Re: c * (positive qualia -negative qualia) + (1-c)* (total complexity of pattern)

From: Metaqualia (
Date: Fri Jan 09 2004 - 02:24:22 MST

> I feel I must note that true Zen (and Taoist) masters do not banish any

I refrained from posting zen stuff on sl4 before but since it comes up
Zen "cool" ko-an and parables tickle some software-level bugs in the human
brain such as desire for absoluteness, being surprised by a lateral thought,
tribal attraction toward the know-all shaman figure and so forth. They are
fun but to be taken as entertainment not a real path-to-not-suffering. The
only real path to not suffering is modifying the human brain at the level
suffering operates, i.e. neurons, microtubules, whatever.

> emotion. It is an "Western" idea that thinks that positive and
> negative emotions/concepts are separable, but it is one side which

exactly right.

> To use a simple example: on a light switch, there would be no concept
> of 'off' if 'on' didn't exist. Sure, human emotions also involve a

a concept wouldn't be needed, if electricity didn't exist, there would be no
words for OFF and ON, but the situation would be equivalent to an "off
without on" as we presently understand these words.

> nothing against which to compare it, the pleasure becomes meaningless
> without context. Removing them gives us nothing to which we can

You are talking philosophy, I am talking physical processes creating qualia.
The brain is programmed to notify us when we are in negative/positive
circumstances, of course the negativity and positivity of these
circumstances depends on our status quo and the presence or absence of
better/worse circumstances. But the qualia triggered as a result of this
brain evaluation, they are physical primitives. So _right now_ you can't be
happy all the time because the brain will adjust. After we mess with the
brain, that's a different story entirely.

> So the debate about eliminating all suffering I think misses the point
> of how an SI could *really* help humanity.

No, it's addressing this problem squarely I think. Whether we agree on the
moral arrow is left to discussion, but I think the problem is being
addressed. What does "helping" mean if not to take some weight off another's
mind, in other words, to alleviate suffering and frustration?

>It's not to eliminate ANY
> and ALL bad feeling, it's to eliminate *unnecessary* human suffering -

So what about "necessary" human suffering, ex. the necessity of someone to
lose in order for you to win - the necessity of amputating a leg when it
starts rotting, and so forth? This distinction does not make sense. All
suffering is unnecessary. That our primitive technology and current
biological substrate/social structure make some forms of suffering seemingly
unavoidable does not count as a counterargument when we consider arbitrarily
sophisticated technology.

> or again we lose context to our own situation -- we would never know
> how good we have it.

I know I have it good when I look at starving children on tv with bugs in
their mouth. I don't need to have memories of having starved myself or to
starve every once in a while. Besides, why even keep a memory of how good
you have it when evil has been forgotten and all we have is infinite
positive emotions, infinitely more various and subtle than those we
experience today, all different and in so many variations you could spend
billions of years trying them all out?

"Remember when you were in pain, so you will feel good" and "look at that
guy he has it worse than you so you should be thankful" are psychological
tricks aimed at increasing by 0.000001 your happiness quotient in a world
where happiness is the scarcest of resources. When one tries the orgasmium
pill, the pleasure of not feeling pain will seem so small and irrelevant it
will hardly be worth the time it takes to formulate the thought.

Humans are genetically programmed to find a reason for evil and then decide
that evil itself is bearable/justifiable/necessary... whether this reason is
"because I sinned" or "because you cant be happy without being sad" is

It is an important psychological tool to forget about past suffering and
carry on spreading your dna, but it does not help you decide how to ground a
god's morality.


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