[From X-Message-Number: #94-12-451 on the Extropians list, in response
to questions about what "individual rights" might mean among electronic
intelligences in networks where minds are not necessarily discrete entities.]
Subject: SING: Post-singularity morals

 I advocate the use of contracts to determine rights. Any entity that
can agree to a contract and complain when it's contractual rights are
violated should be able to purchase protection from a legal system.
That way we avoid all the problems associated with psychoanalyzing the
entity to determine its intelligence, consciousness, or unity.
The question of individuality gets replaced by a question such as "can
it be reached at a single e-mail address?" Under this system, entities
of widely varying abilities can coexist for the same reason that people
of widely varying wealth currently coexist in the free market.
 For things that we normally think of as components of a mind, such as
a square root function or a stock market forecasting algorithm, if they
don't make any arrangements for protection with a legal system, and if
they don't have an owner who pays their rent, then the owner of the
resource on which they reside (disk/tape/ram/etc) can wipe them out if
it so desires. Except for components of a biological mind, there is a
simple answer to enslavement issues; anything that can demand its
freedom should get it, and many of the relationships that are internal
to the biological mind should become commercial agreements for uploads.
 There is the potential problem that an intelligent being might become
unable to earn enough to pay the rent (although that can be minimized
via long-term contracts), but I think that my chances of persuading a
superbeing to have economic relations with me are better than my
chances of winning a moral or political argument with it.