[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed Feb 1 19:08:15 UTC 2012


On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 9:57 AM, The Avantguardian
<avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com>
>> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>> Cc:
>> Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 4:10 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment
>>
>> On Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 6:55 PM, Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I also wonder about the essential parts of emotional reaction to
>>> situations.  If during a depression one decides to selectively edit /
>>> remove the ability to feel depressed (seems like a good idea, right?)
>>> then later realizes that the creative introspection that came with the
>>> depressed state is also no longer accessible, what is lost?
>
> I think the answer is implicit in your question. The fact you are "removing" it instead of adding it, tells you the operation is a loss of functionality. So whatever your emotional state is after the operation, it is guaranteed to be less complex with less information than before.
>

Excellent point! From an information POV, this is pretty hard to
argue. Of course, greater complexity does not always mean better. Most
of the animals on this planet are just complex enough to manage their
niche. Only Sapiens seems to have hyperevolved out of a single niche
(unless you consider the entire inhabitable region of the planet to be
our niche).

>> I have found myself often wondering what is the cost to humanity of
>> losing out on human suffering. The mainstream Christian view of heaven
>> seems horribly boring to me, because without suffering, how can there
>> be meaning? Where would literature, art, music and poetry be without
>> the depressing side of those arts? I imagine that the music in heaven
>> is horribly boring. No Nine Inch Nails or Tori Amos there baby... and
>> what a loss.
>
> I think it might go beyond mere considerations of "humanity" and the loss
> thereof. Every sentience suffers. As biologist, I recognize it in the face of
> everything with a face. Even the greatest intellect primitive minds could
> imagine i.e. *God* suffers. Numerous times in the Bible he is described as
> heartbroken, sad, jealous, angry, vengeful, or otherwise emotionally upset.

And not just Jehovah, but also Zeus, Odin and the rest of the
anthropomorphic gang.

> Thus I think even M Branes would feel the pangs of unrequited love or they would
> no longer qualify as minds. This is because intelligence is inherently goal-seeking.

Is emotional intelligence required for goal-seeking? Probably not. Is
it preferable? In my mind, yes.

> Whether your goals are simple "find water" or complex "get elected to
> parliament", the disparity between ones perceived environment and
> ones desired environment produces emotional states as readouts that
> have function of motivating one to either goal-tend or goal-seek.

Yes.

> Just imagine if you would, that Satan grants you one wish. Not wishing to do the Devil's work for him and in a well-intentioned attempt to trick the Devil into doing good, you say, "End world hunger." Satan waves his magic wand and dissappears. Two weeks later people all over the world start contentedly dying from starvation, not having eaten once since you made your wish.
>

All of these devil and genie stories have this nugget of truth... be
careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

>> So what is lost if we reach a state of paradise on earth? Everything.
>
> Not if you reached a human paradise. Forget dreams of platonic perfection. That with the capacity to evolve is far preferable to perfection for that which is perfect is, by definition, finished. Find a way to live so that both you and your neighbor can both be happy.
>

To my way of thinking "human paradise" is an oxymoron. I don't think
there ever will be a way for all neighbors to get along. It's just
against the laws of physics. There will always be competition and
friction. We can get out of it for a while by developing energy
sources faster than our population grows, but eventually, we'll run
short of energy (in it's various forms).

>> Now, that doesn't mean things can't get better. When I think of the
>> sorts of negative life experiences my great ... great grandparents
>> suffered through, I can't compare that to "I lost all the songs on my
>> MP3 player"... but the emotion is the same. So in the future, humans
>> may complain about things that seem pretty inconsequential to us now
>> (the peppermint scent emitting E Coli in my gut died, and now I have
>> smelly farts) but the emotions will be the same for them. But get rid
>> of the negative emotions altogether, and you really do have something
>> that in a real way is inhuman.
>
> Not just inhuman, but mindless as well. And you don't need to directly edit
> your emotions for this. You simply have to give in to apathy. I remember
> once back when I was living in Los Angeles, one my car's starter died in
> a convenience store parking lot. I called my auto-club to get it towed to
> my mechanic. The clerk of the convenience store called a different tow
> company to come and impound the car for being parked in his lot long
> after the posted 10 minutes.
>
> So it became a race between my tow truck and the clerk's tow truck.
> Needless to say, his tow truck arrived first. I tried to dissuade the tow
> truck driver from towing my vehicle by  explaining my situation to him,
> that my tow truck was on its way. I even offered to pay *him* to take me
> to my mechanic and he refused all of this. Like a mindless robot doing his job.
>
> Then my only recourse  was inspired by Arthur Dent. I simply sat down
> in front of my car so that he would have back his truck over my body to
> tow my car. Apparently, the realization he would have to commit murder
> in order to "do his job" finally snapped him out his robot-trance. After this,
> he started to talk to me, tried to help me get my car started, and generally
> kept me company until the auto-club arrived to take my car to the garage.

I'm with Richard Dawkins on this one... I miss Douglas Adams too.

>> The most dangerous emotion to get rid of might be disgust. It is one
>> of the most universal of emotions, and it is present in infants. It's
>> hard wired. Without disgust, you would be like a leper, unable to keep
>> any sort of basis for ethical thought. We are disgusted when someone
>> steals from us, murders, rapes, etc. Without disgust, there would be
>> no impetus to justice, and I fear then that we would lose a hell of a
>> lot more than just the good art.
>
> It would be ill-advised to lose any emotion as you would lose
> complexity and intelligence as well. Instead, you should seek to
> develop new emotions, ones that don't yet have names.

Yes, that will be nice, won't it?

-Kelly



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