Evolution and possible minds (was Re: Two draft papers...)

From: James MacAulay (jmacaulay@gmail.com)
Date: Mon Jun 05 2006 - 02:01:57 MDT

On 5-Jun-06, at 1:40 AM | Jun 5, John K Clark wrote:
> Designing an intelligence is hard enough but you propose something
> far far
> harder, you want to do something Evolution has never even come
> close to
> producing even after 3 billion years of effort. I can not prove it
> but I am
> certain the reason Evolution has never come up with it is that it is
> absolutely imposable.

 From reading this, It looks like you hold evolution in extremely
high regard. Such high regard that you can't see any of the huge
limits that it has. But wait...

> Natural selections sucks, it's an idiotic way to produce complex
> structures
> but until the invention of brains it was the only way to produce
> complex
> structures. We have moved on, today we are far more efficient than
> natural
> selection and I like to think we are more moral too.

So, why are you so certain that the reason evolution hasn't come up
with a certain kind of mind before is that creating such a mind is
impossible? Natural selection obviously has vast potential for
diversity even from what we know has happened on Earth alone, but I'm
willing to bet this diversity is a pittance compared to what kinds of
minds *could* be created. Natural selection produces organisms which
are built to survive, and it appears that the easiest route to
survival for organisms with minds (who are living in a world of other
organism-with-minds) is to give them all of the apparent "selfness"
and so forth that we take for granted.

You say that making the kind of mind Eliezer is talking about is "far
far harder" than making a mind like ours. I don't know why one would
assume that either kind of mind would be harder to make than the
other. I suppose I do have a hunch that a mind with "no subjective
experience" (at all, whatsoever) will turn out to be an oxymoron, but
I don't think that has much bearing on the ethical issue as long as
there were no sense of self or personal dignity for us to feel guilty
about mucking around with.


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