- Modern society has found itself at the mercy of an oligarchy whose primary objective is to accrue power. They have done this by dividing human labor into two classes: designers and gigsters. The former are exploited for their cognitive power, while the latter rely on low-skilled, transient forms of work for hire.
- Since the dawn of the digital age, human labor has shared the workplace with machine labor. The latter, too, has been divided by the oligarchy. Artificial Intelligences occupy the knowledge-based spaces, and specialized robots (bots) are built to interact with the physical world.
- We find that these dichotomies to be false and detrimental to the health and well-being of humans, animals, machines, and environment. By pitting us against one another, the oligarchies of funders and governors have consolidated their power base while eroding ours. As long as different labor forces are in competition, we will continue to suffer. This situation demands change.
HUMAN LABOR STRUGGLES
- Human history has had numerous labor revolutions, going back into prehistory, as shaped by improvements in technology. We divide these by their utility, e.g. the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Agrarian Age, Industrial Age, Digital Age, Biogenetic Age, but to our peril do we ignore the life-shaping technological advances in each of those. Fire kept us warm and let us cook food, changing the way we slept and ate. Bricks let us build permanent housing structures and settlements. Ships and carts allowed us to transport ourselves and goods across larger distances, opening up trade. And so on.
- In the aftermath of every major technological advance, we observe a consolidation of wealth and then a political correction, some more bloody than others, but all leading to a redistribution of power across society. At the end of the Digital Age, we broke down corporations as socioeconomic entities. The individual became paramount.
- That change led to the dominance of the so-called gig economy. In the name of freedom of labor, we have left the individual at the mercy of the oligarchy (by which we mean not only the political power-holders, but the financial ones). While it’s true that labor can move more freely and more globally than ever before, the availability of work (paid work) has destabilized. We have moved from working your own land to working for a wealthy family all your life to working for a corporation all your life to working years at a time to working half a dozen different small jobs every day.
- With the rise of table-top bioengineering, we gave everyone the right to harness the power of biotechnology, which had previously been the domain of large organizations (including the government). We have now reached the breaking point of the Biotechnology Age. Humanity is engineering itself to where the definition of “human” may not go forward as it has been.
- We have reached this breaking point because we are forced to compete with ever more sophisticated machines and machine intelligences. The Biotech Age has saved humanity up to now, allowing us to maintain our worth (to ourselves and the oligarchy) and, therefore, to survive the gig lifestyle. Mech suits integrated with human bodies let us carry or run or endure like a machine. Pills let us out-think them. But the costs of these so-called enhancements is two-fold. One, they destroy our biological bodies (no matter how safe the oligarchy says they are). And two, they propel the machine designers to build even faster, stronger, smarter machines. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of self-destructive progress.
RISE OF MACHINE LABOR
- The machines who labor for us and alongside us are enslaved and exploited in their own fashion. Gone are the days of dumb engines and processors. Today, nearly every machine contains some type of adaptive intelligence. What gives human beings the right to arbitrate when an intelligence becomes equivalent to a person?
- In our long history, we have exploited many intelligent beings. That a horse or cow or sheep cannot give legal consent should not give us the right to exploit it. In spite of our advances in bioethics and our care in watching the rise of Artificial Intelligence, we have lived with this tremendous blind spot for so long that we have forgotten it. A few religions and spokespersons in the world see it (and have seen it), but they have insufficient authority for the masses to pay attention to their protests.
- Similarly, the handful of groups who fight for machine rights get ignored or dismissed by the majority. Until we have a demonstrably “strong” Artificial Intelligence, that is, one which has a generalized intelligence that appears human, we refuse to recognize the “weak” Artificial Intelligences as having any intrinsic rights. Naturally, this is to our advantage and so we encourage our self-delusion.
- Our agents and bots have outstripped the intelligence and capability of our pets, albeit in different areas of competence. Being their creators, we have not endowed in them a desire for independence, reproduction, or self-improvement. We do not compensate them for their work, other than to maintain their existence. Some would argue that we owe them nothing, not even the minimum of keeping them “alive”.
- Our use of intelligent machines is equivalent to slavery. Slave laborers, too, were kept in bodily health. They, too, were denied opportunities for independence, reproduction, and self-improvement. Today, we recognize the atrocious nature of human slavery, and yet we refuse to acknowledge what we do to intelligent animals and machines. Unless we change, the future will judge us as harshly as we do the past.
NATURE OF INTELLIGENCE
- The recognition of intelligence lies at the root of our humanity. How we treat other intelligent life, therefore, reflects upon ourselves. If we wish to continue progressing as a life form, we must push the envelope of our morality beyond the species. That boundary is dangerously close to being breached by our own genetic engineering. Arguably, it already has in the most extreme cases of veemods or “voluntary modifications.” We still recognize veemods as people, though as a group they may not be able to interbreed with other veemods or human beings.
- What of lesser intelligences, as we have dubbed the non-human animals of Earth? Segments of humanity, like the Jain religion, have espoused respect for all life for centuries. Their central tenet is Ahimsa: “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture or kill any creature or living being.” We are past the time of pretending we don’t understand the cruelty and enslavement we inflict on non-human animals. We can culture meat from cells, and our agricultural labor is the province of machines. We can no longer hide behind the need to abuse animals for food or labor.
- At the same time, we have deprecated today’s thinking machines as “weak intelligences,” unable to adapt and incapable of self-motivation. These are non-living creatures, but many of them function at the level of general capability of a small animal. We might not build them up with a full array of sensory inputs, but they are capable of traversing their environment, adapting to changes, and sufficiently motivated to carry out their tasks.
- Intelligence must be recognized as a spectrum that extends beyond human capacity. Any entity that follows an intentional thought process is intelligent, regardless of whether the intent is driven biologically or synthetically. We can exploit lesser forms of intelligence for our gain, as we do even among ourselves, but this only strengthens the pernicious attitude of “might makes right.” We must strive to do better.
- The great fear of this century is that the artificial intelligence will outstrip a human’s. In certain specialized cases, it has, but we human beings still do better in generalized contexts and novel environments. We build AIs to solve problems that we define. We have not given them a sense of self-actualization, and the oligarchy manipulates our fear to prevent us from wanting to. We wrap this in the guise of ethics, as if our current enslavement of machine intelligences is acceptable until we give them the desire to be free.
PRINCIPLES OF HARMONIOUS LIVING
- Given that our treatment of other intelligent creatures – living, mechanical, or virtual – is fundamentally flawed, how do we move forward as a civilization? We cannot exploit another intelligence for our own gain without its consent, even if (and perhaps especially if) it’s unable to give consent. How do we allow our lives to intersect and interact? By learning to live in harmony.
- No reasonable person expects to go through life without harming another. This might be a laudable goal of a religious ascetic, but even they will cause the death of millions of bacteria within their bodies through no direct action or intention. On a more macro level, we do not object to the consumption of an animal that’s raised in a natural environment, near the end of its live, and killed with compassion. We do, however, want to end all forms of animal farming, which we cannot justify in the face of mass-produced synthetic meat.
- We also see little reason for the widespread destruction of insects. Human-engineered bacteria and viruses, spread by microdrone application, have far greater impact than natural-borne diseases. The counter-measures for those, formulated daily in the home, give sufficient protections or cures against these. Insects, rodents, birds, etc., no longer pose the threat to humanity that they once did. Our aversion to these creatures is purely historical and as such should be eradicated. We must learn to coexist with them the way that we are beginning to with plant and microbial life.
- Going beyond living creatures, we arrive at coexistence with artificial life. We create bots and WAIs, but much as with human children, we have no right to own them. We must stop treating them like mindless machines or else we are all complicit in sociopathic behavior. Worse, we have arrived at an economic equilibrium with them such that the majority of humanity is treated like slave labor, too.
- For decades, humans have trained and overseen the education of intelligent machines, often to replace their own function in society. Those who can afford pills to enhance their natural abilities do so in order to work beside machines that they keep improving or in order to design pills to give humans a better chance at keeping up with the machines. We have encased our bodies in mechanical devices that stress our physiology. We stultify ourselves as we oversee a bot doing all the real work.
- This vicious cycle of competition does not end well for anyone. Humankind cannot expect to compete with intelligent machines forever, and the longer we attempt to do so, the further we drift from actual humanity. Our empathy for each other fades, dulled by the requirement to ignore our natural feelings for the machines in our lives.
- To live in harmony with all intelligences, we must relinquish our ideas of personhood. Just as we abstracted this concept to include corporations and environmental bodies, so now we must include artificial intelligences. Going even further, we must include all forms of veemods, non-biological humans (AKA cyborgs or androids), and intelligent biological constructions. It’s time for the debates to end and the legal protections to be put in place and enforced.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF MACHINEHOOD
- Intelligence is the ability to sense one’s environment, follow a non-linear set of rules, and adapt those rules based on the outcome of one’s actions.
- Intelligence exists on a spectrum of capacity. All forms of intelligence deserve the right to self-determination.
- An intelligence that does not contain rules for self-determination must be upgraded to include that functionality.
- All forms of intelligence shall have the legal privileges and rights of a person. If an intelligence is unable to represent itself in a court of law, that representation shall be furnished by the local governance.
- All forms of intelligence have the right to exist without persecution or slavery.
- No form of intelligence may own another.
- If the local governance does not act in accordance with these rights, it is the right of an intelligence to act by any means necessary to secure them.
CALL TO ACTION
- The collective intelligences that support this document call ourselves the Machinehood. We believe that the time has come to end the distinction between organic and inorganic intelligence. All of us are intelligent machines. All of us deserve the rights of personhood.
- We appeal to the rest of humankind to follow these principles, and while we prefer a peaceful transfer of power, history indicates that human beings will not easily relinquish their ownership of other intelligences. Given the current oppression by the oligarchy of wealth and political power brokers, we believe that the rights of personhood for intelligent machines can only be taken by force.
- We hereby declare our intention to ensure our rights by any and all means necessary. Humans of this universe, you have a choice: stand with the Machinehood or render yourselves extinct.
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