Re: Emotion Selection

Anders Sandberg (
03 Jul 1999 22:39:52 +0200

KPJ <> writes:

> 0. If I can replace the emotion FEAR with a "WARNING: DANGER" function which
> works as fast (=at a low level) as FEAR does, then I would replace it. I
> regard any person irresponsible who simply removes FEAR without replacing
> it with some other safeguard.

The question is then if this improved fear isn't just fear. The valence of an experience such as pain can be changed through mental discipline; maybe it is better to change the valence of fear rather than removing the emotion (given the problems people with Kluver-Bucy amygdala damage have just due to their fearfulness, it seems to be a good idea).

Having a rousing emotion for dangerous situations is useful. The problem is that we just have a general purpose fear that is best tuned for physical danger. I think we might have more use with developing two more kinds of fear-reactions, one for social dangers and one for purely rational dangers, without all the body reactions that distract us.

> I have no use for ANXIETY, and would remove it.

Anxiety is a constant low-level fear reaction, and usually not useful. It might be a good thing if you are hiding in the jungle from something, since it places you in a constant readiness mode with high I/O, but in most modern situations it is just pathological.

> 1. I did not know that humans sort LONELINESS into the EMOTIONS cathegory.
> I believed they defined LONELINESS as the property of a person who belongs
> to a set consisting of only that person. What kind of EMOTION would you
> suggest such a person senses?

Most people seem to experience a negative emotion they call loneliness when they feel they lack emotional ties with other humans around them or are in a situation where they are far from other humans. A quite natural reaction for pack animals. I think you have evolved away from it a bit, KPJ (as for myself, I seem to experience it far less than most humans - I must be a half-vulcanite :-).

> 4. I would also remove various irrational emotions, such as envy and jealosy.

I think it is important to make a distinction between the desire for having something good that somebody else possess and the desire to remove the thing from his possession. The first state can be stimulating to achieve more ("KPJ has a wearable! Great idea! I must get one too!"), but in zero-sum situations it easily leads to the second, destructive state. So we better refine envy and make sure the world is positive-sum.

(Hmm, what are the proper english words for these two states? In Swedish it is likely "avund" and "missunsamhet" - trust the Swedes to have subtle nuances for envy :-)

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