Again, I understand the arguments or the fact that people make them, but
this goes far into a position that I'm just not prepared to debate properly.
It could be that some will say that I'm simply wrong or out of my depth or
misinformed and ignorant in stating that machines cannot desire. The idea
that "machines can desire" seems to me to be one of those propositions that
people write about whether or not they have any reality to them. Back in the
Middle Ages, mapmakers would write, "here there be monsters" at the outer
edges of maps where they had no idea of what lay beyond. Theologians
solemnly debated the qualities of angels -- their size, their weight, the
demographics of the heavenly host. One could have said in those days that
monsters and angels have been written about quite extensively. This would
have been true, but it would not have made the topics any more real.
I would argue that I have some understanding of ontology. I would argue that
it involves more than private epistemology to distinguish between such
existential beings as humans, dogs, or orangutans and artificial or
At the same time, I am prepared to say you've made some sharp points, and as
a debate, you've stated your propositions well. Even so, I disagree. This
would be an interesting subject for a robust, old-fashioned debate at a
conference or symposium. For now, let's ascribe this to differences of
opinion, philosophy, or even -- if you prefer -- religion.
On which note, I conclude. "All things are full of labour; man cannot utter
Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS
Swinburne University of Technology
On Mon, 17 Aug 2009 08:20:03 -0400, jeremy hunsinger <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Machinic desires have been written about quite extensively though.
actually it isn't that they are accorded the same... it is that ontology is
about one topic, existence, and there is no difference there. some ontology
creates artificial categories in what exists, making some greater, like
Gods, some lesser like monkeys and some things still lesser yet. The idea
is to say hold on... don't they all merely exist... or not. If they exist
and have ontological status, then they are the same on that level. Any
other differences that you or I might add are not part of their ontology,
but part of their epistemology or more likely ideology. This is part of the
cleaning up of metaphysics.
(Ken wrote:) A machine cannot [design].
(Jeremy replied) it can, and more often than we might care to admit,
machines not only play a part but actually perform acts of designing within
corporations, they do it in exactly the same ways a human would if humans
still performed the tasks that the machine performs, were they not so slow.
(Ken wrote:) Because a machine cannot desire or know in any responsible
sense, it cannot select among preferred states and it cannot therefore design.
(Jeremy replied) I am not sure here, I know that my computer can select
among preferred states and I'm sure that complex machines can have needs,
and we can understand various things as constructs of machinic desires.