we value what we value, we don't value what we don't value, what more is there to say?

I'm confused what you mean by this. If there wasn't anything more to say, then nobody would/should ever change what they value? But people's values changes over time, and that's a good thing. For example in medieval/ancient times people didn't value animals' lives and well-being (as much) as we do today. If a medieval person tells you "well we value what we value, I don't value animals, what more is there to say?", would you agree with him and let him go on t... (read more)

But people's values changes over time, and that's a good thing. For example in medieval/ancient times people didn't value animals' lives and well-being (as much) as we do today. If a medieval person tells you "well we value what we value, I don't value animals, what more is there to say?", would you agree with him and let him go on to burning cats for entertainment, or would you try to convince him that he should actually care about animals' well-being?

Is that an actual change in values? Or is it merely a change of facts - much greater availab... (read more)

0TheOtherDave7yFair 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 well try to get myself to accept A and reject B (or vice-versa, or both at once). Of course, we're not obligated to do this by any means, but internal consistency is a common thing that people value, so it's not surprising that we want to do it. So, sure... if what's going on here is that byrnema has inconsistent values which can be factored along a "privilege my own identity"/"don't privilege my own identity" axis, and they net-value consistency, then it makes sense for them to attempt to self-modify so that one of those vectors is suppressed. With respect to my statement being confusing... I think you understood it perfectly, you were just disagreeing -- and, as I say, you might well be correct about byrnema. Speaking personally, I seem to value breadth of perspective and flexibility of viewpoint significantly more than internal consistency. "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." Of course, I do certainly have both values, and (unsurprisingly) the parts of my mind that align with the latter value seem to believe that I ought to be more consistent about this, while the parts of my mind that align with the former don't seem to have a problem with it. I find I prefer being the parts of my mind that align with the former; we get along better.

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

17


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?