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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Leave a Line of Retreat - Less Wrong

59 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 February 2008 11:57PM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 February 2008 07:54:27PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for feedback, all! The consensus appears to favor leavening mathy posts with less mathy ones. I'll bear that in mind, though I make no promises - I do have my own agenda here.


Unknown, can't say I've ever thought of that one. I've considered how to kill or rewrite a Judeo-Christian type God, but not that particular scenario you've just described.

I think I would simply reply to number 4, "I don't believe that without an explanation." After all, just because an entity displays great power doesn't mean it will always tell you the truth.

You can't necessarily force me to consider believing number 4 because it involves a moral question and those are not subject to forced visualization (by this rule) in the way that factual scenarios are.

You can invent all kinds of Gods and demand that I visualize the case of their existence, or of their telling me various things, but you can't necessarily force me to visualize the case where I accept their statement that killing babies is a good idea - not unless you can argue it well enough to create a real moral doubt in my mind.

If I myself am in actual doubt on a moral question, then I can visualize it both ways without confusing myself; and then you can demand that I visualize it. But when I am not in doubt, trying to visualize the contrary has the same quality as trying to concretely visualize 2 + 2 = 3, only more so.

I can visualize a mind constructed so as to possess a different morality, of course; but that is not the same as identifying myself with that mind.


This reminds me of an item from a list of "horrible job interview questions" we once devised for SIAI:

Would you kill babies if it was intrinsically the right thing to do? Yes/No

If you circled "no", explain under what circumstances you would not do the right thing to do: ___________________

If you circled "yes", how right would it have to be, for how many babies? ___________________