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AdeleneDawner 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: AdeleneDawner 04 January 2010 06:48:35PM 1 point [-]

Er... if you answered why you care, I'm failing to find where you did so. Listing what you care about doesn't answer the question.

I don't think it's controversial that 'why do you care about that' is either unanswerable, or answerable only in terms of something like evolution or neurochemestry, in the case of terminal values.

Comment author: byrnema 04 January 2010 07:43:40PM *  0 points [-]

Listing what you care about doesn't answer the question.

There is a subtext to this question, which is that I believe we typically assume -- until it is demonstrated otherwise -- that our values are similar or overlap significantly, so it is natural to ask 'why do you value this' when maybe we really mean 'what terminal value do you think you're optimizing with this'? Disagreements about policy or 'what we should care about' are then often based on different beliefs about what achieves what than different values. It is true that if our difference in caring turns out to be based upon different values, or weighting values differently, then there's nothing much to discuss. Since I do value knowledge too, 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.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 04 January 2010 07:30:40PM 0 points [-]

Byrnema had a specific objection to human values that are "arbitrary", and I think my response addressed that. To be more explicit, all values are vulnerable to the charge of being arbitrary, but seeking knowledge seems less vulnerable than others, and that seems to explain why I care more about the future than the average person. I was also trying to point out to Byrnema that perhaps she already cares more about the future than most, but didn't realize it.