Scientific Research & Self-Development Activism
I'm posting this here to discuss something brought up in one of my other threads.
How do you define what is right and what is wrong? Is it black and white or is it relative? Defined by society, or defined internally? Do circumstances define morality?
I believe the answer is something in between....
Please share your opinion below.
I think that we as human beings are basically selfish by nature. If you take a baby, or even a 2 year old child, for example, they are always totally focused upon their own selfish needs and desires. Everything is always Me, me, me! and they will cry or throw a temper-tantrum if they do not get what they want. Somewhere along the line, though, as we mature, I think that we all begin to logically realize that cooperation with other people is beneficial, and that we can accomplish more for ourselves by working with others, rather than against them. This is, essentially, the basis of human society, and it creates a Win-Win scenario for us all. I think that our basic "moral" code might be expressed in what we commonly call, The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This basically describes our own selfish interest, as well as our consideration and respect for the selfish interests of others; and I think that most of our social mores & laws are based around this idea: What is the greatest good for the greatest number of people?
What really intrigues me though, (as a personal fascination,) is where potential artificially(?) intelligent machines/computers of the future will derive their morality from? I think that true AI is going to occur, and probably in the next 10-20 years; so this is a question I think we should all be thinking about, as well.
And I'll throw in a good TED talk about morality; just for the hell of it. :-)
Sam Harris: Science CAN Answer Moral Questions
Selfishness is an attribut of life, not of humankind. Survival and natural selection force all living things to be selfish. So of course we have a selfish base, but compared to others: we are not. Our social behavior and our will to cooperate and share, without the need to do so, is the biggest difference between us and our nearest relative(chimpanzee). Not being selfish is the reason why humankind is so successful, beside intellect and our hands.
A one year old child is helpless and not able to achive things on its own. The more independent it gets, the less selfish it is. A two year old child already shows that willl to cooperate and share. And yes: it still wants, wants and wants("Me, me, me!"), but this only due to its helplessness.
Resources(and a bit of interpretation): Cooperative Activities in Young Children and Chimpanzees. by Warneken, F., Chen, F., & Tomasello, M.
I really like the point you make about independence vs selfishness. I can see that in my own life, where as I got older and more self-sufficient I didn't ask for or expect things from others nearly as much.
Perhaps the selfish state is brought on by helplessness... But how would that effect our sense of right and wrong? If I don't know you, and you do not have any possibility of contributing to my life in any way, where do we get our moral grounding that it would be wrong to blow you away?
Although Sigmund Freud´s sturctural model of the psyche is not fully developed, it still shows(more or less accurate) the basic mechanics of our brain. He held the view that our superego("our moral grounding") evolves till our 5th birthday and probably in high-stress situations. As you can note in war, But that is just my opinion, which would explain why near-death experiences or the death of someone beloved and many other high-stress situations have such an impact on our life.
So as to Freud: our difinition of right and wrong is part of our education(superego), while our actions are the consequence of the conflict between our id(basic wants or the like) and superego, regulated by our ego.
Well that is our definition of right and wrong, but if we come to talk about "What is right? What is wrong?", we get serious trouble(thinking of: "sometimes even right is wrong").
Resources(and as always, a bit of interpretation): Id, ego and super-ego by Freud S.
Well, real AI will take longer than that, as it'll need quantum computing to accomplish it. Every AI that you see today, is nothing more than a list with situations, linked to a list with responses. Meaning, it does not think.
However, the idea of AI is based on Logic. 'If that guy waves at me, he must be greeting me.' It's a logical conclusion after all. Now, when we have a situation where one death can mean the saving of many, the logical conclusion would be to save the many. That is at least, where all those sci-fi movies are based upon.
After having watched the entire series of Star Trek Voyager this last month, there was this episode about the hologram doctor being kidnapped and then being placed on a planet where he has to help another species with medical procedures and the like. He finds out that the entire planet is being run by a ginormous AI. This AI puts a label on every being which states how 'valuable' they are to the society, thus deciding how much medical help they may get. I found it a pretty interesting episode, because it shows what can happen when we let computers do the thinking for us.
Ahh.. AI's :-) They may deserve a thread of their own.. I love AI's.
I'm pretty sure threads have been started on it before....
I'm always reminded of Viki from I-Robot.
I actually started a thread about AI & Morality back in March of this year. It got quite a few hits, as I recall; and some very interesting points were brought up. I, Robot and Viki were mentioned in it, too, of course. :-)
well as a rule of thumb, something done right or a right decision or action will bring you pleasure, satisfaction..w/e positive emotions lol...but something done wrong will bring you pain, or w/e negative emotion. now if you're a cold hearted bastard and feel no emotions then right or wrong doesn't really matter to you.
so there you go, now go rob a bank, get arrested, get thrown in jail, then feel the pain of anal penetrations (booty warrior, look it up on youtube).
Wrong and right. Is defined by us.... It's defined by our knowledges about the subject. But it's also defined by many other things... ex. you have a friend he thinks that the the "thing" discussed is wrong. You will automatically have tendencies to say that the "thing" in the discussion is wrong too. I have another example.
You are talking with a group of people and they all think your opinion about something is the best or a good one. Later you are talking about the same thing with other guys (or girls LOL) you will automatically put more belief in your opinion. Because your brain has got some dopamine related to your opinion (you will get dopamine when other people say something positv about your or your belief system). It's acctually why religions are so powerfull! But if you know all these things you can like trick your mind and choose more independently about right and wrong. If everybody would know these things we could build a better world! SELF DEVELOPMENT IS IMPORTANT! sry for bad english!