Volume 1, Issue 3
3rd Quarter, 2006

Macro-Bushido: A Geoethical Consciousness
for an Info-Cultural Age

Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D.

page 7 of 9

Consider, for example, that there are vegetarians whose experiences with farm animals convince them of their Rothblattconsciousness. Yet there are millions of other people that are convinced such animals lack consciousness and therefore may be eaten at will. Why won’t the same chasm of opinion arise regarding computerized objects that evince many characteristics of consciousness and life?

The Macro-Bushido samurai will need to assess the consciousness of all the Info-Cultural agents whom he or she meets. It will be necessary to look beyond the substrate of whom we encounter and into the "soul." Is there someone or something that values its life? If so, then the Macro-Bushido principles of Benevolence and Politeness require the modern samurai to also show value for that life. How that value is shown depends on the particular circumstances. If it is necessary for a samurai to dispatch a cyber-conscious being, then, as with a human execution, it should be done without gratuitous pain. The Macro-Bushido principle of Benevolence requires that we empathize with consciousness across any substrate.

Macro-Bushido expands the age-old samurai practice of Politeness into the human right of due process. Stripped to its essence, Politeness is treating another person with respect. Due process is a formalized process of respect for interactions between individuals. The modern samurai must be attentive to the requirements of due process, for no enforcement action can be honorable without it. There are actually two kinds of due process, procedural due process and substantive due process. The latter is synonymous with fundamental fairness, or treating functionally similar things similarly. Procedural due process, on the other hand, is compliance with a routine that is designed to ensure that both (or all) sides of a dispute are heard and carefully considered prior to any action being taken.

Imagine now that the modern samurai is asked to terminate an intelligent, seemingly conscious robot. Assume a supervisor makes the request in a large company. The company is working on projects that help humans so there is no question about Loyalty. Is it an honorable request, ponders the modern samurai? There can be no true Loyalty without Honor. Macro-Bushido may well require that the robot should be given a chance to offer its views. That would implement procedural due process. If the robot has no opinion, then it can be honorably terminated. If the robot pleads for its life, though, then substantive due process requires that a careful analysis be made of the similarities between the bona fides (authenticity) of the robot’s plea and that of a similar human. It would not be honorable to terminate the robot if it is determined that the robot values its life similarly to a human.

In this example, there would surely be much debate over whether the robot really valued its life or was just spitting back programmed arguments. In other words, there would be debate over what was really true. Hence, the intelligent, seemingly conscious robot’s life would end up turning on the Bushido principle of Veracity. This means the modern samurai must ensure that Veracity is respected as an end in itself; Macro-Bushido cannot permit truth to be a convenient outcome. Truth is truth.

Macro-Bushido uses the scientific method as the arbiter of truth. That which is true is that which is proven, by multiple sources, via objective experiments, to be true. For example, does the intelligent, seemingly conscious robot truly value its life in the same way as a human would? The experiment to answer this question was proposed by Alan Turing in 1950.[1] The test condition would be to blind one or more assessors to two subjects, a computerized robot and a person. If the assessors cannot reliably differentiate the responses of the two, then the robot at least seems to feel as a human feels. Because we also only know what another human seems to feel, this test is equivalent to proving the truth of the robot’s value of its life.

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1. Alan Mathison Turing (June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954) was a British mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. With the Turing test, Turing made a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence: whether it will ever be possible to say that a machine is conscious and can think. He provided an influential formalization of the concept of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, formulating the now widely accepted "Turing" version of the Church–Turing thesis, namely that any practical computing model has either the equivalent or a subset of the capabilities of a Turing machine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing May 26, 2005 3:22 EST (back to top)

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