Re: Big Mistake Robin?

Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 16:39:16 MDT

In a message dated 7/13/00 3:09:05 PM, writes:

>Robin Hanson <> responded:
>> What about the apparent majority today who can't accept a machine
>> being "conscious"?
> So many people like Kurzweil, Dennitt... make this same
>assumption that this will be a problem. I think this is a gross,
>obvious, and stupid mistake, especially for such intelligent people to
>make. It seems so obvious to me that when we discover what and how
>consciousness really is and start effing quale and stuff (as when the
>artificial entity finally honestly says: "Oh !THATS! what salt tastes
>like"...), it will be as hard to deny what is and is not conscious as
>it is to today say the world is flat.

People can and do deny the obvious. Something like 40% of Americans believe
the world was created in a big "poof" 6000 years ago. Slightly over a century
ago most people thought that women were intellectually incapable and Africans
were basically a different species, in spite of extensive evidence against

Thinking machines are very much at odds with most world models including
as well as with many humanistic models in which ethics derive from some
ineffable "humanity". In addition, they are a profound potential competitor
many other people. Many, many, people will be profoundly motivated to believe
that thinking machines aren't "really" thinking and that they do not deserve
human-like rights. I predict they will believe what they want to believe; in
experience the readiness to accept disproof of cherished beliefs is a rare

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