RE: c * (positive qualia -negative qualia) + (1-c)* (total complexity of pattern)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 14:28:41 MST

I agree it's probably true that "more complex brains experience more
intense/bigger qualia"

However, making statements like this rigorous is gonna be mighty tough, as
qualia and brains reside in different "orders of being", so to speak...
(I've posted on this notion before.)

And let's compare

a) Curzio permanently hooked up to the Orgasmotron machine
b) Curzio in his current configuration and environment

Which Curzio has bigger/more-intense qualia? No doubt Curzio_a is less
complex, in terms of enacted brain-complexity (if not "potential
complexity", i.e. he might return to something resembling his old self if
the Orgasmotron were shut off and hidden from him).

I agree this is the right direction in which to think, if one seeks a real
advance in moral thought beyond the classical approaches. But there's a
loooooooong way to go, as I guess we all know...

-- Ben

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of
> Metaqualia
> Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2004 3:30 PM
> To:
> Subject: c * (positive qualia -negative qualia) + (1-c)* (total
> complexity of pattern)
> > c * (positive qualia -negative qualia) + (1-c)* (total complexity of
> > pattern)
> This is exactly where my theory leads in the real world, in which you will
> inevitably produce both negative and positive qualia whenever you move a
> finger.
> About pattern complexity: unfortunately there is no way to test the
> assumption behind your equation (although intuitively I think it's right),
> namely, that more complex beings experience more powerful qualia. Since
> qualia are created by the brain, it would be reasonable to
> believe that more
> brains = more qualia. However, it is possible that when we know what
> mechanisms do create qualia, we will discover they are present in most or
> all animals with a nervous system or that they do not require very complex
> cognitive architectures or that they don't scale proportionally with brain
> size. Since the strongest qualia are associated with very low-level
> low-information responses (cutting off a limb, orgasms, fear) we may just
> find that starfish are the most sensitive creatures in the known universe.
> On the other hand, if you look at other physical phenomena, most
> of them are
> scalable with the size of the object. Gravity scales well with mass,
> magnetic fields etc. all scale well, you don't find many effects
> in the real
> world that are independent of the scale of the cause (of course one could
> name some exceptions such as nuclear reactions where obviously stuff is
> quantized).
> So while my intuition is that qualia should scale with brain
> size, I am not
> sure of it, and it could very well depend on specific
> architectures. So the
> conservative thing to do for now is look at how a being responds to a
> stimulus, and the stronger the response, the more intense the sensation it
> is probably experiencing.
> Another thorny issue is the positive qualia vs. negative qualia one.
> Although they are opposite you can't really trade one for the
> other. Things
> get more complicated when you have more than one individual
> involved. Is it
> right to cut A's finger so that B's arm remains intact?
> We need a quick fix until we get enough technology to preserve both the
> finger and the arm, and then we'll be problem free.
> My quick fix is:
> -Prioritize larger brain beings (us) only when a trade off between our
> finger/their paw is absolutely necessary (kill the bear before it
> eats you,
> but then you shouldn't have been there in the first place)
> -Great amounts of negative qualia inflicted to lower beings for sake of
> higher beings' positive qualia are immoral (no more frying of
> live animals)
> -Small amounts of negative qualia inflicted to same or lower
> beings for sake
> of same or higher beings' great amounts of positive qualia are justifiable
> (take 1 billion $ away from bill gates and divide it up among the starving
> african tribes)
> -Moral imperative to create the technology that will make this quick fix
> obsolete.
> You will notice that "great" and "small" are not objective terms, are they
> are not meant to be because this is a quick fix and not the definition of
> morality. Possibly, defining "perfect objective morality" is easier than
> defining the arrow of morality. Perfect morality is when you have
> 0 negative
> qualia in the universe and a lot of positive qualia.
> I still don't know if this can be 100% objective but it satisfies me to at
> least 90% and it's a lot better than current moral theories as far as I
> know.
> mq

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