Re: Eugene's nuclear threat

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Thu Oct 05 2000 - 06:42:56 MDT

Robin Hanson writes:

> No, not if we have a choice. If we have no choice about what we consider
> evil, because it is hard-wired into us, then there is no point in having
> this discussion about what we should treat as evil. If we do have a
> choice, however, then it remains an open question what should count.
I do think that the consensus is that to want to live is not evil, and
by exclusion things which terminate an enjoyable existance to be
evil. Quite axiomatic, or so I have thought.

> What benefit is there to us to have children? What benefit is there to us
> to help citizens of distant foreign countries? What benefit is there to

Helping children is genetically encoded, because during critical phase
of hominization the only children in distress you ever saw shared
genes with you. Nowadays this ancient program still happens to make
sense, by virtue of global economy not being a zero sum game. Well
cared for children are likely to become productive players instead of
a burden. Well, at least that's my rationalization.

> us of helping animals? If we like and respect and care about such creatures,

I think this one is almost obsolete, since we're about to decouple us
from the global ecology. As soon as we don't automatically screw
ourselves by screwing up the ecosphere, helping animals becomes an
optional atavism. Because I don't like this attitude, I would like to
hear rational (i.e. other then "microsoft, microfluffy, like a fluffy
ducky") reasons why this is only a skewed/part of the picture.

> then there's a benefit to us from helping them. Similarly, if we like and
> respect and care about AIs, then there can be benefit to helping them.

There's a difference. Our children won't eat us, AIs possibly
could. (Would you be nice to Giger's alien?) If AIs grow slow, there
would be sense for them to reciprocate us being nice to them. If they
grow fast, we're just reabsorbable scaffold. Until we know for sure
which bootstrap kinetics will occur I recommend caution.

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