Re[2]: Universal ethics (was: Metarationality)

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 20:09:04 MDT

Monday, August 26, 2002, 9:37:29 PM, Alden Streeter wrote:

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


AS> But also notice that almost all of the alien species that the
AS> humans run into in the Star Trek universe are just other humans
AS> with funny foreheads. This is probably based more upon the
AS> limitations of special effects and makeup budgets, and the fact
AS> that people want to watch stories about things they can relate to
AS> instead of bizarre aliens with completely incomprehensible
AS> cultures and motivations, rather than any actual scientific
AS> knowledge about aliens. So it is small wonder that the Prime
AS> Directive seems to be almost universally accepted by all the Star
AS> Trek aliens, because they are not really aliens. Therefore this
AS> not really a valid example.

I don't watch Star Trek -- I've seen it a few times and that's it.
I was commenting, really, on the Prime Directive (and others in the
link) as written. In that context, I think it offers a perspective
close to that of some here on the list on how we would like an SAI to
behave (or at least some aspects of desired behaviour).

Also, Gene Roddenberry was hanging out with people who claimed actual
contact with ETs (Geller, Puharich) at the time this was conceived,
which I found interesting. IIRC some of these contacts were
purportedly with a Universal Benelovent Intelligence from the Sirius
area -- which could be the same one beaming that pink light into
Philip K. Dick's forehead. See Robert K. Temple's _The Sirius
Mystery_ and Robert Anton Wilson's _Cosmic Trigger_ for further weird
allegations and tales about the Sirius connection.


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