RE: There is No Altruism

Date: Thu Mar 24 2005 - 11:52:37 MST

On Thu, 24 Mar 2005, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> I believe you.
> However, some feel differently. I know several individuals, each of whom
> *would* trade their lives in order to save 10 random strangers with whom
> they have minimal genetic relatedness -- an action that would go against the
> interest of their selfish genome as well as their selfish organism.

People have only scratched the surface of the "selfish gene"
idea. Looking only at the first level of implications. Does a "selfish
gene" work only to copy those which are exact base pair for base
pair copies of itself? Or does it work to copy those similar to itself?
For example the four color genes of the human eye (red,green,blue,night
vision green), they are all very similar. A "selfish gene" might do well
to support the copying of many variations of itself, as diversity of forms
will tend to insure its survival, over a single form. Diversity of genetic
variations is so important that we have sex, instead of cloning for all
higher life forms, and many lower.

> You could argue this isn't "true altruism" because their goal may be
> personal satisfaction or personal ego-boosting or something, rather than
> "pure altruism" -- but I don't tend to find such arguments very meaningful.
> As far as I'm concerned, this is an example of genuine altruism, and it's
> not explained via the neo-Darwinist orthodoxy very well. It's explained by
> the variant of evolutionary theory that emphasizes self-organization and
> dynamical attractors.

It comes out of Darwinism is you look at it closely. Survival of the
fittest simply has to look beyond the individual organism, and the
individual variant of a gene. Its a very very complex equation.

> Altruism (in the sense I'm using it here) is a psychological attractor, and
> the quasi-altruism that the selfish genome promotes has pushed some human
> brains toward that attractor. Guiding AGI's into this psychological
> attractor will be an important topic in AGI psychology...

The psychological attractor is there because evolution built it in.
Altruism is selected for ultimately, and its not always 'nice', it also
means altruistically fighting off parasites, for example people in games
will tend to punish cheaters even if its not to there direct benefit to do

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