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

Hal Finney hal at finney.org
Fri Mar 31 23:33:12 UTC 2006

Apologies for not having followed this discussion more closely; perhaps
partially due to the list outage, it seems that Robin is replying
to messages from James which have not been posted here, and James is
replying to a message from Robin which was not posted here.

However an interesting point arises which I have often wondered about:
how to apply human social concepts to a world of uploads.  (AIs make
the problems even worse but I won't try to get into that here.)

Should minimum wage laws apply to uploads, for example?  More
problematically, should we scale the minimum wage to the time-rate of
the upload (if we can define such a thing)?  If the upload is running
ten times faster than a human being, should his minimum wage be $51.50
per hour?  And how would we rate his speed, if rather than a brute-force
speed-up he is using optimized algorithms or has pared down unessential
brain functionality?

And what about the rights of an upload?  Must he own the computer he
runs on?  If he doesn't, does the owner have the right to stop running the
upload, which would in effect kill him?  Human beings can own property,
but they don't have to; if they rent, the landowner does not have the
right to kill them.

Perhaps there could be a public server where uploads who had no other
alternatives could live and run, similar to government supplied housing
for the poor.

The biggest question posed is probably under what circumstances
reproduction or the creation of new uploads should be legal.  If uploads
are considered to have inalienable rights to life and perhaps a minimum
standard of living, the creation of a new upload could be a considerable
drain on society.  The analogous problem today, of people having large
families who depend on welfare, is not serious enough that we try to
limit reproduction.  But upload reproduction could be many orders of
magnitude faster and so probably different policies would be needed.

Perhaps a partial solution is to run some uploads slower, which will
allow fixed computational resources to be stretched.  However, that
will put them at a severe disadvantage economically.  Still, there
is precedent for this in government-run housing, which tends to be of
extremely low quality.

Obviously these issues will be difficult challenges for a future world
where upload technology is created.  I would imagine that how society
chooses to integrate uploads into the larger human world will make a
big difference in the economic and social impact of the new technology.


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