Re: On uplifting: Reply to Sandberg

Anders Sandberg (
18 Nov 1997 12:17:38 +0100

Twink <> writes:

> >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
> altogether.

Yes, but we should realize we are taking on a big responsibility by
even partial uplifting. There are plenty of people who think even
normal animals can have certain rights, and an uplifted animal would
likely have more rights.

> 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.

There are no significant differences in firing speed, neural
arborization and connectivity as far as I know between different
mammals. However, a colleauge pointed out to me that primiates seems
to have some very high-frequency cells that others lack that may be
important. But in general relative cortical size and structure seems
to be more important than the other properties.

> Surgery is one route, though I'd be more into breeding and controlling
> development hormonally and genetically.

Genetics is probably the way to go, if only to add control genes so
that we can make adult brains grow more or "debug" them, since we want
the species to have a heritable intelligence. Hormones and surgery can
only help individuals.

> Increasing the amount of effort and time to growing a larger brain
> in, say, octopi, might be a good start.

It may be hard to work with octopi, since their brains are so
different from ours and we have more experience with mammal brains.

> Cheap too?

Hardly. :-)

> 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.:)

Yes, but language is important in order to make the uplifted animals
able to communicate with each other, and hence spread their own
experiences and memes. It would likely accelerate development just as
it appears to have done in humans.

It strikes me that we really need to learn more about how we became
intelligent in order to be good at uplifting. But uplifting also gives
us valuable information on how we may have evolved.

> Play God!

How else can we learn?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y