Re: ethics

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed May 19 2004 - 16:56:26 MDT

Aubrey de Grey wrote:
> Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
>>I would presently support the flat general rule that things which look
>>like minor problems, but which you don't quite understand, are blocker
>>problems until fathomed completely.
> I'm very heartened at this, because I agree 100%. My difficulty is with
> the idea that the path to this total understanding is (or even might be)
> finite, let alone tractable, in length. But then, most biogerontologists
> still think that about curing aging, so I remain wide open to persuasion!

This is possibly a good analogy; curing aging would be extremely difficult
if we needed to fathom biomedical symptoms of aging one by one and treat
them (correct me if I'm mistaken). Curing aging looks much easier if you
suppose there might be a small library of underlying causes, and easier
still if you just reprogram all the cells using nanotech. In the last
case we deal not with the problem of comprehending aging, but simply with
the problem of creating youth.

Similarly, FAI doesn't require that I understand an existing biological
system, or that I understand an arbitrarily selected nonhuman system, but
that I build a system with the property of understandability. Or to be
more precise, that I build an understandable system with the property of
predictable niceness/Friendliness, for a well-specified abstract predicate
thereof. Just *any* system that's understandable wouldn't be enough.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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