[extropy-chat] The Limits of "Property"

A B austriaaugust at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 7 01:03:20 UTC 2006

Hi Lee,
  Sorry to do this again, but I have to take issue with something you wrote.
  Lee writes:
  "I will say that if I run
people on my own machinery, then it's best that other folks
mind their own business, and that no one intercede. It's an
old argument, but respect for the rule of law and for private
property has taken us quite far."
  In all but the most extreme and bizarre circumstances, I also strongly believe in "private property" and "the rule of law" provided that the laws are "just". (I know that this is wide open for debate, but I'm going to leave it at that for the time being).
  However, we should examine more carefully the notion of "owning property". In particular, we should explore the limits of the concepts of "property" and "owning".
  I must ask you: Why do you feel that you have the "right" or "entitlement" or "freedom" (or whatever *word* you want to use) to create and/or run conscious, artificial beings on your hardware and then do absolutely anything you want with them - morality being at your sole discretion? What is it that makes a conscious, artificial being your "property" in the first place? Is it your "property" simply because you created it (or simply ran the program)? If I create a human child with my wife, does that child immediately become my absolute "property" which I should be allowed to do any number or horrible things to, simply because I created it? Does a conscious machine, become your "property" simply because you paid for the hardware/software? If I travel to Thailand and purchase a 12 year old sex slave with my hard earned cash, should I be allowed to do absolutely anything I want to her? Ultimately, the 12 year old girl is a conscious machine, is she not?
  Of course, I would never do any of these terrible things. Just attempting to stimulate more thought on the limits of the concept of "property". So in conclusion, in my opinion, the concept of "property" does not extend past the boundary of conscious beings (although I'm aware that many other people don't feel this way, particularly when it comes to non-human, conscious beings).
  Best Wishes,
  Jeffrey Herrlich     

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