Psychology (evolutionary or otherwise) seems to be merging with economics already, what with Kahneman getting the Nobel and all. The problem is how much can the intricacies of psychologies be simplified so that behavior can be modeled accurately. Starting off with a simple model of self-interest seems like it was a pretty good start, all things considered.
I second Tim's post. Dawkins was really onto something with the idea of memes. As we learn more about the intricacies of how dopamine works, we'll come closer to developing a more robust way of talking about memes.
I'm with Manon, I'd take the deal. I'm assuming that there would be some bailout money to help with the freedom from pain effort. I wouldn't think that this would make Akon (my only MST3K'ing will be to publicly wince at that name) a traitor to the human race.
Wouldn't the answer to this and other dystopias-posing-as-utopias be the expansion of conscious awareness a la Accelerando? Couldn't Steve be augmented enough to both enjoy his life with Helen and his new found verthandi? It seems like multiple streams of consciousness, one enjoying the catlair, another the maiden in distress, and yet another the failed utopia that is suburbia with Helen would allow Mr. Glass a pleasant enough mix. Some would be complete artificial life fictions, but so what?
Towards the end of the essay, Orwell writes:
"The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And the... (read more)
I have to question your literary interpretation of the Culture. Is Banks' intention really to show an idealized society? I think the problem of the Minds that you describe is used by Banks to show the existential futility of the Culture's activities. The Culture sans Minds would be fairly run-of-the-mill sci-fi. With all of its needs met (even thinking), it throws into question every action the Culture takes, particularly the meddlesome ones. That's the difference between Narnia and the Culture; Aslan has a wonderful plan for the childrens' lives, ... (read more)
I'm just trying to get the problem you're presenting. Is it that in the event of a foom, a self-improving AI always presents a threat of having its values drift far enough away from humanity's that it will endanger the human race? And your goal is to create the set of values that allow for both self-improvement and friendliness? And to do this, you must not only create the AI architecture but influence the greater system of AI creation as well? I'm not involved in AI research in any capacity, I just want to see if I understand the fundamentals of what you're discussing.
It seems like it gets into a similar arena as assisted suicide when done prior to death. I'm just trying to think of like minded groups that could form a useful coalition. Stem cell researchers (and those who support them) also seem like good allies.
To hopefully tie back to the thread, voting is but one facet of influence. What you do the other 364 (363 including primaries) has a huge impact (hence the usefulness of knowing your representatives).
What would effective cryo policy look like? Or conversely, what in current policy is inhibiting the proper development of cryogenics?
Carrier's system still seems to create a circular situation where the smaller parts we reduce larger things into continue, in a sense, to be mental constructions. Electrons behave in ways Einstein called "spooky", and it takes very sophisticated systems to describe them, and then, the descriptions are probabilistic. The important thing is that we're still observing something, whereas the supernatural is basically a collection of spectacular reports that cannot be verified. How much greater would it be to have a third eye to read people's thoughts... (read more)
I disagree with your premise that if dragons did exit that they wouldn't interest people. I haven't read through the comments, so I don't know if anyone's addressed this yet, but there are real world analogies that disprove your point. Sharks for instance. Sharks are very real, and you can take a trip out into open water to spend time with the more dangerous varieties if you wish. The Great White that was at the SF aquarium generated a great deal of attention. People still like zebras but aren't usually as fascinated by them. The reason is that sharks are dangerous. Dragons, one would imagine, would be even more dangerous. They would probably attract even more attention.