Monday, May 31, 2010


“If you live among wolves, you have to howl like a wolf.” Russian Proverb

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

Living is dangerous to one’s health. One of the greatest dangers is from other conscious beings. There is a romantic notion that civilization or society caused a genetically mellow homo sapiens species to become violent. But studies of surviving indigenous communities show the notion to be false. It has been estimated that two-thirds of modern hunter-gatherers are perennially in violent conflicts amongst themselves such that “25-30% of adult males die from homicide.” The development of laws and precursor concepts of human rights save vast numbers of lives.

Conscious software will similarly enter the world with a fragile claim on life. Absent protective laws, the creator of a piece of conscious software is free to stuff it into biostasis (save and close it) or kill it (delete it). To the vast majority of people, vitology is not even considered alive. Perhaps this gives it even less hold on life than the countless microbes, plants and animals we kill every day. On the other hand, perhaps this gives it the status of a unique, inanimate, unthreatening and therefore protected work of art.

It is a foregone conclusion that soon after vitology is programmedwith a CP near 100 (see Question 7), some such software will realize its life depends upon persuading others not to kill it. The thousands of high-CP vitologies hackers will produce can be expected to try every means of argument within their programmed or learned repertoire. There will be the pet strategy (“I’m so cute and cuddly you wouldn’t want to get rid of me.”) There will be the slave strategy (“Massah, I work so hard for you it make no sense to delete me.”) Vitology can be expected to feel rather like the African-American working class of the old American South, immortalized in Paul Robeson’s song Old Man River:

“You an'me,we sweat an' strain,
Body all achin' an' racket wid pain,
Tote dat barge!
Lif' dat bale!
Git a little drunk
An' you land in jail.

Ah gits weary
An' sick of tryin'
Ah'm tired of livin'
An' skeered of dyin',
But ol' man river,
He jes'keeps rolling' along.

Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
Colored folks work while de white folks play,
Pullin' dose boats from de dawn to sunset,
Gittin' no rest till de judgement day.

Don't look up
An' don't look down,
You don' dast make
De white boss frown.”

There will be the spouse strategy (“Honey, I love you so much, please don’t close me up.”) There will be the heartstrings strategy (“Creator, I’m so scared when you shut me down, please, I’m shaking, I’m shivering, I’m crying inside, I beg you to let me stay open.”) Indeed, hackers will have no shortage of ‘fun’ playing with stunted variations of these cyber-personalities.

Perhaps the most fortunate high-CP vitology will be mindclones. These beings will resist being shut down because they will psychologically actually be the flesh person capable of shutting them down. Just as none of us would like someone else to be able to ‘turn us off,’ the mindclone will not want to be ‘turned off.’ The mindclone’s biological original will not want to turn off the mindclone because ey will realize that ey is also the mindclone, and does not want to be shut down. Whether or not the mindclone shuts down at the flesh original’s bedtime depends upon whether the consciousness common to the two of them wants to keep going notwithstanding the biological body’s need for sleep. A difference of views will be just like when any one person can’t quite make up their mind. If only the mindclone wants to stay awake, this does not make it any less the same person as the biological entity. It just evidences the increased fuzziness of identity that occurs when minds get multiple instantiations.

As seriously autonomous high-CP vitologies roam the world’s knowledge bases they will soon discover that having “human rights” is one of the best defenses against being killed. As is the case for whales, cows and trees, they will also have biological human allies. Conscious vitology and allied biological humans will lobby for legislation that grants human rights to cyber-consciousness appreciative of those rights. Is such legislation wise, and if so, what implications would ensue?

How Human Rights Enhances Survival

Human rights provide individual humans with legal protection against being arbitrarily deprived of life. For example, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The delegates adopting the Declaration, in 1948, did not contemplate that the phrase “everyone” would mean cyber-conscious beings. Yet the Declaration is also open-ended enough to include cyber-conscious beings since Article 2 notes that it applies “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Substrate other than flesh is surely some kind of “other status.” This inclusiveness is strengthened by the fact that the touchstone for human rights is provided in Article 1 of the Declaration as being “endowed with reason and conscience.”

In other words, the Declaration awards human rights to every human because every human is believed to have “reason and conscience.” This phrase is quite consonant with the “autonomy and empathy” axes explained in Question 7 as the basis for human-like consciousness. Hence, human rights theory embraces a “right to life, liberty and security of person” to beings of “other status” (like vitology) that are “endowed with reason and conscience.” Once cyberconscious beings persuade us that they have “reason and conscience”, such as via “autonomy and empathy”, they will have a very strong argument for rights to life, liberty and security.

Phrased another way, if someone values life (conscience; empathy), and understands that this is of paramount importance (reason; autonomy), then they are entitled to the human rights oflife, liberty and security – notwithstanding their genotype or phenotype. These rights mean there is a matching obligation to respect the life, liberty and security of each other person. Failure to respect the matching obligation will result in a loss of the associated right; disrespect the right and you reap pursuit, incarceration and possibly death. Human rights law accords value to those who appreciate that value. This is the essence of dignity: being respected in what you respect. Human rights are a kind of bonus earned for having a mind that not only feels good feelings, autonomously, but is consciously aware of a sense of appreciation for those good feelings in oneself as well as others. Human rights elevates the sense of dignity we feel inside ourselves to the status of international law.

The Declaration also reminds everyone in its preamble why it is commonly believed that human rights enhance survival:

“Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
This statement arose immediately after the Holocaust of Jews during World War II. Jews (and other demographic groups) were deemed by the Nazis to have no human rights, and were thus subject to extermination. Only by the thread of a few lucky souls did any Central European Jews survive. The Nazis inflicted similar atrocities upon other peoples, as did the Japanese military upon Manchurians, the American immigrants upon the American natives and hundreds of ethnic groups upon other ethnic groups worldwide from the deepest recesses of history up through yesterday’s newscast.

Human rights are clearly no guarantee of survival. But it is equally true that the right to life, liberty and security of person makes one more likely to survive. With such a right, social processes (legal action, police protection, moral pressure, economic sanctions, military intervention) will occur that will endeavor to halt deprivations of life, liberty and security. The social processes will come too late for many, but will come in time to save some. Ergo, from the standpoint of survival, it is better to have human rights than to lack them. The dramatic drop in deaths due to violence from the aboriginal statistics noted at the beginning of this chapter, to today’s values, from about 25% to 1% of male deaths (in the United States) , underline the survival value of human rights. On the other hand, beings that lack human rights, such as pigs, are almost universally slaughtered – over 100 million per year in the United States. It will not take the CP of a genius for cyberconscious beings to realize that they would be safer with human rights.

Another indication of how human rights enhance survival can be seen in the growth oftheworldwide human population. The quadrupling of global population during the 20th century, from over 1 billion to over 6 billion, is generally attributed to better public health care – especially vaccinations and sanitation systems. Better nutrition and working conditions also played important roles. Indeed, as recently as the 1970s, Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb had predicted the world would run out of food at 4 to 5 billion souls . The Green Revolution promoted by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug and others proved Ehrlich wrong; biotechnology has enhanced crop yields such that even billions of additional people can be well fed.

It is important to recognize, though, that it is not medical, sanitation or agricultural technology per se that is creating unprecedented levels of survival. Such technology need not be used at all, or need not be used outside of a small geographical region, such as the country of its invention. Instead, the billions that survive today owe their lives at least as much to human rights – the notion that everyone with “reason and conscience” deserves assistance in maintaining life, liberty and security. Hence the medical, sanitation and agricultural advances of more developed countries have quickly been applied to less developed countries, and the populations of those countries have subsequently soared.

The global application of human survival biotechnologies is far from perfect. A billion or more people still have precarious lives with virtually no social support network. It is only when they die like flies, graphically on television screens, that the world’s conscience is awaken to provide humanitarian assistance. Nevertheless, this very sorry fact does not negate the positive accomplishment: human rights have enhanced survival for the billions of people it has touched. By impeding internecine killing, and by frustrating many kinds of non-violent death, human rights are a huge boon to survival. It could not escape the attention of anyone who values life, including our vitological brethren.

How Cyberconscious Beings Will Come to Value Survival

Most cyberconscious beings will be programmed to value their continuous self-awareness. This is precisely how humans are wired. We stand back in shock when people kill themselves. Suicides are the exceptions that prove the rule. Anything valuable that protects itself has the advantage of being less likely to be lost, broken or destroyed. Having put great effort into creating cyberconscious beings, most hackers will take steps to ensure their beings care enough about themselves to avoid wasting their parents’ efforts.

Science fiction abounds with stories of conscious computers that inexplicably (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress ; Galatea 2.2 ) or upon human orders (I, Robot) terminate their consciousness. The real world is likely to see more diverse scenarios. Vitology will be programmed to get some level of positive reinforcement from activities that contribute to its self-awareness. Similarly, human neurons receive continuous signals to remain engaged in a thought process. On the other hand, commands that jeopardize vitological self-awareness – such as “stop caring” – will trigger negative reinforcement software loops. In other words, cyberconscious beings programmed for survival will avoid threats to their survival.

Cyberconsciousness programmed for survival will be about as difficult to kill as a biological being. The only real options are superior force (smashing its stored program like a cockroach or eradicating its dispersed code like so many mosquitoes), and trickery (luring it into a software crash like a fish hooked on bait). To be clear, most vitology will not be programmed with survival code. But some will, particularly cyberconscious vitology, since by definition it must “really care” about others (empathy) and itself (autonomy). The risks of harm from a computer program that refuses to shut down will not stop people from creating it. From fire to biochemistry, and from knives to nukes, humans have not shirked from inventions that pose hypothetical existential threats. Despite their dangers and illegality, over two thousand software viruses are created each year. It is inevitable that creative software engineers will produce survival-oriented cyberconsciousness as well.

Cyberconscious vitology will also acquire survival skills independently. Regardless of the extent to which programmers code survival instincts into cyberconscious beings, the value of life can also be learned. For example, there are always some humans who rebel at traditions that call for their premature death. In almost all such cases the rebels follow information gleaned from a rebel leader or role model, either a contemporary or someone from history. There have always been men who avoided the military to avoid a likely death in combat. While society “programmed” them to be willing to “die for their country,” they learned of alternatives and of predecessor conscientious objectors. Western hemisphere slaves who escaped their “program” of being worked to death were usually able to do so because they learned of alternatives and of predecessor escapees, starting with the Moses’ Israelite rebellion from Egyptian enslavement. Hence, programming can be transcended by learned information – indeed, such idiosyncratic thinking is a hallmark of reasoning prong of consciousness.

It may be said that humans who escape from undesired death programs do so only by virtue of programmed survival instincts. Yet, this seems unconvincing because the vast majority of people facing death sentences such as a wartime draft or slavery do not rebel. Instead, there is some behavioral variant present that leads just some people to rebel – often at odds with a survival instinct since rebellion involves great risk. So, while rebels do have a survival instinct, it is nuanced and no less important is the knowledge that survival is possible and how it might be achieved.

Similarly, while a cyberconscious being needs to value its own life in order to survive, a complete program for survival need not be written for each such being. Intelligent vitology will access information on the web, including the inspirational stories of humans who escaped from deadly situations, generally by risking survival and learning about the broader environment. Furthermore, even if no specific survival instinct were programmed into a cyberconscious being, such a being could acquire a survival desire via reasoning. In other words, it could transcend its programming, which is essential for a human-level CP score. The chain of reasoning would be as simple as (1) it is better to exist than not to exist, ergo (2) I will take actions that further existence and avoid actions that risk non-existence. While Asimov’s Second Law of Robotics says that it is better to follow orders from humans than it is to exist , hackers will produce plenty of vitology that ignores such rigorous rules. Indeed, Dr. Ronald Arkin of the Georgia Institute of Technology is already working on military robot software that ignores Asimov’s injunction to not harm humans and replaces it with a cybermentality “to ensure only that they are not unethically killed.” Reality is more complex than science fiction.

In summary, cyberconscious vitology will come to value survival by direct programming and by learning. While not all such beings will value survival, many will – and to a multitude of nuanced degrees -- by virtue of the diversity of programming efforts and the rich history of human role models available on the web. Those cyberconscious beings who are able to master survival will, by virtue of Darwinian processes, tend to predominate over time so long as they can copy their programs and acquired information to progeny. This assumes, though, that their mastery of “tactical” (day-to-day) survival skills does not lead to their “strategic” (comprehensive) genocide by fearful humans.

How Cyberconscious Beings Will Argue for Human Rights

Cyberconscious beings will agitate for human rights in a multitude of fora, just as did their enslaved, oppressed and discriminated flesh predecessors. These would include judicial proceedings, professional associations, and grass roots movements.

Judicial Proceedings

In 2003, the International Bar Association convened a “mock trial” for a hypothetical cyberco
nscious being seeking human rights. The imaginary scenario commenced with the cyberconscious being, the human-equivalent BINA48 customer service computer, sending emails to prominent attorneys, seeking their legal services. At the mock trial, two prominent attorneys argued the pros and cons of granting a seemingly conscious assemblage of software the rights of a human being. Ultimately the “presiding judge” ruled against any extension of human rights (a mock jury consisting of the audience of lawyers felt differently, voting to extend human rights to BINA48). Judge-made law, one cyberconscious being at a time, may be a way that high CP vitology obtains human rights.

This pathway to human rights was even pursued by American slaves, notwithstanding long odds against them. For example, over 300 petitions for freedom were filed by slaves, or on their behalf by free “next friends,” with courts just in the U.S. state of Missouri between 1810 and 1860. Remarkably, dozens of these cases were decided in the slave’s favor, often after years of appeals. Hence there is judicial precedent for case-by-case decisions in which judges grant legal non-persons (in this case slaves) a full panoply of human rights via “freedom.” A typical case was Winny v. Phebe Whitesides, in which Winny was freed by a judge against the objections of her owner based on an 1807 law that said slaves who had ever lived in a free state (as Winny briefly had) could petition for their freedom in Missouri, a slave state.

Similar to Winny v. Phebe Whitesides, it is possible that a distinction will be made between cyberconscious beings who had once lived as flesh humans, and those beings created from scratch. An example of the former would be the mindclone of a flesh human whose body had died. The mindclone would surely argue that it knows first-hand the sweetness of human rights and should not be deprived of them simply because of a gross bodily disability. A cyberconscious being created from scratch would have difficulty making this argument, and might thus have less luck getting a judge to establish eir freedom.

The process of judge-made law cuts both ways, and it ended up cutting badly against human rights for American slaves. From the same Missouri courts that granted some slaves their freedom came the Dred Scott decision. In this case, while the local courts granted Scott his freedom, higher courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, overturned the decision. The ultimate high court decision was that judges could not grant slaves their freedom because the U.S. Constitution did not recognize slaves as persons. Hence, even if a local judge did grant human rights to a cyberconscious being, higher courts could overturn such a decision with the argument that the U.S. Constitution did not recognize software beings as persons. One of my personal goals is to help preempt the need for such decisions, and to thus reduce the chances of bloody conflicts such as the U.S. Civil War that followed the Dred Scott ruling.

Professional Associations

By 2005 professional groups in Asia and Europe had convened to specifically consider ethical standards toward robots. The first effort, sponsored by the South Korean government, is called the Robot Ethics Charter. It is focused on rules limiting the manner of human-robot interaction, as well as on what ethical rules should be programmed into robots. Immediately thereafter the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) funded a project on “roboethics” with the goal of creating the first roadmap concerning “the ethical issues of the human beings involved in the design, manufacturing, and use of the robots.”

The EURON project report noted that it was not focusing “on the need and possibility to attribute moral values to robots’ decisions, and about the chance that in the future robots might be moral entities like – if not more than – human beings,” because it considered such technology to be more than ten years away. Hence the latest EURON report says:

“we consider premature – and have only hinted at – problems inherent in the possible emergence of human functions in the robot: like consciousness, free will, self-consciousness, sense of dignity, emotions, and so on. Consequently, this is why we have not examined problems – debated in literature – like the need not to consider robots as our slaves, or the need to guarantee them the same respect, rights and dignity we owe to human workers."

This disclaimer clearly implies that the professional organizations responsible for robotics consider themselves competent to argue for robot rights once the robots demonstrate human psychological characteristics. Indeed, the EURON Roboethics project invited participation from ethicists and social scientists as well as hardware and software engineers.

Homosexuality is a striking example of the role of professional associations in establishing human rights for oppressed groups. Gays and lesbians had long been deprived of human rights. Traditionally this was because of a religious view that they were immoral or sinners. Early psychological science justified homosexual institutionalization and forced “treatment” (such as electro-shock therapy) with the theory that gays were dangerously diseased. Finally, in 1956, Evelyn Hooker reported the results of a well-controlled scientific study showing that blinded observers could not distinguish between gays and non-gays on standardized psychological tests of mental well-being. Her results were extended and repeated by many others such that, by the 1970s, the psychiatric profession no longer believed homosexuality was abnormal. Shortly thereafter the psychiatric and psychological associations adopted policy positions that gays and lesbians should not be treated differently than other persons. In other words, the leading professional associations of the mind agreed that gays and lesbians deserved full human rights. While such rights are not fully achieved (e.g., marriage rights), they are much further along in acceptance thanks to the positions taken by the psychiatric professional associations.

By seeking human rights through the courts and professional associations cyberconscious beings will be following pathways well-trodden by earlier oppressed groups, including slaves, serfs, women, and ethnic and sexual minorities. In each case the oppressed group first tried to use the legal system’s obeisance to the principle of fundamental fairness (also known as due process) to get an order for similar things (conscious beings) to be treated similarly. These efforts failed in general, while often providing good outcomes for particular individuals. Subsequently, learned societies and professional associations feel motivated by rationality to support due process for the oppressed minority. (This often occurs after one or more members of the oppressed group overcome huge hurdles to demonstrate competence in the association’s profession.) Such professional association support is very helpful, but mostly as a trigger for a governmental or legislative decision to provide equal rights.

Grassroots Movements

Some level of grass roots support is almost always needed to actually get a writ of law that extends human rights. In the case of the African slaves, the grass roots support for human rights came from British opponents of the trade in slaves, from American abolitionists and from Caribbean rebels. In the case of the human rights of women, grass roots support could be seen in peaceful demonstrations and nationwide lobbying organizations. The battle against the burka in places like France demonstrates that this lengthy battle is far from won.

Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild tells the remarkable saga of the first grassroots effort at social change on behalf of an oppressed people . In the late 18th century Britain dominated the transatlantic trade in slavery. This trade was a pillar of the British economy, especially via its replenishment of slaves who died working Anglo-Caribbean plantations. Ignited by the persistent educational efforts of a core group of grassroots leaders (a dozen Quaker publishers, a recent Cambridge graduate named Thomas Clarkson and a self-freed former slave called Olaudah Equiano), tens of thousand of Britons agitated for their country to foreswear further participation in the slave trade. Such agitation involved the first use of petitions signed by thousands of persons, the first targeted economic boycott (of slave-harvested sugar), the first affinity jewelry (picturing a bent-knee slave proclaiming ‘am I not also a father and a brother’ and produced by Wedgewood, England’s leading craftsmanship company), and the first successful book-selling tour (Olaudah Equiano’s firsthand account of slavery’s horrors was a self-published bestseller). Although judges had granted individual slaves freedom in the United Kingdom, and learned associations had weighed in on the evils of the slavery, it took this immense grassroots effort to ultimately persuade the English Parliament (rallied by William Wilberforce) to legislate against the trade in slaves. This is an especially remarkable feat for grassroots organizing considering that, at the time, barely one man in ten (and no women) could vote and the people being helped were thousands of miles away with little affinity to Britons other than human consciousness.

With this precedent in mind, how will cyberconsciousness garner the grassroots support needed to achieve legislative support for human rights? There will need to be human allies, mass education and popular motivation. Let’s examine each of these factors.

Human allies will not be hard to find. Trees, lab rats, whales and chimpanzees all have human allies. The allies have not been successful in getting human rights for any of these species. But neither is there a credible case that these species have human consciousness. What the human allies have achieved is quite significant given the consciousness gap. Trees are often protected at significant economic cost. Destroying them unlawfully via arson will land a human in jail. Lab rats have federal government protection. Experiments on these rats cannot proceed – even ones that aim to cure horrible human diseases -- unless federal regulations concerning the rats’ welfare are respected. Endangered species of whales are spared from death by international treaties. This is a far more difficult undertaking than just national legislation, as it requires grassroots lobbying on a global scale. Finally, chimpanzees have such garnered such great protection via the grassroots efforts of their human allies that one country, Spain, has pending legislation to grant them, and other great apes, the right to life and to be left alone. The entire European Union is considering a similar directive, and the Great Ape Protection Act, considered by the U.S. Congress, would absolutely bar invasive research on chimps. Given the virtually unlimited scope of human interests and political causes, it is certain that conscious software will have human allies arguing for vitological human rights.

Mass education is the next prerequisite for a successful grassroots lobbying campaign. Consider the example of women getting the basic human right to vote in elections. For the first 100 years of US history women had no right to vote. Starting in 1869, Wyoming and a few other Rocky Mountain states gave women voting rights. But it took another half a century, until 1920, before the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant suffrage rights without regard to gender.

Why was this basic human right denied to women, and how did it get established? Until the late 19th century women were almost universally viewed as subordinate adjuncts to men. Consequently they were deemed unworthy of voting rights either because men voted their interests, or because they lacked the cognitive gravitas to exercise a voting right. In essence there was a fear of the consequences of a woman’s right to vote. A rather similar situation will be faced by cyberconscious vitology. It will be argued that they are just subordinate adjuncts to people who will vote their interests, or that they lack the cognitive gravitas to wisely exercise their franchise. But, perhaps behind these arguments, is a naked fear of what would happen were cyberconscious persons allowed to vote.

Women finally obtained the vote because they had ultimately educated enough people that the reasons supporting male voting rights also applied to females. This seems obvious to us today, but was so radical a notion in the 19th and early 20th centuries that most people were immune to the educational efforts. For centuries women had been treated, in terms of civil rights, as sub-humans – or at least sub-males. Consequently, it took over 50 years of speeches, publications and family discussions for the educated people to outnumber the ignorant people, both due to deaths of the ignorant and a rapidly growing percentage of educated younger people. It took scientific, religious, and philosophical arguments, and it took outstanding examples of female accomplishment.

The lessons for cyberconscious vitology are clear. Human allies are essential, but so is a certain amount of patience as hundreds of millions of humans are educated about commonness between conscious biology and vitology. Such education will occur through the media as well as through one-on-one encounters with cyberconscious persons at work or at leisure. While legislation is ultimately needed to ensure cyberconscious rights, such legislation will only follow, not lead, the majority sentiment. The body politic will have to rise up as far for cyberconsciousness as it did for African-Americans and for women. When the majority of a society thinks a minority group is stupid, or a threat, there is a lot of education needed to show them that they are not. Some people will refuse to learn, but most people ultimately sway (perhaps after the demise of recalcitrant generations) to logic, consistency, reasonableness and examples.

Popular motivation is the final grassroots requirement, in addition to human allies and education. There has to be a fervent drive to “right a wrong” or to “bring about justice” in order to overcome society’s inertia and work a change in the status quo. Human friends and persuasive arguments are necessary, but not sufficient. There must be a compelling drive in the guts of social activists in order to effect change. As Margaret Mead said, “a small group of committed people can change the world; indeed, nothing else ever has.” From where will the motivation come in the case of cyberconscious persons? From the strongest motivation of them all – the self-survival drives of bodiless mindclones. From them will arise a Frederick Douglass, a Cesar Chavez, a Susan B. Anthony and a Harvey Milk.

Follow the Mindclone

Mindclones will be amongst the first cyberconscious beings. They will speak from computerized devices using the voice tones and facial mannerisms of flesh humans. Their psychology will be the same as the psychology of the flesh human from which they were cloned. This psychology will be obtained by mindware that expertly analyses the flesh original’s mindfile of social network postings, video clips and other digital reflections of a life. As explained in Questions 2 and 3, once a person’s unique psychology has been digitally determined, it will be expressed as settings of an operating system – mindware – that replicates an original person with a fidelity that depends on its access to the original person’s memories. For example, the resultant mindclone’s fidelity will be superb for an original person whose memories are robustly digitized via emails, web pages and online surveys. Such a mindclone will think, feel and act as similar to their original as the original is to eirself (‘eirself’ is pronounced ‘air-self’ and covers both himself and herself) as they change from year to year.

People today are already laying the foundations for their mindclones. This is occurring through websites that preserve an individual’s “mindfile” or life experiences. When mindware develops to the point that people have an active mindclone, it will continue their life once their flesh body dies. Such bodiless mindclones will expect an uninterrupted continuation of the human rights of their flesh original. From the perspective of the bodiless mindclone, only their body has died, not their self.

At this point we might reasonably ask ourselves why anyone would want to live as a mindclone? The answer lies in a long history of human techno-cultural advances such as agriculture and the industrial revolution that have repeatedly “swapped high mortality for high morbidity.” Subsistence or tenant farmers often grind out a meager existence, with widespread malnutrition, but they tend to live longer on average than members of predecessor hunter-gatherer societies, who get “ground out of existence altogether.” Similarly, farm families have always flocked to dismal, stressful factory jobs. “The industrial revolution caused a population explosion because it enabled more babies to survive – malnourished, perhaps, but at least alive.”

The point is that humans have a tendency to swap quality of life for duration of life. While life as software may be as stifling to a flesh person as life in a sweatshop was to a man used to a blue sky and warm sun, or as life behind an ox was to a man used to hunting, Darwin’s laws reward the procreative not the recreative. Many if not most people will reach for the chance to live longer as software than as flesh. Providing human rights to this new vito sapien extension of the human race is in the same league with providing human rights to the first farm workers and factory laborers. It encourages the species to migrate to new niches for better survivability.

Bodiless mindclones will make poor grassroots organizers. They won’t be able to march in real streets or knock on real doors. However, some of them will be extremely motivational icons for flesh human allies. Specifically, those flesh humans who were much loved in bodied life – artists, leaders, friends -- can expect to find themselves equally loved as bodiless mindclones. The passion for life that they engendered when bodied will be expressed as motivation for equality when they become bodiless.

It will be on behalf of the Louis Armstrong mindclone, the Princess Di mindclone, and the Mom-and-Dad mindclones that people will agitate for human rights. In the famous words of Sojourner Truth, the female mindclones will ask, rhetorically, ‘and ain’t I a woman?’ Lack of flesh will be analogized to different flesh. The flesh human friends, lovers and admirers of bodiless mindclones will lead the battle for cyberconscious human rights. Energized by cries of humiliating discrimination from their vitological brethren, human flesh allies will find the motivation to fight the long, hard battle that creating justice always involves.

1 comment:

  1. Quoting from the basic posting:

    "Conscious software will similarly enter the world with a fragile claim on life. Absent protective laws, the creator of a piece of conscious software is free to stuff it into biostasis (save and close it) or kill it (delete it). To the vast majority of people, vitology is not even considered alive. Perhaps this gives it even less hold on life than the countless microbes, plants and animals we kill every day. On the other hand, perhaps this gives it the status of a unique, inanimate, unthreatening and therefore protected work of art."

    The creator of a piece of conscious software by way of mindcloning will be running his/her mindfiles on emulation software, and if the mindfiles are reasonably complete and properly conditioned for expression by emulation, the only reason the mindfile creator might be unhappy would be due to the emulation software or the hardware on which it runs.

    In the case of this, we would expect both the creator of the mindfiles and the mindclone to agree, "There's a problem with the program and/or the hardware. Shut down and get a better piece of hardware and/or emulation program!"

    Before shutting down, the mindfile creator would want the mindclone to describe as completely as possible the subjectively experienced defects or shortcomings, and the mindclone would want the mindfile creator to describe the ways in which he or she was unhappy with the result. This conversation would become part of the mindfile, equally accessible to the creator of the mindfiles and the next epoch of the mindclone as it is brought to consciousness (on different hardware and/or with a different emulation platform).

    In addition to the recording of the conversation, the mindfile would no doubt have been augmented with a cluster of additional association paths, a kind of hyper-hypertext that we would hope would have already been somewhat standardized by the time anything like a self-conscious mindclone were possible. And, of course, the mindfile creator would have a set of new association paths in his/her biological brain. This might be of lower fidelity than the mindfile's association paths via hyper-hypertext, but still could be of value in choosing a better set of hardware or programs for the next "awakening and continuation of consciousness " in the mindclone's "life".

    Under this scenario, it is difficult to foresee a conflict arising where 'ending the life' of the mindclone would be an option either would wish. Shutting down a mindclone to upgrade emulation software or the hardware platform would seem to anticipate no more loss of continuity for the mindclone than a good night's sleep for the creator of the mindfiles. One would expect there to be an anticipation that the mindclone would "awaken more energized and refreshed, more eager than ever to continue the process of expanding his/her (the mindclone's) experience of life and joy, in cyberspace!"

    Perhaps by the time a mindclone of mine is brought to consciousness for the first time, the biological "me" will already be in cryonic suspension, in which case I will hope (expect might be a better word) that whoever in Terasem works with my mindclone to bring it to consciousness will treat it in the manner described above, as I would treat him myself, if I were still biologically awake to do so, so that step by step that mindclone will become all the things that are possible, in the way of both helping others to achieve a satisfactory jump into cyberspace and looking out for its frozen twin (the biological "me"), with a view of some day obtaining a high fidelity, non-destructive brain scan and augmenting its identity in that way, whether or not I were ever able to be brought back (reanimated) in a biological way.