Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Dan Hook (
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 09:49:22 -0500

> From: Gregory Houston <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: Protean Self-Transformation
> Date: Monday, March 31, 1997 7:46 PM
> Artificial Emotion Program:
> IF x occurs THEN run fear subroutine
> fear subroutine:
> PLAY scream.wav audio file
> DISPLAY ominous.jpg image file
> Is that an emotion!?! When exactly did the computer feel an emotion? The
> computer is processing its data and x occurs. But it did not feel x, it
> merely recognizes x in a very detached manner. The computer then runs
> the fear subroutine. The computer "appears" to be displaying an emotion,
> but it never felt one. And it does not feel itself playing the sound
> file or displaying the image. It merely does it without feeling. Perhaps
> you would like to rewrite my hypothetical program above to show me how
> theoretically you believe a computer could experience emotions without
> hardware for experiencing sensations. Anyone? Please, this would be most
> enlightening. You might even recieve the Nobel Prize.

The problem here is that human emotion and cognition are largely
mysterious, at least to the individual. Any computer program is going to
be obviously deterministic. Since it would be a relatively
straightforward, if tedious, task to tell what math the emotions are based
on one could assume that the computer is simply following the logical
course of action as set forth by its programming. Of course, saying that
emotion cannot be logical would also rule out human beings assuming there
were other beings capable of seeing all of the deterministic processes that
lead to emotion. You could tell this being that you are unaware of these
processes. A computer could tell you the same thing. In the case of both
the computer and the human, we have a finite number of calculations taking
place in a finite space. Therefore, to a more complex observer, everything
appears logically deterministic.

To write a program for cognition and emotion one needs to know the process
behind thought selection. I do not and I doubt anyone else does.
Therefore, we run up against a wall of not knowing enough about ourselves
to create mind children, at least through design. Alife is an entirely
different story.

Dan Hook