A brief response and reflection to the article: “Benevolent Artificial Anti-Natalism (BAAN) – An EDGE Essay By Thomas Metzinger”- 08/07/2017. Link here
In this article by Thomas Metzinger it is argued that a super-intelligence, of the type that would form for example under continuous work in artificial intelligence, would find in its vast access to information and superior capacities that the absence of existence is a state where the absence of suffering is guaranteed and that it would be effective or important to implement it, which would have consequences for our existence.
This development seems to be integrated with those statements that indicate that the construction of artificial intelligence is dangerous based on the intentions that this intelligence could have for humans.
In his article, Metzinger argues that an altruistic super intelligence would find that more important than maximizing states of well-being already present in people, it should focus on states of suffering and displeasure, and seek to eliminate them, since these are largely present in human beings and urge with more emphasis an action or group of behaviors to change the situation of suffering.
And this last point I consider is a moral bias, of the author I could say, or of culture in general, where it exists as an illusion that avoidance of suffering or elimination of it is more rational or primordial than seeking welfare or maximizing states of pleasure. There is no need for one thing to be above the other, either in the reality itself, or in the nature of human beings. But what is more, both are not disconnected or separated, suffering and well-being.
Because the question is: what is left after suffering is eliminated? There are two possibilities here. One is that there is nothing, an absence of any conscious experience related to our feelings of pleasure or suffering, then we eliminate suffering by eliminating suffering itself, without anything else in connection with this. But is it really what we observe that happens in our daily experience? Not so, on the contrary, when we eliminate some suffering we feel things, which we call positive, for example a sense of relief after suffering has been eliminated, or a state of calm and tranquility, a state of peace. All these are states of well-being, which lead us to the second possibility, that what is left after eliminating suffering is a certain state of well-being. In this context, where one thing follows the other, how likely is it that what we do to avoid suffering is not actually done towards having welfare states, so to speak, in a way, so that when one speaks of avoiding or eliminating suffering, what we actually do is to seek welfare, which would invalidate the concept developed by Metzinger regarding the attitude that an artificial super intelligence would have towards us or life in general.
These notions of reward and suffering I have developed in more detail in my book “Propositions” (see in the Publications menu), where I affirm that our moral or ethical behavior or any type of behavior is based on reward and not in avoiding suffering, the latter is simply associated with certain things that are not promulgated or sought, this is the role of suffering, but whenever we do something under a supposed elimination of suffering or avoidance of it, what we actually do is to seek a welfare state, which has multiple variations.
Beyond these discussions I would also like to refer here to a notion that exists regarding artificial intelligence where a key aspect is not discussed, and is the notion that creating an artificial intelligence is a way to solve many problems quickly and efficiently, since an artificial intelligence would have greater capabilities than us and would solve them more quickly and effectively. Everyone seems to assume that once intelligence is created it must work for us and solve the problems that afflict us, but the free will of that intelligence is not discussed. If it is intelligent and conscious, just like the human being, why should it be treated as a slave without rights that must exist to fulfill the desires of the people? This intelligence may not want to help us or do the things we want, and we should interact with it to find the solutions we want.