"For Singer, human and nonhuman animals have interests if they have the ability to experience pains or pleasures. Singer cites an oft-quoted passage from Jeremy Bentham indicating that, when it comes to animals, '[t]he question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?'" id. Singer feels it is the suffering experienced that differentiates living beings, but, the question remains, how do we know when another species is suffering? "We may think that pain is a mental state which all animals tend to avoid, and pleasure is a mental state which all animals tend to prefer. However, we do not know that these mental states are equally bad across species, because they may differ not only in duration and intensity but in other hard to define ways."
The question that occurred to me was: IF we grant that a human or above level AI deserves some consideration of its wants AND IF we grant that animals, while less than humans, still deserve to some extent consideration THEN must we also grant some consideration to computer programs that, while not sentient, have been designed to have needs and react to stimuli - ie who can suffer?"
I think I must be missing the point... If I write a program that displays "Ouch!" whenever you press space, is this an intelligence? What if it goes further and actually tries to avoid the experience by displaying the message "Please press enter instead of space!" periodically? --Kazuhiko
What a coinkydink! I was just reading this too. Sadly, they seem to bog down in law. It seems fairly unlikely that a sane application of law gives any rights to a machine and the obvious decision was "no - but I'll refer it to a higher court" And indeed, that's what was done in the end. The point is better taken ethically though. Presume a five decade advance in technology following moores law, and a few critical advances in neuro surgery. Now transcribe my mind to a chip as a technique to reverse brain damage. Am I still deserving of rights? Now replace my whole body except my brain. This one is easier - still alive. Make a second chip, from the ground up, programming it using whatever creative techniques you like. The two chips contain bit-for-bit identical data. Does this chip have rights? --Vitenka (The best point I've seen is that we are likely to give animals and AIs full rights long before they demand them. Remember the tamagotchi craze? Think what would have happenned if those things could converse on a human level. "Don't kill my neo-neko!") Quotes from, uhh. Well, it started off on slashdot, but I think I went through the diamond age and I don't remember where the last bit came from. Matrix?
Um, yeah. That probably belongs on a separate page, doesn't it? Define suffering? Define art. I know it when I see it. --Vitenka
Is it possible to define it objectively at all? The best MoonShadow can think of off the top of his head is "you are observing someone suffering to a greater or lesser degree if you are observing things happening to them that you wouldn't want to happen to you and you have reason to believe their response to these things is similar to what yours would be" - which is far from objective.
And that 'similar' is a bit of a killer. Drop something inanimate out of a high window and watch it go splat. fairly similar reaction, it goes splat - but can it really be said to be sufferring? Oh, actually, you mean internal reaction -and instant death can't be said to be suffering, so um, ignore that then. There's a point there somewhere but I don't seem to be CleburEnub to bring it forth. --Vitenka
How illuminating. I was going to say that it almost made sense, but that would be like saying the sun is almost cold. - PlasmonPerson
Poetry exists in the soul of the reader. (The EyeOfTheBeholder? being already taken) But yeah, I didn't find that particularly deep or illuminating either. Not a bad set of InThirtySeconds? of various philosophies take on the problem, which could have been further summed up as "We none of us know either, but we're going to disagree anyway. HaveFaith?." --Vitenka (Feeling argumentative)