Re: Plea (was ExI: Cognitive Extropians)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 13:26:49 -0800 (PST)

> Just a gentle reminder that some emotions trigger specific cognitive
> abilities, such as frustration->flaw-finding.
> Also, goal and subgoal are cognitive mechanisms as well as survival
> mechanisms. When thinking, you set out to solve a specific problem and
> may even spin off sub-problems to be solved first. Since emotions are
> the affective aspects of our goal systems, there may be ground for
> thinking that a reasoning AI would require something recognizable as
> emotional substrate, if none of the *specific* emotions we bear. I
> don't know whether suppressing, repressing, mastering, understanding,
> switching off, flexing, or ignoring one's emotions would affect
> goal-oriented analysis. It seems to me that the mental systems for
> evaluating the *value* of goals may well be intricately intertwined with
> our evolved emotional sets.

This is probably an accurate description of how evolution may well have
selected genes that reward cognitive success with emotional pleasure,
and vice versa. It clearly would be an advantage to beings like us who
use cognition for survival, just as it is an advantage that we have
emotional rewards for breeding as well. But remember: that gene has
evolved those reactions for /its/ benefit, not for mine.

Evolution is over. I'm in charge now. My genes have made the fatal
mistake of building a survival machine that is more powerful than them,
and giving it free will. In the short run (say, the first few thousand
years of human history) we used that gift to obediently serve. But
we're onto the game now. Darwin and Dawkins figured it out, and have
emancipated us to serve /our/ interests now, and if those mechanisms
that evolved to serve my gene's interests get in the way, I will learn
to work around them.