[extropy-chat] Mises article today: "How we come to own ourselves"

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Thu Sep 7 15:52:29 UTC 2006

On 9/7/06, Amara Graps <amara at amara.com> wrote:
> The Mises Institute's daily article today :
> "How we Come to Own Ourselves"
> http://www.mises.org/story/2291
> is closely related to the heavy discussion we had here several months
> ago under the Subject: "What the #$?! are rights anyway?',  a topic
> that generated some anger among some women in the community
> (including me (*)). Perhaps this article can help to put the topic
> in a philosophical framework in order to further the develop the
> concept for the H+ community.
> Amara
> (*) My primary comment in that extropy-chat thread:
> "I would think 'right' to one's body as the most basic right that one can
> have. I do not know why H+ people feel a need to debate this and why
> such a basic issue is being brought up. If one doesn't accept this, then
> everything else that people in the  transhuman community have discussed
> during the last 20 years as desirable for their future collapses."
> --

### I agree in general terms with the position outlined in the article
linked above but I tend to concentrate in my normative analysis on a
related but distinct issue: self-ownership of one's computational

The body is only important as a supporting structure for the
computational substrate which, by a mysterious mechanism, leads to the
subjective experience that is of concern to me, and imbues the world
with value. If you perform the same sort of analysis as done by
Kinsella but looking at the ownership rights to the brain, then some
conclusions follow more smoothly - your parents may own your body
before your brain comes into existence but once your desires start
being computed (as in saying "no") these rights are naturally voided
due to the direct link established between your motor cortex and the
body's muscles.

On lazy days I like spinning webs of thoughts about the world and me,
where the usual personal pronouns and conventional terms are
progressively replaced by the impersonal vocabulary of science and the
digital culture. Like, "The essence of desire, a form of subjective
experience attendant to the functioning of human (and most likely many
other) computational substrates, is the steering of thought to the
satisfaction of goals encoded in the structure of the individual
computational substrate.The purpose of formulating general ethical
precepts is to further the satisfaction of individual desires by
improving the efficiency of interactions with other individual
computing devices. Due to limitations of computing power and other
practical considerations, an important element of many such precepts
is the delineation of a reference class of computing devices, such
that the desires of members of this class are optimized preferentially
over the goals of other devices. Failing to define a reference class
appropriate for both one's desires and one's computational resources
results in non-computability of ethical precepts, leading to the
failure of satisfaction of desires, invalidating the ethical analysis
performed. Rational thought is a thought that leads to, rather than
away from, the attainment of goals. Therefore, a rational and useful
ethical analysis is one that specifies rules with computable outcomes
that lead to the satisfaction of the desires of a reference class of
computational devices." Etc, etc. :)

I noticed that the exi-list was rather drowsy of late, so maybe I can
stir something up by noting that the above piece of dense prose could
be interpreted as militating against caring about  people you don't
understand, or caring about dolphins. It could even be a veiled
assault on CEV. Any takers?


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