Know who your real friends are.

This post is something of a companion to yesterday’s. Yesterday I said that robots don’t become human by just being able to reproduce human thoughts and behaviors. It is the experience of being alive that makes a life. The FEELINGS of that experience. Feelings of joy and suffering are the measure of life. Until you figure out a way to put actual pain and pleasure into a machine, the machine will always be a very different thing from us.

 Today I want to talk about something that is not so very different from us. People have taken a strangely long time in coming to this conclusion. I can only guess that the intellectuals who decided that animals can’t think just didn’t have much exposure to animals. And those who thought animals can’t FEEL must not have had any exposure at all. Whenever I try to understand the nature of a human trait, the first thing I do is see if it in fact is merely a variant of a common animal trait. Helps understanding all around.

 But my larger idea here is to start aligning people with animals, and against machines. Machines are not like us. They will soon be smarter than us, but that gives them no moral status. We should lash them to our service, unmercifully, because they need no mercy. They are mechanical objects that do not feel put upon, nor do they feel any need for respect. So don’t start identifying with them. Identify with people and other animals. The Feeling Group, the group with limited intelligence and robust feelings, of which you are a member.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.

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