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

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Tue Jan 06 2004 - 21:49:40 MST

I agree that removing physical sources of negative qualia would be a good
idea. Please, take headaches and upset stomachs away!!!

However, removing *emotional* sources of negative qualia seems more
questionable... I'm afraid that would end up removing too much of the
valuable richness of human emotional life.... For instance -- Don't take
woman-troubles away, I'm worried they're too bound up with the joys of

-- Ben G

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of
> Metaqualia
> Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2004 11:24 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: c * (positive qualia -negative qualia) + (1-c)* (total
> complexity of pattern)
> > 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
> also
> > 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.
> mq

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