RE: computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 22:12:47 +1100

Jamie Rose writes:
> Stathis,
> As I was reading your comments this morning, an example
> crossed my mind that might fit your description of in-place
> code lines that monitor 'disfunction' and exist in-situ as
> a 'pain' alert .. that would be error evaluating 'check-sum'
> computations.
> In a functional way, parallel check-summing, emulates at least
> the first part of an 'experience pain' rete .. the initial
> establishment of a signal message 'something is wrong'.
> What I'm getting at is that the question could be
> approached best by not retrofitting to 'experiential
> qualia' .. where we don't have a reasonable way to
> specify the different systems' 'experiencing', but we
> do have a way to identify analogs of process.
> For example - its possible to identify in architecture
> and materiales where 'points of highest stress' occur.
> The physicality of structures may indeed internally be
> "experiencing" higher-pressure nodes as 'pain' - where
> the only lack in the chain of our interaction with
> 'inanimate' structures, is OUR lack-of -wisdom in
> recognizing that those stress point are in fact
> 'pain-points' for those kinds of systems.
> For living systems, the nature of the neural connections is
> that the communication lines are still raw and open - back
> to the locus of the problem (pain site). In non-living
> structures, any break or disruption totally shuts down
> the back-reporting -- 'pain' disappears when all communication
> 'about' the pain-source is taken away or simply breaks down.
Except that the relationship between the pain perception and the
noxious stimulus is not a necessary one. Various neurological conditions
can leave the noxious stimulus but remove the pain, leave the pain but
remove the noxious stimulus, even switch sensory modalities so that
normally painful stimuli are perceived as pleasurable and vice-versa.
It seems that just certain groups of cortical neurons firing is enough to
cause pain, and it seems that this quality is intrinsic to those neurons,
ready for the first painful experience. So the noxious stimulus does not
seem essential for the pain experience, and there is no reason to think
that a non-living structure undergoing stress experiences pain since it
lacks any evolved or designed pain-sensing apparatus.
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Thu Dec 14 2006 - 06:13:04 PST

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