computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 22:34:53 +1100

If 3rd person behaviour can be taken as evidence of 1st person experience what does that mean in the case of a machine emulating an organism in pain? The ability to experience pain appears to be phylogenetically very old and dependent on only very minimal cognitive ability. A person in the end stages of dementia may make you wonder whether they are conscious at all, until they start screaming in response to a painful stimulus and it becomes clear that they must retain at least that most basic of conscious experiences. Building a machine to emulate just the responses to pain would be a doddle compared to building one that could walk, talk, be creative etc. Would such a machine thereby actually experience the pain? If so, is it possible that I could run a program on my computer which would experience pain if I move the mouse in a particular way, or that I am inadvertently torturing the computer as I am writing this?
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sun Dec 10 2006 - 06:35:10 PST

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