Re: [SL4] AI Ethics & Banning the Future.

From: Marc Forrester (
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 14:01:00 MST

From: Marc Forrester <>

Patrick McCuller: Saturday 19-Feb-00
> I extrapolated assuming a first generation strong AI in 2010.
> I believe typical estimates of available processing power per
> cost unit still roughly follow Moore's law through 2010
> (give an order of magnitude to be safe.)

Moore's law is the rate at which computers advance in the absence of major
paradigm shifts, such as replacing valves with transistors, or integrating
transistors into microcircuit chips. The next shift will be from single
central processing units to massive parallel-processing on one chip,
the question is wether this happens before the arrival of strong AI,
or after it. I think the global entertainment industry has the
resources to make it before. Call it a 50/50 chance.

You never know when the transistor will suddenly be replaced, either.
Moore's law tells us what -minimum- rate of progress we should expect and
plan for if things are conservative and status quo. I wouldn't bet on the
future not turning out to be even faster than that, though.

>>> Though I gather 'emulating' isn't exactly the right word.
>> That would be upload, wouldn't it? How about 'imitating'?
> How about 'synthetic', or 'synthesizing'?

It's a question of wether it actually proves to be a kind of cat,
artficial, synthetic, robo- or whatever, or is a completely new
kind of creature with some similarities on a superficial level.

How about 'para-something'? In the sense that paraphrase
is to mean the same thing using different language..
This might be a creature that acts the same way as
a cat using different thoughts.

> Who's to say an AI won't have a hundred
> million generations of descendants?

Well, therein lies the singularity stuff. For that to happen, the
generations need a world millions of times faster than our physical
one to grow up in, and our technology is nowhere near being able to
provide such things. Theirs could be, but if it is they hardly
need worry about oppression from the likes of us. :)

> What is pain, anyway?

Pain is any sensory qualia that induces a feeling of suffering.

Suffering is something else entirely, and it is quite seperate.
Minds can suffer without pain, (Although human minds tend to
experience hallucinatory pain as a result of such suffering,
another result of our long and messy evolution) and they can
experience pain without suffering.

Pain, as the mechanism through which a creature suffers as a
direct result of injury, is not necessary, and may be discarded,
if physical injury is nothing more than an inconvenience.
I believe that it is through inflicting physical pain that
most of the primitive and thoughtless people we are worrying
about would seek to torment animal level AI toys for kicks.

> The best treatment I've read on machines & pain is Dennett's
> 'Why You Can't Build a Computer That Feels Pain', which can be
> found in 'BrainStorms'. Interestingly, the essay's title isn't
> a good indicator of his conclusions.

It seems that this god-play may lead us to find answers to the
ancient theological question of suffering. (Not that we claim to
be omnibenevolent, of course.) It may well prove to be necessary
for an intelligent mind to suffer, in order that it might have
desires. Or it may prove possible to create minds that never
suffer, but are simply more euphoric at some times than others.

I would guess that the latter is psychically possible,
but vanishingly unlikely to arise naturally from a
process of unguided evolution.

> Philosophy aside, intentionally damaging an AI's
> cognitive processes would constitute torture.

That doesn't sound right.. If someone opened up my brain and
intentionally damaged my cognitive processes I'd certaily call
that grevious assault, but torture? That would apply more to
the physical process of sawing my head open. Then again, if I
was aware of the whole thing I doubt I'd be comfortable with
the experience whatever the physical pain involved.

Perhaps torture is the act of forcing an experience on a creature
against its will, with the intent to cause suffering. That way it
doesn't matter what pain and suffering actually mean from the
victim's pespective, it is the intent to cause it that makes
the act one of torture.

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