Accepting mortality WAS bickering

From: Olie Lamb (
Date: Wed Jul 26 2006 - 20:59:24 MDT


On 7/27/06, Joel Pitt <> wrote:
> On 7/27/06, R. W. <> wrote:
> >
> > Yes. ACCEPTING mortality. I don't expect love or even rationality. In
> > fact, I don't expect any response. What good is there in outliving all the
> > stars in the universe?
> If we accept mortality then we could all just suicide and save
> ourselves alot of trouble. Plus save alot of earth's resources for
> species that don't have this existential question with living.

Duh 1: Accepting mortality isn't the same as wanting death
Duh 2: An individual human's suicide isn't going to help other species
a whole lot

So, although one might accept mortality, the slightest bit of altruism
(or even benevolence) makes suicide a less-than-ideal path.


I've long thought it a pity that Transhumanists-in-general put such
emphasis on staving off death. An excessive fear of death has long
seemed to me to be an indicator of... I don't know whether
"childishness" or "lack of wisdom" is the better way to put it.

Admittedly, there are sound reasons for wanting to reduce mortality -
death seriously hampers one's ability to pursue rational goals. Given
the amount of time it takes a human to become an expert in a field, it
doesn't leave much lifespan for anyone to get much use out of being a
cross field expert.

But death is not _necessarily_ such a calamity. Consciousness can be
enjoyable, but there is nothing intrinsically enjoyable about being
conscious. Our motivations towards self-preservation are not the
result of our consciousness, they are a result of evolution.

I would gladly sacrifice my subjective consciousness in exchange for a
significant-enough improvement of the quality of consciousness for
other people. If my death could bring on benevolent super-human
intelligence, I would most certainly want any death-of-mine to be that
way. Furthermore, I would prefer that death to a bad life.

Of course, I'm more likely to bring about better results by staying
alive - I don't think my estate would go very far.

I would prefer no life to a life of suffering, and I expect many
others would too. I view the suffering that millions+ of conscious
entities endure daily as a far greater tragedy than the daily deaths
of millions+ of conscious entities. Although any "decent" person
would ideally heal a sick, suffering animal, many would prefer to "put
down" an animal, rather than let them suffer.

There are a lot of entities that are conscious enough to suffer, but
not intelligent enough to have existential issues, or to deliberately
pursue the benefit of others. There are a lot of apes, most of whom
are people, who do nothing for others, and very little for themselves
(and I wish them well). There is tragedy in an altruist joining their
ranks, just as there is tragedy in an altruist's death.

There is a huge difference, however, between the death of one person,
and the destruction of their species. One person's death, although
regrettable, makes little impact on -f'rinstance- the development of
benevolent super-human intelligence. The destruction of humanity,
however, would put quite a dampener on the pursuit of significant
goals like that. The mass suicide of all humans this afternoon would
also not be likely to bring about better long-term outcomes for
non-humans, either.


I would hope that more transhumanists would come to better terms with
death - for one thing, it can make life more enjoyable to rationally
remove fears. I would hope that more people would pursue
transhumanist goals for benevolent reasons, rather than for selfishly
getting to enjoy the post-singularity spoils.

In the meantime, I'm happy enough for the selfish to act in
pragmatically benevolent ways, such as by funding life-extension

-- Olie

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