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

From: Metaqualia (
Date: Tue Jan 06 2004 - 09:24:17 MST

> You can't separate the issue of the intensity of negative qualia from the
> issue of the intensity of positive qualia.

I wasn't trying to do that but to separate two different issues: the issue
of the moral desirability of getting rid of negative qualia with the issue
of moral desirability of maximizing positive qualia by whatever means
(orgasmium). Because the first is more urgent and less controversial.

> Eliminating negative qualia, at least in the context of human psychology,
> would eliminate positive qualia as well. The extent to which this will
> be true for AI's is an interesting question. There's no doubt that
> philosophy like Nietzsche's, while deep and penetrating, is to an extent a
> direct reflection of aspects of human psychology.

>From a humanistic perspective you are quite right, but I am talking in
strictly physical terms.

There has got to be some mechanism, a phenomenon, that is associated with
negative and positive qualia. To make everything nicer, you remove the
physical cause which generates negative emotions. No shrink can do it
obviously, because the brain was designed to work with this regulatory
mechanism called suffering firmly in place, and we grew up with suffering
playing an important part of our lives. So I see how your argument could
refuse a "let's make the perfect society" kind of proposal, but I don't
believe what you mentioned precludes the possibility of eliminating the
physical cause of negative qualia.

An example: I know that when windows crashes I have a problem. I solve that
problem logically without experiencing negative qualia (until I think of
bill making money out of it). But take my foot. I can imagine experiencing
no pain, and know consciously that there is a fracture. I would then behave
rationally, avoid putting my weight on it, and seek medical assistance. On
the other hand you could preserve the sensation of soft, warm, etc. so your
pink fluffy slippers still feel good.

Feeling that you have a fracture and feeling that you are wearing slippers
are very different qualia; the fact that different circumstances can trigger
them selectively indicates they can occur without the other one ever
occurring. Indeed, I was able to appreciate fluffy slippers before I ever
had a foot fracture. In the same way I suppose it could be possible for
people to experience health without being sick, experience friendship
without ever experiencing hate, and so forth. Common objection: but then we
won't know how valuable these things are because we will take them for
granted! Reply: great, I'm perfectly ok with not knowing what it is like to
live without a leg, and go on underappreciating the fact I have two. :)

Of course I don't know anything about negative qualia except they suck so I
can't say for sure it is physically doable to remove them once you have a
goal system subject to negative reinforcement and a decently complex
self-centric simulation attached to it; but, if it can be done, I maintain
that it should be done and this should be the arrow of morality.


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