Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Forum in English => Wątek zaczęty przez: innate w Wrzesień 11, 2005, 05:11:32 am

Tytuł: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 11, 2005, 05:11:32 am
But it is always best when an intelligent being
cannot alter its own form, for such freedom is
truly a torment. He who must be what he is, may curse
his fate, but cannot change it; on the other
hand, he who can transform himself has no one in
the world but himself to blame for his failings,
no one but himself to hold responsible for his

I'm rereading The Cyberiad, and I've reached this point in
the King Genius story. I'm not at all convinced; one could
equally make that claim of any sort of freedom.
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 11, 2005, 11:37:03 pm
...and few people did, like Heidegger, claiming that freedom is a torment, because it's connected with responsibility.

I think that Lem simply tried to underline this aspect of being responsible for one's choices, and used the body-forming story to present the thesis.
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: afebk w Wrzesień 12, 2005, 04:26:08 am
I just assumed he was being ironic, to make one wonder about what can be altered in the self.

Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 13, 2005, 10:14:42 pm
I think that Lem simply tried to underline this aspect of being responsible for one's choices, and used the body-forming story to present the thesis.

I had supposed that he was speaking specifically of changing oneself because I remember it coming up in (looks up the number) the Twenty-first Voyage.
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Agent101 w Wrzesień 28, 2005, 03:46:42 am
Although I have yet to read the cyberiad (it is on my list, yet not easy/cheap to find in my home country) I shall hazard a guess.

Currently we can blame our biological base motivations for what we do (and Golem XIV does that). Take for example the use of energy, we are profligate in our use and this potentially harmful to us in the future, yet I find it hard to blame people myself included. This because of our biological nature. Genes control our brains and reward us when we do things the easy way, to expend as little effort as possible in acheiving our goals (so more energy is available for procreating etc).

Now the control isn't complete so we can perform science and maths and other non-biologically inspired acts (we still get paid and food and mates so the biology is quiescent).

So it is feasible to think that at some point we will be able to cut off the biological control of the brain and replace it with something technological.

This you would then have different motivations, no longer would you desire warm environments and a full belly, and your friends around you. You would desire what you created the technological portion to want.

It is a qualitively different type of freedom. Probably a good example would be addictive drugs. An addict is free (morally, legally, energetically) to give up the drug he is addicted to. However he is not motivationally free.

The motivational freedom is the most fundemental as it impinges on most aspects of our brain and can always be blamed if other types of freedom are offered and desired, but not taken up.

The passage as it stands, however, gets into philosophical areas as far as I am concerned. If I change my motivational structures (and as a consequence a lot of what I do and want to do), am I the same person as the person that changed the motivational parts? If I am not then I can simply blame the old person who commited suicide creating the new being me, for having chosen foolish motivations :P

I wish the english translation of the dialogs was a little more advanced... to see what Stanislaw Lem thought on identity. I might have to learn polish too....

My view is that it has to be to do with your relationship and shared goals with other entities. Our sense of identity should be taken in an evolutionary context, and its purpose ascertained from that.
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 28, 2005, 05:21:34 am
With this freedom, perhaps you lose the need for blame altogether. You can keep trying new things so long as the punishment for an error isn't devastatingly harsh.

Greg Egan explored these matters... It was probably Permutation City and/or Diaspora, but it's been a few years since I read them and I keep forgetting to check when I'm at the library.

I might have to learn Polish too....

Yes, yes! It's the cool thing to do.
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Agent101 w Wrzesień 28, 2005, 01:45:00 pm
I was pondering a scenario where a change led you to being disatisfied with your current motivations and unable to change.

The most realistic one I thought of  was the following. If you needed a group of people to help you perform the change (surgeon etc), then your initial change could alter you from being social to anti-social. A possibility is that you alter yourself to not want to lie or hide the truth and not be tolerant of others lieing or self-deception. This would be in an attempt to make a more rational society. This might lose you the support of people that performed the initial changes for you (as you stripped away there comfortable protective lies). You might also not be able to use money, due to seeing it as a deceptive tool.

In this situation then you could blame your previous self for not having thought through the motivations correctly. And you would be stuck without the ability to change again.

There is a short story in there for sure, however I am not the one to write it.

Self-modification is a tricky business. I tend to think about it a lot because I work with a computer system that has programs that self-modify in a very simple way (or actually modify a copy, because that is safer).
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Wrzesień 28, 2005, 05:57:13 pm
Here we have a nice example of why it is very hard to describe the "I".  What am I?  Am I me at this very minute (22.43 china time)?  Am I me when I started thinking about who I am (say, 22.41 China time)?  Or perhaps I am the sum of all the I's of the past?  And on another plane, does the I really exist?  Is not everything predetermined anyway (in a logical world it would be, and show me one illogical thing to prove that continuity and reason are not the rulers here), hence the "I" is really nothing but an already calculated set of feeling-states extending from the time I was concieved to my (probably) untimely death?  What is a freedom - does it exist?  How am I free to change myself - what initiates the changes?    And if there indeed is something that initiates the changes, then that something is a result of yet another bunch of changes - each of which had in turn some initiative (which was at one point a result itself), ad infinitum.  And if i'm right, then in this freedomless society responsibility is a sham concept - but how can one accept that when seeing people hurt other people out of sheer malice and stupidity?  Are murderers as blameless as newborn babes?  
I don't know where I'm going with this or why I brought it up; it kinda seems to me that this might be the direction this conversation might want to venture (freedom vsdeterminism, responsibilites, etc).
Cheers, Socrates
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 28, 2005, 09:04:39 pm
"I" have wondered at times whether, just as this part of me feels that it is perceiving the world, processing information, driving action, etc., whether parts of what we regard as unconscious might have consciousness after a fashion. Perhaps similarly, where it also perceives and drives, regarding my processing as unconscious--or maybe something utterly foreign to my experience, something that doesn't even have the idea of space and food and people and trees, but sees the environment as a place which provides what to us are, say, mathematical or linguistic problems that need to be manipulated in some way. Perhaps it/they can feel awake.

Harm and freedom/responsibility: We hear of criminals claiming that they couldn't help it because they are driven by something, wired a certain way, but people don't the next step of pointing out that we are equally driven and wired to prevent them, to punish them, and prevent others. Such an argument would probably get bogged down in "so how are you right, then?" It can't go further than subjective right or social right, since only physical law can act as a final arbiter to prevent things. And yet at the same time, I don't believe at all that social norms should dictate everything. I doubt there's any way for it to wrap up neatly.

Isn't Wizja lokalna supposed to have some sort of ethicsphere thing?
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Agent101 w Wrzesień 29, 2005, 03:09:20 am
I don't know, is it too paradoxical to have a social norm that all other social norms should do not dominate too much ::)
Tytuł: Re: self-modification
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 29, 2005, 06:43:37 pm
Frowning upon small-mindedness? Sounds good to me...