Re: AI motivations & Self-rewiring

phil osborn (
Sun, 31 Oct 1999 20:17:04 PST

>From: Robert Owen <>
>Subject: Re: AI motivations & Self-rewiring
>Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 03:20:57 -0500
>phil osborn wrote:
> > >From: "Robert J. Bradbury" <>
> > >Subject: Re: AI motivations & Self-rewiring
> > >Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 20:10:27 -0700 (PDT)
> > >I think incrementally ala the Moravec suggestion of neuron by neuron
> > >functional replacement [inside-out replacement]. I do not see how this
> > >cannot work (given advanced technology) unless there is something very
> > >unusual (magical) about neurons we currently don't understand.
> >
> > What no one here seems to understand is that the "mind" is much more
> > than the wiring. I'm talking about hormones, thousands of different
> > neurotransmitter and modifier substances, all of which are released both
> > generally and in specific areas of the brain and are essential to mental
> > focus, motivation and action. The mind is not a logic engine; it is part
> > of a living system.
>You might be interested, Phil, in "The Neurobiology of Morals" by Charles
>Jennings to provide a test case for the application of your judgments and
>assess whether you still conclude that Robert's (i.e. Moravec's) proposal
>is conceptually inadequate. The online paper features the research of
>Anderson, S.W., Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D. & Damasio, A.R.
>"Impairment of social and moral behavior related to early damage in
>human prefrontal cortex", Nature Neuroscience 2, 1032-1037 (1999).
>I agree that neuron replacement as an exclusive strategy for the con-
>struction of synthetic intelligence ("human mentality" including both
>cognition and conation) is probably insufficient. But Robert's claim that
>neuron replacement is feasible I find reasonable. So do you regard the
>synthesis of neurotransmitter chemistry impossible? The cybernetic
>aspect of e.g. signal control requires the operation of antagonistic
>agents -- is it possible to simulate the control mechanisms which
>regulate the release and re-uptake of, say, serotonin by monoamine
>oxidase chemistry? Or do you think these feedback processes are so
>complex that we simply cannot artificially replicate them?
>There is also in this paper a brief discussion of the relationship
>of prefrontal cortical damage to the etiology of sociopathy.
>At any rate, here is the the URL:

Nice paper. I was already familiar with the cases involved - the guy who had the pipe blasted thru his head - or similar ones from years ago. My suspicion is that the non-digital brain chemistry and its linkage to the "digital" synaptic/nueron processing is so complex, context dependent and learned-feedback dependent - eg., sudden pain connected with current experience overlaid upon a more general emotional state in the context of a particular focus mediated via a set of time dependent motivations - that either replacing via silicon or emulating in software will be prohibitively complex. So maybe the best route is to enhance via chips as needed and possible and work on how to replace and improve the cells as they wear out - better DNA, faster neurotransmitters, smart drugs, etc. Gradual, incremental improvement leading perhaps someday to a completely different, non-biological organism or even an upload into some completely different kind of computer, but not any time soon. Probably SIs will arrive long before we have cracked that one, and in fact may be indispensable to solving it. The problem will be getting them to do it, as they will probably not be conscious at all, but they will be very, very smart machines which will generate their own goals.

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