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Reader Discussions > Sapience Determination

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message 1: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new)

Teresa Carrigan | 2469 comments Mod
How do you tell whether a given being is sapient? Either practically or legally? Even if the being arrives on a starship, it could be a pet. I recall one old story where a medical team was trying to help an alien race who had complained about a plague, found a parasite, and started removing the parasite - which turned out to be a sapient being residing in a non sapient host.

We already read Crystal Soldier which has a sapient tree as a key but minor character, and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet which has a sapient AI.

I've started a list of great books that have sapience determination as a crucial element:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...

If you know of any other good books on this topic please add them to the list, or vote on them if they are already on the list. It's a public Goodreads list so while I created it I don't have any special editor powers on it.

In Little Fuzzy, the legal rule of thumb is "talk and build a fire". Hellspark has a different set of legal qualifications which includes creative art (and dolphins had been deemed sapient). The Uplift War from my vague memory requires the sponsor species to set the client species free but their laws really weren't set up for the case where a species had no sponsor that gimmicked its DNA for intelligence.


message 2: by Book Nerd (new)

Book Nerd (book_nerd_1) | 25 comments Ask. A sapient being will say "How the f*** should I know???" lol

There are a few Xeelee Sequence stories by Stephen Baxter where humans in space have lost their sapience and become sort of a biological component of their ships. I find the idea of nonsapient spacefaring beings fascinating.


message 3: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (last edited Jan 06, 2018 10:34AM) (new)

Teresa Carrigan | 2469 comments Mod
I seem to recall Mike from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress being noticed as a person instead of just a computer when he started playing practical jokes. Manny got him sidetracked into a discussion of humor and got him to agree to discuss any practical jokes before doing more, then left with a long printout of things marked as jokes to be judged as not funny, funny once, always funny, etc.


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