Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat May 22 2004 - 00:49:09 MDT

On May 20, 2004, at 9:11 PM, Keith Henson wrote:

> 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.

Yes. But oblivion also lies along the way of assuming that we are
bound too tightly by the programming to explore what we can change.
As we gain ever greater abilities and the world becomes much too
complex the old programming and limitations can lead to nothing but

>> 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 programming.
> 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.

I read it.

I said nothing about changing anything "on a whim". We change because
we must but we must exercise as much care as possible and as much
wisdom as to what we change to.

>> 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"?

You don't simply remove. You "grow" and "transform". Obviously you
don't simply saw off the branch you are sitting upon.

>>> 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?

Yes. Augment and transform the intelligences already present,
ourselves, as quickly and wisely as possible. We have altruistic
tendencies and a capacity for empathy and some understanding of human
beings to start with. What we are now is obviously not going to do
and probably will not do for even building a reasonably safe seed AI.
But if it was sufficiently augmented then we might stand a chance.

>> 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

I surely agree with that. I am continually amazed by how much is
tolerated and claimed as "the right way" that is obviously vile evil
nonsense. IQs need to be raised and perhaps more importantly we must
find a way through a lot of psychological defenses and force growing
past the more limited traits or at least safely channeling them.
There may not be a lot of time.

>> 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."

Yep. So we need to get over it to the degree we can.

- samantha

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:47 MDT