Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 00:52:12 MDT


What you said in your last message makes such a huge amount of
sense. Thanks.

Cheers, Philip

Date sent: Sun, 23 May 2004 20:39:36 -0700
From: Jef Allbright <>
Subject: Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement
Send reply to:

> Those who attend to transhumanist discussion lists are conversant with
> ideas of radical morphological change, super-intelligences, and the whole
> spectrum of possible worlds explored almost exclusively within the Sci-Fi
> literature and discussion groups such as this one. We tend to be young,
> smart, and therefore arrogant to an extent that is appreciated only with
> increasing life experience. Although we can't know what we don't know, we
> are smart enough to recognize this heuristic and use it to temper some of
> our speculation in the domain of the near-term here and now.
> What I think is under-represented in these groups is an effective level of
> awareness and appreciation of human nature on the broader scale. Humans
> are diverse, creative, and driven to improve their conditions. Humans,
> within their cultural matrix, comprise the most intelligent system we know
> of. This intelligent system even has built-in human values at its core!
> Unfortunately, this intelligent system today suffers from a scaling
> problem; the processes that worked well enough at the level of the tribe
> and village are not effective at the world global scale and humans are at
> risk of failing due to a lack of global scale "management" (perception,
> control and feedback) of their vital processes.
> Fortunately, the necessary tools are becoming available at the time when
> they are most needed. Global communications and knowledge sharing are
> increasing rapidly while the economy is evolving to become completely
> global -- the system is evolving beyond the human scale and humans are
> taking on the role of functional components. And yes, along with this
> ongoing process of growth and adaptation comes some measure of pain,
> visible in terms of human suffering.
> The point here is that we humans are truly and effectively part of a
> larger system, and it is to our benefit to see this clearly and use this
> knowledge to guide our choices. Working with the larger system means
> taking actions that make the system function more effectively. What is
> qualitatively different about this stage of evolutionary development is
> that the cells of the organism can now predict and plan, not just respond,
> to the needs of the larger organism of which they are a part and on which
> they depend for their survival and well-being.
> A systems design engineering approach can be effective here and requires
> knowledge of the materials and operating environment (currently humans and
> their ecosystem and culture) and also requires implementation of effective
> sensing, control, and feedback processes as mentioned earlier.
> At this stage, to minimize pain and suffering as humanity moves to the
> next plateau, we don't need (yet) radical intelligence optimization of
> humans or AIs. What we need is the systems-level improvements that will
> allow us to get to the next level. *Further globalization of the economy
> is key to creating an interdependent planetary civilization where
> large-scale destruction of "the Other" will become meaningless. *Global
> communication, knowledge sharing, and adoption of new concepts of privacy
> and transparency will match and help us handle the threat of terrorist
> acts, and lay the groundwork for the next generation of humanity to grow
> up with a global perspective. *Global thinking will progress to the kind
> of larger-scope rationality that makes the prisoner's dilemma and most
> zero-sum game problems trivial. *Intelligence augmentation will progress
> beyond our currently primitive mind-amplification tools and provide us
> with the necessary capability for information management and collaborative
> decision making during the next stage, and help us create the future.
> Recently on this list, human examples of enlightened altruism were
> presented. Sidhartha Gautama, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.,
> (perhaps the Dalai Lama should be also included here -- all are unenhanced
> humans, biologically similar to the rest of humanity, serving as models of
> what is already within our reach, given the necessary and conducive
> conditions.
> SIAI and similar efforts play a valuable role in promoting discussion and
> raising awareness of our accelerating times. AI will play a very large
> role in our future, but many on this list may be surprised what will be
> done without requiring machine sentience and recursive self modification.
> I believe these too will come, but we have to survive the global maturing
> of humanity before then.
> - Jef

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