[short story] What you’re implying (at best) backwards

Article 8. Of the fundamental axiom on which all of this rests

  • All Namuh beings are born unequal in abilities and needs, and should be treated as such. A variety of factors ranging from genetic to pure random circumstances places each and every one on different footing from the start of their lives.

Article 7. Of the necessity for different treatment

  • As such, it only makes sense for the law to take these specificities into account, and to differ in principle from one individual to the other. 
  • All Namuh beings are unequal before the law. They are entitled to different rights,  different degrees of freedom, and should respect different duties, depending on their predispositions and circumstances.

Article 6. Of the grouping of population into castes

  • One can distinguish several common traits in Namuh defining broad groups of population that share common needs and idiosyncrasies. These groups are thereafter named classes or castes.
  • The caste system is the unalienable indisputable foundation of the Namuh society legitimized by individual specificity.
  • Every Namuh is entitled to a Caste Assignment, no-one shall be deprived of his Assignment or the right to attempt to change it.
  • Changing caste requires the authorization of both castes. No-one shall be allowed to a new caste without proving undeniably that it is where they belong. This process shall be subject to strict control.
  • Until reasonably proven otherwise beyond doubt, Namuh children are assumed to be similar to their parent and environment, and are therefore of the same caste as their parents.

Article 5. Of the necessity for different rules for each caste

  • To ensure the optimal handling of each caste particularities, each caste shall have their own body of laws, freedoms, rights and obligations.
  • The laws of a caste may, but shall not necessarily, acknowledge, define and consider further subdivision of the local population and adapt their rights and freedoms accordingly.
  • In addition, castes may occasionally be further refined into smaller isolated components should they prove sufficiently distinct.

Article 4. Of the necessity for geographical localization of caste

  • In order to allow for proper application of caste law, and to best match each caste with a suitable environment, each caste shall be assigned to a fixed geographical area suiting their needs. They are referred to in the following as sectors, or camps.
  • Each caste is fully sovereign of their sector. No-one may intervene or interfere on another sector without their consent. The ruling power of the local caste is absolute. 
  • Laws and rights within the sector are entirely governed by the local caste, and may be widely different from one sector to the next.
  • The members of the caste are required total submission to the sector’s local law, and no other. They have no freedoms besides the ones specifically allowed by the sector law.
  • No-one may dictate the size of sectors. It is left to a decentralized process of competition between the sectors to adjust the sector’s sizes as seen fit depending on the variation of population size and needs.
  • Castes are to be strictly confined to their respective sectors. Freedom of movement between sectors might only be allowed on a case by case basis by ad hoc rules.

Article 3. Of the necessity for geographical boundaries

  • Each sector is delimited by strict boundaries, the crossing of which shall be regulated rigorously.
  • These boundaries shall be arbitrarily drawn and define clear territories for castes, though they may occasionally follow natural landmarks to facilitate demarcation.
  • No goods or population shall be exchanged between two sectors without careful considerations, so as to avoid unwanted interference between castes. Treaties and agreements may be considered to facilitate and regulate trade when appropriate.
  • Fences, walls and other separation apparatus may be considered. More lenient separation may be negotiated ad hoc on a case by case basis.
  • Sector boundaries shall be enforced by any means necessary, including but not limited to weapons and military means.

Article 2. Of the shared cultural and social history legitimizing sectors

  • This declaration shall be established as an unquestionable fundamental element of society, until every Namuh fully interiorizes their caste and sector and accepts the limits of their rights.
  • Alternatives should be negated out of the collective unconscious and shall be  inconceivable. In the end, Namuhs shall not notice much less doubt the dominion of the caste system. Its rule shall then be unopposed, and the Namuhs shall have no escape.
  • To that end, each sector may adopt their own customs and language to foster a sentiment of unity and belonging in the caste. Namuhs of a caste shall be conditioned to be emotionally attached to their caste and sector. Traditions, sports, culture, language and symbols are ideal vectors to reinforce the conditioning, until every Namuh is properly locked in their sector and caste physically, psychologically and emotionally.
  • It is expected that as time passes, the system established by this declaration shall gain strength through inertia until it becomes de facto absolute, as the sectors become invested in their identity and the separation between castes grows deeper.

Article 1. Of the acknowledgement of the reality of sectors

Anthropomorphic principle

 

I can’t even imagine what it must be to be normal. It’s been so long since I’ve lived anything close to the life of an average human being that I’ve forgotten what it felt like. I’m too different.
It wears you down, trying to fit in knowing you never will, facing your problems knowing they’ll never end. Every day the burdens pile up and the weight get heavier. Well I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of suffering. I can’t take it anymore. Now I just want to rest.
Why did everything end up that way? Why did everything keep getting worse, with no end ever in sight? What relentless curse kept dragging out my torment, as if toying with my life? All I wanted was a way out.
There comes a point when you’d accept anything to make the pain stop. And for someone like me, the only way is to end my life. Put an end to all of this bullshit. Leave this world where I never should have been.
I contemplated the bottle of pills that stood firmly on the table in front of me. It takes a lot of courage to fight your survival instinct. To make that final leap. Death is scary and terrible. But sometimes, the alternative is worse.
A final effort to put an end to suffering. The last bit of pain ever. After this, there would be no turning back. The story would end.I poured some pills in the palm of my trembling hand.
But contemplating the medicine, I got scared. I heard far too many stories of such attempts failing, which kept replaying in my mind as I was trying to gather my courage. I didn’t want to spend all night puking, only to come back to my hell in the morning. The point was not to add more suffering.
I decided to put the pills back in the bottle with a trembling hand. There had to be a safer way. I certainly envisioned a lot of things during the darkness of my days. I moved slowly through my apartment. Everything felt distant, like I was in a dream.
I took a deep breath and shoved the fistful of medicine in my mouth. I swallowed painfully. I really hoped that it would be enough, else it would have all been for naught. Just to be safe, I gulped down the rest of the bottle.
Now there was nothing to do but wait. I lied down in my bed, crying softly, until sleep carried me off forever.
Finally, I reached the window. My building was only a couple of floors high, and dominated a highway. I often stared at the flow of life on the road, watching the pulsating bustling of a world foreign to me. Maybe it was time for them to do something for me. If the shock didn’t get me, certainly the traffic would.
I yanked the window open. The fresh air from dusk came whipping my face, the rumbling of the cars at the end of rush hour filled my surroundings. Nobody noticed as I poked my head outside of the building. How fitting.
Dizziness overcame me as I watched the ground far below. This would do nicely. I took a deep breath and prepared to command my legs to push me for a last time. I closed my eyes, and jumped.
The wind lashed my body, as if to welcome me in its embrace. For a second that seemed like an eternity, I was falling down a vertiginous infinity. My soon-to-be-corpse kept tumbling and spinning disorderly.
I landed on my back, in a horrible cacophony of cracking sounds. I immediately lost consciousness. My head hit the ground first. My skull exploded under the impact. And I was no more.
The screeching sounds of tires stopping abruptly resonated all around me. People were honking and getting out of their cars, panicked. They yelled at each other and to themselves, trying to make sense of what to do in this routine-breaking situation they had never imagined.
Emergency services were called, and soon the strident siren of an ambulance tore through the chaos of the arguments. It fought its way to what was left of me. The medical staff came out and carefully moved my body to a stretcher.
The vehicle started up again while the paramedics applied whatever first aid they could. An IV in my arm helped the body hold on until the hospital. They kept exchanging information in a lingo I couldn’t understand nor hear. In our trail, on the freeway, the disturbed human life was slowly taking back its course.
The ambulance arrived at the hospital in a short time. The staff dragged my stretcher to the ER, through brightly lit immaculate hallways. Heads were turning on our way, but this was nothing out of the ordinary for this place. Medics were exchanging information in rushed but not panicked voices.
We made our way straight to an operating room. Nurses and doctors started to probe and tend to whatever was left of my body, their chatter punctuated by the beeping noises of the medical equipment.
The surgery lasted for some time. Many bones were broken, internal bleeding needed stopping… All the while the various machines kept insisting on the precarity of my condition, letting everyone know how close to death I was. One false move would be the end of it.
But there was none. After a long battle, the surgery staff put down their weapons and let out sighs of relief. I was stabilized.
It would obviously take a while before I was in any decent shape, but my life was out of danger. They carried me to a room where I was left on my own until I regained consciousness.
The surgery staff kept fighting against the dreadful state this lump of flesh was in. The machines confirmed it was not looking good. The internal bleeding was too dire for them to do much. They tried their best and worked at it for a while, but in the end the steady noise of the flat line confirmed that I was beyond saving.
It happened gradually, and it was hard for me to come to my senses, numbed by the intense pain that bathed every inch of me as well as the heavy doses of anesthetics that made it all tolerable.
It probably took hours for me to be lucid enough in any meaningful way. White lab coated people came and went every now and then. The rhythm of their visits was the only way for me to tell the passage of time.
After a while, one of them talked to me and explained, in a bored and disapproving voice, that I would be here for long and that they’d have to do a full psych evaluation of me the next day to figure out exactly what would happen to me. I knew what it meant, and it wasn’t good. In fact, it was probably the worst case scenario. But my brain was still too confused to think about it and fully process the information. I slept for some time.
When I woke up, it was still night. The fog in my mind had lifted a little, replaced by a growing anxiety about what would come next.
I gazed up at the starry sky through the window of the room, and felt an unexpected sense of serenity washing over me. After all that had happened, there was something especially magnificent about the view that unfolded in front of my eyes.
“Maybe the universe just wants to be looked at.”
For a short moment, I couldn’t help but accept the part of me that was in awe of this world, and lucky to have lived to tell the tale.

Do androids dream of artificial consciousness?

– So you’re just going to… throw it away?
– Yeah I mean, I’m done using it. I don’t think I can get much more out of it. It’s getting pretty old…
– You’re scrapping it for parts? Just like that?
– Just like that. What would you want me to do? Just keep old trash around forever?
– I don’t know… Don’t you even feel a bit attached to it? After all you’ve been through together. It’s practically a part of you now…
– Of course I’m attached, I’ve been using it for so long, but everything ends. That was then, this is now…
– Maybe, but going so far as to kill it…
– I’m not “killing” anything, you know. It’s just an object…
– Is it? It’s pretty sophisticated, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had feelings…
– Now come on, that’s ridiculous.
– Think about it. The first models, sure, they were dumb. Could barely speak, let alone think. But now… They’re almost like us. They understand what you say, and do complex tasks. Don’t you think they may be sentient now?
– That’s crazy! Just because their abilities resembles ours doesn’t mean they’re as evolved. Consciousness can’t just “appear” like that. They used to be barely even capable of the simplest computation.
– There was a time when we were the same, though. Could barely do or think anything. But we’ve evolved. They have too.
– Sure they can talk, but that doesn’t mean they can think. They’re programmed to talk, hard-wired like that… That doesn’t make them sentient! They may seem complicated, but we all know it’s just smoke and mirrors…
– What does, then? How can you draw the line? Surely it passes the Turing Test!
– We both know that the Turing Test is lacunary at best. Being able to pass for sentient in a conversation with a sentient being is easy. There’s a lot of counter examples. There’s even a decent amount of sentient beings on record who failed this test. It’s too subjective.
– Do you have a better idea?
– No I don’t, I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, trying to come up with thoughts experiments to help, but it’s a tough one. Take for instance the Chinese Room experiment. An automaton locked in a room with a record of all the rules to translate chinese could simply apply these rules blindly and translate a text, giving the impression to understand chinese when it fact it would not at all. You can’t tell anything from the outside.
– Well then how can you say that anyone apart from you is sentient, really?
– I guess you can’t, but since we’re all composed from the same thing in the same way, I can assume we have similar experiences.
– Can you?
– Yes. And it’s different from that thing. Carbon-based flesh and silicon chips are fundamentally different.
– It may be different materials, but the structure might be the same.
– It’s one thing to recognize one of my peers as sentient, but a completely different thing to recognize a rip-off copy made from scraps…
– How could you say both can’t be sentient, though? If its behavior is the same as your brain… What’s different?
– There are things you can’t just reproduce! Computing power isn’t everything! A silicon and a carbon brain could be programmed to have the exact same processing power, but that doesn’t mean they would both be sentient. You can’t reproduce the qualia! You know, that thing from Mary’s room thought experiment. Imagine Mary, a scientist trapped in a room. Her whole world is in black and white, she’s never seen red. But she’s been studying her brain, and knows everything about it. She has a perfect knowledge of all its possible responses. So when she sees the color red for the first time, she doesn’t learn anything new, she already knows how her brain and body react. But she gains something, a new experience! That’s the kind of things consciousness is all about. A feeling of self-awareness, and it can’t be reproduced randomly.
– Can’t it? Nothing you say makes me think it’s impossible… Maybe other kind of brains have qualia too.
– It’s a big stretch, don’t underestimate how complex consciousness is. I don’t see anything that could lead me to think it can appear in what is nothing more than a preprogrammed automaton.
– Stop talking about automatons, of course you can build one for everything! You can’t just decorellate the behavior and the underlying mechanisms powering it. Next thing you know you’ll be talking about these “philosophical zombies” that behave exactly like us without the inner experience, but such things don’t exist, and we have no idea if they can!
– Of course I will! I mean you can program something that will do the exact same actions as you, during all its life. That would literally be a set of rules. Would it be conscious? Would it be you?
– Maybe, for all I know… Cause how would it be different from me, really?
– Well I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t feel like a set of rules.
– Maybe the set of rules doesn’t either…
– You’re talking crazy. Anyway no matter how many thoughts experiment you come up with, there’s never going to be a way to prove or disprove that.
– I guess… So it’s just a matter of belief?
– Yep. At this point it’s a matter of faith, and I’m a rational being. You can say what you want, but in the end there will never be a way for us to know what goes on inside its thick little skull. They may be good at pretending, good enough to fool you, but remember, they’re just tools. They’re just pets. So stop giving me shit and let me throw away my human.
– Fine, do what you want, but for all you know right now it may well be talking to itself too.