Re: More silly but friendly ideas

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Tue Jun 10 2008 - 08:02:30 MDT

2008/6/10 Vladimir Nesov <>:
> On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 3:55 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <> wrote:
>> There is no objective ethics, aesthetics or aim of life that can be
>> deduced without reference to axioms which are themselves ultimately
>> arbitrary; or equivalently, an AI cannot arrive at ethics, aesthetics
>> or purpose without having such arbitrary axioms as givens in its
>> initial programming. Historically, many people have found this fact
>> uncomfortable, and therefore have invented a God in whom these
>> ultimate axioms are invested (which of course only defers the problem,
>> noted as far back as Plato's Euthyphro).
> Ethincs is too nuanced to say that it can be defined by "axioms".
> Although technically it's probably what you meant, you need to include
> much of the evolved brain structure and some of the culture to extract
> adequate approximation of human ethics.

What I mean by an ethical axiom is something like "causing suffering
to conscious beings is bad". We can then take any proposed action and,
examining it to see whether it causes suffering to conscious beings,
decide whether or not it is bad. But a sadist is free to come along
and proclaim that, on the contrary, causing suffering to conscious
beings is good. There is no objective way of deciding which position
is the "correct" one, no matter how intelligent you are. Values are,
in the final analysis, arbitrary.

Stathis Papaioannou

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