[extropy-chat] ethical value metrics

Harry Harrison xyz at iq.org
Fri Jun 16 09:36:32 UTC 2006

On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 21:57:02 -0500, "Robert Bradbury" <robert.bradbury at gmail.com> said:

> or loss of information.  Another paper, I think from TIGR, cited the
> fact that they were finding a small number (~5?) of novel genes per
> new bacterial genome sequenced [1]. So one "might" assume that a new
> gene costs ~0.2 * 10^23 J (I'm playing very loose with the numbers
> here....).

This is indeed a wooly metric. I have one a little clearer, but still
not easy to measure; the expected increase in universal entropy caused
by the existence of the organism over the future course of the
universe compared to the organism not existing (or being killed, if
that is the question). Since this is usually uncomputable due to our
inability to predict the deep future in this way, we might (a) do some
sort of future discounting or modify the metric to (b) only include
the entropy increase of the universe for the expected duration of the
organisms life.

This metric ("m") is natural in several ways:

let A and B be individuals. Let everything else equal between the
individuals unless otherwise stated and let us use the (b) metric unless
otherwise stated.

  1) if A lives longer than B, m(A)>m(B)
  2) if A does more work / consumes more energy than B, without stealing
     it from a more efficient consumer m(A)>m(B) 3) (if we're counting
     descendents too) if A has more offsping than B m(A)>m(B)
  4) if A is bigger than B then generally 2) is implied
  5) if A does not kill capriciously, m(A)>m(B)
  6) if A recycles waste and uses the extra energy m(A)>m(B)
  7) if A does not "burn down the forests" without what most people
     consider good cause, m(A)>m(B)
  8) descendents set up solar panels on mars or otherwise tap new energy
     sources: m(A)>m(B)
  9) descendents spread out geographically, otherwise act the
     same: m(A)>m(B)

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