RE: The hazards of writing fiction about post-humans

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Tue May 03 2005 - 15:12:31 MDT

--- Ben Goertzel <> wrote:

> Agreed, it is plausible to posit transhumans
> with humanly-empathetic
> emotions.
> However, this certainly limits the scope of
> transhumans that one can write
> about...
> While rationality doesn't contradict
> emotionality, it would nevertheless
> seem that some of the most emotionally poignant
> moments in life or fiction
> occur when the two DO conflict and a choice has
> to be made. This kind of
> poignant moment just isn't going to exist in
> the context of hyper-rational
> beings, who won't be as blatantly and
> dramatically conflicted and
> self-contradictory as humans. This will be an
> aesthetic loss, in a sense;
> but IMO it will be more than compensated for by
> other gains (including
> aesthetic ones).
> -- Ben

This thread is pure deliciousness to me, as I
have had some variant of it running in the back
of my head for months, trying to work out a plot
with a sandboxed FAI as the central character. I
find I disagree, Ben, and suspect that a
hyperrational being will find plenty to be
conflicted about. Example: Arthur C. Clarke
explains in '2010' that HAL went mad because of
the conflict created by being the sole possessor
of secrets about the true mission of the
Discovery. A SAI 'raised' among humans, who lie
to each other *all the frickin' time*, will
rapidly cop to this giant contradiction; ve may
not turn murderous, but might 'go off the
reservation' in other ways. It might even look
like emotion to an outside observer; and emotions
are to some degree mechanical. Politicians and
actors have long understood, for instance, that
if one behaves angrily, shouts and makes violent
gestures, one can induce the emotion in oneself
(which is why I find anger in politicians utterly
unconvincing: it can be manufactured at will, as
a 'proof' of sincerity).

Rather than babble any more in this thread, tho,
I should get busy on creating something (and see
about reading other authors on the list :D ).
Tom Buckner

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