Useless Beauty

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Bubblecar, Feb 14, 2004.

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  1. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    You are given the task of programming an AI machine. When finished, this machine will be a fully conscious, sentient being, able to perceive & relate to the world around it in ways that are at least analogous to our own experience.

    One characteristic we will want it to have is the ability to enjoy "aesthetic pleasure" & "beauty". But we wouldn't want the machine to simply be bound to our own past cultural yardsticks - its experience of beauty & aesthetic delight must seem original to its own mind, as we would like to think our finest experiences of beauty are. But what criteria should we feed in to ensure that the machine can distinguish "beauty" from anything else?

    With our own experience of beauty, it could be argued that the only non-cultural input is provided by various biochemical functions whose efficiency is enhanced by our experience of sensual pleasure. A simple example: children find sweet foods pleasurable (& their experience of the taste of sugar could legitimately be described as a "perception of beauty") because it is in the genotype's interest for the organism to seek out high-energy food. Outside of this biochemical context, the "nice taste" of sugar is essentially arbitrary. It tastes pleasing only because we are genetically programmed to find the taste pleasing.

    To what extent does such "arbitrariness" apply to the whole spectrum of aesthetic experience, when removed from the context of genetic programming derived from biochemical needs? And since our AI machine would have no such needs, could its experience of aesthetic pleasure be anything other than abitrary? Could it be that when "designing" a synthetic consciousness, we need to imagine a model of "possible sentient characteristics" that's much more "self-creating" than the human example can provide?
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    You asked, "Could it be that when "designing" a synthetic consciousness, we need to imagine a model of "possible sentient characteristics" that's much more "self-creating" than the human example can provide?"

    Why, I mean it's only a machine isn't it? I believe someday that it "may" be possible to do but again for what reasons would the machine want these characteristics? Like with Data in Star Trek when emotions were given to him, he didn't now how to handle them.
     
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  5. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

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    So is this aesthetic beauty then or just simple pleasure...sensual or not? I find that there is a difference between the two.

    I'd go for "self creating". If we do ever achieve synthetic consiousness then let the newly formed digital organism choose its own preferences (after all that is what beauty breaks down to..preferences) and its own methods of pleasure. If the idea of aesthetics and beauty is implemented into the new organism then I could see this new form of simulated consiousness choosing the most efficient methods of getting things done synonymous with beauty or aesthetics.
     
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  7. Hastein Welcome To Kampuchea Registered Senior Member

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    Art that closely reflects the structure and decay of nature is usually the most beautiful. So I would base it on the natural environment.
     
  8. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    "Why, I mean it's only a machine isn't it?"

    Well, one possible reason for making machines that generate a consciousness that closely matches our own, might to be to "transfer" our own consciousnesses to such devices by means of some kind of cybernetic interface.

    Although human-style aesthetic sensibilities, reflecting our organic nature, might thus be required as a starting point, we would want synthetic consciousness to develop senibilities more in keeping with its real nature.

    I doubt that aesthetic pleasure & the experience of beauty would really be "useless" to a synthetic consciousness - I suspect that such sensations would contribute much to an overall feeling of "happiness" & "enthusiasm for life" which it may well find worth increasing. To automatically generate the characteristic of "aesthetic perception", we may only need to programme it with a desire to continually enrich its own experience of "being alive".

    But the specific criteria for distinguishing aesthetic pleasure & beauty, divorced from the organic-functional context, might well seem arbitrary & very strange indeed (& perhaps very liberating?) to human sensibilities....
     
  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Bubble then you don't mean giving a machine the ability to think emotionaly for itself, you mean that a human brain will be the way the machine thinks. That's different from what I thought you asked and in that case it might be possible to do one day in the far future.It would be easier to genetically manipulate the human genes into preventing aging and stop diseases. That could be done in the near future. Why put yourself into a machine when you could live forever the way you are at the age you choose to stop growing old at.

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  10. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    Basically, for two classes of reasons....

    (A) Machines would be more robust. Organic beings are in constant danger of death or serious injusry through accident. Machines, in contrast, could be safely housed in strong bunkers & never have to face the kind of daily risks that organic people face. Moreover, machines could be constantly "burning" exact copies of their unfolding being, stored in many different locations (even on other planets), to ensure survival in the event of catastrophes such as asteroid impact etc.

    (B) As I've been attempting to communicate in this thread, synthetic consciousness would be able to break free of the dictates of the "selfish gene" - the aspects of consciousness that are really only there because they serve the interests of chemical interaction on a genetic (ie, mindless) level. Thus, synthetic consciousness holds the promise of "setting the imagination free" - of becoming truly "self-realizing" being, incorporating all the highest ideals of the human phenotype, as opposed to genotype, & eventually creating an entirely new form of conscious life, no longer beholden to non-conscious criteria for its own essential characteristics.
     
  11. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Is this what you would call "living". It would seem that with what you describe I wouldn't be doing much with my time for fun and enjoyment but just taking up space and time.
     
  12. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    You haven't really bothered trying to imagine what I mean by "setting the imagination free", cosmictraveler. You have to remember that synthetic consciousness would have at its disposal vastly greater computing power than currently exists.

    Imagine the human imagination, enormously increased in power - such that what may be now a dimly imagined landscape, becomes sharply focused & stretches for mile after mile in glorious detail. You, the individual, would be free to explore any number of your own imagined environments (& free to share these with other synthetic minds) & could take any kind of body you wish - & it would be equipped with any number of senses, vastly more vivid & receptive than organic senses could ever be.

    You could create worlds within worlds within worlds, all in the comfort & safety of your own mind - you could live in a castle as a medieval lord, or in any other period of history, or invent your own entirely original planet. And your experience of those worlds would be even more vivid than organic peoples' experience of the so-called "real world" - & you could share them with any number of other minds, & explore their worlds, too.

    This is the promise of synthetic consciousness - the imagination set free, to create & explore its own cosmos.
     
  13. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Why bound up the sentient machine with useless human cultural garbage? The only criteria for beauty is learned. In other words, you want to design a digital human. I think the whole apprach is mistaken. Build your sentient machine, and then see, as an experiment, if it understands beauty, what would it consider beautiful, or, would it recognize the beauty of everything. Are you asking if it should be programmed with instincts for beauty? Perhaps it has to grow like a child, and learn human concepts slowly.
     
  14. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

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    Bubble:
    And all that glorious wonder and escapism would be neatly crammed into an Xbox so that these superhumans could continue living the world from an armchair.

    Think about what you're saying Bubble- you've described this millenium.


    On the concept of beauty- shame on you to think its universal. I find the Manchurian Incidents beautiful in their gore. I find capital murder fascinating in that its legal, hemlock the prettiest pigment in the world.
    I can't help it, but the sound of a baby choking on vomit is thrilling.

    All of this is beauty to me, among other things, yet each of you would likely hang me for it and call me a witch.
     
  15. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    "And all that glorious wonder and escapism would be neatly crammed into an Xbox so that these superhumans could continue living the world from an armchair."

    Today's "video games" are nothing like what I'm describing, gendanken - they are indeed crude escapism & the product of a very truncated, "commercial imagination".

    As for your own tastes in "beauty" you are merely saying that to you, beauty doesn't require an ethical context. This would not be the case for synthetic minds. Indeed, I would expect them to be more consistently ethical, & to subscribe to higher standards of morality, than is the case for "mortal" humans.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2004
  16. Bubblecar Registered Senior Member

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    "Are you asking if it should be programmed with instincts for beauty?"

    To some extent, spidergoat. Human beings are to a large extent products of our genes, & many aspects of our cognitive processes relate in some way to chemical imperatives on that scale. A synthetic mind could be much more a product of its own will, working on the much more complex & "personal" scale of the mind itself.

    However, in order to have a "will", the synthetic mind has to start off with at least some sense of homogeneous "self". So the journey towards truly free, creative synthetic minds must presumably begin from a human-like, gene-influenced sense of self.
     
  17. Blindman Valued Senior Member

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    Beauty I would prefer to classify as a thing of interest. Something worthy of further investigation, something new, something complicated. Any Intelligent systems that functions similar to human intelligence will inherently focus attention on the more interesting parts of its experience.

    Us humans have genetic predetermined focus, that’s why we see beauty in similar things.

    Machines will see beauty where man sees uninteresting gray.

    Beauty fosters imagination. Not the other way round.
     
  18. FNG2k4 Registered Senior Member

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    Being placed in a bunker and not living doesnt sound to much fun to me. I would perfer to consist of millions+ nanobots I would be self redundent (information wise) and useful

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    As long as the nanobots dont drop down to a certian level you survive.

    But I guess getting stuck in a box would come long before having a nano bot that could hold itself together well enough for a human sized shape. Problem is who knows if I would want to leave my box after such technology would come into existance. Plus you would never know if it was you or if your just a copy. I would take inplants memory chips etc before transfering to a box and I would still like to be a nano bot network before becoming a box.

    Being a box maybe unhealthy to your sanity.

    Plus Im not sure about you but theres alot of stuff a box just cant beat.
    Take a beautiful beach with all the fun no matter how great your imagination is it will lack something the real beach does. Girls, Sun, Sand it makes it all great and you could only look at it in your bunker. Or imagine a fake beach

    A sentient machine is too much to think about.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2004
  19. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    I have wriiten a page about artificial emotions; the Emotive Cognation robots progammed themselves with emotional responses, to improve their quality of life; unfortunately they were trounced by the emotionless robots of a rival empire...

    http://www.orionsarm.com/historical/First_Vec_War.html
     
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