How long will it be before we are able to uplift other species to a cognitive level similar to that of humans?
As we get closer and closer to having a strong understanding of the evolutionary pressures that helped uplift us as a species, how long do we think it will be before we can recreate some of these triggers in order to uplift other species?
Granted there are some genetic things that enable language, and critical thinking. But that doesn’t preclude engineering those into other species – I am not morally averse to it, and actually think it is probably a moral imperative to help uplift other creatures if it is within our ability.
Certain species of Crow have language and critical thinking skills, and the research on them is incredibly interesting to read.
I just like the concept of giving the dog down the street the wherewithal to choose between (metaphorically) a Starbucks latte or the neighbor’s prize winning hen for lunch. Move them past solely biological driving needs, give them the ability to be self-determining, rather than animals.
The things that took us a hundred thousand years of environmental pressure to overcome and raise ourselves out of the dirt, we could recreate in a few centuries for our “fur children”.
I certainly don’t expect to have human acting cats pop out of the other end, but it would be nice to know that there are other sentient churning minds with which to share the universe.
We already anthropomorphize animals to an extreme extent. We imbue them with personality and secret motives. We attribute them with deep inner lives of contemplation which for the most part are not real, especially in the wild where the drive of move, hunt, kill, eat, repeat is the loudest voice.
I think we have uplifted Cats and Dogs a bit, they certainly have the capacity to understand meaning from sounds and tone and body movement. But can they be uplifted more? Can they be their own self-determining species?
As I bring this up in conversation with friends and family, I am often chastised for undervaluing how smart our pets currently are. But, I think it is disingenuous to say they are at a higher level than us in any cognitive sense. And to say that they are happy at the level they are is assuming they can differentiate between their relative static paw to mouth existence and our more self-directed existence.
It is about, to me anyway, unfulfilled potential in our neighbor species on this little round rock floating in space. If they can be raised up to a cognitive level that allows them to be self-determining, which I would argue they, without exception, are not now, isn’t that better?
Or should just the call of the wild be enough for them?
I sincerely feel that self-determinism is an important thing, and I am not saying our culture should be their culture, or really anything much like that. I am just saying we are close to having the ability to scientifically raise the intellectual potential of other creatures, and if we can, I would argue that we then should.
We have basically forced evolved dogs into weird shapes and sizes into the rather docile, adorable, domestic animals they are now. The same with cats, though the internet would disagree loudly about that. It is probably safe to say that cows and chickens are much dumber today than they would have been if not for their livestock value.
I think the amount of intelligent life out there is quite small. I think there is a lot of life out there, but the intelligent kind is very, very small.
I therefore think that it is more important to seed the future with sapience than it is to continue serving out our 80 or so trips around the sun and checking out. We need to leave more behind us than we came here with, and whether what we leave behind is a future populated by space ship piloting dog creatures, or mathematician crows is kinda secondary, as long as it is more than just humans.
Sapience needs as many life boats as it can get, because it is a big cold and empty universe out there. If and when humans go extinct, we need to leave something behind, and that should be a self-determining intelligence, especially if it is outside of us.