Re: Tragedy and Boredom was Re: Why just simulation? (fwd)

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 12:26:20 MST

> I wrote:
> >
> > >However the other part of this "if life was all happiness, people would become
> > >bored" raises interesting issues.
> Nick wrote:
> > That sounds like nonsense to me.

Then on 18 Mar 2001, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> But it is a very common meme. I wonder how true it is;

I'm thinking of the oft-quoted figure that the average American watches
8 hours of TV a day. If you had all of your material needs met and
could hit the artificial-"cocaine" button to experience continual
pleasure, are you suggesting that there is not a significant fraction
of humanity that would *not* take that route? One only has to look
at the strategies people will adopt and the illegal things they will
do to experience one or another form of "pleasure". Lower the
barriers to that and I strongly suspect you will have a large
number of people jumping in the boat.

> Tragedies might be useful training for recognising complex (but
> possibly common) dilemmas where the outcome is a lose-lose situation.

There is probably survival value in observing tragedies (or even
experiencing them) because it teaches one what should be avoided.

Nick, while I will admit that some people are complex enough to
motivate themselves to avoid boredom and find useful things to
occupy their time. But I question how hard even we would work
at these things if there were "short-cuts" we could take to
feeling very pleased with ourselves.

> Did I mention that one of my students implemented a kind of boredom in
> his neural network agent to make it get out of loops?

They let you have students now?!? I hope the school gave them an
informed consent agreement to sign before they got enrolled in
*that* experiment.

> I think this is the reason why a certain propensity for
> boredom is useful. The problem is tuning it: if the buildup is too
> slow, you become obsessive, if it is too fast you jump from project to
> project.

Boy, do I ever....


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:41 MDT