LS Re: the four levels

Bodvar Skutvik (
Tue, 18 Aug 1998 16:41:35 +0100

Sun, 09 Aug 1998 13:09:53 +0000
Diana McPartlin wrote:

> Magnus:
> > Let's see, imagine a small society, say a
> > spaceship on an interstellar voyage to a nearby star. The trip will
> > take several decades and every crew member have a specific job
> > during that time. Suddenly, one of them dies, but the brilliant
> > crew is able to build a replacement robot that does the job of the
> > dead crew member so that the society can survive. One by one,
> > the human crew members die but all are replaced by robots.
> > When the last human dies, the robot crew replaces her also and
> > carries on.
> > Now, what is this? Is it still a society? Is it not? If it's not,
> > when did it cease to be a society? If it is a society, where are the
> > biological building blocks? Or is a society not dependent on
> > biological building blocks?
> According to the explanations of social value given by Pirsig it would
> be impossible to built robots that can function socially like humans.
> Such robots would have to understand and respond Dynamically to values
> such as charisma, fashion, celebrity, ego, shame, humor. That is what
> the social level of the MoQ is about and that is what AI has yet to
> prove.

Diana, Magnus and Squad.
Ever since Diana replied to Magnus' "Robot" challenge this riddle
has it been on my mind.

Her statement that according to Pirsig's examples of social value it
would be impossible for the robots to function socially like humans
is undoubtedly correct, but P does not explicitly treat the
(hitherto) science fictious scenario of robots approaching human
ability in a Türing test sense (if impossible to tell apart it IS
the real thing)

But neither Diana nor Magnus bring up the crucial question whether
the robots are Biology (a prerequisite for social value) and that
must be resolved first. Artificial Life (AL) is usually used in the
same breath as AI, but this usage disregards the Q-social level
altogether. As Magnus describes the spaceship situation, the robots
mimic humans perfectly also regarding the ability to reproduce and
"debug" themselves (immune system). Possibly even improve upon
themselves (evolution) and that should grant "life" in a Turing sense

And yet, what makes me doubt the TRUE biological value of the robots
is that if a catastrophy should wipe out the crew (on earth or in an
earthlike environment) the DQ would have to start again at the carbon
molecular level and the new life would be similar to the present.

But while it lasted? Would they be able to - in Diana's words:
"understand and respond dynamically to social values such as
charisma, fashion, celebrity, ego, shame, humor?". If the replication
was perfect who could tell? But even if less than perfect their
cooperation would be SOCIAL value, and they would possibly
develop their social sensibility to include such refinements.There
are - I believe - coarse and refined societies (social values) and
the ones that Diana lists are definitely very refined and solely

But what about the Intellectual value dimension, would the robots
enter that plane too? Please follow up.


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