morality and AIs (was RE: the 69 of us)

From: Michael LaTorra (
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 10:00:36 MST

A couple of things James mentioned are topics I've been contemplating and
doing a little writing on. (I'll post a draft to the list as soon as I'm
reasonably happy with it.) Specifically, from what James mentioned, I'm
interested in our discussing:

1) "... if a programmed moral sense, that people agreed was moral, might not
neatly tidy up some centuries-old arguments."

2) "... second-guessing post-singularity AIs."

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Quoting James again " philosophy is often outdistanced
by science." Until we have AIs of human-and-above intelligence, all we can
do is philosophize about them. We cannot know in advance which of our ideas
about them will prove true (if any). But I deem it wise to put forth all of
the possibilities we can imagine if only to reduce the number of surprises
that lay in store. In fact, I think the biggest potential surprise with AIs
would be if there were no surprises!


Michael LaTorra

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of
Christopher Barton
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2000 6:08 AM
Subject: Re: the 69 of us

I did Physics & Philosophy as an undergrad, and can confidently assert that
I understand neither.
I am not a hardware guy, and everything between solid-state physics and
assembler programming leaves me cold :-(
I'm doing a Computer Science postgrad course, so I will be a software guy

Although I'm fascinated by software techniques to create intelligence, the
real reason I'm lurking on this list is to see if anyone has answers to the
philosophical questions involved.

philosophy is often outdistanced by science , [e.g. argument from design
loses out to evolution (IMHO)] or transformed in to it [e.g. Astronomy,
Physics, Chemistry &c.]
So I'm wondering, for instance, if a programmed moral sense, that people
agreed was moral, might not neatly tidy up some centuries-old arguments.

My current big interests are information theory, cryptography, and SGML. The
meeting ground between [artificial distinction ahead] human information and
computer information, I suppose. If anyone has any ideas for a relevant
dissertation topic, please let me know.
Oh, I also enjoy second-guessing post-singularity AIs :-)


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