Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Upliftment of NonHumans

  1. #1
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    13,878

    Upliftment of NonHumans

    I haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes yet and even though the trailers made me roll my eyes at first I'm starting to get more and more interested especially in terms of the ethical questions of upliftment. George Dvorsky at Sentient Developments often explores the issue of animal upliftment and wrote this article: All Together Now: Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals which is quite interesting. A bit of a crank maybe, but fun to read.

    As the potential for enhancement technologies migrates from the theoretical to the practical, a difficult and important decision will be imposed upon human civilization, namely the issue as to whether or not we are morally obligated to biologically enhance nonhuman animals and integrate them into human and posthuman society.
    As we become more and more capable of fixing our own mortal husks with science would we not find ethical obligations to uplift our fellow animal cousins? The article briefly explores some objections and responses but I thought it would be fun to hash it out here.

    As to what humanity may hope to lose with biological augmentation, humans are poised to discard their often fragile and susceptible biological forms. It is hoped that the ravages of aging will be brought to an end, as well as the arbitrariness of the genetic lottery. More conceptually, human evolution is poised to go undergo an evolution of its own where it goes from unconscious Darwinian selection to deliberate and guided quasi-Lamarckianism. Driving this transition is the ingrained human desire to move beyond a state of nature in which an existential mode is imposed upon Homo sapiens, to one in which humanity can grow increasingly immune to unconscious and arbitrary processes. An emergent property of intelligence is its collective aversion to chaos; it perpetually works to increase levels of order and organization.

    These compulsions are held by many to represent strong ethical and legal imperatives. Given the animal rights movement's goal to increase the moral circle to include higher animals, and given that a strong scientific case can be made in favour of animal personhood, a time will come for humanity to conclude that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

    Furthermore, it would be unethical, negligent and even hypocritical of humans to enhance only themselves and ignore the larger community of sapient nonhuman animals. The idea of humanity entering into an advanced state of biological and/or postbiological existence while the rest of nature is left behind to fend for itself is distasteful.

    Why uplift nonhuman animals? What is it that we hope they will gain? Ultimately, the goal of uplift is to foster better lives. By increasing the rational faculties of animals, and by giving them the tools to better manage themselves and their environment, they stand to gain everything that we have come to value as a species.
    wow.

    And I think I'm gonna try to catch the movie before it leaves the theater.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  2. #2
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    to be found growing from mid-tide of the intertidal zone (the area between the high tide and low tide) to depths of 20 m or more in both sheltered and exposed shores.
    Posts
    170
    The white man's burden for the 21st century?
    --
    The Protist
    "Love is like seaweed; even if you have pushed it away, you will not prevent it from coming back." --Nigerian Proverb

  3. #3
    Rooted Colinski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Hollywood, CA
    Posts
    39
    It's too early for me to engage in this heady a discussion, but I'll add that I saw the movie and really enjoyed it. Be forewarned that there is a fair amount of unpleasant treatment of our fellow primates depicted in the movie, but it just makes the ending that much more gratifying. Caesar the Chimp is in no uncertain terms the protagonist of the film. Audiences are *meant* to be rooting for the apes. Well, it could be my AR perspective coloring it, but I don't think so.

  4. #4
    Rooted Colinski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Hollywood, CA
    Posts
    39

    Wink

    New Tom the Dancing Bug comic relevant to this discussion, which I think some of you will like:
    http://boingboing.net/2011/08/10/tom...living-it.html

  5. #5
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Midwest, US
    Posts
    529
    The Singularity is near...

    I do question the wisdom of "enhancing" animals when most (non-human) animals are unable to give consent for things. I suppose if some way to communicate with them came first... What are the consequences when animals are super intelligent and can live forever? Will animals develop any sense of morality?

  6. #6
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    13,878
    Quote Originally Posted by Colinski View Post
    It's too early for me to engage in this heady a discussion, but I'll add that I saw the movie and really enjoyed it. Be forewarned that there is a fair amount of unpleasant treatment of our fellow primates depicted in the movie, but it just makes the ending that much more gratifying. Caesar the Chimp is in no uncertain terms the protagonist of the film. Audiences are *meant* to be rooting for the apes. Well, it could be my AR perspective coloring it, but I don't think so.
    I saw Rise of the planet of the Apes this weekend and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't feel the AR perspective come through much as the movie tended to keep the really scary ideas at arms length along with a good dose of anti-science sentiment like "You're trying to control things that are not meant to be controlled.". Blarg. I expected more unpleasantness to be depicted but it was more than enough to set the stage. The audience does root for the apes but it still feels patronizing and anthropocentric. Can't really blame them for that though for a blockbuster type movie

    Overall it was enjoyable and a good conversation starter. The upliftment of animals by humans is in the very least a fun device to explore the issues behind animal rights. I think this upliftment stuff is more akin to science fiction like the singularity than something we'll seriously have to deal with anytime soon.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  7. #7
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    13,878
    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I do question the wisdom of "enhancing" animals when most (non-human) animals are unable to give consent for things. I suppose if some way to communicate with them came first...
    Yeah, Dvorsky has a section on consent...I still kinda don't get it but basically
    Consent (or non-consent), therefore, has to be deduced and inferred by proxy.
    and concludes:
    Therefore, humanity can assume that it has the consent of sapient nonhumans to biologically uplift.
    In practical perspective he also suggests:
    Less conceptually, there is an alternative way in which both consent and uplift efficacy can be determined: uplift sampling. Rather than uplift an entire species, several individuals could be uplifted in order to assess the effectiveness of the experiment. Uplifted animals could conceivably act as spokespersons for their species and provide a valuable insight into the process and whether or not the change was desirable.
    There's your communication element.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    What are the consequences when animals are super intelligent and can live forever? Will animals develop any sense of morality?
    Yup, interesting questions. The implications could get crazy, yet are we obligated anyways? Would keeping technology to our own species be another form of (passive?) oppression? Also, I wonder if discrimination humans have for other humans (racism, sexism etc) would be affected by the entry of a whole new population of different species.

    Imagine being able to think about their place in a human dominated world. That would be a pretty big bummer. The movie kinda touches on this issue.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  8. #8
    Plant-Based Person Soymilk_Gun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Oakland, Ca
    Posts
    112
    You know I havn't paid to go to a movie since Hubble 3D (which was a religious experience) but I'm seriously considering going to the theater this weekend.

  9. #9
    half a block from Normal Emiloid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Chico, CA
    Posts
    15,600
    I don't think we're obligated in any way to make other animals more like ourselves. Our species isn't so great that we need to ensure that something of us stays behind. We're just different. The last sentence of that original quote seems especially ridiculous to me:
    By increasing the rational faculties of animals, and by giving them the tools to better manage themselves and their environment, they stand to gain everything that we have come to value as a species.
    As I see it, we humans have used our tools to screw things up more than anything. If we can't handle our own technology, why would we want to pass that sort of thing along to other life-forms? Why would it be better for other animals to manipulate their environment in the same ways we do?

    Why does it matter what other animals value or see in the world? Why should we assume that what we value is worth anything objectively, or that it's something that other animals ought to appreciate as well? Maybe we're blind to even more interesting ways of seeing the world because we're completely missing senses that other animals have.

    I guess I don't think we're so amazing that we need to ensure that our way of doing things or thinking about the world is preserved. If other animals develop in the ways we have, that's fine. They might even develop in ways that we can't fathom or appreciate because our perceptions and vision are so limited.

    As The.Protist put it, this seems like "white man's burden" recycled. I wonder if maybe George Dvorsky is making a funny.
    wocka wocka wocka

  10. #10
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    13,878
    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    I don't think we're obligated in any way to make other animals more like ourselves. Our species isn't so great that we need to ensure that something of us stays behind. We're just different.
    Well, not like ourselves unless you mean having better reasoning faculties. I don't think upliftment necessarily stops at the brain either.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    As I see it, we humans have used our tools to screw things up more than anything. If we can't handle our own technology, why would we want to pass that sort of thing along to other life-forms? Why would it be better for other animals to manipulate their environment in the same ways we do?
    I think we've done a tremendous amount of good with our technology too. Why would you assume animals would make the same mistakes? They are different after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    Why does it matter what other animals value or see in the world? Why should we assume that what we value is worth anything objectively, or that it's something that other animals ought to appreciate as well? Maybe we're blind to even more interesting ways of seeing the world because we're completely missing senses that other animals have.
    Imagine the perspective we could gain if our two species could communicate better!
    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    I guess I don't think we're so amazing that we need to ensure that our way of doing things or thinking about the world is preserved. If other animals develop in the ways we have, that's fine. They might even develop in ways that we can't fathom or appreciate because our perceptions and vision are so limited.

    As The.Protist put it, this seems like "white man's burden" recycled. I wonder if maybe George Dvorsky is making a funny.
    Sharing our technology to help other species overcome the obstacles their bodies or environment impose upon them isn't necessarily imperialism any more than sending food and medical aid to an impoverished country. Dvorsky may be a crank but the questions he raises helps navigate the ethical questions sure to come.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Similar Threads

  1. ARTICLE: Humanity Even for Nonhumans
    By quagga in forum Current Affairs
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-09-2009, 04:58 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •