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jonsills' Thought Experiment on Sapience

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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    azrael605 wrote: »
    Actually I wouldn't be, I discovered while I was in school that many things I knew to be flatly false were being taught in school (example, when I was a kid they still taught the Washington cherry tree story as if it actually happened), and many facts known to be true were replaced with a lie (example, Battle of the Little Big Horn replaced by the utterly false Custer's Last Stand, he died running like a coward at the hands of his own men). In more recent years there are schools today teaching that the Trail of Tears was an amicable relocation, to say nothing of the schools still using textbooks full of lies written by the fraud that got hired as a Native advisor on Voyager.
    Yeah, that's a bad one: I got into a big argument with a community college classmate about Andrew Jackson's little ethnic cleansing operation when he wrote a paper defending it. (FWIW, my topic was the Battle of Hampton Roads.)
    brian334 wrote: »
    Evolutionary question: do ants enslave aphids?

    Ants 'farm' several types of insects, and even, in some cases, care for them and keep them safe from other predators. Is this slavery? Or is it domestication, (myrmification?) of other species, as in the relationship between humans and cows?

    On that note, I could totally see raccoons building crawfish ponds. They love them some mud-bugs.

    Not really: nature is full of such symbiotic relationships (the technical term is "mutualism" BTW). Hell, we're discovering now that even the human body is incredibly dependent on its microbiome (we benefit in myriad ways, e.g. digestion and immunity, they benefit by being inside a large organism that protects them from being eaten). With our pets? They get the benefits of food, medical care, and love, and we get companionship and, in earlier times, protection from predators and assistance with agricultural or hunting tasks.

    But slavery isn't a mutualistic relationship, it's a parasitic one.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    brian334 wrote: »
    Is relative sapience a factor? Or is it an all-or-nothing issue? (Example: some sapience equates to enslavement, while unmeasurable sapience equals domestication)

    I would assume it depends on how tasty the animal is. Pigs, cows, and chickens would have a far harder time to be labelled as sapient compared to monkeys and dolphins.
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    starkaos wrote: »
    brian334 wrote: »
    Is relative sapience a factor? Or is it an all-or-nothing issue? (Example: some sapience equates to enslavement, while unmeasurable sapience equals domestication)

    I would assume it depends on how tasty the animal is. Pigs, cows, and chickens would have a far harder time to be labelled as sapient compared to monkeys and dolphins.

    I like a person who thinks in practical terms!

    Actually, Larry Niven, (again,) created a species of food animal which became smarter than the predatory species they were grown for because the gene-engineers made the brain the tastiest part, and so they were commanded to grow them with bigger brains! A sort of mad-cow disease, only these were angry, not insane!
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    markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 35,231 Arc User
    edited February 2019
    starswordc wrote: »
    As far as Star Trek is concerned, on the one hand you have Quark's claim in "The Jem'Hadar" that the Ferengi have never practiced slavery, but on the other hand they're established buy and sell their own women among themselves.
    It's possible that it's a technicality and instead they will do things that in Ferengi law are not considered slavery. IRL there are a variety of things that aren't technically slavery, but are forced servitude of some other sort.
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    brian334 wrote: »
    Actually, Larry Niven, (again,) created a species of food animal which became smarter than the predatory species they were grown for because the gene-engineers made the brain the tastiest part, and so they were commanded to grow them with bigger brains! A sort of mad-cow disease, only these were angry, not insane!
    Although the real point of the bandersnatchi brain was to create a sapient species that was immune to the thrintun Power of telepathic hypnosis (that was why the thrintun were kind of dumb, and easy for the tnuctipun to fool on matters such as bandersnatchi and sunflowers, giant flowers with silver petals for focusing sunlight (to an almost laser-like concentration) - once the thrintun developed the power to dominate other species to do a thrint's will, they really didn't need to get any smarter). The tnuctipun made the brain delicious in order to fool the thrintun into letting them make the brain bigger, so when the Slaver War started the rebels had organic tanks that couldn't be mind-controlled by the slavers.

    When humans found bandersnatchi on Jinx a billion years later (a bandersnatch's genes are as thick as your arm, and they're almost immune to mutation), they struck up a treaty - humans are allowed to hunt bandersnatchi, but only with a defined variety of weapons and vehicles, and the bandersnatchi are permitted to hunt them back. Since bandersnatchi can only live in the dense atmosphere of Jinx's polar belt, it works out - the only humans who get hurt are the ones who insist on going in harm's way.
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    mustrumridcully0mustrumridcully0 Member Posts: 12,963 Arc User
    starkaos wrote: »
    brian334 wrote: »
    Is relative sapience a factor? Or is it an all-or-nothing issue? (Example: some sapience equates to enslavement, while unmeasurable sapience equals domestication)

    I would assume it depends on how tasty the animal is. Pigs, cows, and chickens would have a far harder time to be labelled as sapient compared to monkeys and dolphins.
    Well, the interesting thing is - being a not-taste animal can be an evolutionary disadvantage when you have humans around. Because humans don't like non-tasty animals and will get rid of them in favor of breeding more of the tasty animals. (In case of dolphins, sometimes we accidentally kill them in nets because we are actually after the tasty stuff in the seas. Foxes and Wolves are hunted because they like our tasty animals, too, not because they are a serious threat to humans.)

    Maybe a pig's life ends very harshly, but as a species, the whole situation is pretty good - humans ensure there will be always plenty of them and they won't die out. Unless humans do, then they might be fracked. (I believe cows have it particularly bad there, because they need to be milked or will get sick or hurt from the excess milk production.)
    I guess the goal should be to find a reasonable compromise where we can still eat them (in reasonable numbers, and not the excess we engage currently in), but give them nice living conditions and make the end not all that inhumane
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    starkaos wrote: »
    brian334 wrote: »
    Is relative sapience a factor? Or is it an all-or-nothing issue? (Example: some sapience equates to enslavement, while unmeasurable sapience equals domestication)

    I would assume it depends on how tasty the animal is. Pigs, cows, and chickens would have a far harder time to be labelled as sapient compared to monkeys and dolphins.
    Well, the interesting thing is - being a not-taste animal can be an evolutionary disadvantage when you have humans around. Because humans don't like non-tasty animals and will get rid of them in favor of breeding more of the tasty animals. (In case of dolphins, sometimes we accidentally kill them in nets because we are actually after the tasty stuff in the seas. Foxes and Wolves are hunted because they like our tasty animals, too, not because they are a serious threat to humans.)

    Maybe a pig's life ends very harshly, but as a species, the whole situation is pretty good - humans ensure there will be always plenty of them and they won't die out. Unless humans do, then they might be fracked. (I believe cows have it particularly bad there, because they need to be milked or will get sick or hurt from the excess milk production.)
    I guess the goal should be to find a reasonable compromise where we can still eat them (in reasonable numbers, and not the excess we engage currently in), but give them nice living conditions and make the end not all that inhumane

    Nah, pigs are fine with or without us. They're omnivorous and pretty smart, and pigs that escape farms will actually start regrowing their bristles and tusks without prompting and turn back into wild hogs, which are mean as hell (it's some really interesting epigenetics). It happens so often that feral hogs are considered an agricultural pest in many rural areas (e.g. much of the South and Midwest) and legally hunted.
    “Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal.”

    Domestic cattle are like other mammals in that the cows only produce milk when they have babies. Dairy farmers force-breed them and slaughter most of the male calves.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
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    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    In fact, modern slaughter methods tend to be as humane as possible, as the meat tastes better when it's not flooded with stress hormones. A great deal of credit for this, particularly in the area of cattle slaughter, goes to Dr. Temple Grandin, who drew on her own experiences as an autistic to examine the parallels between animal and human, and to design innovations that reduce the fear and stress (those long, winding channels leading into the slaughterhouse, for instance, are designed to exploit a cow's instinctive desire to follow others of its herd, while not affording them a glimpse of where they're going, and they go up ramps rather than the traditional broad staircase because cows are frightened of climbing stairs). She also designed equipment to make their lives easier earlier on, such as bathing them with a pathway through a water trough (again, ramped), and a large machine that will apply gentle pressure across the animal's entire length (based on a machine she built to give herself bodily squeezes - not "hugs" the way you probably think of them, but similar).
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    I suppose if it's humane, humans could become an ethical food source for an alien race. Consider that if our numbers remain unchecked we overburden a planet's ecosystem to the point of collapse, and culling the population is one way to curb our tendency to overpopulate.

    So we could become the blackened redfish of the galaxy: a fad that almost depletes the natural environment, then a gourmet dish that is regulated by harvest permits and hunting seasons so we don't become extinct.

    But this brings to mind the question: if our farming has impacted the environment to the extent we think it has, could the result be an emerging level of sapience in our food-crops? Chickens are demonstrably less intelligent than their wild kin, but vastly more abundant. Wild turkeys are extremely smart, for birds, but the intelligence of the domesticated variety is, to say the least, a joke. I'm not certain we've made much impact on domesticated waterfowl. Geese are just mean no matter what, and ducks are ducks. But cows and pigs may actually be smarter than their ancestral stock because of human intervention.
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    artan42artan42 Member Posts: 10,450 Bug Hunter
    At some point we'll be growing our own meat without involving animals at all. It'll probably have its own concerns (such as more factories taking up habitats and production of the raw materials) but the direct impact to animals will be reduced to near zero.

    Then we can dump the millions of current livestock animals (except in regions that can't afford to grow their own meat) and the piggies can get back to attempting to take over.​​
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    Norway and Yeager dammit... I still want my Typhoon and Jupiter though.
    JJ Trek The Kelvin Timeline is just Trek and it's fully canon... get over it. But I still prefer TAR.

    #TASforSTO


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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    artan42 wrote: »
    At some point we'll be growing our own meat without involving animals at all. It'll probably have its own concerns (such as more factories taking up habitats and production of the raw materials) but the direct impact to animals will be reduced to near zero.

    Then we can dump the millions of current livestock animals (except in regions that can't afford to grow their own meat) and the piggies can get back to attempting to take over.​​

    I don't doubt that we'll develop alternate artificial food sources. Humans are good at turning TRIBBLE into food.

    But if we let our livestock range free and unfettered, prepare for a worse ecological disaster than slash-and-burn farming.

    Cows will insure no new tree gets above a few inches in height and in a tree-generation we'll have deforested the world.

    And pigs! OMG! The only thing keeping them from rooting up everything with roots is the fact that there have been people shooting them for the last hundred years, and the pigs are winning the battle, especially as hunting is declining in popularity due to social pressure. Expect anything that was once any other terrain type to become desert or have its topsoil washed away by rain, because there won't be any roots to contain the soil. Large tracts of American forests are already endangered by pigs. Unchecked? Disaster.

    Of course, you could always bring back the puma, siberian tiger, and other pig-hunters. The trouble is, these guys would also prefer your pet dog, your baby, or your neighbor, which is why they were nearly driven to extinction in the first place. Wolves would be safer, but guess what? Wolves are too smart to mess with pigs, which outweigh and outnumber them.

    If we don't want to go extinct ourselves, the smartest thing to do is to kill off our farm stock when we're done with them. Contrary to what PETA says, animals are not our friends, they are our competition. That's the whole basis of the theory of evolution.
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    artan42 wrote: »
    At some point we'll be growing our own meat without involving animals at all. It'll probably have its own concerns (such as more factories taking up habitats and production of the raw materials) but the direct impact to animals will be reduced to near zero.

    Then we can dump the millions of current livestock animals (except in regions that can't afford to grow their own meat) and the piggies can get back to attempting to take over.​​

    We already can. The problem is that it currently costs $2400/pound due to the infancy of the technology. It cost $300,000 a few years ago. So it is just a matter of waiting a few years until it is at a reasonable price. Then there is the vegetarian substitutes that currently exist. Not sure what I find worst, a vegetarian substitute or lab grown meat.

    However, there is an issue that various people aren't concerned about when lab grown meat becomes commercially viable for the average person. What happens to all the livestock? Livestock have been domesticated that it is doubtful that most will be able to survive in the wild. Ranchers would have to rely on farming since there is no point in raising livestock. It is likely that livestock will become endangered species in just a few years.
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    artan42artan42 Member Posts: 10,450 Bug Hunter
    I think it's obvious we would phase in lab grown meat incrementally. This doesn't even need more than a few seconds thought. Over a decade or so you simply reduce the numbers of new animals you breed by a tenth keeping the older and more experienced animals around until you can cut right back to the barest minimum.
    We'll still require sheep and goats for wool and sheep and cows for milk (unless that can be produced in a lab I've not read anything relating to that), and fowl for eggs.
    Pigs on the whole are barely domesticated and can go feral quite easily and their numbers should settle down once we stop force breading them. Same with sheep and goats.
    Cows I don't know about, I struggle to think of wild cows but there's not much need for individual breeds to continue considering they were only created as ways of optimising milk or meat production so letting domestic breeds go extinct by not breeding them would still work out fine for cowkind.

    We don't have an obligation to save all the animals we've created and we don't even need to let them die. Just stop breeding from the ones that can't survive and continue to eat the surviving ones in the transition period. It's still a net good for their species as a whole just not for the individual breeds.

    Keeping feral populations down could be done by genetically modifying the ones we eventually release. Reducing their litter sizes or fertility is a possibility. Introducing new predators depends on the environments you relocate the surplus ex-livestock to and what sort of numbers you're expecting. We already manage animal populations through culling for agricultural and safety reasons so that's not going to change.

    Mind you, none of this has yet taken into account baseless and mindless fear-mongering that humanity always roles out against new technology (wi-fi, vaccinations, GM crops and so on) that always has the most impact on the most vulnerable societies who benefit from this technology most of all so you'd probably have to stockpile cows to keep developing nations going until you can undo all the harm affluent but ignorant fear mongering is bound to do to it.​​
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    Norway and Yeager dammit... I still want my Typhoon and Jupiter though.
    JJ Trek The Kelvin Timeline is just Trek and it's fully canon... get over it. But I still prefer TAR.

    #TASforSTO


    '...I can tell you that we're not in the military and that we intend no harm to the whales.' Kirk: The Voyage Home
    'Starfleet is not a military organisation. Its purpose is exploration.' Picard: Peak Performance
    'This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? Because I thought we were explorers!' Scotty: Into Darkness
    '...The Federation. Starfleet. We're not a military agency.' Scotty: Beyond
    'I'm not a soldier anymore. I'm an engineer.' Miles O'Brien: Empok Nor
    '...Starfleet could use you... It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada...' Admiral Pike: Star Trek

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    artan42artan42 Member Posts: 10,450 Bug Hunter
    I'm sure it'd still get eaten. People still eat meat that isn't farmed like Deer or Ostrich.​​
    22762792376_ac7c992b7c_o.png
    Norway and Yeager dammit... I still want my Typhoon and Jupiter though.
    JJ Trek The Kelvin Timeline is just Trek and it's fully canon... get over it. But I still prefer TAR.

    #TASforSTO


    '...I can tell you that we're not in the military and that we intend no harm to the whales.' Kirk: The Voyage Home
    'Starfleet is not a military organisation. Its purpose is exploration.' Picard: Peak Performance
    'This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? Because I thought we were explorers!' Scotty: Into Darkness
    '...The Federation. Starfleet. We're not a military agency.' Scotty: Beyond
    'I'm not a soldier anymore. I'm an engineer.' Miles O'Brien: Empok Nor
    '...Starfleet could use you... It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada...' Admiral Pike: Star Trek

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    markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 35,231 Arc User
    IE, the vat grown stuff is treated the same way Klingons treat replicated meat. :p IE, it's technically food, but very bad food.
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    My character Tsin'xing
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    Hell, that's even true with Trek humans: off the top of my head, there's that scene in "Caretaker" where Tom is trying to order lunch from the rec room replicator. "Fourteen varieties and they can't even get plain tomato soup right."
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
    VZ9ASdg.png

    Check out https://unitedfederationofpla.net/s/
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