Re: [SL4] brainstorm: a new vision for uploading

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Sat Aug 16 2003 - 08:23:00 MDT

Hi Nick,

> Humans weren't designed to be altruistic, rational, or good. They were
> designed to be selfish (in the sense of increasing *their* inclusive
> fitness) in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, it's largely by accident that
> we can be altruistic at all (except in the limited sense of reciprocal
> altruism - selfish trade).

My understanding of things (based on my own observations of humans
and other people's views including those of primatologist Frans De
Waal) is that, while altruism emerged as a pramatic response to human
survival in a social species, once the capacity is there 'altruism' is/can
be more than just a clever form of selfishness - it can be real.

I think the nastiness in human history can be explained, not by denying
our capacity for (genuine) altruism, but by recognising that humans and
(all [?] other biological life) operate in a 'them' / 'us' mode. Each one of
us has our in-group and our out-group. With the in-group we can be
genuinely altuisitic (at times), with the out-group we can be
breathtakingly horrid (at times).

I think a real challenge for AGI development (perhaps even the central
challenge?) - especially for the "friendly" sort of AGI - is to not end up
creating mentalities that see any life (anything??? do we have to go
that far??) as being part of an out-group towards which friendliness
need not be applied.

Once you see 'everything' as deserving friendliness consideration, and
especially if the new AGI admits of the possility of future innovation, a
further key issue is how do you develop ethics to guide the assured
continuity of desirable features of the present into the future while also
changing some of the features of the present (ie. how do we integrate
sustainability and genuine progress?).

Cheers, Philip

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