Re: computer pain

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 01:02:22 -0800

James N Rose wrote:
> Stathis,
> The reason for lack of responses is that your idea
> goes directly to illuminating why AI systems - as
> promoulgated under current designs of software
> running in hardware matrices - CANNOT emulate living
> systems. It an issue that AI advocates intuitively
> and scrupulously AVOID.
> "Pain" in living systems isn't just a self-sensor
> of proper/improper code functioning, it is an embedded
> registration of viable/disrupted matrix state.
> And that is something that no current human contrived
> system monitors as a CONCURRENT property of software.
> For example, we might say that central processors
> regularly 'display pain' .. that we designers/users
> recognize as excess heat .. that burn out mother boards.
> The equipment 'runs a high fever', in other words.
> But where living systems are multiple functioning systems
> and have internal ways of guaging and reacting locally and
> biochemically vis a vis both to the variance and retaining
> sufficient good-operations while bleeding off 'fever',
> "hardware" systems have no capacity to morph or adapt
> itself structurally and so keep on burning up or wait
> for external aware-structures to command them to stop
> operating for a while and let the equipment cool down.
> I maintain that living systems are significantly designed where
> hardware IS software, and so have a capacity for local
> adaptive self-sensitivity, that human 'contrived' HW/SW systems
> don't and mostly .. can't.
> Jamie Rose
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> No responses yet to this question. It seems to me a straightforward
>> consequence of computationalism that we should be able to write a program
>> which, when run, will experience pain, and I suspect that this would be a
>> substantially simpler program than one demonstrating general intelligence. It
>> would be very easy to program a computer or build a robot that would behave
>> just like a living organism in pain, but I'm not sure that this is nearly enough to
>> ensure that it is in fact experiencing pain. Any ideas, or references to sources
>> that have considered the problem?
>> Stathis Papaioannou

I would say that many complex mechanical systems react to "pain" in a way similar to simple animals. For example, aircraft have automatic shut downs and fire extinguishers. They can change the flight controls to reduce stress on structures. Whether they feel this "pain" is a different question. I think they feel it if they incorporate it into a narrative to which values are attached for purposes of learning ("Don't do that again, it hurts."). But that's my theory of qualia - a speculative one.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Wed Dec 13 2006 - 04:02:41 PST

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