[extropy-chat] Re: (SOCIO/ETHICAL) Risk averse imortalists?

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at gmail.com
Sat Apr 16 07:28:24 UTC 2005

On 4/13/05, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
> We can't effectively predict the outcome of such multivariate multiorder
> scenarios in an evolving environment, but we can illuminate and explore
> some general principles that will generally apply.

True but we can explore or own evolving attitudes and practices and
our current working decision processes.

> Indefinitely extended lifespans will tend to increase emphasis on
> reputation and attendant moral behavior because the rewards and
> consequences of one's behavior will be similarly extended, but this
> applies only to individuals who remain closely coupled with society at
> large.  Much evil is done for the sake of expediency, while taking the
> longer view implies greater awareness, leading to actions that generally
> work better over a greater context and are therefore considered superior
> by a larger group.

Reputation is an interesting thing.   As we live longer and have
access to increasingly effective and powerful means of change, it is
likely that people will be more malleable in character and capable of
significant improvement and reform of any past causes of behavior.   I
am curious how much our current reputation practices are bound to
limited lifetime and limited ability to change suppositions.   For
instance, what it may be perfectly reasonable to effectively write off
someone for life for today might not be at all reasonable when the
underlying assumptions and capabilities change.

So yes, reputation will be important even though it may operate a bit
differently than it does today.
> More options become available with more enabling technology.  Our
> capabilities to observe, analyze, model and predict are growing rapidly
> and, with a little luck, will eventually supervene our tendencies to act
> in fear against an unknown Other.  To be effective this must be
> bilateral, and we can be thankful that it is the nature of such enabling
> technologies to spread strongly.  That said, there will always remain
> the threat of damage to ourselves from without or of malignancy within,
> and while technology will allow us to minimize and disperse/distribute
> the risk, vigilance and self-sacrifice will remain key factors in the
> survival equation.
> As moral agents, our choices hinge on concept of self.   It's already
> part of our evolved nature to act in support of interests greater than
> the individual.  Instinctive willingness to sacrifice one's life for
> one's children, or to put oneself in harm's way for one's team or group,
> exists because it works (promotes survival and greater growth.)  But
> popular understanding of rational self-interest does not yet encompass
> this larger view, hence ongoing debates over misconceptions of
> altruism.  A good example is the so-called paradox of the Prisoners'
> Dilemma.  It is logically and mathematically "obvious" that the rational
> choice is to defect within this artificially limited scenario.  But it's
> clear from a broader context that the optimum strategy is to cooperate.
> As human society matures, this kind of metarationality, corresponding to
> increased scope of awareness, will lead to conscious moral
> decision-making based on a concept of self that transcends our fixed and
> limited  identification with our meat bodies.

Interesting.  One of the things I expect to change as we get much
longer or eve indefinitely longer lifespans is our ethics.   The
notion that everyone around you is an immortal endlessly capable of
increasing intelligence and hopefully increasing wisdom seems to me to
radically effect ethical assumptions.   It becomes difficult to write
off a potential immortal for in effect some indiscretion or poor
internal programming of their youth.   I suspect that we get over the
notion of any human being being utterly irredeemable.   We might be
more inclined to non-lethal ways of opposing evil wherever possible.

> I anticipate a "golden age" of enhanced cooperation, driven by increased
> awareness of the value of diversity within a framework of common goals,
> but we must focus now on surviving the transition.

As do I.  We cannot have our well-being maximized without the
maximization of the highest potential (well-being) of each member of

- samantha

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