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The Inevitability of Intelligence and Critical Thinking Leading to Empathy and Altruism

Kris Notaro

Ethical Technology

December 11, 2012

I want to make some claims about the future of brain cognition that will lead to rational, logical, empathetic thought. The notion of “friendly SAI” and “unfriendly SAI” is a fallacy and should be abandoned, that is, the notion that we can program AI in the SAI setting to be friendly is an attempt to undermine intelligence and the domain of empathy and altruism.


Complete entry


Posted by kevinlagrandeur  on  12/11  at  01:13 PM

Interesting article, Kris.  I have a couple of questions.  First, this article assumes (rather than argues) that SAI will exist.  Why?  Are you relying on Kurzweil and Moravec’s arguments?  Even those seem to me to be problematic because there are lots of environmental, economic, and existential hurdles to our very existence as an advanced civilization.  See this article published today, for instance, which references a group of academics:—politics.html It gives good evidence about those hurdles.  Also, why see such things as altruism as a process that is not primarily genetic (like aggression).  There is plenty of evidence that it might be (ants exhibit it, for instance), because it enhances a species’ survivability.  I ask these in the spirit of genuine philosophical debate, and wonder if you could amplify a bit.  I’d like to be optimistic about AI and our future, but I’m still on the fence.

Posted by stevendeedon  on  12/11  at  03:26 PM

Kris, there is a sea of literature on empathy and/or related constructs like prosocial behavior, altruism, cooperation, etc. from social, developmental, comparative and evolutionary psychology and evolutionary game theory.  Assertions like yours need to be much more informed. 

Social Darwinism?  No self-respecting evolutionary biologist or social scientist would use this term except to describe some very wrong-headed ideas that have long since been relegated to the historical trash heap.

Posted by Kris Notaro  on  12/11  at  04:20 PM


I agree with you completely and thank you for pointing out that there is much much more literature out there concerning empathy. Unfortunately I have to disagree with you when it comes to the use of the phrase social Darwinism because I think many people out there still use that term, and basically that is what capitalism is, simply put.

Posted by CygnusX1  on  12/11  at  05:32 PM

Hi.. Devils advocate here?

Kris.. Empathy and Atruism may be compounded as increased/evolved compassion.. For ourselves and others? And a “very” Christian ethic this is too? Check the origins of your premise/convictions?

I would hope that all you propose will come to fruition? No disagreement there!

Now the but.. Another way to pursue the end of suffering is for each Human to pursue joy and happiness, and thus be at peace, empowered, fearless, generous, trusting and trustworthy, (Libertarian/Anarchist?)

Similarly any goal for a CEV would be to promote the rational end of Human suffering, promote peace, and extension of individual joy?

Can you see where this is “Objectively” hinting?

“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves-or whether it should be ours here and now on this Earth?”

Posted by Kris Notaro  on  12/11  at  09:02 PM


It seems to me that SAI will exist – however – at the moment – I believe that humans will have to replicate the human brain in the form of computer algorithms, simulations, and neural replacement.

The reason I say that is because I lean towards a type of panpsychism where multiple-realizability of consciousness relies more on the neural patterns (from evolution – currently found in our brains) of information and emotion processing.

>”Also, why see such things as altruism as a process that is not primarily genetic (like aggression).”

Because I have been influenced by literature that hints at our “hunter gatherer instincts” so on and so forth. I don’t know if believe it myself, for the neural plasticity of the brain is immense, and can by pass with education, experience, etc many “instinctual” habits. 


I am a libertarian socialist, anarcho-syndicalist, believe in cross-border solidarity, and technoprogressivism. Will future minds think the same? I don’t know, but from my experience and education it seems that the above isms and ideologies makes for an awesome future!

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