Thursday, September 7, 2023

Mind Crime: Part 3

     If I had to write a book that I think will be looked back on in four hundred years fondly, I would write one called "Mind Crime." Well, maybe not fondly, but rather "wow I can't believe we ignored such a thought-through book about the most important issue of our time." Not saying this is certain, but if I were a betting man and had to take the gamble, it would be on this topic. Maybe the subtext would be "The Next Slavery" or something similarly controversial, in order to try to get additional publicity or Goodreads clicks. This may not be looked upon as fondly, and I hate click-bait titles, but we will see what the imaginary publicist says. 

    I've mentioned in various blogs that there are probably things we will look back on with horror in the US: factory farming, the prison system, and the widespread prevalence of violence and sexual assault. The treatment of women is something that I am particularly hopeful we look back on in shame. I also hope we will look back in horror on the human rights abuses of totalitarian regimes, but I am less sure that those will go away. I am mostly talking about changes in "societal viewpoints," similar to how in the 1800s many people in the US tolerated slavery who were otherwise "good people."

    In my opinion, the most important legal document ever drafted in US history was the Bill of Rights. Explicitly protecting individual rights and liberties, and not having states simply decide, was one of the most brilliant and lasting ideas of the founding fathers. The right to free speech, the right to an impartial trial, the right to not have to quarter random troops in your home, all big wins for liberty. Despite these set in writing, slavery still prevailed. Still, it was good that we still outlined such important legal points, and I am sure doing so played a strong role in the eventual demise of slavery from a political and a legal perspective. Sure, slavery and civil rights abuses were immoral, but it is really great that we could work within the system to uphold the correct moral stance (a lot of blood was spilled, but the spirit of the Constitution didn't have to be destroyed). I think we should draft similar rights for digital minds. Yes, this sounds far-fetched and sci-fi, but if technology progresses this could be invaluable.

    If we reach the point where our minds could be uploaded, or we have AGI with moral worth, unimaginable horror could abound. Massive suffering on a near-infinite scale would become possible, and the controls to preventing such suffering will be unknown. If you think that the people that lock a child in a basement for twenty years are the scum of the earth, imagine if they could do so for ten thousand years without detection. This is the magnitude of the moral issues we are facing. We better instill some damn good protections, for AI as well as "uploaded people." A new bill of rights is due, or our current version should be explicitly extended for digital minds. What is the downside? If you think this sort of stuff is wild, what is the harm? Maybe some "economic progress" arguments or libertarian "let the people do what they want," but the entire point of regulation is to ensure the voiceless get a say. Let's make sure that they do.

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Mind Crime: Part 10

    Standing atop the grave of humanity, smugly looking down, and saying "I told you so," is just as worthless as having done noth...