[ExI] An old skeleton tumbles out of the list closet

Charlie Stross charlie.stross at gmail.com
Tue Nov 13 10:52:45 UTC 2012

On 13 Nov 2012, at 00:47, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> On 12/11/2012 23:57, Charlie Stross wrote:
>> Perhaps what we're looking for is something like Stoicism, but updated to take account of what we now know of cognitive psychology?
> I'm more of an Epicurean, myself. Stoics might have got the psychology part roughly right (it is interesting to compare it to findings in happiness studies), but they did not seem to have that much fun. I think we can have a far more hedonistic tranquillity.
> The problem with Stoicism and Epicureanism is that they still don't bind together people much. Sure, they are not against human fellowship, but it is not the main focus.
> Maybe the solution is just to tweak the social distance system with neurotech and artificially enlarge the empathic circle of concern to cover most of humanity. Some interesting free rider issues, but I suspect the reciprocal altruism network effects could outweigh those - and there are few things scarier than billions of caring people. Which of course shows the problem with this approach.

We could all do with a few extra mirror neurons. (Especially if it turns out they're important for theory of mind.)

Might make it hard for governments to recruit soldiers if everyone is too busy empathizing with the person in the gunsight. But I can't help thinking that if this was a universal tweak, this would be a *very* good outcome.

-- Charlie

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