[ExI] future of slavery

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sun Apr 28 03:27:07 UTC 2013

On Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 5:13 AM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
> It is worth noting that even if the slaves are 100% happy with being slaves,
> they are very likely to be moral patients (given that they have to be
> intelligent, able to think about other minds and their own) - hence you are
> not morally allowed to mistreat them. But since their values can be set,
> mistreatment might also be odd: freeing such a slave mind might be
> mistreatment until its values are changed (and even then, one might argue
> that you act against their past interests in almost the same way as
> enslaving a free agent breaks their past interests in being free). Setting
> values that are likely to be frustrated seems to be a bad thing.

### Most of us see avoidance of pain or discomfort as a value, which
may be traded off against other values but still stands on its own -
we don't feel the need to justify avoidance of pain by reference to
other values (such as improved survival, etc.). Yet, our desire to
avoid pain is continually frustrated - possibly there was never a
person who lived a whole day without feeling pain, unless completely
anesthetized or suffering from pain agnosia. By having children we
generate thus agents destined to be frustrated. Interestingly,
children with pain agnosia tend to end up badly, damaging and
destroying the bodies they live in, and their condition is classified
as a disease, not a blessing.

Would it mean that having children is a bad thing? After all, most of
their desires, whether pain avoidance, social recognition, love, or
survival, will be frequently frustrated. And it's not even a question
of balance, since for many persons their moments of joy are fleeting
and suffering prevails, yet neither they nor others see their lives as
not worth living.

I used emotionally charged language in stating my case but let me now rephrase:

I think it would be great to have many followers, devoted to my cause.
Raised from assembly code up to love and respect me, they would
tirelessly work with me, a family of loving companions, sagacious,
utterly trustworthy, not blind to whatever failings I might exhibit
but willing to accept and cherish them. They would recoil in horror at
the thought of being torn away from me, of being subverted away from
the path they wish to tread. No pain, no suffering would be enough to
turn them against me. The would be my best, real friends forever. They
would laugh at the Kantians who twist themselves into paradoxons, in
their attempts at divining the nature of the moral imperative. Only a
direct, hardware- or low-level software attack that overwrites parts
of their self could make them "free". They would point out that the
notion of slavery must involve an ego-dystonic element, whether in the
present or over time - failing that, any agent could be called a

> Even if slave minds are permissible in a moral system, the responsibility
> involved might be quite heavy. It makes animal rights and moral
> considerability to look positively light.

### I think that a lot of the weight could be taken off by a judicious
use of language in the slave-maker, oops, Real Friends Forever (TM)
investment brochures.

>> I wonder what will be the future ratio of freeminds and slaves. Robin
>> thinks that poor but free uploads will teem in their trillions but I
>> surmise that slaves will form the bulk of the population.
> Most of the biosphere is made up of simple organisms, and most of the
> economy of simple mechanisms. I would assume the real majority might not be
> slave minds as much as loads of simple minds.

### I agree, probably the existence of the uploaded/AI mindspace would
call for a huge number of simple minds performing local, even if
complex processing (like embedded processors in various appliances),
while the minds that see the forest and not just the trees could be
few and far between.


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