Re: Ethics

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 22:56:53 MST

--- Thomas Buckner <> wrote:

> Phil and David, I find I agree with everything
> you say here, except this last bit. When I think
> of "sentience" I start with humans, but I am not
> in a hurry to exclude the larger apes or the
> whales, and I would consider any AI as smart as
> us to be sentient even if it is very different.

I have a knee-jerk reaction against the term
"sentient life", because it's usually used as
a substitute for "spiritual beings with souls",
to justify treating all animals like resources
and all humans like moral equals. That takes
us to the place where it's OK to raise chickens
in tiny wire cages, but it's not OK to abort a
human fetus.

Your random mandarin system sounds interesting.
Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story called "The Lottery
of Babylon" about a fictitious city in which
all public offices are filled by lottery. He went
a lot farther than that, but I have often thought
that we might have a safer government, with less
partisan politics, if we chose leaders at random
out of the phone book. It would be like jury
duty. "Sorry, man, you gotta be Senator for a year."

- Phil

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