Re: Seed AI and aesthetics

Anders Sandberg (
03 Jul 1999 22:24:03 +0200

Elizabeth Childs <> writes:

> I meant that our very distant ancestors, the mammals who co-existed with
> the dinosaurs, might have developed an instinct to fear all giant
> lizards. It seems possible - although, I admit, romantically
> speculative - that the instinct persists in a vestigial form.
> I suspect the other instincts that I named date from pre-human evolution
> as well.

I don't think the big lizard fear would persist for 65 million years, but clearly we have some built in fear - or rather respect - for big animals (just study children and other mammals when somebody towers above them). We certainly seem to have a built in fear/respect for insects and snakes, even if it does not lead to real fear or phobias except in some people.

> Evolution is miraculous, but it isn't very efficient. Neither the human
> body nor the human brain has a designer. Thus, weird stuff can end up
> in the works.

My favorite is Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst or ACHOO Syndrome (also called photic sneeze response): sunlight-induced sneezing. Many people (24% of the population) have a mis-connection in the trigemnial nucleus, making bright light stimulate axons from the nasal cavity, starting the sneezing reflex.

Makes you start wondering how many other weird connections there are.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y