Re: Time and Minds

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Sep 27 2001 - 23:03:10 MDT

Jeff Bone wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> > If I found out that my life was a simulation, either for purposes of
> > remodeling the real Eliezer on Old Old Earth, or for purposes of forcing
> > myself to improve myself over time, it would violate what *I* think is
> > valuable about the Universe. I cannot sympathize with any entity that
> > would choose to keep me locked up in a pre-Singularity world for such a
> > lousy reason. Ve is not operating within any moral frame of reference
> > that I recognize as valid.
> Why?

Okay, this all needs to be said very carefully, so as not to give the
wrong impression. I don't want to sound like I think Earth is hell.
Earth contains fun. My life even contains unusual and exceptional pieces
of fun, such as having a large impact in the ultimate scheme of things,
knowing how the mind really works, and so on.

But life is unpleasant, sometimes very unpleasant. And life is not a
trade, where you agree to experience some unpleasant things in exchange
for the good parts. That is simply a nitwit philosophical idea that was
dreamed up to rationalize away the discomfort from living with gratuitous
unpleasantness that humanity was powerless to do anything about. Pain is
not necessary for growth, or to give life meaning, or to teach us
responsibility, or any other nitwit philosophical reason. If you were
constructing a world from scratch it would not contain child abuse and it
would not contain stubbed toes either. The reason our world contains pain
is not that pain is meaningful, but that our world is ordered by the laws
of physics and nothing else.

I am not willing to consider even the smallest inconveniences of my life
as an adequate trade for the fun I've had. They are flaws. They
shouldn't be here, they should be debugged and removed from the Universe.
And similarly, the fun I have, regardless of how it measures up compared
to an "average" pre-Singularity life, is not the amount of fun that a
citizen of the universe should have, and it is not the quality of fun that
a citizen of the universe should have. I will not forgive the willpower
expenditure that makes it painful to work on the things I want to work
on. I will not forgive losing neurons with age. I will not forgive the
hard-earned memories that have blurred with time and are not backed up
anywhere. I will not forgive having to hurry through my life, instead of
being able to take as much time as necessary. These things are not
optimal even for growth of personality.

Some of the unpleasantness in my life is due to choices I made willingly,
but I will not forgive any entity that turns out to be responsible for
having made those choices necessary. We are not, by any stretch of
rationalization, living in an optimal or even a reasonably pleasant and
purposeful world. We are living in a planetary slum by any sane cosmic
standard, and we will continue to be stuck there until we do something
about it. And anyone who created that world, and/or my own life, or even
recreated it, is not acting under any morals that I recognize.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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