Why Robots of the Future Will Have Feelings

If the super-intelligent robot of the future gets what he wants he will be happy. If he doesn’t get what he wants he will be sad. If he doesn’t care about if he gets what he wants, does he really want it?  No.  Also, whenever there’s a conflict between somebody who cares and somebody who doesn’t care the entity who cares will tend to win. If those robots want to get anything done, and not get pushed around,  they’re going to have to care and that means feeling happy and sad.

That shows robots will feel happy and sad.   Now for interpersonal emotions.

Suppose there’s another robot who helps him get what he wants and protects him and is there for him in a pinch.  The first robot would like that other robot. If he doesn’t like that robot that other robot is not going to want to be there for him, at least he might not. You want to build robots who get a along.  Why not build them so they like each other?  Robot is not going to be as into helping another robot who doesn’t care.

If there’s a robot who’s a jerk to the first robot, always messing with him and frustrating his plans, the first robot is going to hate that robot.  Don’t give me Spock and Mr. Data and all that bull.  If the robot is enough of a tool to the first robot, he’s going to hate him.  Or at least if you build him so he can form inter-robot coalitions, and you’re going to want to (cause in this sea of robots a lone robot drowns) you better program him to hate, or he is going to be a messed-up robot.  The robot is going to be hateful to him and he won’t hate him?  No.  Unless he is one saintly robot he’s going to hate the other robot who is a jerk to him.

So that gives you love and hate.

Also you are a robot who has feelings.  Constructed by random mutation and some combination of natural and artificial selection, but a robot made of organic and inorganic chemicals arranged as bones and nerves and organs all the same.


5 thoughts on “Why Robots of the Future Will Have Feelings

  1. A few years ago, Caltech roboticist Pete Trautman was programming a mobile robot to cross a busy sidewalk. In field tests, the robot learned to predict the trajectories of individual pedestrians accurately, but since crowds are chaotic, it spent most of its time motionless, waiting for the next navigable gap to appear. This polite hesitancy drew attention: many curious folks walked directly up to the robot to inspect it or even “mess with” it, further impeding its progress.

    As an experiment, Trautman tried chucking most of the AI and giving the robot a more New York attitude: head down! elbows out! and just start marching! He found that as long as the robot kept moving, people simply flowed around it and past it, just as they were already doing with one another. The analysis paralysis problem was solved.

    No one would say that the robot “wanted” to achieve its goal or “cared” about success. Yet its fellow pedestrians, perceiving it as being on a mission, ceased interfering with it. By modifying their own behavior, they made the robot’s goal attainable.

    How many of our own failures are caused by this same intelligence/politeness trap? Could we, by learning to adopt a more passersby-be-damned attitude, coax others into semi-involuntarily smoothing our paths for us?

    And should we?

    • How easily we are divided and conquered…head down, elbows out to return to our concrete battery hen homes. How easily we covet small picture victory like walking down a street is way small picture.

  2. Mikey says:

    I heard a similar conversation between a rock and a clod of dirt the other day. I guess they thought I wasn’t listening but maybe they didn’t really have a concept of me at all since they were just a rock and a clod of dirt. Anyway, it went like this:

    Rock – Do you think animals have emotions?
    Clod – How can they? They’re nothing like us.
    Rock – I think they do.
    Clod – You serious?
    Rock – Well check it out. When they’re not going down, they’re supported by the ground.
    Clod – I guess.
    Rock – So that’s the emotion of not falling, right there.
    Clod – What? That’s not an emotion. That’s just a behaviour!
    Rock – Bro, I could say the same about you. I mean, right now, you’re feeling pretty not falling, aren’t you?
    Clod – Course.
    Rock – But to me, you’re just displaying the behaviour of not falling.
    Clod – I’m feeling it too.
    Rock – But TO ME. Looking at it from my point of view, you could just be a robot which is programmed to not fall and which doesn’t have any emotions at all!
    Clod – Trippy.
    Rock – Sure, but I don’t really believe that, do I? Other rocks and clods seem like me, so they probably are like me. I don’t really think you’re a robot.
    Clod – Safe.
    Well all I’m saying is that animals are like us in that way too.
    Clod – Nah, but they’re all wiggly and moveish and stuff.
    Rock – Ok, no one understands that, but you know when you see one which isn’t on the ground?
    Clod – Sure
    Rock – Well after a bit they start going down. And that’s just what we do when we feel falling. So that falling. Boom. Both emotions. Animals have them.

    Then there was a long pause before the clod of dirt finally said:

    I don’t know if you’re wrong and I don’t know if you’re right. But they’re a damn nuisance is all I know.

  3. I’m not big into the whole ‘we are robots/we are zombies’ thing. I’ve said it before (but more notably, SMBC web comic has said recently) ‘We are not complex enough to percieve how complex we are’

    I’ll be a shill – I think you should duel with Scott Bakker’s blog – like this, for example ( https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/alien-philosophy/ ). Then you can tell me what that post was about, because I got lost early on!

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