META: The problem of "Good vs. Evil"

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Wed Feb 20 07:32:19 PST 2008

On Feb 20, 9:54 am, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:

> It's just arrogant to think that there's something special about human
> beings that allows us to make seemingly random decisions whereas
> animals and robots rely on instinct and programming, respectively.

I think there's something special about humans, animals, and perhaps
even plants: it's called "life" and it allows them to do many, many
things.  As to whether humans are innately higher life forms or not,
I'm ambivalent on the issue.  But let me say this, without a touch of
arrogance but mucho pride.

A robot can think, but it cannot _create_.  A robot can "randomly"
decide things by a programming a command such as, "with a chance of
one out of twenty, perform the following action".  A robot cannot make
a real and true decision between two equal alternatives; the best it
can do is throw a die.  It can never act on a "whim" because there's
no such thing when you're talking about a program.

It cannot write a novel or a symphony.  There will never be a Mozart
machine.  It cannot love or hate or act silly-- viruses withstanding.

To say there's no distinction between animals and machines certainly
isn't arrogant.  It's just inane.

> Martin


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