Re: Value of Objective vs. Value of Subjective

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Mar 13 2008 - 23:55:39 MDT

Norm writes

> Lee Corbin wrote
>> Beyond the simple claim that it exists (which is true),
>> what intellectual good has ever come from discussing
>> subjective experiences?
> This is an excellent question and it raises an important point.
> Typically, questions in the realm of objectivity can be addressed by
> science, while those in the subjective realm are the province of philosophy
> and religion. However, the very concept of "Friendly AI" places us in a
> strange realm where these two perspectives overlap in a relevant way. The
> notions of friendliness, ethics, morality, empathy, and the like, have both
> objective and subjective aspects to them. My personal morality is not based
> strictly on evolutionary psychology or cultural programming, but in part on
> deep reflection about subjective experience and the assumption that other
> humans experience the same.

That seems eminently reasonable to me.

> I suppose my morality boils down to recognizing that my actions can impact
> other people's subjective experience and taking responsibility for that knowledge.

Yes. For example, if you found out that a certain acquaintance of yours
was really just being "played" by a vast and cool and unsympathetic
intelligence who studies us all under a microscope, then you wouldn't
act to save your acquaintance from physical harm as soon as you'd
act to save a poodle. Yeah, if I found out that someone was just a
simulation of a person (as opposed to *emulation*) then I'd be much
more callous about what happened to him, (or in truth, the empty
shell whose strings were being pulled by someone who wouldn't
suffer when he appeared to be in pain).

> In this sense, at least for me, subjective experience is directly relevant
> to morality and friendliness, and these issues are the whole point of this
> discussion group.

What I don't understand is why these things can't be discussed in
objective terms? Frankly, that's what most people here, it seems
to me, are wont to do. Just how much more can you say about
subjective experience beyond

1. we think that all of us have it
2. it probably is a necessary consequence of
    the way animal brains work,
3. that almost surely an AI (friendly or not) would
    have one, and
4. we non-sociopaths don't want harm to come to
    creatures that have them?



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