Can’t deny dogs are probably conscious, and pigs are probably conscious, so why is the consciousness of humans awarded such privilege? Why is there a so-called sanctity of life?
It is because humans found that cooperation between each other is the best way to achieve their needs. We don’t value the sanctity of animal or any other unintelligent life, because cooperation with animals does not afford us any benefits whatsoever.
Cooperation between humans, this pooling of intelligence however can allow for great things (the least of which is notdie), and the dumbest most retarded human is smarter than the smartest animal, and we know that not only do their consciousness experience the same emotions we do, but we also know that they actively and intelligently want to improve on that. A dog may try to evade pain but that’s his animal instincts and not his intelligence, human’s intellectual sophistication is on an entirely different level.
In the James SA Corey’s book Leviathan Wakes they imagined a law for space travel that any distress call must be answered, because in the space of sci-fi as is the space of present day life, human beings – each other – are all we’ve got. We might decide to murder a few of each other every now and then, but nobody can deny that we largely benefit more from society than we are disadvantaged by it. You could go on a rampage right now and murder 50 people on the streets, but even that requires weapons, the most basic of which are a product of society. Lesser of two evils but I would probably prefer to live in dark ages over the stone age.
In the past racists tried to eliminate or discriminate against human rights because they ignored the full intellectual potential of other races, thinking them to be no smarter than animals, when in reality race had insignificant correlation with intellect. They found out that overall the average dumb person in their own race was dumber than the average smart person of the other race, and that is all that mattered in the question of “sanctity” of intelligent life.
Hitler tried killing handicapped people, but that was from a Darwinian standpoint stupid since even paraplegics have functional properties that outweigh the costs of keeping them alive, retarded people for example could do simple factory work that normal people are unwilling to do. (although it is ultimately society’s job of getting rid of these cripples and retards by addressing health issues better)
We value the sanctity of human life because we have to, respecting each other’s rights is the only way a society can function. In time this respect for life became biological, which manifested itself in various expressions such as compassion.
The simple answer for why we respect the sanctity of life is because of compassion and the relatability of fellow human beings, the ability to vicariously experience someone else’s emotions based on limited data, visual or otherwise and thus feel bad whenever we hear/see someone getting harmed. We are unable to do blatant harm and have to dehumanize an enemy or at least fuck up our own psyche because compassion is part of the evolutionary mechanism that prevents us from destroying that society which benefits us so well.
Humans have no inherent “god-given” sanctity of life. If the bible were the only reason not to enslave black people, I would enslave black people.
Humans evolved without inherent purpose, we each have differing objectives in life and respecting society is generally the shared way to achieve our objectives which lead to fulfillment. Opposing human rights (and therefore society) is generally not the recommended path.
Of course, sanctity of human life is not always a priority – it all depends on the occasion, but in general “sanctity of life” is pretty high on the list of priorities.
but in the end it is nothing more than a social construct.
//sci fi rant about artificial intelligence and their rights below
Matter can be combined to create consciousness, we know that because we achieve it through biological reproduction every day, converting food matter into sperm and eggs for example. Undoubtedly when we organize matter in a sophisticated enough manner, we will be able to manufacture consciousness ourselves.
However, if we ever do manufacture an artificial form of human (most likely simulations*), be it clone or machine, that thing no matter how alive it seems, has no rights if it was made for a specific purpose – Nothing that was built for a purpose can have any rights other than to fulfill that purpose or any other purpose its creators assign it (which is incidentally why religion is so anti-human, because it imposes a purpose/role on humans and penalizes deviation).
However #2, I don’t think manufacturing true consciousness will be necessary for any purpose other than for the sake of it. Simulated free will via “random” thinking is not true consciousness, as human being’s thought process are while somewhat unpredictable, hardly random. And any other purpose-built AI would not ever need consciousness, as a specialized purpose built equipment would always be more efficient at a specific task than a general purpose piece of equipment.
The meaning of society is to fulfill its participants, and every piece of intelligent consciousness is an extra mouth to “feed”, although of course arguably an AI emulated* human would be much easier to appease since you could just hook him up to a pleasure program (this program could be a simulator). That’s another problem of being god, as you would be pretty much omnipotent to a computer program and it would be completely inhumane to not fulfill every single wish of your emulated person when you can do it so easily, and add to the fact that he as an intelligent consciousness has a right to fulfilling life and he is owed one by virtue of you imposing his existence.
On the other hand, AI has no sanctity of life also because there is no pain in the process of deletion after the AI comes to terms with its requested demise, and thus it is not inhumane to erase an emulated person.
*simulation= give the appearance of, emulation=function as, in this case emulation would be reproducing every single atom of a brain, in digital form – that’s the only way to create true consciousness
The difference between simulation and emulation is the efficiency. In terms of a math equation, a simulation would be
≈4 x ≈6 = ≈24
while a emulation would be
(1+1+0.9+1)+ (1+1.1+1.1+1)+ (1+1+1.1+1)+ (1+1+0.9+1)+ (1+1+1.1+1)+ (0.9+0.9+1.1+1) = 24.1
the difference between efficiency at producing very similar results is enormous but emulation is the only way to go if we want to produce true sentience.