: Yes, it’s puzzling. I don’t think I’ve ever
seen anything quite like this before.
HAL doesn’t just respond to novelty with a novel
reaction; he notices that he is encountering
novelty, a feat that requires his memory to have
an organization far beyond that required for
simple conditioning to novel stimuli.
: I can’t rid myself of the suspicion that there
are some extremely odd things about thismission.
: I never gave these stories much credence,
but particularly in view of some of the other
things that have happened, I find them difficult
to put out of my mind.
HAL has problems of resource management not
unlike our own. Obtrusive thoughts can get in the
way of other activities. The price we pay for adding
layers of flexible monitoring, to keep better track
of our own mental activities, is . . . more mental
activities to keep track of!
: I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and
confidence in the mission. I want to help you.
Another price we pay for higher-order
intentionality is the opportunity for duplicity,
which comes in two flavors: self-deception and
other-deception. Friedrich Nietzsche recognizes
this layering of the mind as the key ingredient
of the moral animal; in his overheated prose it
becomes the “priestly” form of life:
For with the priests everything becomes more
dangerous, not only cures and remedies, but also
arrogance, revenge, acuteness, profligacy, love,
lust to rule, virtue, disease—but it is only fair
to add that it was on the soil of this essentially
dangerous form of human existence, the priestly
form, that man first became an interesting
animal, that only here did the human soul in a
higher sense acquire depth and become evil—and
these are the two basic respects in which man
has hitherto been superior to other beasts! (
Genealogy of Morals, First Essay, 6
HAL’s declaration of enthusiasm is nicely
poised somewhere between sincerity and cheap,
desperate, canned ploy—just like some of the
most important declarations we make to each
other. Does HAL mean it? Could he mean it? The
cost of being the sort of being that could mean it
is the chance that he might not mean it. HAL is
indeed an “interesting animal.”
... To be continued in AIQS News 74
Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor
and Co-director, Center for Cognitive
Studies, at Tufts University in Medford,
He is the author of many books, including
CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED, and over 400
scholarly articles in philosophy, cognitive
science, and evolutionary theory.
His latest book is INTUITION PUMPS AND
OTHER TOOLS FOR THINKING.
Prof. Dennett on the sailboat should go to Phil Wickens