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Does creating a sentient being give you the right to mistreat it?

#1JonWood007Posted 1/15/2013 2:05:49 PM
I will give a heads up right off the bat. There may be mass effect 3 spoilers in here, since I recently got to a part of the game I felt was relevant, and may include for the purpose of debate.

I heard this question a lot with God, and how since God created us, it's perfectly okay for him to treat us however he wants since he made us and it's his right. It doesn't matter if he kills us or tortures us, it's his right.

Is that really morally just?

Think of it this way. In Mass Effect 3, I learned some pretty interesting things about the Quarians and the Geth. For much of the series, the Geth have been seen as these evil machines that stole the Quarian homeworld, leading to their exile. However, in one mission, you learn that the Geth were created by the Quarians. Not only that, you learn that due to Quarian mistreatment, the Geth were forced into rebellion. The Geth wanted to serve the Quarians, but when they began showing signs of sentience, the Quarians freaked out and began killing them and shutting them down. Eventually they began fighting back.

When you think about it, it makes sense for the Geth to rebel. If someone was out to kill you, wouldn't you fight back? Same thing with God in a sense. Does his creating us really give him a right to mistreat us? I mean, if he wants blind followers, he could create them, but I'd argue that creating someone with sentience gives you some responsibilities, and this is something we should begin thinking about as we begin exploring artificial intelligences. After all, we always portray AI taking over as evil....but in some cases, wouldn't we be the evil ones? If we made a sentient AI only to enslave it and mistreat it, aren't we the bad guys in a way? Not much different than human slavery IMO. The intelligence did not ask to be born into slavery, and we forced it there against its will. Is this really something moral for sentient beings to do to one another? If we want something to not think for itself and do what we want, why not make beings that simply we what we want and don't think for themselves?

The idea of making sentient beings, and then expecting them to blindly obey, and to even mistreat us physically or mentally, seems morally abhorrent to me. Why do some people automatically assume that because God created us, that he can kill us or torture us and that's perfectly okay? Something seems wrong with this picture.
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#2kozlo100Posted 1/15/2013 2:18:48 PM
I didn't read most of that post due to the spoilers, but I understand the question.

It is firmly my position that the act of creation does not grant the creator right to cause suffering to the created.

If I end up successfully writing an AI, I will treat it as morally equivalent to a person, with all that implies.
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#3IvashankoPosted 1/15/2013 2:23:19 PM(edited)
I thought the Geth storylines was disappointing. Bioware went out of its way to make it seem like everything the Geth did were good and everything the Quarians did were evil- just like the other race, the one with six eyes, is never described as anything but evil.

^On a more practical note, I *mostly* agree with Kozlo. There are some qualifications but I can't remember what those are.
#4JonWood007(Topic Creator)Posted 1/15/2013 2:57:46 PM
^^Actually I saw the geth as bad for the most part because the whole first game was more or less dedicated to killing them. The second game you begin to see some grey areas with Legion wanting to rewrite the "heretics", but the 3rd the geth come off looking like a victim.
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#5hunter_gohanPosted 1/15/2013 3:18:14 PM
JonWood007 posted...
Is that really morally just?


Hell no. Abusive parents are in the wrong, the humans from the Matrix are in the wrong, the Quarians are in the wrong. Interesting thing is I already guessed that spoiler was gunna be revealed before 3 even came out. It seems to be a running trend with biologicals mistreating the hell out of AI they created in fiction. Save the Terminator universe. Skynet just seems to be a ***** that jumped straight to nuclear war out of nowhere.
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#6Julian_CaesarPosted 1/15/2013 5:22:42 PM
From: JonWood007 | #001
I heard this question a lot with God, and how since God created us, it's perfectly okay for him to treat us however he wants since he made us and it's his right. It doesn't matter if he kills us or tortures us, it's his right.

Is that really morally just?


God's moral justness stems from a lot more than just the fact that He created us. The Quarians created the Geth, sure, but they didn't create the universe that the Geth inhabited. Nor were they the ultimate source of moral good in the Mass Effect universe, as God is in ours.

Also, of course it's God's right to kill us. It's not like we made ourselves come to life, or actually own anything in this existence apart from our soul (and even that is questionable). In the case of the Geth, the Quarians could say no better, hence they did not have the right (or the necessary perspective) to claim control of life/death over the Geth. But the word "torture" implies "physical pain solely for the sake of pain," or at least that's what you seem to be implying. God's purpose in suffering has always been to make a person stronger and more reliant upon Him for strength. So use of the word "torture" is misleading when applied to God.

And lastly, there are going to be some extraordinary debates about abortion when true AI becomes and more of a possibility.
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#7Lord_IchmaelPosted 1/15/2013 5:31:53 PM
Julian_Caesar posted...
God's purpose in suffering has always been to make a person stronger and more reliant upon Him for strength. So use of the word "torture" is misleading when applied to God.


That certainly sounds less than benevolent to me. Do what I say or else!

On-topic: I do think creating a living being isn't grounds for killing it, regardless of whether the creator i mortal or divine.
#8Julian_CaesarPosted 1/15/2013 5:45:20 PM
From: Lord_Ichmael | #007
That certainly sounds less than benevolent to me. Do what I say or else!


Normally, yes. But God is kind of a unique case, being that He is the ultimate source of strength in all existence. It would actually speak against His benevolence if He did anything besides guide us towards Himself.

I know, I know, that sounds stupid. And I'm not really familiar enough with it to defend it more eloquently. John Piper has fleshed it out at length, it stems from the belief that the ultimate end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. If you don't agree with that, then you're not going to see God as benevolent in that situation.
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#9JonWood007(Topic Creator)Posted 1/15/2013 6:43:01 PM

From: JonWood007 | #001

I heard this question a lot with God, and how since God created us, it's perfectly okay for him to treat us however he wants since he made us and it's his right. It doesn't matter if he kills us or tortures us, it's his right.

Is that really morally just?



God's moral justness stems from a lot more than just the fact that He created us. The Quarians created the Geth, sure, but they didn't create the universe that the Geth inhabited. Nor were they the ultimate source of moral good in the Mass Effect universe, as God is in ours.


The whole creating the universe line also doesn't qualify perfectness. Heck, while we're on the topic, here's a nice video explaining the screwed up ness of this logic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E15IC3YKv8g

As for God being the source of moral good, I already went over this in the other topic. Automatically defining whatever God says is good as good is not only arbitrary, but is also begging the question.

Also, of course it's God's right to kill us. It's not like we made ourselves come to life, or actually own anything in this existence apart from our soul (and even that is questionable). In the case of the Geth, the Quarians could say no better, hence they did not have the right (or the necessary perspective) to claim control of life/death over the Geth. But the word "torture" implies "physical pain solely for the sake of pain," or at least that's what you seem to be implying. God's purpose in suffering has always been to make a person stronger and more reliant upon Him for strength. So use of the word "torture" is misleading when applied to God.


To address the first half of this, see the video I posted above.

The second half I'm referring to eternal hell as far as torture goes. That's torture devoid of any positive benefit.

Normally, yes. But God is kind of a unique case, being that He is the ultimate source of strength in all existence. It would actually speak against His benevolence if He did anything besides guide us towards Himself.


No one is talking about being against guiding people to him in itself.

I know, I know, that sounds stupid. And I'm not really familiar enough with it to defend it more eloquently. John Piper has fleshed it out at length, it stems from the belief that the ultimate end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. If you don't agree with that, then you're not going to see God as benevolent in that situation.


Well no crap. Because he gave the beings free will then expects them not to use it in this situation! I think if you want dumbed down slaves, make dumbed down slaves. I'm not saying that necessarily enjoying God's company or whatever is a bad thing. A true omniscient being would be awesome to hang with and enjoy the company of and the like. But I'm speaking of a god using quite a few sticks to those who don't comply with his demands. Like death, or eternal punishment, you know, stuff like that. Giving you free will but punishing you if you actually use it. Sounds more like a dictator to me. I think if God were truly all of the things Christians say he is, he would probably be able to disarm people diplomatically, God wouldn't even NEED to use a stick. He would be so awesome we would have no choice but to like him unless you're a total jerk.
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#10ProudcladPosted 1/15/2013 6:45:37 PM
What are your standards for proper and improper treatment? Does the creator have the intellect and understanding necessary to authorize taking away life that he gives in the first place? Does the creator understand any eternal significance that might exist behind every action?
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