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Anders comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: Anders 16 March 2007 07:56:40PM 7 points [-]

Another approach might of course be to try to boost self-control. Self-control correlates with being able to delay gratification, long-term planning and career success. An enhancement of this would be socially and individually beneficial, probably far more than most other cognition enhancers.

There are experiments that demonstrate that glucose drinks can actually boost depleted self-control: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=17279852 and presumably there might be more deep methods of enhancing it. So one strategy of handling the rise in temptations is to make us better at handling them.

An interesting and rather worrying paper is this, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=14756934 which argues that it is the flow experience of games that hooks us. Normally flow is hard to achieve through stimuli, which at most just generate happiness, but the more profound flow state seems triggerable by the right games. This goes beyond mere habit-formation to get a pleasurable stimuli since the highly motivated flow state involves using all mental resources to prolong and expand the state. So we might not just have to learn how to overcome simple pleasure temptations but also complex flow temptations.

Overall, enhancements of strategic individual thinking would be extremely useful. But there are no guarantees they will be developed at an equal pace as the games.