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As a piece of computer code, it's tempting to think that artificially intelligent systems can't have feelings. So, can an artificial intelligence suffer?

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AFAIK, pain is produced by the nervous system (after the realease of chemicals), so no AI suffers. AI does not (yet) possess a life (and I don't think this will ever happen).

A definition of life from the dictionary:

the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

The current AI definitely does not possess a life according to this definition. AI is inorganic (like a rock): it is based on silicon (not carbon atoms).

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I like nbro's answer. I think another way to look at it is that we have an AI/ML algorithm where we provide some sort of policy or function that we want for it to minimize (or maximize - just multiply by -1). Based off of the AI's objective, if it gathers/collects information from it's environment that it might not find "satisfactory" to it's mission, it might "suffer" -> but really it is not being able to accomplish it's goals. BTW, this is all very "hand-wavy".

This is a very over simplistic analogy to our case. From a philosophical perspective, if I am a hedonistic organism whose only goal is to seek "happiness" or maximize the "happiness function" -> physical/mental/etc. pain would not allow me to satisfy my objective/goal of being happy -> perhaps I might "suffer". Again, I am deliberately framing this and also making many assumptions like a human's goal is to maximize their happiness -> this may or may not be the case depending on your personal views.

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At subatomic levels, there might be millions of short love and hate stories going on every nanosecond. Tragedies and absolute massacres, where atoms, which have been together for centuries are parted never to meet again.

But so long as, there is no "observer" who can coherently observe all these, the concept of pain can't get fully realized.

This AI would need to be "alive" and comprehend the events around it. It may or may not have an objective (function) but it'll need to go through pain, distress or hardship.

A intelligent device protecting itself against virus attack, using antivirus, might have to struggle, but the comprehension of either impending doom or constant battle perhaps doesn't dawn on it, so even though it suffers, it does not grasp it. Even if it does grasp it, it's not able to communicate that distress to us.

If we code the computer to shout for help and cry when a virus attacks, and it does so when virus attacks, then we would just "address" the issue and won't believe it's sadness.

I think it'll be really tough for AI to convince us that it's suffering. Hence I'll turn a blind eye to it. It doesn't suffer.

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