Fair enough.

Agreed that if someone expresses (either through speech or action) values that are opposed to mine, I might try to get them to accept my values and reject their own. And, sure, having set out to do that, there's a lot more to be relevantly said about the mechanics of how we hold values, and how we give them up, and how they can be altered.

And you're right, if our values are inconsistent (which they often are), we can be in this kind of relationship with ourselves... that is, if I can factor my values along two opposed vectors A and B, I might w... (read more)

to value breadth of perspective and flexibility of viewpoint significantly more than internal consistency

As humans we can't change/modify ourselves too much anyway, but what about if we're able to in the future? If you can pick and choose your values? It seems to me that, for such entity, not valuing consistency is like not valuing logic. And then there's the argument that it leaves you open for dutch booking / blackmail.

What makes us think _any_ of our terminal values aren't based on a misunderstanding of reality?

by bokov 1 min read25th Sep 201389 comments


Let's say Bob's terminal value is to travel back in time and ride a dinosaur.

It is instrumentally rational for Bob to study physics so he can learn how to build a time machine. As he learns more physics, Bob realizes that his terminal value is not only utterly impossible but meaningless. By definition, someone in Bob's past riding a dinosaur is not a future evolution of the present Bob.

There are a number of ways to create the subjective experience of having gone into the past and ridden a dinosaur. But to Bob, it's not the same because he wanted both the subjective experience and the knowledge that it corresponded to objective fact. Without the latter, he might as well have just watched a movie or played a video game.

So if we took the original, innocent-of-physics Bob and somehow calculated his coherent extrapolated volition, we would end up with a Bob who has given up on time travel. The original Bob would not want to be this Bob.

But, how do we know that _anything_ we value won't similarly dissolve under sufficiently thorough deconstruction? Let's suppose for a minute that all "human values" are dangling units; that everything we want is as possible and makes as much sense as wanting to hear the sound of blue or taste the flavor of a prime number. What is the rational course of action in such a situation?

PS: If your response resembles "keep attempting to XXX anyway", please explain what privileges XXX over any number of other alternatives other than your current preference. Are you using some kind of pre-commitment strategy to a subset of your current goals? Do you now wish you had used the same strategy to precommit to goals you had when you were a toddler?