing, but he takes the ideas very far.

>Of course, an uplifted species would have rights too, so your
>intelligent guard dogs would want pay and maybe form unions
>(packs?). I think unintelligent animals might do plenty of jobs better
>in many ways than intelligent animals; you other two arguments are
>IMHO more compelling reasons for uplifting than getting certain forms
>of labor.

One needn't uplift to the point of giving rights. That is another issue
However, my point was I think an intelligent guard dog might be able to carry
out many other functions too. It might be able to operate cameras and other
surveillance equipment and summon (bark, set off alarms, talk?) humans, etc.
through use of judgment rather than merely out of habit.

>Then there is the technical aspect of uplifting: how do we do it? I
>have been thinking about the cruicial role of language in
>bootstrapping intelligence; maybe the addition of a more advanced
>language system to an uplift species would be a good start?

It mgiht be, though my first step would be anything to increase brain power in
a meaningful way -- whether than be increasing speed or firing, changes in
connections or adding more neurons/connections. Of course, this is just a
guess. Intelligence might have little to do with these things -- which I
doubt; I think brain structure/operation has almost everything to do with it:)
-- but if we start experimenting, we'll soon find out. How can this be done?
Surgery is one route, though I'd be more into breeding and controlling
development hormonally and genetically. Increasing the amount of effort
and time to growing a larger brain in, say, octopi, might be a good start.
Cheap too?

I also believe intelligence to be best measured by problem solving abilities.
Language would be a good way but not the only way to implement this
measurement. (There are nonlinguistic tests we can do to test uplifted
organisms, such as some which are already done with mice.:)

Play God!

Daniel Ust