A Musing On Fido, Felix, And Uplift

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Uplift: a developmental process to transform a certain species of animals into more intelligent beings by other, already-intelligent beings.

As we get closer to having a strong understanding of the evolutionary pressures that helped us, as a species, climb out of the cavern in which we hid from the Universe in our infancy, how long do you think it will be before we can recreate some of those triggers in other species to help them up and out of that hole?

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.

We have definitely uplifted Cats and Dogs in a way. They certainly have the capacity to understand inter species meaning from sounds and tone and body movement.

Dogs have been force evolved by us into weird shapes and sizes  – turning them into the rather docile, adorable, domestic animals we know and love now. The same with cats, though the internet would disagree loudly. It is probably safe to say that cows and chickens are much dumber today than they would have been due to their livestock value.

Certain species of Crow have language and critical thinking skills, and the research on them is incredibly interesting.

But can they be uplifted more? Can any of them 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.

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”.

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 an ethical imperative to help uplift other creatures if it is within our ability.

Also, 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 more than just “animals”.

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.

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 choose their own futures, 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, while not being enough for us?

Self-determinism, in the final analysis, is more than just an important thing – it is the only thing. And if we have the ability to scientifically raise the intellectual potential of other creatures, I would argue that we then should.

I think the amount of intelligent life out there is quite small. There is probably, relatively speaking, a lot of life in the galaxy, but the intelligent kind is very, very small.

Sapience needs as many life boats as it can get, because it is a big cold and empty universe. If and when humans go extinct, 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 us.

It is more important to seed the future with intelligence than it is to continue serving out our 80 or so trips around the sun and then just checking out, no smarter than we were when we got here.

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