Re: Ethical experimentation on AIs (and flys)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Mon Oct 22 2007 - 09:16:04 MDT

Stathis writes

> There is more room for intermediate pain levels if the top level is
> the highest possible and the lowest level is the lowest possible. This
> would allow finer discrimination between stimuli. It would be a waste
> not to have this range if the fly nervous system allowed it.

Yes, but it should be kept in mind that extremely fine discrimination
would only be useful if matched by equally fine gradations of behavior.

> My example was probably a bad one. On balance, I think cognitive
> factors would diminish pain. As evidence for this, I cite the fact
> that younger children seem to become more distressed with pain than
> older children and adults.

Those of us who don't work with patients every day normally assume
that this is merely because older children suppress their outward
behavior more. To consider an extreme, in some cultures the men
suppress outward manifestations of pain to an astonishing degree.

Young children often cry just to alert their parents that something is
wrong, something possibly dangerous. I think that's another factor here.

>> Even with a fly, a slightly unpleasant odor won't deter it from
>> certain food.
> Sure, but it would pay for the largest possible insult to cause the
> largest possible amount of pain.

Your idea is that the pain in a fly should be the maximal allowed
by the resources available to evolution. As I said, I doubt the
utility of all the intermediate discriminations that this would allow.
But even if you are right, pain circuitry would come at the
expense of other "fly requirements", and those resources could
go towards things such as greater sense discrimination instead.
The effect would thus be moderated.


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