Self-improvement requires more than just extra hardware.  It also
> requires the ability to integrate new knowledge with an existing
> knowledge base in order to create truly orginal (novel) knowledge.
> But this appears to be precisely the definition of reflective
> intelligence!  Thus, it seems that a system missing reflective
> intelligence simply cannot improve itself in an ordered way.  To
> improve, a current goal structure has to be 'extrapolated' into a new
> novel goal structure which none-the-less does not conflict with the
> spirit of the old goal structure.  But nothing but a *reflective*
> intelligence can possibly make an accurate assessment of whether a new
> goal structure is compatible with the old version!  This stems from
> the fact that comparison of goal structures requires a *subjective*
> value judgement and it appears that only a *sentient* system can make
> this judgement (since as far as we know, ethics/morality is not
> objective).  This proves that only a *sentient* system (a *reflective
> intelligence*) can possibly maintain a stable goal structure under
> recursive self-improvement.

Why would you need to change the goal structure  in order to improve
yourself? Evolution could be described as a perpetuation of the basic
program, "survive", and this has maintained its coherence as the top level
axiom of all biological systems over billions of years. Evolution thus seems
to easily, and without reflection, make sure that the goals of the new and
more complex system are consistent with the primary goal. It is perhaps only
humans who have been able to clearly see the primary goal for what it is,
but even this knowledge does not make it any easier to overthrow it, or even
to desire to overthrow it.

Incidentally, as regards our debate yesterday on psychopaths, there
> appears to be a some basis for thinking that the psychopath  *does*
> have a general inability to feel emotions.  On the wiki:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopath
> "Their emotions are thought to be superficial and shallow, if they
> exist at all."
> "It is thought that any emotions which the primary psychopath exhibits
> are the fruits of watching and mimicking other people's emotions."
> So the supposed emotional displays could be faked.  Thus it could well
> be the case that there is a lack inability to 'reflect on
> motivation' (to feel).

In my job mainly treating people with schizophrenia, I have worked with some
psychopaths, and I can assure you that they experience very strong emotions,
even if they tend to be negative ones such as rage. What they lack is the
ability to empathise with others, impinging on emotions such as guilt and
love, which they sometimes do learn to parrot when it is expedient. It is
sometimes said that the lack of these positive emotions causes them to seek
thrills in impulsive and harmful behaviour. A true lack of emotion is
sometimes seen in patients with so-called negative symptoms of
schizophrenia, who can actually remember what it was like when they were
well and can describe a diminished intensity of every feeling: sadness,
happiness, anger, surprise, aesthetic appreciation, regret, empathy. Unlike
the case with psychopathy, the uniform affective blunting of schizophrenia
is invariably associated with lack of motivation.

Stathis Papaioannou

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