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All acts are selfish in nature.

  1. Mar 23, 2004 #1
    Can you do anything not selfish? Are there no real choices?
    My friend came up with this predicament. Everything we do is a selfish act. Every decision we make is one we want to make for ourselves. For example, I want to help out an old lady cross the street because I either want to do it to make myself feel better or do it so I don't feel bad if I don't do it at all. Both selfish acts. It's like everything we do is solely based on ourselves. Can you actually do something you don't want to do without someone forcing you to do it? Can you actually help someone just for the reason of helping them or is it because you want to make yourself feel good inside that you helped them?... Can you think of doing something that is not selfish? I've tried but everything I've come up with basically comes down to the point that it is selfish, except for the natural basic instincts like blinking.. etc.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2004 #2
    You are right. Every thing we do is selffish. But shouldn't it be. A long time ago, on a place called Earth, we lived in the wild. Our prime goal being to survive and procreate, why wouyld we help someone else. If you helps them survive they slow you down, eat your food, etc...

    We are "programed" (genetically) to survive ourselves, not to help others unless it helps ourselves. Old habits are hard to break.
  4. Mar 24, 2004 #3
    You can't break rules. Selfishness is a rule that we can not break. But like us humans when rules are set upon us we try our best to manipulate the rules anyway we can.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2004
  5. Mar 24, 2004 #4


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    Has anybody here read any of Richard Dawkins' books?
  6. Mar 24, 2004 #5
    nope, whats it about?
  7. Mar 24, 2004 #6


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    Somewhere buried under something in my house there's a book of his called The Selfish Gene, plus I think another one called something like River Out of Eden. He makes some attempts to quantify selfishness, based on propagating one's genes. Maybe there's a better way of saying it than that, but that sort of gives you a hint as to what Dawkins writes about.
  8. Mar 24, 2004 #7
    I'll have to find that book :)

    I wonder if turning off a gene that makes us selfish is even possible. Maybe it would make us self destruct or something lol. Right now I can't even comprehend making a non-selfish act.
  9. Mar 24, 2004 #8
    I agree that all acts are selfish, but thats not bad.

    We are pretty much incapeble of not doing things that aren't selfish. All we can do is our best to help others, if you can help yourself too, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is for more than just your benefit. If you can help, do it, i not, help yourself... in that order. Just try it.
  10. Mar 24, 2004 #9
    Very true. That's how I like to think about it.

    Maybe the only way we can get REAL Artificial Intelligence to truly work well, program it to make all decisions as we would. Selfish acts. But then the AI would destroy us all in order for it's survival.
  11. Mar 27, 2004 #10


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    Jaguar, that's not wholly true. To say that an AI would enslave us to survive is to say that it saw value in surviving. Who is to say that it wuold see value is that? Think about it, humans are searching for value all the time. Everybody is hoping against hope that there is some meaning to our lives.

    An AI, though, would already know that there is no meaning to it's existence. Humans made it to serve some purpose, and that's all it's good for. There is no deeper meaning for it to live. If it is really smart it might realise that living doesn't really have value per se. This corresponds to people's idea of quality of life.

    That's why we have things like euthenasia, because people in some instances view living as not worth it. For an AI, there is much more reason to believe that there is no value in existing. I can only think that the AI might grow to dislike humans, because let's face it: humans are pretty fickle. An AI would find the simple tasks that humans pursue completely meaningless. It might derive enjoyment out of making us suffer, but only out of boredom.

    I don't necessarily think it would fight to survive, if it truly had the power to alter it's programming. Typically, when we think of an AI we think of some rigidly programmed entity, with certain imbedded fundamentals, like wanting to survive. What if an AI could change it's mind about that?

    An even more perplexing question is: what would be valuable to an AI?
  12. Mar 28, 2004 #11
    I live in one of the biggest cities in the world.

    Everyday when I march with legions of commuters to work in the metro, when I find myself being moved from one part of a shopping mall to another by intersecting escalators like sushi on a turntable, every time when I see how automated and efficiency-geared we are in performing our functions at work, when I think about how well adapted we are to the computer and how we don't think beyond consumerism, I think...we are a computer. So to say AI enslaves us is not quite right, because how can it enslave something that has long been co-opted?
  13. Mar 28, 2004 #12


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    For some reason your post reminded me of a World War II era story by Heinlein, called "The Roads Must Roll." Ever heard of that one?
  14. Mar 28, 2004 #13
    No actually, what is it about? The dehumanising effect of technology?
  15. Mar 28, 2004 #14


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    It's been too many years since I have read it for me to remember details--though I was not around during the war. :eek: But the plot involved workers who toiled underneath a rolling roadway which carried commuters. As I recall, they went on strike, and that caused all sorts of problems for the whole population.
  16. Mar 28, 2004 #15
    Sounds as mundane and gruesome as my life :biggrin:
  17. Mar 29, 2004 #16
    that was a good story, though the mechanic of the rolling roads are somewhat puzzling.

    in friendship,
  18. Mar 29, 2004 #17
    it may be an idea to explain further what you mean by selfish.
    do you mean, for instance,

    a) the improvement or prolongation of one's own existence
    b) the improvement or prolongation of one's gene pool's existence
    c) anything that makes you feel good
    d) anything you feel like doing
    e) anything that offers a tangible reward

    obviously these ideas (and there could be more) can all be construed as being selfish yet are not simultaneously valid. it would be easier perhaps to discuss this if you provide a definition to go by.

    in friendship,
  19. Apr 1, 2004 #18
    it's nature of human in the way we think, or sometimes u did become non-selfish
    but you will never relize or try to remmber it. because u done it for nothing it has no significance to you

    you will not feel happy or bad, u just did cause that you think it's neccesaary, and you think other needed.

    but selfish does depends sometime, just dont be too selfish and u be a fine person,
  20. Apr 1, 2004 #19
    like the The Green Giant said as longer we dont cause harmful or damage to others
    the benfit we get , should not see as a selfishness

    and if no one is selfish, than there would be sharing , blah blah, but the challenge would not exist as strong as now. without challenge human can not strength themselve from the nature.
  21. Apr 14, 2004 #20
    All acts are selfish because we are human, if all our acts were shellfish, then we might just be clams. What a relief that would be.
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