Michael Livermore: AI and Extinction through a Welfarist Lens
Is the extinction of non-human animals inherently bad? And how do we value diversity of experiences?
These are some of the crucial questions that Livermore will address in his talk through his innovative perspective.
Livermore is a legal academic from the University of Virginia School of Law whose research focuses on regulatory review, environmental law, cost-benefit analysis, and the application of data science techniques to legal texts.
Abstract From a traditional welfarist perspective, the special harm of extinction is hard to explain. Yes, there are instrumental, anthropocentric reasons to value species, but many share the intuition that extinction has additional moral significance, beyond whatever value a species might have to human beings. This talk will explore a version of welfarism that values, in a foundational way, the diversity of subjective experiences. Under this view, which I call "heteric welfarism," extinction is bad (other things being equal) when it reduces the diversity of experiences. A heteric welfarist would also endorse (other things being equal) the creation of new forms of experience, for example through advanced AI. Heteric welfarism can give us traction of important moral questions of the Anthropocene, but it also raises some tricky questions as well.