UPLIFT? Cassandra had her good days (was Re: UPLifting: Reply to Butler)

Michael M. Butler (mbutler@comp*lib.org)
Sat, 22 Nov 1997 23:49:52 -0800

Twink wrote:

> At 09:03 PM 11/21/97 -0800, Michael M. Butler <mbutler@comp*lib.org> wrote:
> >OK... Let me say that I have doubts about uplifting something as alien as
> >octopi.They're mostly-solitary carnivores from a part of the ecosystem we know
> >very little about (the cold parts of the Pacific),
> Actually, they are found all over the place. If they were only in the cold
> parts of
> the Pacific, how did they wind up in Mediterranean cuisine? It is the giant
> octopus which is native to the _Northeast_ Pacific.

> I am more inclined toward the brown octopus, which is found on both American
> coasts, is much smaller, more studied and more common.

Okay, other people have nailed me on this one. Yes, I was assuming that the giant
octopus was the only one worth considering, since trying to uplift a smaller one
might turn out to be like trying to uplift a capuchin monkey. The carrying capacity
of the larger frame seems better to me. The expense issue is about the same for
cetaceans and primates: the bigger they are, the more they eat.

I am aware that octopi (generic) are found lots of places. Sorry if my hurried
assumptions made it seem as if I didn't.

> But right now, the most dangerous
> mammals for you and me are humans. I am more likely to be killed or injured
> by a human, either intentionally or otherwise, then I am by any mollusc or
> other organism, save microrganisms.

I don't think you are taking the point I'm tryiing to make, which is that molluscs
are very nearly as different from us, evolutionarily, as insects. This almost puts
them in the microorganism camp {in the old joke about Tonto and the Lone Ranger, it
wasn't the Lone Ranger who said, "What you mean, 'we'?").

The points you make above are true but irrelevant--it is _you-all_ who are talking
about making some other species of critter an *additional* potential threat. Please
note that such potential is not something I invent; the potential is a consequence
of the increased capabilities you-all propose to add.

I think uplift is a fine thing to do once we aren't tethered to this particular
ball of rock.

I agree with you when you mention (in a portion of post I've elided for bandwidth's
sake) that mammals are risky too. Someone mentioned wolverines--yeah, right.

If they occupy the same niches as humans, they'll compete with us for the same
resources but be at least easy to find. If they occupy very different niches,
they'll hit resources we only dimly understand or have a handle on, and they'll be
harder to neutralize if we ever war.

Not when, but _if_.

I am taking the "con" side in this argument because it's one I feel needs taking
up--suppose "we" succeed in uplifting one or more species, but "we" screw up and
the culture falls back to a stabler plateau for a while? One, say, at around the
just-able-to-build-an-Aqualung level?

It's customary for Europeans to regard Yanks as naive and not-worldly. :) :)
This is not disasturbation, it's a question of prudence.

> >Call me a
> >chauvinist if you want to. I used to joke about what I thought would
> >constitute a _real_ "crime against humanity"--giving house cats (F.
> >domesticus) hands. I think uplifting octopi might be almost as bad.
> I don't think intelligence plus nonhuman form equals enemy of humanity.
> If so, what will posthumans be?

That remains to be seen, doesn't it? You talk as if there will be a standard-issue
posthuman. "Expectation foils perception." We might _all_ be wrong. A very dear
acquaintance of mine wanted to eat the universe until I convinced him some of us
would make it harder for him. Others might take more convincing. I think the means
of convincing are likely to be traditional.


> Daniel Ust


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