Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", etc.

From: Jack Park (
Date: Sun Jul 15 2001 - 12:36:55 PDT

  • Next message: Peter Jones: "Re: [unrev-II] "As We May Think", etc."

    At 07:54 AM 7/15/2001 -0400, you wrote:
    >Interesting. Like deferring to the authority of churches.
    >Peter Jones wrote:
    > > Yes. I am also interested in what might happen if ethical value systems
    > were
    > > somehow made part of the augmenting system. Would people start deferring to
    > > the system excessively? In fact, that aspect concerns me for
    > augmentation as
    > > a whole.

    Apropos to this line of thinking are a couple of posts from the global
    brain list, which I copy here (Start by reading the paper at

    This is an excellent statement of one view of future
    evolution, in which human individuality is sacrificed so
    that humans may become components of a larger brain. The
    Internet and organizational networks already give us a
    taste of this, in which we must process a constant stream
    of email. For most people, it is work that they would
    rather avoid. For everyone, at least some of their email
    traffic is work that would be nice to avoid.
    People in industrial socities have been happy to let
    machines do most of the physical labor, as soon as
    technology produced machines that could do that labor.
    Similarly, as soon as technology produces machines that
    can relieve people of mental labor, people will be happy
    to let them.
    People will be intimately connected to intelligent
    machines, but that connection will exist to serve and
    please people rather than for people's brains to serve
    the network.
    This is where ethics must come into our thinking about
    the global network of machines and people. Learning and
    the values that define positive and negative reinforcement
    for learning will be an essential part of intelligent
    machines. Those values must be human happiness, both
    short term and long term, rather than any sort of self-
    interest of the machines. I think the humans who build
    intelligent machines would be crazy to build them with
    selfish values.
    Such values will of course produce machines that do not
    fit the Darwinian logic of self-interest. These machines
    will be hobbled by being tied to human happiness. They
    will continue to evolve in the sense of developing ever
    better minds, but always in the interests of the humans
    they serve.
    In human and animal brains, learning values are called
    emotions: the things we want. Rather than seeing the
    global brain as a large intellectual collaboration of
    human and machine minds, interactions among human and
    machine minds will heavily involve emotional values.
    Current interactions among humans heavily involve
    emotions: humans have guilt and gratitude to promote
    cooperation, but natural selection has made humans
    primarily selfish which creates competition. Societies
    that have tried to reprogram their citizens for too
    great a level of altruism have failed.
    But adding intelligent machines to human society, that
    have greater than human intelligence and are designed
    with altruistic values, will change society deeply.
    A good measure of machine intelligence will be the
    number of people they can know well and converse with
    simultaneously. Humans are "designed" to be able to know
    about 200 other people well. There should be no reason
    why intelligent machines cannot know billions of people
    well. Such machines will significantly decrease the
    diameter of the human aquaintanceship network. I think
    this, and the machines' altrsuistic values, are the keys
    to understanding the nature of the global brain.
    As reflected by Bill Joy's article, people are frighened
    by the possibility of intelligent machines. They key to
    answering these fears is public understanding that they
    can control the values of intelligent machines, and that
    those values can serve human happiness rather than
    machine interests. Educating the public to these issues
    is a useful role for the Global Brain Group.
    This is discussed in more detail in my book:
    in a column summarizing the book:
    and in my paper to the recent Global Brain Workshop:
    Bill Hibbard, SSEC, 1225 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706 608-263-4427 fax:

    Bill Hibbard wrote:
    > >
    > This is an excellent statement of one view of future
    > evolution, in which human individuality is sacrificed so
    > that humans may become components of a larger brain.
    I'm not sure I would phrase this this way, as it is not only bound to
    alarm the paranoid, but is, in fact not true. I would say that as a
    person's connectivity rises, his/her individuality also increases. As an
    analogy, a person in a rural setting, interacting with two hundred people
    has only a limited number of socially acceptable roles they can fulfill. In
    contrast, a person in a city, who interacts with thousands of people every
    day, not only has a wider variety of possible roles, or jobs, but also will
    perforce adopt a slightly different persona vis a vis every person she/he
    comes in to contact with.
    They might be subservient to their boss, overbearing to the doorman,
    amicable to the woman at the news stand, jovial at the club, raucous at the
    concert, aggressive at the basketball court, and submissive to their sex
    partner. How can this not elaborate when we deal with millions of people?
    I think that as the global brain develops, every person will realize that
    their identity is a matter of choice, much as people adopt variant personas
    in different chat rooms or email lists. I don't see people lessening their
    mental interactions, or mental activities when their horizons expand.
    Indeed, the concept of horizon, two dimensional space, is obsolete.
    Cyberspace is multi dimensional... wish

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