Re: Singularity: Individual, Borg, Death?

Dan Fabulich (
Sun, 06 Dec 1998 14:54:16 -0500

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>In the space of choices, the morality Hamiltonian, we have no gate. The
>appears homogenous and flat, all probabilities and values equal to zero.
>There is no way to experimentally test the value of any choice. We have no
>perceptions. It is revolutionary enough to suggest that there is a single
>point called the truth, that the arbitrariness is an illusion. But that
>step taken, the second task is to open up a gate, to unflatten moral space
>seek out the singularity.
>I don't know how to do that. I have good reason to think it impossible to
>human cognitive architecture. So - it's time to step beyond.

This, then, is what I'm trying to ask you: What makes you think that a super intelligence would be able to unflatten the moral opinion space?

I see two real problems here. First, it seems to me that the super intelligence itself would have its own trajectory, and there's no reason to think that just because it's super intelligent it would step out of its own trajectory and into the right one. Hofstadter raised the point about Jumping Out of the System that you CAN'T fully jump out of the system in a rational way. If you create rules for breaking rules, then you're just following a different set of rules. And these new rules, as you point out, must necessarily be evaluated from within the super intelligence's own trajectory, which may, in fact, divert it from the "correct" moral opinion.

The second and larger problem may be that this fundamental "truth singularity" does not exist when we're talking about morality. ~LA1. In your justification of LA1, you claim that under ~LA1, life would be meaningless and no choice would be any better than any other. This is obviously not the case: your trajectory itself gives you some direction in this matter, and many people live lives which they consider to be meaningful without even making an attempt to jump out of their system. (Sad, IMO, but possible.) Doing what you evaluate to be the best thing within your own trajectory has a rather obvious technical phrase in ethical philosophy: it is "pursuing your own self-interests." (Don't take this term too colloquially; it doesn't mean being selfish. Mother Theresa was also pursuing her self-interests as it is defined here.)

At that point, you can begin to discuss the relative merits of egoism vs. utilitarianism or rule-based utilitarianism, etc. And I wouldn't doubt that a super intelligence would be able to answer questions like these far better than we could; that a super intelligent being could even be defined as being qualitatively better at pursuing its own self-interests. But that isn't exactly what you're looking for, is it?

Essentially, why wouldn't the super intelligence just follow its own self interests? Are we sure that it's even possible for the super intelligence to do otherwise? I'm sure not.