[ExI] social reprogramming
anders at aleph.se
Wed Nov 14 12:41:22 UTC 2012
On 13/11/2012 10:52, Charlie Stross wrote:
> On 13 Nov 2012, at 00:47, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
>> 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.
Even a non-universal tweak might have good effects. Increasing the
number of people who can empatize and tolerate other far-flung people
likely has network effects: the empathizers would act as the fibers in a
composite matrix, strengthening the long-range links.
The issue of tuning down empathy in soldiers is nontrivial. No military
force wants sociopaths - they are destructive to the organisation. And
soldiers that have no empathy will not help each other well: a lot of
military organisation requires quite a lot of comeraderie to function
socially and practically. Presumably the goal would be to keep the
empathic circle focused on "us", but again this is tricky: is that just
the military itself, the civilians of the home nation, or some other
set? Especially given the existence of vast and unexpected categories of
not-us but not-enemies (the Red Cross, civilians from enemy countries,
diplomats, foreigners...) getting the tuning to produce the right result
might be very nontrivial.
A bit of collateral mistakes are normally acceptable, but if they are
due to a deliberate intervention there *will* be finger-pointing at
those responsible. Right now one can easily claim everything is up to
the soldiers, but if there has been any touching of their empathy
circuitry somebody has become partially responsible (and left a paper
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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