Value Deathism

It's not OK to not take over the world.

Unless you know you're kind of a git or, more generally, your value system itself doesn't rate 'you taking over the world' highly.

It's an instrumental goal, it doesn't have to be valuable in itself. If you don't want for your "personal attitude" to apply to the world as a whole, it reflects the fact that your values disagree with your personal attitude, and you prefer for the world to be controlled by your values rather than personal attitude.

Taking over the world as a human ruler is certainly not wha... (read more)

It's an instrumental goal, it doesn't have to be valuable in itself.

The point being that It can be a terminal anti-goal. People could (and some of them probably do) value not-taking-over-the-world very highly. Similarly there are people who actually do want to die after the normal alloted years, completely independently of sour grapes updating. I think they are silly, but it is their values that matter to them, not my evaluation thereof.

Value Deathism

by Vladimir_Nesov 1 min read30th Oct 2010121 comments


Ben Goertzel:

I doubt human value is particularly fragile. Human value has evolved and morphed over time and will continue to do so. It already takes multiple different forms. It will likely evolve in future in coordination with AGI and other technology. I think it's fairly robust.

Robin Hanson:

Like Ben, I think it is ok (if not ideal) if our descendants' values deviate from ours, as ours have from our ancestors. The risks of attempting a world government anytime soon to prevent this outcome seem worse overall.

We all know the problem with deathism: a strong belief that death is almost impossible to avoid, clashing with undesirability of the outcome, leads people to rationalize either the illusory nature of death (afterlife memes), or desirability of death (deathism proper). But of course the claims are separate, and shouldn't influence each other.

Change in values of the future agents, however sudden of gradual, means that the Future (the whole freackin' Future!) won't be optimized according to our values, won't be anywhere as good as it could've been otherwise. It's easier to see a sudden change as morally relevant, and easier to rationalize gradual development as morally "business as usual", but if we look at the end result, the risks of value drift are the same. And it is difficult to make it so that the future is optimized: to stop uncontrolled "evolution" of value (value drift) or recover more of astronomical waste.

Regardless of difficulty of the challenge, it's NOT OK to lose the Future. The loss might prove impossible to avert, but still it's not OK, the value judgment cares not for feasibility of its desire. Let's not succumb to the deathist pattern and lose the battle before it's done. Have the courage and rationality to admit that the loss is real, even if it's too great for mere human emotions to express.