[ExI] fermi paradox again, was: addiction

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Apr 6 17:53:29 UTC 2015

spike <spike66 at att.net> , 6/4/2015 5:04 PM:

>>…But some of us will want to help the aliens too! We will go there and give them an adapted version of the potion!  Anders Sandberg
Well now, leave it to Anders to think of that particular take on it.  {8^D
Anders, I would hand you the title of the most kindhearted loving person I know.  If not you, then my great grandmother, who was such a sweetie, I miss her to this day even though she has been gone 42 years.  This I will say without any reservation:  you are the most kindhearted, loving tech-enabled person I have ever met.  Anders me lad, thanks for being you.

Aww, shucks :-) 

The interesting thing is of course how to enable people to be nice. It takes a fair bit of energy - from returning politeness to figuring out what makes people happy. Empathy is also tricky work, not to mention sympathy or other enablers for wanting people to feel good. I suspect we might have to invent something like how Facebook amplifies weak social relations and gossip but for maintaining emotional relations better. I think there is loads of tech we could build for improving kindness. Over in Oxford we talk a lot about moral enhancement, but actually niceness enhancement may be a lower-hanging fruit and quite powerful on its own. 

 That movie Keith describes is the disturbing flip side of the scenario: someone could come up with a Hate Potion Number 9. 

There are some worrying results about oxytocin, which makes you nicer - to those you consider to be your in-group. 

Generally, if we can control our emotions we should be careful about who gets to control us. But the paradox is that niceness is in a sense emotion influence: when I do something nice for somebody I *plan* on them enjoying it. It is just that it occurs between peers, and through external means: a greeting card or gift, rather than a dopamine increase. People can integrate the experience through their conscious mind and give it meaning according to their beliefs, rather have meaning be defined externally. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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