Re: The Meaning of Life
Sat, 8 Feb 1997 02:57:58 -0500 (EST) (Eliezer Yudkowsky) writes:

>I simply deny that value is an observer-dependent thing. You can have,
>in memory, a declarative statement that "X has value". So what? A
>CD-ROM can do the same thing with a lot less fuss.

I think you're proving one of Mr. Clark's points, that values are
observer-dependent. A CD-ROM is not an observer, and so a "value" solely on
a CD-ROM does, indeed, mean nothing. Simarily, a "value" floating in some
Platonic ether wouldn't mean anything either. Only in a person (or some
presently hypothetical alternative such as an AI or alien) does a value take
on a meaning.

Naturally, *professing* a value is different from *having* a value. You have
a value if your actions reflect it.

>Ya can't lift yourself up to some pure ethical plane and say
>that your "choice" is made of your own "free will" while a thermostat
>does not choose to keep the temperature at a certain setting. After
>all, you know a lot more about yourself than a thermostat does, so your
>will should be much less free.

This is Dennett's position, that free will is an way to interpret extremely
complicated entities, rather than an actual property of such entities.
Current conventional wisdom holds that complex entities always seem
free-willed to themselves, because no entity possessing complexity equivalent
to that of arithmetic can completely explain itself. "Free will" is a factor
of the amount unexplained, not of the amount explained.

How to handle the situation where an entity sees itself as free-willed but
another can fully predict it is very messy. Adequately understanding it
probably requires concepts far beyond those available to people as we don't
seem able to manage that amount of knowledge. At present it's entirely