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Thread: Can Curiosity Exist Without Emotion?

  1. #1 Can Curiosity Exist Without Emotion? 
    Forum Junior Kolt's Avatar
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    The need to explore, discover, understand - to obtain more information:

    Can this be achieved without feeling? Would a computer need some form of emotion in order to be curious?


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  3. #2  
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    It sounds as though you are asking if a computer can have free will.


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Curiosity is an emotion.
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  5. #4 Re: Can Curiosity Exist Without Emotion? 
    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    Computers do seek solutions for problems when they have been programmed to do so. A program can be very complex and then the search is very sophisticated, but that does not by itself mean the computer feels anything - curiosity, urge to solve problems, whatever.

    Just as a sophisticated weapon can do amazing things to destroy a plane or a tank, and "sacrifice" its own existence in the process, but that does not mean the weapon feels hatred. Or really cares for whomever it is defending.
    Leszek. Pronounced [LEH-sheck]. The wondering Slav.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Curiosity is an emotion.
    Agreed. Emotions are behavioral motivators; if you are internally motivated to discover something new, that motivation is driven by the emotion of curiosity.

    However, I'm inclined to say that the emotions of an organism and the directives of a computer program are not directly analogous. At the very least, modern day programming has not nearly reached the level of complexity seen in organic systems.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  7. #6 Re: Can Curiosity Exist Without Emotion? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    The need to explore, discover, understand - to obtain more information:

    Can this be achieved without feeling? Would a computer need some form of emotion in order to be curious?
    I might disagree with Paralith's suggestion that your above definition of curiosity demands complexity of program/thought. Emotions don't stem from complex thoughts - they're depth, analog, and ruder than intellect in themselves. But how deep do emotions go? I find people answer according to their answer whether an earthworm feels pain.

    Define emotion? :?

    Well, a scouting honeybee shows curiosity. An octopus feeling into crevices too. How about a twisted pine gradually rooting around boulders? The action is "curious", but maybe we don't believe the actor itself deserves the adjective "curious". Not all runners are real runners?
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  8. #7 Re: Can Curiosity Exist Without Emotion? 
    Forum Junior Kolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong

    I might disagree with Paralith's suggestion that your above definition of curiosity demands complexity of program/thought. Emotions don't stem from complex thoughts - they're depth, analog, and ruder than intellect in themselves. But how deep do emotions go? I find people answer according to their answer whether an earthworm feels pain.

    Define emotion? :?

    Well, a scouting honeybee shows curiosity. An octopus feeling into crevices too. How about a twisted pine gradually rooting around boulders? The action is "curious", but maybe we don't believe the actor itself deserves the adjective "curious". Not all runners are real runners?
    The octopus is an interesting point. They're said to be a rather intelligent species with problem solving skills but its debatable whether or not they posses any substantial sense of emotion, certainly not human emotion. They do, however, display behavior that could be classified as "curiosity".

    So I guess my question is whether or not curiosity is a product of emotion or instinct
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  9. #8  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    It really depends on how you're defining emotion, and in my case I simply describe emotion as a behavioral motivator. Humans most certainly have more complicated emotions than some other animals, and we are far more conscious of our emotions than most other animals, but the basic function is the same.

    Curiosity (the desire to seek out and explore new things) is an emotion, and emotions are a form of inherent behavior - or what you call instincts.

    (I prefer to use a stricter definition of the word instinct, but most people don't.)

    To Pong - I'm not saying so much that the emotion is complex, but rather that the mechanisms creating and directing it are. Their origin is in your brain, and the brain is one of the most complex things out there. In humans at least we know a variety of things can contribute to being curious, and whether or not your emotion of curiosity will win out over your emotion of dread if you know there's a possibility of danger, etc.

    As far as my comment about computers not being complex enough to approximate human emotion, you can definitely take that with a grain of salt. I don't know enough about computer programming (either as it exists today or what it may be capable of in the future) to say that with any certainty.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    It really depends on how you're defining emotion, and in my case I simply describe emotion as a behavioral motivator.
    So the emotion isn't the behavioural mechanism itself - emotion promotes or suppresses the mechanism e.g. the instinct.

    I think our subjective emotions seem richer than they really are, because they affect thoughts powerfully. So a tangle of emotionally charged thoughts we consciously cant' handle, we chalk up to "emotion", and guess emotion itself must be complicated. But an emotion itself, for electronics analogy, is no more complex than a particular voltage ranging through a circuit.

    Emotion is analog, so it relates to digital (on/off, yes/no, logical) mechanisms like thoughts, instincts, behaviours through thresholds. I'll illustrate with a mousetrap - the simplest of robots: The mousetrap has a behavior/instinct/mechanism we're all familiar with. And anyone who's set a few knows each one has a personality, or temperament. That's friction between trigger and hold-down bar, which keeps the trap from springing - each trap is a little different. That, minus the degree of pressure on the trigger, gives us a threshold regulating one very rude instinct behaviour. So in this simple robot we have instinct, temperament, threshold, and of course the sensory organ of the trigger. Analog -> digital. Logic pwns fuzzy.

    But where oh where is emotion, exactly? Is it the tremor between trigger and hold-down? Anybody wanna put their finger on this?

    I'll bet if we can place emotion in mousetrap behaviour, we can place it in machine curiosity.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    I would say the "emotion" in your example are the forces that determine the movement of the trigger - the spring pushes one way, your finger pushes it another way. Only after the pressure of your finger increases past the absolute force of the spring does the trigger move in that direction.

    I like to think of neurons passing on action potentials (and this may very well be the mechanism through which emotions act). One neuron receives input from multiple other neurons. If all inputs are relaying a strong potential, then the neuron will output a very strong potential as well. But if some inputs are strong and others weak, even dampening, the neuron outputs a weaker potential, if it outputs one at all. The output results from the strength and combination of the inputs.

    And by the way, I never said that the mechanisms were fuzzy, only that they were complex - who knows how many inputs, and inputs of what nature, go into creating a single behavioral output - and what are the units the input and output is measured in? Does the word "curiosity" describe a very specific, narrowly defined desire, or are there multiple forms of curiosity, and the world only indicates the category of impetuses related to a search for newness?

    It's my opinion that greater advances in neuroscience and endocrinology will ultimately reveal the answers to these questions. At the moment we simply don't know enough about the basic mechanism of emotions.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  12. #11  
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    A computer can be taught to correlate, after correlation if there is new information the desire for that info is curiosity.
    A self correlating server could reduce storage capacity by an immense amount.
    Imagine if you had a machine with all program loops, new software would only need to be the order to run them in.
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  13. #12  
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    Everything that we do is emotion, but everything that you can do automatically is instinct (it is that simple).

    Eg: first time you ride a bike you have fear and goal (this is emotion keeping your bike steady), but once you winged the art of biking, it immediately became instinct (now you just focus on that icecream or places, and the bike go on by itself).
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