X-Message-Number: 12682
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: why discuss feelings and goals?
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 22:58:41 +1100 (EST)

Hi Kennita!

You ask a decent question and here is my answer.

The original discussion had to do with whether intelligence alone would be
sufficient for a collection of robots or computers to take over the world
from human beings. This came out of comments I made about a book in which
something close to that happened: the author apparently assumed that
because we can (theoretically) make machines more intelligent than human
beings, we human beings will either become such machines or disappear due
to their competition. I argued that without their own goals or feelings,
intelligent machines are simply tools for us to use and had no more
likelihood of independently taking over the world than any other device
we've made.

Why is this important to us? Because several writers, with reputations
in computing, have come out with similar books, arguing that computers
will take over. I doubted this and still doubt it, not because I think
that we could not make independent creatures more intelligent than us,
but because we're very unlikely to do so --- and as tools these highly
intelligent computers would certainly be useful.

I was discussing the kind of future we may find ourselves in if and when
we awaken from suspension. Are we going to find out that we're so 
totally obsolete that our life will become worthless?

You may decide that this discussion isn't necessary, but others may not.
The question it raises is that of just what the worlds in our future
will be like ... and for some, such worlds may be so disagreeable that
they choose not to continue living. (I'll bet you've heard other versions
of this notion elsewhere, too). As you can guess, I think this is just 
another antifuturist nightmare.

In any case, that's how this discussion began.

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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