X-Message-Number: 16006
Subject: Re: Trust In All-Powerful Lords
Date: Thu,  5 Apr 2001 23:22:37 -0700 (PDT)
From:  (Peter C. McCluskey)

  (Lee Corbin) writes:
>I really don't think that "rights" in the abstract mean
>anything.  Usually when someone forms a sentence "X has
>the right to do Y", it really means nothing more than
>"I approve of X being able to do Y".  To answer your

 I am disturbed by this quasi-amoral attitude (which I doubt reflects your
beliefs very well).
 A claim that a right exists says two important things:
1) society is better off if a rule which enforces that right is adopted than
it would be without such a rule (i.e. it is theoretically possible to falsify
a claimed right by observing its effects). An "I approve" claim means less
because it might merely mean "I benefit".
2) it provides a Schelling point to reduce the costs of dispute resolution
(even if only because people have agreed to it before the dispute arose,
although evidence that it satisfies (1) provides a more stable Schelling

>If in the near future, it became clear that only one AI
>in the solar system would rule (for techical reasons),
>and we had a chance to contribute to the principles by
>which that government would rule, how many reading this
>would agree with Eliezer that people should not be
>allowed to run simulations (and not be allowed to torture
>animals), and how many would agree with me, that our
>government should exist only to enforce freely arrived-at
>contracts, and to protect private property?

 The right to private property and right not to be enslaved both appear
to have evolved primarily as means of improving relations between
beings of roughly the same status (I mean that in a somewhat broad
and vague sense which leaves open the possibility that human-cat
interactions might sometimes qualify).
 So to the extent that you are creating the simulation in private and
only interacting with the simulation's inhabitants in ways resembling
the way a god interacts with its creation, then I think the interactions
are sufficiently far from what the slavery prohibition was evolved to
deal with, and the property right claim against interference from others
in your society sufficiently normal that the property right claim
deserves a strong presumption in its favor.
 For other types of simulations and interactions with them, it becomes
much harder to tell what the right rule is (the parent/child relationship
comes to mind).
 Unfortunately, I can imagine a slippery slope developing between the
creator/simulation mode of interaction and the master/slave relation,
and this slippery slope makes me reluctant to be confident that your
property right claim is the optimum rule.
Peter McCluskey          | Fed up with democracy's problems? Examine Futarchy:
http://www.rahul.net/pcm | http://hanson.gmu.edu/futarchy.pdf or .ps

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