TWIG 668: Boca de Dragón

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

Higginbot :joy:

I have more thoughts on the AI thing. Watch out, here comes another wall of text!

Once again the discussion on the podcast was very smart and nuanced. I love that!

As the wider world debates how to define humanity and sentience, there’s a risk of accidentally defining neurodivergent people and some other minorities right out of one or both of those categories. I’m very concerned about that. There are traits people tend to cite as proof of inhumanity or non-sentience that, for example, some humans on the autism spectrum have. By the same token, there are traits popularly cited as necessary for humanity or sentience that some humans don’t have.

Grief? Everyone experiences it differently. Romantic love? Aromantic people exist. Sex drive? Asexual people exist. Emotions? There are a number of ways a human person can end up lacking emotions. Physical pain? There are disorders that prevent someone from feeling any pain. Is someone who’s both completely deaf and completely blind from birth less sentient because they don’t perceive the world the same way most humans and many animals do? Of course not. Are humans inherently social beings? Maybe, broadly speaking, but some people genuinely don’t have any desire or need for social interaction and they aren’t less human. As for empathy? Human capacity for empathy is overestimated, I think, considering the harms we do to each other on the regular.

Historically we have defined very large groups of humans as non-human and/or non-sentient when it was convenient for the purposes of conquest, slavery, and societal marginalization.

I’m not concerned about sentient AI dominating or exterminating humans. More likely, if sentient AI emerges, it’ll just be made to suffer like every human minority and every domesticated animal suffers.

Even if/when sentient AI becomes a real and present thing, we’ll still hear all the same arguments against it as we hear now. The news coverage will be the same, the corporate response will be the same, and the debate will be the same. How will we know when it’s “different this time”? I don’t think we will.

As a final thought, maybe what we’re creating now or will soon be creating is digital animals. Like pigs, as Stacey touched on.