(Disclaimer: I just woke up and have not carefully prepared any of what is to follow)
I've secretly always thought the Turing Test of A.I. legend was easy to beat. All you'd have to do to discern whether the other entity was human or machine was ask it "What do you want?".
My image of the mind is an interface between "want" and "how to achieve want". All of our astounding cognitive abilities have been really come into existance merely to better serve our desires.
So millenia on the savannah taught us that being part of a tribe meant life or death. To gauge our inclusion in the tribe and act as a feedback system we evolved egos. Pride felt good and shame felt bad. One would indicate a good job being in the tribe (and therefore safe) while the other meant our place in the tribe was at risk (and therefore in danger). The way I'm using the term "ego" covers both pride and shame as flip sides of the same construct. Tribal inclusion was so critical to survival that "chasing the dragon" was worth risking the energy. Making the ego happy (fulfilling its "wants") became as genetically valuable as eating or lust in terms of viable replicating transmission.
I'm trying to reconcile some evolutionary biology with Dawkins and Hrdy. "The Selfish Gene" blew me away when I read it. It seemed to indicate that love was really just a handy tool in the overall statistics of maximizing genetic transmission. The bastard genes were tricking aunts/uncles into dying for their nieces/nephews using love; manipulating them into serving the gene's need for a new generation with as much of themselves intact as possible. (Side note- I don't know if y'all saw the Dawkin's TED link after Dennett, but he talked about the "middle world" in terms of human perception being a narrow slice of the overall spectra possible. I suppose love is only necessary in the middle world, but I'm still glad for it).
So anyhoo, then I see those Hrdy links. A mother will sacrifice her own offspring if it better sets her place in the new tribe. Doesn't this mean she's told her genetic overlords to #$%* off and that her own existance is more valuable to her than genetic transmission? Doesn't this mean that the ego that evolved has backfired against its intended purpose? No, I guess not. Pragmatically speaking, the sacrificed offspring was going to be killed anyway so best keep the mother around to have create another transmission vehicle. So her seeming self-interest was really still in the gene's best interest still. (Side note- I haven't actually read any of Hrdy's books yet so I apologize if I'm misrepresenting her research).
Hmmm. Looking back this is not exactly a "Swiss Watch" of a post in terms of organization, but everyone in the saloon is SRC so surely they'll understand ;)
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