X-Message-Number: 12691
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 17:14:54 -0500
From: Daniel Crevier <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #12667 - #12675
References: <>

To Thomas Donaldson, who asked:

> So just what is the relation between AI and consciousness? Or AI and
> feeling, for that matter?

I guess the relationship is that feelings and sensations can be
viewed as cognitive mechanisms. As Marvin Minsky once put it to me: 
"Pain is what pushes the 'down' button of your goal elevator!" 
More generally, feelings and sensations are drives that force us, and
animals, to orient our behavior in order to enhance survival.

For this reason I beg to differ when you
> see no reason why we could not make a machine which 
> by all OBJECTIVE tests would be very intelligent ie. pass all our
> IQ tests, but remain quite unconscious and without either feeling or
> goals.

One reason why we can't has to do with task control: you can't
do anything that passes for intelligent unless it's part of an
organized strategy aimed at satisfying some complexly structured *goal*.

For example a machine trying to pass
the Turing test would have as a primary goal that of masquerading 
as a human, which entails supplying a believable answer to the last
question asked, which requires in turn many things, such as
grammatical and semantic analysis of the question, relating the
concepts involved to the machine's knowledge of the world and people,
and so on. Each one of these subtasks would become a goal in itself.

So the machine would need goals. What about feelings? Well, if the ma-
chine is driven to achieve its goals, and they wouldn't be goals 
unless it were so driven, then this "drive" can provide the basis for
feelings. Happiness is when you meet all your goals, and unhappiness
is when you don't meet any.

The more complex the goal structure, the more intricate and
possibly conflicting would the feelings be. Indeed, for the machine 
above, meeting all of the goals I've listed may conflict with the goal
to come up with an answer fast enough. In a crunch, the machine may 
reluctantly sacrifice answer quality in favor of time. This unease
may be characterized as 'anxiety'.

Daniel Crevier

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