Re: How would a computer know if it were conscious?

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2007 09:52:11 -0700

Quentin Anciaux wrote:
> Hi,
> 2007/6/7, <>:
>> On Jun 7, 3:54 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <> wrote:
>>> Evolution has not had a chance to take into account modern reproductive
>>> technologies, so we can easily defeat the goal "reproduce", and see the goal
>>> "feed" as only a means to the higher level goal "survive". However, *that*
>>> goal is very difficult to shake off. We take survival as somehow profoundly
>>> and self-evidently important, which it is, but only because we've been
>>> programmed that way (ancestors that weren't would not have been ancestors).
>>> Sometimes people become depressed and no longer wish to survive, but that's
>>> an example of neurological malfunction. Sometimes people "rationally" give
>>> up their own survival for the greater good, but that's just an example of
>>> interpreting the goal so that it has greater scope, not overthrowing it.
>>> --
>>> Stathis Papaioannou
>> Evolution doesn't care about the survival of individual organisms
>> directly, the actual goal of evolution is only to maximize
>> reproductive fitness.
>> If you want to eat a peice of chocolate cake, evolution explains why
>> you like the taste, but your goals are not evolutions goals. You
>> (Stathis) want to the cake because it tastes nice - *your* goal is to
>> experience the nice taste. Evolution's goal (maximize reproductive
>> fitness) is quite different. Our (human) goals are not evolution's
>> goals.
>> Cheers.
> I have to disagree, if human goals were not tied to evolution goals
> then human should not have proliferated.
> Quentin

"Tied to" is pretty loose. Most individuals goals are "tied to" evolution (I wouldn't say that evolution has goals except in a metaphorical sense), but it may be a long and tangled thread. I like to eat sweets because sugar is a high energy food and so a taste for sugar was favored by natural selection.

But my fitness and the fitness of the human species are not the same thing. I have type II diabetes and so a taste for sugar is bad for me and my survival. But natural selection cares nothing for that; I've already sired as many children as I ever will.

The individual goal of living forever is at odds with evolutionary fitness - if you're not going to have any more children you're just a waste of resources as far as natural selection is concerned.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Thu Jun 07 2007 - 12:53:23 PDT

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