Re: [sl4] 'Ethical' uploading

From: Charles Hixson (
Date: Wed Feb 11 2009 - 16:44:06 MST

Matt Mahoney wrote:
> --- On Wed, 2/11/09, Johnicholas Hines <> wrote:
>> On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 11:07 AM, Matt Mahoney
>> <> wrote:
>>> your carbon version becomes a zombie and is led off to
>> the recycling vats, screaming in protest as they always do.
>> You imply that people who advocate uploading technologies would put a
>> perfectly viable human into a "recycling vat" (presumed fatal). This
>> is a red herring and a straw man. Some people are advocating
>> destructive uploading technologies. However, the people who advocate
>> uploading technologies would agree; a non-destructive scan followed by
>> murder of the person scanned is reprehensible.
>> The actual scenario looks more like this: Due to illness and/or old
>> age, someone is destructively uploaded. They are frozen and then
>> sliced thinly in order for the scanning process to take place. There
>> isn't a non-destructive technology available, nor does this process,
>> in course of operation, produce any viable physical human who is then
>> murdered.
> In what manner must you die in order for your consciousness to successfully transfer to a machine?
>> I invite Dr. Mahoney to state explicitly: "It is wrong to
>> murder, enslave, or torture humans. It is also wrong to murder,
>> enslave, or torture entities which are very structurally similar to
>> humans, even if they are technically mutually infertile and therefore
>> a different species."
> First answer the following:
> 1. At what point after conception does life begin?
Life is always present. Sentience, however, is not.
> 2. Under what conditions is capital punishment justified?
When, in the overwhelming judgement of society, every feasible
alternative is worse. You can't justify it based upon what an entity
may have done, only upon what it may reasonably be predicted to do in
the future. Guilt is a useful rule of thumb, but no more.
> 3. Under what conditions is euthanasia justified?
When, in the judgement of the entity involved, every feasible
alternative is worse. This is tricky when the entity is persistently
unconscious, but that should still be the test. The problem then is
guessing what said entity would decide, and the large degree of
uncertainty inherent in such a decision.
> 4. Which species besides humans should be protected from murder, enslavement, and torture?
Here one needs to carefully define the terms. All species should be
protected from torture. The other terms... I need careful definition.
However, at minimum all sentient species should be protected from all of
the greater or lesser degree depending upon their degree of
sentience. Also depending on to what degree they could survive if not
held captive.
> 5. What test must a program be able to pass to grant it human rights?
The primary test would be that it should desire human rights. I'm
tempted to say "And express that desire", but that would imply that if
it were stopped from communicating, then it wouldn't deserve the rights,
and that's invalid.
> -- Matt Mahoney,

That said, it's worth noting that the historical grounds for "human
rights" is balance of power. This is true in all cultures which I have
studied. People are given rights to the extent that they have the power
to assert them, and to the extent that it is cheaper for the rulers to
grant the rights than to oppress those demanding. Notice the profound
effect the closure of the frontier has had on the US stands towards
human rights. (This is an on-going process with rights increasingly
devolving from the citizenry to those running powerful organizations.
One can't any longer just leave when things get too bad.)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:04 MDT