[ExI] Uploading Swindle (was Re: Finally!)

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun May 13 15:52:37 UTC 2012

On 13/05/2012 16:26, Stefano Vaj wrote:
> On 13 May 2012 05:51, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl 
> <mailto:rtomek at ceti.pl>> wrote:
>     Revised statement, so it sounds like it should, a logical statement.
>     Humans feel AND dream AND educate themselves AND change. I should
>     probably
>     add we change on our own behalf.
>     Insects and pets don't do all four of the above.
> This remains quite an assumption, and as far as we can hallucinate 
> such activities in fellow humans (all of them could be philophical 
> zombies, after all, for what we know), I suspect denying them so 
> self-assuredly to our closest relatives to be influenced by 
> culturally-driven specieism more than by empirical experience.

There is also something transhumanly interesting in the question itself: 
is there a sharp distinction, some important threshold, between animals 
and humans, or is it just that humans have more of some faculties than 
other species? It could be that there is a threshold effect - enough 
communication and ability to change in response to communicated 
information (rather than direct learning) might lead to a rapid upwards 
spiral of cumulative culture. But it could also be that there are some 
tricky special modules needed to make human-style general intelligence, 
for example an open-ended language module.

This matters, because if our intelligence and moral standing is due to 
just more of various standard faculties, then we should expect AI to be 
relatively easy: just get enough of them, and the rest will follow. 
Progress is mainly an issue of having enough computing power. But if 
there are some special tricks needed to achieve humanity, then 1) 
success in AI becomes dependent on figuring out how to do them (we 
should expect lumpy progress until a breakthrough) and 2) intelligent 
life might indeed be rare in the universe (which is good news from the 
existential risk/anthropics perspective, if a bit lonely).

Personally I do think most of our capacities are fairly normal in the 
animal kingdom, it was just that we managed to cross a threshold of 
joint language/self control/working memory/whatever and kicked of an 
exponential rise - but the evolutionary pressures leading to that might 
be somewhat uncommon. Not ultra-rare, but still uncommon. And I do 
wonder whether we had a breakthrough in recursive language a few hundred 
thousand years ago.

>     I consider myself human and cannot see reason to stop being one.
> Hey, be my guest. My Holy Scriptures say instead: "Man is something 
> that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass man? All beings 
> hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be 
> the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than 
> surpass man? What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of 
> shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman: a 
> laughing-stock, a thing of shame. Ye have made your way from the worm 
> to man, and much within you is still worm. Once were ye apes, and even 
> yet man is more of an ape than any of the apes... The Superman is the 
> meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Superman SHALL BE the 
> meaning of the earth!" :-)

And I'll quote:

"We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment 
properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever 
gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and 
possess through your own judgement and decision. The nature of all other 
creatures is defined and restricted within laws which We have laid down; 
you, by contrast, impeded by no such restrictions, may, by your own free 
will, to whose custody We have assigned you, trace for yourself the 
lineaments of your own nature. I have placed you at the very center of 
the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease 
glance round about you on all that the world contains.

We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither 
mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper 
of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will 
be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you 
will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior 
orders whose life is divine."

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20120513/02ff40dd/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list