Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Tommy McCabe (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 20:22:54 MST

--- "J. Andrew Rogers" <>
> On 1/4/04 5:20 PM, "Tommy McCabe"
> <> wrote:
> > --- "Perry E. Metzger" <> wrote:
> >> By the way, Tommy, eat any good pate de foie gras
> >> lately? Mmm, tasty.
> >
> > I don't even know what that is.
> Pity, that.
> > To rephrase: a
> > 'sentient' organism is one that experiences
> qualia,
> > and thus has the opportunity to experience
> negative
> > qualia.
> What is this qualia you speak of? Am I sentient or
> not, if I don't believe
> I have qualia? You think you experience qualia, but
> do you really? Maybe
> you just *think* you do.
> The utility of this definition is obvious.

First of all, if it is 'obvious', I do not get it. DO
you mean the utility omes from being easily
rationalized into tortruing animals? Second, even
though I can't really give a definition of qualia, the
fact that I think that I have qualia proves that I do,
since I thought something.

> > I really don't have that good of an idea where
> > the dividing line is on Earth, and I am not too
> eager
> > to find out, because of people's tendency to
> > rationalize to justify hurting animals.
> What makes you think sentience isn't a gradient, a
> continuous measure of
> hardware capacity?
> I think a much simpler answer is that humans draw
> the line where it is
> convenient for them to do so. Some vegans exclude
> no animals, most humans
> exclude all or most animals, some humans might
> excluded blacks or Jews, and
> I could exclude everyone who is less intelligent
> than myself. None of these
> is more correct than any other because they are all
> based on the apparently
> false premise that sentience is an "obvious" Boolean
> property of all living
> things rather than a continuous measure of an
> intrinsic property of some
> types of machinery. I have yet to see a Boolean
> measure of sentience that
> was anything but arbitrary.
> Where the line is drawn doesn't really matter; its
> existence largely serves
> as a cheap moral justification when killing another
> organism. No point in
> sugar coating it or pretending that your line is
> objectively more special
> than any other line. The universe doesn't recognize
> your line regardless.

That's why I'm not willing to draw a 'sentient/not'
line at this point: because you can too easily
rationalize your way into killing other organisms, and
because we wouldn't be anywhere near perfect with the line.

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