Re: Humane-ness

From: Metaqualia (
Date: Tue Feb 17 2004 - 19:41:46 MST


I agree with many points you raised.

1- most people think that believing in god is morally correct. but we know
they are wrong, deluded, irrational, stupid. so we can't just assume that
people's collective intuitive definition of what is moral would be a
reasonable one! And who are we to judge? we're people smart enough to make
it happen, make a transhuman AI, create the next step in human evolution.
And we are _discussing_ about it, whether most people don't discuss about
absolute moral standards regardless of what their take is on the subject.
Notice that there was not one person on this list who proposed to leave out
a particular country, who suggested any kind of racism toward people or even
animals. On other lists there was always a guy who fiercely opposed allowing
animals to matter, but nobody objected here. So although discussions get a
bit personal sometimes which I don't think they should, we still are in a
pool of gifted people who are not having crazy ideas but span from
replicating human infrastructure that produces morality, to perfectly
symmetric qualia optimization theories, to joyous growth for everyone. The
common denominator has been complete symmetry in all the moral theories that
have been proposed. I don't think we can be more open minded, more correct,
than we are being, with the present mammalian brain we have to work with. So
when we tell them, no, no god for you. We are not just using our advantage
to impose our moral standards. We have the advantage because we are smarter
and as a consequence our moral standard is also better. If they want a god
loving ai they can make one themselves :-)

2- cultural variation makes the task of extracting the 'average human'
impossible (as I pointed out myself). I am not talking about eating sushi
with ketchup vs. wasabi, but about entire tribes or populations believing in
hammurabi's law's moral correctness, valuing the collective over the
individual, and otherwise holding beliefs that are in sharp contrast with
western liberal ideas. Suicide bombers, terrorists, cannibalism, human
sacrifice, japanese dying of overwork for their company. You can't average a
suicide bomber with a regular human. Would their memes get diluted in a
large population sample? Maybe the bombing part would, but the final
result... I don't know what will come out, probably a standard human that is
equally alien to every regular human.

> The second point here may seem bizarrely egomaniacal - who am I to judge
> vast mass of humanity as being ethically wrong on major points? And yet,
> has to be observed that the vast mass of humanity has shifted its ethical
> beliefs many times over history. At many points in history, the vast mass
> of humans believed slavery was ethical, for instance. Now, you could

At any point in history, you can find individual A who thinks that doing
<presently thought of as immoral action> to B is right. However, the same A
would not switch sides with B. In B's judgment of course receiving <X> was
not right. In saddam's view, torturing people was right. But he wouldn't
have switched places.
Therefore the greatest plauge in human morality is lack of symmetry.
"Minimization of negative qualia" is the most symmetrical law I can think
of, as it targets not the being, but the actual sensation of discomfort,
which, if absent, makes the corresponding mind morally irrelevant. So if it
has no other advantage versus other moralities, at least it is symmetric. I
think that 'symmetry' is a required ingredient of any moral system. If it's
not symmetric it's got nothing to do with morality. That is probably one
criterion that can be defined meta-ethical if you wish. So I think we can
replace "moral law" with "collective goal system in which everyone profits

> that if they'd had enough information, and carried out enough discussion
> deliberation, they might have decided it was bad. Perhaps this is the

I doubt it. What other information is needed to convince you to stop slavery
when you see people exhibiting the whole range of human emotions, you see
them scream and cry and bond with each other? Definitely information was
already there. And, discussion was also there, just they weren't discussing
whether to free slaves or not, or to take them back to africa or give them
green cards; they were discussing about how much more work they could be
forced to do. _This_ is what human morality can allow. Hence, the need for
something a bit better.

my two cents (they will add up someday) :)


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