[extropy-chat] Fwd: Extinctions

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Jun 13 18:25:28 UTC 2006

Anders mailed me offlist probably by accident (happens to me all the
time) but let me answer on list:

. But suppose we construct a desiring acocuntantbot, but
> hardwire somewhat arbitrarily its desires to be only accountancy. Here is
> an entity that could be more than accountant, and I think we are not moral
> in preventing it from at least having a chance to explore these
> possibilities (it may of course return to accountancy as its one true love
> after having tried the excitement of other things). It is a bit like
> Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficience: we have aduty to
> create the best and happiest offspring we can, and this goes for our AI
> too.
### I don't quite follow you there. Our desires are a contingent
outcome of evolution, and a content accountant (presumably most
content after accounting for all content) is no less arbitrary than a
mind that enjoys the songs of nightingales. I do not think that
procreative beneficence (which I accept for reasons of reciprocity)
requires that we instill a desire to explore possibilities: rather, we
have to avoid making minds whose goal systems are grossly maladapted
to the environment, precluding satisfaction of goals. It may be wrong
to build a mind with an itch it can never scratch, in constant agony,
even as it explores the universe. But it is perfectly OK, from a
beneficence point of view (as well as economically sound) to build a
mind just happily counting beans.

I wrote :
> > How would you resolve the conflict between uses of matter that differ
> > in their level of complexity? Does the less complex one have to yield?

> It is a practical and aesthetic choice, not a moral choice. Less complex
> may have less aesthetic value to me, but having a system with two kinds of
> entities rather than one kind is better in my value system.
and me again:
> >
> > ### So you say that building a house in a forest is a morally bad
> > thing? As in, not just grating against your own personal affection for
> > the jungle, but in and of itself a Bad Thing, worthy of opprobrium and
> > sanctions? Because, you know, a moral injunction without sanctions is
> > just empty talking, morality is as serious as the weight of force seen
> > as justified in upholding it, so I can't resist asking you, how much
> > violence would you condone to prevent the Brazilians from breaching
> > their jungle's interests to build their huts?

> None at all, since I slipped above and used "moral" when I meant
> "aesthetic". The moral weight of the jungle is very slight, but destroying
> it may be an aesthetic error. If someone paints their house a hideous
> fluoroscent green I don't think moral sanctions are appropriate, but
> surely people should tell the person that it is a mistake. We do have
> aesthetic sanctions too, to some extent, although these are seldom (and
> should not) be as strong as moral sactions.
> But since aesthetic values are so weak in my theory they would of course
> need protection from people with other aesthetics and intentions, e.g. by
> me buying Amazonian forest to preserve it or develop its aesthetics
> further. In that case the normal libertarian sanctions of dealing with
> trespassers and squatters would apply.
### I see you haven't changed Anders, and it's a compliment :)

Yes, now that you clarify your position, I of course agree with you -
protecting non-sentient species, or building complexity of the
surrounding matter are matters of aesthetic choice, not moral
injunctions. Something that gentlefolk may enjoy as hobbies. I have no
problem with aesthetic environmentalism, to be pursued by genteel
methods, wholly eschewing violence and strident rhetoric.

If only more people had this constructive attitude towards the
environment, the world would be a better place.


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