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Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

Hello everyone!

My personal and professional development keep leading me back to the LessWrong sequences, so I've gathered up enough humility to join in the discussions. I hope to meet your high standards.

I'm 27 and my background is in business and the life sciences; I see rationality as a critically important tool in these areas, but ultimately a relatively minor tool for life as a successful human animal. As such I see this community as being similar to a bodybuilding/powerlifting community, where the interest is in training the rational faculty instead of physical strength.

Edit: Wow, all my comments downvoted? That's a pretty strongly negative response. Care to explain?

Torture vs. Dust Specks

What about 7 billion stubbed toes?

Torture vs. Dust Specks

Surely the incomprehensibly large number is part of the point of the question, otherwise why not use the set of all existing people being dust specked? ~7 billion dustmoted vs. 1 tortured?

3^^^3 people is more sentient mass than could physically fit in our universe.

Edit: Here's how I imagined that playing out: 3^^^3 people are brought into existence, displacing all the matter of the universe. Which, while still momentarily conscious, each gets a mote of this matter in their eye, causing minor discomfort. They then all immediately die, and in the following eternity their bodies and the remainder of the universe collapses to a single point.

Torture vs. Dust Specks

Wait, does the original question simplify to:

"[There exists 3^^^3 people] AND [of the set of all people there exists one that is tortured for 50 years OR of the set of all people, all get a mote of dust in the eye; which would you prefer]"?

Because that would be quite different to:

"[of the set of all people there exists one person who will be tortured for 50 years] OR [there exists 3^^^3 people AND each of them gets a mote of dust in the eye]; which would you prefer?"

I answered the latter.

Torture vs. Dust Specks

I would suggest the answer is fairly obviously that one person be horribly tortured for 50 years, on the grounds that the idea "there exists 3^^^3 people" is incomprehensible cosmic horror even before you add in the mote of dust.