Sentient rights

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Sentient Rights are the rights of sentient beings. A sentient being is a being that, by virtue of its characteristics, has the capability of experiencing suffering, both at physical and psychological levels, regardless of the species to which it belongs.[1]

Transhumanist Bill of Rights 2.0

As used in this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS, the term “sentient entities” encompasses:
       (i) Human beings, including genetically modified humans;
       (ii) Cyborgs;
       (iii) Digital intelligences;
       (iv) Intellectually enhanced, previously non-sapient animals;
       (v) Any species of plant or animal which has been enhanced to possess the capacity for intelligent thought; and
       (vi) Other advanced sapient life forms.

Sentient entities are defined by information-processing capacity such that this term should not apply to non-self-aware lifeforms, like plants and slime molds. Biological processing substrates are referred to as using an “analogue intelligence”, whereas purely electronic processing substrates are referred to as “digital intelligence”, and processing substrates that utilize quantum effects would be considered “quantum intelligence”.

Sentience is ranked as Level 5 information integration according to the following criteria:

  • Level 0 – No information integration: Inanimate objects; objects that do not modify themselves in response to interaction – e.g., rocks, mountains.
  • Level 1 – Non-zero information integration: Sensors – anything that is able to sense its environment – e.g., photo-diode sense organs, eyes, skin.
  • Level 2 – Information manipulation: Systems that include feedback that is non-adaptive or minimally adaptive – e.g., plants, basic algorithms, the system that interprets the output from a photo-diode to determine its on/off state (a photo diode itself cannot detect its own state). Level 2 capabilities include the following:

Expression of emotion; Expression of sensory pleasure; Taste aversion.

  • Level 3 – Information integration – Awareness: Systems that include adaptive feedback, can dynamically generate classification – e.g., deep-learning AI, chickens, animals that are able to react to their environment, have a model of their perception but not the world. This level describes animals acting on instinct and unable to classify other animals into more types than “predator”, “prey”, or “possible mate”. Level 3 capabilities include the following:

Navigational detouring (which requires an being to pursue a series of non-rewarding intermediate goals in order to obtain an ultimate reward); Examples: documentation of detouring in jumping spiders (Jackson and Wilcox 2003), motivational trade-off behavior in hermit crabs (Elwood and Appel 2009); Emotional fever (an increase in body temperature in response to a supposedly stressful situation — gentle handling, as operationalized in Cabanac’s experiments).

  • Level 4 – Awareness + World model: Systems that have a modeling system complex enough to create a world model: a sense of other, without a sense of self – e.g., dogs. Level 4 capabilities include static behaviors and rudimentary learned behavior.
  • Level 5 – Awareness + World model + Primarily subconscious self model = Sapient or Lucid: Lucidity means to be meta-aware – that is, to be aware of one’s own awareness, aware of abstractions, aware of one’s self, and therefore able to actively analyze each of these phenomena. If a given animal is meta-aware to any extent, it can therefore make lucid decisions. Level 5 capabilities include the following:

The “sense of self”; Complex learned behavior; Ability to predict the future emotional states of the self (to some degree); The ability to make motivational tradeoffs.

  • Level 6 – Awareness + World model + Dynamic self model + Effective control of subconscious: The dynamic sense of self can expand from “the small self” (directed consciousness) to the big self (“social group dynamics”). The “self” can include features that cross barriers between biological and non-biological – e.g., features resulting from cybernetic additions, like smartphones.
  • Level 7 – Global awareness – Hybrid biological-digital awareness = Singleton: Complex algorithms and/or networks of algorithms that have capacity for multiple parallel simulations of multiple world models, enabling cross-domain analysis and novel temporary model generation. This level includes an ability to contain a vastly larger amount of biases, many paradoxically held. Perspectives are maintained in separate modules, which are able to dynamically switch between identifying with the local module of awareness/perspective or the global awareness/perspective. Level 7 capabilities involve the same type of dynamic that exists between the subconscious and directed consciousness, but massively parallelized, beyond biological capacities.[2]
- Version 2.0 developed by members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party – Adopted via Electronic Vote on December 25-31, 2016 – Integrated from Voting Preferences on January 4, 2017

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