P.S. So my additinon is really, choose a stable value structure that feels right, try to maximize it, try to make it better and change so when you feel it is right. I have my own high-level suggestion of Beauty, Truth and the Good, and I later discovered Plato and a lot of others seem to argue for the same three...
First of all, great post, thank you, I truly love you Eli!! It was really the kind of beautiful endpoint in your dance I was waiting for, and it is very much in the lines of my own reasoning, just a lot more detailed. I also think this could be labeled metametamorality, therefore some of the justified complaints does not yet apply. But the people complaining about different moral preferences are doing so with their own morality, what else could they be using, and in doing so they are acting according to the arguments of this post. Metametamorality would be about the ontological reductionistic framework in which metamorality and morality takes place. Metamorality would be about simplifying and generalizing morality into certain values, principles and rules to which groups of different sizes would try to approximate, that we ought to follow. Morality would be about applying the metamorality. But it may also complicate things too much using this terminology, and I might even prefer Eliezers use. Metametamorality could also be called metamorality and metamorality, metaethics. Anyway, I found this amazingly summarizing of your viewpoints, and it helped me a lot in grasping this course in Bayescraft.
I have been working for a long time on my own metamorality or metaethics. Which you may take a peak at in this diagram http://docs.google.com/File?id=d4pc9b6_188cgj9zgwz_b.
It workes from the same metametamoral assumptions that eliezer does. And I have done my best in using my inbuilt moral computation to onstruct a coherent metamoral guide for myself and others who may be like me.
For me the basic principle is and has been for a couple of years now: There is no values outside humanity, so therefore everything has 0 value. But being an agent, with a certain set of feelings, morality and goals I may as well feel them and use them(some of them), because it is rather fantastic after all that there is anything at all. Although this amazement is a human feeling produced by my evolved psychology for curiosity it seems rather nice. It is just beautiful that there is something rather than nothing(especially in a Tegmark MUH universe), so I assign +1 to everything, including particles, energies, all events, everything that exists, every piece of information, it is good, it is beautiful because it exists, so hence I love everything!! But this was only the first level of morality, I can not and do not want to be left only with that, because that would leave me sitting still and doing nothing. So I let my evolved psychology discriminate on the highest possible general level. I let more feelings slip in gently, building up a hierarchy of morality and values on many different levels. A universe with three particles is better than one with only 1. Complexity, information is beautiful, diversity is, but simplicity is also. Beauty in general although elusive as a concept is a very important but comlicated terminal value for me consisting of a lot of parts, and I believe it is in some sense for everybody, although seldom explicit. Truth is also one of the great terminal values, and I think David Deautch expressed it nicely in a TED talk once. The Good is also of great importance, since it allows the expansion of beauty and knowledge about truth.
So important for me is:
The complete hierarchical structure of my value system is not complete and will never be, but I will try to continue to approximate it, and I find it valuable and moral to do so, as it might help myself and others in deciding on values, and choosing wisely. It might not be the value sstem of choice for most individuals, but some people might find it appealing.
Sorry for the Sketchy nature of this comment, I just needed it to get out, I hope I could get some comment from Eliezer, but I may as well wait until I get enough strength to make this thing better and to mail it then...
http://www.physorg.com/news135580478.html interesting news on evolutionary game theory!
There are different levels on which the gears of nature operate. The fact that happiness and excitement are rooted in biochemistry is common sense these days and but that is on a totally different level than Eliezers argument. The structure of how our mood works, how it reacts to different environmental situations, how some things make people happy or sad is not arbitrary. We can take advice and get better at solving the right questions.
There is an argument from David Deutsch about the beauty of flowers. It is available here http://www.qubit.org/people/david/index.php?path=Video/Why%20Are%20Flowers%20Beautiful
Although I do not agree with everything he says in that talk. I think he may be right in that one reason both bees and humans find flowers attractive is that there was a huge genetic gap between bees and flowers, and so the shortest way of signaling between the species was to use a more universal standard, a standard that seems to be embedded in the very nature of intelligence(at least in part of mindspace) and therefore also appealing to human general intelligence, I think it has something to do with simplicity and complexity, minimal description length and symmetry and is definitively calibrated by the our laws of physics, cosmological constants, and environment on earth. Of course from an outside viewpoint this standard is not special or any more valuable that any other, but it may have a certain absolute quality to it that may appear in most intelligences at least i this universe, it may not be completely arbitrary, there may even be parts wich would evolve in any intelligence anywhere in the MUH.
My version is "there is experience, therefore something is", but some year after I also understood that there is no reason even to trust that logic, no matter how bullet-proof it sounds...
A hard question for me is still, what is the functional role and underlying mechanism of qualia in the timeless mathematical structure of the multiverse. And what is the minimal structure required for qualia. And I mean qualia in the direct phenomenal sense, not defined as anything epiphenomenal. I am perfectly aware of and a great fan of the Anti-Zomibe principle. Still this basic question just does not disolve for me.
I will try to express some of my points more accurately...
A human value, may it concern, knowledge, morality or beauty gets it's meaning from it's emotional base although it may be a frequent value in the space of possible intelligent species. Only minds can attribute value to something. The thing it attributes it to, may be universal or specific, but the thing itself is can not be valued by something other than a mind. To value something is a cognitive, emotional process, not some intrinsic property of some phenomenon.
But to believe this as the mind you are may not be the best way to achieve what you value and desire. We seem to work most efficiently towards a value when we believe it is intrinsically true and the only way. It may slow down that process considerably to know that values can´t be rooted in something outside other minds. It may also be liberating knowledge, and may fuel your productivity and mood. It may depend on your starting assumptions and expectations concerning values in general. My solution is to pick some very general values after serious consideration, and then to start to almost religiously work towards optimizing them, being open and critical of everything else, without ever introducing other magical thinking or supernatural phenomena, just trying to hack my own mind.
As with human aesthetic sense, human morality may be approximations and versions of more absolutely definable optimal solutions to information-theoretic, game-theoretic, social, economic, intelligence, signaling, cooperation problems. Therefore it may be likely that an alien race could share some of the same values as we do, because it may turn out that they are "good" solutions for intelligent culture bearing species in general. But there is nothing in the universe in it self that says that theese optimal solutions, or any value what-so-ever can be valuable, and I don´t understand why some atheists even expect there to be something like this. It is minds that give value to certain phenomena, and it usually happens because our emotional circuitry where wired to value something by evolution.
But I so no problem in trying to choose some of the more general looking values evolution has given us and making them even more general and refined. We should do this in such a way as to keep us stable and happy but also so that we have a rich future mind-space to move in, and I think we have already done this in part with Goodness, Truth and Beauty for it´s own sake, but they are not easily definable. It is not easy to find a sweet-spot between a species-specific version and a more general one that is free and pleasing to as many minds as possible. I think we should continue to refine this sweet-spot and work towards some values for their own sake and not only because they give us pleasure. I think this is important and can add up to the stability of an individual as well as a society and an AI. It certainly is a dangerous thing, but I see it as essential at least for a human mind.
One problem may be though that we are wired so that, if we don´t believe that morality or some other value is intrinsically rooted and valued by some great preferably immortal and omnipresent authority(God, the Universe, Nature) then we may have some trouble behaving morally or in accordance with that value, just because we choose to do so. Some strong people may find this easy. But many finds this very hard, and I think that is the prime reason why religion still persists today, even though most people know somewhere deep down that it is a dead practice.
And I will admit although not with any pride that I, myself has great trouble with pursuing and actually doing what I value, systematically and with pleasure and discipline, even though I know about all this. It may be that something is particularly wrong in my brain, or it may be quite a wide problem.
Thank you Eli for keeping on enlightening my path, day after day, I have been lurking on you for 2.5 years now, you have totally changed my life, before you, there was no person I could really trust in deep matters, and now, because you are so often right and I have to be so careful with trusting you, I have also become extremely careful in trusting my own intuitions and thought patterns. You learn people to think with rigorous self-critique, extream precision and dedication and mindful focus on the actual territory and possibility-space of study without getting trapped in the usual mind projection fallacy and other biases.
Keep on fighting! Your books will sell well, and it will fuel your goals!