Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Tommy McCabe (
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 19:44:01 MST

--- "Perry E. Metzger" <> wrote:
> Lawrence Foard <> writes:
> > On Fri, 2 Jan 2004, Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> >
> > [...]
> >
> >> So what sort of strategies does evolution favor?
> Quite a number of
> >> them, actually, but none of them can be
> characterized as "pacifist".
> >
> > Not pacifist, but also not unreasoningly or overly
> aggressive.
> If you think ours is not an extraordinarily vicious
> and aggressive
> race, I direct you to the nearest factory farm or
> slaughterhouse. Most
> people are fully aware of where their food comes
> from, and yet we (in
> general) have very little compunction about
> continuing to eat it.

This is an artifact of 1), needing food to survive,
2), the limitations of our digestive system, and #0,
Drawinian evolution, none of which applies to AIs.

> By the way, I will repeat a contention I've made
> pretty frequently,
> with a new example. There are people out there that
> say "meat is
> murder". There are people who enjoy a good steak.
> Which of them is
> "morally correct"? What is the experiment we can
> conduct that will
> answer this question? I contend there is none, and
> that there is no
> answer because absolute morality is an illusion.

If you want to start a separate thread on objective
vs. subjective morality, please do. Underline separate

> > Aggression tends to bring self defense,
> Our race intelligently tends to stop being vicious
> only when self
> defense is likely (as in when dealing with other
> humans) and tends to
> be pretty brutal when dealing with life forms unable
> to defend
> themselves effectively. Baboons can be pretty nasty
> creatures, but as
> we've got the cages and they don't, guess who is
> used in who's vaccine
> experiments?

I'm sure I could produce a thousand reasons why that
could be a good thing, but I'm not going to because of
my innate tendency to rationalize.

> That's not to say, by the way, that I draw any sort
> of absolute
> morality under which gluing the feet of geese to the
> bottoms of cages
> and force feeding them to make their livers
> particularly tasty is
> "evil". I don't believe there is an absolute
> morality, so I'm not
> going to pretend that it is somehow "wrong" to turn
> geese into foie
> gras. However, you would be pretty much incorrect if
> you thought the
> geese weren't pissed off about the process -- it is
> very obvious that
> they're miserable. (One might argue if animals can
> suffer, but the
> arguments used to claim they can't could just as
> easily be applied to
> other people -- I'm going to stipulate that if a cat
> screams in pain
> when you stick it with a hot iron that it is in fact
> suffering.)

Aha, so you agree that morality is at least partly
objective. I still think that you think that a lot of
it is subjective.

> > You will often see that predators have evolved
> strategies to
> > avoid actual aggression, instead resolving
> disputes with a proxy aggression
> > to assert dominance and territory.
> *With each other*, since two members of the same
> species have nearly
> the same capacity for violence. It is rare that you
> will see
> cheetahs negotiating with herds of antelope to try
> to non-violently
> settle their "disputes".

Cheetahs and antelopes aren't sentient (that's another
discussion entirely) aren't sentient and therefore
can't negotiatie, at least not in the way humans do.

> Evolution is not, however, free of aggression even
> within species. I
> would direct you to the latest data on the behavior
> of our nearest
> relatives, the chimps and bonobos. They're pretty
> nasty when they feel
> they can get away with it -- as, by the way, are
> people. It is just
> that most creatures have evolved not to get into
> fights they will lose
> if they can help it, and thus there are fairly few
> intra-species
> combats compared to inter-species ones.
> --
> Perry E. Metzger

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