Re: More on morality

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 09:39:01 MDT

> The subtle difference here is that morality is conventionally thought
> of in terms of human (group) values apprehended and stated as if they
> were universal.
> The "arrow of morality" concept is that there really are certain
> approaches that *work* better than others, that with increasing
> intelligence we broaden our *understanding* of what works, with
> increasing scope of interdependence we broaden our *agreement* of what
> works, and there is a universal tendency for these conditions to
> continue to expand as with thermodynamics.
> - Jef

Attempting to model human volition and then extrapolate from it to
determine wiser supergoals seems to be the long way around, and likely
to be found to be impractical due to fundamental problems that intrude
into any such attempts to model/forecast/predict/extrapolate the future,
let alone trying to then apply negative feedback in a top-down attempt
to control the processes underlying the direction of humanity.

As in the "arrow of morality" stated earlier, if we agree that that the
universe operates according to physical laws that can be understood (to
an ever-increasing degree) and that the kind of "morality" that matters
is simply the kind that works, then I would suggest that a greater
benefit to humanity will be achieved though study and understanding of
the principles underlying the dynamics of organizational complexity (and
many related fields), and developing enabling technologies, in a
bottom-up approach, to facilitate people achieving their evolving goals,
wherever they might lead us.

When I was in school, I was measured at a high-genius level IQ, but I'm
now twice as old as Eliezer, and therefore roughly half as smart. ;-)
I've had grand visions, most of which evaporated after wider exposure to
reality, and a few that remained and have grown. I've also had
wonderful and challenging experiences working with teams of people, and
found that the cynicism of my youth (based mainly on my inability to
find commonality with my peers) has increasingly turned to greater and
deeper appreciation of the capabilities of humanity, and the real
progress we are making in the bigger picture, although punctuated with
sadness in the nearer view (with its always-greater emotional value.)

I've been watching Eliezer for about ten years now through the ExI list
and others, and continue to be impressed with his altruism, his
brilliance, and his willingness to publicly admit when his views and
understanding change with new knowledge. I see others, generally young
and smart, who are attracted to these qualities and feel the urge to follow.

My advice, likely unwelcome at this time and place, but required by my
own values, is that by all means each should follow his dream, but keep
in mind that there is always a bigger picture that one has yet to see.

- Jef

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