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Old March 1 2013, 01:19 AM   #20
Re: Moral issues with Robotics

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
"I think, therefore I am." If the robot could be shown to be capable of "wanting" anything at all, those desires should be taken into consideration. If it lies about being alive to protect itself, we'd have to examine why it wants to protect itself.
But how could we tell?

And no, you can't just cheat and program a computer to say "Please don't dismantle me." It's more complicated than that.
Still, I think my original point remains. We'd need some way to distinguish between a robot that is genuinely self aware and one that only appears to be.

Same way we do it with people. Psychologists have all kinds of tests to assess mental functioning and cognitive awareness, whether or not a person understands right and wrong, understands what's happening to them, is aware of themselves or others. For machines, this is theorized as involving some sort of Turing Test.
But how do we know that any other person is self aware?

Only to the extent that abortion is immoral. That's a whole different can of worms.
I think it's a little bit different. In this case we're dealing with intentionally creating something with the intention of stopping its development.

Terrorists can feel pain too; why isn't it wrong to inflict pain on THEM?
Ah, but they intentionally commit crimes against society. Rats generally do not.

Again, it's the issue of rights, and the extent to which the desires of a living thing take precedence over the desires of others. Certain creatures -- and, historically, certain PEOPLE -- have been placed in a position of such low importance that the majority has no reason to care about their desires and inflict massive harm on them whenever it is convenient. In this context, discussing potential robot rights is hardly an academic issue since we can barely maintain a consistent set of HUMAN rights.

Because a being that is not aware of itself doesn't have coherent desires related to itself, and therefore has no agency worth considering. Consciousness is ultimately just a sophisticated form of data processing and doesn't mean much in and of itself.
How do you determine self awareness?

Squirrels are conscious and are somewhat self aware. For that reason, intentionally running them over is a dick thing to do. But they are squirrels; they're not very smart, and their scope of moral agency is limited to things that are virtually inconsequential in the human world, therefore we lack a strong moral imperative to AVOID running them over if they happen to be running across the road in the paths of our cars.

"Oh, come on, Bob! I don't know about you, but my compassion for someone is not limited to my estimate of their intelligence!"
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