Cognition and emotion

Dan Hook (
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 16:39:49 -0500

All the talk about cognition and emotion got me thinking as to the role
that emotions play in humans and the role emotions could play in a computer
(not an upload).

With human beings, and other animals, emotions are simply the equavalient
of commands or instructions. Without emotion, a human being is nothing.
Contrary to what some think, there is no grand meaning of life that
trancends beyond the merely human. There is no such thing as pure
rationality. Without emotion, one would not care whether one existed or
not. Since a person with no emotion would have no reason to do anything,
not even a reason to think, they would, for all practical purposes, be
quite dead.

Computers, on the other hand, are given instructions, in my opinion just
simplified emotions. These instructions motivate the computer to do
something. Without instruction, the computer does nothing and for all
practically purposes, can be considered inactive. The computer without
instruction and the human without emotion produce the same output, nothing.

It is agreed that at least some other animals have emotion. Therefore,
emotion must have evolved in a continuum. Bacteria obviously do not have
emotion while human beings obviously do. As the creatures become more
complex, more complex control mechanisms are nescesary. Hence the
evolution from mere instruction, or instinct, to emotions.

With computers the brain power of insects we have no need to program
emotion. As computers become more powerful and are entrusted with more
tasks, the instructions we give them will probably start to look more and
more like emotions. You can easily imagine a robot scurrying away from an
explosion, or even from a loud noise (cockroach level). Think of a
computer in increasing complex scenarios and they may show even more
behavior indicative of emotion. The simulation of emotions is all that is
need to have emotions. This is simply the emotive equivalent of the Turing

Dan Hook