Re: Emotion Selection
Sat, 3 Jul 1999 09:31:30 EDT

In a message dated 99-07-03 00:28:08 EDT, (O'Regan, Emlyn) wrote:

> I saw an interview with George Foreman recently, where he was talking about

> his heavyweight boxing career. He talked about how fear was his worst enemy
> during his early years, about how when he went into the ring with the like
> of Ali, his knees would shake and he'd be totally overwhelmed. He said it
> was just downright frightening to be in the ring with those kinds of
> Finally, one night he was about to step into the ring, and he found that he
> wasn't afraid. He was cheerful, calm, confident. He got into the ring,
> ready, relaxed, and had the crap beaten out of him.
> He said that after that night, he spent a lot of time working to regain his
> fear.

This reminds me of a conversation I had when I was in law school. One of my professors was a noted authority on constitutional and federal procedural law who, but for a particularly stupid burglary in a Washington D.C. office building, might today be Chief Justice. Like everyone else who studied under him, I was in awe, not least of which because he has argued so many important cases in the Supreme Court. I asked him when he stopped being anxious about the pressure of standing up and arguing a case in court. He responded, "Never. I still get nervous every single time I walk into a courtroom." He explained that only a stupid lawyer doesn't have this feeling. He then more than earned his tuition by offering me some practical tips for channeling and overcoming that feeling.

Almost all emotions serve vital functions in mental life. They serve as motors and gauges. I think transhumanists should aim to refine our emotions, but not to do away with them. (I also think that the idea of a truly sentient AI without emotions is like imagining an automobile without a motor or instruments.)

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 

                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley