RE: Universalising an AGI's duty of care

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Mon Jul 18 2005 - 09:44:46 MDT


> when we propose abstract goals like "freedom, joy and growth" ........
> or whatever, we are using terms that are not precisely defined -- and
> that are...defined only in terms of the whole human culture and
> human psychology.
> ......
> And if we're going to recommend to an alien civilization that it adopt
> some goals we make up, we should remember that the alien civilization may
> not actually have terms or concepts like our "freedom" , "joy", "growth",
> "peace", etc. In order to explain what our goals mean to the aliens,
> we'll need to steep them in the wonderful peculiarities of human culture
> and human individual and collective psychology.

I think this helps to illustrate my point that taking the perspective of 'advising
another galaxy" is valuable is sharpening up the needs and dilemmas.

Just as sentient beings in another galaxy might have goals or aspirations
that we don't share, so not all humans share the same goals and neither
most likely will the AGIs they create.

So it seems very likely to me that AGIs everywhere throughout the universe
will have non-uniform initial goal sets.

But the issue of friendliness or at least tolerance still remains. If a flock of
AGIs from various galaxies were to decend on Earth what
friendliness/tolerance codes would we like these AGIs to adhere to - in
relation to us and the other living things on Earth? If we are to be ethical in
our dealings with sentients in other galaxies what friendliness/tolerance
codes should we build into the AGIs that we create?

I don't think it's a coincidence that golden rules are common in the most
widespread human philosophies eg. "do unto other as you would have
them do unto you" (golden rule 1) or "don't do unto others what they would
have you not do unto them" (golden rule 2). Things seem to work
reasonably well when diverse cultures have contacts that are governed by
these sorts of rules. I imagine it wouldn't be impossible to implement these
ideas in any galaxy where there are sentients clever enough to create AGIs
exist. Golden rule 1 can guide action even if you know nothing about the
other sentients you are contacting (which means it is not a fail safe rule).
Golden Rule 2 means you need to build understanding of any sentients you
contact before taking action that could have a potential to violate the rule.
Golden rule 2 would require an attitude of forberance, and patience and of
careful learning.

By the way, the goldern rules were invented to inject a bit of friendliness into
natural general intelligences where contact between non-kin or out-groups
occurred - especially in larger rural and early urban communities.

My guess is that AGIs on earth that adhered to both these rules would have
at least a basic level of friendliness.

Cheers, Philip

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