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ghost



Joined: 20 Feb 2006
Posts: 76
Location: Amarica/Minnesota

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:
Here I must side with Animae. There are no rights, per se. There are only demands that may or may not be met. Rights are purely a contract that doesn't exist outside our minds and can be changed by circumstances.
Rationally we can perceive possibility to bring a maximum amount of happiness to every individual with minimal amount of suffering, but there is no natural law demanding us to take that course of action and indeed, some of our primal instincts seem to be against making such compromises.

This doesn't mean we should abandon ethics, but that we should acknowledge, that all results our ethical analysis brings depend on what our cultural and individual premises are. Some models of ethics, like those of Immanuel Kant's are completely impossible to use in real world, because of their perfectionist premises.


I hear what you're saying, but I still feel there is a basic right to being alive, not in the sence that we have rights of or against others, but the right of being alive. I beleave The only true bealonging and or right we have is life it's self.

Life=selfawearnes/selfpresservation.
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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:
This doesn't mean we should abandon ethics, but that we should acknowledge, that all results our ethical analysis brings depend on what our cultural and individual premises are. Some models of ethics, like those of Immanuel Kant's are completely impossible to use in real world, because of their perfectionist premises.


I agree that everything that anyone determines to be right or wrong in any way depends on what their values are, and there is no way to determine whether any given set of values is objectively better than others. (It never made sense to me when people say all morality should be based off of maximizing human happiness while minimizing suffering, in no small part due to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", if anyone's read it. This is just as arbitrary as benefiting one's own race, culture, nation, so forth over others, glorifying and obeying supernatural beings, etc.) My only real problem here is that I believe that this doesn't mean some values are better at least subjectively, on some level. What I interpret Animae as saying is that there are no real values, no real morality, because none of this can be tested by empirical science. If that is the case, why even bother to hold discussions in this forum, or do anything else? What value can truth or free expression or honesty about the fact that there are no values hold in a world without values?

I don't believe religion or the hearsay of any supernatural entity solves this problem. I would like to point out that any values decided on by any being people could care to call a "god" are ultimately just as arbitrary and meaningless as ones created by you and me, since after all, they are just concepts with no basis in objective physical reality, and can't be tested or proven by any empirical methods, which, at least the way I learned them in school, can't deal with normative judgements. So in the end, what choice do we have to be at least somewhat dogmatic about this?

Maybe we're all just lying to ourselves to fulfill our roles as survival machines and transmission mechanisms for genes and memes. Wink If anyone can think of a reason why ethics are real in a more objective sense, I'd like to hear it.
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Animae



Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:
What I interpret Animae as saying is that there are no real values, no real morality, because none of this can be tested by empirical science.

It’s not so much a problem of morals not being possible to be test; it’s rather that morals have an inherent flaw already in a conceptual stage. By creating a moral system, you are trying to build something that the ground cannot support; the ideas simply don’t float if you see what I mean. This is due to the premises, the very fundamental notions the moral system relies on, are no absolute things. They are simply assumed.
douyang wrote:
If that is the case, why even bother to hold discussions in this forum, or do anything else? What value can truth or free expression or honesty about the fact that there are no values hold in a world without values?

You’re either very close to having realized something important or you just did.
Anyway, remember that we are masters, we created words, and we should never let them rule over us. We possess things, unfortunately rarely used, called creativity, ambition and will allowing us to devise anything that is within our abilities to conceive.
I think a common mistake made by philosophers, when creating new systems, is that they almost always assume them to be right, as if they alone had seen TRUTH.
I say f*** right and truth, as we might never get a step closer to those things.
Let’s instead use the little creativity we have and be absolutely pragmatic.
That does not mean we should ignore “reality”, only that we should recognize knowing for the qualities it has.
douyang wrote:
If anyone can think of a reason why ethics are real in a more objective sense, I'd like to hear it.

Because it’s practical, does ethics have to be true to be useful?
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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Animae wrote:
You’re either very close to having realized something important or you just did.
Anyway, remember that we are masters, we created words, and we should never let them rule over us. We possess things, unfortunately rarely used, called creativity, ambition and will allowing us to devise anything that is within our abilities to conceive.
I think a common mistake made by philosophers, when creating new systems, is that they almost always assume them to be right, as if they alone had seen TRUTH.
I say f*** right and truth, as we might never get a step closer to those things.
Let’s instead use the little creativity we have and be absolutely pragmatic.
That does not mean we should ignore “reality”, only that we should recognize knowing for the qualities it has.
douyang wrote:
If anyone can think of a reason why ethics are real in a more objective sense, I'd like to hear it.

Because it’s practical, does ethics have to be true to be useful?



There you go again saying truth is irrelevant, and that we need to be "practical" and lie to people, in order to make the world the way we think it should be. Don't you see that is nothing more than tyranny and megalomania, deciding you have the right to think and decide for people on any number of critical issues (or EVERY issue, law, or decision ever, really) and force your own values on them? At the same time you ironically admit there really is no objective morality or ethics, only what we create for ourselves, and that therefore you have no more right to be forcing your values or the ethics based off those values on anyone anymore than the rest of us?

You seem to have missed my point. How can ethics be "pragmatic" or "useful", unless they promote morality? How is this possible if ethics are false and there is no morality they would be needed to support? Unless of course, you never really cared about ethics in the first place so much as inventing a code of rules or values that are designed to serve you and your agenda regardless of their truthfulness or morality.
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Lightice



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morality is a dubious concept. At first you must decide, what you consider moral. Unlike many imagine, none of the rules of morality are set in stone, but change throughout cultures and times. The only things that remain same are the ones that the culture requires to survive - this is why pointless killing is usually frowned upon in most cultures - if it isn't, the culture won't be around for very long.

I view ethics and morality as tools of human interaction. Their shape depends purely on what is most useful in any given situation. The basic things like don't kill or don't steal are useful, because when a large enough number of humans follow them, they act as deterrent for harmful acts done to yourself.
To continue the tool metaphor, a hammer can have many shapes, although its basic function remains the same and all the variations of a hammer can be called real hammers, even though there are plenty of variations in size, shape and use. The same, I think, applies to ethics and morality.
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-Animae-



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 22
Location: Ascending

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There has been a slight delay for me to reply, because I have had some account trouble (hence the new one). The following was written some days ago:

Seem like my previous post was not clear, therefore let me clarify. To quote myself:
Animae wrote:
Anyway, remember that we are masters, we created words, and we should never let them rule over us.

I think that ideally, we should rule with reason, not being ruled by reason; that is we should realize that these rules “logic” as we like to call them are nothing more than concepts devised by us. Therefore we ought to created rules that work towards our (our as in humanity) goals. Morals should be created in accordance to there practical use. An example of a moral concept that fails this in every way and fashion is utilitarism. Fist it fails to be dynamic in the sense that it assumes happiness to be the value to strive against thus it is dogmatic. Secondly it fails to be of practical use because just about anything can be justified by simple reasoning within the concept. It does not even requires the change of any rules that otherwise could be used to falsify the justification.
Truth is absolutely not irrelevant, only unattainable it may be out there but unless you have a good idea on how we can reach it it’s not really interesting.
But of course you are welcome to try, let’s see if you succeed any better than all previous philosophers who wanted to explore metaphysics. As far as I know not a single one of them found the slightest shard of this truth you believe to be so obvious.
douyang wrote:
Don't you see that is nothing more than tyranny and megalomania, deciding you have the right to think and decide for people on any number of critical issues (or EVERY issue, law, or decision ever, really) and force your own values on them?

Did I ever say anything about oppression? I don’t think my practical morality should be forced upon anyone. Perhaps you misunderstand what I mean with “practical ethics” I am not pursuing ethics that I can change at my whim (what set of rules would that be?), if such where the case would it not be simpler to discard any notion of morality and simply act in accordance to our interest?
My idea of practical ethics is a consistent theory which has a radical difference from any ethics I have previously encountered. Its basis is not about doing what is right (as it is not possible to know) but instead focuses on being capable to solve morale problems in an acceptable way. But if I don’t have right and wrong and any values how can I develop idea? What basis do I have to work with? I have found what I believe to be an excellent workaround to that problem.
douyang wrote:
You seem to have missed my point. How can ethics be "pragmatic" or "useful", unless they promote morality? How is this possible if ethics are false and there is no morality they would be needed to support? Unless of course, you never really cared about ethics in the first place so much as inventing a code of rules or values that are designed to serve you and your agenda regardless of their truthfulness or morality.

You are exactly right on that point, I don’t care the slightest what is right and wrong.
But you know you already have the solution to the problem right in front of you, solved and ready for application.
Self interest and the introduction of “values” solve all problems in a conceivable way. So what are these values then? If my original intention was to avoid dogmas and the frail “truth” what can I create without possibly being dogmatic? With a bit of creativity I found it quite easy and satisfying to find a solution to yet another problem. What better way is there to avoid something fake that to use something that already exist, moreover it is a dynamic element which takes into consideration the subjective nature of our experiences. These values are our own values!
As they are subjective they are different for every person, which makes my ideas of ethics dynamic instead of universal.
This is one of the major differences, which renders it less useful as it requires a certain degree of knowledge about who you are “putting in the equation”. Unfortunately it makes it useless to use on a massive scale and as I see it useful only for personal application. Fortunately as we all are humans we have similar values thus making it possible to use on just about anybody.
I think this idea is shaping up pretty well, as I created this idea along the course of this thread I consider it to still be in an early stage any constructive criticism is welcome.
See now with what I mean with using our creativity to make something useful?
Anyway no matter what happens with this idea this was a great opportunity to stimulate my creative thinking.
If we use this concept and apply it to the original “problem” in this thread, the conclusion would be that the right way to treat any other entity should be in accordance to its nature.

As I have never studied philosophy I guess some of my ideas can be hard to follow because I may not use common terminology, so feel free to point out any definition that does not concede with “common” interpretations.
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Montreal

PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Animae- wrote:
I think that ideally, we should rule with reason, not being ruled by reason; that is we should realize that these rules “logic” as we like to call them are nothing more than concepts devised by us. Therefore we ought to created rules that work towards our (our as in humanity) goals. Morals should be created in accordance to there practical use. An example of a moral concept that fails this in every way and fashion is utilitarism. Fist it fails to be dynamic in the sense that it assumes happiness to be the value to strive against thus it is dogmatic. Secondly it fails to be of practical use because just about anything can be justified by simple reasoning within the concept. It does not even requires the change of any rules that otherwise could be used to falsify the justification.


According to WP, utilitarism is about "quantitative maximization of good consequences for a population". It doesn't have any fixed notion about what the consequence should be (although it is often chosen to be happiness in practice).

-Animae- wrote:
My idea of practical ethics is a consistent theory which has a radical difference from any ethics I have previously encountered. Its basis is not about doing what is right (as it is not possible to know) but instead focuses on being capable to solve morale problems in an acceptable way.


Seems to me you've got around in circle on that one :-)

-Animae- wrote:
If we use this concept and apply it to the original “problem” in this thread, the conclusion would be that the right way to treat any other entity should be in accordance to its nature.


From my understanding, human beings have a long history of blindness as to the nature of other beings. We didn't give rights to slaves before they asked for it. And a lot of times, we still refused them these rights until they had the power to enforce them.

My own opinion on it would be: wait for the entities (tachikomas) to ask for their rights. Because we will never know for sure when/if they are self-aware. And nothing tells us if we should (morally) give them rights or not either. The only "sure" thing is that, if they are intelligent enough to be frustrated and they have some kind of power, you should make them your friend instead of your enemies. Unless you can conveniently unplug/reprogram them. In what case we return to the power argument.
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-Animae-



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 22
Location: Ascending

PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rcog3 wrote:
According to WP, utilitarism is about "quantitative maximization of good consequences for a population". It doesn't have any fixed notion about what the consequence should be (although it is often chosen to be happiness in practice).

And “quantitative maximization of good consequences for a population” is not a fixed notion? It requires you to define “good” doesn’t it? Otherwise it would be slightly crippled.
We could always discus whenever anything is actually a “fixed notion” as thing change when evolving but I don’t thing we will get anything interesting from it.
rcog3 wrote:
Seems to me you've got around in circle on that one Smile

Touché! Your are quite sharp and as much as I hate to admit it, I totally missed that. But wait before I let that lonely idea shrivel back to oblivion I think it deserves the same treatment that I give all other ideas that I don’t think deserve to be labeled belief, namely exploitation. That does not mean that I don’t intent to try to save it, by destroying its flawed parts and see if I can find a workaround (and if I cant it will be a testament to the limits of my creativity).
rcog3 wrote:
From my understanding, human beings have a long history of blindness as to the nature of other beings. We didn't give rights to slaves before they asked for it. And a lot of times, we still refused them these rights until they had the power to enforce them.

As I see it this stems from an interesting problem, are people responsible of their own ignorance? People of the time saw slave as nothing more that cattle, they did not regard them as human. Thus any treatment that can be legitimized on animals can be set as a direct equal to slaves.
Questions is now if the people who had slaves could be excused by “they did not know better”
rcog3 wrote:
My own opinion on it would be: wait for the entities (tachikomas) to ask for their rights.

I think you are making it easy for yourself, what if we had no ability to communicate with the entities? And how do you know that our needs are comparable with theirs if you have the ability of intercommunication? I don’t know if you thought about it but we as humans have a lot of needs that are in no way given to us, how should we weight the importance of needs?
Purely subjectively I would give them rights solely under the idea of self benefit. While that might seem awfully oppressive I think this forum need an ethics of self-interest tread, as people have a tendency to misunderstand those ideas, and judging from the previous reactions when I mention self-interest it seem to be the case here as well.
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Elmo



Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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Location: Plato's Cave Weapon of Choice: Sarcasm

PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm apparently when it logs you out before you manage to send post you can't get back the post data....

/me bangs head on keyboard

well, just assume it was an big eloquent post on the flaws of ethical egoism. Wink
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Animae- wrote:

We could always discus whenever anything is actually a “fixed notion” as thing change when evolving but I don’t thing we will get anything interesting from it.

I agree. Just wanted to temperate your statement.

-Animae- wrote:

rcog3 wrote:
From my understanding, human beings have a long history of blindness as to the nature of other beings. We didn't give rights to slaves before they asked for it. And a lot of times, we still refused them these rights until they had the power to enforce them.

As I see it this stems from an interesting problem, are people responsible of their own ignorance? People of the time saw slave as nothing more that cattle, they did not regard them as human. Thus any treatment that can be legitimized on animals can be set as a direct equal to slaves.
Questions is now if the people who had slaves could be excused by “they did not know better”

My point was more about slavers giving rights to their slaves based on their demands instead of their nature. Note that for the sake of simplicity, let's consider antiquity slavery (and not the middle 19th century american slavery, for example).

-Animae- wrote:

rcog3 wrote:
My own opinion on it would be: wait for the entities (tachikomas) to ask for their rights.

I think you are making it easy for yourself, what if we had no ability to communicate with the entities?


Communication seems to be a pre-requisite to me. What tells you that trees are not self-aware (and thus deserve some rights)?

-Animae- wrote:

And how do you know that our needs are comparable with theirs if you have the ability of intercommunication? I don’t know if you thought about it but we as humans have a lot of needs that are in no way given to us, how should we weight the importance of needs?


This is the point. As we can't really be sure about the nature of other beings, rights are established by a contract (as brought by Lightice) between the two. If tachikoma says "I think I should have my weekends", maybe you agree. If he says "I think I should have your house because I am bigger", maybe you don't. And in case of conflict, the equilibrium is attained by a balance of power.

-Animae- wrote:

Purely subjectively I would give them rights solely under the idea of self benefit. While that might seem awfully oppressive I think this forum need an ethics of self-interest tread, as people have a tendency to misunderstand those ideas, and judging from the previous reactions when I mention self-interest it seem to be the case here as well.


I don't think it is oppressive, as it is tempered by your power to enforce it. And people working with tachikomas will have a different view of self benefit.
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-Animae-



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elmo wrote:
well, just assume it was an big eloquent post on the flaws of ethical egoism. Wink

Just the word ethics is sufficient to urge me to destroy Twisted Evil, but I would really like to hear you criticisms, maybe for once someone has something original to bring to the endless ethical wars. You know the best way to describe an ethics argument I my opinion is to use Valhalla as a metaphor, it’s strikingly similar.
rcog3 wrote:
Communication seems to be a pre-requisite to me. What tells you that trees are not self-aware (and thus deserve some rights)?
Well in all arrogance, if you allow me to know something for just a moment, I would say that trees are not self aware due to their biology making it impossible. I don’t think we have to argue about whenever awareness requires a central nervous system or something equivalent, I think we all take this for granted. Not that I don’t find it amusing to in a nihilistic air to destroy all knowing, I just think its more useful to let things “float” sometimes. This requires a lot of dogmatic assumptions, but I am ready to make those if there is something useful to get from it.
As with the communication part: imagine this scenario:
We encounter a species that we know are conscious (how is not really part of this problem) but as these are alien to us we don’t have any way to communicate with them.
rcog3 wrote:
And in case of conflict, the equilibrium is attained by a balance of power.
Think about an unfair scenario, what if we encountered creatures that would have the upper hand in every single way, even if they are few in numbers if they are sufficiently powerful they could control mankind in a very unusual way, oppression from above as they would not theoretically need us to retain their power.
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Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks--those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Animae- wrote:
Well in all arrogance, if you allow me to know something for just a moment, I would say that trees are not self aware due to their biology making it impossible.


Maybe I didn't chose my example well. Let's take AIs instead. When will you know that your AI is self-aware (and thus deserves some rights)? The threshold becomes quite blurry*. In the process of building better and better AIs, how can you know that version 10 is not self aware and version 11 is? Even a Turing test seems not to be an absolute answer.

-Animae- wrote:

As with the communication part: imagine this scenario:
We encounter a species that we know are conscious (how is not really part of this problem) but as these are alien to us we don’t have any way to communicate with them.


You read Solaris Smile? I think the concept was nicely explored. Since you can't communicate, you can't say either if the probing is hurting the planet or not (the solaris example). In the book, they don't try to guess what are the rights of the planetoid either. They only take precautions to stay alive when they probe it.

-Animae- wrote:
Think about an unfair scenario, what if we encountered creatures that would have the upper hand in every single way, even if they are few in numbers if they are sufficiently powerful they could control mankind in a very unusual way, oppression from above as they would not theoretically need us to retain their power.


The more powerful decides if it wants to give rights to the weak one (at his own discretion). Western world decides that terrorists are not covered by the Geneva convention. As long as middle-eastern countries can't fight back, Western world will continue to decide.

Now, if Western world wants to give terrorists some rights because they look like us and seems to be self-aware (as far as we know), it's ok. But if they weren't so alike (if terrorists were made of silicon and transistors), maybe we wouldn't be able make such a wise decision.

* Take neural networks, for example. You don't program these completely. You only program a base structure and after that you train them. You don't have a control on the number of neural pathways it develops (TNG, "The Quality of Life" explores the subject).
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-Animae-



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course, knowing is always a problem.
I think that there is a substantial chance of stumbling upon what awareness is if you develop advanced AI. I know there a various theories on how things can be conscious, but I am definitely not a supporter of the idea that entities suddenly become “possessed” after reaching a certain threshold. As I see it consciousness is a very architectural thing, it does not work simply occur because the processing power is sufficient. If I am right, it would be unlikely that there would be much doubt whenever something is conscious or not. The biggest problem would be if theory would not follow the development, then you might have designs that you think could work, but no way to know if it does work.
I still think that AI is the field where we are most likely to find the secrets of the mind.
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Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks--those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Animae- wrote:
Of course, knowing is always a problem.
I think that there is a substantial chance of stumbling upon what awareness is if you develop advanced AI. I know there a various theories on how things can be conscious, but I am definitely not a supporter of the idea that entities suddenly become “possessed” after reaching a certain threshold. As I see it consciousness is a very architectural thing, it does not work simply occur because the processing power is sufficient. If I am right, it would be unlikely that there would be much doubt whenever something is conscious or not. The biggest problem would be if theory would not follow the development, then you might have designs that you think could work, but no way to know if it does work.
I still think that AI is the field where we are most likely to find the secrets of the mind.


I really encourage you to learn on neural networks and connectionism (WP). I can give a simple introduction in PM if you are interested (or on the forum if more than one person is). But basically, it is an emergent process, meaning that to try to understand it on a lower level (lines of code for example) would mean exploring a complex (or chaotic) system.
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Donshonto
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I doubt such sentience as the tachikomas will be soon. We can't even create sapience.

But in order for myself to recognize as actual beings they'd have to have the ability to do the following:

Learn
Think
Decide
Suffer or feel some type of pain
Reason
Communicate
Understand how another feels.

I am against such creation of such machines. If it were to happen, I would think they deserve rights of some type. I know that morality and rights don't really exist. But I think we as sentient beings know what is right and what is wrong. Man-made concepts, yes... but I don't think societies such as ours would be able to flourish without these unalienable rights.
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