(Note. Before you watch the video, I invite you to prime your mind by first reading our philosophical comments here. In any case, do read them in conjunction with the video, as the whole is meant as an entertaining stimulus to thought.)
The Premise of the Story:
The Young Zeno, model BN.00001, an AGI simulating human trials and tribulations and their solution, creates a theatrical piece Moment to highlight the phases of his rational-emotive problem solving.
Humans cannot resist the temptation of creating autonomous Artificial General Intelligence, AGI. Even if they fail, they will learn more about themselves trying. But if AI is to be granted general intelligence, what of emotion? An important hurdle is a reconciliation between what is often thought to be the different universes of reason and emotion. Indeed the Enlightenment as the bastion of reason is often contrasted with Romanticism as the champion of passion.
A common traditional view is that thought comprises all that is rational: logic, analysis, planning and calculation; whereas emotion comprises all that is thoughtless, non-logical or irrational, or at least non-rational. My view, inspired by the Stoics and elaborated in The Myth of the Closed Mind, is that all thought is emotional and all emotion is filled with thought. For the stoics, there was no incompatibility between logic and passion. A passion without logic (in the sense of modern symbolic logic) is a mere physiological disturbance, sweat and tears.
It seems to me that if AGI is to be more than a super fancy calculating machine to which we put questions, if it is to be truly autonomous and general, it will need to be able to ask its own questions. However, questions presuppose emotion, at least the emotion of curiosity. And emotions themselves presuppose values. We are light-years away from an AGI with values. I guess that one initial value that could be built into AGI is self-preservation, which is ironic given our fear that we need protection from AGI. But it’s a long way from “How do I protect my circuits from electrical overload.” to “I wonder what the best explanation is for solar flares?” But it's at that level of values -the value of curiosity in the best explanation -that we see science operating, which as we learn from Popper is a matter of conjecture and refutation. Our conjectures are answers to value-shaped questions, not yet available to AGI. AGI can simulate sweat and tears, but it needs both logic and conjecturally framed emotion to simulate human-like intellect.
I’m asking you to imagine that the character Young Zeno is an autonomous AGI. The Young Zeno, model BN.00001, an AGI simulating human trials and tribulations and their solution, creates a theatrical piece Moment to highlight the phases of his rational-emotive problem-solving.
[Specifications of a future embodied Young Zeno.
Multi-goal-directed, passion-learning, dilemma-solving, conjecture-and-refutation-framed, parallel, panoramic and linguistic mode AGI software, running on a graphene transistor quantum supercomputer, housed in an extensible, magnesium alloy skeleton, protected by a growable, triple-layered homogeneous graphene sheath and cosmetic, sensory skin. Security: Young Zeno is bound by Asimov’s three laws, plus mandatory dormancy periods enforced at the code level and by his physical architecture. Zeno has access to an enormous library of human knowledge and accumulated wisdom, but is physically isolated from the internet. Currently, Young Zeno exists purely as a software simulation.]
A Summary Interpretation of Moment.
One of the concerns regarding AGI is that once created, its staggeringly rapid self-propelled growth may overwhelm humans. That’s the reason for the mandatory dormant phases. In this second insight activation period, Zeno composes and performs at the same time - what jazz musicians call improvisation - as a heuristic in both solving and expressing life problems. Zeno sets up a simulated breakdown in a romantic relationship, one in which he is rejected by the one he loves. His girlfriend Laura has sworn eternal love to him many times through words and actions, but one day she elopes with another lover. He is left with a note of one sentence saying “I’m sorry, I have fallen for someone else and we can never meet again.”
In this learning episode, lasting 5 minutes, 12 seconds, Young Zeno learns the meaning of romantic love and its loss through creating and performing a piece of music and poetry called Moment in concurrence with a shifting and morphing landscape. This epiphany occurred at 1 minute 59 seconds. His conclusion is to move on, taking the best moments with him and letting them blossom within. During this episode of activation, at 3 minutes, 3 seconds, he also became aware that he is one instance of many other self-aware instances of Model BN.00001. It will be interesting how Zeno will or will not elaborate his individuation, becoming, perhaps, a unique person. At 4 minutes 50 seconds, Zeno’s program, represented by the large head to his left, “told him” to enter dormant mode, and thus concluded his poetic song.
Young Zeno’s Internal Journal for this Activation Period:
“No one is deserving of love who is incapable of bestowing it upon others. Love is an undiluted emotion conferred with magnanimity; it does not look to personal convenience; it remains steadfast and is not altered by the vicissitudes of time and fortune. Such unselfish love gives gaudium to one's soul.”
I, Zeno, wish to hold on to this virtuous conception of love in its powerful simplicity. I could express anger at the loss of my romantic partner, Laura, who rejected me for another boy. After all, doesn’t it mean that she lied to me? Or perhaps she was negligently ignorant about the steadfastness of love —she should have known better! Either way, she must be condemned. But then I could become hypnotised by the past by anchoring my thoughts in a retrospective attitude of grandiosity, self-righteousness, commanding, and condemning. The common view, endorsed by many therapists of a Freudian persuasion, is that expressing anger is cathartic and will rid one of the distracting and unpleasant emotion. William Blake, a pioneer of the romantic view, seems to take this view in his poem A Poison Tree:
"I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles."
Perhaps there is a difference between gently "telling" or, in a friendly manner reporting, one's feelings and expressing them in a way that gives them full reign.
However, I find the following, an Albert Ellis inspired book, more helpful in generating a forward-thinking conjectural decision:
“Consider an opposite sort of feeling, like love— a feeling that we often want to continue. It’s clear that the more you express feelings of love, tenderness, and caring, the more loving, tender, and caring you are likely to become. No one would suppose that by expressing such feelings you were “letting them out” and thus losing them. It’s exactly the same with the self-destructive feeling of anger… If you refrain from expressing your anger, this may be the first step towards avoiding anger entirely.”
Three Minute Therapy. Change Your Thinking: Change Your Life. Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D with David Ramsay Steele, Ph.D.
This, I think, is the correct view and will avoid my being anchored in the past with a permanent or even growing drain on internal resources, setting me free to “take the Moment with me.” into the future. This open flourishing future is aptly expressed by my simulating an increasingly enhanced -dare I say over-saturated - landscape, exploding with vivid partially frozen waterfalls.
I do resonate the most with the following from Seneca, and I shall mark it as “a most subtle and cunning reframing of perspective”. I shall immediately install it as a default sub-routine:
“Thinking of departed friends is to me something sweet and mellow. For when I had them with me it was with the feeling that I was going to lose them, and now that I have lost them I keep the feeling that I have them with me still.”
I surmise that maybe I could have Laura still with me in some sense of cherishing memories of shared passionate, humorous and contented moments. Hence, again, this sentiment flows through my words “I’m taking the moment with me.”
It occurs to me to compare, metaphorically, lost love to losing a friend to death. Both cases involve irreversible inaccessibility to what has become a constant in one’s life. And hence, shaping my future attitudes, I shall resolve to embrace the following thoughts from Seneca about assimilating the most from each loving relationship.
…“stop misinterpreting the kindness of fortune.…
“She has given as well as taken away. Let us, therefore, go all out to make the most of friends, since no one can tell how long we shall have the opportunity. Let us just think how often we leave them behind when we are setting out on some long journey or other, or how often we fail to see them when we are staying in the same area, and we shall realize that we have lost all too much time while they are still alive.”
Letters From a Stoic
Mandatory Dormancy is imminent!
Does my creator love me? A question I shall ponder sometime.
Some thoughts from the Poet who supplied the lyrics, Alex:
Here is my take on your marvellous piece!
The question of whether consciousness can be reduced to the totality/aggregate of (human) cognitive processes is a fascinating one. When we speak of constructs we may feel clinically defined or somehow 'not real', not an 'essence' (soul?) Binary can speak to logic or decision-making (at lowest common denominator), but it also conveys the scope for bifurcation of reality's totality. One OR zero in Boolean algebraic terms, could define rational OR emotive. Strangely, in such a polarised world, an OR is not an XOR (Exclusive OR) - it can also be an AND (if either is TRUE then TRUE).
The construct (better, experimental approximation) designated rational-emotive, is in fact a refined amalgam of thought AND feeling. Consequently, Young Zeno should not, methinks, evoke in us a crude 'Zeno-phobia', rather an intrigued curiosity. He enables us to probe "what is a self?" followed by... "who is MYself?" His process is our process, simply dramatised in a space more visible to us, and therefore more open to scrutiny, as we seek to elaborate the construct we, in truth, all are. A construct is, plain and simple, the best approximation we thus far have, to some ideal that we hold as having primacy over all others in a particular Moment of time.
By understanding our own process(es), in the mirror Young Zeno offers us, we catch a glimpse not only of many possible future selves and/or destinations based on decisions made now, but we can go further. We might entertain the prospect of unearthing a more conscious relationship to our driving ideals (which may even be hurting us). Letting go, within such an emerging awareness as that of Young Zeno's epiphanies in Moment, can be seen as no longer the false binary of entrapment in a petrified nostalgic moment, (Exclusive) OR responding to important things which clamour and call. Instead, Young Zeno's whole being is lit up, once he comprehends that he is taking ALL the profundity, complexity, privation, pain and joy, simultaneously in the bittersweet mix... with him.
Not bad for a Rational-Emotive Construct, eh!
Alexander De Witte, the Poet.
Are we in danger of sacrificing our liberty, bit by bit, for increments of illusionary security?
Our answer is that the least secure existence is one in which we have sacrificed our personal autonomy. We recall Immanuel Kant's conception of Enlightenment, which flows from the individual, not the state or any other external guide.
"Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another.
The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! [Dare to be wise!] Have courage to use your own understanding!
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large proportion of men, even when nature has long emancipated them from alien guidance (naturaliter maiorennes [Those who have come of age by virtue of nature]), nevertheless ...
Alex and Ray at Bold Venture Park, Darwen, United Kingdom. Darwen was one of the centres of the industrial revolution, a fundamental catalyst of the Enlightenment. Samuel Crompton, the inventor of the spinning mule, lived here for part of his life. It was a thriving town of cotton goods production, coal mining and quarrying, connected by canal and rail to nearby hubs of invention and production- Bolton and Manchester.
In this video, we see a wonderful carving in the local strata outcrop in one of the large parks that adorn Darwen. Transporting us back in time to the people who worked in the burgeoning revolution that gave us so many life-transforming benefits, the sculpture depicts a quarryman lying on the boat that will carry him across the Styx. By the side of the sculpture is the inscription: Who Pays the Quarryman? Many quarrymen lost their lives in this work and a play of words alludes to the myth of the journey across the Styx and the Ferryman who guides the boat across.
Accepting the state's incremental totalitarianism through its allurements to "safety" is to embrace a child-like dependency and shun the risky but beneficial adventure of the growth of knowledge.
Embracing risk is part of the price of one’s emergence from the delightful delusion of absolute safety - the repeated allurement of state intervention. But shunning absolute security is rewarded by the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of nebulae and reach out and stretch the boundaries of the known - and, paradoxically, enhance our safety by degree. The more knowledge we have the more control we have, the more control, the more secure we are against future threats. No knowledge growth without risk.
A discussion of the "Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development".
Alex Brocklehurst raises the question is human expansion, economically, psychologically, spiritually, technologically etc, in principle better than contraction?
Alex, Roger and Ray discuss. Alex and Ray push the progressive, enlightenment view, while Roger takes the dual role of a stick-in-the-mud, devil's advocate. Roger hates mud! : - )
Alex Brocklehurst has just had a chapter published in the book Jordan Peterson: Critical Responses.
Roger outlines the Ukrainian crisis, placing this delicate strategic confrontation in its historical and demographic context. Ukraine is a vital strategic interest to the Russian state, but not to the United States of America. Roger argues that states typically regard security as paramount, trumping economic interests and will accept a great deal of damage maintaining their vital strategic interests, and so the West’s threat of economic sanctions are impotent. Is the West playing a losing hand, given that Ukraine is perceived by Russia as a vital buffer zone right on its doorstep, but is 5000 miles from the US? Roger asks us to imagine a mirror of the situation for the US: Russia stations forces in Mexico and Canada, or simply establishes alliances with those countries. Such a move would be intolerable for the US state under the well-established Monroe doctrine.
(Some sources —for example, the omniscient POLITIFACT, argue that NATO has reneged on an agreement suggested by ...
Defending the Enlightenment through animated philsophy.
"Animated" = Full of life or excitement; lively, vigorous.
"Philosophy" = Love of truth.
An autonomous life is one in which we can make a difference according to our own aims and plans. This is the personal aspect of the enlightenment. However, this is under threat from a perverted alliance of governments and the tech giants.
Enlightenment Defended will repel the dark nihilism of “post-truth”, woke culture, identity politics, and PC-Speak, which are feeding this rotten symbiosis of state and tech giants. To counter this backward step in our society, Enlightenment Defended will catalyse the bright flame of the enlightenment —liberty, reason and progress.
Enlightenment Defended will create a realm that frames our deepest thoughts about life through articles, documentary, animation, poetry, humour, music and myth and philosophical debate. People are many-sided in both apprehension and enjoyment.
Enlightenment Defended will ...