[extropy-chat] Prime Directive

Heartland velvethum at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 27 21:33:04 UTC 2006

Jef Allbright:
"But since we're on the topic, let me ask AB then:  Would you rather
maximize your pleasure or maximize the promotion of your values?  You
might respond that you would choose to maximize your pleasure by means
that include promotion of your values, but if that were the case, I
would then ask whether you wouldn't better maximize your pleasure via IV
drip in some secluded room for as long as possible.  Such a line of
thought leads inexorably to the absurdity of being dead in order to
avoid suffering."

I'm having hard time seeing the absurdity here and how the last sentence follows 
from the rest of the paragraph. Is there something wrong with choosing death in 
order to avoid suffering?

More importantly, the above implies that promotion of values is somehow more 
important than ability to experience them. It suggests that values could exist in 
absence of experience, that is, they could still exist even with all the humans in 
the world wiped out.

Ability to experience values has priority over values as values cannot exist 
without the ability to experience them.

Jef Allbright:
"Regarding consciousness, you have no way of measuring whether anyone is
conscious.  We all could be zombies but behave exactly the same.
Occam's razor implies that all have consciousness similar to your own,
but in any case you have absolutely no access to others subjective
experience. So how is consciousness relevant to your decision-making?"

How is decision-making relevant to consciousness? Anyway, "consciousness" is a very 
messy word that could mean a lot of things. In order to have a discussion people 
have to synch their referents for the all the terms used during a discussion first. 
Otherwise, they will talk past each other.

So, what you call "consciousness" I'd rather replace with "ability to process 
reality/information." This should bring much more clarity to this discussion.

Jef Allbright:
"It might be only a distraction, but I could point out that direct access
to even your own subjective experience is an illusion.  Think distorted
memory, fabricated memory, Libet experiments, etc.  Despite the
assumption of Descartes and others, there is no "you" who has privileged
access to the experience of being you.  If you were to enquire as to
what it's like to be you, you would be querying a physical system that
would respond based on its particular functional characteristics
including its model of the world (with you in it) from the past.
[Recursion, ad infinitum, from the subjective POV]"

I interpret Descartes' "I think therefore I am" strictly as, "I'm able to process 
reality/information therefore I am." That recursion process has plenty of base 
cases to make us feel something instead of nothing. If what you're saying were 
true, you would not be able to understand this sentence because infinite recursion 
would prevent you from *processing* characters on the screen.


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