Universal ethics (was: Metarationality)

From: Cliff Stabbert (cps46@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun Aug 25 2002 - 05:07:12 MDT

Sunday, August 25, 2002, 3:21:44 AM, Mitch Howe wrote:


MH> There is no cosmic handbook of ethics or extraterrestrial species
MH> handy to consult.


MH> One could argue that any intelligent species would roughly share
MH> our process X, making this issue irrelevant. I don't think this
MH> is completely wishful thinking since I suspect that any species
MH> intelligent enough to worry about would at least have to share
MH> the most fundamental heuristics;


I think this is the concept behind Star Trek's Prime Directive
( http://sol.brunel.ac.uk/~jarvis/bola/ethics/starfleet.html ):

  As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with
  its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet
  personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien
  life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of
  superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world who society
  is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel
  may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives
  and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier
  violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This
  directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations,
  and carries with it the highest moral obligation.

(my emphasis)

Just replace "Starfleet personnel" with "Friendly AI"...

Note: I'm not a Trekkie, I just recalled reading somewhere (perhaps in
Robert Anton Wilson's _Cosmic Trigger_) that Gene Roddenberry, at the
time he conceived the Prime Directive, was hanging out with some
interestingly weird folk -- a circle that included Andrija Puharich,
Uri Geller (of psychic spoon bending fame), and Werner Erhart (founder
of EST): http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/126_nine.shtml


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