smk

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Open thread, Sep. 26 - Oct. 02, 2016

Has Sam Harris stated his opinion on the orthogonality thesis anywhere?

Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

Polyamory indeed, sorry to be unclear.

Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016

Just musing on how LW has had a profound impact on my life. It was a strong influence in my deconversion from theism, it's helped me make significant medical decisions, and I'm in love with someone I met at a LessWrong meetup, as well as another person whose first interaction with me was a Bayes theorem joke.

How to deal with Santa Claus?

Believing in Santa was not acceptable to my Christian fundamentalist parents. However, they also had the excuse of being immigrants, so they implied (and perhaps it's even true) that believing in Santa was not common in their culture: "The children in this country think that Santa is real. I don't know why their parents want them to believe in fairytales!" I was never told to hide the truth from other kids, and I don't recall if the subject ever came up in my interactions with other kids. We still had Christmas gifts, a tree, sang Christmas songs, and even took pictures sitting on Santa's lap at the mall. I just understood that it was all for the sake of participating in fun customs.

I think the main result of this was to teach me to feel comfortable with being different. But there were lots of other things in my upbringing as well that had this same effect.

Is it immoral to have children?

My preferred transhumanist "eutopia" is one where people generally do not die, and new people generally are not created, but if for some reason people do have to be created, they are created with adult-level competencies such as I described above.

I think that the vast majority of people who currently have parental desires would not get to satisfy those desires in my eutopia, because their desires can only be satisfied in a world with a class of temporarily less-competent people. Are you suggesting that "people whose parental desires can only be satisfied in a world with a class of temporarily less-competent people" are dysfunctional, and not really the majority as I suspect? If so, then what state of affairs is required for the majority of parental desires be satisfied? Could they do it in my eutopia? If they could do it in my eutopia, then it seems like they could do that same thing in this world in a relationship with an adult, and not have to create a brand-new child at all.

Is it immoral to have children?

Of course I chose that word because it's vague. I guess, if I have to narrow it down, it's a feeling that something is disrespectful.

I think people's reasons for having kids usually fall into one of the following categories:

  1. It's what normal people do, so I'll just go with the flow.
  2. I have an emotional desire for a parent-child relationship.
  3. I want someone to take care of me when I'm old.
  4. I want an extension of myself to provide me with a kind of proxy immortality.

It might be more obvious why I find 1, 3, and 4 to be disrespectful? So I'll just talk about 2, which I suspect includes the kind of "liking kids" that you are talking about.

Imagine that, from now on, as soon as a baby is born, it will be instantly granted certain benefits. The baby is given the size, strength, and agility of an adult. They get the intellectual capacity of an adult. They get an assortment of knowledge and skills implanted into their minds, well-suited to independent living in their society, and proof of having those skills. They get the wisdom, rationality, and emotional skills of an adult. But they do not get any episodic memories implanted. They don't come pre-loaded with any emotional attachments to specific people, which is just fine, because they have great emotional and self-care skills to support them as they meet various people and decide who they want to form relationships with.

Does this even count as a child anymore? Would a relationship with this person satisfy the parental desire in #2? I bet it wouldn't. All because the person is no longer weaker or more incompetent than the "parent", and is free to form emotional attachments of their choice based on getting to know people. Liking kids, specifically as kids, usually amounts to liking the weakness and vulnerability of kids. I have heard some people say that what they like about kids is their "innocence" but I don't believe in this innocence thing, except as a euphemism for ignorance. I cannot think of a single thing about my child psyche which was better than my adult psyche. My child self was more trusting, which I bet many adults liked, but I think my current state of being less trusting is better, and therefore the fact that those adults liked that about me was disrespectful--it was liking my weakness. Some adults may have enjoyed teaching me things. That is a case of them enjoying my ignorance.

I'm not so put off by people wanting to adopt kids, because they see a need that they feel well-suited to fill. But creating a brand-new kid because you want a relationship specifically with a small, weak, ignorant person who is almost guaranteed to love you? Icky.

Is it immoral to have children?

Doing it to improve the world is maybe ok? Kind of still a bit icky though. But as this article suggests, it might not be such a good way of improving the world compared to other ways, and anyway I don't think it's a primary reason that most parents have. What non-icky reasons can you think of?

Is it immoral to have children?

Probably immoral, yeah. But why would you even want a child in the first place? All I can think of are really icky reasons.

As an upload, would you join the society of full telepaths/empaths?

I probably would not join, but I would try to research it to figure out why people who join usually like it. Depending on what I learned, I could change my mind.

What I would prefer is to have the option of sending/receiving thoughts/emotions/memories when and with whom I choose, with consent of those involved. Other mental abilities would of course have to be implemented as well, to allow this kind of telepathy to be manageable.

Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013

Awhile back I posted a comment on the open thread about the feasibility of permanent weight-loss. (Basically: is it a realistic goal?) I didn't get a response, so I'm linking it here to try again. Please respond here instead of there. Note: most likely some of my links to studies in that comment are no longer valid, but at least the citations are there if you want to look those up.

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