[extropy-chat] [wta-talk] Citizen Cyborg on If Uploads Come First

Hughes, James J. james.hughes at trincoll.edu
Fri Mar 31 22:12:48 UTC 2006

> it is not fair to characterize me as a libertarian 
> economist. 

Excellent. Delighted to hear it. 

> I am a fan of James Fishkin's 
> experiments in deliberative democracy mechanisms.

Excellent. Me too. I think they complement the idea markets mechanism
nicely in our promotion of participatory models of future governance.

> my current leanings are 
> that creatures who might exist should count in our moral 
> calculus, 

Hmm. A long-standing debate in utilitarian theory as you know. Clearly
we want to make policy that will ensure the greatest possible happiness
for all the beings that exist in the future, even though we are not
obliged to bring them into existence. It seems like your model in Dawn,
if we interpret it as normative rather than descriptive, would fit with
"the repugnant conclusion" of utilitarianism that we should create as
many beings as possible, even if each of them might have less happy
lives, because we will thereby create a greater sum of happiness than by
creating fewer, happier beings. Is that what you mean?

> that upload copies will diverge quickly enough that 
> they should mostly be treated separately, instead of as 
> clans, 

I would agree, but it depends on how much they are extensions of the
primary subjective "parent." One can imagine one consciousness shared
across many bodies or upload clones, tightly networked, where separate
self-identity never arises. The Borgian possibility.

> that the ability of humans to earn substantial wages 
> should not matter much beyond its contribution to their 
> income, 

Not sure what you mean there.

> and that while the fact that the human subsistence 
> levels are higher should be a consideration, that 
> consideration is greatly weakened when humans reject the option to 
> convert into cheaper-to-assist uploads.  

I make the same argument about human enhancement and disability. I'm
happy to have the Americans with Disability Act urge accomodation of the
disabled in the workplace. But to the extent that disability becomes
chosen in the future (refusal of spinal repair, sight replacement,
cochlear implants and so on) it weakens the moral case for accomodation.

In that sense, if neo-Amish humans refuse to become faster, more able
uploads their case for accomodation of their decision is weak. But
framing all humans who decide to remain organic as undeserving,
self-cripplers in a brave new uploaded world is part of the political
challenge your essay points us to. We need to come up with a more
attractive frame for the co-accomodation of organic and upload life.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list