Re: Future Technologies of Death

Kathryn Aegis (
Mon, 29 Dec 1997 19:41:35 +0000

>Yes, some kind of "responsibility Turing test" might be needed. Maybe
>it could consist of several scenarios the requester is confronted
>with, and its actions are studied, especially when asked to predict or
>extend the scenario. For example, the child might be asked "How will
>you pay for food and rent if we make you an adult?".

I like the idea, but it would have to be modified. This test
measures whether one should be extended a 'privilege', not whether an
entity should be extended a 'right'. The two terms tend to get used
interchangeably when in fact they represent two different concepts.
The conferrence of adult status through artifical means is a
privilege, not a right, although the conferrence of it may have a
basis in some rights, such as the right to self-determination or the
right to free passage. (Normal growth into adulthood is not
considered a right, although some activists are pushing for the
recognition of exercise of reproductive functions as a right.)

The Western concept of 'rights' has never been predicated on a base
of understanding of the consequences or results of having that right,
as the concept includes the quality of inherentness. In other words,
an entity that has rights is born/created/built with them from
inception. Later on, as the entity grows, develops and learns,
privileges (such as operating a vehicle, holding a job or
participation in civic structures) are conferred based on that level
of responsibility.

If this sounds confusing, one method of distinguishing a 'right' from
a 'privilege' is to ask: is it open-ended or concrete? Privileges
tend toward the concrete and practical; rights tend toward the
conceptual and developmental. Another method is to consider the
causal relationship: privileges often stem from rights, but rights
never stem from privileges.


Kathryn Aegis