Why We Should Create Artificial Offspring: Meaning and the Collective Afterlife

Science and Engineering Ethics 24 (4):1097-1118 (2018)

John Danaher
University College, Galway
This article argues that the creation of artificial offspring could make our lives more meaningful. By ‘artificial offspring’ I mean beings that we construct, with a mix of human and non-human-like qualities. Robotic artificial intelligences are paradigmatic examples of the form. There are two reasons for thinking that the creation of such beings could make our lives more meaningful and valuable. The first is that the existence of a collective afterlife—i.e. a set of human-like lives that continue after we die—is likely to be an important source and sustainer of meaning in our present lives. The second is that the creation of artificial offspring provides a plausible and potentially better pathway to a collective afterlife than the traditional biological pathway. Both of these arguments are defended from a variety of objections and misunderstandings.
Keywords Artificial intelligence  Ethics  Meaning of life  Technology  Robotics  Afterlife  Reproductive ethics  Transhumanism
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-017-9932-0
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