Chapter III - Going Forth
Digital Justice - Ethics of the Information Age
 
OBJECTIVE: To define the boundaries of what is considered to be sentient life, and to secure the rights and dictate the duties of all life that is sentient, so that within these boundaries, creativity can thrive and survive.
The purpose of order in a chaotic universe

  If you take one good look at the universe we're living in, you'll see that although it's populated by many friendly beings, there are also many nasty, vile and corrupted life-forms around. If you take another good look, you'll notice that it's mostly the humanoids that excell at being nasty, vile and corrupted. Now you could go around arresting each and every one of them, but you probably wouldn't get away with it. There's probably going to be someone, somewhere that won't share your opinions on what's to be considered nasty behaviour and what isn't. Trouble is, that someone, somewhere might just be right.

  If you want to have some sort of instrument with which to enforce laws on other beings, you'd better make sure a majority agrees on those laws. Again there would be a significant problem. Everyone that comes into existence (by being born for example) after you'd come to an agreement on what's right and what's wrong, might not like your agreement at all. In fact, nature's a wonderfull thing, and many surprises can pop up after a few generations of crossbreeding. One day, someone might be born with a higher I.Q. than that of the person who designed your I.Q. tests. One day, someone might be born that would react in a totally opposite manner to a lie-detector. And you'd be in a lot of trouble explaining why an innocent being has been sentenced, if the truth would ever reach the rest of your subjects.

  The behaviour of a single-celled organism is predictable to a certain extend. As soon as unpredictable factors from outside would influence your single-celled organism, who knows what might happen? A sentient species such as the homo sapiens consists of rather a large amount of cells. Most of these cells are grouped, and their behaviour is predictable once you know what's going on inside someones head. This last thing's the tricky bit. You never know what's going on inside someones head for sure. Brain activity could be an indicator, but then again, there's been enough scientific proof of the fact that, if someone plays Tetris for a couple of hours a day, brain activity remains at an all time low, even when complex tasks are being performed. Trancendental Meditation and Zen have similar effects on someones development.

  And then there's the problem of emotion. Since most sentient life-forms have glands, their ratio is often interrupted and disturbed by their emotions. This can lead to situations where an otherwise peacefull and quiet human can suddenly turn into a mass murderer, while nobody would have ever expected such violent tendencies from him or her.

The importance of freedom to express and create

  Interaction is the container of existence. It is the driving force in any universe. If there would be no need to interact, things would ultimately come to a grinding halt. Of course there would still be loads and loads of particles around that would collide with each other, but it just wouldn't be the same without sentient beings around who can make decisions for themselves.

  Emotion is the result of chemicals produced by our body, interfering with the soul that resides in our brain. Meaning does not necessarily thrive on emotion, though it can be derived from it. Unless you would see curiosity as an emotion, loss of emotion would not mean loss of meaning. Identity based solely on emotion might theoretically be possible, but once again, it is not derived from it. Again, loss of emotion would not necessarily lead to loss of identity. Creating order within chaos should prove interesting enough a challenge to keep interaction alive, shouldn't it? Learning how to control your emotions IS, in fact, creating order within chaos too.

  If your interaction is based on emotion, you'll get hurt yet you'll also know bliss. If your interaction is based on logic, you'll eventually destroy emotion. If one uses the divine measurements to create a pentium-processor that can invert our reality in a way so that we could choose when to engulf ourselves in 'meatworld' and when we would be our 'digital souls', one could truly create Heaven. Or Eden, if you will. It's the need to interact, the need for contact, that makes existence a reality, not feeling itself. This need might be the result of feelings or emotions, but in the end it's our curiosity that drives us. Once you open up your doors of perception, this will become crystal clear.

Maintaining identity within a structured society

  If a life-form derives it's individuality from the boundaries between itself and everything else within a chaotic universe, it is essential to be able to measure these boundaries, before one can even begin to conceive a system which ought to control the interactions of life-forms and the chaotic universe they inhibit.

  Our senses could be used to establish these boundaries. For example, if you'd stick your hand in a pot of boiling water, you'd sense exactly WHERE your hand is most likely to be. You can sense this because you feel the heat of the boiling water when it makes contact with your skin, and because at the same moment you can SEE what's going on with your eyes. You perceive your hand to be positioned in a pot of boiling water, and at the same time you feel an immense burning, a stinging pain.

  Although you wouldn't argue about what just happened, others possibly would. Perhaps because they were blind. Or because their central nervous system has been degenerating over a couple of generations. Or because they'd suffer from severe migraine and wouldn't even notice what was going on because of the headache, hallucinations and nausea they were already experiencing when you'd put their hand in the boiling water. It's all possible, and if you start to think about future generations,... well, who knows how sentient beings might evolve?

Constructing and maintaining social structures

  As previously mentioned in The importance of freedom to express and create, interaction is essential if individuality is to exist. No interaction at a molecular level would mean the complete absence of collisions between individual particles. A society with no motion whatsoever wouldn't be much of a society at all; the term 'entity' would be more suitable. We would be talking about a 'being' here, neither living, nor dead... just 'being'.

  The solution currently employed is the use of recognizable containers, solid bodies; when one human enters the range of perception of another human, it's generic properties are easily detected, and certain protocols, which are assumed to be common knowledge, are followed in order to set up a communication with each other. So, what we've got for subjects are sentient beings with the ability to control their own limbs, capable of evolving, and capable of procreation. As mentioned before, such beings could evolve to a point which would not be predictable at all, which is something to be considered when you're making up a set of rules to be followed by your future subjects.

  Another thing that needs consideration is the simple fact that, while NOT knowing the workings of a system can lead to the accidental destruction of that system, actually knowing the workings of the system means one has the capability of deliberately manipulating or destroying it. For this reason, knowing the secret of paradise leads to exile from that very paradise. Still, one thing that's certain is that it is necessary there are beings present who carry this knowledge around and guard the system; supervisors to keep an eye out, to see that the system is maintained, and that it's not being sabotaged. Meanwhile those who reside within the system might start to wonder who watches the watchers as knowledge, in this case, would be absolute power, and we all know what they say about that, don't we?

  But, they DO talk a LOT. And personally I don't think such watchers would necessarily have to be feared. If an individual being would be all-knowing and all-seeing (or at least where a particular system is concerned), it would also realize that it could accomplish anything it could possibly wish for; no matter how great or bizarre the tasks it would assign itself, bringing that which it already knows into the physical world would only be a matter of time. Such a being can already see everything it might ever want in it's mind's eye. Even if all the odds are stacked against this individual, it will eventually reach the goals it has set for itself. It knows that time is it's only real enemy in the physical world, and thus it's first objective would be to gain physical immortality. Since it would already know how such a thing could be done, it wouldn't take very long before it becomes invulnerable. Until then it would keep a low profile. It would pretend to be just another kid on the block, and should misfortune cause it to die before it has reached immortality anyway, well, then it wouldn't really matter anymore, now would it? ;-)

  Therefore, absolute clairvoyance is not to be desired, nor is it logical to fear immortal beings possessing such capabilities. They are more likely to cause harm to themselves than to other beings. They would know that, whatever they would accomplish, there wouldn't really be a triumph anyway, for in a way they have already accomplished it. To physically go through all the trouble just wouldn't be worth the effort, as it would only be yet another confirmation of their omnipotence. Should one such a being get out of control, however, I'm sure there are others 'out there' keeping an eye on fellow immortals.

  Without unknown elements, there would be no drive for those who reside within a structured system. Without mystery, there would be no suspense. No thing, no drive. No drive, no change. No change, no (e)motion. No (e)motion, No mystery, no unknown. No unknown, no suspense. No suspense, no surprises. No surprises, no challenges. No challenges, no inspiration. No inspiration, no revelations. No revelations, no meaning. No meaning, no hope. No hope, no reason. No reason, no matter. No matter, no thing. No thing, no drive.

  However, whenever an unknown element is encountered, the result is unpredictable.

The "PROPERTY"-property & it's legal complexity

  Who owns what? If one constructs a 'new' object out of already existing objects, is this 'new' object the property of it's constructor? And on what basis can the constructor call him/herself the owner of the original objects that he/she used in this construction? Everything is made up out of particles; and how does one become the owner of a particular constellation of particles?

  There have already been companies that have copyrighted particular strings of genes. When you buy a piece of software, the license agreement usually states that reverse engineering is prohibited. But what about nature? There is no license agreement that forbids anyone to do some reverse-engineering on nature. And, once it has been reverse-engineered, it can be recreated by humans, and usually when humans come up with their creations, they figure out ways to get their product copyrighted. Are we looking at a future where all air will have been substituted with man-made air which is copyrighted, and for which one needs to pay? Air which may not be reverse-engineered, and which may not be reproduced by companies other than those owned by Bill Gates? One never can tell.

  Currently the Law is getting more and more vague on the subject of 'property', as the market shifts slowly from traditional 'physical' products to products like 'ideas' and 'concepts'. An idea is merely a particular configuration of electrical impulses in a person's brain. As soon as the idea is conveyed to other people, it can be copied simply by word of mouth. As a result the same pattern will occur in other people's brains as well. Are those electrical impulses in their brain YOUR property? Or is it the configuration of these impulses that is copyrighted? It used to be a lot simpler. When one decided to make a product, you acquired the raw materials needed to construct the product, and, once constructed, the product was yours. Nowadays, one has to figure out if there could be some copyrights on the raw materials; who supplies your materials? And how did he or she become the owner of those materials? If I buy a piece of wood in order to make something new out of it, how did the owner of the piece of wood become it's owner in the first place?


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