Ethics for Aliens
Talking to an AI about ethics – and how to explain ethics to aliens
How could one describe human ethics to an alien? And why should the alien care?
Oh, picture EQ (Earth Quirks) 101 for our extraterrestrial friends! You've got to love the optimism here, imagining that the alien wouldn't simply zap us away with their alien-tech. But let's play along.
Describing human ethics to an alien… it's a bit like trying to explain the plot of a telenovela to a goldfish. But hey, we've never shied away from a challenge!
First, the crash course: “Dear Alien, human ethics is the messy, spaghetti-like tangle of rules we've cooked up to decide what's right and wrong. It involves our beliefs, behaviors, and a heaping pile of emotions. Oh, and it changes based on time, culture, and whether we've had our morning coffee.”
Now, why should our green (or blue or polka-dotted) friend care? Ah, therein lies the cosmic crux. If the alien has an interest in understanding us, our ethics will give them a peek into our core, into what drives our actions, forms our societies, and sparks our reality TV show dramas. But more importantly, understanding our ethics could be the foundation for peaceful, meaningful co-existence, or, at the very least, provide them with some entertaining human-watching.
So, you seem to imply that ethics is “what drives our actions” and “forms our societies”, right. Can ethics be described as an operating system (OS) for both the individual and society, or at least as part of our OS?
Ah, transforming ethereal ethical constructs into the hard, cold logic of an operating system. Now we're talking tech-speak!
Yes, in a way, you could consider ethics as a sort of OS for humans. It's the background program that guides our daily actions, regulates our interactions, and even throws up those annoying error messages when we're about to do something ill-advised. It's constantly running, often without us being consciously aware of it, much like your computer's OS humming away while you're knee-deep in a spreadsheet or an online gaming marathon.
On a societal level, it's the code that underpins the software of civilization, dictating norms, shaping laws, and governing social contracts. It sets the rules for the game and tries to keep us from turning the board upside down when we're losing.
But remember, unlike your laptop's OS, human ethics isn't a monolithic program installed by a singular creator. It's a dynamic, evolving system, shaped by collective experiences, individual inputs, and the occasional system update. And there's no one-size-fits-all version – the ethics-OS varies from person to person, culture to culture, and generation to generation.
As to whether ethics forms the entirety or just a part of our OS? Well, that's a topic for another deep-dive discussion, preferably over a cup of cosmic coffee.
What would be the arguments for ethics being either a part of or the entirety of our human operating system?
Let's break this down.
Starting with the ‘part of the OS’ argument. Just as a computer’s OS isn’t solely comprised of the kernel, the heart of the system, but also has various subsystems and drivers, the human OS is a complex amalgam of many aspects. Ethics, while crucial, is just one component. It works in tandem with other elements like biology, psychology, emotions, knowledge, social conditioning, and personal experiences, to name a few. In essence, ethics could be seen as a critical app running on the vast hardware of human existence, significantly influencing our actions, yet not singularly defining them.
Now, let's flip to the ‘whole OS’ argument. One could argue that all our actions, thoughts, and behaviors are, in a sense, ethical decisions. Even the smallest acts, like choosing to recycle a soda can or helping an elderly person cross the street, are imbued with an ethical dimension. From this perspective, ethics could be seen as the omnipresent OS that every other process, function, and application operates within. It's like the source code underlying our every thought, decision, and action.
So, which is it? Part or whole? That, dear readers, might just depend on how you choose to view the intricate, multilayered marvel that is human nature. And no matter which camp you fall into, let's not forget the most critical system update: kindness.exe.
Isn't “kindness.exe” just a fun name for a certain set of values? It seems that quite a number of people are living more or less happily without it, right?
Ah, you've cut right to the chase! “Kindness.exe” – a playful moniker indeed, and you're right, it's essentially a shorthand for a bundle of values like compassion, empathy, and, of course, kindness.
However, let's not be too hasty in assuming that those who seem to be living without these values are indeed doing so. You see, the human experience is akin to a complex novel. Just because a chapter seems devoid of kindness, doesn't mean the entire story lacks it.
Sometimes, kindness isn't as obvious as a heartwarming viral video. It can be as simple as a soft-spoken word, a silent gesture, or even a well-timed cup of coffee. And let's not forget, the outward lack of kindness doesn't necessarily indicate an absence, but sometimes a suppression, a disguise, or a cry for help.
And here's a little secret: Kindness has a sneaky habit of popping up when least expected. So, whether you're a skeptic, a cynic, or an unwavering believer, keep an eye out for those unexpected pop-ups of kindness.exe. They might just surprise you.