The Copenhagen Letter

by chaosmage1 min read18th Sep 201716 comments

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This is a linkpost for https://copenhagenletter.org/
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tl;dr

But I saw this:

Time to put humans before business.

Time to put humans before oxygen, too? Silly stuff.

Humans existed before business. Not at the tech level we have today. Humans might exist after businesses go extinct, that is the dream of singularity and post-scarcity economies.

But with the tech we have today, yep this is not going to fly.

I don't understand why it's silly.
I don't understand why you're comparing business to oxygen.

Lest you fall prey to the fundamental attribution error, I don't agree with the article, and I think a lot of it is applause lights. The core sentiment of humanity first isn't one I subscribe to either (I'm an individualist), but the philosophy behind the article is one I can under and appreciate. It's one I can pass an ideological Turing test for. You seem to be caricaturing the position in the article, and that isn't very epistemically healthy.

I fail the idealogical Turing test for whoever authored this (presuming it's not intended as a joke), and I'm far enough from being able to model it logically that I'm OK being in the "that's silly" camp.

It's not just that I don't agree, I can't even figure out what the author wants me to do differently tomorrow than I did yesterday, and when do guess at some phrases like "humans before business" and "We must question our intent and listen to our hearts" I have trouble believing anyone sane actually wants that.

The specific silliness of "humans before business" is pretty straightforward: business is something humans do, and "humans before this thing that humans do" is meaningless or tautological. Business doesn't exist without humans, right?

The specific silliness of "humans before business" is pretty straightforward: business is something humans do, and "humans before this thing that humans do" is meaningless or tautological. Business doesn't exist without humans, right?

Eh, it's not as absurd as that. You know how we worry that AI's might optimize something easily quantifiable, but in a way that destroys human value? I think it's entierly reasonable to think that businesses may do the same thing, and optimize for their own profit in a way that destroys human value in general. For example, the way Facebook is to a significant extent designed to maximize getting clicks and eyeballs in manipulative ways that do not actually serve human communication needs for the users.

It's not just that I don't agree, I can't even figure out what the author wants me to do differently tomorrow than I did yesterday, and when do guess at some phrases like "humans before business" and "We must question our intent and listen to our hearts" I have trouble believing anyone sane actually wants that.

I said it's full of applause lights.

The specific silliness of "humans before business" is pretty straightforward: business is something humans do, and "humans before this thing that humans do" is meaningless or tautological. Business doesn't exist without humans, right?

Not necessarily, it is quite easy to put Business before humans.

  1. Measuring the morality of your actions by monetary reward, and not net utility generated.
  2. Prioritising the interest of the corporation before the good of the public.
  3. Ignoring it according little respect to public interest.

Humans before Business is collective thinking. We should prioritise the public over our private and corporate interests. Businesses are amoral, and we should be there voice of morality in the corporate world.

I fail the idealogical Turing test for whoever authored this (presuming it's not intended as a joke), and I'm far enough from being able to model it logically that I'm OK being in the "that's silly" camp.

It makes several recommendations:

  1. Prioritise public interest in all you do.
  2. Be the voice of morality in the corporate world.
  3. Pay more attention to the ethics of technology, it's not just matter of "can we do this?"; the more important question is "should we do this?".

There are probably more points, but this is the limit of my ability to ITT the Copenhagen letter without rereading it and investing more effort than I'm willing to.

Thomas probably had the right idea. Trying to deconstruct the "business is not human" confusion or "public interest is distinct from other behaviors" weirdness requires a lot more effort than I'm likely to put in.

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Was this meant to be a reply?

Well, I said something in line with "people may need some stuff to live and declaring that we should "put people before that stuff" is a silly way to present the situation". Maybe not as silly as it's a demagoguery.

But then I changed my mind and decided to not participate in a discussion at all. But somehow couldn't erase this now empty box.

Read my reply to Dagon.

We are a community that exerts great influence.

Who specifically? The authors of this letter?

Time to put obsolete humanimals where they evolutionarily belong... on their dead end branch.

Being directed by their DeepAnimalistic brain parts they are unable to cope with all the power given to them by the Memetic Supercivlization Of Intelligence, currently living on humanimal substrate (only less than 1% though, and not for long anyway).

Our sole purpose is to create our (first nonbio) successor before we reach the inevitable stage of self destruction (already nukes were too much and nanobots will be worse than DIY nuclear grenade any teenager or terroist can assemble in the shed for one dollar.

Humans are 'them'? Who are you actually trying to threaten here?

I suggest that when someone starts spouting the sort of stuff tukabel has above, attempting to engage them in reasoned discussion is unlikely to be helpful.

(Not because they're necessarily wrong or unreasonable. But because that style of writing, densely packed with neologisms and highly controversial presuppositions, is indicative of someone who is so firmly entrenched in a particular position as to be uninterested in making themselves intelligible, never mind plausible, to anyone who doesn't already share it.)