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IEET > Rights > Disability > Neuroethics > Personhood > Life > Enablement > Vision > Bioculture > Directors > George Dvorsky

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What is “Uplift?”

George Dvorsky
By George Dvorsky
Sentient Developments

Posted: Mar 24, 2009

As previously noted, David Brin will be guest blogging on Sentient Developments this week. The first topic that David will be addressing is one that is near and dear to both of our hearts: biological uplift. To get you primed for this discussion I can recommend a number of articles, books and resources.

First, check out the Wikipedia entry on biological uplift (although this entry could use a lot of work).

Second, there’s my paper from a few years back, “All Together Now: Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals.” My basic argument is that we should strongly consider the inclusion of nonhuman animals into postbiological space. The more the merrier, I say.

Third, be sure to check out (or review) David’s seminal work on the matter from a fictional perspective, namely his Uplift Series. Books in this collection include:

It’s also work thinking about the proto-uplift classics, namely H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) and Olaf Stapledon’s Sirius (1944).

Lastly, check out some of the work done by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and the Great Ape Trust. Just to be clear, Sue is not an advocate of biological uplift, but the work that she does integrating bonobos into non-traditional living environments and in comprehending their language and culture speaks directly to this issue; there’s a very fine line between cultural and biological uplift. For starters, check out the article, “Sue Savage-Rumbaugh on the welfare of apes in captivity.” Also be sure to check out the work of the Great Ape Trust.

And while we’re on this topic: please support the work done by the Great Ape Project and advocate for the inclusion of great apes into the personhood spectrum.


George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.
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