Re: AI and survival instinct.

From: Carlo Wood (
Date: Mon Apr 01 2002 - 20:17:22 MST

On Mon, Apr 01, 2002 at 09:28:33PM -0500, Gordon Worley wrote:
> I'll note that even if what we call the mind in humans decides it
> doesn't care whether it lives or dies, the brain is hardcoded to want to
> stay alive).

The reasons that it is so hard for a human to take
their own life are:

1) religion : fear that the action will cause an eternity
   that is worse than the eternity that would follow a
   normal death. Even when one considers the chance that
   God exists to be very small, or the act of suicide to have
   a negative effect on life after death; the time scale of
   eternity out weights it.
2) the irreversibility : after killing oneself, one is very
   certain about the results for ones own emotional state:
   no feelings at all.
   However, as long as one doesn't take ones life there is
   always the small chance that one will ever live to feel
   something positive again, to be happy again (becoming happy
   THE Goal of Life *). In terms of goals: you will not reach
   ANY other goal but end the feelings of misery, while by
   staying alive you might reach any other arbitrary goal
   (how ever small the chance to reach it might be).
   Therefore, at any point one might seriously consider
   suicide an option but will always take any opportunity
   to prolong ones life.

So unless you mean with 'hard coded' the fact that a humans brain
is goal driven and the goal is set to becoming happy, I would
still consider it the act of pure reason not to commit suicide.

Carlo Wood <>
PS *) Note that I state that *becoming* happy is the Goal of Life
   rather than BEING happy.  The reason for that is that with
   'Goal of Life' I literally mean the reason to STAY alive.
   In other words: even when one is unhappy, but there is still
   a chance that one will become happy in the future, then there
   is a reason to stay alive.  Any life is worth being lived
   as long as there is yet one more moment of happiness to come.
   The above is something I figured out myself (when I was around
   22?), but it might not be complete - I intend to study Eliezers
   FAQ about the Meaning of Life more closely in regard of this
   because it undoubtly cannot be ignored ;).
PS2 I have been suicidal several times in the past, so I have
   first hand experienced how hard it is to take ones life, and
   why I didn't do it.  And of course, why I shouldn't do it ;).
   One of the traps in life is allowing negative emotions to
   become a state of mind (resulting in chronic depressions).
   This is undoubtly a failure in how the human brain works:
   you always want immedeate results - it is very hard to do
   something that doesn't have immedeate results, or even makes
   things worse at first - even when you know that it is for
   the better on the long run.

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