Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 22:11:47 MDT

At 09:50 PM 19/05/04 -0700, you wrote:

>On May 17, 2004, at 8:50 PM, Keith Henson wrote:
>>The most fundamental actions a person can take involves reproduction.
>>I am personally *extremely* uncomfortable because the logic and my
>>personal feelings are in deep conflict. If there is unlimited
>>reproduction or even replication in a limited environment, eventually the
>>population is reduced to extreme material poverty. They just don't have
>>enough atoms available.
>What does logic or your feelings have to do with it? We are fast
>developing the ability to reprogram ourselves.

Without the utmost caution, that way lies oblivion.

>We need not be bound by any supposed past evolutionary imperative that no
>longer serves what we choose to do next. Reading EP and understanding it
>should not lead to believing we are not increasingly free to re-write that

You really should read Minsky's society of mind on this topic. Being able
to change your deepest desires on a whim is not a power to be used lightly.

>It sometimes seems to me that even SL4 folks aren't fully cognizant of the
>degree of incredible pending freedom.

And after you have removed your basic drives just what are you going to do
with that "freedom"?

>>Now, with our memes shaped by a number generations of relative plenty, we
>>think that killing off the neighboring tribe's males and taking their
>>resources and women is double-plus-ungood. But if it comes down to
>>strong restrictions on breeding or an occasional bout of slaughter and be
>>slaughtered, which do you pick? The simplest math will tell you the
>>human race will be forced to picking one or the other, either by our own
>>volition or that imposed by an AI.
>It quite obviously comes down to no such thing unless we are foolish
>enough or simply too slow to grasp and exercise the potentials now before
>us. Why waste valuable time attempting to choose between two obviously
>inferior positions in the space of all possibilities?
>>(My personal preference is the third way, leave for the far side of the
>>galaxy and let others figure out what to do.)
>This is also an overly limited and limiting choice in my opinion.

Do you have specific ideas of what to do?

>>>Keith, when you wrote: "...understanding these [Ev.Psyc.] matters might be
>>>essential to providing the environment in which friendly AI can be
>>>-- Sort of. It is not the environment that will be improved, but the
>>>accuracy of the FAI's human-cognition model.
>>I wasn't clear as to what I meant. AI research requires considerable
>>technologic support. An environment that because of massive resource
>>wars lacked computers and even food for the researchers would not be
>>conducive to much progress.
>Even without improving the human creatures and even without AI or MNT,
>there is no need for a resource war, especially in energy.

Certainly. 30 years ago I was working on solar power satellites, one of
the few ways that will solve the energy crisis. The problem is not "need
for a resource war," but getting one like it or not. As I put it recently,
stone age psychological traits pulling on

> It is more likely we will wreck our economies (as we are doing a fine
> job of in the US) and act so belligerently as to bring on a war of most
> other countries against the US. But it will not be over resources per
> se although that may be the most apparent "explanation".
>>>It is very important that an
>>>FAI understand the ways in which human think so that it can better model the
>>>future, and better understand the human-generated data that will be
>>>presented to it. It is not enough for an FAI to determine that Johnny
>>>behaves with an approximation to Bayesian rationality 82.6% of the time.
>>>FAI needs to know what Johnny is mentally doing the other 17.4%, and why,
>>>and in what situations his cognition is likely to switch between modes.
>The implicit assumption that humans will remain relatively static must
>also be overcome.

As I put it on another thread:

"It is a dire and depressing business to realize that genes optimized in
the stone age to cope with periodic privation of hunter gatherers are now
pulling strings attached to nukes."

Keith Henson

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