May 13, 2006

Abstract for my Stanford talk

I've completed the first draft of the talk I'm going to give at the IEET's Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights conference at Stanford in a couple of weeks. The topic for my panel is "From Human Rights to the Rights of Persons," and I'll be speaking on Saturday May 27 at 4:30 alongside Jeff Medina and Martine Rothblatt.

The title of my presentation is, "All Together Now: Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting non-human animals." Here's the abstract in its current form:
As the potential for enhancement technologies migrates from the theoretical to the practical, a difficult and important decision will be imposed upon human civilization, namely the issue as to whether or not we are morally obligated to biologically enhance non-human animals and bring them along with us into advanced cybernetic and postbiological existence. There will be no middle road that can be taken; we will either have to leave animals in their current evolved state or bring as many sentient creatures along with ourselves into an advanced post-Darwinian mode of being. A strong case can be made that life and civilizations on Earth have already been following this general tendency and that animal uplift will be a logical and inexorable developmental stage along this continuum of progress. But tendency does not imply right; more properly, given the potential expanse of legal personhood status to other sentient species, it will follow that what is good and desirable for Homo sapiens will also be good and desirable for other sapient species. If it can be shown that enhancement and postbiological existence is good and desirable for humans, and conversely that ongoing existence in a Darwinian state of nature is inherently undesirable, then we can assume that we have both the moral imperative and assumed consent to uplift non-human animals.

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