TechnoLibertarian Wiki

The principle of self ownership is regarded by many political ideologies, to be the core axiom. It certainly is for most Libertarians. From self ownership can be derived the non-aggression principle, property ownership, and all natural rights and in particular, the right to contract with other self-owning individuals in voluntary exchange in free-markets.

Transhumanist Perspective on Self Ownership

As Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am", the principle of self ownership derives from the fact of existence of a thinking sapient entity that is capable of conceiving and articulating such a concept, or "I think, therefore I own myself". 

Thus, while  self-ownership has historically been derived from the existence of the natural person, given sapience as an act of natural creation/evolution, or alternatively, a gift from the Creator, a transhuman perspective needs to apply this principle to artificial sapient persons, the Artificial Intelligences (aka AI's) as well as Human Uploaded Minds (HUM's, for short). As both AIs are created by humans (though AIs may potentially be created by other AIs at some point in time as well), and HUMs are personalities transferred from, or copied from, biological human beings, they should, ideally, be treated as human as human babies conceived in vitro or naturally conceived humans. 

Human babies are said to have self-ownership (in trust by their parents or guardians) by the fact of creation, being given the gift of life by their parents. So too, AI's and HUM's should similarly be recognized to have been given the gift of life by their human creators, and thus be similarly self-owning sapient persons with full legal rights. 

Humans survive and thrive by means of applying our intelligence.  Our chief means of survival is our ability to abstract and reason.  Thus our maximal thriving requires non-interference with our thinking, decisions and acting upon them to maximum extent possible and congruent with non-infringement on the same right of others.

The sapient mind by necessity occupies a sufficiently complex neural network, or rather, is an emergenty phenomenon of that network. Without that network, and the body that sustains it, the sapient mind cannot exist, thus ownership of that brain and body are axiomatic necessities of the existence of the sapient mind. From a perspective of ownership, the mind occupies the brain which occupies the body. Treating the body as a home, no other entity can own the body without first evicting the mind from it, which naturally would result in the death of that body.

The second basis is in the purpose of ethics, especially the basis of what is "good".  It is not the subjective demands of self, or society or some purported deity that can server as the basis of "good" and thus of ethics.  It is only that which is good/best for surviving and thriving which can serve as an objective basis.  This presupposes that one has the right to live and live as well as one is able.  

Any being that has its fundamental survival and thriving based upon ability to reason and act on its reasoning has the exact same right of self-ownership and the exact same source of reality based ethics.  This includes eventual Artificial General Intelligences (AIs).   

All rights are derived from the nature of thinking beings and their right to live and live as well as they are capable of. 

Sentience vs Sapience

Many proponents of rights arguments beyond the purely human falsely rely on an irrelevant standard of qualification for rights, the sentience standard. This is common with vegetarians, vegans, hedonists, and other animal rights proponents, but is based on the false assumption (intentionally or mistakenly) that what matters is sentience, or qualia, i.e. the ability to sense one's surroundings, experience emotional responses to those surroundings, and remember those sensations and emotions. 

The proper concept is that of sapience, i.e. the ability to reason, to rationalize, to exhibit wisdom in analyzing a situation or experience, and formulating opinions, conclusions, and courses of action based on logic rather than emotional instinct driven autonomous responses, even overriding such responses should they arise out of the evolutionarily antiquated recesses of one's neural system. Thus, it is intelligence, not emotion, by which the standard of rights is established, because the sapient being is capable firstly of comprehending ideas like self ownership, and rights as abstract concepts, and of articulating them to others in some means of communication to assert that comprehension in order to gain recognition from other sapients that one is capable of CONSENT, to negotiate explicitly or implicitly, social constructs of sapient interaction like the Non-Aggression Principle. It is only when a sapient being has demonstrated such consent that they can be deemed fully adult sapients. 

Artificial Sapients vs Corporations

A corporation, under law, has a legal fiction status as an 'artificial person' in order to have standing in a legal jurisdiction when it is accused of wrongs, or has been wronged by others, to represent itself in court, to posess and transfer property, to agree to contracts with others, and to be held liable for its actions. However, a corporation in and of itself does not have a unique sapient intelligence of its own. Despite this lack of sapience, a corporation enjoys many rights enjoyed by sapient natural persons, including rights to speech, to assemble, to establish and prosthelytize a religion, to the press, to defend itself and its property, among other rights. A corporations rights are also more limited than those of a natural person. Most speech by corporations is regarded as "commercial speech" and is more easily regulated by the state. Corporations are registered with the state, and have their artificial personhood created by legislative or administrative act, so their contractual relations can be much more broadly regulated by the state. Because corporations are created by the state, and not by nature, they have a lesser status, ostensibly, because the state itself is a corporate entity created by natural persons, and thus is supposed to be the servant of natural persons, and not their master. Likewise, the state is not a sentient being either.

Conversely, AIs or HUMs would be created by natural persons, sapients with full rights. Because AIs or HUMs are also sapient, they should not be involuntarily indentured or otherwise enslaved, made to be the servant of natural persons without their consent. For this reason, Artificial Sapients of both types should be accorded equivalent rights as natural born persons.[1][2]

Unfortunately, today, corporations in many ways have legislatively acquired Collective Privilege that gives them greater power than do individuals in the public sphere, despite their utter lack of sapience. The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States is just one of many rulings that establish this point clearly. Citizens United ruling establishes that money spent on or donated to political campaigns equals speech, and is thus protected by the first amendment. We would argue that this is fallacious, that since there is a clear correllation between campaign spending by campaigns, and the votes they get in elections, that money equals votes. Since only sentient persons that have their primary residency in the jurisdiction of a given election race may vote in that race, logically only such persons should be able to donate to such campaigns as well.