UPL: Fears and/or Prudence

Twink (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Sun, 23 Nov 1997 12:25:43 -0500 (EST)

At 11:49 PM 11/22/97 -0800, Michael M. Butler <mbutler@comp*lib.org> wrote:
> 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
>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've not seen any studies done on giant octopodes that make them appear more
likely candidates. To make an analogy, the dolphin appears more intelligent
the blue whale. So, larger might not mean better. Humans are also smaller than
a lot of other land mammals, from elephants on down, yet our intelligence seems
-- anybody want to argue otherwise?:) -- much more than theirs.

>> 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
>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'?").

Do you assume that uplifted octopodes would see humans as a threat? I think
there is more reason to assume otherwise. (I admit, I would not try to uplift
insects.:) We live in different environments and our ecologies are a bit
too. (Admittedly, humans do eat octopodes and many of the things that
octopodes prey on, but octopodes do not raid human farms or livestock --
for now.:)

It seems like a kind of speciescentrism -- akin to racism. If Black learn
to read
and write... If octopodes... See the similarity?

If this fear is valid, why not wipe out any species that might threaten us now?
Why not exterminate dolphins and nonhuman primates?

>The points you make above are true but irrelevant--it is _you-all_ who are
>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
>of the increased capabilities you-all propose to add.

The assumption here is that smarter octopodes would not change in any other
relevant way. Yet humans today do not live like our ancestors. We do not
scavange after lion kills, etc.

>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.

That is far fetched. If there is war, what makes you think that all
octopodes would
be antihuman? What makes you think there would be a sort of species wide
consensus? Aside from that, we humans do now possess an understanding of
octopodes' needs and limits, greater than theirs of ours.

>Not when, but _if_.

A big if. It might be humanity that teaches octopodes war NOT vice versa.

>I am taking the "con" side in this argument because it's one I feel needs
>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?

What if we don't uplift and the culture falls back? That would be a
disaster too.
I'd hate to live in the Dark Ages... the pre1997s.:)

>> 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
>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.

The problem here is What if we don't do it? That has consequences too. Also,
the cat is out of the bag. If someone wants to do it, it will be done. I
think it is
only an engineering problem. If anything of your worst case scenarios are true,
then it might be better to have many uplifted species than one. Balance of

Daniel Ust