Cats (was moral)

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2006 - 10:40:27 MDT

Keith wrote:

> Though it does have the flavor of what we do with cats . . . .

Some time ago I spent a few weeks with an old lady who has cats. (She
wasn't much older than me, but I will be 64 this year.)

She had 10 or maybe it was 11 cats--you never saw them all at once. They
were (now) all indoor cats--prisoners for the sake of safety. About half
of them were feral cats. They had been trapped, neutered or spayed many
years ago and confined indoors. They approached to beg tasty food but ran
if anyone tried to pet them. The cats were getting old, two of them were
over 20.

She loves her cats and dotes on them. When I was there they were taken
care of about as well as we would take care of aging humans. One of them
had had his colon removed and while he could use a litter box he did not
(hard on rugs). That one looked particularly awful but seemed reasonably
active for an old cat and not in pain.

Some of them had to be chased down and caught every day because they were
getting daily injections and one of them was getting fluid under the
skin. Her vet bill runs to $15k a year; a cancer operation on one of them
cost several thousand dollars (the effort did not extend the cat's life).

One of the best sets of books on space colonies is _The Revolution From
Rosinante_ trilogy by Alexis A. Gilliland. The trilogy is also perhaps the
first to use the concept of incorporation to give an AI legal rights. Two
of the AIs (one was trained up by a religious nut) used his/her deep
knowledge of human psychology to create and impose a new religion in the
space colonies for political reasons that was both consistent with known
science and deeply appealed to the "reptile brain" in us.

Near the end of the last book, one of the AI is talking about the symbiotic
relation that was developing between AIs and humans. I don't have a copy
out right now, but from memory the AI characterized it as "Like cats. You
live in *their* house and take care of them."

I am not going to try to draw morals from this set of data (some of it from
a fictional source) but I know for certain that I would not like to be one
of her cats.

Of course an AI taking care of humans could always mess with their brains
to make them feel content. If this makes you shudder now, don't worry, you
won't feel that way after you have been "adjusted."

With megadeath from wars right around the corner, as nasty and ugly as the
future now looks without the singularity, it could be worse with it.

Keith Henson

PS I suspect my libertarian leanings extend even to pets. If an animal
wants to be a pet, that's fine, but I am not inclined to keep one locked up.

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