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#13786693 Jun 04, 2018 at 08:55 PM · Edited 1 month ago
285 Posts
Hi, returning to a topic last discussed like 3 years ago ( https://championsonlineroleplayers.shivtr.com/forum_threads/1903664 ) which lead to a short comic ( https://championsonlineroleplayers.shivtr.com/forum_threads/1960743 ), largely because of the introduction of the Mechanon event on CO's anniversary.

To recap...and I'm not a lawyer...the Triple-A Act is an American law-thing that gives equal rights to "persons" who are not actually human, like robots and aliens (but not undead). The criteria is, however, that they must prove themselves to be sentient, which is a fuzzy area.

EDIT - apparently the term should no longer be sentient, but SAPIENT, now. Difference being sentient is just self-aware, whereas being sapient is what we actually consider to be "intelligent". Using sentient in this question to follow Champions RPG though.

Nonetheless, because the Triple-A Act exists, there must be some sort of tests or forms to fill out to prove sentience, if only to enforce the law. It might not be completely standardised, but to prove or disprove someone is sentient to qualify for protection by the Triple-A Act, I reckon some lawyer or police department has some process on-hand to deal with checking that issue.

My question is: what is that test or interview in the Champions RPG/CO? If it's not clear, maybe the Champions RPG has some parallel, like some test to see if someone is classified as superhuman?

The context is, it might come up for one player character in a RP group I mostly listen to. I basically have an UNTIL agent on surveillance on some minor UNTIL Project. It's not something immediate, just a contingency for if the issue ever comes up.

I'll give you a real-life stranger-than-fiction scenario. I was in a dot-com start-up and I came across this legal issue of something like (I don't remember the exact term) "director's liability" or similar term. I read it in a thing and it was an action item for me, so I called up our lawyer, asking her about this term and what I can do to protect myself. She basically told me that term was about seeking outside legal counsel to make sure I'm following the law and protecting the company and my colleagues...which I basically did by calling her to ask what it was.

In other words, by simply asking about this legal thing I had to do...I basically fulfilled the requirement for the legal thing. I didn't fully understand it but the lawyer basically verbally pat me on the head for following whatever law I was, and I thanks her and ended the call before she started charging me extra.

It's with that weird example in mind with this Triple-A Act. For example, if a robot or alien actually has the presence of mind to call up a lawyer to prove his sentience in the court of law, would him just calling up a lawyer for that purpose demonstrate he's self-aware and intelligent enough to actually prove his sentience?

TL;DR - I tried to hire a lawyer, therefore I am? In Latin, "ergo lawyer beaucoup bucks payo sum?"

More action at Champions Online Comics at http://co-comics.webs.com
#13787181 Jun 05, 2018 at 10:50 AM · Edited 1 month ago
1257 Posts
BB, you do always come up with... interesting ways of looking at this comic-book world. 😎

To the best of my knowledge, there's no specific test for sentience/sapience mentioned in any of the Champions setting books. (But I will address the inherent possibilities a little later.) This is, after all, an adventure-based role playing game, and the percentage of players who'd like to deal with that situation is probably small. Mind you, the Stronghold book does expound at fair length on how to run courtroom dramas in a superhero setting -- the emphasis, of course, being on "drama."

In the legal system of the United States and Canada (I can't speak firsthand to other jurisdictions), "reasonableness" is a major criterion for deciding whether certain actions are justifiable. For example, a person whose confidentiality was breached by another party can argue they had a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that was spelled out in a contract. A person using lethal force to defend himself may not be criminally liable if it's judged he had reasonable fear for his life or the life of another. In an emergency a doctor can treat an unconscious person who can't give permission, because it would be reasonable to expect that person to want to be helped.

To extend that example to this question, if a space craft landed in an American city, and a six-foot bipedal reptile emerged and asked someone for directions to the nearest Immigration office (which could totally happen on Champions Earth), it would be completely reasonable to assume this being was sapient and free-willed. I can't see the question even being raised in that circumstance. Where it might become a more immediate concern is for an entity who appears to be or is known to be inorganic and artificially created.

The "Turing Test" (named for computer science pioneer Alan Turing) was long considered the theoretical standard for assessing artificial intelligence, based on whether a person could hold an extended conversation with a machine and not be able to distinguish that it wasn't another person. Trouble is, in recent years real-world developers of AI have created computers and programs for the specific purpose of fooling the Turing Test. Those machines can't do much else, but they've gotten quite good at that.

Just to recap for people who aren't familiar with our topic of discussion: As per Stronghold p. 30, the American "Android, Artificial Intelligence, and Alien Life-Form Rights Act of 1979 (usually known as the "Triple-A Act")... grants civil rights to most "sentient" beings who can prove they are independent and free-willed. The law defines "sentience" in various ways, usually relating to the capacity for creative and philosophical thought, not just problem-solving capability." IMHO that sounds like there are some legally-established parameters that could best be demonstrated as fulfilled via an interview process.

OTOH Stronghold p. 20 outlines the conditions under which a person's mind could legally be telepathically probed, and the information derived from that probe be admissible in court as evidence. The conditions usually include connecting the telepath to a device called a mentaphone, which transcribes the thoughts the telepath reads. I would say that opens the potential for a specific "test" of a being's sapience and free will with an objective record of the results, in circumstances where such a test was deemed necessary or desirable, voluntarily or involuntarily.
#13788194 Jun 06, 2018 at 06:12 PM
276 Posts
#13786693 BB (CO Comics) wrote:


The context is, it might come up for one player character in a RP group I mostly listen to. I basically have an UNTIL agent on surveillance on some minor UNTIL Project. It's not something immediate, just a contingency for if the issue ever comes up.
[/i]"




WOO! UNTIL Project Shenanigans, REPRESENT!
<3

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13791099 Jun 10, 2018 at 10:42 AM
285 Posts
A quick note to say thanks, we were also discussing this on our RP channel.

For example, the idea that mentaphones are a thing is very telling detail and thanks for cluing us in. Reminds me of a lie detector test, which seem to be a great tool for a court of law...except it turns out they're not admissible in certain states in America for all sorts of sensible reasons (like they can be fooled). I reckon this applies with the sentience/sapience issue because, even now after decades of studying the issue, there's still no standard definition/metric for intelligence.

Result - it's something it'll have to be proven in court, even with supersciences, not just from some standard questions on an index card carried by police officers or agents (though that may be a starting point).

An interesting point was that...just like in real life, sadly..."appearance" matters greatly. If an entity looks and acts sufficiently "human", like that example of a 6-foot reptile going to an immigration office and can speak our language to ask for a lawyer to prove his intelligence, that already totally demonstrates his point. Even a Qularr drone vaguely looks like what we think of as a person. But if an alien jelly goes to a flower and communicates by emitting aerosol messages because on their alien jelly homeworld flora are considered sapient...that might be considered some sort of extraterrestrial bioweapon, when all it did was say "hi".

That said, does that come up in CO? Well, the character creator that all entities have to go through are based on a humanoid form, so it kinda already filters out the really questionable types...

...except looking at Snookums's post I'm reminded she made a totally alien floating jellyfish toon.

More action at Champions Online Comics at http://co-comics.webs.com
#13791336 Jun 10, 2018 at 04:35 PM
1257 Posts
And while Champions Online may be confined to humanoid form, the setting as described in the PnP books includes a significant number and variety of very alien-looking aliens.
#13792204 Jun 11, 2018 at 05:57 PM
1257 Posts
#13791099 BB (CO Comics) wrote:


An interesting point was that...just like in real life, sadly..."appearance" matters greatly. If an entity looks and acts sufficiently "human", like that example of a 6-foot reptile going to an immigration office and can speak our language to ask for a lawyer to prove his intelligence, that already totally demonstrates his point. Even a Qularr drone vaguely looks like what we think of as a person. But if an alien jelly goes to a flower and communicates by emitting aerosol messages because on their alien jelly homeworld flora are considered sapient...that might be considered some sort of extraterrestrial bioweapon, when all it did was say "hi".



Interesting that you should bring up a Qularr drone in this context. Qularr society is divided into a range of castes who perform specific tasks, into which all Qularr are born, with some castes considered "higher" than others. That's not just a matter of social convention -- Qularr are genetically engineered with qualities suiting their caste professions, both physical and mental. It would simply never occur to a Qularr that it should aspire to "better" itself by trying to join a higher caste. So, given that, would a Qularr count as having free will?
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