Re: Seed AI (was: How hard a Singularity?)

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Mon Jul 01 2002 - 19:59:47 MDT

On Sunday, June 23, 2002, at 03:32 PM, James Higgins wrote:

> Um, I don't know that I completely agree with that. It is possible for
> the degree of empathy a given human has to change over time. Thus I
> would not say that it is hardwired.

Empathy is hard wired in the sense that the potential for empathy to
arise is hard wired. The brain is predisposed to be able to learn to
understand other humans' points of view. Unless your brain is broken
(and some folks' brains are), you have the ability to empathize with
other humans, so then it is only a question of training. Empathy
provides an evolutionary advantage because it allows you to do things
like understand how your enemy thinks so that you can come up with
countermeasures (and your enemy can do the same, so then it becomes a
question of how can out empathize with whom). Empathy also makes
compassion possible.

That said, a mind in general would not by default be predisposed to
empathize. With training, though, I think it would be possible to teach
empathy content and then empathy skills. Shot of that, empathy could
always be programmed in (and in fact empathy may arise in an
self-improving AI out of it's ability to understand itself in order to
improve itself, but that may depend on the specifics of the

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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