Re: Risk vs. Payoff

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 05:02:22 MDT

On Thu, 10 May 2001, Aleks Jakulin wrote:

> When I was talking about mentoring, I was not talking about an
> emotional act, but about a rational and purposeful act of preservation
> and transmittal of knowledge. The point is not in spreading memes, but

Rational and purposeful evaluation within the rational selfishness
framework is by definition limited to the life time of the agent. Of
course your DNA wants to invest into vehicles continuating said DNA, and
that's perfectly allright from DNA's point of view. But it's hardly
rational from my purely selfish individual monkey's point of view. Screw
DNA. I owe my DNA nothing.

> in teaching how to think well, and listing what knowledge is
> available. Knowledge and information are far more fluid than DNA, they

Excuse an old Ferengi, but knowledge and information per se are quite
worthless to me personally, if I can't profit from them. This doesn't mean
they're worthless to other people, of course, and purely rational beings
are about as abundant as unicorns. Or Ferengis.

> can, are, and should be re-engineered and improved by each new
> generation. Dogmas are rigid, and need heavy infrastructure to
> survive, as institutionalized religions demonstrate - what a waste.

Apart from a few foundations, which must remain immutable, lest the whole
memetic building collapse into random rubble (or, losing tracking, floats
away in the evening breeze) you'll find very few static dogmas here.

If you stick around, you might notice that we habitually fabricate ground
beef hamburgers from our sacred cows here.

> Eugene mentions basic unquestionable motivations, not rooted in
> reason. Exactly: people evolve, and the motivations that ensure
> superior reproductive fitness proliferate in the population. Wanting
> to survive, and wanting to reproduce are examples of two perhaps most
> important desires. Would you now stand by these evolved patchy selfish
> heuristics, and forget about reason?

I do not necessarily want to reproduce. For some weird reason, I want to
live forever, though, or at least die trying. (I grant that one tiny voice
to my DNA). You can assume this is an immutable cornerstone. It might
appear random, and wanting, but I stand by it. Life is good, death is bad.
I could imagine worse origins to base my framework of reference upon.

> The fundamental concepts are life and scarcity. Scarcity implies
> competition, competition implies adaptation. Scarcity is an essence of

All very nice, but adaptation only means death in the darwinian framework.
If we're not limited to the darwinian framework, death becomes an option,
instead of default.

> the universe (as far as we know), while the odds of the long-term
> surival of life is what our fundamental rational goal could be. It's
> far-fetched and notional, but it still implies some concepts such as
> creation of better forms of life, continuous improvement, expansion,

What's wrong with going Lamarckian, and _becoming_ better forms of life?

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