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

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 5 Feb 1997 12:46:17 +0100 (MET)

On Wed, 5 Feb 1997, Mitchell Porter wrote:

> > On -1 xxx -1 wrote:
> (What calendar system is that?)

I think he is nonlocal in time. :-)

> 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?

But knowing the basic Answers doesn't mean knowing everything; we know the
rules of Game of Life and might even consider them simple, almost banal,
but I think most of us are surprised and delighted by the ever more
complex patterns that are invented or discovered (like prime-generating
patterns or bizarre flotillas). Reality seems to be chaotic/self-organizing
in some deep sense, we cannot predict the higher levels from the lower
levels. The traditional view of the TOE and Answers seems to have been
quite linear: if you know them, you know everything that is to be known.
I don't think so.

And then there is the possibility of creation. I think this is the most
interesting field, and it will certainly help me avoid boredom: the
creation of new systems, new worlds. OK, we know the Meaning of Life, but
what if it was different? What is the simplest universe that can generate
systems equally complex to ours?

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

Boredom is in some sense a defense against getting trapped in a loop. If
we were never bored we would continue with our tasks ad infinitum or
circumstances forced us away from them (a clear disadvantage). As a SI I
woul probably want a way to regulate the "boredom threshold" of my
subminds; sometimes it is a good idea to have a system that can
enthusiastically go on with a task (Could you catalogue the stars of the
galaxy for me, submind 348843?), sometimes it is a good idea to quickly
move on to more rewarding fields (Submind 438733, take a look at the
civilizations in sector 43 and tell me if anyone of them looks

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y