Uplifting: Another Reply to Sandberg

Twink (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 19:03:51 -0500 (EST)

>At 12:17:38 18 Nov 1997 +0100 Anders Sandberg <asa@nada.kth.se> wrote:
>>> 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.

Hey, I was only kidding. Let's say we uplifted dogs and they generally
went into the home and business security field as workers. So? Let
them unionize. If they can do the job better -- more economically
efficiently: the right level of service for cost -- than other available
alternatives, why would this be so bad?

I'm not sure on the animal rights issue. I think an uplifted organism,
it has a near human level of intelligence should enjoy the same rights
-- individual natural rights in the Lockean-Randian sense, not
or welfare rights a la Rawls or Rousseau -- as humans. I find nothing
unappealing about that. It might also serve as a living lesson for
ethnocentrists who seek to elevate irrelevant differences, such as
appearance, language or national heritage, to the status of moral and
political trump cards.

And I would be the first to heartily greet an upliftee to this

>>There are no significant differences in firing speed, neural
>>arborization and connectivity as far as I know between different

I'm not sure. I've heard there are measurable difference between firing
speed in humans that seems to correlate with general intelligence.

>>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.

This can be found out through research and uplift experiments.:)

>>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.

I agree.
>>> 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.

But their development cycles are shorter than many other candidates.
This would mean more wetware experiments can be done in the same
amount of time. (Of course, if we come to a better understanding of
the genetics involved, computer simulations might be the way to go...)

>>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.

I agree, but do not want to get bogged down in a we-must-have-them-
talking-English-with-a-Brooklyn-accent-or-we've-failed attitude. Also,
it might be easier to increase intelligence overall and worry about
language later. Or the two might be related in such a way that
upgrading one ability feeds into the other.

>>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.

It would nice to learn how we evolved, but I don't think it is necessary
to achieve uplifting or augmentation. Surely, it would help, but one
need not know how the solar system was formed to land on the moon.

Daniel Ust