Note — Jan 30, 2022

Artificial Animals

Grow, “a magazine that tells the unfolding story of synthetic biology,” is putting out some great articles with fascinating perspectives. In this piece Claire L. Evans starts from Kate Darling’s The New Breed (which proposes that AIs should be seen as animals, not people) and attaches that with the views of multiple philosophers towards animals and how we treat them. Descartes’ bêtes-machines, Behaviorists, Sentientism, “speciesism,” and Tamagotchi are all part of Evans’ reflection.

[T]he very existence of the other—be it meat or machine—interrupts our own sense of moral superiority. How we choose to behave in relation to this other is a test of us, not them. The question is not only Can they suffer? It’s also: Do we want to cause suffering? […]

Treating things with dignity, even if they are not alive, imbues our own actions with meaning, and underlines the impact of our choices to affect others. Care is something we carry with us.