[extropy-chat] limits of computer feeling

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Mar 12 23:30:27 UTC 2007

On 3/13/07, Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/12/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> > It's not really that different now, is it? People impulsively make all
> sorts
> > of bad decisions. At least with self-modification you will likely choose
> a
> > more salubrious goal. How often have you thought, "gee, I wish I were
> > suicidal/ a smack addict/ a serial killer"? Even the basest types
> generally
> > pay lip service to noble supergoals, and if the effort towards achieving
> > these supergoals can easily be made more rewarding than doing nothing or
> > doing something destructive, why would anyone choose to choose doing
> nothing
> > or doing something destructive? There are no guarantees where free
> agents
> > are concerned, but I feel that in general a world where everyone has
> chosen
> > what sort of person they are will be a more moral and more productive
> world
> > than the present one.
> You are an optimist.  I doubt anybody chooses deliberately to be at
> the bottom, they end up there by circumstances that are either beyond
> their ability to control (or are perceived to be beyond their control)

That's right: the great majority of people have "good" aspirations, and
therefore will modify their minds, if they are able to, in order to realise
these aspirations.

If radical self-modification is literally as easy as turning a knob,
> don't you think marketers will have perfected the tactics for
> influencing which direction it gets turned?  "You think Brand X is
> good, just wait until you experience ecstatic bliss for Brand Y*
> [bliss not guaranteed until you relinquish control of your
> BlissControl(tm) to the parent company of Brand Y]
> As if meme's were not already potentially dangerous enough mind
> viruses, enable actual manipulation of a population's motivational
> goal systems.  We are going to need to learn more effective
> anti-mind-virus and mind-firewalls techniques to manage this potential
> problem.

Mind modification would completely overturn the current economic system. Why
would you choose brand X over brand Y if you could obtain as much reward
from one as the other, or from neither? What hold would advertisers or, for
that matter, torturers have over you if you could neutralise their efforts
as easily as yawning? And why would anyone be an advertiser or a torturer if
they could get the same reward doing something fundamentally worthwhile, or
doing nothing?

Stathis Papaioannou
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