Tony Milligan is an author and academic whose main research area is ethics with a particular focus upon otherness are the humans are the creatures are the places, and how the shift between here and there alters our sense of what matters. In addition to his books on space ethics, including the ethics of space exploration, and nobody owns the moon, his other writings have looked at the topic of animal ethics. He believes his work on space exploration is actually closely connected to an understanding of what it takes to be human, what it is like to see ourselves as part of a moral community, and the associated duties that we may have to humanity. He is currently a senior researcher in philosophy of ethics with the cosmological visionaries project at King’s College London. In addition to his own books, he has also been published in a number of academic and popular journals, including philosophy ratio, the Journal of Applied Ethics, think, and philosophy now, please welcome onto the show. Tony Milligan.
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James Taylor 0:00
Hi, good to have you as a tourney. So, quick thing just to kind of get started. Love the book, animal ethics really like? Talk, I think I mentioned this, like, you know, it’s a small book, but my goodness, it packs a punch, there’s, there’s a lot in there. Even for me, I kind of fell I kind of studied ethics, I’m interested as a topic, I learned so much so. So it’s a great book, and we’re gonna talk about about some of the ideas in this book and what it maybe means for the future as well. But going back in the year that I was actually born 1977, there was an important symposium in Cambridge, England, to lay the foundations of how we think today about animal ethics. I could tell what made it a pivotal moment who were the attendees, and maybe who was surprisingly missing from this gathering.
Tony Milligan 2:01
Right, so the gathering there, Tom Regan, would have been there a number of people who spoke about the fundamental problem of the relationship between humans and, and other creatures, in terms of rates theory, rather than say, in terms of, of interests. And you had up until that coin, the conic it thinker, we said, within a discussions about animal rights and a young rights movement, and so on, was a was Peter center, and they he didn’t turn up in, it didn’t seem like it was a big thing at the time, in retrospect, you thought, you know, I should probably have gone. So what happened after that was that the discussion focused upon a rates much more than a dead upon animal interests. No, that might not seem like a major, a major difference. But it can become a big issue, once you get people starting to run rates, theories, a switch, or a boat, how we as as moral agents respond to animals. And the theories become kind of agent centered. So it’s more about us being good respecters of rates than it is necessarily about the interface of animals. So you, you start to get all sorts of the proliferation of discourses which don’t seem to have much connection to the actual interests of animals themselves. For example, discourses which see that was domesticated creatures, we should a, we should look towards the extinction. And that looks like an awkward fight, should we look towards the extinction? Because we can’t trust humans to respect the rights? Well, that kind of looks like it’s putting in our moral rectitude, before their interests. And that’s maybe not the best way to the best way to go. So. So I, I tend to have a more pluralistic view of ethics. I think, rights matter. I think that interests matter, and they’re not necessarily the two. They’re not necessarily the same things and that a workable ethic is always going to be not, as it were a deduction of a theory from some fundamental set of premises, but something that takes into account a variety of things, including what it is to be human and the available ways in which humans can live not just a moment, but the available ways in which we can can live in the future.
James Taylor 4:44
I was suddenly introduced to the whole kind of real concept of animal rights first kind of studied philosophy. And it was Peter singers writing that I was first introduced to like animal rights and and some of his writing. So in the book you you really nicely kind of lay out his thinking where he was coming from his background and Bentham and some of the things that kind of came from before that. And then you can move into this kind of contract theory, but I think might be useful for people that maybe don’t know too much about maybe animal rights, or the kind of philosophy of ethics. Can you outline for us? Really how Peter Singer thought about our relationship to animals, and anything, maybe the key criticisms that were leveled against them?
Relationship To Animals
Tony Milligan 5:28
Well, at the heart of singers approach is what’s known as the argument from from marginal cases. And that says, well, anything that we use to underpin the idea that we should treat humans differently from non human animals will be something that only some humans have, or that some non humans but also hard. So see, it’s in it see, it’s rationality, well, what do you do then with the humans that are in permanent commerce? Do we see that there are more capable of reasoning than, than a dog or, or a pig? Or if we see something like a in? What would be the what would be a good example of some special moral property that humans are meant to be? A are mates, a matter of C language, the capacity for language? Well, not all of us have that, A, it’s possible to being human while losing that capacity. And there are certain primates who can develop a certain rudimentary language skills, and many animals have various forms of communication. And there will be cases in which you have animals who have returned linguistic skills than particular humans. So what what do we do then? Do we see that the A, that we’re going to set aside the fundamental underpinning of a, of our treatment of humans as being special? Or do we see that the very idea that there’s something special that all humans have, and all humans are to a greater degree than all animals, is, in fact, affection, we’d like to think of something like that. We put many candidates forward from the possession of immortal soul through to through to language skills, but it always turns out that some of us like that, so the pretense that there’s something special about us, that can be grounded in our a, our treats and physical characteristics, and so on, it is really a form of prejudice. It’s a form of prejudice that Peter Singer refers to as speciesism. It’s in the imaginary patroness of A, or of humans. And that’s the that’s the heart of English possession. And, and that’s taken up in whatever rates focus for in, in Tom Regan.
James Taylor 8:07
So that was singers. He kind of seems to come at it from obviously the kind of utilitarian, yeah, isn’t going to perspective talks about interests, this idea of interests a lot as well. But there was another so that that is kind of one on one side, you can initially start and I think a lot of people that maybe know about animal rights, don’t they would know that perspective. But then you moved on to the
Allison Burns 8:31
well, yeah, another figure who you whose work you analyze in the book is Tom Regan. How’s it his ideas differ from Peter Singer, cuz I know, he talks about contract theory. So if you can explain a little bit about that.
Tony Milligan 8:45
Yeah, that he, Peter Singer comes along, it totally comes along. And he thinks that there’s a big difference from a from Peter Singer. And Peter singers thinks that there’s no a big difference between their see, and there’s certainly a similarity and the arguments, but whereas singer aims up see, will. What really matters isn’t whether you’re a human or not human, but just being sent. And if we take sentence as a grounding for respecting the interests of humans, then we should similarly take sentences or grounding for respecting the interests of, of nonhumans. But it’s, it’s all based in an idea of the interest that you have. And it doesn’t speak at all about notions of rates. No, Tom Regan comes along. And he wants to reframe this in terms of the rates discourse, which is something that moves closer to what you may start to think about in terms of framing laws and policy because we’re very strong on on race discourse in boys and policy, but he draws upon some similar assumptions a For example, that sentence is somehow the basic grounding for a talk of bolt having having rates. And so if your sentence, then you have rates. And he draws upon a set of ideas about rates, which tends to suggest that a rates are binary, that basic rates. So if you’re sent in, then you have the set of rates, and you’ve got the same set of rates as everyone else. And those rates in the human case clearly extend to not be not being slaughtered for meat and so on. So why is it that the rates that we have not to be killed for our meat, which are grounded in the sheer fact of our sentience? Why is it that we are a sustaining those rates in the case of animals who also happen to have a to have sentience? Again, it turns out to be a matter of it’s just a prejudice, you’d like to think that there’s some a good some reason behind it all. But essentially, it’s it’s just a page just based upon a, the imagining that we have something special as the Grant says, rates, but which will deny it rates to a rates to rates to animals, you know, the at the time, the differences don’t seem that big, but the the start to look much bigger in the A in the 1990s, when it what’s known as abolitionism comes along. And abolitionism is a it’s it’s close to a sort of fundamentalism, about the ways in which we respond to animals that says say that the the ethical baseline for our relation to animals must be a must be veganism, and if you’re not agreeing with that, you’re just not playing the ethical game at all. And the the, the abolitionists tend to a route their own approach to things more in a radicalized version of what Tom Regan has to see than they do in Peter Peter Singer. So they, they kind of project up a larger difference, whereas at the time, there are philosophical differences. A about some people like Mel, some people wait, can’t some people like consequentialism some people like rights theory, and it’s it’s a it’s an interesting philosophical debate. But then when you get this, this large movement comes along, the want to meet that, that that contrast much sharper, because they want to put themselves in, in one guy. But not the other way.
Allison Burns 12:45
is interesting, because I think as humans, we recognize that we have empathy. And I heard someone say recently, if you don’t have empathy with animals, then you don’t have empathy. So where does Where does empathy sit in with animal ethics? And,
Empathy With Animal Ethics
Tony Milligan 13:04
you know, I think it’s very important, you can run with an account of animal ethics that looks for the right deductive system. So you save what matters fundamentally, and what matters fundamentally may turn out to be something like sentience, and then you say, Ah, so all animals share a sea of sentience with us, or you can argue about insects and so on. But we probably think that it goes down to bees and, and then we see, we’ll know we have this giant structure that we can build on top of it, and see that we have the A interests as more agents, or we, we build the rate structure on top of that, and it’s really interesting, and it’s good for philosophy classes, and I taught philosophy classes of that sort. The problem is it doesn’t really engage with foot VR. It’s, it’s a set, one is building ethics, and not taking account of who the atheists are going to be, and, and who the the agents who are abiding by the ethical considerations are going to be and that’s, that’s people like us, it’s me, you and everyone else we know. And, and as agents, the things that matter to us are not simply sentience and rationality, but we our emotional responsiveness. There’s no point in developing, for example, on a cake that people cannot feel today that it says that we should treat animals in a particular way. But we have, as it were, it’s not psychologically available to us to behave in that manner. A and towards the end of the bouquet begin to introduce what’s known as the political turn. And that’s an approach towards animal ethics that says that we should be looking at what’s psychologically available to human beings. As a way of, of treating animals, what’s the what’s politically viable? What are the things that we can actually do, given the kinds of the beings that that, that we are, and working through that seems to promise much more in terms of a, of delivering for the animals themselves, it might not fill us with a warm feeling about being the best moral agents in the world, or anything of that sort. But but maybe analytics isn’t, isn’t primarily about doing that, but rather, responding to the predicament and the main sufferings of the of animals and responding as we can as the kinds of beams that we
James Taylor 15:46
are. So going along with the idea of taking things out of the university lecture theatre, where it’s really interesting, have those discussions taking into people’s homes. So why do animal advocates feel maybe uncomfortable with referring to a dog or a cat lives in a house as pets that that pre emptive how does that lead to this idea of animal ethics
Tony Milligan 16:09
will be the preferred term that many animal IT people have? A and many animal activists have is a companion animal. And it’s an egalitarian term. And that’s good about it. So I, I tend to speak about companion animals. But that’s, that’s a double edged kind of sword there, because on the one hand isn’t egalitarian language, but we use it in the context of a relationship, which has an entrenched inequality, a about it, a, you know, if one of us has to leave the house, it’s not going to be the human, it’s going to be the, it’s going to be the, the companion animal. And there are reasons why that’s the case, in the companion animals with pets are historically bred for their juvenile traits. So breeding them for that for the Automate, a team’s to produce creatures who can’t really take care of them themselves. A out in the, you know, just kick them out with a dog, maybe cats can get along, they can do that. So the but, you know, if cats were more pivotal to a to human history and culture and, and patterns of hunting and medieval a stuff about a status in owning homes, and all sorts of all sorts of historically contingent things of that sort, then we’d end up with cats that couldn’t take care of themselves, but dogs that were really independent. So that So what’s happened is that it’s, it’s a sort of tragic circumstance, A, we go in this predicament, where we have these features that we cannot actually treat fully as equals, you know, we can treat them as equals up to a certain point. And it’s good that we, that we think about what they want, and not just what we want, and I think that’s more rewarding as a way of being with with with other creature. But it’s, it is a relationship, that is inequalities that are built into it. So you can see why if someone was primarily concerned just with being a good race observer, and a primarily concerned with being equal in the way that one treats, or animals that one would see that the best solution to that is extinction, and that we no longer have any, any domestic animals. But my take on on that is rather different and say, Well, do they have an opportunity for a good life?
James Taylor 19:06
So that’s almost like a good life that’s almost stoic. I guess it isn’t going back to some of those historic ideas.
Tony Milligan 19:12
Yeah, so it’s the kind of thing that you get in the stoics. And in Aristotle, and in Plato, you’ve caught me out, there’s a there’s so I do the kinds of things that occur in in what’s known as virtue signaling. So, once you start having a more complicated world, a more complicated ethical theory, you see will purchase more fundamental rights, interests, virtues, which have clean or clean sorry that that’s from I felt, but But yeah, the, all of these ethical considerations and compassion and a, our ability to a to, to, as it were, co evolve with others. beings that has claimed to, and sort of fought and really, as it were shifting tune in the book is this more pluralistic vision of what ethics is Lake, a, and that’s not an innovation in how humans be helped human beings behave. That’s what we’ve been like all along, we can pretend to drive everything down to one consideration, whether it’s sentience, or rational moral agency, or whether it’s being a capable of experiencing pleasure and pain, and think that we can build all of the ethical considerations off of that, and that’s gloriously foundationalist. You know, we’re searching for, for the one key that But life is not like that, we are not like that. We are responsive to multiple, a multiple reasons for action, a and not just not just one thing, and
James Taylor 20:51
I almost what I always wanted to get back and buy a t shirt, that I would go to demonstrations of whatever the nature of the demonstration was, wherever the people were demonstrating against, and all the t shirt would stay say on it is, I think you’ll find this a little bit more complicated than that. Because it’s obviously as you understand why campaigning groups of any stripe, they go for those kind of clean delineations because they’re, they’re simple. And you can also understand why singer has a lot of appeal. Peter Singer, because there’s a lot of the cleanness as a Christmas, the some of the ideas as well. And the, it does feel like that Reagan requires you to do a bit more work, it requires you to think a little bit more deeply, then you start bringing in some things we’re going to come into in a minute, where we take a step further back something about individuals, and we get some interesting things. So but I know you were gonna ask about these, this idea, these different kind of concepts we’ve been speaking about, because some of these people might not have heard about so much.
Allison Burns 21:52
But you detail in the book of concepts that will be very familiar with vegans or those who have an interest in animal ethics, namely speciesism and Satanism. So can you define those for us and, and why they are felt to be controversial by some today?
Vegans And Animal Ethics
Tony Milligan 22:09
Okay, the saint into some is the idea that a, as it were, value, the inherent or intrinsic can shift the boat with the terminology, A, that the two have to be inherently valuable to have moral ethical standing, then one needs to be sent in. And that’s all that one needs to have ethical moral standing, once you have ethical moral standing, you have the same identical moral standing as everyone else. And if you start to treat a treat beings with the same moral standing, a, as if one was higher, and the other was lower, and nuts that speciesism. So these two things are connected, know some of the problems with that emerge very, very quickly. One of which is that if you run singer and Reagan type approach a classical annual rate support rather than something that’s, that’s more messed up, like in fruity, and got all the different bits in the way that I want to run animal rights arguments, A, if you run the kinds of approaches, it becomes a problem very quickly, when you try to shift over on environmental concerns. And that’s interesting in an activist level, because who are the environmental activists will in some cases, they’re going to be the animal rights activists, but a choir and rights activist still hold to ethical theories, you don’t necessarily realize that some do a change in play that nothing matters, except beings that feel and think so fully do then was ecosystems. What do you do then with a forest? What do you do with a an old close growth tree? What do you do with it? The 14 goal you have that several 1000 years? Old? Do we see that? Oh, well, this this is they don’t have any intrinsic importance. A why don’t they have intrinsic importance? Because trees don’t think and ecosystems don’t think so? Then you end up with a very sort of 18th and 19th century ethical theory that says, yeah, we can talk about these things. But what really matters in the case of ecosystem is the individual creatures that are presented and nothing else. And that doesn’t really so what we can say we’re concerned about from you’re trying to protect, see a river from a from a historic river from pollution, A is the fashion the other sentient creatures within it, not the bacteria and so on. And but that that’s nice as AI is a is a consistent, rigorous theory a but it doesn’t speak to what actually motivates us. You end up then worse It’s kind of a split personality,
James Taylor 25:05
it’s almost like we’d like the kind of direct and indirect where you’re one is I shouldn’t you shouldn’t kick the dog, because it’s bad for the dog. The other is you shouldn’t get the dog because of what it does to you as a human. So there’s almost like the next version of that, really,
Tony Milligan 25:20
I think that I think that’s right. It’s a, we end up with reasons to safeguard ecosystems. But the reasons aren’t anything to do with ecosystems, we end up with reasons to protect a protect forests, and, and all truth trees, it but the reasons have nothing to do with the forest and the old growth trees. So you end up with the thing that motivates you. It’s something that you can’t speak about within the theory, because the theory banishes it and yet is always there a as the real driver for the A for the activity, and it just comes off as a kind of a to vigorous adherence to one of these foundationalist principle based ethical approaches, it drives you into a kind of personal dishonesty about what it is that you’re really concerned about.
James Taylor 26:16
But this this, this, this tension you caught. There’s a fruitiness there as well, before we’re going to get we’re going to go into interplanetary in a moment. But writers like Michael Poland who fell in with and still, they actually have a different ethical framework to justify eating meat. So can you explain this the sort of opportunity of life argument eating meat, because when I first read it, and I’m, I’m vegan. And I kind of read it, and I was trying to wrap my head around it as a concept. And I was trying to, we had we had this discussion, I’m just trying to act as the micropolar, like you’re trying to release, and this is why this is a good idea. And as I can the other side, and I was struggling to hold that line, maybe help me on that. And this is like anyone that’s listening to this just now, who is a who is a meat eater? Yeah. This is sometimes the argument that we’re used for eating meat
Tony Milligan 27:08
from an ethical standpoint. Yeah, absolutely. That was the agency, I had to write some reports on one of these newspaper, a competitions in the states where it was a in the ethics of meat, and I had five of the late stage submissions, and four of them ran this argument, it’s that pervasive, and the argument is this, that the result, meeting, creatures would not be brought into existence, the codes that we would not be brought into existence, unless we were going to eat them. And therefore it is, in a certain sense, in the in the codes interest, that it is eaten, a and it you start to be down in see, well, that can’t be quite right. A, it most, it’s good to be in the interests of the coal of that there was a prior practice of a meeting that resulted in it being brought into into A into existence, but it would really be in the cozy interest if there was a prior practice, but not when a note when it continues when it’s so when it’s alive. So the thought here is, is a care solution, a by people like me a couple of very simple point that animals wouldn’t be here soon domesticated animals that we eat wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for a, the continuation of the practice of of meaty, so in some complex sense, the practice must serve the entrace because what could be more important as a fundamental interest than the interest in coming into existence and enjoying enjoying a good life? So there’s almost like looking at the species then as the fundamental unit and not the individual kind of animal you’re seeing you’re progressing you’re you’re continuing a species
James Taylor 29:08
that is kind of quite dangerous if you take that to its logical conclusion. As an idea,
Tony Milligan 29:13
it’s crazy. It’s a the analogies just don’t just don’t work. There are schools that a suppose there’s a group of people that in the 19th century, there’s a great habit of killing and lots of people travel large distances to kill them. And and so the indicates to the point where they start to worry because there’s nobody left to kill, but it’s getting close to that point. So then the devise a wonderful plan. Well, what we’ll do is we’ll make sure that a certain number of these people breed a so that there will always be enough of them to put us to kill Yeah, because it’s just such fun and and the practice is just we just enjoy it too much that we wouldn’t, we would never give it up a So what we do then is that we, we breed these people, and somebody says, this is terrible, you’re killing people, we say, Ah, but but but if it wasn’t for the fact that we were killing them, they wouldn’t come into existence in the first place. So the parallel case, A, when it comes to humans is you really don’t get to kill people, if you brought them into existence, you don’t get to kill them, if you’ve benefited from being brought into existence, you don’t get to kill them, because killing them killing, you know, it’s it’s a, and there are various reasons that you can run into about a book that it’s a, it’s a justification of an ethically suspect, practice, by appeal to a to a benefit, which we have given it given to other other teachers. But of course, once you once you give the benefits of existence, even as you can, although it kind of describes us as sort of godlike possession that we give existence in life to be bit more complex than than that in, but all of the beings that we bring into existence, once they’re in existence, we have certain kinds of ethical standing, that that we don’t get to overrate by appeal to the fact that we have played a causal role in getting them getting them here. And we certainly wouldn’t run up with that kind of argument with with humans. A we did in the past sometimes you don’t think there was the a paternal entitlement to the patriarch has brought the child into existence in the life is ordered in certain sense to the the Patriarch who can then take it away there are instances of of not it’s a mode of thinking that is not
Allison Burns 31:54
so well to today, for example, i Is there such a thing as ethical, ethical meat, you know, because today I read just this kind of put on media everywhere, just as to animal protection and welfare organizations had Robert stamped and Rose veal as being ethical, ethical meat. Was it because it I’m presuming that it because it reduces suffering. Veal is well it’s actually it’s not created up young calves, you know, they’re deprived of light and then a doubt crate, you know, until they’re until they’re slaughtered. But and so there’s there’s there’s blood in this meat. So that’s why it’s Rose Roseville. But people have been going out there’s been a huge pushback on on social media everywhere to especially today. And all the abolitionists have come out and all the welfare lists are all Lago so what is the difference between you know, I can see the manifestation of, of the two opposing within animal welfare and, and rights and ethics, but how do they differ? Because it’s, there’s fireworks everywhere, just know because there’s one, there’s one issue that came up today,
Animal Welfare vs Animal Ethics
Tony Milligan 33:14
there’s a guy called Cody Franchione develops you rate a few books, a rain without thunder and so, when it all comes out in the in the 1890s under degree emphasis everywhere point in time a about ethics and democracy itself and its relationship to the to the market and to and to a to consumer choice. So, you end up then with a kind of consumer focused approach towards a towards animals and the idea that what is ethically fundamental A is that a V is that we all become a that we become vegans and that because this is so ethically fundamental and so, ethical basic, we should reject any reforms in the treatment of animals that falls short of a comprehensive abolition of the practices of a of slaughter and treating animals as as property. Now, there are a number of difficult areas that are associated with that particular the terminology that is proposed a by a by frankly only in enough time a series of other switches this contrast between abolitionists on one hand and wheel foodists on the other and it carries a suggestion that people who are concerned with animal welfare a somehow a a committed to the continuation of a the a abuses of animals and committed to the continuation of the of the meat eating system if you accept reforms that fall short of absolute abolition and immediate action And then you are complicit with the system. So what happens then is that you get people who are a unbrace activists that who see themselves as be abolitionists who are concerned with, as it were personal moral rectitude, end up a opposing a various, a major pieces of legislation, which will improve radically improve the predicament of a of animals. And then there are others who simply want animals to be treated a bit better. And that’s Michael Pollan says by but you can still have ethical meat, and then there’s a lot of others as well to see who were much more along the lines of, you know, we want to see the end of animal slaughter and waste in countries like a, a countries like the UK, the US and so on, where, with some exceptions, possibly for a for indigenous peoples, traditional lifestyles, and so on. We don’t necessarily want to intrude upon, we want to see the end of the system, but we are prepared to take what we can get, if it makes the lives of animals better, and not the game because the focus is not upon personal moral rectitude, but upon what’s in the interests of the, of the of the, the animals, if so, and so this terminology sparks off, and it’s not a very good terminology, because it suggests that those who, once you will accept a reform as better than the nothing, a that somehow you’re you must be committed to the continuation of the system. A it’s problematic not expect, and it’s problematic in terms of the terminology, a, let’s be honest, will the black person among our stand up this is slightly unusual as a gallery, it because they mostly can galleries would be predominantly female, a they will be quite a you don’t get many black, a black ethnic minority people a prolonged Supertram predominately white movement. And yet we are there’s a clean upon lineage to the anti slavery movement, that’s a big claim for a predominantly white movement to make. And you know, I don’t want a veganism to be predominantly a predominately white, I wanted to be diversified and are moving in that direction. A, but the fact of the matter is, we live in societies where a those who tend to have certain a certain income levels are more likely to be white than to be black. And those who tend to be vegetarian or vegan, it tend to be predominantly clustered in those in those income brackets, a groups of people who can afford to worry about the ethical dimensions of a their, of their their a dietary practice. So I I rebel against that terminology as
James Taylor 38:15
it also is sometimes as well, especially on some of the things that discussed on Twitter, which is probably not the best forum for what it takes to talk gray area, you talk about the book in terms of some animal rights kind of talking about things in terms of the Holocaust, for example, and in a quite a ham fisted kind of not a particularly good way. So what I thought was interesting in like, the work you’re doing now, is you’ve actually kind of almost like, stepped to this next level of we kind of spoke about individual animal humans in animals, sentience, you know, creatures, ecosystems kind of moving, and then we’re gonna move on to think before we can get to the author, what’s behind you, in some ways? Oh, yeah. And as artificial intelligences become smarter, we may end up not being the dominant species much longer. So if you are training an artificial intelligence, what do you think they should consider? And how they might treat us simple humans in the future? Are we going to be the future? housecats for benign artificial intelligence?
Tony Milligan 39:23
Yeah, do we it’s an interesting creation, a in a multiple series of labels, we want to build in a don’t do this. Don’t do that to it to artificial intelligence systems. And whether that’s in the form of Asimov’s Three Laws. You don’t you don’t harm a human you don’t say, allow a human to be harmed by inaction you a and you try and sustain yourself in existence as long as it doesn’t conflict with laws one and two. The interesting thing about the The Three Laws approach that you see in, in, in iRobot, in films that directly a reference that is that as soon as you’ve got three rules, the start to interact in really complicated and messy ways and, and produce unexpected outcomes. And that’s that’s especially the case, you find that if you’re programming, see an expert system to do your master’s qualification, or whatever, you start to find that a small number of rules will generate an immense number of unpredictable a complexities that arise from them, what we’ll see is that we see a very poor precedent for being the intellectually dominant, a dominant species here. One thing we would would want to do with a artificial intelligence, especially if it if it became strong AI, and really, a the capacity to think and so on, is that we wouldn’t reward them not to follow our example. And we would try to do things to a to try and make sure that, that, that, that that doesn’t happen. But there’s, there’s something very interesting about looking at a ethics necessary and how you program and the mandate, and the and the rules that you build a, which is that you, you end up with a the way in which C certain kinds of approaches towards ethics. Think about humans. That is say the assume that we have something like some fundamental baseline assumption, assumptions, and a series of additional factors that come in, and that we deduce things are not basis, and that being a rational animal, is really being in possession of our A over foundationalist deductive system of reasoning, a, and that is kind of how a lot of a lot of models of a of artificial intelligence, but
James Taylor 42:10
that’s gonna be it’s gonna be interesting, like with things like reinforcement learning, where instead of teaching, you know, an AI, chess, for example, you just haven’t played lots of games against each other of chess, and arrives, his own set of rules, his own set of ways of doing things, it’d be quite interesting to see, you know, putting that in, what kind of ethics an AI would create, what ethical frameworks would it create for us? We maybe haven’t thought about as
Tony Milligan 42:39
yet. Yeah, I think it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting question. And Chase is a very good example. A because the, the way in which a computer approaches chess, and the way in which when it was approached chess turned out to be very different. With with computer you do depth search algorithms, because you can. So you as you go down, well, if I make that move, here are the five possibilities, a algorithm that we end there are 10 possibilities. So it quickly you get a sideway speed. And computers can deal with the number of possibilities and an assignment of value to certain features of the board and so on. And that’s how they get their their answer. You can have variations of not util. NAICS, no, all sorts of things that go on. But it’s not really how humans I mean, we don’t look that many moves in advance unless we unless we think there’s a brilliancy or you’re trying to look, really look for quite a number of moves. But I don’t look more than about four or five moves ahead. And it’s like, how does the position look? Does it look? It’s more about pattern recognition, than than depth search? No, of course, there might be a neurological structures that underlie that are in our, our practices of pattern recognition. But what we’re not doing is we’re not going a like 20 moves deep and factoring. And so it’s in the something that we can learn about ethics and AI from that as well, which is that it constraining and enabling AI to do the things that we want AI to do, will involve not pretending that a AI engages in reasoning processes that are a the same ask humans. Yeah.
James Taylor 44:34
So like, in the same way that going back to the kind of ideas interests that we assume that it might have an interest might not have the same interest as ours, it might have. There’s differences there. I just finished up here because I’m just really conscious of, of getting through. There’s so many ideas in this book. So I really want to encourage people to go and get this book of animal ethics, but we have to leave on I think a question that kind of what you’re doing just now final area, you think Ray about a lot now is this ethics of space exploration. So what excites you about this new field?
Ethics Of Space Exploration
Tony Milligan 45:07
Now, it’s good to shoot in change who we are, for a long period of time, humans always had a conception of themselves as part of something larger than the Earth, they had an understanding that cosmology is, in our terminology, because knowledge is a more than ecologies. It’s more than just about the planet, there’s a position and a place that we have in the order of things for the last several 100 years, we, we haven’t really needed that. It’s not been, it’s not been, it’s not been necessary, but we’re moving into a phase of human history. A of history is a moral community, in which that becomes relevant to care, because we are starting to expand beyond it beyond Earth, and the generations to a to come after us will live in a world which is larger than this planet, they will live partially in is part of a moral community, it extends out into space with the regular a connections out there and be able to a telecommunications with people elsewhere. That’s not a World Science Fiction, a vision, it doesn’t see that we’ll get beyond the solar system, it doesn’t say we’ll get to the altar ages, it just says that we’re going to have a presence on the moon, we’re going to have a presence a on Mars, we’re going to have a presence of world and we already have a growing a presence in, in, in orbit that you’re utterly dependent upon, and you take away satellites, and we couldn’t live in the way that we do we pretend that we could, but it’s a kind of drowned bias that we have to the ways in which we live know already depend upon a great many things that are that are happening in space. So it’s about food, it’s going to be like to be human in the future nuts. That’s that’s got to be interesting. That’s fascinating.
James Taylor 47:04
So we’re going to put a link here to the book, Tony Milligan, animal ethics, the basics. If people want to learn more about your some of your other writings, some of your other work, where’s the best place to go and find out about that?
Tony Milligan 47:16
Well, the, my website at King’s College London or the cosmological vision visionaries project, a King’s College, King’s College London and you just put up, you just put a CH on the on the net, and you can, you can play and you can play me through it through that.
Allison Burns 47:36
James Taylor 47:38
Tony, thank you so much for coming. And joining us today on the Super creativity podcast. Thank you. You could subscribe to the super creativity podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast while you’re there. Please leave us a review. I would really, really appreciate it. I’m James Taylor, and you’ve been listening to the super creativity podcast.