Boredom (was Re: Anders Sandberg's Value System)

Mitchell Porter (
Wed, 5 Feb 1997 11:14:53 +1000 (EST)

[Anders Sandberg]
> On -1 xxx -1 wrote:

(What calendar system is that?)

[Anders again]
> Touch=E9! I like this explanation, it seems to fit almost too well. Yes, =
> I=20
> consider boredom one of the greatest evils in the universe, and that is=20
> one of the reasons I became a transhumanist in the first place.=20

I used to think I'd never live to see the day when things were really
weird enough for me. I no longer fret about not living to see that
day. I think that day is coming plenty soon enough. (Bruce Sterling,

Somewhere in _Schismatrix_ he says that the principal motor of change
was "the fantastic capacity of the human mind for boredom".

I sometimes wonder if this will be the principal challenge to long-term
immortality. Suppose you have a Theory of Everything, with a secure
epistemological foundation, and the Final Answers to Eliezer's hard
problems (why anything exists, what is consciousness, perfect ethics).
Would you now be doomed to boredom, short of a translobotomy reducing
you to a pre-TOE state of uncertainty?

One possibility is that "having a Theory of Everything" is an open-ended
process, a bit like "having the axioms of set theory". Knowing that, at
bottom, the universe is an aperiodic eleven-dimensional spin network,
or whatever, might be a starting point for limitless further investigation,
as well as the endpoint of basic ontological inquiry.

Another possibility is that you will have to invent new things in order
to remain interested. QueeneMUSE wrote, a while back,

> It seems to me that pattern recognition, in itself, is a pleasure reward,
> that, coupled with the ability of a supercomputer to crunch things, it would
> be *design* (a combination of the two) that the SI's will spend most of
> their time on, not any form of physical pleasure we can imagine.

Being bored with the phenomena of the pre-SI universe would be another
way for an SI to arrive at a preoccupation with design.