Post-Singularity Ethics

My last post has made me realize that I have a range of ethical problems to address concerning the singularity. I don’t intend to cover all of them in this post, I just want to get started.

I’ll begin by reminding you that your values are fragile and will not survive fully through the singularity. Things will change after the singularity in ways we cannot imagine with our tiny brains.

Morality and ethics are about subjective well being. there are no true moral disagreements, only disagreements on values. when congress argues about things such as welfare, both sides have the value of teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish and  the value of social justice and caring for the poor, but each side favors a different value over the other. To be a bit more extreme, Hitler did not see his actions as immoral because he considered jews (and other others) as having lower value than animals (he was a vegetarian).

It is when we objectify a subject that we act immorally, treating men as cattle or women as toys, or vice versa. I do believe that when we are able to fully understand the subjectivity of others, that is, enter into the hive mind, we will not be able to mistreat them, lest we directly mistreat ourself. in addition, the more we mesh our minds, the more we will realize the simultaneous validity of conflicting values, as conflicting values become more of who we are. In this sense the singularity will make morality easier.

OK, but this overlooks a problem many of you have considered. If one person’s intelligence erupts past others to the point that they seem like ants, what’s to stop that person from crushing us all? The connection to ants is quite meaningful, as each ant is a sterile clone (except the queen). The are not individuals, but tools of the hive mind. when we can see ourselves in the same way, will it be immoral to extinguish one person, being only a cell in an organism?

These questions have no satisfying answer. I will say that humans are already tackling these problems by becoming vegetarians, and as we become superhuman we will likely care for animals even more as they will not seem so different from humans. But where does this end? Are we all to become Jains, sweeping the ground beneath our feet as we walk so as not to step on any bugs?

I’ve heard it mentioned that a new golden rule is inevitable: do unto your inferiors as you would have your superiors do unto you. Confucius said something to that effect. I like the idea, and I think that we should keep in mind that there will always be an intelligence out there that will look at us as ants.

Note: for other posts on the topic of ethics, just look down about 5 inches to where the categories and tags are for this article and click “Ethics.” (oh my, did he just use an analog measurement to describe digital space? how scandalous…)



About Prometheus

I write about the coming technological singularity and its implications for our sense of identity, individuality, meaning, and existence. I argue that the most significant aspect of the singularity is the convergence of our consciousnesses into one superconsciousness, and that we should be very happy about this.

Posted on May 4, 2011, in Consciousness, Ethics, Technological Singularity, Values and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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