2017-03-01

Nobody is "created" or "equal"

The phrase "everyone is created equal" is a lie. It outright denies reality and forwards the idea that people were "created" before we even knew what DNA was.

Right now, almost everyone has different DNA, and even those who have identical DNA nearly always end up with different fingerprints (though let it be known that there is evidence to suggest not everyone has unique fingerprints). Everyone is raised in a different environment because we all occupy different positions in space. To say that everyone is equal is to ignore reality.

For someone to be "created", their DNA (or their atomic structure) has to be hand-arranged by another sentient being. This is not how evolution works, and we have only recently developed the technology to "create" people. In a few centuries we may well be able to say that all new people are created, in similar fashion to Brave New World, but right now as well as in the past, it is entirely not the case.

Furthermore, I believe many people would outright reject the idea of everyone being equal - people value their independence and their unique qualities and traits, and some even go so far as to take offense at the suggestion that they are not unique. "Be yourself" is a common expression used to promote the use and appreciation of one's unique qualities, and a large part of our culture as a whole.

Instead, the real focus of equality and equity is rights. It is correct to say that everyone should have equal rights. It is incorrect to say that everyone is equal. It is easy enough to confuse these two very different things, and very dangerous to start building arguments while in such a confused state. What worries me greatly is that the source of the phrase "everyone is created equal" comes from the United States Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson is credited as writing "All men are created equal."

Jefferson may have intended the phrase to be taken only in the context of rights (because he certainly didn't need to know what DNA was to know that people look different), but the common interpretation (that literally all men are literally created and literally equal) is anything but good. Many people simultaneously believe they are both unique and equal, which is by definition impossible. This state of cognitive dissonance results in irrational decision making and unstable logical foundations. Unfortunately, the phrase goes on to be used repeatedly throughout history, and although it is nearly always used to the benefit of society, it still ignores reality and creates cognitive dissonance. (In fact, the use of the word "men" was a bit of a problem for women's suffrage, regardless of what Jefferson intended or believed.)

It is important to consider the distinctions between being equal and having equal, because it will become a hot topic before we're ready for it.

Eventually, we will have to consider rights for artificial consciousness/sentience/intelligence, where distinct copies of sentient beings will actually be both literally created and literally equal at time of creation. While cloning is physically impossible, it is already a digital reality, and I'm not aware of any laws regarding cloned persons (unless you want to say that cloning someone is piracy). What happens when a human uploads their consciousness and there are now multiple identical-yet-distinct versions of them? I suppose they cease being equal the moment they begin having different experiences, but do they have equal rights? Would it be illegal to delete backup copies? Would it be illegal to delete all copies?

If a human body dies and/or the brain suffers irreparable damage, can a digital backup legally take over their identity? Would the the law even consider them as being distinct individuals in the first place? Would electricity have to become a basic human right? Would we even use the term "human" anymore? Would a digitized human have the same rights as a constructed intelligence like HAL9000 or Skynet? Clearly they are not equal, and each digitized human is unequal from each other, while each instance of a constructed intelligence is equal at creation. Inequality has not been accepted as an argument against equal rights thus far, but would we give inequal rights to equally constructed intelligences?

Hopefully ninjas can figure it all out, but you're totally not ninjas, so I guess you'll just have to wait and see.