Re: Infinite universe

From: Simon Gordon (
Date: Tue Apr 29 2003 - 17:53:55 MDT

 --- "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
> So why would compassion and empathy require me to
> disbelieve in Tegmark's IV, assuming it to be true?

Advanced SI beings may desire "ignorance holidays" in
the same way that many adult human beings desire to
re-live their childhood -- perhaps to regain their
innocence, or to repeat the losing of their innocence,
or simply to enjoy a different level of fun.
Shifting one's worldview from the 'one universe is
all' perspective to the 'all possible worlds exist'
perspective represents a similiar loss of innocence
(and a gain of understanding), albeit of an
intellectual kind rather than sexual, but as we know
this revelatory perspective shift has its downside:
namely the accompanying awareness of Hell worlds.

The problem with Tegmarks ultimate ensemble is that no
matter how hard you try there is absolutely nothing
you can do to get rid of all the Hell worlds, and you
can never turn the subjective probability of a Hell
scenario happening to any given being into a zero.
Which means that somewhere out there are perfectly
innocent beings going through absolute Hells, much
worse than Dante could have ever envisaged, and this
is happening in a very real sense (there's even an
infinite ensemble of copies of you which will fall
into a Hell scenario in the next 10 seconds). As
Eliezer remarks, the best we can do is to reduce the
subjective conditional probabilites as much as
possible but it can never become zero. We assume then
that every intelligent being will do the upmost to
reduce the subjective probabilities of Hell for
everyone, this is just exactly what happens naturally
when we are all empathetic towards each other.

Empathy here is used in the weak sense of simply
"understanding the feelings that others beings are
experiencing" and this is how it is defined in most
dictionaries i believe. This is what i would call low
empathy; as far as i know most if not all humans have
very low empathy i.e. they do not really feel other
peoples pain they just claim they understand how it
must feel like to have their pain. I believe to truly
understand someones pain you have to directly
experiance it because pain is a qualia like the colour
blue and how can i understand the feeling you get from
the colour blue if i havent at least temporarily
visited your subjective experiance of the colour blue.
I believe this kind of objective empathy can be
achieved through simulation.

An SI advanced being may well be able to construct and
visualise an entire map of the multiverse, certainly
not a perfect map as that would require the entire
information of the multiverse, but a detailed
representational map nevertheless. They would then be
able to "see" a representation of that infinitesimal
fragment of the multiverse unavoidably occupied by
subjective hells. Naturally their compassion and
heightened empathy would extend to those beings
undergoing the most suffering; would they be able to
avoid the temptation of running empathy simulations of
those Hell worlds?

This combination of super intelligence and amplified
empathy raises the disturbing possibility that such
advanced sentients may become engrossed in
empathasizing for those few sentients who necessarily
suffer on the cusp of infinitisimalism. This is why i
propose that "ignorance holidays" may not be such a
bad idea. You could either restrict intelligence to
some degree, or restrict empathy to some degree as
those restrictions should avoid the problem
altogether, but i suggest that simply restricting
certain nodes of knowledge might be a better idea, and
then only for a limited amount of time.


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