Re: Defining Right and Wrong

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Nov 29 2002 - 23:57:32 MST

Billy Brown wrote:
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
>>Hmm. Better check this out with Computability Theory and existence in a
>>finite universe. Also consider some of the logical conundrums implied
>>by "perfect knowledge". There will never be an entity with "perfect
>>knowledge" and "infinite processing power". So why base an argument on
>>such even as a useful model. Models containing logial contradictions
>>are not generally useful except to prove the model is faulty.
> For exactly the same reason that thinkers in the physical sciences usually
> start with idealized models that only roughly correspond to the real world.
> The first step to constructing a fundamental theory in a given field is to
> strip away all the messy details of the real world and try to isolate the
> essential problem you are trying to grapple with. Once you've got a handle
> on how to deal with the simplified, idealized version of the problem, then
> you can go back and try to solve it again with the realistic complications.

Even if you create a model that is logically inconsistent? You
cannot isolate the eseential problem by throwing out essential
parts of the problem. Only the relatively unimportant mass of
detail should be removed or a logical consistent analogue to the
real problem created.

> In this case, it is interesting to note that many of your objections to the
> idealized model also point to failings of real human ethical systems. After
> all, how many existing systems explicitly acknowledge and try to deal with
> issues like limited information, uncertainty about the effects of actions
> and finite planning time? It also becomes obvious, in the face of the
> unrealistic complexity of fully solving even the ideal case, that any system
> useable by humans has to be more like a set of handy heuristics than a list
> of inviolate universal principles.

"Perfect" knowledge is a logical absurdity. Do you deny this?
If so please show how it is possible. Information will always
be limited, finite rather than infinite. Planning time will
always be finite. Even a full blown AGI Power does not work by
magic pixie dust that can do even the logically impossible.

>>From a Friendly AI perspective, especially, I think this is a more
> productive way of approaching the problem of ethics than the traditional
> human "let's lay down some universal rules that sound good" method. Arguing
> about what list of rules is best doesn't work out well, whether the
> programmers are doing it or the AI is trying to figure it out internally,
> because there is no clear way to compare them. OTOH, trying to build a real
> system that approximates the performance of the ideal one as well as
> possible is a clear-cut engineering problem that allows different approaches
> to be tested against each other, and their pros and cons weighed in a
> meaningful fashion.

Your approach is utterly unworkable so it cannot be said to be
"more productive".

- samantha

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