Rejoinder to Allsop on Uplifting

Twink (
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 06:15:42 -0500 (EST)

At 10:18 AM 11/18/97 -0700, Brent Allsop <> wrote:
> I look forward to introducing my Dog to what it is like to
>have richer color vision and the joys of greater intelligence... And
>I also look forward to knowing what it is like to hear, smell and be
>like a Dog...

I too. Imagine how many people wonder the same thing. But such a shift of
perspective will require more than uplifting. It will require the ability
to shift
one's mode of perception -- even conception, to a different set of parameters.

> Yes. It also surely isn't a hard line which on one side
>animals are sentient and on the other they are not. It's a very
>broad, gradual and complex continuum.

Current evidence does not seem to suggest this. I think much of the ape
and dolphin language studies seem to show no unambiguous evidence of
intelligence. In fact, the ambiguities in the data make me doubt whether
any of these supposedly intelligent organisms is anywhere near the level
of human awareness.

>I'm sure echo-locating animals
>such as bats and other animals, especially the higher ones mentioned
>here like whales..., have sensations humans have never felt. In these
>particular areas they would be "more sentient" than we are. "What is
>it like to be a bat?" is the famous question by Nagal. What is it
>like to be a fish with a hook in it's mouth? Does a fish feel pain
>the same way we do or does its body just twitch and flex the way an
>unfeeling machine might? It's probably neather of these but something
>phenomenally different and we just don't yet know just what it IS

I too would like to know, though it is not the most important thing for me
vis a vis uplifting. Instead, I hope the a nonhuman mind would be able
to help human ones jump to posthumanity.

> Until we can truly understand what and why phenomenal
>sensations are, and can do things like objectively observe and eff
>such feelings, we can't really accurately judge what is sentient and
>what is not. Do single celled animals have any such phenomenal
>feelings or conscious knowledge? I doubt it and would guess that
>these are mostly simply mechanical. What about insects? Are they
>purely abstractly mechanical or do they, too, experience some kind of
>phenomenal feeling representations? Where is the line drawn between
>what can feel and what can't? Until we know just what sensations are
>and how they are employed by the various intelligent animals to
>represent different kinds of knowledge and awareness, we can't yet
>really know where to draw the line between what is and what isn't

I think the difference lies not in sensations or perceptions, but in higher
level stuff -- i.e., the ability to form concepts, introspect, and all that
stems from these. I hate to sound like a hardcore Randian, but this
does seem to make sense. It would seem apes, dogs, etc. can perceive
in much the same way we do -- albeit with a slightly different flavors of
sensing the world. Still, they have percepts. What is needed is to
decide if they can form concepts. Linguistically, this amounts to more
than an ability to associate words (whether as sounds, pictures, finger
movement, odors, or what have you) and things or actions. It would
be indicated by the so far only known to be human capacity to form
meaningful constructs from these and to combine them in new ways
as well as to understand them when they are so combined.

>> Play God!
> Yes definitely! But shouldn't we be sure we are a good and
>benevolent God? I don't think we should ever only "uplift" to a
>limited degree so that lower life forms can be left as such to only be
>our slaves or servants or whatever. There will be plenty of ways for
>us all to do things mechanically without having to employ lessor
>sentient life forms to do slave labor. If we have the right to be
>uplifted via the help of other humans, I would think most lower
>animals would deserve the same right. The difference between a dog
>and us is nothing compared to the difference between us and a God

For now.:) Anyway, I was merely trying to be cute. I would not want to
make intelligent slaves anyway. I would be pleased merely to see humans
uplift various other organisms just for the fun of it.

Onward and upliftwards!

Daniel Ust