Slaves and Robots

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About Carl Pettit

Carl Pettit is a writer, illustrator and musician whose education and travels have taken him all over the world. When not out exploring, or pondering the universe, he finds time to produce fiction for both adults and children. You can catch up with him on his blog, or twitter.

Comments

  1. Do Androids dream of electric sheep?

  2. wellokaythen says:

    The level of intelligence may be one determining factor. One can have personality and desires and not necessarily full consciousness. If having personality and desires translated into rights of citizenship, we would have no pets and would all be vegetarian. (That’s not a bad thing, necessarily.) If we gave full status to robots we would need to give it to all the mammals that we currently milk, ride, and eat. Veganism might provide some insight into how to treat robots, if the issue is about personality.

    Besides, granting them full constitutional rights would just be one step on their path to total global domination…. Come to think of it, I can’t assume that the author is not a robot himself (itself?). It’s already started. They’ve infiltrated mass media. SkyNet is upon us.

  3. ….
    Maybe with intelligent robots scooting around everywhere, we’ll finally run out of reasons to look down upon people we see as ‘other,’ because we’ll be too busy looking down on our slave-like machines…

    Meaning that chances are instead actually recognizing and addressing why the concept of enslaving others people will just skip over to using machines because “come on they aren’t human”.

    Since we are dropping names of titles that touch on this I’d bring up Ghost in the Shell as well. In that series there is a blurred line between what is human and what is not. For example in that show cloning is possible, but clones can’t inheret property. Also there are some religions that forbid taking on cybernetic parts (and mind you this show it is actually possible to have a prosthetic BODY).

    So what worries me a bit (and this is total side track) is that as that line blurs what measures would be taken to maintain it and what are the consequences of those actions.

    As the technology advances push forward (I recall reading an article based on a report saying that android prostitutes could be viable in the next 30 years) there are a lot of things that need to be worked out.

    As for your Star Wars reference I think you may be expecting a bit too much from the legendary space opera. On the other hand one of the main ongoing storylines of Star Trek TNG was of Data wrestling with the implications of being human versus an android. There was even one episode where a Starfleet scientist tried to force Data to go to Earth so that he could be poked prodded and examined with the hopes of duplicating him and making him a standar issues tool on star ships. (Overall Star Trek is much more grounded in reality than Star Wars.)

    • Danny, i always thought it uproariously funny that data would want to be a lower lifeform – a human. I always remember riker’s satisfied grin in tng’s pilot when data says he’d give up all his advantages to be human.
      yes data, a being of pure logic, of pure reason, of supreme efficiency. would give that up to only have conscious control of about 5% of the subconscious processes of the brain, to be that the mercy of these whimsical whirrings, to be inefficient – to be hu’mann ( loved it when quark would spit out the word, or 7 of 9′s glared at the humans).
      but there’s ‘nowt queer as folk’, so perhaps data was a total humanophile

      a being of pure logic, of pure reason, of supreme efficiency – is of course, the man of granite inside and out, the ideal man, the real man, of european imperial masculinity circa 1870 to 1914(maybe 1945) eg. Those stiff upperlipped men and their granite moustaches, or the lone cowboy. though their attempt to create such men failed because they didnt engage in the thousands of hours of yogic practice, or had the coming augmentation technologies. the ancient spartan men got pretty close though

      • Danny, i always thought it uproariously funny that data would want to be a lower lifeform – a human. I always remember riker’s satisfied grin in tng’s pilot when data says he’d give up all his advantages to be human.
        But are androids superior to humans? Yes Data’s positronic net could calculate circles around the human brain but he saw something in them (mainly emotions) that he wanted to obtain for himself.

        • yes data is superior to humans. however while i am drawn to him (and 7 of 9, the no1 in the original startrek pilot), data n 7 of9′s existences are too severe, too sterile an existence for me. i like enjoying emotions, i also being like the greatercapacity to shut them off that the middle age hardening of my brain has given me

          so data with emotion chip and the ability to shut them off, is the best. the coming augment tech will allow humans to do what yogis/yoginis had to spend thousands of hours mastering – man as machine, with an emotional soul

          my main wasnt about emotions but about mastery of the subconscious systems as i wrote here,’ would give that up to only have conscious control of about 5% of the subconscious processes of the brain, to be that the mercy of these whimsical whirrings’

          eg. imagine having the ability to reset your emotional state – at will, to turn off pain at will, to raise the body temp – at will. ive finally found a howto for gtummo yoga as ive been trying to raise the temp in my hands using visualisation, with only occassional success. i dont whether the guide ive found works or not, it involves the hatha yoga like breath practice (and i hated breath practice). i can post the link if you want.

        • Pre emotion chip data has
          1.superior thinking ability to humans
          2.Superior ability to command the vessel he is trapped in
          3.Inferior emotional enjoyment of life

          Post emotion chip Data has;

          1.superior thinking ability to humans
          2.Superior ability to command the vessel he is trapped in
          3.Humanlike ability to enjoy emotions – at will

          Soon humans too will be like post-chip data, i also wonder what proportion of us will decide to keep to our current physical form

  4. Nice article, an enjoyable read carl
    “My belief in the better nature of human beings had me thinking for quite some time that our fascination with this subject, often seen through the lenses of science fiction, stemmed from the moral growth of human society as a whole, and the universal realization that slavery is evil, and inherently wrong, no matter the form
    [...]
    I think the dialogue some of us might be having about the nature of life and the future sentience of inanimate things parallels likely conversations the rulers of Ancient Egypt, and other slave owning societies (ours among them) once had. If we recognize these working ‘machines’ as equal, with rights and more than basic survival needs, who’s going to do all of our hard work? Not us, after all. That’s why we built/enslaved them in the first place.

    i agree with your point there however from a slightly darker outlook. thats why earlier when you wrote, ‘and the universal realization that slavery is evil, and inherently wrong, no matter the form.’ i added in my head the words,’… for now’. the consensus can change.
    the linear direction of progress i really agree with is,’technological progress’. other things are more cyclical eg the reintroduction of the death penalty in the usa. i see no reason why there would not be a return of human chattel, or the introduction of ai chattel slavery, in some or all of the world in the next 100yrs.

    I agree with wello, ai beings having something approaching humanlike intelligence plus, the strong degrees of selfawareness, and of empathy would be factors in according rights from a theoretical angle. The political angle would be murkier, as you noted with those rights being granted depending on social and economic impact
    Eg rather like the discussions in star trek ds9 about the coming need to review holographic lifeform rights.

    • an editing error on my part. i forgot paste the below after the sentence, ‘other things are more cyclical eg the reintroduction of the death penalty in the usa.’

      i think the default empathy status for majority of humans is ‘indifferent to coldly-indifferent’ – it is why the great teachers like iirc The Buddha, used not logic but storytelling and its emotionrousing connective power, to impart truths to, to generate empathy and community in humans. plus, the human ability to compartmentalise with ever more nuance their wickedness, is a thing of wonder.

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