[extropy-chat] limits of computer feeling

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Mar 12 04:12:03 UTC 2007

On 3/12/07, Robert Picone <rpicone at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/11/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3/12/07, John K Clark <jonkc at att.net > wrote:
> >
> > : Stathis Papaioannou
> > >
> > > > you could arbitrarily reassign the pleasure to goal-directed
> > > activity
> > >
> > > Well sure you COULD, but WOULD you? Grand and glorious goals are
> > > difficult
> > > to achieve and take a long time; much easier to just turn a knob and
> > > immediately get a rush of pride and satisfaction in a job well done.
> >
> >
> > Suppose you have the choice between driving to work or riding a bicycle
> > to work. Normally, you would choose to drive, because even though the
> > bicycle has advantages, it gets you places slower and sweatier. However, if
> > you had access to the source code of your mind, you could simply adjust
> > things so that the pleasure you get from the bicycle outweighs the
> > inconvenience. Thus, everyone wins: you enjoy yourself more than driving the
> > car, even though it's more effort, and you get to exercise and help the
> > environment in the process. Sure, you could have got the same pleasure by
> > staying at home, but the extra work at least need not *detract* from
> > pleasure. If it's just as much fun doing nothing or achieving some goal, you
> > could nudge up the pleasure associated with achieving the goal. And if you
> > are naturally lazy and would prefer to do nothing, you could simply make
> > yourself less lazy. To defeat this process you would have to not only be
> > lazy, but to have laziness as a supergoal guiding your life.
> >
> > > for example, you could simply decide to be a stoic
> > >
> > > Well sure you COULD, but WOULD you? After a while you might notice
> > > that
> > > being stoic isn't a lot of laughs.
> > >
> > > I'll crank up the happiness level just a tad, oh that's much better,
> > > maybe
> > > just  a little more, even better, just one more small increase won't
> > > hurt
> > > anything.....
> >
> >
> > You could alter your mind so that you don't want to do this. People deny
> > themselves pleasures all the time in pursuit of some supergoal, constantly
> > struggling against temptation. How much easier would it be if you could just
> > switch off a craving for cigarettes or sex or whatever? You could even set a
> > mental timer: I will indulge in ecstasy for 100 years, then abstain for 100
> > years, and while abstinent I will have no desire to indulge.
> >
> I think once we get to the point where one is altering one's own desire to
> alter one's self, things get a bit dangerous.  The earlier feel of this
> conversation was more of a feel that the alteration and the effect were
> between two seperate entities, one's reasoning abilities and the pleasure or
> pain one receives, or goals/desires (Plato's pathos rather than logos).
> Once people start blocking out their ability to desire anything they may
> reason out, such as realizing they'd be ultimately happier basking in
> eternal pleasure, people can also block out other things that would be less
> productive.  Do you honestly think most people would choose to block out
> their desire to want pleasure before they block out their desire to care
> about responsibility?  Regardless of what condition a human may be, moments
> of relative weakness happen, and these are probably more common and more
> tempting than the moments of relative strength.  I'd say your solution
> brings about more problems than it solves, even ignoring the results of
> making minor mistakes.

I think people would rather choose to be happy doing something they feel is
worthwhile than something useless. The reason people use drugs is not only
that it feels good, but that it feels better than the alternative of going
about their other responsibilities. If taking the dog for a walk could be
made just as pleasurable as using cocaine, what reason is there to prefer
using cocaine?

Sensations themselves aren't overly troublesome for people to meddle with,
> as pressures not to become the "drug addict" could happen elsewhere, it's a
> job society has always taken on, instilling people with a sense of
> responsibility.  On the other hand, if one could erase all of the influence
> of everything they've ever experienced on a whim (as long as this whim may
> take to enact itself), there's not much that could keep people from this
> fate...

You could erase all sense of responsibility and inhibitions; you could even
decide that you want to become ecstatically happy being a mass murderer.
However, why would you do this? The usual story is that someone has a desire
to do something that will cause harm to himself or others and tries hard to
resist the desire, although not always successfully. On balance, I think
more people would choose to reconfigure what they consider harmful desires
to eliminate them rather than remove inhibitions and indulge in them. Most
addicts say they wish they weren't addicts.

> Finally, what would be wrong with a life of continuous, undifferentiated
> > > > pleasure?
> > >
> > > I wasn't making a value judgment; I was simply observing that drug
> > > addiction
> > > could be the reason that the universe does not appear to have been
> > > engineered.
> >
> >
> > It's possible. I think the final common pathway for posthuman existence
> > will be eternal bliss in computer heaven. On the other hand, there will
> > always be some individuals who avoid this end, and there will always be
> > subprocesses whose job it is to tend the main computers, and perhaps also to
> > explore the universe.
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> >
> >
> I find this end a rather unpleasant one...  When someone one cares about
> decides the pressures are too much and forever joins computer heaven, and
> then other people dislike that and eventually join them, eventually the ones
> who avoided this fate are left in a fairly desolate existence, with
> progressively less conscious thought in the universe similar to their own
> rather than more.

It can never be the case that "the pressures are too much" if you can edit
your own mind, unless you want it that way. If those not in computer heaven
are unhappy about something they would rather not be unhappy about, they can
simply make themselves happy: just as happy exploring the universe or
cleaning up rubbish as they would be in the computer. If they're lonely they
can create more friends, or alternatively remove the more unpleasant aspects
of their lonely feelings, eg. "I want to remember and grieve the loss of my
friend, but I don't want to be depressed as a result".

Stathis Papaioannou
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20070312/69ec8ad2/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list