Re: Can't afford to rescue cows

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 22:51:12 MDT

Tim writes

> From: Jeff Herrlich <>
>>Why not make the beneficiaries all sentient/conscious beings? The
>>evolutionarily designed aspect of selfishness, may be a bit of a
>>problem. [Not that I'm beyond selfishness, on occassion -
> ....
> But on to "sentient/conscious"...
> The dictionary I looked at defined "sentient" to mean "conscious", so
> there's only one word there to wonder about. I'm not sure I have a
> definition of "conscious" that I'd be willing to try to implement.
> But nevermind that, I'm too conflict-averse to make the attempt. The
> Buddhists say cows (and other mammals) are conscious. If humans eat
> cows, and my AI is influenced more by empathy for sentient beings than
> by respect for cow butcherers, it will try to stop the cows from being
> eaten.

I don't think so! Out of concern for the cows, the AI will continue
to promote human raising of cattle. The AI we hope for will merely
stipulate (as we should) that the cows lead pleasant lives and that
when their lives come to an end it's quick and painless. Better to
have lived a mostly pleasant life than to have never lived at all.

> So trying to save the cows would make the AI (and its implementor)
> targets for no political benefit.

I'd read it this way: even if the AI has concern for cows, and wants
them to go on being bred, I hope that it will allow humans to just
grow the tissue directly, without concurrent cow experience.

Since the cows belong to the humans, the humans ought to be left
alone in the case that they're not hurting anyone (e.g. the cows).


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