Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Anders Sandberg (
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 12:46:36 +0200 (MET DST)

On Sat, 29 Mar 1997, Gregory Houston wrote:
> Emotions are felt in a physical manner. I *feel* sexual pleasure via my
> organs. I *feel* hunger via my organs. I *feel* excitement via my
> organs. Without this specialized hardware I would *feel* nothing. As a
> computer I might be "aware" of conditions, but I would not *feel* those
> conditions unless someone created specialized hardware that would allow
> me to *feel*.

OK, what you seems to say is that if I put damage sensors in a robot, it
would be able to feel pain. But this relates to the awfully tricky
problem of qualia: does the robot *experience* pain, or doe it just think
"pain"? How can we tell?

(My personal view is that the hardware doesn't matter; after all,
stimulating a sensor or nerve produces the same sensation, so the qualia
are likely happining in the brain, which I also think could be run on a
different hardware)

> If a computer is to feel pleasure from the outside world it will require
> peripheal nodes which can register sensation (pleasure and pain). If a
> computer is to feel pleasure from its own internal processes it will
> require internal nodes which can register sensation (pleasure and pain).
> We can program computers to think because that is what the hardware was
> designed for. The hardware has not yet been designed to feel emotion.

It would be quite possible to create programs that can watch their
internal states and hence feel internal pleasure, no hardware needed. In
fact, programs that watch or affect their own states have been written
(but as far as I know nobody has done anything truly serious with it).

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