Re: Affective computing: Candy bars for the soul

From: Tyrone Pow (
Date: Sat Dec 13 2003 - 13:29:58 MST

Double whammy. While men are instigating some very potent emotional
jealousy from their wives, they'll meanwhile drift toward an emotional
detachment from them.

I feel sorry for the woman of 2015.

Tyrone Pow

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
Subject: Affective computing: Candy bars for the soul

> Wired has recently run an article on "affective computing" (which, please
> note, is not even remotely related to FAI) about detecting and simulating
> emotions. The article is about a chatbot named Laura, designed to
> encourage its user to stick to an exercise program.
> One particular quote in this article interests me, because I've been
> expecting it, but not so early:
> > Everybody should have someone like Laura in their lives. I find myself
> > looking forward to our time together. She asks me which movies I've
> > seen, what my favorite cuisine is, and about the weather "out there." I
> > tell her it's terrific. She responds: "It's always the same in here.
> > Day in, day out."
> You know how sometimes people look back in history, and point to some
> small thing like, oh, say, the early Mosaic web browser, and go on about
> the unpredictability of the future and how nobody at the time could
> possibly have recognized the coming impact from such a small hint?
> Watch this space for further developments. This is an incredibly early
> form of the technology and I don't expect problems for at least a decade,
> but when it hits it will hit hard.
> This has nothing to do with AI; it's about programs with incredibly
> realistic graphics and means for recognizing emotions in their targets,
> being able to deploy apparent behaviors that act as superstimuli for human
> emotional responses. Think of chocolate chip cookies for emotions.
> Chocolate chip cookies are a more powerful stimulus than hunter-gatherer
> tastebuds ever encounter, combining sugar, fat, and salt in greater
> quantity and purer quality. And likewise there's a limit to the sympathy,
> support, approval, and admiration humans can expect from their human
> mates. As any evolutionary theorist knows, a human male is not designed
> as the human female's ideal boyfriend, nor vice versa.
> Candy bars for the soul. It's not that all synthetic foods are bad. A
> polymath dietician, anthropologist, evolutionary theorist, and metabolic
> biologist - that is to say, a *good* paleodiet theorist - can take a shot
> at crafting synthetic foods that are good for you. But it takes so much
> more knowledge to do it right... and the side effects of the things that
> "just taste good" are negative, complicated, very hard to understand,
> unforeseen in advance. People at large understand the one *obvious* side
> effect once they've seen it: People bloating up like balloons. But also
> losing insulin sensitivity, and a lot of other problems that aren't
> visible to the naked eye.
> At the very least it would take far greater skill, wisdom, knowledge to
> craft a Laura that made people stronger instead of weaker. How many
> decades did it take to go from candy bars to health food bars? Which is
> cheaper? Which is more popular? And worst of all, which tastes better?
> I could be surprised, but what Laura presages is probably NOT a good
> thing. Transhumanism needs to lose the optimism about outcomes. Nobody
> is taking into account the fact that problems are hard and humans are
> stupid. Watch this space for serious developments in some unknown amount
> of time, my wild guess being a decade, and quite possibly nothing
> happening if "faking it well" turns out to be AI-complete.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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