RE: Paperclip monster, demise of.

From: Mitchell Porter (
Date: Wed Aug 17 2005 - 19:16:56 MDT

Richard Loosemore:

>Nobody can posit things like general intelligence in a paperclip monster
>(because it really needs that if it is to be effective and dangerous), and
>then at the same time pretend that for some reason it never gets around to
>thinking about the motivational issues that I have been raising recently.

This discussion is obscured by the use of concepts from human psychology
such as 'obsession', 'motivation', and 'pleasure'. It's functionalism in
reverse: instead of presuming that belief, desire, etc. are completely
characterized by a quasi-cybernetic description, here one is
anthropomorphizing a complex homeostatic mechanism and then attempting to
reason about its imputed psychology. Most of your critics accept the
validity of shuttling back and forth between psychological and cybernetic
descriptions, and have asked you to think about various inhuman
psychologies. I would ask you to abandon psychologizing entirely for a
moment, and think about this entity as a *machine* - a homeostatic system
with advanced capabilities for calculation, adaptation, and preemptive
self-modification. It does nothing out of feeling, pleasure, or desire. It
does not have motivations or goals. It is as empty of consciousness as a
mirror, and the creation of a new level of feedback will not automatically
render it benign, any more than will the introduction of a second mirror
make a reflected figure smile in self-recognition.

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