Re: Si definition of Friendliess

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Thu Apr 05 2001 - 12:46:55 MDT

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> >
> > Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > > Or perhaps it would conclude that you can be friendly to an arrogant,
> > > determinely stupid species and simultaneously preserve its free will and
> > > idenity.
> >
> > I assume you meant "can't", but I actually like this sentence more. I see
> > absolutely no problem whatsoever with being friendly to an arrogant,
> > determinedly stupid species while simultaneously preserving their free
> > will. Why would this even be difficult?
> >
> It would be quite difficult if you are constrained in your notion of
> what friendliness is sufficiently. If you cannot generally override
> human free will and if you cannot change the nature of human beings
> directly then you have on your hands a collections of members of the
> species who are by nature relatively violent, of limited intellect,
> prone to various forms of erroneous thinking and not generally terribly
> tolerant of one another or at least not very tolerant of those much
> different from their own general type. By their nature, left to
> themselves, they are quite likely to destroy themselves. Hence the need
> for the Sysop in the first place. The Sysop pulls their fangs as it
> were by making all their means of doing violence to one another
> ineffective. But how far does this go before the humans are no longer
> human? How far does it go before the result is beings that do not need
> to greatly weight their own decisions because the Sysop will not allow
> the wrong thing to be done anyway. How about the seething hatreds in

Well like it or not what most people want is less responsibility, not more.
Who wants to have to continue worrying about not getting killed, finding
enough money to be able to eat, etc. etc.? I think worries about this kind of
thing are overstated. First off, anyone who wants to should be able to stay
on Earth or wherever in their same old body living the same old life. No
one is forced to upload, or even accept the protections of the Sysop. The
old responsibilities can still be yours if you desire them.

It is probably a 100% probability that this will lead to billions of Citizens
leading rather "boring" humdrum lives, but is that a bad thing? It's already
like that today no matter how much you want to glamorize it. What matters is
each person has the full ability and freedom to pursue whatever level of
"interesting life" they want to. It's ultra-libertarianism in a world where
you are born with riches beyond dream, and the Universe responds to your

> various groups for one another that have no means to erupt into
> violence? Where do these animosities go? I think it is fairly

Well they can email each other nasty notes :-) Or maybe the real extremist
groups will renounce their Citizen protections and kill each other off. I
expect this particular problem to solve itself either through death or
intelligence enhancement or perhaps awe that the world as they knew it is
long gone.

> elementary psychology to see that the hatred, the impotent rage would
> get turned toward the Sysop no matter how wonderful it is. This
> produces an environment that is not exactly all that healthy for human
> beings. The humans are allowed to be part of themselves but not

It's unhealthy for those few haters 'cause they don't even have the chance
to blow anyone else up? Darn. Too bad. Get some backbone Samantha and draw
a line in the sand. Certain things should not be allowed. I think the vast
vast majority of Citizens will be 100% happy with the new world.

> anything that might harm anyone ever. And how far does this go? Is
> hateful speech also stopped? Is this good? You have beings that do

Speech is probably even freer than in the USA since you don't have to
worry about inciting people to riot. I doubt there are any such restrictions
in the future.

> not do any harm to one another but not because they have grown beyond
> the desire and need to do so but because they have been rendered
> incapable of it by the Sysop.

Well I'm sure they can still go blow up birds and deer if they want.

> > > If so it would dump this paradoxical meaningless chore and go
> > > find something better (at least actually possible) to do.
> >
> > Not necessarily. Ve might just fulfill whatever of the chore can be
> > fulfilled. "Something better" under what criterion?
> >
> Under its own criteria once it thought beyond the box of its early
> conditioning.
> Actually I believe there is a solution to the seeming dilemna. It is a
> modification of the zoo scenario but with such a twist as to be quite
> different. The Sysop scans all sentient beings continuously. So there
> are always up to the second (or better) backups of each sentient. The
> sentients can do whatever they wish. They cannot significantly threaten
> the Sysop or their backups. Sentients may be horrible to each other.
> But there is always the chance to learn from and reconsider their
> actions. If one is killed then ve reviews the events and issues of vir
> life and decides what to do next. Options might include between life
> learning and therapy, being incarnated into another life (birth), taking
> another form and so on. But one's choices will be proscribed, not by
> force but by one's own experiences, conditioning and understanding up to
> that moment toward what one next needs to learn. Most likely the next
> life will be one where the between life choice and the fact of backup
> and a longer than life learning process is forgotten. That too is part
> of the requirements of growth most of the time.

This reminds me a crappy movie I saw last night: 6th Day (with Arnie)
Only it was done with 2-hour cloning (including mind transfer), and the
people didn't forget anything. Result (according to Hollywood): people
become bad. The one interesting thing about the movie is that it shows
what might happen if human cloning is outlawed and goes underground. I
bet most people don't get that from the movie though... a better movie
for showing the badness of prohibition laws is Traffic.

Anyway I don't think having people run around scared of death (since they
forget about the backup stuff) is a fun Universe. It may produce more
serious, responsible people but I think having to be serious and
responsible should go the way of the pre-Singularity era, to the dustbin
of history. Not to say you can't walk around being serious and responsible
all the time if you want, but being /required/ to do it is not the ideal
situation IMO.

There will still be some risks in the post-Singularity era, they just
won't be quite as extreme (unless you want them to be). You will still have
to do some basic management of your resources, or you could lose it all and
end up with just a very minimal existence. There will likely be some sort
of economic trade since this will not be a centrally planned economy. If
people want to build a huge interstellar ship they will have to raise the
material either from trading/amassing it or getting people to donate it.

Responsibilities and concerns will simply move to a new, higher level.

> This resembles what some Eastern religions claim anyway. However, that
> is not important. What is important is that it allows humans to be
> humans and yet survive the experience and grow up to something a bit

If humans want to stay human they can do that, but most people will likely
move up to posthumanity/superintelligence.

> better over time and it is something that is quite doable by a Sysop.
> This type of process could possibly be automated and the Sysop could
> branch out in whole or in part to other activities.

If some people wanted to live that way I'm sure the Sysop will oblige.

Brian Atkins
Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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