Sophont Rights

[Imported from a post I made to my old blog, 10/12/2007.]

I tend to think “human rights”, per se, are a speciesist concept. (As a transhumanist by philosophy, I have to think about the possibility of alien species, human speciation by bioengineering, artificial intelligence, and so forth. A wider perspective, if you like.)

Thus, I attach my concept of rights (life, liberty and property, etc.) not to humanity, but tosophoncy. Sophont life – be it human, AI, human-derived, uplifted animal, alien, whatever – possesses those rights inalienably by virtue of its sophoncy, for such span of its existence that it is sophont, which for humans is (I believe based on what’s currently known) approximately from when cortical brain structures form to information-theoretic death.

(Non-human) near-sophont life – the almost-but-not-quites, great apes, dolphins, smart dogs, etc. – do not possess inalienable sophont rights, but possess subsidiary rights for their own sake in proportion to their degree of pro-sophoncy.

(Non-human) non-sophont life, which is most of the animal kingdom, and all of the plants, fungi, protists, bacteria, prokaryotes and viruses don’t possess any rights, but elsewhere in my value system I stipulate that we ought to treat them, and for that matter, inanimate objects, decently for their own sake.

(Human) near-sophont or non-sophont life, which mostly means humans that are or have been made defective in some way possess rights in the same measure as their non-human equivalents, logically, but practically speaking, we’re always going to treat members of our own species specially even if they’re no more sophont than a rubber-tree plant just out of human nature.

A Random Thought on the Fermi Paradox

Perhaps, if it turns out transhumanism (or, rather, its polyspecific analog, transsophontism) is the development path all species end up taking once they have the ability to do so, the problem is that once they’ve spent much time and effort on engineering themselves into ever-more brilliant and beautiful forms, they rest of the universe becomes simply too unbearably stupid and ugly to interact with…

And so they don’t.

And they become pretty damn good at hiding from SETI searches, too, because the last thing they want is any of these ugly morons turning up on their doorstep.

Simply revolting, sweetie.

Grubbing for Money in Textual Places

As long-time readers of my assorted blogs will be aware, I’ve been engaged in large-scale worldbuilding and committing occasional acts of fiction for many a year. Thus far, except for that one competition, it’s been just for my own personal benefit, it being a satisfying creative outlet in itself. I like building things.

However, I feel the time has come – especially now that I’m dabbling in actual plot – to begin moving towards professionalism in this venture; meaning, in short, money. The world is in flux as regards the methods of turning written words into cash, and while traditional publishers and short story markets are by no means out of the question, I believe they’re far from the only options at this point.

So, having introduced the concept, here’s my first experiment in this realm: stories-by-subscription. Several authors have done this, including Diane Duane writing an entire novel this way, and Elizabeth Bear, just this week, putting out an announcement that rather inspired this one, in its own way and with a little spousal prodding.

(Go there and check those out, by the way. I bet they’ll be well worth the money.)

So, here’s the deal, and it’s rather similar – albeit at a somewhat reduced price due to they being Actual Published Authors and me being, well, not: For the low, low price of $10 up-front, you will receive a minimum of twelve pieces of flash fiction/short fiction/nanofic or extended worldbuilding vignettes (i.e., not the “dry” encyclopedia entries, but the somewhat moistened ideas-in-use kind) over the next year, which for convenience of calculation I’ll say ends May 1, 2012. This is the minimum – you’ll receive at least twelve, but anything else I write over the next year that isn’t being submitted to An Actual Publisher is included in the deal; so they’re at least under $1 each, and possibly well under. Not a bad deal, eh? And at the end of the year, if it turns out that I have enough volume and like them enough to collect them into an actual e-book, everyone who’s subscribed during the year will receive a free copy of the final product.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the snippets and other fiction-related posts over the years – or some topic that comes up in my Trope-a-Day catches your attention – this is for you!

On technical notes: distribution of the goods will be through a closed mailing list, and your e-mail address will not be shared. I’d thought to do the distribution in .epub and .pdf formats, but I’m by no means limited to those; if you’d prefer a different format, drop me a line and I can probably add it.

If you’re reading this post late (but still before May 1, 2012), you haven’t missed out: if you subscribe late, you’ll not only get everything that comes to the list after that time, but I’ll send you everything that you would have received from Day One.

Any questions? My contact address is:

And this PayPal button will tell you you’re paying Arkane Systems. That’s my business name, so no need to worry. If you’d like your subscription sent to an address that’s not your PayPal address, please include it as “special instructions”. And if you’d like to subscribe but can’t or would prefer not to use PayPal, drop me an e-mail at the address above.

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