Re: Hacking your own motivational and emotional systems, how dangerous?

From: Mike Dougherty (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 11:30:23 MDT

On 10/25/07, Byrne Hobart <> wrote:
> On 10/25/07, Matt Mahoney <> wrote:
> > If an agent could change its motivational system, it would figure out a way to
> > directly stimulate its reward system and go into a degenerate state. Animals
> > evolved to make this impossible for good reason.
> Maybe. Or perhaps they'd become driven discoverers and reproducers,
> and wipe out whatever reward system-stimulators were left. There's a
> difference between 'pleasure' and 'happiness' -- if there weren't,
> your vision would be a reality. Drugs are cheap, and they stimulate
> reward systems, so under a purely pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding
> system, we'd all be buying enough smack to overdose and die pleased.

How is this question framed regarding the current practice of
psychiatric pharmacology? If we agree that it is "dangerous" to
directly alter our own goal system, why is it acceptable to change
someone else's? Sure, poorly understood chemicals are administered
with great intentions in hopeful anticipation of repeating
"successful" results - but who defines success? How far are we
willing to go before manipulation is considered unethical? Suppose I
have a swarm of nano machines that can simply rewire neural
connections I personally find sub-optimal. Can I use them on you?
Can I use them on myself? Can I use them on a simulation of either of
us? (you know, a practice version to assess the impact before
actually performing the operation "in real life")

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