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Man, I can't count the number of times I've started randomly reciting: "I am Adam, prince of Eternia, defender of the secrets of Castle Greyskull and this is Cringer, (chuckle) my fearless friend. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said...."

I don't remember anything else about the show well enough to judge how it might have affected me. Although, I remember my mom liked it and said it was better than other cartoons, so perhaps it was relatively virtuous.

Awesome post. I love both these ways of looking at the world, have realized for years that they are in conflict, but had not seen the conflict illustrated this cleanly before. In theory, people are rational. In practice, they are kluged together out of proteins by the blind idiot god.

Don't expand this into a novel, it was superb but I'd rather see a wider variety of short works exploring many related themes.

Perhaps this is just me not buying the plot justifications that set up the strategic scenario, but I would be included to accept the SupperHappy deal because of a concern that the next species that comes along might have high technology and not be so friendly. I want the defense of the increased level of technology, stat. Sure it involves giving up some humanity but better than giving up all of humanity. Once I find that there are 2 alien species with star travel, I get really really worried about the 3rd, 4th, etc. Maybe one of them comes from a world w/o SIAI, w/o Friendly AI, and it is trying to paperclip the universe. Doubling even faster than the SuperHappys because it doesn't stop for sex (it has rewritten its utility function so paperclipping and acts that facilitate maximal speed of paperclipping are sex).

I would accept the changes to human nature implied by the SuperHappy deal to prevent being paperclipped.

nazgulnarsil I think it more realistic that non-sentient sexdroids will enable healthier relationships. When people get the urge to procreate with fitter partners they can just spend an afternoon in the holodeck. I see what you're saying as advocating keeping people a little hungry so that they appreciate food more.

PUA techniques suggest that this may actually help. If men are able to score with hot women on the holodeck, this may make them feel more "alpha", which will then make them better at picking up women - and more attractive to women (so women win too). This is just another variant of the lower-status bot technique to hack our status modules so that everyone feels high status.

Although, it suggests another defense of catgirls, which is to design catgirls that help guys learn to deal with women better. This is not as good as nudging the sexes preferences to improve the statistical overlap, but it is a possible use of early catgirls to make human relationships more fulfilling. And the catgirls would be much easier to design than the sentient uber-fulfilling partners that some commenters posited.

I really liked this post. Not sure if you meant it this way, but for me it mostly applies to imagining / fantasizing about the future. Some kinds of imagining are motivating, and they tend to be more general. The ones you describe as "soul-sucking" are more like an Experience Machine, or William Shatner's Tek (if you've had the misfortune to read any of his books).

For me this brings up the distinction between happiness (Fun) and pleasure. Soul-sucking is very pleasurable, but it is not very Fun. There is no richness, no striving, no intricacy - just getting what you want is boring.

ShardPhoenix - I agree that concreteness is important, but there is still a key distinction between concrete scenarios that motivate people to work to bring them about, and concrete scenarios that people respond to by drifting off into imagination and thinking "yeah, that would be fun."

Agreed that upgrtading humans is hard. Nick bostrom's suggestion is another version of Algernon's Principle ("every genetically easy change is a net evolutionary disadvantage in the EEA"). (Strangely, this principle does not show up on Google - am I spelling it wrong? Has the Algernon's Principle meme failed to spread on the internet, for some odd reason?)

Tim's "resource costs" is a general counter to this, since resources are much cheaper now than in the EEA, but it is unlikely to actually be the reason in all cases. And since aging seems to partly be caused by byproducts of metabolism, using more energy (the primary resource) is problematic, at least until mitoSENS.

Also agreed with Robin that upload and speed up sidesteps this...but at the cost of normal physical existence, which has its own problems. Personally I would much rather upgrade w/o uploading, at least at the beginning.

Anyway, my main reason for commenting is: I dunno if you were joking about how your thoughts on hunter gatherer mental illness were pure speculation, but in fact you are exactly right. Countries which eat more fish have much less mental illness (depression, bipolar, schizophrenia), the relationship is strong. So lack of robustness against insufficient omega 6 does indeed cause much mental illness. (One reason my son has been raised on lots of fish oil.)

frelkins: Someone has to sit on top of the female monkey hierarchy, Eli. We really don't care who it is, or if we meet her, as long as we can kind of relate to her somehow and understand the unspoken rules by which she is judged, so we can rank ourselves in this order and know where we sit ourselves.

None of this addresses the point: we compare ourselves to a much bigger hierarchy than we were programmed for, which means far more losers and far fewer winners. Instead of winning by being the best female monkey out of dozens, you have to be the best female monkey out of tens of millions to billions. That's a much tougher contest, and it's hard on us psychologically.

But we already live in a world, right now, where people are less in control of their social destinies than they would be in a hunter-gatherer band, because it's harder to talk to the tribal chief or (if that fails) leave unpleasant restrictions and start your own country. There is an opportunity for progress here.

I'm working on it!

Another problem with our oversized world is the illusion of increased competition.. in a "neighborhood" the size of Earth - well, you're actually quite unlikely to run into either Bill Gates or Angelina Jolie on any given day. But the media relentlessly bombards you with stories about the interesting people who are much richer than you or much more attractive, as if they actually constituted a large fraction of the world.

I wrote about this problem a few years ago.

I'm glad to hear that you aren't trying to take over the world. The less competitors I have, the better.

I'm not particularly asking for help on the productivity thing.

Why not? Isn't this topic deeply related to overcoming bias? To me, they are all part of the same striving for self-improvement. Improving my ability to work and not be distracted is a way to be a more effective human (better at achieving my goals), just like improving my ability to accurately judge the truth and not be biased.

While it doesn't have much recursive loop potential, an improvement in personal productivity is a meta-level improvement - it improves our general ability to create stuff / advance science. Advancements in this area have a leveraged effect in that they could potentially cause lots of people to accomplish lots more.

So I think it's really important, and I wish we talked about it more here. Among other things, it seems to affect some of the smartest people, so I see potentially huge gains from getting better at it. David Allen has done far more to make people more effective than this blog has.

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