Disanthropic thinking (was: Ahumans)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 23:55:47 MST

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> Damien's response perhaps point out the problems
> we may have in the future "grok"ing humans who have done the mental
> hardware & software changes that have turned the volume controls
> on many emotional "hooks" to zero.

Speak for yourself.

There's a knack to disrupting the binding, the sequitur, between
thoughts and the emotions they trigger. The link has an affective
component; there's an abstract thought that binds to disrupting the
affective component, which disables the link, which pretty much switches
off the emotion. (No, I'm not going to tell the world how it works.
This is one of the very very few software tricks that can actually
damage your mind, or at least your personality, if you're not careful.)

Anyway, I can disable emotional hooks, at least with respect to minor
emotions. I don't know if the trick works with respect to intense
emotions because I've never tried it; intense emotion is rare enough in
my life that I tend to treasure it. But I really don't think I would
have much trouble grokking unemotional humans. In retrospect, I would
say that most of the "inability to understand" is the inability to
visualize, imposed by the tendency to flinch away from the imagining.
Once you've disabled the flinch and gotten some practical experience
operating disanthropically - that is, trying to eliminate everything
that belongs to "human minds" or "evolved minds" rather than "minds in
general" - it really isn't that hard.

After all, our tendency to attribute various emotional properties to the
concept of "emotion" is itself an anthropomorphism; from a cosmic
perspective, emotion is simply the functioning of various rules of human
cognitive science. If you can pick up enough disanthropy, or
philosophy, to stop being emotional about emotions (plus enough
cognitive science to know where all the emotions are), then no, it isn't
impossible to think like an emotionless human.

               sentience@pobox.com      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Typing in Dvorak         Programming with Patterns  Writing in Gender-neutral
Voting for Libertarians  Heading for Singularity    There Is A Better Way

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:33 MDT