Re: Ethics (was FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking'))

From: Sebastian Hagen (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2005 - 08:51:42 MST

Thomas Buckner wrote:
> --- Phil Goetz <> wrote:
>>Um. What Jef said.
>>Aren't you conflating moral value with numeric
>>You think there is a class of objective moral
>>functions? Can you give an example?
>>- Phil
> Actually, I do have an ethical (or 'moral') value
> function I might suggest, which consists of two
> simple rules. Timothy Ferris once said that,
> without embracing teleology, it can be said that
> our universe looks pretty much they way it would
> had it been carefully designed for maximum
> creativity, self-expression, and play (I can't
> find the exact quote).
On what data is that conclusion based? Even that our universe was
designed by an optimization process of some kind is a very dubious
assumption; its suitability for the formation and existence of
optimizing systems (e.g. humans) can be explained through simple
observer bias (i.e. barring inter-universe data transmission one isn't
likely to observe a universe that unsuitable for running observers).

That it not only had a 'design specification', but that this
specification was based on "creativity, self-expression and play"
doesn't look like a likely hypothesis to me.
Extrapolating from this hypothesis and comparing the result to the
observed universe, I'd expect less dead matter and wasted order, or more
likely a downright possibility for an unlimited amount of useful
computation. The hypothesis doesn't appear to make the observed universe
  an ordinary outcome in retrospect.

That the universe was designed to execute the laws of physics as known
starting from a certain initial matter/energy configuration seems like a
much more useful hypothesis to me; but in this case, why drag design
into it at all? You can get the same predictions from a simpler
hypothesis without that element.

> So a good simple ethics can be expressed as:
> Express and create yourself, as freely and
> joyously as you can.
> And try not to hurt those people over there.
Wouldn't it be more obvious to promote a fast increase of entropy? After
all, increasing entropy appears to be what the universe is continually
doing. Assuming it actually was designed to do something simple,
wouldn't "move from a state of absolute order to absolute disorder" be a
more likely candidate than causing those strange high-level but
intuitive-for-humans activities?
I can't help but think that the paraphrased Timothy Ferris just wanted
to elevate their (perceived) subjective highest-level goals to a state
of objective ethics/morals.

Sebastian Hagen

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