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is something I don’t think anyone can truthfully


Certainly HAL proclaims his emotional state

at the end: “I’m afraid. I’m afraid.” Yes, HAL is

“programmed that way”—but what does that

mean? It could mean that HAL’s verbal capacity

is enhanced with lots of canned expressions

of emotional response that get grafted into

his discourse at pragmatically appropriate

opportunities. (Of course,manyofourownavowals

of emotion are like that—insincere moments of

socially lubricating ceremony.) Or it could mean

that HAL’s underlying computational architecture

has been provided, as Cog’s will be, with virtual

emotional states—powerful attention-shifters,

galvanizers, prioritizers, and the like—realized

not in neuromodulator and hormone molecules

floating in a bodily fluid but in global variables

modulating dozens of concurrent processes

that dissipate according to some timetable (or

something much more complex).

In the latter, more interesting, case, “I don’t

think anyone can truthfully answer” the question

of whether HAL has emotions. He has something

very much like emotions—enough like emotions,

one may imagine, to mimic the pathologies of

human emotional breakdown. Whether that is

enough to call them real emotions, well, who’s to

say? In any case, there are good reasons for HAL

to possess such states, since their role in enabling

real-time practical thinking has recently been

dramatically revealed by Damasio’s experiments

involving human beings with brain damage.

Having such states would make HAL profoundly

different from Deep Blue, by the way. Deep Blue,

basking in the strictly limited search space of

chess, can handle its real-time decision making

without any emotional crutches.



story (February 26) on the Kasparov match

quotes grandmaster Yasser Seirawan as saying,

“The machine has no fear”; the story goes on to

note that expert commentators characterized

some of Deep Blue’s moves (e.g., the icily calm

pawn capture described earlier) as taking “crazy

chances” and “insane.” In the tight world of

chess, it appears, the very imperturbability that

cripples the brain-damaged human decision

makers Damasio describes can be a blessing—but

only if you have the brute-force analytic speed of

a Deep Blue.

... To be continued in AIQS News 75

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor

and Co-director, Center for Cognitive

Studies, at Tufts University in Medford,

Massachusetts, USA.

He is the author of many books, including






scholarly articles in philosophy, cognitive

science, and evolutionary theory.

His latest book is INTUITION PUMPS AND


Discovery in its mission to Jupiter.