Re: Ethics

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Sat Feb 05 2005 - 18:13:59 MST

--- Phil Goetz <> wrote:

> --- 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
Variations of this idea have been around for
quite a while. I don't know if Borges thought of
it first, or who. The only fresh view I bring is
Hofstadter/computer-security-type thinking about
how to protect the system once it's up. The only
people who can be trusted with that IMHO are the
open-source software community. They would
optimize it faster and more honestly than anyone.

Tom Buckner

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