[ExI] Semiotics and Computability

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 14 09:39:30 UTC 2010

Jeff Davis <jrd1415 at gmail.com> wrote:

> But mostly I was thinking of basic human impulses and
> feelings:
> hunger and the urge to feed, the reproductive impulse,
> acquisitiveness(greed?), the various behaviors arising from
> the
> instinct for survival: fight or flight, fear, anger,
> hatred,
> dominance, submission, anxiety, depression, shock. 
> These things are
> primitive, and certainly pre-date the features of mammalian
> (ie
> higher) brain function.  I view these impulses as the
> foundation AND
> BULK of animal and human behavior, and gut-centered, with
> higher-level
> mental activity a more recent development.  I wonder
> if feelings in
> the gut aren't in fact real -- like pain -- and our
> awareness of them
> just an additional fact, a mental fact.
> So what would consciousness be, what would a mind be
> without this
> foundational context built up over three and a half billion
> years?
> That's why I think the gut (soma) may be critical in
> defining mind.
> But, to be honest with you, I feel way out on a limb here.

I wouldn't argue with this view in principle, but would point out that the contribution of the actual body parts involved (actual gut tissue, muscles, etc.) is likely to be very very small.  What's almost certainly more important is the maps in the brain that represent these body parts, and they could be hooked up to 'fake' body parts that produce the same signals with no loss of, or change in, any mental functions, as long as the fake parts behaved in a manner consistent with the real equivalent (produced hunger signals when blood glucose is low, etc.)

I definitely agree that the lower brain functions, to do with somatic sensing and control and emotional states, are probably a vital component in any attempt to build an artificial mind, and this seems to be largely neglected by the AI community.  Maybe actual sex just isn't as sexy for them as maze-navigation!

Ben Zaiboc


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