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Building Ayn Rand"s robot.

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Leonid
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First, to answer technical questions. All living organisms act against the gradient of entropy and Ayn Rand's robot is not an exclusion. The only difference is that such an organism would have inherent build-in mechanism for this purpose, like internal practically unlimited source of energy and automatic autonomic system of self-repair, based, say, on biological nano-robotic atom assembly mechanism, which would be part of his cellular structure.

I must inform you that your grasp of the concept "entropy" is insufficient. The Law of Entropy essentially states that no change can occur without increasing the sum-total entropy. If the change is one of creating more organization within one system, then that must come at the expense of disordering another system. Two parts of the same system, one of which entropically cannabalizing the other, will eventually both be brought to an entropic "standstill", i.e., an isolated system composed of interacting parts will eventually come to full entropic equilibrium, i.e., death.

You can't have a perpetual motion machine. Stop it.

- ico

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It's very simple. Living organisms need to take actions in order to sustain their life. Even in your fantastical example, you needed to posit an energy source that eventually must be replenished. This need to take action necessarily includes the possibility of failure. There is simply no escaping from this linkage, no matter how fantastic your supposed beings get.

Exactly. May I also suggest to folk reading this that they substitute "entropy sink" for "energy source" in their thinking? Energy is not the issue. Organization away from equilibrium in order to support life is.

- ico

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In my fantastic example this source lasts for very long time and it replacement is not organism's primary concern. My fantastic organism doesn't have to take any action virtually for eternity in order to sustain his life. Practically, he's undistinguished from AR's robot. But let say that he does take such an action every 1000 years. Does it mean he becomes moral once in millennium? I don't think so. I think that if he a sapient being, he would pursue values not in order to sustain his physical existence, but his life qua sapient by exercising his mind. Now consider the possibility that he doesn't. Eternal or almost eternal life of dullness and boredom is much more horrible an alternative than death.

"virtually for eternity"? are you trying to be obtuse?

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But we discuss here the artificial, man-made organism. Nothing at least in theory prohibits its creation. Observe that skyscrapers and space shuttles also never existed before .

Law of Entropy.

Check it out, been around for nearly 300 years, applies here, because YOU CAN'T BUILD A NON-TERMINATING PROCESS !

Stop it.

- ico

Edited by icosahedron
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Law of Entropy.

Check it out, been around for nearly 300 years, applies here, because YOU CAN'T BUILD A NON-TERMINATING PROCESS !

Stop it.

- ico

"YOU CAN'T BUILD A NON-TERMINATING PROCESS !"-

-Unless you deal with closed system which has source of energy, in this case internal source. What I described is not perpetuum mobile Total sum of entropy will growth and eventually the Universe will die, but this is very long process, tens or maybe hundreds of billions of years. For the purpose of this discussion I consider this period of time as eternity. Besides, some philosophers challenge laws of thermodynamics as absolute truth.

"To sum up I would state my view that Gödelian reasoning suggests that the First, Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics may not be as absolute as the doctrines of present day Physics would like to think that they are, and, following from that, that an assertion that "there can be no such thing as a Perpetual Motion Machine" should not be acceptable as an 'Ultimate Truth'.

http://freespace.virgin.net/ecliptica.ww/book/perpetuum.htm

Edited by Leonid
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Mark K " Well, happiness is not possible to a rock, happiness is not possible to an entity that doesn't face the alternative of life or death."

I discuss the sapient entity which face different alternative-life of happiness or life of dullness and misery. In the case of virtually eternal life the drive to avoid dullness and to exercise one own mind would be much stronger than the drive to avoid death. To translate the fictional scenario to the real life: man primary pursues values not in order to survive as an organism but in order to live qua man, that is-sapient being. Such a being primary acts not in order to avoid death but to enjoy his life by means of exercising his mind. Mindless life for such a being has no value whatsoever, even if such a being is Ayn Rand's robot.

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"YOU CAN'T BUILD A NON-TERMINATING PROCESS !"-

-Unless you deal with closed system which has source of energy, in this case internal source. What I described is not perpetuum mobile Total sum of entropy will growth and eventually the Universe will die, but this is very long process, tens or maybe hundreds of billions of years. For the purpose of this discussion I consider this period of time as eternity. Besides, some philosophers challenge laws of thermodynamics as absolute truth.

"To sum up I would state my view that Gödelian reasoning suggests that the First, Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics may not be as absolute as the doctrines of present day Physics would like to think that they are, and, following from that, that an assertion that "there can be no such thing as a Perpetual Motion Machine" should not be acceptable as an 'Ultimate Truth'.

http://freespace.vir...k/perpetuum.htm

You should know by now that Argument by Quoting Some Guy's Opinion does not work here.

Edited by RationalBiker
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I discuss the sapient entity which face different alternative-life of happiness or life of dullness and misery.

That alternative is not fundamental, so it can't serve as the basis for a rational system of ethics. It can serve as the basis for *an* ethics, but not a rational one.

In the case of virtually eternal life the drive to avoid dullness and to exercise one own mind would be much stronger than the drive to avoid death.

Ok, but why is dullness bad?

To translate the fictional scenario to the real life: man primary pursues values not in order to survive as an organism but in order to live qua man, that is-sapient being.

Ok, but why is being what you are (qua-spaient being) good?

Such a being primary acts not in order to avoid death but to enjoy his life by means of exercising his mind. Mindless life for such a being has no value whatsoever, even if such a being is Ayn Rand's robot.

Ok, but why is exercising one's mind good?

See what I mean - I don't all these questions to be rude - but to show that any time you pick a non-fundamental alternative as the basis for your ethics, you will have further justifying to do. And each question you answer will just lead to more questions.

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-Unless you deal with closed system which has source of energy

Entropy, entropy, entropy, not energy. You need an entropy sink. You can't cannabalize yourself.

You are imagining an oscillator without friction. Sure, it will oscillate forever. But it won't change. If it can't change, how can it interact with its environment? An isolated system can't interact, by definition, and is therefore in its own universe, out of this world, and irrelevant -- not to mention, impossible. No perpetual motion, short of the whole of Existence.

Total sum of entropy will growth and eventually the Universe will die, but this is very long process, tens or maybe hundreds of billions of years.

That is a fallacy, the heat death of the universe. It is predicated on considering Universe as an embedded system, which it is not. Universe is the ever and only, minimum, quintessential perpetual motion machine. Anything within Universe cannot be perpetual without disconnecting from the rest of Universe, which is absurd.

"To sum up I would state my view that Gödelian reasoning suggests that the First, Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics may not be as absolute as the doctrines of present day Physics would like to think that they are, and, following from that, that an assertion that "there can be no such thing as a Perpetual Motion Machine" should not be acceptable as an 'Ultimate Truth'.

Analytic-Synthetic dichotomy. Gödelian reasoning has NOTHING to say about the real world, it is a purely logical ("analytic") construct. Thermodynamics is much deeper, as it DOES incorporate external experiences, not just introspection (Gödelian reasoning doesn't require a material substrate beyond the ability to think conceptually.

The point is that systems interact, and in doing so, they decay -- unless they have a thermodynamic engine to support them. Your body is such an engine.

Engines push against the natural entropy gradient, converting lower order energy forms (such as heat) into higher order ones (such as work) and cannot be 100% efficient -- frictional effects always pertain.

And that link is a crok.

- ico

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**Mod Note: Ensuing posts about the entropy of the universe have been split to this thread. -Dante**

Godel's theorem is a theorem about abstractions, disconnected from material phenomena. Obviously, Existence works even if I can't conceive of the whole in one shot (which is tantamount to Godel's theorem -- there is no self-consistent symbolic representation of the whole that does not refer to external facts). Godel's theorem SUPPORTS my position.

"What the mathematicians have been calling abstraction is reality. When they are inadequate in their abstraction, then they are irrelevant to reality. The mathematicians feel that they can do anything they want with their abstraction because they don’t relate it to reality. And, of course, they can really do anything they want with their abstractions, even though, like masturbation, it is irrelevant to the propagation of life." -- R. Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics, section 220.11

- ico

Edited by Dante
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You should know by now that Argument by Quoting Some Guy's Opinion does not work here.

This is not an argument. Just another opinion. You may argue against it if you wish. I'm not a physicist. The model I presented is not perpetuum mobile either, since I postulated internal source of energy which will last for very long time, but not literally for ever. What is "for ever" anyway? My construction is what it could be the practical implementation of Ayn Rand robot. I claim that it is at least theoretically possible to create a sapient being which will live VERY LONG time and would be independent from its environment-the feature which distinguish man from beast.From all practical points of view such a being is undistinguished from AR robot. My claim is that such a being will be moral being. Moreover, I claim that ALL SAPIENT BEINGS ARE NECESSARY MORAL BEINGS, REGARDLESS WHETHER OR NOT THEY FACE LIFE-DEATH ALTERNATIVE. For the sapient being life and only life, not death, is foundation of morality and for sapient being to live is to exercise his mind. Since such an action is volitional, the only real alternative is to think or not, and this is true in regard to AR robot, any possible sapient life form, AI, and us, mortals.

Please argue about this point, not thermodynamics, which has nothing to do with the topic in question.

Edited by Leonid
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This is not an argument. Just another opinion. You may argue against it if you wish. I'm not a physicist. The model I presented is not perpetuum mobile either, since I postulated internal source of energy which will last for very long time, but not literally for ever. What is "for ever" anyway? My construction is what it could be the practical implementation of Ayn Rand robot. I claim that it is at least theoretically possible to create a sapient being which will live VERY LONG time and would be independent from its environment-the feature which distinguish man from beast.From all practical points of view such a being is undistinguished from AR robot. My claim is that such a being will be moral being. Moreover, I claim that ALL SAPIENT BEINGS ARE NECESSARY MORAL BEINGS, REGARDLESS WHETHER OR NOT THEY FACE LIFE-DEATH ALTERNATIVE. For the sapient being life and only life, not death, is foundation of morality and for sapient being to live is to exercise his mind. Since such an action is volitional, the only real alternative is to think or not, and this is true in regard to AR robot, any possible sapient life form, AI, and us, mortals.This is the only foundation of rational ethics.

Please argue about this point, not thermodynamics, which has nothing to do with the topic in question.

Edited by Leonid
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Moreover, I claim that ALL SAPIENT BEINGS ARE NECESSARY MORAL BEINGS, REGARDLESS WHETHER OR NOT THEY FACE LIFE-DEATH ALTERNATIVE.

And it is on this basis why you are encountering such resistance to the acceptance and adaptation of your assertions. It is the fact that human beings face life/death as the fundamental alternative that give rise to the moral. By obliterating the life/death alternative removes the criteria upon which the concept of the moral is based. No life/death alternative, no concept of the moral. In Objectivist terminology this would be identified as a stolen concept as you are using it.

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...I claim that ALL SAPIENT BEINGS ARE NECESSARY MORAL BEINGS, REGARDLESS WHETHER OR NOT THEY FACE LIFE-DEATH ALTERNATIVE.

A sapient being which does not face this alternative is a contradiction in terms, and contradictions cannot exist in reality.

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This is not an argument. Just another opinion. You may argue against it if you wish. I'm not a physicist. The model I presented is not perpetuum mobile either, since I postulated internal source of energy which will last for very long time, but not literally for ever. What is "for ever" anyway? My construction is what it could be the practical implementation of Ayn Rand robot. I claim that it is at least theoretically possible to create a sapient being which will live VERY LONG time and would be independent from its environment-the feature which distinguish man from beast.From all practical points of view such a being is undistinguished from AR robot. My claim is that such a being will be moral being. Moreover, I claim that ALL SAPIENT BEINGS ARE NECESSARY MORAL BEINGS, REGARDLESS WHETHER OR NOT THEY FACE LIFE-DEATH ALTERNATIVE. For the sapient being life and only life, not death, is foundation of morality and for sapient being to live is to exercise his mind. Since such an action is volitional, the only real alternative is to think or not, and this is true in regard to AR robot, any possible sapient life form, AI, and us, mortals.

Please argue about this point, not thermodynamics, which has nothing to do with the topic in question.

While I disagree with your last statement, I really don't need it: by definition, Ayn's robot is indestructible. But, if I manage to take out your robot's battery, it dies. They are not the same thing. You are confusing "a long time" with "eternal". Eternal is not a long time -- eternal is when you OMIT time considerations altogether.

- ico

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Also, Leonid, your claim that all sapient beings are moral independent of life or death is an empty definition unless you define "sapient" and "moral". And when you do, you'll need to do at least the latter in terms of life and death alternative, and your definition of moral at least will become contradictory to your premise of independence. Or you can make it circular and cut it off from cognitive connections, but I don't find tautologies beyond the self-evident to be useful, personally.

- ico

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By obliterating the life/death alternative removes the criteria upon which the concept of the moral is based. No life/death alternative, no concept of the moral. In Objectivist terminology this would be identified as a stolen concept as you are using it.

Dante "A sapient being which does not face this alternative is a contradiction in terms, and contradictions cannot exist in reality."

Not necessary, if you substitute life-death alternative which is applicable to animals by life-life alternative: life of man qua man versus life of man qua animal.

Edited by Leonid
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icosahedron

"Eternal is not a long time -- eternal is when you OMIT time considerations altogether."

That's right. Eternal life is meaningless statement and not Ayn Rand, nor me never used it.

"Also, Leonid, your claim that all is an empty definition unless you define "sapient" and "moral". And when you do, you'll need to do at least the latter in terms of life and death alternative, and your definition of moral at least will become contradictory to your premise of independence. Or you can make it circular and cut it off from cognitive connections, but I don't find tautologies beyond the self-evident to be useful, personally."

I never said that "sapient beings are moral independent of life or death", only of death. I'm glad to define "sapient" and "moral" in this context.

"Sapient being" is an entity who possesses self-awareness and its derivatives -free will and conceptual consciousness. Objectivist definition of morality is " a code of values accepted by choice when the standard of value is life." In this context-life of sapient being qua sapient being. Whatever sustains, promotes and better such a life is good, whatever hinders it is bad. Nowhere such a definition implies that death is necessary condition of life. Immortality and indestructibility doesn't turn sapient being necessary amoral, it could only happen if such a being volitionally stops to exercise his mind.

Edited by Leonid
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Not necessary, if you substitute life-death alternative which is applicable to animals by life-life alternative: life of man qua man versus life of man qua animal.

It would still be considered a "stolen concept" as 'volition' is also an integral aspect of the concept of 'morality' as well. And it is still necessary, if you consider that

"There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not; it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and-self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it does; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.

The next three paragraphs go on to clarify this distinction, contrasting with plants, followed by animals, and returning again to man.

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Dream_weaver

Ayn Rand referred to the metaphysically given organism, and we discuss here an artificial, man-made sapient being, constructed in such a way that he doesn't need to take actions in order to sustain his physical existence. Life, not death defines value. Furthermore Rand referred to the specific action which man has to take in order to survive qua man, that is-qua sapient being. Such an action is an exercise of his mind volitionally. Volition is foundation of morality and derives from the fact that man possesses self-awareness. If he fails to do so, he not necessary dies but his life in many respects is worse than death. The vivid example is Jimmy Taggart in AS. The alternative remains, but for man it is primary an alternative to live as a rational being or as a vegetable. This is also an answer to all those who argue that rationality is not necessary requirement for man's physical existence (see "Choice to Live" thread).

Edited by Leonid
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So, we are discussing the application of morality, not to life, qua life, but to the arbitrary qua sapient man-made machine, essentially, a 'computer' which can 'think'. "Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man." Please note, that in building Ayn Rand's robot - she did qualify that it was amoral.

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So, we are discussing the application of morality, not to life, qua life, but to the arbitrary qua sapient man-made machine, essentially, a 'computer' which can 'think'. "Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man." Please note, that in building Ayn Rand's robot - she did qualify that it was amoral.

Ayn Rand's parable shouldn't be taken literally. Robot is not sapient being; it doesn't think by itself, it has to be programmed. What we discuss here is essentially the application of morality to any sapient being, man included. The main point is that for man the moral action is such an action which promotes his survival qua man, not just prevents death. Exercise of mind, reason is such an action. If man thinks, he is moral, even if he's virtually immortal and indestructible, if not-not. And if one asks, why such a being needs to think-my answer is: for the sheer pleasure of it. That why Rearden in AS invented his metal. Exercise of mind, satisfaction of curiosity, gain of knowledge, creativity , and contemplation of beauty are necessary values for man in order to survive qua man. They are all values which even immortal man will always act to gain. By doing so he becomes moral being.

Edited by Leonid
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Ayn Rand's parable shouldn't be taken literally. Robot is not sapient being; it doesn't think by itself, it has to be programmed. What we discuss here is a sapient living organism, although artificial. It doesn't preclude him to feel pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, exaltation or boredom, self-esteem and pride. In fact we discuss essentially the application of morality to any sapient being, man included. The main point is that for man the moral action is such an action which promotes his survival qua man, not just prevents death. Exercise of mind, reason is such an action. If man thinks, he is moral, even if he's virtually immortal and indestructible, if not-not. And if one asks, why such a being needs to think-my answer is: for the sheer pleasure of it. That why Rearden in AS invented his metal. Exercise of mind, satisfaction of curiosity, gain of knowledge, creativity , and contemplation of beauty are necessary values for man in order to survive qua man. They are all values which even immortal man will always act to gain. By doing so he becomes moral being.

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