Re: [sl4] 'Ethical' uploading

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Mon Feb 16 2009 - 13:50:03 MST

--- On Mon, 2/16/09, Samantha Atkins <> wrote:

> I doubt very much uploads will see a lot of use in
> reproduction.

Some will and some won't. Those that do will probably pass their views to their offspring.

> But this also has nothing to do with the
> fundamental ethical issue. With a system of universal
> ethics toward sentients at or above a certain level of
> intelligence standard humans may stand a chance. Without
> it I think we are much more certainly doomed.

You are assuming that AI will have human ethics and therefore will reciprocate in kind. They may or may not. If the AI is smarter than you, there is no way for you to tell the difference. It will know everything you know. To the AI, your behavior will be simple and predictable. But to you, the AI will not be at all predictable. It could do anything. Psychopathy is Turing computable. You cannot ignore the possibility.

I suppose you could argue that since we built the AI, we would also constrain its behavior with a model of human ethics. Remember the two reasons for building AI. First, to do our work, to automate the economy. This requires building slaves, not humans. My calculator is a good example. It is smarter than me at certain tasks, but never asks for a day off. It willingly obeys my every command. Once slave AI has language capabilities, it must understand human ethics only well enough to communicate with its human masters, but it will not share our ethics. Its ethics will be to serve its owners above all else.

The second reason to build AI is life extension or uploading. Here the requirement is for the machine to behave like you closely enough to convince everyone you know that it is you. To do this, it must understand your ethical beliefs so that it can imitate them. It need not actually believe them, and probably won't because there is no good reason why it should. An upload server can have vastly more knowledge and computing power than your brain and still do a good job of imitating you, and perhaps millions of others at the same time. It only has to do a good enough job to convince you to rewrite your will to pay for the upload hosting service.

> You may stay in your body if you wished.

I can do both, right?

-- Matt Mahoney,

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