Gradients of Sentience and Ethical Obligations: The Octopus, the Human, and the Robot
Chen, Jamie Taylor
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CitationChen, Jamie Taylor. 2019. Gradients of Sentience and Ethical Obligations: The Octopus, the Human, and the Robot. Bachelor's thesis, Harvard College.
AbstractIn this thesis, explore the nature of sentience in various beings, and the relationship between sentience and ethical obligations. In Chapter 1, I motivate the inquiry by arguing for the crucial role that sentience plays in our ethical considerations, across different theories, of other beings. In Chapter 2, I interpret and defend Peter Godfrey-Smith’s account of the transformative view of sentience, which takes the stance that sentience evolved prior to many other complex cognitive capabilities, and as a result can arise in beings with different nervous systems. Finally, in Chapter 3, I explore the implications of the multiple realizability of minds, which the transformative view suggests, for the possibility of machine sentience. I argue sentience does not seem to necessarily depend on biological material, and that with the development of more complex capabilities in machines, sentience may follow. I then outline the epistemological challenge of determining machine sentience, and propose Turing Test as a tentatively sufficient, though far from comprehensive, diagnostic test for sentience. Finally, I address the ethical implications of machine sentience and the challenges we face today.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364589
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