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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

AGI, Ethics, Cognitive Synergy and Ethical Synergy (from my Yale talk...)

Earlier this year I gave a talk at Yale University titled "Ethical Issues Related to Advanced Artificial General Intelligence (A Few Small Worries)" ...

It was a verbal discussion focused rather than PPT focused talk but I did show a few slides (though I mostly ignored them during the talk): anyway the brief ugly slideshow is here for your amusement...

The most innovative point made during the talk was a connection between the multiple types of memory and multiple types of ethical knowledge and understanding.

I showed this diagram of different types of memory and the cognitive processes associated with them (click the picture to see a bigger, more legible version)



and then I showed this diagram


which associates different types of ethical intuition with different types of memory.

To wit:
  • Episodic memory corresponds to the process of ethically assessing a situation based on similar prior situations
  • Sensorimotor memory corresponds to "mirror neuron" type ethics, where you feel another person's feelings via mirroring their physiological emotional responses and actions
  • Declarative memory corresponds to rational ethical judgment
  • Procedural memory corresponds to "ethical habit" ... learning by imitation and reinforcement to do what is right, even when the reasons aren't well articulated or understood
  • Attentional memory corresponds to the existings of appropriate patterns guiding one to pay adequate attention to ethical considerations at appropriate times
I presented the concept that an ethically mature person should balance all these kinds of ethics.

This notion ties in with a paper that Stephan Bugaj and I delivered at AGI-08, called Stages of Ethical Development in Artificial General Intelligence Systems. In this paper we discussed, among other topics, Kohlberg's theory of logical ethical judgment and Gilligan's theory of empathic ethical judgment. In the present terms, I'd say Kohlberg's theory is declarative-memory focused whereas Gilligan's theory is focused on episodic and sensorimotor memory. We concluded there that to pass to the "mature" stage of ethical development, a deep and rich integration of the logical and empathic approaches to ethics is required.

The present ideas suggest a modification to this idea: to pass to the mature stage of ethical development, a deep and rich integration of the ethical approaches associated with the five main types of memory systems is required.