RE: continuity of self

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Sep 21 2002 - 18:59:43 MDT

Michael, I guess this partly comes down to two of the key principles of
Buddhism: non-attachment and compassion

The non-contradictoriness of these two principles has been a big "hump" for
me to get over in my own "psychospiritual/ethical" development.

Non-attachment allows us to look at things objectively and rationally,
rather than getting emotionally caught up in good or bad things that we see.

Compassion causes us to feel the suffering of others, to care about things
that in a shallow view don't affect us directly, due to the deeper
understanding that everything is connected...

To approach the Singularity appropriately, one clearly needs both of these
in abundance.

And I do think that Eliezer has both of these in reasonable quantity. The
particular way in which he mixes them is a little different than how they
are mixed in my own mind, but that's expectable...

-- Ben G

Michael Roy Ames wrote:

> Ben wrote in response to Eliezer:
> > But I am perplexed that, in your "different morality", you
> consider human
> > lives very valuable (so that you say a single human death is a terrible
> > thing which pains you and is morally unacceptable), yet you trivialize
> human
> > suffering as perceived by actual human beings. To me, this mix of
> attitudes
> > feels odd.
> Not to me. These are two different POVs.
> POV One: when judging the value of human life, it is very valuable.
> POV Two: when judging how the Singularity will effect humans overall, the
> specific effect of "ending suffering caused by material poverty" appears
> trivial.
> Today, human suffering is common and extremely unpleasant to look upon. I
> don't even want to imagine being there, having seen it up close. All by
> itself "ending suffering caused by material poverty" is a good reason to
> work towards a quick Singularity. But it is not the only reason, not by
> far. When viewed from the top of the mountain-of-change that a
> Singularity
> will produce, this one change may seem small indeed... even if, from the
> point of view of the beggar-child who is fed, clothed and made
> whole again,
> it might seem like the biggest part. If that beggar-child-rescue happened
> in the first year (month?) after the creation of
> greater-than-human-intelligence, what would be the same child's opinion an
> additional year onward? I think it would be safe to say that the
> suffering
> of the past would seem a distant memory to that transhuman child
> turning one
> year old.
> Michael Roy Ames

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