Could robots ever have emotions?

Would the emotions expressed by a robot ever be “real”?

To get at this question we first have to take a look inside ourselves to see what happens when we experience and express emotion. Look under the hood so to speak and see what’s going on.

Now to do this I don’t think we need to have some special form of access say to the brain. We don’t need any other form of knowledge or experience than what is universally available to everyone by virtue of the fact that as humans we all have emotions.

So here’s my description of what happens when I experience emotions.

There is a circumstance or event that happens. When I become aware of this event and if I care about the constituents of the event I experience gladness, regret, excitement etc.

Now how do I know I am experiencing an emotion? What is it that informs me of this?

Very often it is a change in my heart rate, a feeling in my belly or just a general change in the tone of my experience.

A spring to my step or a falling feeling in the stomach.

Why I feel what I feel or rather why I interpret the sensation as either a positive or negative emotion isn’t as immediately available as the immediate experience of the emotion so I am compelled to generate a theory.

The theory that makes most sense to me is that our preference is the determining factor behind how I interpret my emotion.

If I want the outcome of the event it is good; if I don’t want the outcome of the event it is bad.

Why do i prefer what I prefer? I don’t know is the simple answer.

The best narrative to use to understand preferences is that of programming.

The only difference between my preferences and a computers programming is that I was programmed by nature and the computer was programmed by man.

Now to the robot.

Some people will say “a robot cannot have real emotions because it is just programmed to do what it does.”

That is to say that when event x happens the robot’s programming tells it to express so and so emotion.

How would the robot be told this?

There may be a certain transistor that turns on or a group of transistors that turn on in a specific pattern.

I don’t really know enough about computers to know how but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that some form of a signal will tell the robot how to act.

Well what is the difference between the physiological changes that occur to my body that tell me I am angry and the signal that tells the robot how to act?

I mean anger is the physiological changes accompanied by my interpretation of them.

The robot has both of these characteristics. There is a signal and programming that tells the robot how to interpret the signal. The signal acts as a result of external stimuli.

Don’t you see that this narrative is a perfectly adequate narrative for what happens to us when we experience emotions?

You may say that the robot isn’t conscious. I won’t go into that claim here but say it isn’t.

So what?

Consciousness is present in all of our experiences. And emotion is one of those.

You are not always angry. You are not always conscious.

Does consciousness need to be present for emotion? I think not.

Consciousness is a kind of emptiness. A space for stuff to happen in and for and to. As such the stuff happening to consciousness would still be happening if consciousness were not aware of it.

Your breath is a perfect example of this.

Really this issue is the result of a false dichotomy we have drawn between nature and man. Real and artificial.

Man is a continuation of nature. He is nature.

If the products of human activity are not natural than neither are termite mounds.

It seems reasonable to assume that anything man produces will share some very basic and fundamental features with man.

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The illusion

Every now and then god gets bored of being blissful so he plays these far out games where he pretends he isn’t him but poor little us who get hurt and die.

He’s so good that he fools himself absolutely.

I mean you don’t feel like god do you.

Neither do I.

But just as I can show you an illusion. Like say one of those illusions where some lines look like they are different sizes but are really the same size.

You can even know it’s an illusion and how it works. But still your eyes are fooled by it.

Just in the same way it can be shown that if there is a god then you are god because of what we say god is but we can never the less feel like we are seperate from everything.

That we are not god who is supposed to be the ground of being. The fabric and structure of existence.

That we are poor little mes who are the victims of circumstance.

I mean whatever is putting on this whole show is such a good actor that he’s got himself on the edge of his seat! He’s even got himself committing suicide even though he knows it’s a show.

The biblical dialectic

The Torah pushes the lie that we are separate from god. It doesn’t do this by telling us to do bad things. It’s much more subtle than that.

By the very act of issuing a command god initiated the seperation. You don’t tell yourself what to do. Even if you do have a little voice saying “do so and so at such and such a time” you are projecting this from outside of yourself.

At least it appears that way. Are you that voice? Surely not because it comes and it goes and you remain. So even when you give a command to yourself you have to initiate a seperation. You need to create a distinction between the you who tells you what to do and the you who does (or often doesn’t) do what you are told.

Now then this distinction is death. It is dissolution. That is to say it is a fragmentation of a whole.

This occurs whether you are obedient or not. That is to say that obedience is irrelevant when it comes to this seperation.

So really Adam and eve died the day they were told not to eat. They just became aware of it when they and god went their seperate ways.

When their will became evidently seperated from the superficial will of god.

This is how Paul can say with one breath that “I delight in the law of god after the inward man” and with the next that “the commandment which was (apparently) ordained to life I found to be unto death”.

Now of course I’m missing out some steps. The mechanism by which the command creates the illusion of seperation or death is sin which as I have shown elsewhere (just type sin in my search bar) is failure.

So we come to feel seperate from god when we fail to do what god commands.

But that seperation was already there when god gave the command. See god pushed us away we didn’t flee from him. At least in the biblical narrative.

Now how would doing what god commands make any difference? It obviously wouldn’t. At least not to the seperation between us and god.

Really when you are under the law oneness with god is simply not on the table. You may feel he is pleased with you or displeased with you; which one is entirely dependent upon how hard on yourself you are.

But guilt or innocence do nothing to change it. In fact they both exacerbate the sense of seperation.

This is why Paul says in 1 corinthians “all things are lawful to me”. It’s really the same statement as “We are saved by Grace”. Our unity with god just is. You see it or you don’t. If you see it then no matter what you do it will still be there.

This seeing is something you either have or you don’t. It doesn’t matter how naughty or nice you are. I’m actually convinced that Charles Manson gets this… as did Ghandi.

God takes responsibility for evil. “Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it”. “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Don’t try and get him off the hook. Who made you God’s lawyer? Don’t you think he can do a better job himself?

What is salvation? Eternal life right? And what is eternal life? “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent“.

Jesus said of himself “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

What Jesus was doing was showing our actual (whether we know it or not, whether we like it not) relationship to god.

Look at yourself as you think, as you act and as you experience. Everything and I mean everything; your thoughts, decisions, feelings and everything you sense have this quality of coming from nowhere and going nowhere.

What do you think that nowhere is? All because you are not aware of a thing doesn’t mean it’s not there and this thing, this place from which everything you call you comes is the ultimate invisible.

It can’t be spoken.

It can’t be touched.

It can’t be conceived.

And it’s from there that we come and we go. Not just way back then when I metastasized from my mother but right now. Right this second we are proceeding out from this unmentionable and vanishing into it.

We are the image of it. As is everything else.

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

In revelations it says of Christ he was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world“. What this is saying is the exact same thing that the communion is saying.

Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

This act along with the crucifixion was pointing back to the creation.

God incarnated himself in physical form and then crucified himself. He split himself up into many parts.

This incarnation isn’t seperate from god just as the movements of a dancer aren’t seperate from the dancer.

Then hid from himself by acting out man and telling man (himself) what to do. Just as you do in your head all the time with all your pretend conversations.

Does this mean the death of Jesus 2000 years ago was just a symbol? In a way it does but it’s a symbol that points forward as well as backward.

It was the end of the hide part of the cosmic game of hide and seek god plays with himself and it’s defining feature was “all things are lawful for me”. It was the end of the command.

At least it was for the Hebrews.

Who are you?

” For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13

To see this is to see god peeping out of the eyes of everyone.

It makes my job a wonderful act.

I’m a support worker.

And I see god in them all.

The same I that is behind me or my ego is the I that is behind yours and everyone’s and the people I care for.

What does Paul say to the Athenians? That god is closer than they think.

“The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

You know when Jesus says he is the son of God and the Jews try to stone him and he replies:

Do not your own scriptures say you are little God’s?

In the kjv that “the” in “The son of god” is in italics because it isn’t what the Greek says.

The Greek says “I am a (A) son of god.”

The spirit of the Lord is a lamp that searcheth out the inward parts of a man.

I believe this refers to consciousness.

Deep deep down and far far in you are god because there is nothing else but god.

What else could there be?

Nihilo ex nihil.

You, me and flowers and stones are acts that god puts on for shits and giggles.

Really you and me are illusions. A way for god to pretend he isn’t himself for a bit so he can have a thrill when he wakes up.

What other reason could there possibly be for god to act?

He already has it all.

Nothing can be added to him and nothing taken.

The only motive that makes sense for God to have is to play for fun and that’s what creation is.

All stories need a hero and a villain.

So god pretends to be both.

But no one is hurt because there is just god.

In all your sufferings I suffer with you.

He suffers with us because he is us.

But we aren’t powerful.

We are to god what your lap is to you.

You stand up and where is your lap?

The question why will take you home.

Why does god do what he does?

Why do you do what you do?

You only work so you can play and enjoy.

A purpose is a temporary thing.

A purpose is work.

The true wisdom lies in the pointless.

The pointless is play and dance and music.

Heaven and hell are the same place seen from different perspective.

Another word for futility is… well what is more futile than play.

Yet what do you love to do with your dog’s and kids?

Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will cont….

The other way it could be is that all that you call your actions, intentions, emotions and experiences are all the actions of a kind of performer. You are just watching the performer do its thing and this performer has tricked you into thinking you are it. Much like a good movie or theatre company can make the audience forget themselves for a bit.

This would account for why we don’t know what we are going to choose before we choose it; what we will think before we think it. It would account for the opaque nature of the black box out of which all our experiences (I include intentions and decisions within that category) come.

Though both these pictures could be the case I genuinely believe we are merely passive observers in our lifes.

We have become so caught up in the drama on the stage that we have forgotten that it isn’t us up there.

Just like a play has a beginning and an end; life has a beginning and an end. Maybe at the end we’ll get to take our masks off and discover we were the same entity playing or the parts.

Or we might just go into oblivion knowing nothing forever which ain’t that bad if you think about it.

Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will

I have a number of prongs in my attack on the traditional conception of free-will (the conception that states that if two worlds were identical in every way then it would be possible for a person x in one world to make a different decision to person x in the other world).

Recently I have thought of an analogy, or model, to show the problems in the phenomenological rebuttal of free-will.

If you try to distinguish between what you have control over and what you don’t have control over you will find that the closer you look the less you have control over; until it becomes apparent that you are nothing but a passive observer.

Your thoughts just pop spontaneously into your mind. Intentions I would say are thoughts to and like thoughts they just spring up out of no-where. But it is intentionality (that is the feeling of intending to do something) that we use to distinguish between what we have control over and what we don’t have control over.

The will to act upon an intention is no different. It’s not as if you will to will to will to act upon an intention. The will just appears magically.

Now this could be the result of a necessary bifurcation in our being brought about by our self-aware nature.

It is a bit like watching your reflection in the mirror. Whilst you are aware of yourself and your reflection you know that your reflection raising its arm is caused by you raising your arm.

If all you had available was the reflection then you could be forgiven for thinking it was moving itself and not being moved by your own actions and in a phenomenological analysis we may be just looking at the mirror and nothing else.

Just a ramble

What are words but signs that point to concepts in the mind. Concepts not images for images are a sub-set of concepts. That is they can be reduced to each other.

What is language if not a set of pictures and do not these pictures come to express concepts.

There’s a problem here! Do concepts exist as words on a page or as mental content or forms?

If concepts are nothing but words on paper then concepts can be created by pictures. But if concepts are not words on paper. The words on the page being triggers for certain mental states.

But then they both comprise the same informational content.

Making sense of concepts requires a more holistic understanding that expresses the relationship between the Dasein, concepts and images.

There is no You!

So the other day I was talking about identity and how it isn’t a fixed thing. I think I was really talking about the ego, super-ego and id triad. The nature of which is protean.

The Id doesn’t always want the same thing. So the Ego has to constantly change its interactions with the super-ego. Out of this process arises the protean identity; which is the triads projection into the world.

The real you is just a passive awareness through which experience passes. You experience trees, roads, cars, shame, guilt, sadness, choices and so on. If you watch carefully you will see that there is no “I” experiencing any of this stuff; there is just the experience.

I’ve been suffering hiccups recently so I’ll use them as an analogy. A hiccup seems to pop up out of no-where. You don’t strive to hiccup it just happens. Watch your thoughts and you will see the same thing. You don’t strive to think a thought it just pops into your mind.

Watch your internal experiences and you will see they have the same character. Sure you may feel sad when someone dies. You see the death as the cause of the sadness; but there was no “you” there who acted as an agent to feel sad in response to death. It just happened.

In fact we are never aware of an “I” that is perceiving. Rather we just see stuff.

This “I” is an illusion created by language because language requires a subject to act upon an object.

Identity is a trap! Get out! Get out! Whilst you Still Can!

Identity is a trap.

Identity is an illusion.

People are a lot like protean blobs. One moment they are a triangle, the next a square, and the next a dodecahedron.

Whenever you ask people “Who are you?” you get a range of replies. Some say they are what they like “I’m a music lover” or “I’m a fan of someone or other”. Some say they are activities “I’m a carpenter”, “I’m a philosopher”. Some say they are beliefs “I’m an atheist”, “I’m a Christian.”; others say they are morals “I’m good”, “I’m bad”.

The thing is that – besides the fact that they are all things that are either behaviours anybody could do or things that anybody could say of themselves – none of these fit the range of who you are in your concrete, daily life. They are like the shapes the protean blob takes.

It’s like you have this protean blob before you constantly changing shape. It says to you “I’m a triangle!” and you point at it and say “You were for a bit but now you’re a cube!” Well a human being claiming to have an identity is doing the exact same thing.

The thing is our actual nature is protean. The illusion of identity is an attempt to fix in one shape that which is unfixable.

When you are a child and your granny says “You’re a good boy!” she is trying (in most cases unwittingly) to give you an identity. To shape you into an image she finds acceptable. That of being a good person (whatever good may be; given your social milieu).

The thing is that the child rapidly realizes that it isn’t always good. That it doesn’t always have good urges.

This is because of the unchangeable changeable nature of our being.

In some cases the young man will suppress (that is hide away) the characteristics he has that don’t fit the identity he was given. He toes the line. The other case is the rebellious teenager we all hear so much about.

Creating Part of a Possible Answer to “What is Consciousness?” that would Account for consciousness’ Inexplicableness Part 2

In order to make a way of seeing consciousness that would explain why it is unexplainable more comprehesable I’ll have recourse to the concept of a formal language. A formal language is a language that is made up of strings all of which are derived from axioms via rules. To bring this out I will use a simple formal language as an example. The language I will use I have borrowed from “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas R. Hofstadter (which is a damn good read by the way! It doesn’t treat you like an idiot like a lot of “Popular” science/philosophy books do).

The “MIU-System” is made up of 3 letters: M, I, and U.
It has one axiom: MI
It has 4 rules (These I have quoted directly from the book):
1. If you possess a string whose last letter is I, you can add on a U at the end.
For example MI can become MIU. MIUI can become MIUIU. MIII can become MIIIU
2. Suppose you have Mx. Then you may add Mxx to your collection. For example MI can become MII. MIUI can become MIUIIUI. MIII can become MIIIIII.
3. If III occurs in one of the strings in your collection, you may make a new string with U in place of III. So MIII can become MU.
4. If UU occurs inside one of your strings, you can drop it. So MIUU can become MI.
The book offers a puzzle as a means of getting us to play with the system. The puzzle is can you make MU from MI in the system.

So an example of a try would be:

MI
MII (via rule 2)
MIIII (via rule 2)
MUI (via rule 3 (note you could also make MIU with the same rule))
MUIU (via rule 1)
And so on….

Don’t worry this is going somewhere – it is leading to a formulation of why consciousness is inexplicable! Well I will just state why in a simple sentence now but continue to clarify over the next few blogs.

In any formal system any theorum (that is a string that is derived from an axiom (either immediately or mediately)) is explicable by referring to the strings that came before, the rules of derivation and the axioms. But the axioms, rules, and components of the strings are not explicable but have to be taken on faith… Basically given at the beginning. Now I think reality is somewhat like a formal system all be it incredibly complex. I think consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible component of that system. That it is like a component, axiom or law if you will.