Re: Singularity: Individual, Borg, Death?

Alejandro Dubrovsky (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 04:29:18 +1000 (GMT+1000)

On Wed, 9 Dec 1998, Nick Bostrom wrote:

> Alejandro Dubrovsky wrote:
> > On Fri, 4 Dec 1998, Nick Bostrom wrote:
> > We may
> > > not know in detail and with certainty what the moral facts are (so
> > > sure we'd want to assign probabilities), but it doesn't follow that
> > > we know nothing about then at all. In fact, probably all the people
> > > on this list know that it is wrong to torture innocent people for a
> > > small amount of fun. We could no doubt write down a long list of
> > > moral statements that we would all agree are true. Do you mean that
> > > we all suffer from a huge illusion, and that we are all totally
> > > mistaken in believing these moral propositions?
> >
> > I don't think you could put up many (any?) statements that even all the
> > relatively like-thinking people of this list would agree to. I, for one,
> > am not sure about the example moral 'fact' presented above.
> You don't think there is anything wrong with torturing innocent
> people for a little fun?!

I'm not sure. My moral stands on such things change extremely often. And if i start thinking about it, i'm definitely not sure (Is it okay to torture anyone for a little fun? What is an innocent person? Is it okay to torture someone for no reason at all? Is it okay to torture an animal? What's the difference between an animal and a human? etc, etc) Also, who's doing the torturing and who's being tortured? Is the fun that the torturer is having more important to me than the pain that the torturee is suffering?
> I don't want to advocate any specific interpretation of moral
> statements here. But however we choose to interpret such statements,
> it does seem to be a fact that almost all reasonable people agree
> that it is wrong (whatever that means) to torture innocent people
> for a little fun. *If* there are "objective" truths in ethics (which
> I am not claiming) then I think we can be fairly confident that that
> is one of them.

Why are you so confident? Is it the extreme wrongness (in your eyes) of the act, or the popularity of the event being seen as wrong by a large proportion of the population?
> > But what about the response coming from most of the people i talk to who
> > reject the idea of avoiding death and seem disgusted with the idea of even
> > living any 'longer than you should', maybe even sometimes using terms like
> > 'morally wrong'?
> There is much less consensus that life extension is morally wrong
> (than that torturing... is wrong) . I think most people would think
> it is morally ok, at least if one could convince them that
> overpopulation problems could be solved. A few might still insist
> that it is wrong, but they would be mistaken.

Since 'natural' is in (at least in the youngish people i deal with on a regular basis), and death is perceived as natural, i think there's going to be quite a bit of resistance to life extension. The people who believe it to be wrong won't be mistaken, i think, just dead.

Alejandro Dubrovsky