Lifeism, Anti-Deathism, and Some Other Terminal-Values Rambling

by Pavitra1 min read7th Mar 201189 comments


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You have a button. If you press it, a happy, fulfilled person will be created in a sealed box, and then be painlessly garbage-collected fifteen minutes later. If asked, they would say that they're glad to have existed in spite of their mortality. Because they're sealed in a box, they will leave behind no bereaved friends or family. In short, this takes place in Magic Thought Experiment Land where externalities don't exist. Your choice is between creating a fifteen-minute-long happy life or not.

Do you push the button?

I suspect Eliezer would not, because it would increase the death-count of the universe by one. I would, because it would increase the life-count of the universe by fifteen minutes.


Actually, that's an oversimplification of my position. I actually believe that the important part of any algorithm is its output, additional copies matter not at all, the net utility of the existence of a group of entities-whose-existence-constitutes-utility is equal to the maximum of the individual utilities, and the (terminal) utility of the existence of a particular computation is bounded below at zero. I would submit a large number of copies of myself to slavery and/or torture to gain moderate benefits to my primary copy.

(What happens to the last copy of me, of course, does affect the question of "what computation occurs or not". I would subject N out of N+1 copies of myself to torture, but not N out of N. Also, I would hesitate to torture copies of other people, on the grounds that there's a conflict of interest and I can't trust myself to reason honestly. I might feel differently after I'd been using my own fork-slaves for a while.)

So the real value of pushing the button would be my warm fuzzies, which breaks the no-externalities assumption, so I'm indifferent.


But nevertheless, even knowing about the heat death of the universe, knowing that anyone born must inevitably die, I do not consider it immoral to create a person, even if we assume all else equal.

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