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

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Wed, 05 Feb 1997 02:19:24 -0600

I've been thinking about this very issue lately:
Is there hope for the Meaning of Life?

And my conclusion: Yes, but backing that statement up requires way,
way, way too much unpublished material.

My general conclusion is that engineering an ontologically objective
self-justifying goal requires solving both the First Cause and the hard
problem of conscious experience.

First, why engineering as opposed to discovering?
Because unlike the Universe and qualia, I have nothing to point to for
my "hard problem of ethics."

Second, why the First Cause?
So that we can make objectively real self-justifying things.

Third, why conscious experience?
Goal requires purpose. Purpose requires agent. Agent requires
subjectivity. Therefore conscious experiences or, more likely, an
engineered variant thereof.

Probability of success: Between 20% and 70%, depending on how
optimistic I'm feeling that day.

Depressing side-note: Explains the Great Silence if all civilizations
achieve Singularity and commit suicide. Better hope that intelligent
life is really improbable or that lightspeed is an absolute limit.
Aren't wormholes and those newly discovered planets and life on Mars
depressing? Personally, I go for the "really improbable" explanation.

Weird idea: We, as future Powers, could resolve to destroy all of
Reality if we find out that life is meaningless. If all others follow
the same logic, this reduces to zero the chance that previous
civilizations have destroyed (only) themselves, and thus increases the
chance that life is meaningful.

Practical conclusion: If it all turns out to be meaningless, we can
commit suicide at leisure - but won't you feel stupid if it turns out
that you shouldn't have slit your wrists?
To sign up for cryonics, you don't need to know how the corpsicles will
be revived, or believe that they will be, just that there's even a 10%
chance of it working.

And to those who say:
"Summa nulla est,"
I say:
"Fac ut vivas."

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I am not telling you the
substantial *majority* of what I think I know, including all the good

Translation: And to those who say: "All is naught," I say: "Get a life."