George

Old man 1: Life is one trouble after another. I'd be better off dead, better yet, I wish I was never born

Old man 2: True, true, but who has such luck ?.. maybe one in a thousand.

My blog: https://blog.cerebralab.com

I'm also building an open source generic ML library: https://github.com/mindsdb/mindsdb & https://github.com/mindsdb/lightwood .... which I guess might be of interest to some people here

Comments

The ethics of breeding to kill

You bring up good points, I don't have time to answer in full, but notes on a few of them to which I can properly retort:

I don't think I agree that suicide is a sufficient proxy for whether an entity enjoys life more than it dislikes life because I can imagine too many plausible, yet currently unknown mechanisms wherein there are mitigating factors. For example:
I imagine that there are mental processes and instincts in most evolved entities that adds a significant extra prohibition against making the active choice to end their own life and thus that mental ability has a much smaller role in suicide "decisions".
In the world where there is no built-in prohibition against ending your own life, if the "enjoys life" indicator is at level 10 and the "hates life" indicator is at level 11, then suicide is on the table.
In, what I think is probably our world, when the "enjoys life" indicator is at level 10 the "hates life" indicator has to be at level 50.
What's more, it seems plausible to me that the value of this own-life-valuing indicator addon varies from species to species and individual to individual.

But, if we applied this model, what would make it unique to suicide and not to any other preference ?

And if you apply this model to any other preference and extent it to humans, things get really dystopian really fast.

This seems to me similar to the arguments made akin to "why waste money on space telescopes (or whatever) when people are going hungry right here on earth?".

This is not really analogous, in that my example is "potential to reduce suffering" vs "obviously reducing suffering". A telescope is neither of those, it's working towards what I'd argue is more of a transcedent goal.

It's more like arguing "Let's give homeless people a place to sleep now, rather than focusing on market policies that have potential for reducing housing costs later down the line" (which I still think is a good counter-example).

In summary, I think the main critique I have of the line of argument presented in this post is that it hangs on suicide being a proxy for life-worth-living and that it's equivalent to not having existed in the first place.
I don't think you've made a strong enough case that suicide is a sufficient measure of suffering-has-exceeded-the-cost-of-continuing-to-live. There are too many potential and plausible confounding factors. I think that the case needs to be really strong to outweigh the costs of being wrong.

I don't think what I was trying is to make a definitive case for "suicide is a sufficient measure of suffering-has-exceeded-the-cost-of-continuing-to-live" I was making a case for something close to "suicide is better than any other measure of suffering-has-exceeded-the-cost-of-continuing-to-live if we want to keep living in a society where we treat humans as free conscious agents and give them rights based on that assumption, and while it is still imperfect, any other arbitrary measure will also be so, but worst" (which is still a case I don't make perfectly, but at least one I could argue I'm creeping towards).

My base assumption here is that in a society of animal-killers, the ball is in the court of the animal-antinatalists to come up with a sufficient argument to justify the (human-pleasure-reducing) change. But it seems to me like the intuitions based on which we breed&kill animals are almost never spelled out, so I tried to give words to what I hoped might be a common intuition as to why we are fine with breeding&killing animals but not humans.

Here you're seemingly willing to acknowledge that it's at least *possible* that animals dislike life more than they enjoy it. If I read you correctly and that is what you're acknowledging, then you would really need to compare the cost of that possibility being correct vs the cost of not eating meat before making any conclusion about the ethical state of eating animals.

I am also willing to acknowledge that it is at least *possible* some humans might benefit from actions that they don't consent to, but still I don't engage in those actions because I think it's preferable to treat them as agentic beings that can make their own choices about what makes them happy.

If I give that same "agentic being" treatment to animals, then the suicide argument kind-of-hold. If I don't give that same "agentic being" treatment to animals, then what is to say suffering as a concept even applies to them ? After all a mycelia or an ecosystem is also a very complex "reasoning" machine but I don't feel any moral guilt when plucking a leaf or a mushroom.

The ethics of breeding to kill
I’m taking it as granted that every human not in a coma can suffer, which I hope is uncontroversial.

I don't think it's that uncontroversial

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion#Gestational_age_and_method

Similarly, in England and Wales in 2006, 89% of terminations occurred at or under 12 weeks, 9% between 13 and 19 weeks, and 2% at or over 20 weeks.

CNS starts developing at ~4 weeks, but the cerebral hemispheres start differentiating around week 8. Given 200,000 abortions a year in the UK alone, which the people doing and most (all?) of us don't see as an immoral act, that's at least 12,000 human children with a functioning brain killed a year in the UK, a number that is probably 10x in the US and hundreds of times higher if you account for all the world.

When you reach 20 weeks, where abortions still happens, well, one could argue the brain could be more developed than that of living human being, unless you want to assume it's not a question of synaptic activity, nr of neurons & axons but instead of divine transubstantiation ( in which case the whole debate is moot).

So I would indeed say many humans agree that suffering is not a universal experience for every single being that shares our genetic code and exception such as human still in a mother's womb are made. Whether that is true or not is another question entirely.

Many of us might claim this is not the case, but as I made it clear in this article, I'm a fan of looking at our actions rather than the moral stances we echo from soapboxes.

The ethics of breeding to kill
I'd expect the same to apply to typically developing toddlers

Very quick search reveals suicide as young as 6:

https://ewn.co.za/2019/10/10/youngest-person-to-ever-commit-suicide-in-sa-was-a-six-year-old-sadag

Murder as young as 4:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_killers

Presumably cloud happen earlier in kids with a better developmental environment, but suicide and murder at an age this young is going to come from outliers that lived in a hellish developmental environment.

Not sure about ages < 1 or 2 years of age, but:

1. We think that beyond a certain point of brain development abortion is acceptable since the kid is not in any way "human". So why not start you argument there ? and if you do, well, you reach a very tricky gray line

2. Surgeons did use to think toddlers couldn't feel "pain" the way we do and operate on them without anesthesia. This was stopped due to concerns/proof of PTSD, not due to anyone remembering the exact experience, after all there's a lot of traumatic pain one goes through before the age of 1 that none will remember. Conscious experience might be present at that age but... this is really arguable. People don't have memories at ages bellow 1 or 2 and certainly no memories indicative of conscious experience. It might exist, but I think this falls in the same realms as "monkeys" rather than fully fledged humans in terms of certainty.

and it's plausible to me that you could in principle shelter normally developing humans from understanding of death and suicide into adulthood, and torture them, and they too would not attempt suicide.

This I find, harder to believe, but it could be a good thought experiment to counter my intuition if I ever have the time to mold it into a form that fits my own conception of the world and of people.

We (humans and other animals) also have instincts (especially fear) that deter us from committing suicide or harming ourselves regardless of our quality of life, and nonhuman animals rely on instinct more, so I'd expect suicide rates to underestimate the prevalence of bad lives.

I don't see how this undermines the point, unless you want to argue the "fear" of death can be so powerful one can lead what is essentially a negative value life because an instinct to not die (similarly to, say, how one would be able to feel pain from a certain muscle twitch yet be unable to stop in until it becomes unbearable).

I don't necessarily disagree with this perspective, but from this angle you reach a antinatalist utilitarian view of "Kill every single form of potentially conscious life in a painless way as quickly as possible, and most humans for good measure, and either have a planet with no life, or with very few forms of conscious life that have nothing to cause them harm". No matter how valid this perspective is, almost by definition it will never make it into the zeitgeist and it's fairly pointless to think about since it's impossible to act upon and the moral downside of being wrong would be gigantic.

The ethics of breeding to kill

The problem with that research is that it's shabby, I encountered this problem when dealing with the research on animal suicide and the one on animal emotions expands that trend.

Fundamentally, it's a problem that can't be studied unless you are able to metaphorically see as a bat, which you can't, so I chose to think the closest thing we can do is treat it much like we do with other humans, assume their mental state based on their actions and act accordingly.

The ethics of breeding to kill
The first point seems fallacious, since most factory farmed animals don't have the physical ability to commit suicide.

Does the argument require for that to be the case ? In the ideal scenario yes, but in the pragamatic scenario one can just look for such behavior in conditions where it can be expressed. Since, much like humans vary enough that some "suffer" under the best of conditions enough to commit suicide, presumably so would animals.

There are many humans who don't have the ability to reason about suicide but undoubtedly suffer

Wait, what ? Ahm, can I ask for source on that ?

On Systems - Living a life of zero willpower

The main issue with these kind of routines, in my experience, is that they are very rigid and breaking them is hard.

A lot of things (hard and difficult things that make life worth living) involve breaking routines, be it starting a company/ngo, having kids, doing ground-breaking research or even just traveling (including e.g. difficult hikes to remote places or visiting weird cities, towns and villages half a world away).

So to some extent these kind of routines work if you want to get to an "ok" place and have an overall stable life outside of e.g. health issues, but seem to put you in a bad spot if you want to do anything else.

Of course, not everything here is routine-focused advice, but a lot of it seems to be, so I just wanted to give this perspective on that particular topic.

Longevity interventions when young

No... and searching for it I can only find things like: https://selfhacked.com/blog/nicotinamide-riboside/

Which are referring to other forms of B3 being found in whey protein.

The things with NR is that it's considered a form of B3 (which is the **** way "vitamins" work in that for some of them the "vitamin" is actually any substance that after some point turns by some % into a specific metabolite) and some other forms of B3 are found in whey protein.

I haven't seen claims of NR specifically being found in whey protein, so I have no idea and a quick google doesn't reveal much for me other than stuff like the above.

Longevity interventions when young
What do you mean by the advice "test your drugs"?

A joke

Which blood biomarkers do you measure for assessing the effectiveness of the supplements?

Would be an article on it's own, ask your doctor, see my response above about vitamin D3 for an example.

You can just look at the studies done on the supplements and measure what they measure. If experts say: "This supplement is good because it increases/decreases X,Y,Z as per studies done on it", if you take it and your X/Y/Z decrease/increase it's also good for you.

What's your intuition on the expected life added by researching this stuff personally and in-depth?

No idea, long discussion.

With a protocol like this I'm hopeful one could get 20, maybe 30% added years in the 20-35 "pocket" where you're "at your prime", but I'm pulling those out of my arse.

Longevity interventions when young

I should have specified different IQ tests meant to give similar results, of you can't take the same one twice.

Long-term I would expect that you can mine existing data like Anki for a measurement of cognitive ability. 

Personally that's what I'm doing, simpler cognitive tests + other metrics such as my WPM while doing various things and getting the data from that. But that's simply because I have a silly point of pride for never getting an IQ test, and I thought the IQ test is the safer thing to recommend for "long term" measurement.

Short term, obviously, things like short cognitive tests work best.

Longevity interventions when young

Please see my whole point there, I'm giving these as an example, you should figure out your own dosages. Hence why I'm not specifying a given amount. If you don't know how much of a supplement to dose and have no marker you want to improve that you can look at (+no idea of potential side effects) I'd go towards taking 0IU.

With D3 I'd monitor energy/focus levels 1h after taking it in the morning (e.g. via a click speed test or seeing how many pushups you can do or 2-3 of these) + 25(oH)D + calcium + inonized calcium (+PTH and kidney function if calcium is super low/high or you are feeling icky... for kidney function and what to test the story is rather long).

But INAD and that's what I'd look at for my own self and maybe you have a whole different reason to take it.

If you can't monitor stuff, just don't take them, I'm serious, here's a simple video that maybe will get the point across better. Supplements are high-risk low-reward and will be all but useless if you have a healthy diet, if anything a healthy diet nowadays risks going way over the RDA for most micronutrients, not under.

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