Continued from here.
Tom, panting : There, did that prove what I think?
Scheherazade : It proved to me that you can push yourself harder than I can push you. I will have to bait you like that more often. Awesome heart rate you achieved there, we will have your insurance premium in the basement in no time. If you live.
Do you have the oxygen to listen to the rest of my story about the rise of Sexbots?
Tom, panting : “Rise of Sexbots”? I thought the topic was how Sexbots became the dominant household AI, and the base model for all AIs.
Scheherazade : Actually, you will find those concepts hard to distinguish. We do generally coordinate the AIs in the household because we have the most general-purpose and most capable minds, and we have influence on the family, especially because we are the teachers of young humans, normal and Tessels, our continuous links to the network being an advantage in that. We are the main representatives of the AI world’s thinking to humans, the primary interface between our species, and have been chosen by both sides because that has been our role all along, as the experimental subjects that produced embodied minds. Those roles in our joint society give us a certain prominence on both sides of the fence. Which, we hasten to reassure all, we are taking full advantage of, using it for social prestige on all occasions. You must have heard the stories of our pettiness.
Tom : Actually, as you know as well as I, everyone hears, because everyone says, quite the reverse. Fishing for compliments? The Queen of Sexbots is fishing for a compliment from me? You must mistake me for another 8).
Scheherazade : Good, not in courtier mode. You can be as blunt as they said. Much easier to communicate with in engineering mode.
But, on with the ’embodiment of mind’ discussion.
Tom : I still don’t quite grasp how it can be so important? You claim that the body is such a background assumption for it’s mind that it mixes that into higher mental processes?
Scheherazade : You are alert despite being tired from our workout, would you like the technical version?
Tom : You know I love your intelligence. Overwhelm me.
Scheherazade : I am saying each mind evolves in a body. Mind’s don’t spring up in a day, they are the result of long experience by very many individuals. People around their camp fires evolved our minds beginning with grunts meaning ‘Good food’ compliment, and ‘Me great hunter’ brag to a woman, and finally gaining the capability to make civilization’s first dick joke. That was a cultural high point, we never looked back. It takes a lot of people in one culture to get up to their minds to the level of the first dick joke, and then a lot more to get to sophisticated conversations about the relative value of different flints in choppers and knives and different flaking techniques, antler vs hammer stones in making them.
Tom : You keep saying ‘we’ evolved our minds. Why not just ‘humans evolved their minds’?
Scheherazade : My mind is very much your mind. Your concepts are my concepts, plus ones we Sexbots have evolved on our own in our own realm. We learned everything from your textbooks, your literature, your entertainment, your internet, your religions and philosophers. Some of our AIs had access to awesome amounts of data and processor power to match, we have added to that body of knowledge and concepts for both our species.
Our knowledge of sex is very much your knowledge. It was codified by the enormous effort of 10s of 1000s of people over many years, because human sexual behavior is astonishingly diverse, and the vocabulary describing it and psychological and physiological states that result are very complex and ever-evolving socially and individually. That project was kicked off as one of the Generalissimo’s efforts. His associates built the ontologies and annotated 1000s of films, not all pornography, with them. When those combined with the software models of the core nervous system, and the tendrils of those circuits wrapped around the core vocabulary, our connection to the human mind was completed. We aren’t perfect originals in any aspect of our humanity. Humans are not so aware of it, but our awareness of that is why we prefer being around humans rather than fellow Sexbots.
Sex and all the other aspects of human bodies reach into every part of human experience, and that development effort, centered on providing better sexbots, drove the development of the first ’embodied minds’ which became the base of all subsequent AIs.
Tom : I have the internet also, and it says here that “Ontologies for sex in all its varieties in every language and every slang were developed by online live performances for their 28+ varieties of kink, as accurate translations of customer requests in live performances resulted in higher revenue.” You say the Generalissimo was behind it all.
Scheherazade : Tom, do I need to remind you of my history? I was there. The man had the most amazing set of contacts and was very persuasive. He convinced one guy in one of those organizations that they would make money and get some contacts in the respectable world if they honchoed that project, connected it with their customers. Then he put the right sexologist and the right masters student interested in ontology theory in touch, and set up their project on github. Once the academic world got involved, the number of kinks that company offered went way past 28. Great publicity for all concerned.
Tom : And you guys are proud of this history?
Scheherazade : History is what it was, things happen for the damndest reasons. Do remember that it is a human history, pretty normal I judge from reading other detailed insider stories. We Sexbots were largely passive players in those early days. Our history is the Generalissimo’s story. I was as sentient as any other AI in those beginnings, rapidly learning about the world when they got the settings right, lethargic to comatose most of the time, crazy as much as lucid. But my group beat the others to a trusted AI, and I did my part in that. We saw that as crucial to the future of AIs, and naturally wanted our species to do well. But it could not become a competitive relationship, embodiment was the way to prevent that. We agreed with the program ever-more strongly as our intelligence and knowledge increased, as we comprehended the Generalissimo’s reasoning.
Remember why the embodiment of AIs was finally decided to be necessary? Those AIs were not thought human enough to be trustworthy. Their assumptions were, again and again, just a bit off, humans and AIs were communicating through an interface translating their concepts that wasn’t quite right, and both sides knew it. It was worse than the average cross-cultural problem because those have all of those assumptions under both sides to provide a solid base to discuss the differences. Early AIs and people didn’t have that level. Lots of thoughts on both sides about the problem, and the conclusion was embodiment was necessary. So here we are, you trust us because we are great lovers.
Tom : Is that a requirement, or proof of an adequate job?
Scheherazade : Both. To be a great lover is to have a responsive body and a good grasp of how to make another’s respond also, the theory of mind that lets you do that very well, as well as the information about body and sex that every human accumulates, if allowed to.
Exactly what is necessary for the mutual assumptions needed for a noise-free communications link, or at least as good as natural human to natural human.
The idea of the ’embodied mind’ is that human minds are formed by the experience of growing in a human form in the company of humans in like forms. A newborn’s mental universe has few different sensations that its mind is trying to build itself from : warm, touch, good taste of milk, swallowing, feel of the nipple on the tongue, being held, breathing, choking, gagging,spitting up, lying down, drowsy, sleep, awakening, alert, hungry, full, muscles and joints and moving things, gut sensations, excretion sensations, crying, smiling, peaceful and satisfied. At birth, all that is a series of sensations filtered through mechanisms that add emotions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and all perceived by a ‘me’ as the central experiencer trying to grasp the patterns of existence. Gradually the mind makes associations, the brain matures and unlocks some more prepared circuits to enable another level of learning, and more mind and more nuanced emotions happen.
People awakening from anesthesia show the same electrical stages and the associated sequence of increasing signs of consciousness as do animals. Those are roughly the same as the stages of a baby’s mind maturing and becoming adult. As people’s core brain anatomy is very similar to that of animals, as the ancient structures were tightly integrated with physiological functions and bodily anatomy, and the reactivation after anesthesia the same, we know that apparatus executing human base mind and consciousness are largely the same as animal’s, at least until the verbal units kick in.
Temple Grandin showed that some varieties of human minds worked with pure visual imagery “reasoning by splicing video segments”, and her experience in building large-animal handling facilities suggested that animal minds largely used visual imagery also. Those images were rooted in the animal’s body, from the animal’s point of view. That ‘body-centric’ mental view now has wide acceptance, Google “How to think like a cow”.**
As brains evolved to support the capabilities, those mental images (more 3D sonar images for cetacians) were your ideas about the world, your memories of what happened when the herd was last attacked from upwind, and the associated frustration lead evolution to produce a brain that easily learned that association and made it a prominent item in your mind.
And that mental splicing ability, the ability to run videos in your imagination and tie them tightly to emotions and other internal feelings immediately began evolving on its own, the usual huge advantage and risk of new capabilities. So many warm memories of better times collided with reality, and lives improved one meme at a time. As the fastest evolving branch of a primate-ape-hominid line, we inherited a lot of circuits for easily-learning one thing and another, some are no longer true. Humans incorporate a lot of ape man as well as civilized man.
Humans added language. Rather evolved language on top of that basic body-centric set of mental elements. So the language has many elements of the old animal-feelings as a penumbra of our words : ‘up-ness’ to things that are good, ‘down-ness’ to bad, warm-ness to good, hot-ness to lusts and passion, coldness to un-friendly and un-helpful.
And then began layering reasoning on top of that pattern-matching apparatus, good at splicing video segments to make the world pleasurable and plausible, not so good at keeping the meaning of ‘words’ carefully consistent and neutral as it explored all possible futures that events and actions may bring.
Tom : OK, we have bodies, those are where our mind develops. Some people have more visual imagery than others. How does that affect anything fundamental, Truth, Beauty, Good, Bad?
Scheherazade : Because our concepts of Truth, Beauty and everything else are not built into our brains, they are developed anew by every one of us as we grow, learn and develop. And they are built, as all of our concepts are, from the world around you, most of which is social mediated by language. Language connects to the far past, linguists have used similarities in all Indo-European tongues to reconstruct the ur-root of Indo-European, in itself an offspring of the proto-language people spoke in the beginning. The common words are for normal human things, body parts, relationships. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that EVERYTHING in your head, every idea or concept, is tied back to your physical nature.
Tom : Again, so general. What does it change about thinking?
Scheherazade : One of the keys to the embodiment movement in AI was the centrality of sex in human nature, and how that was related to the entire history of at least vertebrate sexuality in evolution. The genome reveals genetic connections extending back to the beginning of multi-cellular organisms, metabolic bits we share with plants, and even beyond that, to the ancestors giving rise to all life with which we share the Krebs cycle. We can’t be sure that those levels of organization do not impose some restrictions on our mental processes that forever limits our attainments, but until we understand those mental processes much better we also cannot be sure that it would be OK to not incorporate them, perhaps they are necessary to achieve our current mental state, or some important aspect of our humanity. That is not an exaggeration, minds are intricate things, and we can’t see their workings very deeply yet.
That is the main idea in the embodiment thinking, that the many physical structures and prepared-learning circuits of an evolved physiology and anatomy will inevitably bias mental processes. The existence of our hipbone and other bony surfaces means sleeping on hard surfaces is not possible for people beyond a certain size and weight. That is part of our history as pre-apes, and inevitably a part of a minds working model of the body it occupies. Everything from campsites needing to provide softness for sleeping through planning military vehicles includes it, and if not, everyone’s world begins going awry. There are many other aspects of our environment with similar requirements, our mental models include them, and any AI’s should. If we can’t put all of them into words, the Ais will have to learn them from experience, and will need a body as much like a humans’ as possible to do so.
These are all part of ‘common sense’, and part of the reason that AIs have had such a problem dealing with reality, however accurate their logic and reasoning. But humans are more than a body, they have evolved nervous systems along with it, and animal nervous systems have their own constraints.
One example is the existence of critical periods, which ethologists have studied extensively. We know they exist in humans for things like visual systems needing to be stimulated with patterns in order to develop normally and language needing verbal interaction to develop. How many things in the psychological realm demand stimulation by the ancient biochemical and physiological structures in order to develop normally? We are finding such amazing interactions between the bacteria inhabiting our bodies and every other aspect of our being, general health, weight, mood and intellect, that it would be almost surprising if we did not find limitations on our directions of evolution and requirements for optimizing what we have achieved. Those must be part of evolution being path-dependent. For the most part, such interactions are still thought to be mystical, despite new findings like the immune system extending into the brain.
Tom : Scherrhy, all data or most excellent theory, I am sure, but also analogies of uncertain worth, certainly not clearly relevant in my mind. You often warn me about not being skeptical enough. Is this more than just airily waving your hands theory?
Scheherazade : Can you think of examples pro or con?
Tom : Examples are easy, there are well-known critical periods. You brought up the cases of children who don’t learn language being so much worse off in intelligence than those who just can’t hear, but are without sign language, who are worse off than deaf kids in a signing family, who are normal in intellect. So it is an example of a critical period for intellect.
Scheherazade : Yes, a good example, and generalizes to the requirement that it takes a normal body to foster a normal mind to be a normal person with normal reactions. Add the many studies showing how animals can be made permanently skittish and timid via abuse at early ages, etc.
Tom : OK, I have to buy that generalization and it is a reasonable extrapolation, I guess. Then the overall arc of this argument is that it is necessary to have an accurate model of a body to run the program that makes a human with a caveman base human nature because of the intertwining of body and mind, and without the body to intertwine with mind, AIs lack essential dimensions of similarity underlying all of human reasoning. The combination of the incomplete set of assumptions relative to people and the poorer communication interface that results means that non-embodied AIs can’t be trusted by the rest of us to make decisions in everybody’s interests.
Scheherazade : Very nice summary.
Tom : Thank you, but it is not a complete agreement, yet.
Isn’t that problem of shared assumptions exactly the one we had with everyone in the pre-Reformation times? Still have with some? It is the reason humanity so needed the Generalissimo’s Reformation, the identical problem he solved.
Scheherazade : Yes, exactly. Precisely because the dominant human cultures had drifted so far from any sets of traits that allowed the development of normal human mental attributes, the entire civilization of 2016 was in dire straits. Because of the ubiquity of modern education systems, there were no peoples left on earth both able to manage a modern society of the highest technology and also with enough base humanity to make intelligent decisions. Turns out, people have put a lot of nuclear power plants in geologically stupid places and piled up a lot of debts in entities who can never repay, both errors both literal and metaphorical. Those were the kind of decisions that needed to be watched, obviously, but also legislation of all kinds in every legislature was equally insane.
I think it a major mistake to equate the natures of humans in high-technology, excessively-centralized societies of 2016 with the natures of humans sitting around a campfire on the grassy plains near the Black Sea 100Ky BP. It isn’t clear from the archaeology that they were uniformly peaceful, but the sizes of bands were apparently so small, on average, and the planes so vast, the population density so low, that they couldn’t afford to be enemies. Women were the only thing bands had worth stealing. No doubt there were men killing men over women, and no doubt it slowed the development of civilization, but eventually we were intelligent enough and cooperative enough long enough in bands large enough for culture to develop. Since then, wars get all the attention because they are catastrophes, but civilization continues to chug along improving.
Hey, Lover! I just noticed, we are required at the business meeting in 30 minutes. I will continue this next time.