RE: computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 11:17:43 +1100

Brent Meeker writes:

> > OK, an AI needs at least motivation if it is to do anything, and we
> > could call motivation a feeling or emotion. Also, some sort of hierarchy
> > of motivations is needed if it is to decide that saving the world has
> > higher priority than putting out the garbage. But what reason is there
> > to think that an AI apparently frantically trying to save the world
> > would have anything like the feelings a human would under similar
> > circumstances? It might just calmly explain that saving the world is at
> > the top of its list of priorities, and it is willing to do things which
> > are normally forbidden it, such as killing humans and putting itself at
> > risk of destruction, in order to attain this goal. How would you add
> > emotions such as fear, grief, regret to this AI, given that the external
> > behaviour is going to be the same with or without them because the
> > hierarchy of motivation is already fixed?
> You are assuming the AI doesn't have to exercise judgement about secondary objectives - judgement that may well involve conflicts of values that have to resolve before acting. If the AI is saving the world it might for example, raise it's cpu voltage and clock rate in order to computer faster - electronic adrenaline. It might cut off some peripheral functions, like running the printer. Afterwards it might "feel regret" when it cannot recover some functions.
> Although there would be more conjecture in attributing these feelings to the AI than to a person acting in the same situation, I think the principle is the same. We think the persons emotions are part of the function - so why not the AI's too.

Do you not think it is possible to exercise judgement with just a hierarchy of motivation? Alternatively, do you think a hierarchy of motivation will automatically result in emotions? For example, would something that the AI is strongly motivated to avoid necessarily cause it a negative emotion, and if so what would determine if that negative emotion is pain, disgust, loathing or something completely different that no biological organism has ever experienced?
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Dec 27 2006 - 19:18:00 PST

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