A hypothetical example...

Jason Earle 026831 at bah.com
Mon Jul 20 11:59:50 EST 1998


Tony Johnson wrote:


Suppose I write a simple program that has 3 variables one called PAIN,

> one called PLEASURE, and one called OUTPUT, which would print it's
> value
> on the screen,  The person running the program would be able to change
>
> the state of  PAIN and PLEASURE, from ON to OFF while the program was
> running.  And all the program would simply do is is go through every
> value OUTPUT(which would have a finite range) continuously until PAIN
> was OFF and PLEASURE was ON.  Now that we have this program, would it
> be
> unethical to inflict pain on the computer?  And if I were to change
> the
> name of the variables would it still be unethical to keep the variable
>
> formerly known as PAIN in the ON state???
>

If that is the extent of your program, then No, followed by another No.
However, if these values are used to control the outputs and actions of
a larger, more complex program that was responsible for multiple tasks,
one of which (not highest priority, but close) being to keep pain off
and pleasure on, one could start to debate... Especially if the
pressence of PAIN = 1 (PLEASURE = 0) would hinder the completion of the
other tasks, or lead to destruction of the software. Otherwise, PAIN is
simply a boolean variable that has no bearing on function - it is
neither good nor bad.

However, by modifying the program to accept a user input of BEER, which
could be an unsigned floating pt. number (think of those half full cans
at the end of a party), you might create a bias such that none of the
outputs in the given range could cause PLEASURE to go low. Think about
it.


> -describe to you're self in your own words, what the difference is you
>
> observe between the colors blue and red...

   umm...what is, wavelength? I'll take e-mag radiation for $300,
Alex...

-Jason "Looooooeeeeeee" Earle




More information about the Neur-sci mailing list