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byrnema comments on Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" - Less Wrong

18 [deleted] 04 January 2010 12:02AM

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Comment author: Wei_Dai 04 January 2010 05:49:29PM 2 points [-]

I think just by asking the question "why should I care?", you probably already care more than most, who just go on doing what they always did without a second thought.

If I ask myself "why do I care?", the answer is that I don't seem to care much about the standard status symbols and consumer goods (bigger houses, faster cars, etc.), so what is left? Well for one thing, I care about knowledge, i.e., finding answers to questions that puzzle me, and I think I can do that much better in some futures than in others.

Comment author: byrnema 04 January 2010 06:03:55PM *  0 points [-]

To what extent does your caring about the future depend upon you being there to experience it?

Then my next question would be, how important is your identity to this value? For example, do you have a strong preference whether it is "you" that gains more and more knowledge of the universe, or any other mind?

Comment author: Wei_Dai 04 January 2010 07:46:12PM *  3 points [-]

I might change my mind in the future, but right now my answers are "to a large extent" and "pretty important".

Why do you care what my values are, though, or why they are what they are? I find it fascinating that "value-seeking" is a common behavior among rationalist-wannabes (and I'm as guilty of it as anyone). It's almost as if the most precious resource in this universe isn't negentropy, but values.

ETA: I see you just answered this in your reply to Adelene Dawner:

I wanted to further qualify how Wei Dai values knowledge, because I don't see how nudging the far future one way or another is going to increase Wei Dei's total knowledge.

I expect that I can survive indefinitely in some futures. Does that answer your question?

Comment author: byrnema 04 January 2010 07:58:56PM *  2 points [-]

It's almost as if the most precious resource in this universe isn't negentropy, but values.

That's an amusing observation, with some amount of truth to it.

The reason why I was asking is because I was seeking to understand why you care and I don't.

Given your reply, I think our difference in caring can be explained by the fact that when I imagine the far future, I don't imagine myself there. I'm also less attached to my identity; I wouldn't mind experiencing the optimization of the universe from the point of view of an alien mind, with different values. (This last bit is relevant if you want the future to be good just the sake of it being good, even if you're not there.)