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Home Should a virtual being be treated with respect? | by Terrie Schweitzer | Better Humans | Feb, 2021

Should a virtual being be treated with respect? | by Terrie Schweitzer | Better Humans | Feb, 2021

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Terrie Schweitzer

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Terrie Schweitzer

I was fascinated to read this story of virtual sadism from Mark Frauenfelder’s The Magnet.

It reminded me of parents who insist that their children treat Alexa or Siri with respect.

Does it matter? The answer seems clear to me: I need to behave in a way that aligns with the kind of person I want to be. I can only speak for myself, but I can’t say that torturing a virtual being has no affect on anyone, because it would definitely have an affect on me.

It’s interesting to me that in one of the chants used in my zen practice, we acknowledge the support of all beings, “animate and inanimate”. Our terminology for living/nonliving, moving/still shifts—we like the dichotomy because it makes us think, but on close examination the dichotomy always fails. (Which may be part of the point.)

Still, I wonder if in the future we will add something like “material and virtual”.

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