[ExI] roboburgers to go

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Sep 29 11:58:34 UTC 2013

On 2013-09-29 10:51, BillK wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 29, 2013 at 10:02 AM, Kelly Anderson wrote:
>>> There are many jobs that we almost have a moral duty to eliminate.
>> I love you Anders! Can I have your baby? Or at least add this to my quotes
>> list?
> Remember that Anders is a philosopher.
> So try asking him 'What eez thees moral duty zat you speak off?'

Oh noes! You found my weak spot! Metaethics! Argh!!!


> Considering that different races, cultures, have different moral duties.
> Most inquisitions, wars. pogroms, etc were driven by so-called 'moral duties'.

Seriously, that is just moral relativism... and a bunch of facts.

Sure, people have different views on what we really ought to do. But 
that doesn't relativize moral truth any more than the fact that people 
have had different views on the shape of the earth changes what shape it 
really is. There could be a One True Moral System that we may or may not 
have found. The deep question is of course if the OTMS exists, how it 
exists, and if we can know it. In practice, however, moral systems do 
have sensible and actionable ideas that should be followed, especially 
when several agree with each other.

> And, of course, the people employed in nasty jobs might object
> strongly to being told that their job has been eliminated.

Should we introduce a cheap shipwrecking robot that would prevent 
Pakistani children from making a living in the industry, yet save their 
health? It is nontrivial, sure. But what about medical robots that make 
medical care cheaper? Some doctors and nurses will be forced to do 
different jobs, but healthcare will become cheaper and easier to provide 
to poor people. Now, the occupation doctor is not so bad that it ought 
not exist. It is just consequentially a good thing if it could be done 
with a gadget. There are other jobs (fluffers, sewage workers, guano or 
sulphur collectors, CTS decon or porta potty cleaners) where I think a 
very strong case can be made in nearly every moral system that it would 
be good for the workers if that work did not exist.

I have no doubt there are some people doing horrible things who actually 
love their jobs. But if those are rare in the occupation, you have a 
good reason to suspect that the occupation ought to go.

> The transhuman enhancement of morality is a dangerous concept. One
> man's morality is another man's oppression.

Only if you try to impose your morality on others. See the work on the 
ethics of moral enhancement we have done in Oxford: there are plenty of 
things that might be doable that would make people better able to act 
morally without prescribing what morality to believe in.

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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