Death is the occurrence of life being lost, the event has value insofar as the living being had value.

If you say so. Though I've yet to hear a compelling reason why this is so. The loss will never be experienced as a loss because death removes your ability to experience loss. The idea that life ending is an ongoing loss is some sort of bad opportunity cost calculation.

I consider the loss of everything a person is to be 'bad' because I value the unique intricacies of each person. I attribute value there because I find that complexity mind-blowingly incredible. And I think it is sad when something so incredible and unique goes away forever.

This is perhaps just a novelty that would disappear given enough time. You are X years old; give it 1000X and see how you feel about the intricacies of the species or whatever else tickles your fascination bone.

Also I want to point out that you don't actually have a reason (at least not that you've stated) for why you think you don't want to live forever, you just say that you find the desire "odd" without explanation.

I see it to be an odd extrapolation of the adaptive will to survive. Lower animals want to live perpetually. They seem hardwired to just do survival things for the sake of survival. They don't ask why or stop to think about the Sisyphean absurdity of trying to survive forever. You, as a human, can consider this. And I think it's odd when you (and other humans) do not identify the absurdity.

Why wouldn't living forever be just like any other scenario where a good thing is multiplied by infinity? The novelty would wear off just like chocolate or sex. Things are "good" because they are scarce. Never-ending anything would become a burden.

My sense is the "lifeism" community at LW and elsewhere (those obsessed with cryonics, immortality, etc.) is simply making a bad calculation about the value of life based on some intuition gone haywire. It's a cognitive glitch where life = good, so life x infinity = good x infinity. The formula fails to recognize the inherent scarcity in goodness, as well as seeing the loss of life as paying out some ongoing residual opportunity cost for failing to achieve immortality.

The one immortality scenario I think is difficult to argue against would be a perfect infinite wireheading scenario. If you could create a situation of perfect bliss and contentment for eternity, then I don't see a technical problem. It would, I think, require the participants to become unconscious to the reality of the scenario, but still.

To the thread below: You're not being impolite. I thought you were clear.

Why wouldn't living forever be just like any other scenario where a good thing is multiplied by infinity? The novelty would wear off just like chocolate or sex. Things are "good" because they are scarce. Never-ending anything would become a burden.

If I get tired of eating chocolate or having sex it is because I want to do something else. I can't really 'do' anything besides living (death isn't me doing something because I no longer exist). We are also programmed to only want a certain amount of sex and chocolate, but we are for the most part p... (read more)

Why people want to die

by PhilGoetz 1 min read24th Aug 2015175 comments


Over and over again, someones says that living for a very long time would be a bad thing, and then some futurist tries to persuade them that their reasoning is faulty.  They tell them that they think that way now, but they'll change their minds when they're older.

The thing is, I don't see that happening.  I live in a small town full of retirees, and those few I've asked about it are waiting for death peacefully.  When I ask them about their ambitions, or things they still want to accomplish, they have none.

Suppose that people mean what they say.  Why do they want to die?

The reason is obvious if you just watch them for a few years.  They have nothing to live for.  They have a great deal of free time, but nothing they really want to do with it.  They like visiting friends and relatives, but only so often.  The women knit.  The men do yardwork.  They both work in their gardens and watch a lot of TV.  This observational sample is much larger than the few people I've asked.

You folks on LessWrong have lots of interests.  You want to understand math, write stories, create start-ups, optimize your lives.

But face it.  You're weird.  And I mean that in a bad way, evolutionarily speaking.  How many of you have kids?

Damn few.  The LessWrong mindset is maladaptive.  It leads to leaving behind fewer offspring.  A well-adapted human cares above all about sex, love, family, and friends, and isn't distracted from those things by an ADD-ish fascination with type theory.  That's why they probably have more sex, love, and friends than you do.

Most people do not have open-ended interests the way LWers do.  If they have a hobby, it's something repetitive like fly-fishing or needlepoint that doesn't provide an endless frontier for discovery.  They marry, they have kids, the kids grow up, they have grandkids, and they're done.  If you ask them what the best thing in their life was, they'll say it was having kids.  If you ask if they'd do it again, they'll laugh and say absolutely not.

We could get into a long argument over the evolution of aging, and whether people would remain eager to have kids if they remained physically young.  Maybe some would.  Some would not, though.  Many young parents are looking forward to the day their kids leave.

A lot of interests in life are passing.  You fall in love with a hobby, you learn it, you do it for a few years, then you get tired of it.  The things that were fascinating when you were six hold no magic for you now.  Pick up a toy soldier and try to play with it.  You can't.  Skateboarding seems awesome for about five years, and then everyone except Tony Hawk gets tired of it.

Having kids might be like that for some people.  Thing is, it's literally the only thing humans have evolved to be interested in.  Once you're tired of that, you're done.  If some of you want to keep going, that's an accidental by-product of evolution.  And there was no evolutionary pressure to exempt it from the common waning of interest with long exposure.

The way to convert deathists isn't to argue with them, but to get them interested in something.  Twist them the way you're twisted.