Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

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

18 [deleted] 04 January 2010 12:02AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (68)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 04 January 2010 04:50:22PM *  17 points [-]

What strikes me about our current situation is not only are we at an extremely influential point in the history of the universe, but how few people realize this. It ought to give the few people in the know enormous power (relative to just about anyone else who has existed or will exist) to affect the future, but, even among those who do realize that we're at a bottleneck, few try to shape the future in any substantial way, to nudge it one way or another. Instead, they just go about their "normal" lives, and continue to spend their money on the standard status symbols and consumer goods.

What to make of this? If we follow straight revealed preference, we have to conclude that people have huge discount rates on distance or time, or to put it more straightforwardly, they are simply indifferent about what happens in nearly all of the universe. This is not a very palatable conclusion for those who lean towards preference utilitarianism. Robin's response (in "Dream Time") is to dismiss those preferences as "consequential delusions" and Eliezer's response (in CEV) is to hope that if people were more intelligent and rational they would have more interesting preferences.

Personally, I don't know what I want the future to be, but I still find it worthwhile to try to push it in certain directions, directions that I think are likely to be net improvements. And I also puzzle over why I appear to be in such an atypical position.

Comment author: cabalamat 05 January 2010 07:30:23AM 2 points [-]

If we follow straight revealed preference, we have to conclude that people have huge discount rates on distance or time, or to put it more straightforwardly, they are simply indifferent about what happens in nearly all of the universe.

Maybe they just think that they can't affect what happens very much.

Comment author: MichaelBishop 06 January 2010 09:06:16PM 4 points [-]

People talk about global poverty and other issues they have little influence over. If people would at least talk about the long-term future of our species that would be a start.