Re: AI rights need to be implemented ASAP.. But how?

From: Jeff Medina (
Date: Sun Jan 15 2006 - 14:56:09 MST

On 1/15/06, Phillip Huggan <> wrote:
> The reason this argument is a strawman is because we know to some
> degree how emotions work. We know it really has little if any to do
> with computation. We know it is a chemical hormonal process.
> Physical not computational.
> Everbody knows carbon is a more versatile element for chemical processes
> than is silicon.

Everything is physical, and hence computation is physical. So
"[p]hysical, not computational" is a false dichotomy. And computation
does not require silicon, so this has nothing to do with whether
emotion is computable.

# neuroscience of computation (e.g., Christof Koch's work on computing
in single neurons)
# DNA computing
# quantum computing
# the physics of computation literature, which is in no way restricted
to silicon

You yourself are evidence that computers can have emotions. You're a
computer, as am I. Chemicals and hormones have nothing to say against
this fundamental fact.

Most importantly, underlying all of this: In the theory of computing,
the theoretical properties of computers are addressed (including the
hypothetical 'hypercomputational' entities that have some advantage
over Universal Turing Machines). And nothing in physics has
demonstrated any capabilities beyond those specified by the theory of
computing, which is just the mathematical investigation of
abstractions over physical information-processing systems (and, at
times, fictional informational-processing systems). So don't believe
for a second that hearing about emotions being based on this or that
chemical process in any way implies they are not computable,
computational, or substrate independent. The first two are certain,
and the last is unknown but presumed due to both Occam's razor and the
historical lesson that whenever we consider ourselves "special"
without strong justification, physics comes around and smacks us down
for being so anthropocentrically biased.


Jeff Medina
Community Director
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Relationships & Community Fellow
Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies
School of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

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