Re: On Our Duty to Not Be Responsible for Artificial Minds

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Wed Aug 10 2005 - 08:28:05 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky"
> Providing the parents didn't abuse the child so greatly as to prevent
> his/her "normal" human growth.
> I presently see two incompatible views of this point, with only a slight
> overlap:
> 1) If you create an AI that is as good as an average human and provide a
> decent upbringing, you're off the hook after it grows up. If you tilt the
> cognitive scales so hugely in favor of kindness and love that the outcome
> is deterministic, then you have deprived the offspring of moral autonomy
> (a sin) and you are never off the hook.
> 2) Creating an average human, if you have the opportunity to do better,
> constitutes child abuse (a sin). You are obligated to do better than
> average - how much better not being specified.

I agree. Critics often use the autonomy argument against transhumanist
aspirations, that is, any attempt to alter humans is to violate their
autonomy. My "inverted autonomy argument"
( agrees
with your conclusion: to the extent that we don't try to do better then we
violate the autonomy of our children.

> > or is there something fundamentally different about
> > creating an AI?
> *Yes*, there is something fundamentally different about creating an AI!
> There is something *hugely* different about creating an AI! The decisions
> and moral responsibilities are those of creating a new sentient species,
> not those of raising a child.
> One who seeks to create a child of humankind is a higher-order parent,
> faced with a vastly greater space of options than a human mother caring
> for the product of her inscrutable womb. A higher-order parent must
> possess far more knowledge and far deeper understanding than a
> conventional human parent just to be in the game. Consequently I hold a
> higher-order parent to far higher standards; higher-order parents have far
> greater power and, I judge, far stricter responsibility. That is why,
> contrary to my earlier aspirations, I no longer seek to create a child of
> humankind - not this century, not if I can avoid it.
I agree. I think Nick's principles should say or emphasize that creating new
and potentially powerful minds incurs new or higher sorts of


Dr. Mark Walker
Department of Philosophy
University Hall 310
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4K1

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