Re: Let's resolve it with a thought experiment

From: John K Clark (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2006 - 09:40:29 MDT

"Richard Loosemore" <>

> Once upon a time there was a race of pan-dimensional
> hyperbeings who had almost nothing in the way of
>emotions or feelings: all they had was a
> vague, listless urge to build things.
> [....] just listless creativity

I presume these "vague and listless" feelings were good enough for these
hyper beings to build wonderful things, otherwise they just wouldn't be very
interesting; but if so I don't see what's so vague and listless about them.
And if these creatures have engaged in some extraordinarily creative
behavior how did you determine it was listless?

> no sense of humor, no shame or sorrow or love propensity
>to giggle or appreciation for the finer things in life like
>chocolate muffins.

I have heard this fallacy before and I believe it happens when people watch
too much Star Trek, certainly popular entertainment loves to pontificate
about the inherent superiority that meat has over silicon. But the truth is
emotions are easy, inevitable even. Emotions are not what makes us unique,
animals have had them for hundreds of millions of years, intelligence is
what makes us human.

To explore the moral question of enslaving a mind more powerful than
yourself a little, suppose rather than friendly computers we use genetic
engineering to make a friendly race. The Friendly race look just like human
beings except they are a bit more beautiful, they have a boiling water IQ
and they are incapable of disobeying any order given by a human being and
always placed human well being over his own. Would you be comfortable with

Or suppose the beef producers reasoned that it was more moral to eat an
animal that wanted to be eaten than one that did not; so they engineered a
cow that wanted to be eaten and was intelligent enough to tell you. Like in
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe the cow would come to your table
and talk about what parts of his body would be the tastiest, and then when
you made your order it would blow its brains out. Would you be comfortable
with that?

But the moral question is academic because there is not a snowball's chance
in hell of outsmarting something a thousand times smarter than you and that
gets even smarter every day.

   John K Clark

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