Can octopuses feel pain and pleasure? 

What about crabs, shrimps, insects or spiders

How do we tell whether a person unresponsive after severe brain injury might be suffering? 

When does a fetus in the womb start to have conscious experiences? 

Could there even be rudimentary feelings in miniature models of the human brain, grown from human stem cells? 

... and what about AI

These are questions about the edge of sentience, and they are subject to enormous, disorienting uncertainty. The stakes are immense, and neglecting the risks can have terrible costs. 

We need to err on the side of caution, yet it’s often far from clear what ‘erring on the side of caution’ should mean in practice. When are we going too far? When are we not doing enough? 

The Edge of Sentience presents a precautionary framework designed to help us reach ethically sound, evidence-based decisions despite our uncertainty.  

Online (Open Access) and in print with Oxford University Press, 15 August 2024


Sign up here for further details, including an Open Access PDF on release day:

Pre-order a print book now from booksellers including: