What’s the difference between leaving carbon progeny behind you and silicon progeny behind you? … [W]hat makes you feel that a planet teeming with sexually created successors would constitute a more valid extension of ‘we’-ness than a planet teeming with our intellectually created successors? [robots / cyborgs / conscious machines / strong AI computers]
The question comes down to how we human beings feel comfortable using and extrapolating the term pronoun “we”. Were “we” once languageless squirrel-sized mammals? Did “we” then become primates? Did “we” discover that “we” could use tools? Did “we” begin speaking some 50,000 years ago? Were “we” at that time an entirely agrarian society? Did “we” start living in cities a few thousand years ago? Did “we” discover geometry, algebra, and calculus? Did “we” try out communism for a few decades? Will “we” someday cure cancer? Will “we” someday fly to Mars? … Will “we” migrate into immortal software?
Doug Hofstadter, in Perspectives on Natural and Artificial Evolution
The whole essay (ok, most of it):
grâce à Virgil
The story of the primates reminds me of my favourite short story from Cosmicomics. Italo Calvino shrinks the generations of evolution into manageable bites, so that qfwfq, a lizard in this story, has a great-uncle n’ba n’ga who’s still a fish.
Well, you can read it yourself: