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My argument can be taken as an attack against the belief in eventual computer sentience, but a more sophisticated reading would be that it argues for a pragmatic advantage to holding an anti-AI belief (because those who believe in AI are more likely to put up with bad software). More importantly, I'm hoping the reader can see that Artificial Intelligence is better understood as a belief system instead of a technology.

The AI belief system is a direct explanation for a lot of bad software in the world, such as the annoying features in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint that guess at what the user really wanted to type. Almost every person I have asked has hated these features, and I have never met an engineer at Microsoft who could successfully turn the features completely off on my computer (running Mac Office '98), even though that is supposed to be possible.

Belief #3: That subjective experience either doesn't exist, or is unimportant because it is some sort of ambient or peripheral effect.

There is a new moral struggle taking shape over the question of when "souls" should be attributed to perceived patterns in the world.

Computers, genes, and the economy are some of the entities which appear to Cybernetic Totalists to populate reality today, along with human beings. It is certainly true that we are confronted with non-human and meta-human actors in our lives on a constant basis and these players sometimes appear to be more powerful than us.

So, the new moral question is: Do we make decisions solely on the basis of the needs and wants of "traditional" biological humans, or are any of these other players deserving of consideration?

I propose to make use of a simple image to consider the alternative points of view. This image is of an imaginary circle that each person draws around him/herself. We shall call this "the circle of empathy". On the inside of the circle are those things that are considered deserving of empathy, and the corresponding respect, rights, and practical treatment as approximate equals. On the outside of the circle are those things that are considered less important, less alive, less deserving of rights. (This image is only a tool for thought, and should certainly not be taken as my complete model for human psychology or moral dilemmas.) Roughly speaking, liberals hope to expand the circle, while conservatives wish to contract it.

Should computers, perhaps at some point in the future, be placed inside the "circle of empathy"? The idea that they should is held close to the heart by the Cybernetic Totalists, who populate the elite technological academies and the businesses of the "new economy".

There has often been a tender, but unintended humor in the argumentative writing by advocates of eventual computer sentience. The quest to rationally prove the possibility of sentience in a computer (or perhaps in the internet), is the modern version of proving God's existence. As is the case with the history of God, a great many great minds have spent excesses of energy on this quest, and eventually a cybernetically-minded 21st century version of Kant will appear in order to present a tedious "proof" that such adventures are futile. I simply don't have the patience to be that person.