RE: Universal ethics

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Nov 28 2004 - 11:37:03 MST

David Clark --

About my essay on patterns and ethics. I don't mean to be rude or arrogant,
but your "rebuttal" displays such a basic lack of understanding of what I
was trying to say that it would take me a couple hours to give a
point-by-point re-rebuttal to your arguments, and I simply don't have the

I am aware that what I wrote was an informal and nonrigorous essay, and is
not optimally tailored to communicate to people with a fundamentally
different intuitive orientation. That sort of writing is really only useful
for communicating with people who already have a certain sympathy for the
author's point of view. To write something to be potentially convincing to
people with opposing points of view would require a lot more time, space and
didacticism. I've done that before on different topics (e.g. the
possibility of AI) but don't have time to do so here.

Some of your criticisms really tell me you're very far from "getting it"
regarding my thinking on pattern ethics. You seem to be badly misled by my
quirks of literary(?) style. For instance, you say (to paraphrase): "You
can't define 'pattern-sympathy' because patterns don't have volition. You
can't say a pattern 'wants' to spread itself because patterns don't have
volition." I thought it was obvious that "pattern-sympathy", in that essay,
was a *defined term*, like energy or force in physics, or like the notion of
sympathetic resonance in physics. And I thought it was obvious I was using
the term "wants" there in an informal sense, as in the common phrase
"Information wants to be free." While I believe that every pattern has an
element of awareness to it, I don't believe that all patterns have volition;
I've articulated a quite detailed theory of the dynamics of volition

I can see that the use of an informal style can lead to communicational
confusion even where there is no idea-confusion, which is why some
philosophers like Kant and Hegel opted for an extremely formal, precise and
controlled use of language, and why some modern philosophers turned to
formal logic. But I'm not willing to take the time right now to spell out
my ideas on these topics with that kind of precision, because I have other
priorities. So for the moment, I guess these particular ideas of mine will
be successfully transmitted only to the relatively-like-minded.

Regarding your comments about AI, I fully agree with your statement that

The path to intelligence will not happen on it's own. It will only happen if
we make it happen. No amount of processing regardless of how smart the
algorithms are, will unlock the secret of intelligence without injecting
vast amounts of information and using a multitude of different techniques.
This has been proven (at least to some degree) by the failure of all the AI
projects to date.

As described in my various writings on AI, I am pursuing an approach
involving integration of different techniques, and involving getting
information into the AI system via a combination of linguistic, perceptual,
and explicit-knowledge-encoding methods.

Who's your daddy indeed!!! (apologies for non-Americans for the "obscure"
reference ;-)

-- Ben Goertzel

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of David
> Clark
> Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 5:02 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Universal ethics
> I read Ben's paper on "Universal Ethics" and I made a number of notes.
> My rebutal paper can be found at
> -- David Clark

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