UPL: Fear and Trembling

Twink (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Sun, 23 Nov 1997 17:04:18 -0500 (EST)

At 09:51 AM 11/23/97 -0800, Michael M. Butler" <butler@comp*lib.org> wrote:
>>Because we are dealing with a multicellular animal. Much easier to
>>control than current microbes. Also, the octopus is a marine
>>animal. Despite its escape artist skills, it will be much easier to
>>control such an organism, which is less likely to, say, escape to
>>the oceans from my apartment than, say, an uplifted rabbit or dog.
>These are points I figured you'd mention, and they seem sound. But permit
>me to remind you that microbes don't think for themselves, and as far as we
>know don't take an interest in their whereabouts.

True for now, until nanotech makes nanomachines which can and do.
By the same token, a sentient nonhuman might also see the risks inherent
in becoming a threat to the species which uplifted it.

Keith Elis brings up a similar point in regards to AI, but both Elis' and
fears can be applied to any transhuman project. AI, uplifting, augmentation
of humans, allowing MS Windows 98 to hit the market, or Marylin Manson
to play in NJ, all have consequences which we can't foresee. Is this
really a strang argument against them? At best, it can be an argument
for caution, but who decides and how much?

>I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Fouts' work with the signing
>chimpanzees (including the famous Washoe). One of the points he raised in
>discussions with me was that the chimps were all stuck in an environment
>not unlike a prison camp. How grateful/cooperative/happy/docile do you
>think the organisms you choose to uplift will be?

My personal tack would be to uplift in an environment that is almost as open
as the oceans, though the cautions you seem to want woudl favor a more
prison camp like environment.

>Or are you just thinking of the final result?


>This is another reason, perhaps, to prefer mammals--I
>suspect people can learn to "read" them easier. OTOH, a chimp with a pull
>strength of half a ton could dismember a human if it ever seemed like a
>really good idea, and Fouts still had all his arms & legs last time I saw
>him. :)

I think it would take too long to uplift a mammal. Also, the supply of chimps
is too small to really mess around. And the mammals that are plentiful, e.g.,
rodents, small carnivores (dogs. cats), etc., might even more easily escape
the lab. (I did write two science fiction stories on this a few years ago. One
was "Other Minds," which appeared in THE THOUGHT and the other was
"Splitting Hares," which was printed in KASPAHRASTER. I would think
some better writers out there might use the idea to come up with some
entertaining SF.)

>Daniel, I'm not just worried about a team of red octopi storming the
>streets outside your apartment armed with steak knives and carrying
>sandwich-bag knapsacks of seawater (:)). I'm concerned that you not blind
>yourself to _possible_ real danger to _yourself_ should you start to succeed.

Thanks for your concern. I kind of like that image of escape sophoctopodes.:)

I just don't have the same fears as you.

Daniel Ust