From Reflex to Freewill
2006-08-16 at 00:00:00

A human baby is designed to go from reflex to freewill. (One wonders, does a human infant have freewill at birth? Well, of course it does. It just doesn’t know how to use it, yet. (It also has an arm, but can’t use it properly just yet.) Trust me, it discovers its freewill soon enough.)

A human infant comes with certain things built-in:

  • a suckle reflex (which helps it obtain fuel from a parent)
  • a discomfort system (used to trigger output system to alert parental units; scales from mild discomfort (hunger, nobody in room, etc.), to aggravating discomfort (poopie diaper), to severe discomfort (aka, "pain;” dropped on head, etc.))
  • autonomic support systems: digestive, respiratory, etc...
  • a big ol' useful brain with HumanBIOS v1.0, HumanOS v1.0, Human Personality v1.0, and lots o' storage space
  • I/O system consisting of advanced tactile response peripherals and high-resolution sensory devices, including arms+hands+fingers, legs+feet+toes, nose, eyes, ears, skin, etc...

It also comes with a built-in purpose, which I'll discuss later, but it is not "to be intelligent" nor "to survive" nor "to serve."

Notice that the built-ins above listed 1) are beyond its control, and 2) function mainly to communicate with a parent! We are starting off with a reflexive system, built on top of a freewill system, such that the freewill system will take over once it becomes self-aware.

This is similar to a computer system’s warnings... we can program the computer so that, for instance, when memory runs low, it can emit a beep so that we will attend to the problem. Our baby, when it gets hungry, is programmed to emit a cry so that we can attend to the problem.

On Purpose, Reason, and Mission

I suspect that the perceived purpose (and reason) for a person's existence will have its foundation in his/her worldview. With that in mind, and without prejudicing this discussion by giving you my complete worldview, I propose that our purpose is “to enjoy life.” While we all share this same “purpose,” we each have a different mission that will help us achieve our purpose.

First of all, the definition of “purpose” is: the overriding life objective. The purpose is self-centered and specific.

Second, only created things have a purpose. Everything man creates is for a specific purpose, even if it is to "entertain." There is no “purpose” if there is no creator. Without a creator, we can ask, “What do I want to do,” but we cannot ask, “Why am I here?” or “What am I supposed to do?”

For someone who believes in a god of creation, it is relevant to ask, "Why am I here?" and "Why did God create me?" Evolution, however, is not a conscious creator, so it does not directly instill any kind of purpose into creation. It’s unreasonable, even irrational, to ponder “purpose” if we are the result of one or more chemical accidents. If we evolved from Frankencell (that miraculous bit of plasma that suddenly sprang to life from lifeless goo), we have no purpose. All our life is purposeless, for ultimately we will achieve nothing but death. To speak about “purpose” in this context is nonsense. We are, truly, simply born to die. However, with that aside, and for the purposes of the remainder of this document, we’ll pretend that an evolved life can have some purpose.

All activity in which we engage ultimately fulfills some objective, goal, or mission that directly or indirectly helps us maintain or accomplish our purpose.

As an example, some might say their purpose is to “survive.” But survival isn’t really a purpose. It is self-centered, but it is too general. It is an over-arching objective or “mission,” but not a purpose. One can easily ask, “Why survive?” One might answer, “to propagate the species.” But that’s not self-centered. Certainly, you might care about the species as a whole, but really it’s irrelevant to self. What if you’re the only one left of the species, with no possible way to reproduce? (This is a scenario in which our first AI might find itself.)

So, neither “to survive” nor “to propagate the species” are valid purposes. They are good general missions or objectives, but for what purpose does one engage in those missions?

There will be, of course, a great divergence of opinion here.

  • The evolutionist says our purpose is to propagate the species. However, “survival of the species” is not self-centered, is irrelevant to the individual, has absolutely no benefit to the individual, and is, therefore, not a purpose. The evolutionist would have to say our purpose is “to enjoy life [while it lasts].”
  • The atheist says we have no purpose. If it’s true we have no purpose, then there’s really no reason to live. “We’re lucky to be here, and it won’t last long, so you might as well enjoy it.”
  • The Christian says that our purpose is to honor God. But what if we are miserable in honoring God? Would God want you miserable, as long as you’re honoring Him? How would you being miserable honor God? God wants His children to be happy. Our purpose, then, even from a Christian viewpoint, is “to enjoy life.”

Seems as though no matter what viewpoint you start with, “to enjoy life” seems to be our purpose.

Our purpose says nothing about how we achieve that purpose. If my purpose is to survive, my “mission” then becomes the path (the steps) to achieving that purpose. Although I cannot change my purpose, I can choose my mission! I can choose how I’m going to reach that purpose. Of the many paths before me to “survival,” I get to choose what path I take. It is only necessary to be consciously aware of your purpose if you want to determine the most efficient way of achieving that purpose. It might also be possible that one will innately pursue one’s purpose without it being in one’s consciousness.

Using the proposition that our purpose is to enjoy life, our mission then becomes the path we choose to accomplish that purpose.

Notice that this purpose (“to enjoy life”) is hard-coded into the system. The baby doesn't get to choose what its purpose is. It comes built-in. Every thing it does is based in its purpose of “enjoying life” or “experiencing joy.” Notice also that "purpose" is different from "reason." If I ask "why am I- or how did I come to be- here" (reason), I'm not asking "what should I do" (purpose)?

Intelligence Requires Freewill

Intelligence is the ability to reason. Without freewill, one cannot reason. Therefore, intelligence requires freewill. As a by-product, freewill means that one might choose to do something outside of one’s purpose. One might choose to do something outside of one’s given mission (that means, for instance, that when issued an order by an authority, I can choose to obey or disobey). Those who think that “to survive” is a purpose, any person can go against that purpose and kill himself. That is because of freewill.

Freewill also provides for self-awareness, or sentience. Freewill allows the AI to perceive that it is “doing things” in its environment. If an AI has no freewill, it cannot “explore.” Freewill is needed so that the AI can explore its environment, interact with it, and learn that it is a separate entity, fully in control of itself, fully capable of not only self-modification, but environmental affectation.

The instinct of sentience is easily overcome.

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