Sentient Life

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Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:08 am

Assuming we all live in Star Trek and have replicators to make our food, so no killing is necessary, which organisms get rights? What can we kill if we feel like it? What can we not?

None, including plants?

Still only protect our own species as sacred?

If it's intelligence-based, and objective, is anyone willing to explore the idea that human beings might actually not have rights?

It's obvious to me that my cat is intelligent and aware. The convenient place for me to draw this line would be vertebrate life, with some cephalopods and stuff also included. The test I would use would be if something has memory enough to learn what could kill it, if it has a close call. Because then, you know: It's afraid to die on a conscious level. It thinks about its own fear. It might even experience anxiety about it.

But then I think, "Well, how aware do I seem, to a hyper-intelligent alien?" And of course, perhaps not very.

I've often caught myself thinking that the stupidest humans are not deserving of rights, and indeed they don't treat those stupider than they are (the mentally handicapped) as if they have rights, and it's for the same basic reason: They screw everything up.

But for every actually mentally retarded person who everyone knows can't make his own decisions, there's a normal person drinking himself to death, spending his rent money on scratch tickets, having babies he can't possibly afford to take care of, and otherwise proving that no, he can't take care of himself either. But we just have to let him make his own decisions, because he has rights. Well, what about the retarded one, then?

Another thing I've caught myself thinking is that if the normies don't want the people with genius IQs to scoff at them, they really should let the mentally handicapped make their own mistakes, too. And children.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:32 am

There is never a clear cut line to be drawn. It always boils down to someone's opinion, and opinions are so often idiotic.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gord » Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:32 pm

It was Star Trek: They didn't use science, they used feelings! The writers tried to pretend that they had a definition of "sentient", then went out of their way to create situations where sentience wasn't as obvious as the vague, alleged existence of their own never-to-be-stated definition implied.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by gorgeous » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:01 pm

yeahhh science fixes everything...tell that to the challenger astronauts...
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:31 pm

gorgeous wrote:yeahhh science fixes everything...tell that to the challenger astronauts...
The Challenger disaster was a case study in one of my classes. Actually the scientific testing of the Morton Thiokol solid-fuel rockets was good, and it showed that they could fail in colder weather, which is essentially what happened. The engineers were interpreting the results to say that the launch should be postponed, but the mission managers, ever aware of the political consequences, made the final call to proceed with the launch.

Blaming science for not heeding it is nothing new. The North Atlantic cod fishery collapsed a few years ago, after years of political interference with the marine biologists' reports which recommended reduced fishing. "If you can't write a report recommending continued fishing, I'll find someone who can." Even to this day, politicians are still blaming the science for the collapse.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:58 am

Gord wrote:It was Star Trek: They didn't use science, they used feelings! The writers tried to pretend that they had a definition of "sentient", then went out of their way to create situations where sentience wasn't as obvious as the vague, alleged existence of their own never-to-be-stated definition implied.
I know. I hope this forum won't.

So what happens when we get replicators and we don't have to kill anything anymore, theoretically? Which kinds of life are worthy of protection and which are not?

Do I have a point about genius leaving normie alone to make his mistakes because rights, but normie doesn't do the same for the mentally handicapped?

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:17 am

Nothing happens. We'll still have hunters "for the thrill of it" and we'll still have capital punishment somewhere and. of course, we'll still have killing by accident. And we'll still think of excuses for wars. So replicators don't equate to 'no 'killing' although they could solve the world's food problem. I suspect replication of 'worthwhile' people may be tried for a while until we realised that even a replicated Einstein could only re-develop relativity.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:49 am

Veganism and Conservationism have only ever existed when there was abundance: if we can Replicate everything, we have the luxury of not killing anything. But by no means do we have an obligation not to do so.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:59 am

Poodle wrote:Nothing happens. We'll still have hunters "for the thrill of it" and we'll still have capital punishment somewhere and. of course, we'll still have killing by accident. And we'll still think of excuses for wars. So replicators don't equate to 'no 'killing' although they could solve the world's food problem. I suspect replication of 'worthwhile' people may be tried for a while until we realised that even a replicated Einstein could only re-develop relativity.
But if you replicated Einstein with today's data set...
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:02 pm

... which isn't a replication of Einstein ...

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:50 pm

Poodle wrote:... which isn't a replication of Einstein ...
I meant if you could replicate Einstein's DNA.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:04 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Poodle wrote:... which isn't a replication of Einstein ...
I meant if you could replicate Einstein's DNA.
If you made a clone of Albert Einstein, there's no guarantee that he would embark on a brilliant career in theoretical physics. He may choose to spend most of his time at the race track, or at the corner bar instead.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:52 pm

landrew wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Poodle wrote:... which isn't a replication of Einstein ...
I meant if you could replicate Einstein's DNA.
If you made a clone of Albert Einstein, there's no guarantee that he would embark on a brilliant career in theoretical physics. He may choose to spend most of his time at the race track, or at the corner bar instead.
Or maybe work in a customs house.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:26 am

ElectricMonk wrote:Veganism and Conservationism have only ever existed when there was abundance: if we can Replicate everything, we have the luxury of not killing anything. But by no means do we have an obligation not to do so.
So where does the obligation come from not to kill other humans? Or other humans' pets?

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by ElectricMonk » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:21 am

Wordbird wrote: So where does the obligation come from not to kill other humans? Or other humans' pets?
social convention.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:25 am

ElectricMonk wrote:
Wordbird wrote: So where does the obligation come from not to kill other humans? Or other humans' pets?
social convention.
I think it'd be weird to slaughter a chicken and devour its delicious front parts if I can get as good out of a replicator. I think other people would think it would be weird.

In a legit post-scarcity society (which may not be possible but hey, hypothetical), I wonder if there's a case for instant social convention. In other words, pretty much everyone would realise pretty quick that slaughtering animals is kinda brutal.

I like meat. I may need meat. (I tried the vegetarian thing and I got very sick.) I also wish I didn't have to kill to get meat.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by ElectricMonk » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:07 am

Bird is the Word, it seems to me that you are aware that the problem isn't really what animals feel about being farmed and killed, but what we feel about we feel when doing so: the practice of Halal slaughter is pretty medieval and unnecessarily cruel, yet it makes people with certain religious convictions much more happy than killing animals in more human ways would.
What it boils down to is: what is the benefit to society to switch (mostly) to a Replicator diet?
The benefits are pretty overwhelming: quality control, getting predictably what you want, availability, probably less resource consumption (translating into lower price), chance of more variety (downloading recipes from others), huge medical application (tailoring your food to your health needs), and much more.
I don't see animal welfare that high a priority compared to all the other benefits.

We might also consider that moving to Replicator food would result in billions of animals getting killed and most breeds being exterminated. It is far from obvious to me that an animal doesn't have a net benefit from being farmed compared to never having been born.
This would be just a form of anti-natalism.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:26 am

Wordbird wrote:... I also wish I didn't have to kill to get meat.
I wish I'd never had to work to get money.
It's sort of concomitant.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Lance Kennedy » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:08 am

Forget replicators. They are not possible even in theory, and they are not necessary for this discussion. What IS possible is to use vegetable matter to create ersatz meat. Beef, poultry, fish etc all made in factories from soya beans and other crops, with no animals harmed.

What will then happen to animals ? Pretty obvious, we will kill all the cows, sheep, goats, hens etc., because they will no longer be needed, except for a few in petting zoos. Do you really think this would be a good thing for animals ?

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Austin Harper » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:13 pm

I grilled a couple of Beyond Burgers at home earlier this week. While they look a lot like raw ground beef before cooking, they also look weirdly raw after cooking. They have a surprisingly meaty flavor, but the pea protein base flavor really comes out strong a couple of minutes after eating when a strange aftertaste develops as do pea-flavored burps.

I've also tried Impossible Burgers before (at restaurants, I don't think you can buy it in grocery stores yet). It has a closer-to-meat flavor but it gets weirdly crispy on the outside. This might mean that it was cooked at too high of a temperature but without experimenting on my own I can't say for sure.

Neither really make it close enough for me to want to eat them if beef is available, especially since both cost more than ground beef. If they were half the cost of beef I might consider it. However, if vat-grown beef of decent quality was available at 150% the price of "real" beef I would be happy to switch over.

Bill Oakley has also recently reviewed both products in short Instagram videos:
Impossible Burger
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:22 pm

The mature form of the Agaricus bisporus mushroom, also known as portobello mushrooms is a fungus which has had hundreds of millions of years to evolve strategies for transporting it's spores. In this case, evolution has given the mushroom has a meaty flavor so that certain animals will demolish the cap and spores will lodge in the fur and elsewhere, to be transported to new areas where the spores can colonize.

Some veggie burgers use these ground up mushrooms as a base, to give the burger a meaty taste. What some meatless burger manufacturers have achieved with chemical flavorings, others have achieved by using nature to achieve the same end.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by ElectricMonk » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:20 pm

I would be quite eager to try Buffalo Burgers (made not from big bovines but from buffalo worms).

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germ ... SKBN1HS0JF

Insects can be held in the dark, in very tight space, and with a very high return of protein for plant matter input.
I have tried mushroom sausages, which are perfectly fine ( though not as good as a meat alternative at the same price range).

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:16 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:I would be quite eager to try Buffalo Burgers (made not from big bovines but from buffalo worms).

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germ ... SKBN1HS0JF

Insects can be held in the dark, in very tight space, and with a very high return of protein for plant matter input.
I have tried mushroom sausages, which are perfectly fine ( though not as good as a meat alternative at the same price range).
Technically, it's still meat, although the marketing challenges would be immense in this country.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:24 pm

I don't see anything wrong with a harvesting meat from animals raised humanely. The natural lives of such animals is fraught with starvation, disease and predation. I do cringe a bit at the homesteaders who raise those animals as pets, slaughter them, and then thank the animal for giving its life to feed the family.
Yeesh.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gord » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:27 am

landrew wrote:The mature form of the Agaricus bisporus mushroom, also known as portobello mushrooms is a fungus which has had hundreds of millions of years to evolve strategies for transporting it's spores.
its
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:11 am

I'm on-board with the impossible burgers, or Petri dish meat, but not any other meat substitute I tried. Some people seem to do well on a vegetarian diet, but I just don't.

I lasted nearly three years without meat, but I constantly felt that particular sort of pre-sick feeling. My marks suffered a bit. I still got straight A's, but I found myself occasionally missing questions due to zoning out or not reading the question properly.

I fell in with a bad crowd. It was vegans scouring my college looking for geniuses to convert and then trod out for a piece they were doing in the Miami Herald.

It made me so ill I gave them nothing. I ranted about how sick I was. When they asked, "But, don't you feel better for saving all those animal lives?"

I replied, "I don't know. Why don't you ask Mrs. Brisby how many of her poor, sick children died under the plough for the disgusting veggie burger I threw up yesterday because it was so awful?"

Nothing got printed.

I do think there's something inherently wrong with killing, and something more than just how humans feel about killing animals. Sometimes I think morality only expands when it can; in other words, when the non-immoral choice becomes available and relatively easy (no climbing Everest necessary), only then can the moral choice be expected.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:37 am

For most of the history of humans (and all carnivores) killing for food (I'm excepting killing for any other reason, otherwise we'll be here forever) has been the perfectly natural norm. Had that not been so, there's a damn good argument saying that we wouldn't be here to argue about it. I find that I cannot provide a reasoned, logical argument against it. It may offend someone's finer sensibilities, but it is invalid to argue that those sensibilities should be transferred - imposed upon - others. Long live the rump steak ... and bacon.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:51 am

Most of the arguments against being an omnivore revolve around personal preference.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:34 am

Yebbut ... no bacon? What kind of a world is that?

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:52 pm

How about the argument that it's wrong to kill if you don't have to kill?

That's why I prefaced the whole thing with replicators.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:13 pm

Wordbird wrote:How about the argument that it's wrong to kill if you don't have to kill?

That's why I prefaced the whole thing with replicators.
If you kill yourself you'll have less negative impact on the planet. /logicalconclusions
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:14 pm

Errmmm - replicators don't exist, y'know? You live with guilt if you like, and I'll have your share of the bacon. If I had my druthers, bacon would be the world currency.
You're not defining kill correctly. As a founding member of the Vegetable Liberation Front, I feel I have to point out that cabbages are living beings too (you made that point yourself in the OP). I know, I know - you're going to tell me that sentience is the difference. I think that's a VERY fine point. Life is life. I cannot live by not killing anything. Vivo ergo neco. There's no escaping it.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by landrew » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:25 pm

OK, this is a bit of a tangent...
Plants are actually on a higher moral plane than animals. Plants make their own food from sunlight, water and minerals. Animals steal energy by killing plants. Therefore eating plants puts you on a lower moral plane than eating animals. So much for the moral stance of vegetarians.
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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Wordbird » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:18 pm

Poodle wrote:Errmmm - replicators don't exist, y'know?
I know that. It's a hypothetical.

And I don't think sentience is that fine a point.

Chickens will hug you. Plants will usually not.



This hugging is a general extension of sentient life recognising other sentient life. My cat would be sad if I died. (She screams bloody murder if I leave the room!) I would be sad if my cat died. This is in addition to me being sad if I die and my cat being sad if she dies. This mutual recognition doesn't occur between animal and plant, and it seems like kind of a big deal.

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Re: Sentient Life

Post by Poodle » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:38 pm

I do like the keyboard chicken. Even so, I think sentient life recognising sentient life is a step too far when it comes to hens. However, I'm coming across as hostile, which I ain't. I simply like a good bacon sarnie.