The argument somehow came to my mind yesterday, and I'm not sure it's true either. But do you really think human value might be as easy to maximize as pleasure or pain? Pain is only about internal states, and human value seems to be partly about external states, so it should be way more expensive.

One of the more crucial points, I think, is that positive utility is – for most humans – complex and its creation is conjunctive. Disutility, in contrast, is disjunctive. Consequently, the probability of creating the former is smaller than the latter – all else being equal (of course, all else is not equal).

In other words, the scenarios leading towards the creation of (large amounts of) positive human value are conjunctive: to create a highly positive future, we have to eliminate (or at least substantially reduce) physical pain and boredom and injustice ... (read more)

0dogiv3yHuman disutility includes more than just pain too. Destruction of the humanity (the flat plain you describe) carries a great deal of negative utility for me, even if I disappear without feeling any pain at all. There's more disutility if all life is destroyed, and more if the universe as a whole is destroyed... I don't think there's any fundamental asymmetry. Pain and pleasure are the most immediate ways of affecting value, and probably the ones that can be achieved most efficiently in computronium, so external states probably don't come into play much at all if you take a purely utilitarian view.

S-risks: Why they are the worst existential risks, and how to prevent them

by Kaj_Sotala 1 min read20th Jun 2017107 comments