RE: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Jan 04 2004 - 16:55:17 MST

Well, in my brief lifetime I've seen biology move from a primarily
qualitative to a substantially quantitative science -- based on improvements
in data gathering technology, coordinated with improvements in computational
data analysis. So, the fact that morality is NOW almost entirely
qualitative doesn't mean to me that it won't become substantially
quantitative one day.

As for the abuses of GAAP --- of course, math can be abused just like
anything else. I don't think quantitative morality will be more severely
abusable than qualitative morality. In most parts of science (and I'm not
saying that morality is a science, though it may become one someday; I'm
just making an analogy), the move to a more quantitative approach has
decreased the amount of bias and abuse, rather than increased it.

As for the Orgasmotron ... although I'm definitely not past the age for such
things, I still don't find the idea all that appealing. There's something
rather nice about the bundling of that sort of pleasure together with the
right kind of human emotional interaction. However, I still think the
Orgasmotron might be very beneficial in its place. For example, living in
the DC area, about once a week I find myself sitting in stopped-up traffic
on the Beltway. I usually spend the time listening to loud music, or
solving AI-related math puzzles in my head, or bashing my head against the
foundations of quantum mechanics. But sometimes the traffic really starts
to get on my nerves -- and at those times, I think that a dashboard-embedded
Orgasmotron might really do the trick ;-D [Not recommended for use while
actually driving however ... although I'd like my car to automatically
trigger the Orgasmotron in case of a collision, so if I have to die, I at
least enjoy the process!]

-- Ben G
  -----Original Message-----
  From: []On Behalf Of Elaine and
  Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2004 6:45 PM
  Subject: Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

Ben G:
<comment snipped to:>
For some of us, expressing thoughts in mathematics is habitual, even in
cases where the tools of math aren't useful for proving anything.... I
assume everyone on this list is skeptic enough to understand that ...

Assumption noted.

Ben G:
I do believe, however, that for superhuman AI's in the future, mathematics
WILL be a useful tool for moral philosophy. It's rarely useful for humans
in this context, simply because our ability to make precise calculations
regarding moral situations is generally very poor (usually due to data
gathering issues more than calculation-related issues).


Given the financial fraud based on "Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles" both in the US and Europe and the fact this was done
using arithmetic ... I hereby invoke previous assumption. ;-)
Also I would say the "data gathering issues" may prove
exceedingly difficult. And even when one can gather the data,
mapping to mathematical structures is going to be another
challenge. One of the distinquishing characteristics
of qualitative data is its resistence to numerical analysis.
I think we can both agree that morality is "qualitative" with
a vengence.

Ben G:

In fact, I can easily envision a future argument between super-smart AI's
regarding the optimal value of some parameter much like my "c" parameter....
Perhaps the outcome of the argument would be an adjustment to the amount of
time the human population gets to spend hooked up to the AI-created


As I am rapidly approaching the age wherein such things do not
have the same *uh* 'urgency' I will leave that to those
having a more *ah* 'interest' in the calculation. :-)


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