Fumbling Towards the Meaning of Life

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Wed Oct 22 08:23:50 PDT 2003


Turpin says:

 > Turing intended his
 > test as proof, not requirement, i.e., "any X
 > that can pass as one of us must be intelligent,"
 > not "any intelligent being must be able to pass
 > as one of us."

Granted.

Sorry, there's perhaps a bit of a disconnect between the admittedly 
grandiose title and what I'm actually looking for here.  The original 
idea was to come up w/ a set of criteria that would satisfy for 
granting "human rights" to non-biologically-human intelligences.  
Perhaps a better way to frame the question:  what's particularly 
"human" in "human intelligence" that would allow us to recognize it as 
such, regardless of the substrate it runs on?

I'm drawn back to the kind of "raman" / "varelse" distinction OSC has 
suggested in the past. [1]

With that in mind, it would seem to me that some kind of expression of 
recognizable "ethical thought" that transcends instinctive 
self-preservation --- that is, a framework for making reasoned value 
judgments about goals larger than self and being able to communicate 
those thoughts and the process by which they occur --- is peculiarly 
"human."  (Note that this doesn't imply agreement on ethics, merely the 
ability to communicate about them in a manner comprehensible to 
humans.)  It could be that "alien" intelligence might exist such that 
this is impossible, such that we can never recognize them as anything 
other than "them" in an us / them dichotomy...  but we probably 
wouldn't be concerned with granting such intelligence "human rights" / 
personhood anyway.  They would inevitably be "varelse."

jb

[1] http://lair.xent.com/pipermail/fork/2001-November/006006.html



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